American Military University
Intelligence and Homeland Security
Professor Kurt Binversie
December 14, 2014 The United States began using the term Critical Infrastructure in the middle 1990’s. During this timeframe the American military was the strongest and we also had the largest economy in the world. Combined these two factors were both reinforcing as well as dependent on each other (The White House 2003). In 1996 President William Clinton formed a special commission to investigate America’s critical infrastructure vulnerabilities. Much of Americas critical infrastructure is owned and operate by private industry especially water supply and regulation. Al Qaeda operatives can attack American infrastructure by presenting both a physical attack which is to either damage or destroy tangible property or through electronic or computer based systems know as cyber-attacks.
American Critical infrastructure should include the North American watershed however it is my opinion that an attack on a dam is not considered a credible threat. Based on my research there are 10,049 dams in American that are considered high hazard because a city is located in close proximity; usually one mile or less (Zakis, 2002). It is also my observation that the American Society of Civil Engineers have identified over 2,600 dams as unsafe, with 520 incidents and 21 failures in the past ten years. My analysis is based on the American report on the National Performance of Dams programs (Axtman, 2003). It is my analysis that dams like any other man made structure deteriorates over time and therefore requires periodic inspections as well as maintenance.
It is my observation that Americans places the most emphasis on the larger dams rather than focusing on the smaller structures especially the earthen dams. It is my assessment that earthen dams make up the majority of the most vulnerable dams in the American inventory. Engineering wise they are simply well compacted embankments that are often treated with watertight concrete or clay cores (Zakis, 2002).
It is my assessment that embankment dams are the most vulnerable dams in the North American inventory. They are constructed in two manners rock filled and earth; neither of the two are joined by mortar. These type dams rely highly on their weight and thickness to hold the water, especially at the headwall (Zakis, 2002). It is my opinion that these dams are the most vulnerable to our attack. Geographically the dams are located in remote area with little observation from law enforcement or government officials. I am confident that the headwall of an embankment dam would not stand up to convention nor unconventional explosives. If we were to attack a high hazard target during hours of limited visibility or possibly during a hurricane or other natural disaster seasons we could cause the death of thousands. The emotional and the psychological impacts of destroying one of these dams would be significant to the American public much like the flooding in New Orleans. Additionally most of the embankment dams are maintained and operated by private industry leaving the United States government with limited authority… I do not believe that the United States government has the authority to mandate security measures are enacted to protect the dams from terrorist attacks. It is my assessment that no one protects the embankment dams.
It is my recommendation that we target multiple embankment dams with a moderate size truck that will drive up to the base of the headwall and detonate. I recommend that the attack be conducted in the state of Virginia where there are approximately 100 or more homes within one mile of the damn. The targets in this state are plentiful and are usually in remote locations not visible to the immediate population. A suicide style attack is not recommended as a attack near the head