For the next 48 hours various State and national elements of the United States power grid are undergoing extensive “testing” dubbed GridEx II to examine the vitality of the United States electrical network during times of crisis. (Warnick 2013) Indeed news sources throughout the nation have taken notice of the exercise with some going as far to suggest this was an attempt by the government to institute a preemptive crisis and plunge the nation further into a Police State vice merely conducting an extensive test of the system. (Dodrill 2013) (Wald 2013) Complicating the issue has been a joint exercise between the United States military based in Hawaii, and visiting Chinese troops in excess of 600+ conducting “emergency relief” exercises. (Nal 2013) (Lake 2013)
Fact of the mater is; it doesn’t take a planned exercise to know the American Power Grid is in poor shape to defend against a cyber attack, EMP radiation, or just human error. (Wald 2013) The 2011 Southwest Blackout that impacted large swaths of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Mexico itself are evidence that even a legitimate employee replacing a simple $50 part can have disastrous consequences. As American dependence on modern conveniences continues, we require ever-greater levels of power for our daily lives. And I think that legitimately the only thing that could fundamentally crush the American way of life and freedoms would be a long-term or permanent crippling of the United States Power Grid.
That said, some critical thinking of the overall issue is warranted before leaping to the conclusion that the government is purposely shutting off the lights. Simple fact of the matter is the government (both State and Federal) would totally lose control in a “Black Out” situation. Emergency responders would immediately be overrun with calls for assistance (assuming network generators provided sufficient short-term power to maintain the phone networks), the National Guard would not be able to mobilize fast enough in these times of financial sequestration, and even if it were to last only for several days the economic and social impacts would be massive. Millions are reliant on either electrical or medicinal measures to maintain their quality of life, that without which they would die or psychologically become unbalanced. Simple examinations of disasters like Katrina and Sandy illustrate the factual speed to which government responds, and those were well-forecasted events. So clicking off the power for five days or longer throughout the United States would push the nation far further than is recoverable given our “on demand” supply system. If they wanted to legitimately demonstrate the problems as justification for further intrusion of the government into the daily lives of Americans, they’d target a single major metropolitan area, as a city is more recoverable and more importantly – controllable. Even ones as large as NYC, Chicago, or Los Angeles separately could be placed in a “emergency” state and for the most part controlled in a sufficient manner to the point that the sheep cry for the government to recover the city and expand further legislation/security measures/budgeting.
Separately, the issue of foreign troops conducting joint exercises on American soil is nothing unheard of. To those who are not from the military world it may seem odd, but in fact it’s not uncommon. Indeed the United States Army hosts multiple nations at the War College in Georgia and other nations in various small unit exercises as a means of cooperation. Personally however, I find it a little disturbing that we would be doing so under the auspices of “assistance” during a period of crisis for the United States as it opens a number of political and strategic doorways in such an event, but again the dual-nation exercise with limited troops is nothing out of the ordinary.
In the end, there will be no large-scale power outage. America will not go dark and denigrate down into roving bands of marauders. Fact of the matter it is likely nothing more than a PowerPoint exercise where regions examine their current capacity v degraded capabilities. Some local providers may in fact suffer a disruption, but the odds of that are small. This will provide planners sufficient information to determine how much the infrastructure can take (or can’t) and what weaknesses need to be addressed (such as age, overload, limited access, etc). There will likely be little or no observable impacts to the general population and the sheep will all go on with their lives ordering lattés and Super Sized Double Deluxe Baconators. Those who have been reliant on panic to stir government dissent, or call-to-action citing sinister government involvement, are nothing more than baiters and fear mongers reliant on the sheep and others who lack the ability for critical thinking themselves and are using GridEx II as a means to achieve their own goal of control.
Dodrill, Tara. “Emergency Expert Warns America Not Prepared For Loss Of Power Grid.” OffTheGridNews.com. November 13, 2013. http://www.offthegridnews.com/2013/11/13/emergency-expert-warns-america-not-prepared-for-loss-of-power-grid/ (accessed November 13, 2013).
Lake, Kevin. Chinese Disaster Relief Troops On U.S. Soil Not in the Philippines- Why? November 13, 2013. http://freepatriot.org/2013/11/13/video-chinese-disaster-relief-troops-on-u-s-soil-not-in-the-philippines-why/ (accessed November 13, 2013).
Nal, Renee. “Chinese troops land in Hawaii for ‘disaster relief exercises’ during Grid Ex II .” The Examiner. Tampa Conservative Examiner. November 12, 2013. http://www.examiner.com/article/chinese-troops-land-hawaii-for-disaster-relief-exercises-during-grid-ex-ii (accessed November 13, 2013).
Wald, Matthew. Fear of the Dark. November 9, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/sunday-review/fear-of-the-dark.html?_r=0 (accessed November 12, 2013).
– As Worries Over the Power Grid Rise, a Drill Will Simulate a Knockout Blow. November 13, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/us/as-worries-over-the-power-grid-rise-a-drill-will-simulate-a-knockout-blow.html?_r=0 (accessed November 13, 2013).
Warnick, Karen. “Electric grid blackout drills planned across country, AZ.” White Mountain Independant’s Online Edition. November 12, 2013. http://www.wmicentral.com/news/latest_news/electric-grid-blackout-drills-planned-across-country-az/article_9bf574e4-480b-11e3-9903-001a4bcf887a.html (accessed November 13, 2013).