Verify: Is the DOD shutting down the power grid on Saturday?
Author: Abby Curran
Published: 5:32 PM EDT November 3, 2017
Updated: 8:32 PM EDT November 3, 2017
VERIFY 2 Articles

You may have seen some posts floating around saying that the Department of Defense will be shutting down the power grid November 4-6 to do a blackout scenario radio test. There is also a claim that the supposed "blackout" coincides with an ANTIFA protest.

We set out to verify if these claims were true.


Verify: Is the DOD shutting down the power grid on Saturday?

Chapter 1


These are the sources we used for today's Verify.
These are the sources we used for today's Verify.

We looked at the webpage and Facebook page for the National Association for Amateur Radio. We also reached out to the Department of Defense and spoke with Eric Hortin, who is the public affairs officer for The Army Network Enterprise Technology Command.

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) outlines the Interoperability training exercise on their website. It says, "Elements of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will conduct a 'communications interoperability' training exercise November 4-6, once again simulating a 'very bad day' scenario. Amateur Radio and MARS organizations will take part."

"This exercise will begin with a notional massive coronal mass ejection event which will impact the national power grid as well as all forms of traditional communication, including landline telephone, cell phone, satellite, and Internet connectivity," according to Army MARS Program Manager Paul English.

According to the DOD, this means basically they are simulating something like if a solar flare hitting North America. That would create an electromagnetic pulse and wipe out communications such as phone and internet.

The purpose of the exercise is to make sure all amateur radio operators can be contacted and that their radios work.

Hortin said in an interview, “It will not impact any public or private communications and there will be no power outages ... The radio operators are simply asked to provide a status update, a communication that says 'yes we're here, and we're ok.'”

When we spoke to a DOD representative on the phone, they said adamantly that they are not turning off the power grid and that the rumor that they were is false.

The ARRL says this is an exercise that they do four times a year. It's very routine. They also posted on their Facebook page that "No we will not **actually** be turning off the electrical power grid. While I strive for realism when planning exercises, turning off the electricity all across the US is way above my pay-grade, so we just have to simulate that."

Also, no solar storm is expected for that day.

There were other claims that the supposed blackout would coincide with ANTIFA protests. That rumor is also false. The ARRL says, "The date for COMEX 17-4 was set more than a year in advance. Keeping track of the various protest groups calendar of events is more than a little out of our lane."

Chapter 2

So what is the purpose of this exercise?

Hortin says that over 800 radio operators that span every state, parts of Canada and Europe, use different scenarios to make sure that the support is in place in case of disaster.

"Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and they provide a great communications capability in the event of large-scale power or communications outages … These folks are really good at helping out."

So in conclusion, the claim that the D-O-D is shutting down the power grid November 4th is false.

The claim that the radio exercise coincides with ANTIFA protests is also false.

And that's verified.


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