In the first article of this series I briefly explained what an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is, and how a rogue nation or a powerful and well funded terrorist organization could launch an EMP on the US. I explained how Iran could use as few as six ships to use as launch platforms to launch Scud missiles toward the nation’s interior and how they could detonate a series of atomic weapons 30 miles up in the atmosphere. Such detonations, while of little harm to life on the surface would completely destroy all non-insulated electronics from an EMP on the surface that fell beneath the blast area. As well, any aircraft in the skies that fell under the arc of EMP would fall outta the sky like a ruptured duck. That alone would kill many thousands of Americans.
I discussed how a relatively low yield weapon that was detonated at an altitude of 30 miles would create a cone or arc of electronic interruption that would fry every non-protected transistor in said arc. At 30 miles in altitude the EMP blast would destroy all transistors in a 480 mile radius, for a total diameter of 950 miles or so. So, assuming most electronics are not insulated form EMP, and assuming my scenario put forth in the first installment, what might we expect would be the results of such an event?
In the first place, how likely is such an EMP event? Given the rhetoric from some of our enemies, they certainly posses the will for such an attack. As well the news over this last weekend revealed that by 2013 a biological or nuclear attack on the US is inevitable. So what if instead of detonating an atomic weapon in a city, those intent on destroying the US decided to wait a little longer and get a dozen atomic weapons ready to go?
As I said in the first article, six ships each with 2 Scud missiles armed with a low yield atomic weapon could virtually cripple the US for years to come. One atomic blast in Chicago will kill hundreds of thousands, but beyond the shock value and loss of life and destruction of local infrastructure, what lasting damage is done by such an event? Very little – in fact such an event would galvanize this nation on a scale that would dwarf both Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks combined. Our anger and our retribution would indeed be profound, especially on those who perpetrated such an event as the atomic destruction of one of our cities.
While an atomic blast would destroy Chicago and kill hundreds of thousands, a coordinated EMP attack would bring the whole nation to our collective knees. There would be no immediate retaliation and retribution. Why? Because without electricity how would we communicate? Without electronics how would anything get done? Trucks and cars ignition systems would be destroyed, so no one is moving anything anywhere unless it’s by horse & wagon or unless ya got a steam locomotive laying around somewhere.
How would our leaders guarantee secure channels of communication with our civilian and military infrastructures? Carrier pigeon? And that’s another thing – what would happen to the electronics on all the ships in port at the time? The Norfolk Naval Base, the largest American naval base in the world, would be rendered useless. Every ship is driven electronically. While I do not know of the precautions taken to insulate our military from an EMP, rest assured anything not insulated is dead in the water to turn a phrase.
Not one single satellite could be communicated with from a non-insulated source, so no sat links means no intra or intercontinental communications would be possible but for the secure and insulated channels provided for in advance of such an event. Local police and fire communications would be rendered useless for perhaps years. Government would have no way to communicate with all the satellite offices throughout the nation. Government could not extend its control over the nation, thus we would see a resulting chaos of previously unimagined proportions, and chaos is the least of our problems.
And once the chaos comes we will see all grades of unimagined and unforeseen issues. No local or network news. No way for any of us to communicate with anyone else not within yelling distance. No automobiles or trucks, so no one is moving about. No way to get crops from the fields. No way to get them to market. No markets. No refrigeration.
We would be almost instantly transformed from the most modern of all western Democracies to life akin to that of people living in the year 1800, long before even steam power was developed. So unless you have an industry that operates on steam power or mechanical water or wind mills, how will one get power to do anything?
In considering this scenario I asked myself “What would be the relative advantages and disadvantages of a series of coordinated EMP’s as opposed to blowing up Chicago?” The disadvantages are few – it may take longer to build a dozen smaller bombs than 1 bigger one; the coordination for such and EMP event would be more involved; and as ships would be used, the culprits of an EMP attack would be easier for the US to identify.
So what advantages does a series of coordinated EMP’s have over just 1 bigger bomb blowing up Chicago?
An EMP event on the level hypothesized herein would not create any major infrastructure damage along the lines of blowing up bridges and wrecking structures, nor would it shower the nation with long term dangerous radiation levels. That being said, can any reader name any industry that can operate without electricity? Can any modern convenience operate on an alternate power source? Remember, every electric motor or combustion engine would be instantly rendered useless. The nationwide power grid would be fried.
So in considering the two options – 1 bomb to blow up a city and kill 100,000 citizens, or a series of EMP’s that, while not creating damage akin to an explosion, would create an irreparable damage to most of the nation. If you were wanting to bring America down, which would better achieve that end – blowing up 1 city and then preparing for the US’s retaliation, or completely rendering most of the nation back to the year 1800? Think about it for a minute and I think you’ll grasp my point.
Terrorists could effectively take the US from numero uno to suckin’ hind tit in less than 5 minutes time. And what would follow will be the next installment in the series.