The Pentagon warned lawmakers this week about the growing and urgent threat of directed-energy attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, according to four people briefed on the matter.
Two Defense Department officials briefed members of the House Armed Service Committee about the phenomenon in a classified setting on Wednesday, the people said, and told lawmakers they are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of U.S. troops in places such as Syria, Afghanistan and various countries in South America.
Briefers pointed to Russia as a likely culprit, thepeople told POLITICO, but didn’t have a smoking gun, citing difficulties in attributing the attacks.
The Pentagon opened an investigation last year after suspected directed-energy attacks occurred on an unknown number of troops, POLITICO first reported earlier Thursday.
Lawmakers were officially notified on April 15 that the House Armed Services briefing would take place on Wednesday. Committee members heard from Jennifer Walsh, the acting Pentagon policy chief, and Griffin Decker, the Pentagon’s director of the emerging threats cell. The official notice, which was obtained by POLITICO, described the briefing as urgent and said it was centered on an “emerging threat.”
“Due to the nature of the threat, members are highly encouraged to attend,” the notice stated.
Officials told lawmakers that the phenomenon of suspected directed-energy attacks on U.S. personnel — which cause a mysterious illness similar to the “Havana syndrome” reported by American spies and diplomats starting in late 2016 — is growing across the world, according to three people who attended Wednesday’s briefing.
The briefers also told lawmakers that the origin of the technology required in such attacks is “more likely than not in Russia,” one of the people said. One person familiar with the briefing said the briefers also pointed to China as a possible culprit, and didn’t know for sure who was behind the attacks.