Electromagnetic Pulse Threats full report
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01-04-2010, 10:11 PM
Current U.S. military transformation strategy centers on information dominance, network-centric warfare, and expeditionary operations. Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom demonstrated a spectacular evolution of capability in these key areas. Certainly, adversaries learned from Saddamâ„¢s poor decision to face American forces head-on and will increasingly employ asymmetric attacks to defeat U.S. forces in the future. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons represent one of the most likely and potentially devastating opportunities for this type of attack in the near future. Ranging from sophisticated intercontinental nuclear weapons specifically designed to generate EMP effects to relatively crude and cheap electromagnetic bombs, these weapons can destroy all electronic devices within a target area as small as an automobile or as large as the continental United States. As U.S. forces continue to modernize and rely on electronic systems for effectiveness, it will become increasingly probable that an adversary will use EMP to strike at Americaâ„¢s Achillesâ„¢ heel. This paper addresses the threat EMP weapons will pose to U.S. expeditionary operations in the near future in terms of their ability to deny access to foreign soil, level the playing field in theater wars, and/or attack the U.S. homeland as a retaliatory or preemptive strike. It begins by discussing the nature of EMP and its effect on vulnerable systems, and then outlines the different methods of generating EMP while categorizing them by probability of use, lethal range, types of (electronic) targets they affect, and who is likely to use them. The paper considers three near-term scenarios for adversary use of EMP and recommends cost-effective response measures. It proposes a diplomatic policy to levy drastic consequences on the perpetrator of an EMP attack, rapid establishment of an EMP-hardened expeditionary force, hardening critical elements of civil infrastructures, integration of EMP attack response in large-scale training scenarios, and congressional action to establish and mandate compliance with EMP hardening standards for future military and civilian systems.
Colin R. Miller, Major
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