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December 10, 2022
Threat Journal is a weekly supplement to the
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Attacks on Substations Show National Vulnerability

December 10, 2022
 
What You Need To Know

A string of attacks on electrical infrastructure has occurred at substations and other power facilities since mid-October in the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest. Last Sunday authorities in Moore County, North Carolina declared a state of emergency following an attack that damaged electrical infrastructure and left more than 40,000 customers without power.

Moore County is located in central North Carolina, near Fort Bragg, the nation’s most populous Army post. Because of this proximity, a large number of soldiers and civilian personnel serving at the installation live within Moore County.

The incidents in North Carolina followed attacks at six substations in Oregon and Washington during the October / November time frame. According to a DHS security memo, the physical attacks on these substations was carried out using hand tools, arson, and metal chains (thrown into the substation components). Firearms were believed to have been used in two of those attacks.

The Grid: 8000 Power Plants, 55,000 Substations

The US government identifies the Energy Sector as unique because it provides an “enabling function” across all 16 critical infrastructure sectors.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the electric power sector in the U.S. is made up of more than 8,000 power plants with various owners and operators, including traditional utilities and private (non-utility) power producers.

Downstream from these 8,000 power plants are more than 55,000 substations where critical incidents are common, to include regular acts of vandalism and theft of materials like copper. Damage due to firearms, while not unheard of, is much less common.

From a reporting standpoint such as that of AlertsUSA, this creates an interesting signal-to-noise problem. Among 8,000 power plants and 55,000 substations, outages are common and from a variety of causes. While the loss of power is instantaneous, determining that the outage is the result of vandalism, theft, gunfire, some natural hazard, or equipment failure can take time.

Readers are reminded that in January of this year, the Department of Homeland Security issued a security bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide warning that domestic violent extremists have been developing plans to attack the U.S. electricity infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the grid as a particularly attractive target given its interdependency with other infrastructure sectors.

Similarly, less than two weeks ago, DHS issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin which also warns U.S. critical infrastructure remains a potential target for attack.

To better understand the complexity of the U.S. electrical grid, see this resource from the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team.

Caution and vigilance are urged not only for sector stakeholders, but also those who reside near power generation and transmission facilities.

AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.


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Ukraine War Update+

As of December 10, 2022
What You Need To Know

According to the Institute for the Study of War:

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to discuss negotiations with Ukraine as a means of separating Ukraine from its Western supporters by portraying Kyiv as unwilling to compromise or even to engage in serious talks. During a news conference at the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on December 9, Putin clarified his December 7 statements wherein he suggested that Russia was preparing for a “lengthy” war and stated that he meant the settlement process would be protracted. Putin emphasized that the settlement process will be challenging and take time, and that all participants will need to agree with realities on the ground in Ukraine (by which he presumably means recognizing Russian control of any territories it has annexed), but that at the end of the day, Russia is open to negotiations.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense:

Iran has become one of Russia's top military backers since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Iran’s support to the Russian military is likely to grow in the coming months: Russia is attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles. In return Russia is highly likely offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their defence relationship.

Russia has highly likely expended a large proportion of its stock of its own SS-26 Iskander short range ballistic missiles, which carry a 500kg warhead up to 500km. If Russia succeeds in bringing a large number of Iranian ballistic missiles into service, it will likely use them to continue and expand its campaign of strikes against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure.

Click to Enlarge - Ukraine conflict map as of December 10, 2022. - ALLOW IMAGES

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un oversees a missile launch at an undisclosed location, in a photo released on October 10, 2022 via    KCNA - ALLOW IMAGES

Commentary / Analysis / Research

December 10, 2022

North Korea’s Tactical Nuclear Threshold Is Frighteningly Low

This year, the threat from North Korea’s nuclear arsenal entered an alarming new phase. By mid-November, the regime had fired 63 ballistic missiles, more than double its previous annual record. The year’s tests included a record eight intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches, and U.S. and South Korean officials warn that the regime has completed preparations for a seventh nuclear test that waits on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s order.

However, 2022’s most alarming development is not about what North Korea could use to deliver a nuclear warhead, but when and why it plans to do it. In recent months, North Korean leaders have articulated a dangerous new doctrine for its expanding tactical nuclear arsenal. Unlike its strategic intercontinental missiles, which are probably a last resort to prevent regime change, the Kim family said its tactical weapons could be used at the outset of conflict to fight and win a limited war on the Korean Peninsula.

~ READ MORE HERE (Foreign Policy) ~

Taiwan’s Offensive Cyber Capabilities

Much media attention and scholarly research goes into understanding Chinese hacking campaigns. At the same time, Taiwan’s cyber capabilities are often overlooked, even though public sources indicate that Taiwan is an advanced cyber actor that has successfully and repeatedly breached key Chinese systems for over a decade. Over the last five years, Taiwan has developed organizational structures for offensive cyber capabilities. Taiwan’s cyberespionage capabilities could play a useful role in countering China’s growing disruptive attacks and detecting any military buildup along the Strait, while cyber operations themselves, could be used to react to Chinese cyber actors which have frequently targeted Taiwan, or disrupt the planning capabilities of the People’s Liberation Armed Forces.

If a shooting war were to break out, however, cyber operations would likely play a much smaller role than traditional kinetic arms.

~ READ MORE HERE (CFR) ~

How Counterterrorism and Great Power Competition Coexist

Counterterrorism and great power competition are dynamic and interconnected spheres; should the U.S. and its allies leave a political or operational vacuum, others can occupy the vacuum – a strong risk in places like Afghanistan and Mali where Russia and China retain influence.

~ READ MORE HERE (Soufan Center) ~

Basic Evasive Driving Techniques

A driver’s proper mindset is both reactive and proactive, allowing one to be reactive in a productive way, and helping one to recognize the signs of an attack that may only register as instinct. How can you use driving skills to help thwart and escape from an attack while you are in a vehicle?

~ READ MORE HERE (OSAC) ~


Fleet and Marine Tracker Map as of Dec 5, 2022.  - ALLOW IMAGES
 
USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker
December 10, 2022

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of December 5, 2022 based on U.S. Navy, public data provided by the U.S. Naval Institute, and open source reporting.


Marines observe impact zones during a fire support coordination exercise as part of Steel Knight, a combined arms live-fire exercise, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Nov. 30, 2022. - ALLOW IMAGES
 
World News Roundup
December 10, 2022

AMERICAS

Alarm over growing Iran, Russia ties amid Ukraine assault
At least 8 killed in Mexican resort of Acapulco
Honduras suspends rights in 2 big cities amid gang crackdown
Navy lowers entrance exam requirements in bid to get more recruits
TSA plans nationwide rollout of biometric machines for airport travelers
FBI ramps up spending to fight MAGA terrorism
ATF set to destroy guns associated with Fast and Furious scandal
Off-duty FBI agent fatally shoots person at DC's Metro Center station
Saudi Crown Prince behind deal to swap Griner for 'Merchant Of Death'
Peru's Castillo faces criminal charges as new president Boluarte takes helm
Russian politician sentenced for Ukraine action criticism

EUROPE

NATO chief fears Ukraine war could become a wider conflict
Eyes on Russia's ally Belarus as Ukraine's neighbour moves troops
US State Department issues consent for sale of Abrams tanks to Poland
Putin accuses Poland of ‘wanting to seize’ Western Ukraine…
NATO naval units increase readiness in Baltic Sea
Bulgaria to send its first military aid to Ukraine
Germany arrests 25 people over alleged far-right coup plot
Germany's massive right-wing extremist raid: More show than substance?
Serbia mulls sending troops to Kosovo as tensions escalate
Climate activists from France and Italy block Mount Blanc tunnel
Russia is concerned over oil tankers build-up in Bosphorus
Belarus moves soldiers and gear amid Ukrainian fears of attack
Train collision in Spain hurts 155, no serious injuries

MIDDLE EAST / AFRICA

LOL: U.N. demands Israel surrender its nuclear arsenal
Israel's Netanyahu gets extension until Dec. 21 to try to form government
Migrant worker abuse in Qatar continue to be reported during World Cup
Nigeria denies mass ‘abortion programme’ of Boko Haram victims
South Africans are not alone, as Zimbabweans face 19-hour power cuts
Thousands of Somalis cross over to Kenya fleeing drought, insecurity
Chad’s coup leader stops democracy in its tracks
M23 rebels killed at least 131 civilians in eastern DRC, UN
‘Bring your own syringe’: Malawi’s medical supplies shortage at crisis point
Sao Tome PM believes 'extrajudicial executions' occurred after coup bid
South Sudan: ‘Raw violence’ displaces thousands during ‘ruthless conflict’
Iranian patrol vessel tried to blind US Navy ships
Somalia forces recapture key town from jihadists
Nigeria to limit cash withdrawals to $225 a week

ASIA

China's Xi calls for oil trade in Yuan at Gulf Summit in Riyadh
Xi inks tens of billions in deals with Saudi Arabia
China to use Shanghai exchange for yuan energy deals with Gulf nations
China has more ‘nuclear warheads’ on ballistic missiles than the U.S.
Suicide bombers blows self up, Bandung, West Java Province
Top nuclear envoys of S. Korea, U.S., Japan to meet in Indonesia next week
Kim Jong-un reshuffles top officials more often to secure loyalty, tighten power
N. Korean nuclear threat poses serious challenge to U.S. extended deterrence
UN calls on DPRK to abandon nuclear program and comply with safeguards
Sri Lanka shuts schools as extreme weather brings pollution
Bangladesh arrests politicians before anti-government rally
Fears a surge in covid cases in PNG could last until well after Christmas
Indonesia's new laws a threat to privacy, press and human rights, says UN
South Korea considers ordering more striking truckers back to work

PUBLIC HEALTH

Why does the US keep running out of medicine?
FDA panelest who voted for COVID vaccine emerg approval dies suddenly
DeSantis to hold Pfizer and Moderna accountable for false claims
CDC used a backchannel with Twitter to control the COVID-19 narrative
Call for investigation into mortality rates as Australia sees death-rate spike
Chinese health official admits 80-90% of population may end up with COVID
Discriminatory attitudes against the unvaccinated during a global pandemic
Cholera cases rise in DRC camps, aid workers say
United Nations: Cholera is spreading in Haiti


Peak Prosperity with Dr. Chris Martenson.

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Travel Security Resources

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The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to research on the security situation at your destination prior to departure.

Active USGOV Travel Notices
Worldwide Caution


Active USGOV Travel Advisories
Alphabetical Country List
Dynamic Map



Other USGOV Travel Resources
Traveler's Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Prog (STEP)
Travelers with Special Considerations
Travel to High-Risk Areas
Faith-Based Travel Information
Information for Women Travelers
Cruise Ship Passengers
Students Abroad
Your Health Abroad
Driving and Road Safety Abroad

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The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides a variety of resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector businesses and organizations operating abroad.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is the authoritative federal source for information on current health issues related to specific destinations worldwide. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.

 

Foreign Sources of Travel Guidance

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