Hamilton — EMP attack: What are the after-effects?
April 23, 2015
Two seemingly unrelated recent events should command the attention of every American. First, the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD), at a cost of $700 million, is going to move its communications gear back inside the depths of Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain. Why? Because of the growing threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
Secondly, Russian President Vladimir Putin just announced that Russia will provide Iran with Russia's first-class S-300 Air Defense System. Ergo: About a year from now Iran's nuclear-weapons production facilities will be virtually immune from attack by Israel and/or the United States. Moreover, nothing in the pending nuclear-arms agreement restrains Iran's ability to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Not one word bans the production of EMP weapons. (Nuclear-armed North Korea already has a growing ICBM capability.)
So, if NORAD is sufficiently worried about an EMP attack to leave the comfort of Peterson Air Force Base and move back into the dank tunnels of Cheyenne Mountain, what's the big deal? What would be the impacts of an EMP attack on the U.S. homeland?
According to Lowell Wood, acting chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from an EMP Attack, such an attack "could cripple the U.S. by knocking out electrical power, computers, circuit boards controlling most automobiles and trucks, banking systems, communications and food and water supplies.
"… electromagnetic pulses propagate from the burst point of the nuclear weapon to the line of sight on the Earth's horizon, potentially covering a vast geographic region at the speed of light," Wood said. "For example, a nuclear weapon detonated at an altitude of 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) over the central United States would cover, with its primary electromagnetic pulse, the entire United States and parts of Canada and Mexico."
Writing in Florida Today, Don Gilleland, a former executive with General Dynamics Corp. says: "Within nanoseconds … all computer chips within line of sight of the explosion, i.e., the entire continental United States will be immediately and irreparably fried. All aircraft aloft will lose power … All ground vehicles dependent upon computers will lose power and drift to a halt.
"There will be no electric power anywhere. Cell phones will not operate. All life-support equipment will cease to function. Delivery of all goods and services will quickly cease. Public safety, sanitation, police and fire and rescue services will immediately be overwhelmed and quickly disappear.
"Existing supplies of food and water will not be replaced. Prisons will be opened and felons will arm themselves. Money and credit cards will be worthless. Looting will be endemic. The sick and the elderly will be the first to die. Starvation and disease will attack the survivors. There is no reason to hope that government agencies, at whatever level, are remotely equipped to deal with the situation. Retaliation is possible, and the military ability exists to reduce the perpetrator to a smoldering slag heap, but by that time nine of 10 Americans will likely be dead or dying …"
Amazingly, EMP does not destroy bricks and mortar. The USA would become a land of standing-empty, uninhabited homes and factories just waiting for the Islamic Imperialists or the North Koreans to occupy. Should Congress be involved in negotiations involving nuclear and EMP weapons and ICBMs? Or, just President Obama? We report. You decide.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.