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Sunday, February 18, 2018
Emails: How PACOM grappled with false missile alert
By Selected News Articles @ 3:56 PM :: 2954 Views :: Military

Emails detail how senior U.S. military officers grappled with false Hawaii missile alert

From Washington Post, February 18, 2018 (excerpts)

The Hawaii government’s erroneous warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack caused confusion at U.S. military facilities, frustrating senior officers and causing them to question procedures for communicating with state officials, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.

The emails were sent in succession after thousands of people received a text-message warning Jan. 13 that prompted hysteria in parts of Hawaii. The U.S. military had no role in sending the mistaken message but nonetheless had to deal with the fallout….

The emails were obtained Friday night through the Freedom of Information Act. They detail efforts by the U.S. military to address what happened, gather information internally and answer questions to better handle crises in the future. They make no mention of President Trump or White House staff, who declined to address the issue and referred to the gaffe as a “state issue.”….

U.S. Pacific Command began responding to media questions about the alert by 8:23 a.m., saying there was no threat and state officials would issue a correction. Harris’s email to Dunford and other senior Pentagon officers indicated that the notification system “worked as we hoped it would” and that Pacific Command had several tasks to do.

“There will be heavy press play here, for sure, which we’ll handle for those questions which concern PACOM forces,” Harris wrote. “Will also work with the State of Hawaii and internal to PACOM — am sure there are lessons learned where we can improve.”

However, there was “a lot of explaining by the State of Hawaii to do,” Harris added….

Andrew Singer, a retired admiral who is now Harris’s deputy director for intelligence, wrote to Air Force Maj. Gen. Kevin Schneider, Harris’s chief of staff, that the state “has more than the alert system to work on.” It is unclear what he was alluding to; parts of his email are redacted….

Harris also emailed the top Air Force officer in the Pacific, Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, asking for additional information about a warning broadcasted on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“Just for my education and edification, when the Big Voice went off at Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, there was no indication that this was a drill; in fact just the opposite,” Harris wrote. “So, what happens on the flight line, and what message, if any was passed to aircraft in the air?”

O’Shaughnessy’s responses are partially redacted, but he told Harris that afternoon in another email that air-traffic controllers did not pass warnings of incoming ballistic missiles to aircraft or hold any aircraft on the ground…..

Harris also was concerned that word of the false alert did not immediately reach the Pacific Command operations center because U.S. troops there are required to leave their cell phones outside as a security measure….

PDF: False Hawaii Missile Warning Emails (57pgs) 

read … The Washington Post

DO: University of Delaware researchers are using Hawaii's missile alert to study how people reacted in the 38 minutes of panic and uncertainty.

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