top of page

The EMP Threat

By Brian Sullivan, ALPF Executive Board Member & Senior Fellow


(View original article from Wicked Local Plymouth)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration in the lead up to 9/11 and the failure of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to properly regulate the nuclear power industry. Now we’ve gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Kim Jong Un has threatened to conduct a nuclear electromagnetic pulse missile test over the Pacific. Hawaii and Guam have issued warnings and distributed guidance to their citizens regarding precautions to take in the event of such an attack.

The situation is dire because our government has failed to heed a decade of warnings from the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. A nuclear EMP attack would destroy electronics everywhere and black out our electric grid for an extended period. It would cripple the critical infrastructure necessary to maintain modern civilization. Our nuclear power plants would lose the electricity required to cool reactor cores and spent fuel pools. They would overheat and begin to spread toxins in about three weeks. The EMP Commission has said that millions of Americans would die from starvation, disease and the resulting societal collapse.

So what has our government and Homeland Security done to prepare us for such a calamity? Pretty much nothing. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have stretched the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the max. Can you imagine what the stress of an EMP would do? Meanwhile FEMA has never exercised, except for table top, to prepare for an EMP.

Well, what about our Department of Defense? Surely they must be taking steps to protect the American public? Not so much. Faced with the imminent EMP threat being posed by North Korea (and Iran), our Department of Defense recently made the ingenious decision to allow the mandate for our Congressional EMP Commission to lapse on June 30, 2017. They just took down the EMP Commission’s website in mid September and have allowed until Sept. 30 for the Commission to issue its final reports. This when the Congressional EMP Commission has warned that a nationwide blackout lasting a single year could kill up to 90 percent of the American people. Only Washington bureaucrats could be so stupid.

And here’s a further rub. How comfortable do you feel about our military’s ability to engage or intercept a North Korean missile? Will we whack it soon after launch or perhaps at apogee? Damned if I know, and what’s worse is the practice attempts I’ve seen to intercept incoming missiles have been less than foolproof. So where does that leave us? Since we have such a blatant and well known vulnerability and since our electric grid is essentially unprotected, we are left with the unenviable option of considering a pre-emptive first strike attack on North Korea. Not the best choice, particularly for the people living in Seoul or our troops stationed along the DMZ.

In light of this potential danger, have you seen any information from Homeland Security, FEMA or Civil Defense in terms of guidance as to what we can do to protect ourselves? If authorities in Guam and Hawaii take this threat seriously, I think we should too. So because our government would rather keep its collective head in the sand and avoid the problem by ignoring it, I’ll offer some insights below.

It would be a good idea to review your family emergency survival plan with a special focus on what to do in the event of an EMP or nuclear attack. Information is always available from your civil defense or emergency management agency. As an initial guide, consider the following:

1. Plan to shelter at home, if possible, and insure a plentiful supply of safe, clean drinking water. Water purification tablets would be a good backup. In an EMP situation you may need sufficient water to last for a few months to a couple of years.

2. You’ll need to have a supply of food to last for the same period, which can be supplemented by growing your own. Freeze dried, meals ready to eat (MREs), and/or a large stock of imperishable food would help.

3. Candles, matches, firewood, charcoal, batteries, flashlights and battery operated lamps should be considered. Anything to help provide heat, light and the ability to cook.

4. A backup supply of prescription and over the counter medications, plus medical supplies like first aid kits, bandages, and the like. For those living near nuclear power plants it will be important to have a supply of potassium iodide tablets.

5. Once societal chaos ensues, you’ll need a means of protecting your family. Firearms and ammunition or other weapons may be necessary to keep those in search of your food and water at bay. If you don’t have weapons, now is the time to identify family or friends who do and who would be willing to help you in time of need.

The bottom line in all this is to remain calm and decide that you and your family are going to survive; then go about doing it.

It would also be a good idea to get down on your knees and pray that we can heal the divisiveness in our country and unite against a common foe. Pray for enlightened leadership that will help protect the United States from ruin.

Plymouth resident Brian F. Sullivan is an executive board member and senior fellow at the American Leadership and Policy Foundation. He is a retired Army Military Police lieutenant colonel and former special agent and risk program management specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration. He has more than 30 years of security experience and was presented with a Platinum REMI at the Houston International Film Festival in 2011 for his narration of the aviation security documentary “Please Remove Your Shoes.”

bottom of page