Defense officials briefed American lawmakers on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees earlier this month about at least two possible incidents on US soil, including one near the White House in November of last year, that appear similar to mysterious attacks that have led to debilitating symptoms for dozens of US personnel,known as “Havana syndrome” attack. Federal agencies are investigating. In a separate 2019 episode, a White House official reported a similar attack while walking her dog in a Virginia suburb just outside Washington. Defense officials who briefed lawmakers said it was possible Russia was behind the attacks, but they did not have enough information to say this for sure. One State Department-sponsored study after diplomatic and intelligence personnel in Cuba first began reporting alarming symptoms in 2016 and 2017 found they likely were the result of microwave energy attacks. Pentagon leaders set up the task force to track reports of such symptoms. The CIA began its task force in December 2020, and expanded its efforts under new Director William Burns, who vowed during his confirmation hearings to review the evidence on the alleged attacks on CIA personnel overseas.
In one incident that was investigated, Marines on a remote base in Syria developed flu-like symptoms shortly after a Russian helicopter flew over the base, raising immediate concerns that it could be one of these strange attacks. It was found, however, the situation was linked to bad food. The symptoms often vary and officials still have no clear sense of how the unknown adversary is doing what it’s doing. A March report from the National Academy of Sciences found that “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy” was the most likely cause of the strange set of symptoms. The Pentagon’s investigation is ongoing. “There is nothing that the Secretary of Defense takes more seriously that the safety, health and welfare of our personnel serving around the globe in defense of our values and freedoms,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.