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.
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.
On 15 May, 2015, the American Leadership and Policy Foundation (ALPF) had the distinct honor of announcing the J.H. Meyer-Ronald Reagan Legacy in Leadership Scholarship. The $2,500.00 per year scholarship will be awarded to ALPF interns and Jr. Fellows who demonstrate excellence in civic service and leadership.
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.
Since 9/11, the United States government has made extensive investments to safeguard citizens, cherished monuments, critical infrastructure and key government installations. Unfortunately, many safeguards are easily bypassed by overflight. On January 26, 2015, a small drone bypassed the fences and radar protecting the White House and crashed unceremoniously onto the south lawn.