By Gen. Kenneth Chrosniak, ALPF Board Member & Senior Fellow
The devastation in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico has been terrifying, engaging multiple FEMA regions and significant military support to rescue, recover and rebuild. While Puerto Rico has only limited electric power, mainly due to decades old negligence of their electric grid utilities to ensure resiliency to hurricanes, we know that it will happen again if allowed to retain their aged and fragile power generation, above ground transmission and distribution lines (wooden poles).
Governor Scott (FL) and FEMA Director Brock have recently stated that FEMA “is stretched,” but will continue to provide aid to all areas. Now let’s extrapolate and examine a worst-case scenario like a U.S. continental-wide blackout in which most, if not all ten, FEMA regions will be called upon to provide support simultaneously, which will certainly stretch them to the breaking point. And here’s how.
Our military knows that North Korea, China, Russia and Iran have all declared first strike nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) in their initial war plans against the U.S., in which they will destroy some or all of our three electric main energy grids. Electricity is the nervous system of our Homeland, we cannot survive without it. It ensures we have: power generation, transmission and distribution to your homes; water pressure for fire operations, drinking and sanitation; fuel (refinery) production; medical/hospitals (Insulin for your child); fire, EMS, police services; agriculture; transportation; GPS; communications (including your cell phone) and so much more. All will be affected and not viable from months to years, just as soon as generator fuel runs out without the benefit of refineries fuel resupply. I won’t even go into Nuclear Power Plant viability, – you don’t want to hear it! Again, think of present day Puerto Rico, as it can happen to you.
So, here’s the big secret, – your military and FEMA are not prepared to come to your rescue after a nuclear High Altitude EMP (HEMP) detonation in our atmosphere. Can North Korea do this now? Yes, as they don’t need reentry capability of an ICBM, but only to detonate it in our atmosphere, or detonate a satellite (of which they have two orbiting over the U.S. on a regular basis) and have plans to launch more soon. Can our electric grid be attacked by Cyber means, and is there any viable defense? Yes, and no. Can a massive Solar Flare produce a Geomagnetic disturbance (equivalent to one billion Hydrogen bombs hitting our atmosphere) destroying our fragile grid, and are we protected? Again yes, and no.
Think on this, the same government irrational oversimplification that told us years ago to go under our desks at school to prepare for a nuclear attack, now advises us all to store three to seven days of supply of food, medicine, water and supplies to last until FEMA and our military arrives. Don’t forget, these forces are also 99% dependent on the same electric grid.
Since 2000 we’ve been blessed to have a Congressionally mandated EMP Commission of dedicated scientists detailing in a 2004 and 2008 report how to survive a HEMP attack over the U.S., and recommending what federal agencies such as the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, HUD and many others should do to protect our electric grid in which we depend on it to survive.
What has been done since 2008 to protect the electric grid, – nothing substantive! We don’t even know who is in charge! Congress did finally pass a Critical Infrastructure Protect Act which directs Homeland Security to prepare our First Responders and the American people for such an exigency, and develop an EMP threat planning scenario to allow FEMA, military and local responders to provide assistance. If done correctly, these forces will prepare plans and conduct exercises for coordination within an environment with limited to no transportation, communications or services available. But, no such plans are on the shelf right now for FEMA or the Department of Defense.
What should be truly disturbing to you is that technologies and devices now exist to harden and protect the most critical segments of our grid, which can be produced in great quantity (in fact, we’re selling them overseas). The cost is negligible (about $5.00 a year more on your electric bill) compared to the literally millions of lives, and trillions of dollars, that will be lost over time (about 1 year) if we are not prepared.
Unfortunately, even though surrounded by multiple threats, your Congress has eliminated the EMP Commission this September. So, as usual, you are on your own. Start now to prepare for your “new normal” in living with little to no power, just as in Puerto Rico. Educate yourself with the numerous amount of information to survive in an environment with little to no food, water, medicines, medical care, transportation, communication, fuel, law enforcement, sanitation, nuclear power plant meltdown, mass casualties and more. Ask your officials what they are doing to protect you, as that is your governments’ prime responsibility. Join your local Community Emergency Response Teams, as only through a community and neighborhood effort will you survive.