Air Force Targets Energy Resilience with “Pull-the-Plug” Exercises

  • Published
  • By Leslie Irwin
  • Air Force Energy

From dealing with the daily threats impacting our installations to planning and preparing for future hazards, the U.S. Air Force clearly recognizes the importance of energy and water resilience to ensure mission assurance. To address this priority, the Air Force is conducting pull-the-plug exercises to simulate the impact of an event that cuts electrical power to an installation, such as a natural disaster, to better prepare for and recover from an energy disruption.

“We are not just at risk sometime in the future, but right this second,” emphasized Mark Correll, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure (SAF/IEE). “Our installations are a critical part of our weapons system, and therefore key to our lethality against a recognized threat or response in an emergency.”

Conducting pull-the-plug exercises on installations helps to “figure out what installation energy backups exist and if they operate as intended,” as explained by SAF/IEE Energy’s Kathleen Richardson during a recent Association of Defense Communities panel on Energy Resilience Readiness Exercises.

Exercises allow for “real-world” identification of gaps and threats to energy resilience, and subsequently mission assurance. To date, the Air Force has completed two base-wide ‘pull-the-plug’ outage exercises. The base-wide exercise occurred in conjunction with an anti-terrorism and force protection exercise, and was aligned with a simulated cyber-related service attack on their utility provider.

Assessing the results of these and future exercises will allow the Air Force, in partnership with Office of the Secretary of Defense and MIT Lincoln Labs, to establish the framework on how the Enterprise tests the resilience of our energy, water, utilities, and communications networks and our ability to recover from a long-term power outage.

SAF/IEE intends to use pull-the-plug exercise outputs to verify the effectiveness of planning activities, like Installation Energy Plans, to inform energy, water and cyber security strategies, project solutions, and ultimately influence policy direction as the Air Force continues to ensure installation resilience for mission assurance.

For more information on how the Air Force is improving energy resilience, visit the SAF/IEE website at: and follow @AirForceEnergy on Facebook and @AFEnergy on Twitter.