By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin --(Ammoland.com)- The Colonel and I were driving south, crossing the Wisconsin state line headed for liberal Illinois.
We were approximately forty miles from Chicago and forty miles from Milwaukee. We passed an electrical power substation that appeared to only have a chain linked fence around it for security.
Now I am sure there are intruder alarms and perhaps even cameras on the substation. Of course all they would do is advise the power company that an attack was in progress and the cameras (if they survive) might provide video for law enforcement to watch after the power was restored.
The Colonel asked “how many people do you suspect would be affected if they (bad-guys/terrorists) were to take out that.” She was pointing at the substation. I did not want to call the power company and ask them how many people on the Wisconsin/Illinois border got their power directly routed through the substation we had just passed.
If you start asking questions like that someone might show up at your front door.
When I was a Colorado Ranger I attended a briefing where the US power grid was discussed. We were advised there is an electrical switching system somewhere west of the Rookies that if knocked out, it could shut down the electric grid from California to the Mississippi river. Also, the system was made in a European nation and if destroyed there were no replacement units just sitting around as back-ups. They would have to be made new, after an order was placed.
Of course in the mean time everyone between Hollywood and St. Louis would be without electricity. Don’t ask me where this system is because I truly do not know. I will admit that myself and some of the other people attending the briefing pretty much came up with the same question, “who the hell designed such a vulnerable system?”
I assume you have heard about the 52 minute sniper attack on an electrical substation (http://tiny.cc/k0ngfx) in central California? Perhaps you did not because it happen in April of 2013 but the press did not report it to the nation until February 2014—a ten month delay in the news.
One news report advised that the FBI did not believe the incident was a terrorist attack. So what was it, crack-heads shooting the place up until the power went off so they could slip in, steal the copper wire and use the money to buy drugs? Yeah, that must have been it and with the value of copper the FBI had to get involved. Could you imagine losing your electricity for weeks, perhaps months on end and the power and might of the US could not fix the problem because of a nationwide electrical outage?
I just finished the book Gridlock ( http://tiny.cc/woogfx ) by Senator Byron Dorgan and David Hagberg. In the book the Russians have developed a computer virus that can shut down the entire US power grid. The Iranians and the Venezuelans acquire the virus and use it to attack the US power grid. The first thing they do is stage a rolling black out starting on the west coast and shutting down the power in major cities all the way to the east coast.
As soon as the power goes off Americans start to die due to the loss of electricity that runs the life-saving and life-supporting devices our citizens have come to not only expect but demand. Sadly, as members of our society figure out the patterns of the power outages they take advantage of the situation and crime escalates. The race is on for the heroes of the book to find the computer hacker who has the virus and try to stop him before he releases the virus onto the entire grid system and put the US back in the stone-age in minutes.
OK, it is fiction but the way they describe the major weaknesses in our power system it is not hard to envision our electricity being cut off by a few small groups of saboteurs who could impact the entire US and Canada. The US is an open country and our power grid is out there for the taking. Electricity and the labor-saving devices it allows us to use twenty four hours a day cannot go down.
Ask any diabetic you know how they plan to keep their life saving insulin properly stored and safe from spoilage without refrigeration. If the US losses its power grid, thousands will die in the first few days and then it will get real nasty. Without electricity you cannot pump gasoline and your chain saw will not work due to lack of fuel. So you cannot cut wood to burn in your stove to keep from freezing. Also there are not wood powdered air conditioners for you folks in the South.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret./ email@example.com
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” firstname.lastname@example.org