AIR FORCE STUDY ON EMP THREAT

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

U.S. mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties in­volved in com­mand and control of forces face a grow­ing risk of dis­rup­tion by an elec­tro­mag­netic pulse at­tack or so­lar su­per­storm that could knock out all elec­tron­ics at the strate­gic bases, ac­cord­ing to a re­port.

The re­port by the Air Force Elec­tro­mag­netic De­fense Task Force, made up of civil­ian and mil­i­tary ex­perts, also warns that EMP or ge­o­mag­netic dis­tur­bances could cause cat­a­strophic dam­age and the loss of life in the United States.

“Mul­ti­ple ad­ver­saries are ca­pa­ble of ex­e­cut­ing a strate­gic at­tack that may black out ma­jor por­tions of a state’s grid,” the re­port said. “An EMP at­tack af­fects all de­vices with solid-state elec­tron­ics and could ren­der in­op­er­a­tive the main grid and backup power sys­tems, such as on-site gen­er­a­tors.”

With heavy reliance on elec­tron­ics, Amer­i­can so­ci­ety is not pre­pared to deal with the ef­fects of ei­ther a nu­clear weapon-caused EMP or a large so­lar flare that could dis­rupt crit­i­cal elec­tric-pow­ered func­tions for months or years, the re­port says.

One of the key threats fac­ing the mil­i­tary out­lined in the re­port in­volves po­ten­tial EMP at­tacks on com­mand and control sys­tems used to com­mu­ni­cate with and di­rect mil­i­tary forces.

The re­port noted that flood­ing in 2017 at a mil­i­tary base in­ca­pac­i­tated a ma­jor mil­i­tary com­mand and control fa­cil­ity. Mil­i­tary mis­sion op­er­a­tions were neg­a­tively af­fected for sev­eral days while re­pairs were made.

The re­port said Amer­ica’s ad­ver­saries rec­og­nize that U.S. com­mand and control sys­tems are ma­jor tar­gets in a con­flict. They know that if the mil­i­tary’s abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate is dis­rupted, then mil­i­tary ef­fec­tive­ness will be se­verely lim­ited.

“In terms of strat­egy, from an ad­ver­sary’s stand­point, mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions rep­re­sent the vul­ner­a­ble un­der­belly of the de­fense en­ter­prise,” the re­port said. “In par­tic­u­lar, if de­lib­er­ate or nat­u­ral EMS phenom­ena af­fect an in­stal­la­tion’s com­mand post, the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of as­so­ci­ated forces may be de­graded or stopped.”

The re­port warned that un­der the right con­di­tions “an ad­ver­sary could im­pact the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems of most U.S. mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously.”

The com­man­der of the U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, warned in 2017 that the United States is ill-pre­pared to deal with threats posed by an EMP at­tack.

“EMP is a re­al­is­tic threat, and it’s a cred­i­ble threat.” Gen. Hyten said.

The Strate­gic Com­mand, which com­mands nu­clear forces, is ca­pa­ble of con­tin­u­ing most op­er­a­tions af­ter an EMP at­tack or so­lar su­per­storm be­yond seven days. How­ever, the com­mand’s reliance on sys­tems that are not hard­ened against EMP could rapidly re­strict nu­clear forces. An ex­am­ple is aerial re­fu­el­ing needed to sup­port the Na­tional Air­borne Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter and other com­mand and control sys­tems could be de­graded.

The re­port in­cluded a chart show­ing that the Air Force is pre­par­ing to deal with an EMP at­tack from a nu­clear weapon det­o­nated miles above the United States, an ex­plo­sion that would cause a cat­a­strophic power out­age af­fect­ing an es­ti­mated 318 mil­lion peo­ple for 30 days.

By con­trast, the Air Force sees a ki­netic at­tack on the power grid as caus­ing a cat­a­strophic power out­age that would af­fect 10 mil­lion peo­ple for two weeks, while tak­ing three to six months to re­place elec­tri­cal equip­ment.

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