Last month, news broke that the congressional committee studying the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States was being forced to disband–at the same time North Korea specifically threatened an EMP attack as part of it’s alarming increase in nuclear tests. This is widely considered to be the complete opposite approach to protecting our nation’s national security in a mostly anarchic international environment. In fact, just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was primitive, some academics claiming it had as few as 6 A-Bombs.
Over the weekend, in a dim corner of Washington D.C. and in a quiet recess of the Pentagon, a national security tragedy occurred with little notice or fanfare. On Sept. 30, the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat of Electromagnetic Pulse to the United States of America (or EMP Commission) was shut down indefinitely. Since 2000, the EMP Commission, an unpaid team of leading scientists, engineers, and security experts has worked tirelessly to test, understand, and uncover risks posed to our nation’s civil and military infrastructure by Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). EMP is a well known physical electromagnetic phenomena generated by a nuclear or special weapon or coronial mass ejection (CME).
Radicalization and violent extremism are topics of concern that have become much more pronounced in recent years (Sedgwick, 2010), and radicalization can be defined as the development of extremist ideologies and beliefs (Borum, 2011). Many factors influence individuals to turn from nonviolent to violent ideologies, including propaganda on the Internet (Maher, 2007), social networks and communications with other extremists (Sageman, 2004), political leaders and authority figures (Moghaddam, 2005), and intergroup conflict (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2011). Any of these factors individually, or a combination thereof, may contribute as catalysts for heightened radicalization (Bubolz & Simi, 2015).
This is the third in a series of short essays focusing on our constitutional history and constitutional leaders, all of whom had a significant impact. This series will attempt to relate the unique features that defined their leadership with an eye toward elucidation of our constitutional system as well as a deeper understanding of our national history. If Thomas Jefferson had been an airplane, he would have been named the Spirit of America. He articulated the vision that has contributed to the development path of the United States since its beginning.
Homer noted, “History is the Oracle of Truth.” He was right. His concept of history taps a thread so fundamental to human existence that it influences almost every aspect of life and society. From insurance rates and educational opportunities, to legal proceedings and science, we can’t escape the pull of history. For thousands of years, mankind has understood we must capture and remember what was so we consider what may follow. History also demonstrates when people study the past they become masters of the present. Conversely, things we ignore often ironically remind us of what we must not forget.
As the Trump Administration ushers in uncertain change, one of those changes must become certain if the Administration is serious about national security: a resilient U.S. electrical grid. Our continued failure to allocate the manageable expense of shoring up our grid against phasic-probability, high-impact destructive events is an unabating gamble with the survival of 350 million people and the progress of our predecessors. Some have defended the slow pace of proofing the U.S. electric grid, citing the low-probability of high-impact risks posed by Electromagnetic Pulse and/or solar Coronal Mass Ejection events. However, our nation’s resilience, defense, and security should not be left to luck. No one would step into an escape room with a 10% chance of death during the game, yet Lloyd’s of London assessed that there is a 12% chance per decade that North America will be impacted by a significant CME event. Furthermore, the insurance syndicate notes CME impact is “almost inevitable.”
For thousands of years, victories of almost any kind have been hard-fought and often accompanied or brought about by great struggle and sacrifice, and often the loss of life. Yet, somehow over the course of 100 years, an expectation has been created that people can enjoy the fruits of victory without the labor required to produce it. This has led to a sense of entitlement and an aversion to anything that causes discomfort – even words and ideas.
Through global reach and global power, we have the ability to hold the interests of any adversary in the world at risk within minutes. But, there is one vulnerability that threatens to significantly degrade our ability to not only project power abroad, but protect our own homeland – electromagnetic pulse. The American Leadership and Policy Foundation has produced objective, vetted research that exposes the vulnerabilities of the United States’ power grid and, more specifically, the nuclear power grid and associated generation facilities. While the threats of EMP caused by a high-altitude nuclear detonation, or the similar force of massive geomagnetic disturbance event, are neither novel nor probable, they represent a real existential threat that could render useless all means of offensive and defensive actions in all domains of military operations.
View image | gettyimages.com By Joel Post, Fellow, American Leadership and Policy Foundation Saturday Night Live is well-known for its political satire. One of the most popular skewerings in recent times had Tina Fey impersonating then Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, declaring that she could “see Russia from [her] home.” Indeed you can see Russia, and […]
In their report to the President and Congress the OSC established that there was gross mismanagement of the FAA’s Red Team, which resulted in a substantial and specific danger to public safety. Too bad the airlines, airport authorities and FAA did not address this prior to 9/11. The reason the FAA didn’t know what to do with the Red Team findings is that there were testing protocols established with the airlines to which FAA agents at airports had to adhere when conducting screening checkpoint tests. The Red Team and terrorists didn’t give a flip about testing protocols, they just wanted to defeat the system and, in Al Qaeda’s case, kill Americans, destroy the World Trade Center and strike the Pentagon.
While Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and Egypt remain faltering democracies, no nation’s declension is more alarming than Turkey’s – a key Western ally that has enjoyed stability for more than five decades. In 2013, Turkey’s internal struggles made international headlines when hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered in the nation’s largest cities to protest against Erdoğan’s impingements on everything from freedom of the press to freedom of assembly. But the crackdown was not confined to the political realm.
ALPF Fellows Discuss the value of strategic and critical thinking and it’s role in our complex and modern society, Skype interview May 9, 2015, on Thinking Strategically (Podcast). Timothy Williamson, host of Thinking Strategically, interviews ALPF Chairman David Stuckenberg and Research Fellow and Technology Team Lead Ryan Hinkley. As the complexity of America’s infrastructure, technology, and society increases there has been a tendency towards homogeny of […]
The chairman of the American Leadership and Policy Foundation, David Stuckenberg, is a military pilot who writes about airspace security. Speaking via Skype, he said the present safety systems are inadequate. “We need to understand that we’ve been lucky and as technology increases and as drones proliferate people will increasingly look at these as weapons of opportunity or technologies that can be adapted for ill intent.”
In 2012, a solar super storm, the most powerful in 150 years passed within hours of Earth. According to NASA, “If it had hit, we [the U.S.] would still be picking up the pieces.” The close call underscored the very real risk EMP poses to the U.S. power grid. Had the pulse impacted North America, it is possible that the effects would have interrupted critical cooling functions at nuclear generation facilities. The risk of meltdown from EMP disruption of cooling is real and could impact multiple stations simultaneously.
Historically, military powers have endeavored to exploit the advantages afforded by holding the high ground on the battlefield. Beginning in World War I with the introduction of the airplane and the new perspective it offered, the high ground migrated to the air. By the late 20th century, war fighters had greatly advanced the application of airpower. Today, aided by technology, the high ground has shifted to space.