The American people owe President Trump a debt of gratitude, and perhaps someday their lives, for his “Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses” signed on March 26, 2019.
The EMP Executive Order is designed to protect America’s life-sustaining critical infrastructures — such as the electric grid, telecommunications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water — from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by an exo-atmospheric nuclear detonation or solar superstorm.
Scientists and strategic EMP experts have been advocating for an EMP Executive Order to protect America from this existential threat for nearly 20 years. And President Trump’s excellent EMP Executive Order is a “whole of government” product involving coordination and concurrence by the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, Intelligence Community, and other relevant departments and agencies.
Yet some press reporting implies President Trump’s EMP Executive Order was signed on a whim, citing ignorant, uninformed persons posing as “instant EMP experts” to belittle the president and the very real threat from EMP.
Curiously, the Washington Post refused to publish my article on the EMP Executive Order (and has refused to publish all of my over 100 articles on EMP submitted over the years), even though I served as chief of staff of the Congressional EMP Commission.
Yet the Post recently published “Trump Issued An Executive Order To Prepare For An EMP Attack. What Is It And Should You Worry?” (March 29, 2019) by four college students posing as “instant EMP experts” that includes numerous errors of fact and omission.
Readers of the Washington Post might be interested in the below corrections to errors by the college students:
STUDENTS: “Should you worry about EMPs? Probably not that much.”
EMP Commission: “The critical national infrastructure in the United States faces a present and continuing existential threat from combined-arms warfare, including cyber and manmade electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, as well as EMP from a solar superstorm…Such an attack would give countries that have only a small number of nuclear weapons the ability to cause widespread, long-lasting damage to critical national infrastructures, to the United States itself as a viable country, and to the survival of a majority of its population.” (“Assessing the Threat from EMP Attack” July 2017)
STUDENTS: “Fortunately, there’s little concern about an EMP attack…because a nuclear EMP attack would be just that: a nuclear attack.”
CORRECTION: Military doctrine and planning of potential adversaries regard nuclear EMP attack as a dimension of cyber warfare because EMP damages electronics, is not directly injurious to people, and no blast, radioactive fallout, or other effects associated with a nuclear attack result from an EMP attack.
STUDENTS: “…deterrence makes it unlikely a nuclear EMP attack would happen in the first place.”
CORRECTION: Deterrence depends on knowing who executed the EMP attack, which can be made anonymously by launching from a freighter or orbiting a nuclear-armed satellite among the hundreds already in orbit. EMP can destroy National Technical Means upon which the U.S. relies for threat assessment.
STUDENTS: “Nor is it likely an EMP attack could be used to prevent U.S. retaliation, as our nuclear infrastructure is already designed to withstand such an attack.”
CORRECTION: Most U.S. military forces are not hardened to survive EMP. The EMP Commission warned even protection of the U.S. nuclear deterrent is dangerously degraded since the end of the Cold War. Super-EMP weapons possessed by Russia, China, and probably North Korea can generate 100,000 volts/meter whereas the U.S. military hardness standard is 50,000 volts/meter.
STUDENTS: “And nuclear-armed submarines deployed across the world would not be affected by an EMP…”
CORRECTION: More than half of the 14 U.S. ballistic missile submarines are usually in port. Submarines on patrol cannot launch missiles without a presidential Emergency Action Message (EAM). Strategic C3 for conveying EAMs are potentially vulnerable to EMP.
STUDENTS: “Technical challenges…makes it hard to predict how much damage an EMP will cause, reducing its strategic value for governments that have only one chance to inflict damage…”
CORRECTION: Any nuclear EMP attack will inflict widespread catastrophic damage. EMP attack is the only realistic nuclear option for a nation like North Korea to defeat the United States. Russia and China regard EMP attack as a potentially decisive key to victory. See my EMP Commission report “Nuclear EMP Attack Scenarios and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare” (Amazon.com).
STUDENTS: “Nobel Prize-winning physicist Jack Steinberger says [EMP] destructive capability is overstated.”
OMISSION: Steinberger is not an EMP expert, has never worked professionally on EMP for the defense or intelligence communities.
STUDENTS: “Nor is it likely that terrorist groups could conduct a large-scale EMP attack…”
CORRECTION: Any nuclear EMP attack will be large-scale. Terrorists could make an EMP attack using a balloon, jet doing a zoom-climb, or short-range missile launched from a freighter. Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of international terrorism, has practiced the latter. North Korea has threatened to sell nuclear weapons to terrorists. Yemen’s Ansar Allah terrorists have missiles capable of EMP attack, if nuclear-armed.
STUDENTS: “What should we be worried about? The Sun.”
OMISSION: The students neglect noting President Trump’s EMP Executive Order addresses natural EMP threats from solar superstorms too.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars."
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