After a false missile threat alert from Hawaii’s government, top US senior military officers began discussing how to better handle such a threat if it were real, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.
On Saturday, January 13, an emergency alert notification was sent out to Hawaii, warning of an imminent ballistic missile threat. Thirty-eight minutes later, a second emergency alert was sent to phones, confirming it was a false alarm.
“We should take full advantage of this unforced error by the State of Hawaii,” the chief of US Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, wrote in one of several emails the Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and released Saturday.
The emails show efforts by top military officers to review procedures after the false alarm exposed faults in Hawaii’s emergency notification system.
Harris emailed US Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy asking for more information about how Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam handled the ballistic missile threat, even though it was a false alarm.
“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, using military jargon for a loudspeaker on military bases. “So, what happens on the flight line, and what message, if any was passed to aircraft in the air?”
Harris was informed that air-traffic controllers did not pass warnings of incoming ballistic missiles to aircraft or hold any aircraft on the ground.
“I think we’re going to learn a lot here. For ~ 25-30 minutes, this was a real alert, mistaken though it was,” Harris wrote.
The US Pacific Command leader also directed a similar question to the deputy commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter: What do ships and submarines do in the case of a b