Earlier this month, CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization located in Arlington, VA, released a new report from their Military Advisory Board (MAB) titled National Security and Assured U.S. Electrical Power. The CNA MAB is “an elite group of retired three- and four-star flag and general officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps that studies pressing issues of the day to assess their impact on America’s national security.” In this report, the CNA MAB reaffirms and updates findings from their 2009 report, Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security, and provides recommendations for a path forward in the mission to secure our energy future.
“The trends are clear. The current way Americans produce and distribute electricity is at increasing risk. At the same time, the way we produce and use energy is radically changing. Just as the twentieth century was dominated by energy derived from oil and coal, the twenty-first century will see much greater energy diversity including solar, wind, small nuclear reactors, hydrogen, and other low-carbon sources. Assuring that we have reliable, accessible, sustainable, and affordable electric power is a national security imperative. Our increased reliance on electric power in every sector of our lives, including communications, commerce, transportation, health, and emergency services, in addition to homeland and national defense, means that large-scale disruptions of electrical power will have immediate costs to our economy and can place our security at risk. Whether it is the ability of first responders to answer the call to emergencies here in the U.S. or the readiness and capability of our military service members to effectively operate at home or deployed in theater, these missions are directly linked to assured domestic electric power.
“The current U.S. electric grid’s overreliance on aging twentieth-century technology, based on large, centralized power generation and interconnected distribution architecture, makes it susceptible to a wide variety of threats, including: severe weather and other natural disasters; direct physical attack, or cyberattack; and accidents associated with the age of the grid or human error. The national security vulnerabilities associated with the grid leave the U.S. open to both small/short-duration and large/long-duration power outages.”