Asymmetric Dialogue

Military warns EMP attack could wipe out America

Summary Growing threat, a new military study warns that an electromagnetic pulse weapon attack such as those developed by North Korea, Russia, and Iran could essentially challenge the United States and displace millions.
In an extraordinary and sobering report meant to educate the nation on a growing threat, a new military study warns that an electromagnetic pulse weapon attack such as those developed by North Korea, Russia, and Iran could essentially challenge the United States and displace millions.

(Screenshot/LeMay Center for Doctrine)


“Based on the totality of available data,” said the report from the Air Force’s Air University and provided to Secrets, “an electromagnetic spectrum attack may be a threat to the United States, democracy, and the world order.”

The report, titled, “Electromagnetic Defense Task Force,” and the product of a mostly classified summit of officials from 40 agencies just outside of Washington earlier this year, is a forceful call for a new focus on preparing for either an enemy EMP attack or a natural hit such as a solar storm.



While it is focused on the devastating impact an EMP hit would have on the military, it appears to support a congressional warning that up to 90 percent of the population on the East Coast would die in a year of an attack that would dismantle or interfere with electricity, transportation, food processing, and healthcare.

Consider just some of the warnings in the report from the United States Air Force Air University and the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education. Citing figures from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the report:
99 nuclear reactors would likely melt down without electricity to cool them.
4.1 million would be displaced from areas around the nuclear plants as the radioactive cloud spread.

The report highlighted electronic systems on an Airbus A-380.
(Screenshot/LeMay Center for Doctrine)


Military and commercial jets, such as those built by Airbus, could be degraded. "Alarmingly, aircraft designed to carry large numbers of people and sizable cargo are allowed to operate without certainty about their level of resilience."
Bases would be cut off, making defense and counter-attacks impossible.
Civil unrest would start in “hours.”
Power and GPS could go dark. “An EMP would cause instantaneous and simultaneous loss of many technologies reliant on electrical power and computer circuit boards, such as cell phones and GPS devices.”
“Failures may include long-term loss of electrical power (due to loss of emergency generators), sewage, fresh water, banking, landlines, cellular service, vehicles.”
18 months or more are required to replace key elements of the electric grid that would be damaged or knocked out.

Figuring out just which country launched an attack would be difficult since certain weapons could be delivered in a satellite.

It also noted the development of the 5G mobile network and how it will run communications and why it must be protected, especially since China is the biggest investor in its development.

“Because control of 5G is roughly equivalent to control of the Internet, open 5G is critical to freedom and free-market economics. Meanwhile, access to the 5G-millimeter wave bandwidth will be critical to operations in all war-fighting domains, in particular, space command & control,” said the white paper.

Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, the commander of Air Education and Training Command, said, “As electromagnetic technologies fuse in new and often dangerous ways, it’s critical that the military and industry make honest evaluations of present and future conflict states to ensure we’re proactive rather than reactive.”

He also advised for predicting how U.S. foes will try to outsmart any fixes to the electric grid and other targets of an EMP attack.

“French actions before WWII demonstrate that even bold action, such as building the Maginot Line, can be rapidly overcome through imagination. The imagination that defeated the Maginot Line was the German Blitzkrieg which unexpectedly exploited the only gap in the wall. Groundbreaking research like this can help the wider defense community understand not only how take bold action, but how to take the right bold action to prevent catastrophic outcomes,” said the general.

The report said that the government should focus on the issue and declare it a critical issue. What’s more, it called for a central effort to push for EMP prevention and reaction should an attack come.

The report, written by experts Air Force Maj. David Stuckenberg, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and Col. Douglas DeMaio, also called for a national and congressional publicity campaign to alert the nation and governmental leaders to the threat.

“The potential for an adversary to inflict damage on states through EMS attack has grown significantly,” said the 69-page report, which warned, “An EMP attack affects all devices with solid-state electronics and could render inoperative the main grid and backup power systems, such as on-site generators.”

It highlighted the lack of a reaction plan or major focus on an EMP attack, even if just from a solar flare. “In some areas, there is a complete absence of strategy,” said the report. It added, “EMP is a tragedy of the commons as ‘no one’s job jar.’”