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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quit neglecting the EMP threat

By: Ryan Jaroncyk, THL Contributor

It's the stuff of nightmares. Within minutes of detonation, America's entire electronic and communications grid is wiped out. Planes plummet from the skies. Hospitals and rest homes lose power. Food begins to spoil. Panic and fear begin to sweep the streets. Millions die in a matter of weeks. What could cause such a catastrophic event, and what can we do to prevent such a doomsday scenario?

It's called an EMP attack. Years ago, our government sponsored a commission to discuss the threat and the media has covered it from time to time, but nothing has been done to protect America from this existential threat.

Without delving into a detailed scientific explanation, imagine a ballistic missile launched off our coast, perhaps by terrorists on a barge, or by agents of certain rogue states. The missile detonates approximately 300 miles above sea level, and within minutes, our entire electronic infrastructure is shut down. Computers, cars, planes, refrigerators, generators, water plants, and vital communications systems are fried by a super-explosive electromagnetic burst barely noticeable by an ordinary human being.

Despite warnings by a vocal minority, America is investing virtually no time, money, or resources to prepare for a potential attack on its own soil. Instead, we're printing, borrowing, and spending trillions to bail out Wall Street, wasting billions on ineffective "stimulus" bills, and fiddling around with troops and other military personnel in 144 nations. What can we do to prepare? Here are some potential solutions:

1. Reduce our overseas military presence. We're running nearly $2 trillion budget deficits and amassing trillions more of additional debt. We can afford to maintain a powerful presence in certain, strategic locations, but we can no longer afford to police the world.

2. Stop engaging in costly and extended guerrilla wars. If we must go to war to defeat terrorists, then we need to learn some hard lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq. Casualty counts, the psychological toll on our soldiers, and the financial cost have been much higher than anticipated.

Instead of long-term, open-ended commitments in third world nations, it's time to adopt a policy where specific objectives are achieved in in a manner that befits swift, decisive, and overwhelming victory. The drain on our treasury could be mitigated so that resources are better utilized to defend against a potential EMP attack here at home.

3. Beef up our national missile defense. Instead of cutting our own ballistic missile defense shield, we should be cutting other, extraneous military expenditures, and devoting them to developing the world's most advanced ballistic missile defense system.

4. Harden our nation's communications and electronic infrastructure. In the event of an attack, critical civilian and military infrastructure must remain intact for the nation to recover.

5. Reduce foreign aid. Instead of spending billions to prop up corrupt regimes, self-sufficient nations, or to rebuild other nations' infrastructure, use the savings to rebuild our own aging infrastructure.

6. Develop a national emergency plan that employs not only the federal government, but state and local governments, as well as private organizations and citizens. Remember Katrina? Federal, state, and local governments proved unprepared, unfit, and unable to mitigate the disaster. Even today, the region has not fully recovered due to poor planning, ineffective coordination, and a lack of efficiency.

7. Invest more in research and development. Instead of employing scientists to search for microbes on a barren Mars, why not devote some of these funds to protecting our nation? Instead of sending thousands of contractors to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, why not utilize some of these bright minds to fortify our electronics and communications systems?

What are some of your solutions?

America was caught off guard at Pearl Harbor, it was caught off guard on 9/11, and it was caught off guard by the financial collapse last year. Let's not be caught off guard by an EMP attack, because if we are, the consequences will be catastrophic.

To learn more about EMP, check out this Heritage Foundation report and author, William Forstchen's website.

And now your moment of "Holy Crap!"