Ever hear of National EMP Awareness Day? Most of your leaders in Washington haven’t either, and that’s why all of us may be in grave danger.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack constitutes one of the single greatest threats to modern national security. Typically triggered by a high-altitude nuclear warhead, an EMP can damage unprotected electronic devices, disrupt communications, and permanently destroy American infrastructure. The 2008 Graham Commission lists a host of likely outcomes to a successful strike: planes falling from the sky, cars stalling on the roadways, electrical networks failing, food rotting—the list continues for pages.
Yet very little has been done in recent years to prepare the U.S. for an EMP attack, even as the likelihood of that attack from rogue regimes and terrorist organizations has increased. Since 2008, five separate bills have aimed at bolstering American preparedness for an EMP attack, but none have made it out of committee. Even military installations, most of which had been EMP-hardened during the Cold War, remain vulnerable because of their reliance on unprotected commercial technology, such as GPS satellites.
All Americans need to know the risks of continued inaction regarding the growing threat of EMP attacks. Therefore, The Heritage Foundation proposes August 15 be named National EMP Awareness Day.
On August 15, 2003, an unexpected power surge caused a major blackout throughout the northeastern U.S. and Canada, affecting an estimated 45 million people in eight U.S. states. Although power was mostly restored the next day—an impossibility in a real EMP attack—economic costs approached an estimated $7 billion to $10 billion.
Imagine, for a moment, the impact of a successful EMP strike upon the U.S. People couldn’t use their phones or the Internet to contact loved ones, public and private transportation would be unusable, and food would quickly become scarce. Thousands if not millions of Americans would lose their lives in the aftermath of the attack, and there wouldn’t be much the government could do. The U.S. needs to build up its missile defense system, develop a national recovery plan, and further research on EMP.
The threat of an EMP attack is real, and it must be taken seriously if the U.S. is to be fully prepared for the future. Recognizing EMP Awareness Day would be a step in the right direction toward a safer, more secure tomorrow.