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.
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.