The United States spends more money on military preparedness than any other country -- nearly $2 billion per day. But some of the most obvious challenges get short shrift in the federal budget. A case in point is the inability of essential defense installations to function if the lights go out for more than a few days.
Ten years ago, the Pentagon's Defense Science Board issued a study warning that "military installations are almost completely dependent on a fragile and vulnerable commercial power grid, placing critical military and homeland defense missions at unacceptable risk of extended outage." The study went on to assert that "backup power at military installations is based on assumptions of a more resilient grid than exists and much shorter outages than may occur."
Nothing has been done during the intervening decade to remedy these vulnerabilities. In fact, the danger has grown worse as overseas adversaries such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran increasingly probe the U.S. electric grid using cyber tools. With 99% of the electricity used at domestic military sites coming from "outside the fence '' -- meaning off-base -- the military is limited in its ability to prevent on-line disruption of power sources.