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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

EMP: The Biggest Military Threat America Faces Today?

Cold War Nuclear Weapons Test. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Back on August 20, 2022 (coincidentally my birthday), I was saddened to learn of the passing of a great American patriot, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry. While I didn’t know Peter quite well enough to call him a true friend, we definitely had a mutually respectful professional acquaintanceship. Dr. Pry’s passing was a devastating blow to patriotic Americans everywhere concerned about securing our nation’s grid infrastructure from the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strike, as he was one of our most tireless advocates for this vital national security issue.

A successful EMP strike against the U.S. would be a catastrophe beyond measure or comprehension, essentially ushering in “The End of the World as We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI), Yet, the  Biden Administration is failing to do anything about it.

EMP Defined and Explained

Michaela Dodge and her colleagues at the Heritage Foundation have provided us with a very useful breakdown of the EMP threat in layman’s terms:

(1) A thermonuclear weapon is detonated at an altitude of 25 miles or more above the Earth’s atmosphere, releasing a burst of gamma radiation;

(2) These gamma rays impact air molecules, stripping off electrons, and driving these negatively charged particles to approximately 90 percent the speed of light (at higher altitudes, the reduced air density enables the electrons to move more freely and maximize EMP intensity);

(3) the electrons are drawn by the Earth’s magnetic poles into a corkscrew pattern, unleashing enormous levels of electromagnetic radiation onto the Earth’s surface;

(4) the power grid, along with metal within electronic devices such as computers and radios, catch the full brunt of the EMP, which runs roughshod through the tiny circuits, likely destroying or severely damaging them.

In short, that means everything from your iPhone to your laptop to the electronic fuel injection systems (EFI) in your post-carburetor era automobile to your heating and air conditioning systems are totally fried. Modern post-agricultural and post-Industrial Revolution society ceases to function. 

The Trump Administration Takes Action …

Whether you love Donald Trump or hate him, the cold, hard reality is that his Presidential Administration has so far been the only one in American history to take serious action to address the threat of a deliberate EMP attack.

Now, in the sake of bipartisan objectivity, it should be noted that the Obama Administration, to its credit, did explore the need for protection against naturally-occurring EMP threats such as solar storms, the most famous historical example being the Carrington Event of 1859, but for whatever reason overlooked the manmade EMP threat. 

Then-President Trump’s call for EMP security was manifested on March 26, 2019 in the form of Executive Order (E.O.) 13865. E.O. 13865 directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop quadrennial risk assessments of EMP and deliver the first risk assessment of the threat within the first year. Section 3, “Policy,” reads in part:

“To implement the actions directed in this order, the Federal Government shall promote collaboration and facilitate information sharing, including the sharing of threat and vulnerability assessments, among executive departments and agencies (agencies), the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate. The Federal Government shall also provide incentives, as appropriate, to private-sector partners to encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations, and appropriate guidance.”

… And the Biden Administration Does Nothing

So then, what has the Biden Administration done about EMP since it seized power in the White House?

As I noted in an article I wrote for The Daily Torch (the online newsletter for Americans For Limited Government) back in December 2021, Joe Biden and his cronies have done jack-diddly squat.

As the late great Dr. Pry told me – among other things omitted herein due to spatial limitations – via email whilst I was conducting research for that op-ed piece: 

“Chris—Biden has continued Trump’s ‘Executive Order Coordinating National Resilience Against Electromagnetic Pulses’ but suspended ‘Securing the United States Bulk Power System’ so the U.S. continues importing EHV transformers from China, making the U.S. potentially more vulnerable to EMP and cyber-attacks. The Infrastructure Bill has millions for additional studies on how to protect electric grids and other critical infrastructures from EMP, but not a penny to actually harden any of the critical infrastructures.”

My Personal Reasons for Wanting EMP Security

I first started taking an active interest in EMP threat back in roughly 2009 when a good friend of mine told me about William Forstchen’s bestselling novel One Second After. Nine years later, I got around to reading that book, and it scared me. F

ast-forward to the following year, when I took Dr. Ed Locke’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction and the New Terrorism” course as part of my online Masters in Intelligence Studies (concentration in Terrorism Studies) degree program at American Military University (AMU), I decided to do my research paper on EMP terrorism. (Peter Pry was a wonderful resource for that work as well; it’s how I made his acquaintance in the first place). 

As I learned whilst researching the paper, Iran, Russia, and China alike all have EMP strike capabilities on America as part of their war plans. It also dawned upon me how much a successful strike would adversely impact me personally.

You see, dear readers, I currently hold a 90 percent disability rating from the Veterans Administration (V.A.). Without getting into too many sordid details about my medical situation, suffice it to say that one of the afflictions that earned me that rating is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Three-to-four times per year, it flares up to the point where I need to take a sick day or two from work and get on antibiotics and prescription regimen. Three times in my life – including within the past month – it has manifested as full-blown pneumonia.

In a scenario where our entire modern society has ceased to function on account of an EMP attack, that means any pneumonia episode I suffer in the aftermath would most likely kill me, as (1) the pharmaceutical companies that produce the necessary medicinal treatments, (2) the highway infrastructure needed to transport the medicines, and (3) the medical facilities where I would receive such treatments would be totally non-functional.

This makes me resent the Biden Administration just that much more for refusing to do a thing to fight EMP. 

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force Security Forces officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon). Chris holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California (USC) and an M.A. in Intelligence Studies (concentration in Terrorism Studies) from American Military University (AMU). He has also been published in The Daily Torch and The Journal of Intelligence and Cyber Security. Last but not least, he is a Companion of the Order of the Naval Order of the United States (NOUS). In his spare time, he enjoys shooting, dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports. If you’d like to pick his brain in-person about his writings, chances are you’ll be able to find him at the Green Turtle Pasadena in Maryland on Friday nights, singing his favorite karaoke tunes.

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Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).