Sunday, September 23, 2012

'Revolution' Depicts America After an EMP Blast: But Is It Plausible?

Rogue nations like North Korea and Iran continue to develop capabilities that would allow them to launch an EMP attack from a variety of delivery systems. As the Washington Times reported in July: “North Korea has always planned to develop small-scale nuclear warheads,” the article said. “On this foundation, they could develop electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bombs in order to paralyze the weapons systems of the South Korean military — most of which involve electronic equipment — when necessary.” In fact, Chinese analysts believe North Korea is working on small nuclear warheads that could produce “super-EMP bombs,” the report said. “Once North Korea achieves the actual war deployment of EMP weapons, the power of its special forces would doubtlessly be redoubled,” the report said. The EMP Commission urges policymakers to focus the nation’s efforts on infrastructure hardening, response and recovery coordination, the hardening of space and defense systems, and perhaps most importantly, missile defense. Yet, as Eric Hannis notes “very few of the Commission’s recommendations have been implemented.” Perhaps we will make improvements in these areas as awareness and understanding of our vulnerability continues to spread amongst policymakers. Sadly, the Obama administration has taken a step in the wrong direction by cutting missile defense, a critical component in protecting against an EMP attack. So, will we be living in a Revolution-style world if we do suffer an EMP incident or attack? Maybe. Which is why sustained research and public attention to the threat is necessary. While an EMP incident or attack has the potential to bring about a future like that featured in Revolution, such a result is by no means a forgone conclusion. Recovery would depend on both the scale of the attack or incident, as well as our ability to coordinate a response in a timely fashion. All factors that can be influenced by planning, protection, and prevention efforts. But, as the Commission warns “There is a point in time at which the shortage or exhaustion of sustaining backup systems, including emergency power supplies, batteries, standby fuel supplies, communications, and manpower resources that can be mobilized, coordinated, and dispatched, together lead to a continuing degradation of critical infrastructures for a prolonged period of time.” In other words, preparation alone may not be enough, prevention is also necessary. In the face of a sufficiently powerful EMP incident or attack, there is a possibility that the fantasies of Revolution might become our new reality. Gregory S. McNeal