News or Noise: Facebook post claims DOD training will cause a massive blackout

November 01, 2017 11:26 PM

A viewer reached out to me asking about a viral video she's seen on the internet.

You too have likely seen it too. It claims in just a few days, the entire country will go dark because of a Department of Defense training exercise.

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It's causing a lot of panic, but is it News or Noise?

In the video, the user claims, "November 4th through the 6th there will be an electronic magnetic pulse going through the entire continent of North America. Like Geo Storm. Like the movie Geo Storm." 

The woman claims this Saturday there will be a massive blackout, but she doesn't stop there. "It's worse than a blackout, ok your car isn't going to work, your phones aren't going to work, nothing that got electricity going through it is going to work. A lot of people are going to die in America because generators aren't going to work."

Her nearly eight minute rant continues to trash the government agency that protects all Americans. "Go to the Department of Defense's website, this is how much they really care about Americans. They aren't even letting us know it's going to happen, they're saying it's a drill."

Where is this woman getting her information from? If you go to the National Association for Amateur Radio, you'll see this press release: "Elements of the US Department of Defense (DOD) will conduct a 'communications interoperability' training exercise November 4-6, once again simulating a 'very bad day' scenario."

So I called the Department of Defense to find out what's really going on. The major that I spoke with said this is a drill the DOD has been doing with amateur radio operators since 2013. It simulates a complete national power grid blackout as well as all forms of communication.

The DOD will request county-by-county status reports for the more than 3,000 U.S. counties to ensure communication with the government should there ever be a complete black out.

So when you see the post, don't share this video because while there will be a training exercise this weekend, reports of a complete blackout is all NOISE!

DOD statement

The U.S. Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) will conduct a quarterly interoperability communications exercise from November 4 to 6, calling on Military Auxiliary Radio System operators around the country to participate.

The exercise will simulate a power-outage scenario; it will not impact any public or private communications. There will be no power outages of communications systems. This exercise is designed to improve readiness, build cooperation and public awareness, and better prepare to defend the nation.

The Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), which is part of NETCOM, conducts interoperability communications exercises on a regular basis and has been doing so since 2013. Interoperability exercises are designed to test communications links between the Army, Department of Defense, and the hundreds of trained volunteers who provide this critical service as MARS members. This community helps provide redundant communications capability in the event of a large-scale power or communications outage, as well as emergency reporting information about local conditions across the country on a rapid scale.

These exercises are scheduled at least a year in advance to maximize training opportunities and enhance the proficiency and readiness of MARS members and organizations they support. MARS operators' primary mission during these quarterly exercises is to serve as liaisons between supported organizations, emergency responders and the amateur radio community.

For details on the exercise, please contact NETCOM Public Affairs at


Jennifer Mobilia

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