A senior Air Force general is warning that America's electrical power grid is vulnerable to electronic attacks ranging from nuclear-produced electromagnetic pulse, to tactical electronic weapons from China or Russia, to geomagnetic storms—all of which can plunge the nation into darkness.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, commander of the Air Education and Training Command in San Antonio, Texas, issued the warning in a telephone interview during a conference earlier this week that brought together experts to find ways to protect against what the military is calling the electromagnetic spectrum, or EMS, threat.
"The American people need to understand that we built western civilization on electricity and information," Kwast said. "Whether it's our 4G LTE and our cell phones, or whether it's our energy grid, electricity and information are the magic sauce for economic development, economic growth, and the vibrancy of our economy."
The infrastructure to support electrical power and information transmission were built without consideration of electronic or other types of attacks, he said.
"But we see evidence of China and Russia looking at that as a vulnerability in American society and we have to be mindful of that," the three-star general said.