Tag Archives: EMP

Past U.S. Policy Failures Led to North Korean Crisis

The reality that the entire U.S. mainland, and indeed, much of the world, is now in range of North Korea’s nuclear capability is a sobering one, particularly when combined with the fact that even North Korea’s limited atomic arsenal is fully capable of destroying the entire USA through an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

Over the past several decades, the U.S. “gave peace a chance.”  President Bill Clinton tried buying off North Korea with aid.  President Bush largely ignored the crisis as he concentrated  on the Middle East. President Obama reduced the size of the U.S. military. All of those approaches failed.

China has the capability of completely turning off the North Korean economy.  Despite verbally opposing Pyongyang’s atomic program, it has taken no effective steps to do so.  Russia has seen the entire situation as yet another opportunity to take advantage of America.  Both have urged the U.S. to essentially abandon South Korea in return for a denuclearized North Korea, which would be a major victory for China and Russia and the beginning of the end of democracies in the Pacific region and Asia.

Kim Jong Un has observed that, over the past 8 years, the U.S. was kinder to its enemies than its friends.  The entire Obama Mideast policy tilted in favor of Iran, despite that nation’s constant devotion to the policy of “Death to the USA.”  Meanwhile, Obama assisted in the destruction of Muammar Gaddafi, who had given up his nuclear program and turned away from terrorism.  The same thing occurred in Egypt, which under Mubarak had favored peace in the region and a rejection of terrorism.  Obama urged his ouster, and favored his replacement with a Moslem Brotherhood advocate.

From his perspective, Kim’s actions are wholly rational.  He is doing what he has observed led to the enrichment and survival of regimes such as those in Iran, and avoiding the policies of those governments such as that of Libya, which acceded to U.S. demands and were subsequently wiped out. Add to that the fact that, despite the horrors of his regime, he now has China and Russia openly advocating the U.S. abandon its South Korean ally in return for North Korea’s pledge to eliminate its nuclear arsenal, a pledge North Korea has repeatedly violated, and one can easily discern the logic of what Kim is doing.

After all the years of equivocation by Washington, Kim does not believe the U.S. will take any action, so he feels free to engage in whatever provocation he wishes, assured that he can only gain by aggression, and lose by compromise.

Kim also knows that the state of American politics is such that President Trump will be portrayed by leftist within the U.S. as a warmonger if he takes any military steps against North Korea. Kim is also fully aware that the American military is at its lowest level of strength in many years, a result of the disinvestment that occurred as a result of both Obama’s policies and the sequester.

There are steps short of military action available to Washington.  An attempt must be made to induce China to act more responsibly by beginning to limit the importation of Chinese goods to the U.S. and allied nations. America’s commitment to its Asian and Pacific allies, and the permanence of that commitment, must be made clear through the enhanced placement of military assets in the region.  The U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield should be dramatically strengthened. U.S. powerplants should be hardened against an EMP attack. And, of course, the disinvestment in America’s armed forces must be reversed, even more so than the recent defense budget provides.

It is far too easy to portray the North Korean regime as being irrational.  Each action it has taken has had a proven track record of success—all of it leading to the current and very real crisis and threat of nuclear attack.  Until the United States clearly demonstrates to Kim and his allies in Beijing and Moscow that there will be dire consequences, the world will move ever closer to nuclear war.

America faces Imminent, Major Threat from an EMP Attack, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its presentation of key excerpts from the explosive testimony to Congress about the imminent threat of an EMP attack on the United States by Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff,  of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

In the event of a nuclear EMP attack on the United States, a widespread protracted blackout is inevitable.

Even if North Korea has only primitive, low-yield nuclear weapons, and likewise if other states or terrorists acquire one or a few such weapons, and the capability to detonate them at 30 kilometers or higher-altitude over the United States, as the EMP Commission warned over a decade ago in its 2004 Report: “The damage level could be sufficient to be catastrophic to the Nation, and our current vulnerability invites attack.”

What Is To Be Done?

We recommend establishing an Executive Agent – a Cabinet Secretary designated by the President – with the authority, accountability, and resources, to manage U.S. national infrastructure protection and defense against EMP and the other existential threats described above. Current institutional authorities and responsibilities–government, industry, regulatory agencies—are fragmented, incomplete, and unable to protect and defend against foreign hostile EMP threats or solar super-storms.

We encourage the President to work with Congressional leaders to stand-up an ad hoc Joint Presidential-Congressional Commission, with its members charged with supporting the Nation’s leadership and providing expertise, experience, and oversight to achieve, on an accelerated basis, the protection of critical national infrastructures. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) have for nearly a decade been unable or unwilling to implement the EMP Commission’s recommendations. A Presidential-Congressional Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection could engage the Free World’s preeminent experts on EMP and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare to serve the entire Government in a manner akin to the Atomic Energy Commission of the 1947-74 period, advising the Administration’s actions to attain most quickly and most cost-effectively the protection essential to long-term national survival and wellbeing. The United States should not remain in our current state of fatal vulnerability to well-known natural and man-made threats.

We highly commend President Trump’s new Executive Order “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure” signed on May 11, 2017. We strongly recommend that implementation of cybersecurity for the electric grid and other critical infrastructures include EMP protection, since all-out cyber warfare as planned by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran includes nuclear EMP attack. However, current institutional arrangements for protecting and improving the reliability of the electric grids and other critical infrastructures through the U.S. FERC and the NERC are not designed to address major national security threats to the electric power grids and other national critical infrastructures. Using FERC and NERC to achieve this level of national security is beyond the purpose for which those organizations were created and has proven to be fundamentally unworkable. New institutional arrangements are needed to advance preparedness to survive EMP and related threats to our critical national infrastructures.

We recommend that U.S. military forces and critical national infrastructures be protected from EMP as outlined in the EMP Commission’s classified reports and unclassified reports provided in 2004 and 2008. EMP protection of military systems and civilian/military critical national infrastructures can be achieved cost-effectively by a combination of operational procedures and physical hardening. It is not necessary to harden everything. Selective hardening of key critical nodes and equipment will suffice. Threat parameters are 200 kilovolts/meter for E1 EMP and 85 volts/kilometer for E3 EMP. Critical national infrastructures are already adequately protected from E2 EMP, equivalent to lightning.

We recommend, given the proximity and enormity of the threat from EMP and CombinedArms Cyber Warfare, the President exercise leadership to implement immediate, midterm, and long-term steps to deter and defeat this existential threat:

Immediately:

We recommend that the President declare that EMP or cyber-attacks that blackout or threaten to blackout the national electric grid constitute the use of weapons of mass destruction that justify preemptive and retaliatory responses by the United States using all possible means, including nuclear weapons. Some potential adversaries have the capability to produce a protracted nationwide blackout induced by EMP or Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare by the use of nuclear or non-nuclear means. A Defense Science Board study Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat (January 2013) equates an all-out cyber-attack on the United States with the consequences of a nuclear attack, and concludes that a nuclear response is justified to deter or retaliate for cyber warfare that threatens the life of the nation: “While the manifestation of a nuclear and cyber-attack are very different, in the end, the existential impact to the United States is the same.”

We recommend that the President issue an Executive Order, provided to the previous White House, titled “Protecting the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)”. Among many other provisions to protect the nation from EMP on an emergency basis, the Executive Order would instantly mobilize a much needed “whole of government solution” to the EMP and combined-arms cyber threat: “All U.S. Government Departments, Agencies, Offices, Councils, Boards, Commissions and other U.S. Government entities…shall take full and complete account of the EMP threat in forming policies and plans to protect United States critical infrastructures…” Protecting the electric grids and other critical infrastructures from the worst threat—nuclear EMP attack—can, if carried out in a system-wide, integrated approach, help mitigate all lesser threats, including natural EMP, man-made non-nuclear EMP, cyberattack, physical sabotage, and severe terrestrial weather.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to include a Limited Nuclear Option for EMP attack among the U.S. nuclear strike plans, and immediately make targeting and fusing adjustments to some of the nuclear forces needed to implement a nuclear EMP attack capability.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to use national technical means to ascertain if there is a nuclear weapon aboard North Korea’s KMS-3 or KMS-4 satellites that orbit over the United States. If either or both of these satellites are nucleararmed, they should be intercepted and destroyed over a broad ocean area where an EMP resulting from salvage-fusing will do the least damage to humanity.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to post Aegis ships in the Gulf of Mexico and near the east and west coasts, to search for and be prepared to intercept missiles launched from freighters, submarines, or other platforms that might make a nuclear EMP attack on the United States. U.S. National Missile Defenses (NMD) are primarily located in Alaska and California and oriented for a missile attack coming at the U.S. from the north, and are not deployed to intercept a short-warning missile attack launched near the U.S. coasts.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to harden the FirstNet emergency communications system against EMP.

We recommend that the President initiate training, evaluating, and “Red Teaming” efforts to protect the U.S. and in the event of an EMP attack to respond, and periodically report the results of these efforts to the Congress.

Mid-Term:

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to deploy Aegis-ashore missile interceptors along the Gulf of Mexico coast to plug the hole in U.S. missile defenses. The U.S. has no Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radars or missile interceptors facing south, and is largely blind and defenseless from that direction, including to missiles launched from submarines or off ships, or from a nuclear-armed satellite orbiting on a south polar trajectory.

We recommend that the President direct the Secretary of Defense to develop a spacesurveillance program to detect if any satellites orbited over the United States are nucleararmed, and develop space-interception capabilities to defend against nuclear-armed satellites that might make an EMP attack.

We recommend that the President direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to launch a crash program to harden the over 100 nuclear power reactors and their spent fuel storage facilities against nuclear EMP attack. Nuclear power reactors typically only have enough emergency power to cool reactor cores and spent fuel rods for a few days, after which they would “go Fukushima” spreading radioactivity over much of the United States.

Long-Term:

We recommend that the President through his Executive Agent protect elements of the national electric grids, the keystone critical infrastructure upon which all other critical infrastructures depend. Priority should be given to elements that are difficult and timeconsuming to replace. Such elements can be protected from EMP at very low cost relative to the costs of an EMP catastrophe, and paid for without federal dollars by a slight increase in user electric rates. We recommend that a similar approach be taken to key elements of the national telecommunications infrastructure and other national critical infrastructures.

We recommend the development and deployment of enhanced-EMP nuclear weapons and other means to deter adversary attack on the United States. Enhanced-EMP nuclear weapons, called by the Russians Super-EMP weapons, can be developed without nuclear testing.

We recommend strengthening U.S. ballistic missile defenses—including deployment of space-based defenses considered by the Strategic Defense Initiative— and that these be designed and postured to also protect the U.S. from EMP attack.

America faces Imminent, Major Threat from an EMP Attack Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its presentation of key excerpts from the explosive testimony to Congress about the imminent threat of an EMP attack on the United States by Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff,  of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

EMP Threat From Satellites

While most analysts are fixated on when in the future North Korea will develop highly reliable intercontinental missiles, guidance systems, and reentry vehicles capable of striking a U.S. city, the threat here and now from EMP is largely ignored. EMP attack does not require an accurate guidance system because the area of effect, having a radius of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, is so large. No reentry vehicle is needed because the warhead is detonated at high altitude, above the atmosphere. Missile reliability matters little because only one missile has to work to make an EMP attack against an entire nation. North Korea could make an EMP attack against the United States by launching a short-range missile off a freighter or submarine or by lofting a warhead to 30 kilometers burst height by balloon. While such lower-altitude EMP attacks would not cover the whole U.S. mainland, as would an attack at higher-altitude (300 kilometers), even a balloon-lofted warhead detonated at 30 kilometers altitude could blackout the Eastern Electric Power Grid that supports most of the population and generates 75 percent of U.S. electricity. Or an EMP attack might be made by a North Korean satellite, right now.

A Super-EMP weapon could be relatively small and lightweight, and could fit inside North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 (KMS-3) and Kwangmyongsong-4 (KMS-4) satellites. These two satellites presently orbit over the United States, and over every other nation on Earth– demonstrating, or posing, a potential EMP threat against the entire world.

North Korea’s KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites were launched to the south on polar trajectories and passed over the United States on their first orbit. Pyongyang launched KMS-4 on February 7, 2017, shortly after its fourth illegal nuclear test on January 6, that began the present protracted nuclear crisis with North Korea.

The south polar trajectory of KMS-3 and KMS-4 evades U.S. Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radars and National Missile Defenses, resembling a Russian secret weapon developed during the Cold War, called the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) that would have used a nuclear-armed satellite to make a surprise EMP attack on the United States.

Ambassador Henry Cooper, former Director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, and a preeminent expert on missile defenses and space weapons, has written numerous articles warning about the potential North Korean EMP threat from their satellites. For example, on September 20, 2016 Ambassador Cooper wrote: U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) interceptors are designed to intercept a few North Korean ICBMs that approach the United States over the North Polar region. But current U.S. BMD systems are not arranged to defend against even a single ICBM that approaches the United States from over the South Polar region, which is the direction toward which North Korea launches its satellites…This is not a new idea. The Soviets pioneered and tested just such a specific capability decades ago—we call it a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS)…So, North Korea doesn’t need an ICBM to create this existential threat. It could use its demonstrated satellite launcher to carry a nuclear weapon over the South Polar region and detonate it…over the United States to create a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP)…The result could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans—as the EMP Commission testified over eight years ago.

Former NASA rocket scientist James Oberg visited North Korea’s Sohae space launch base, witnessed elaborate measures undertaken to conceal space launch payloads, and concludes in a 2017 article that the EMP threat from North Korea’s satellites should be taken seriously: …there have been fears expressed that North Korea might use a satellite to carry a small nuclear warhead into orbit and then detonate it over the United States for an EMP strike. These concerns seem extreme and require an astronomical scale of irrationality on the part of the regime. The most frightening aspect, I’ve come to realize, is that exactly such a scale of insanity is now evident in the rest of their ‘space program.” That doomsday scenario, it now seems, has been plausible enough to compel the United States to take active measures to insure that no North Korean satellite, unless thoroughly inspected before launch, be allowed to reach orbit and ever overfly the United States.

The Report Concludes Tomorrow.

America Faces Imminent, Major Threat from an EMP Attack

The most significant existential threat to the United States comes from a potential EMP assault.  In extraordinary testimony  delivered this month to the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Dr. William R. Graham, Chairman, and  Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff,  of the Commission to Assess the Threat to America from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) revealed explosive details, including decades of neglect of the menace, how Russia transferred EMP technology to North Korea, and how North Korea already has the capacity to wreck devastation across the United States. The New York Analysis of Policy and Government has reviewed the information and provides key excerpts.  

On September 30, 2017, the Department of Defense, after withholding a significant part of the monies allocated by Congress to support the work of the EMP Commission for the entirety of 2016, terminated funding the EMP Commission. In the same month, North Korea detonated an H-Bomb that it plausibly describes as capable of “super-powerful EMP” attack and released a technical report “The EMP Might of Nuclear Weapons” accurately describing what Russia and China call a “Super-EMP” weapon.

Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress to continue the EMP Commission. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would replace the existing EMP Commission with new Commissioners. Yet the existing EMP Commission comprises the nation’s foremost experts who have been officially or unofficially continuously engaged trying to advance national EMP preparedness for 17 years. And today, as the EMP Commission has long warned, the nation faces a potentially imminent and existential threat of nuclear EMP attack from North Korea.

Recent events have proven the EMP Commission’s critics wrong about other highly important aspects of the nuclear missile threat from North Korea: –Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was primitive, some academics claiming it had as few as 6 A-Bombs. Now the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea has 60 nuclear weapons. –Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s ICBMs were fake, or if real could not strike the U.S. mainland. Now the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea’s ICBMs can strike Denver and Chicago, and perhaps the entire United States. –Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea was many years away from an HBomb. Now it appears North Korea has H-Bombs comparable to sophisticated U.S. two-stage thermonuclear weapons. –Just six months ago, most experts claimed North Korean ICBMs could not miniaturize an ABomb or design a reentry vehicle for missile delivery. Now the intelligence community reportedly assesses North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons, and has developed reentry vehicles for missile delivery, including by ICBMs that can strike the U.S.

After massive intelligence failures grossly underestimating North Korea’s long-range missile capabilities, number of nuclear weapons, warhead miniaturization, and proximity to an H-Bomb, the biggest North Korean threat to the U.S. remains unacknowledged—nuclear EMP attack. North Korea confirmed the EMP Commission’s assessment by testing an H-Bomb that could make a devastating EMP attack, and in its official public statement: “The H-Bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons, is a multi-functional thermonuclear weapon with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack according to strategic goals.”

Just six months ago, some academics dismissed EMP Commission warnings and even, literally, laughed on National Public Radio at the idea North Korea could make an EMP attack.

Primitive and “Super-EMP” Nuclear Weapons are Both EMP Threats The EMP Commission finds that even primitive, low-yield nuclear weapons are such a significant EMP threat that rogue states, like North Korea, or terrorists may well prefer using a nuclear weapon for EMP attack, instead of destroying a city: “Therefore, terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or military base, they may obtain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack.

In 2004, two Russian generals, both EMP experts, warned the EMP Commission that the design for Russia’s Super-EMP warhead, capable of generating high intensity EMP fields over 100,000 volts per meter, was “accidentally” transferred to North Korea. They also said that due to “brain drain,” Russian scientists were in North Korea, as were Chinese and Pakistani scientists according to the Russians, helping with the North’s missile and nuclear weapon programs. In 2009, South Korean military intelligence told their press that Russian scientists are in North Korea helping develop an EMP nuclear weapon. In 2013, a Chinese military commentator stated North Korea has Super-EMP nuclear weapons.

The Report Continues Tomorrow.

Puerto Rico’s Electrical Problems a Sign of Things to Come

The media glosses over the root cause that inhibit attempts to rebuild Puerto Rico after the ravages of the latest hurricane. It’s important to understand that cause, because the same mistakes could someday affect the entire United States.

While some circulate an incorrect narrative that the Trump Administration was less enthusiastic about addressing Puerto Rico than either Florida or Houston, the truth is rather different.

Washington has provided a substantial amount of assistance. According to Gov. Ricardo Rossello, “Puerto Rico officials continue to work closely with the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and with state partners through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact…We have over 12,000 — almost 13,000 — DoD personnel in Puerto Rico, over 4,000 Puerto Rico National Guard and EMACs together. There’s an expectation of 3,000 more to come to Puerto Rico in the next couple of weeks as well. The U.S. Navy hospital ship, the USS Comfort, has also been sent to the Island. The Department of Health and Human Services is using the Emergency Prescription Assistance program to provide care for upwards of 500,000 residents.”

Some have described the Pentagon’s efforts as “Militarizing” the reconstruction effort, a move necessary because in a number of the Island’s 78 municipalities, local officials have failed to provide an efficient effort.

Clearly, however, Puerto Rico’s recovery is not moving as rapidly as that of Florida or Houston. The reasons have to do with both geography and politics.

The most obvious fact is that Puerto Rico is, of course, an island, so transportation from the mainland must face an additional hurdle. The ability of nongovernmental assistance, the extraordinary efforts of private citizens who came from states adjacent to Texas and Florida,  to rush to the aid of those in need is very sharply reduced. The complications do not end there.  As noted in the official Puerto Rico website,  unlike the flatlands of Houston and Florida,  “The island of Puerto Rico has surprising geographical diversity with some 60% of the island’s terrain being very hilly… The top four highest mountains in Puerto Rico are Cerro Punta, Rosa, Guilarte and the Tres Picachos. They range from 3093 to 4389 ft. The mountainous interior is formed by the Cordillera Central Range and this is formed by a central mountain chain ranging from Mayaguez to Aibonito.”

But politics, and bad planning, have a lot to do with the ongoing plight, as well.

President Obama’s stimulus cost $792 billion dollars. Supposedly, $41.4 billion went to energy programs, including $4.4 billion to modernize the electrical grid.  Puerto Rico received about $6.5 billion of that.  The question is: Why were critical energy needs, both in Puerto Rico and nationwide, left totally unaddressed?  Throughout the United States, the crucial issue of protecting the electrical grid from an EMP attack was ignored.  In Puerto Rico, protecting the island’s fragile and outdated electrical infrastructure from the effects of a hurricane was not addressed. Despite all that, President Obama claimed he couldn’t find “shovel ready jobs” to invest his stimulus dollars in.  Those funds, instead, went to sources that provided less benefit to the economy than they did to the political fortunes of the Obama Administration.

Recently, The Hill  noted that “Puerto Rico was a catastrophe of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence and ignorance long before the added misery wrought by Hurricane Maria, which exposed to the world what was there to be seen all along: an island ill-prepared for a sunny day, much less a stormy one. For at least a decade, the media has been sounding the alarm about the crumbling infrastructure and financial mismanagement of Puerto Rico. But it all fell on deaf ears. Let’s flashback to August 2014, when Reuters reporter Luciana Lopez showed that Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was teetering on insolvency. The power company relied too heavily on expensive oil and was plagued by aging infrastructure dating back to the 1960s, a bloated workforce, and a billing system that was arbitrary and difficult to justify.”

For far too long, critical electrical infrastructure problems have been ignored. This challenge includes both the facilities themselves, and the security surrounding them.

Rebecca Smith, writing in the Wall Street Journal, reported:

“The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes. Most substations are unmanned and often protected chiefly by chain-link fences. Many have no electronic security, leaving attacks unnoticed until after the damage is done. Even if there are security cameras, they often prove worthless. In some cases, alarms are simply ignored.”

Add to that analysis the near-imminent threat of an EMP attack by North Korea or other potential opponent, which could, quite literally, destroy all electrical generating capacity in the nation for well over a year, resulting in devastating casualties.

Beyond security, America’s electrical infrastructure is simply outdated. The American Society of Civil Engineers  reveals that “Much of the U.S. energy system predates the turn of the 21st century. Most electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy, and the more than 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the lower 48 states’ power grids are at full capacity. Energy infrastructure is undergoing increased investment to ensure long-term capacity and sustainability; in 2015, 40% of additional power generation came from natural gas and renewable systems. Without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions.”

Puerto Rico’s dilemma may be a harbinger of things to come.

Defense Myths that Endanger America, Part 4

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reveals the myths clouding the debate over American national security, in this final installment of our four-part series.

Myth: The U.S. armed forces are capable of handling any combination of threats that occur.  In 2012, the Obama Administration abandoned the long-held policy of having a U.S. military equipped to fight a two-front war.  Inexplicably, this was done at the same time that it was becoming increasingly evident that the alliance of China and Russia, as well as the cooperation in missile and nuclear technology between Iran and North Korea, was becoming increasingly evident.  Other than as an excuse to transfer defense dollars to more politically popular domestic

programs, there has never been an adequate explanation of the reasoning behind this controversial decision. This has become a larger issue as the threats from North Korea become more dangerous and frequent.  It would be naïve to believe that if it were necessary to deploy additional American forces, for example, on the Korean peninsula, that Iran would not take advantage of U.S. weakness in the Middle East, or that Russia would not expand its aggression against Ukraine.

A Heritage study found “that the U.S. needs a military that is large enough and has a sufficient range of capabilities to cover multiple major military contingencies in overlapping time frames… Such a capability is the sine qua non of a superpower and is essential to the credibility of our overall national security strategy.” However, as reported by the New York Times  and Atlantic monthly  “The U.S. military of the future will no longer be able to fight two sustained ground wars at the same time.”

Myth: The Pentagon budget is larger than the next several nations combined. This, the most frequently cited excuse used by opponents of an adequate defense budget, is truly disingenuous because it ignores different governing systems, accounting methods, and transparency issues. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea certainly don’t have to worry about providing profits to private sector defense contractors in the same way Washington does, so their military spending goes a lot further. Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Pyongyang don’t have to deal with a free and aggressive press that will probe government budgets. What those governments say they are spending on armaments and what they actually do spend may be, and almost certainly are, wildly different.  In China’s case, a great deal of military funding comes not from the general government budget, but from the profits from companies that Beijing’s military has major control over. There is another aspect to this as well:  Much of the research and development funded by U.S. taxpayers has been stolen by espionage by America’s enemies, particularly China, so those billions spent on new weapons systems have been transferred to the nation’s enemies essentially for free. Add to all the above the fact that benefits and salaries paid to American service members are considerably more costly than their foreign counterparts.

A landmark study by the American Enterprise Institute in 2014  noted: “The defense budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, coupled with the additional cuts and constraints on defense management under the law’s sequestration provision, constitute a serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States. Not only have they caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. military readiness and both present and future capabilities, they have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve.

The U.S. National Intelligence Council , “…Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment…” Beyond major powers such as China and India, non-nation state actors such as terrorist groups will have significant access to extraordinary means of destruction and disruption. “A wider spectrum of instruments of war—especially precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments, and bioterror weapony—will become accessible. Individuals and small groups will have the capability to perpetrate large-scale violence and disruption—a capability formerly the monopoly of states.”

The debate about what constitutes an adequate defense budget must be based on facts as they are, not on what we would like them to be.  So far, that has not been the case.

Defense Myths that Endanger America, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reveals the myths clouding the debate over American national security, in this third installment of our four-part series.

Myth: the NATO alliance provides an additional bulwark against the Russian-Chinese-Iranian-North Korean axis.  This is only partially correct.  Most of the NATO nations have underfunded their military forces for decades, and they aren’t making up for lost time in anyway approaching the necessary speed. There is some good news from Europe, however.  Eastern European nations, no longer occupied by Moscow, have built up their militaries, and are, by far, the most realistic about Russia’s aggressive intentions.

Myth: America is too large to be subjected to an attack.  It is now undeniably evident that almost the entire span of continental U.S. could be crippled by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack from a single nuclear weapon detonated at a specific altitude.  An EMP attack would breakdown America’s electrical grid, disable almost all transportation facilities (including cars, trucks, trains and planes) and medical centers.  The inability to deliver food, water, energy and essential services, it is estimated, would result in the deaths of up to 80% of the American population within less than a year.

In a 2015 letter to the Obama Administration, the EMP Task Force warned:

“The consequent failure of critical infrastructure that sustain our lives is a major national security threat and would be catastrophic to our people and our nation.

“The National Intelligence Council, which speaks for the entire U.S. Intelligence Community, published in its 2012 unclassified Global Trends 2030 report that an EMP is one of only eight Black Swan events that could change the course of global civilization by or before 2030. No official study denies the view that an EMP is a potentially catastrophic societal threat that needs to be addressed urgently. America is not prepared to be without water, electricity, telephones, computer networks, heating, air conditioning, transportation (cars, subways, buses, airplanes), and banking.

“All the benefits of our just-in-time ecomony would come to a deadly halt, including the production of petroleum products, clothing, groceries and medicine. Think about cities without electricity to pump water to their residents… Russia and China have substantially hardened their electric grids. Other nations are beginning to harden theirs. But the United States has done little or nothing to counter this threat…

“A coronal mass ejection from the Sun can generate a natural EMP with catastrophic consequences. A geomagnetic super-storm in 1859 called the Carrington Event caused worldwide damage and fires in telegraph stations and other primitive electronics, which at the time were not necessary for societal survival. In contrast, today a Carrington-class geomagnetic super-storm-expected every century or so-could collapse electric grids and destroy critical infrastructure everywhere on Earth. We know it will happen; we just don’t know when, but we know humanity can’t risk being unprepared. In July 2012, we missed a repeat by only a few days when a major solar emission passed through the Earth’s orbit just after planet Earth passed. NASA recently warned that the likelihood of such a geomagnetic super-storm is 12 percent per decade; so it is virtually certain that a natural EMP catastrophe shall occur within our lifetime or that of our children.

“As we have known for over a half-century from actual test date, even more damaging EMP effects would be produced by any nuclear weapon exploded a hundred miles or so above the United States, possibly disabling everything that depends on electronics… Russia and China have already developed nuclear EMP weapons and many believe others possess EMP weapons including North Korea and soon Iran-and likely their terrorist surrogates. For example, they could launch nuclear-armed short or medium range missiles from near our coasts, possibly hiding the actual sponsor from retaliation. North Korea and Iran have tested their missiles in ways that can execute EMP attacks from ships or from satellites that approach the U.S. from the couth where our ballistic missile warning systems are minimal…”

The Report concludes Monday.

Defense Myths that Endanger America, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reveals the myths clouding the debate over American national security, in this second installment of our four-part series.

Myth: The Cold War is over.  The Soviet Union collapsed, but Vladimir Putin’s Russia is now back in full cold-war mode, with a massive military buildup, resumed nuclear patrols along America’s coast, and threatening actions against U.S. forces and allies across the world. Speaking in Kiev, U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, reports PJ Media,  noted that “despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe.”

This revived Cold War, or “Cold War 2” as some have termed it, has America at a distinct disadvantage. China and Russia were, in the past, antagonists.  Now they are solidly allied. Those believing the world is at peace amongst the major powers simply haven’t been paying attention. Russia’s vastly modernized armed forces, its invasion of Crimea, its aggressive policies towards Eastern Europe, its violation of the intermediate nuclear arms agreement, its dramatic armed buildup in the Arctic and its growing presence in Latin America, combined with China’s expansion into the South China Sea and its threatening posture towards its neighbors makes it clear that the planet has become more dangerous than ever.

Myth: If America needed to fight a major war, it could timely build a larger military like it did in World War 2.  Unfortunately, the U.S. no longer has the industrial base to quickly build the ships, planes and tanks it would need to compete with Russia and China.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing outlines the challenge:

“U.S. national security is at-risk due to our military’s reliance on foreign nations for the raw materials, parts, and products used to defend the American people….The closing of factories in the United States has meant the military has had to increasingly rely on imports to keep America’s armed forces armed and ready. The military is shockingly vulnerable to major disruptions in the supply chain, including from poor manufacturing practices, natural disasters, and price gouging by foreign nations.” And, of course, foreign computer chips leaves the U.S. vulnerable to back-door booby traps.

Myth: U.S. service members are the best trained in the world.  The massive Obama-era cutbacks have sharply impacted training.  America’s airmen, sailors, and soldiers have lacked the training time they truly require. The military newspaper Stars and Stripes  reported, in a 2016 review,  that training levels for nondeployed aircrews remain far below what is necessary for safe operations. “According to the Marines’ own standards, those pilots should have 16.5 hours of flight training each month. But they have received far less…Last year, non-deploying Marine pilots on average were getting only six to nine hours of flight training each month, Davis told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on readiness. Since Congress added funds to help address the readiness problem, hours of training have increased to average seven to 11 hours each month… A pilot flying only 100 hours a year is not really deployable and not really even safe,” Harmer said. “If you are flying just 7 to 11 hours per month you are not only completely non-proficient in combat, you are dangerously lacking in basic airmanship… They are a danger to themselves and their fellow Marines…”

Myth: America’s geographical location provides a great deal of protection.  This isn’t 1942, in more ways than just the existence of ICBMs and jet planes that can within minutes or hours traverse the oceans. Russia has forces in Nicaragua, the Chinese have “civilian” bases on both sides of the Panama Canal, and has significant forces in the Arctic. Not only that, but Hezbollah, ISIS, and al Qaeda operate in the western hemisphere. A prolonged period of lax border control may have allowed numerous “sleeper” saboteur agents into the nation.

Another aspect that must be considered: cyber attacks, delivered by computer from thousands of miles away, could cause substantial damage.

 In a 2016 hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee, two key figures, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, and USMC  Lt.General Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, provided a sobering assessment of the cyber threat.

They noted:Russia is assuming a more assertive cyber posture based on its willingness to target critical infrastructure systems and conduct espionage operations even when detected and under increased public scrutiny…China continues to have success in cyber espionage against the US Government, our allies, and US companies…Iran used cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks in 2015 to support its security priorities, influence events, and counter threats—including against US allies in the region… North Korea probably remains capable and willing to launch disruptive or destructive cyberattacks to support its political objectives.

The Report continues tomorrow.    

Defense Myths that Endanger America

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reveals the myths clouding the debate over American national security, in this four-part series.

Recently, the New York Analysis of Policy and Government noted that the purchase of bargain bin computer chips originating in China may be the cause of the recent collisions of U.S. navy ships.  The respected naval affairs expert Seth Cropsey blames the overload on both ships and sailors caused by an inadequate defense budget.

Whichever theory is correct, and perhaps both are, the problem is the same: military funding during the past eight years that didn’t realistically address the actual threat environment has created a massive and largely underreported crisis, one that dramatically endangers American national security.

Those advocating reduced spending for U.S. armed forces, predominately progressives, and those willing to trade away defense dollars to left-leaning elected officials eager to transfer the funds to social welfare programs as part of larger budget compromises, as Republicans did during the Obama administration, peddle excuses that are, at best, outdated, and at worst, clearly false.

Those myths include:

Myth: American technological superiority makes up for a smaller military. It’s time to face up to the unpleasant reality that the U.S. does not have technological superiority.  Russia and China have technology equal to, and in some cases surpassing, much of what the Pentagon can field. An American Enterprise Institute study has noted that “The diffusion of advanced military technology and the means to manufacture it have accelerated. Capabilities in which the United States once enjoyed a monopoly (e.g. precision munitions and unmanned systems) have now proliferated … to virtually all U.S. adversaries in short order; Nations such as China and Russia have made concerted efforts to outpace and counter the military-technological advancements of the United States.”

Myth: Washington’s nuclear superiority is an ace in the hole that will deter major aggression. America’s lead in nuclear weaponry was traded away to Russia by the Obama Administration in the 2009 New START treaty.

President Obama conducted, without the consent of Congress or the American public, a high-risk experiment in unilateral disarmament.  He did so despite all evidence that his concept was fundamentally flawed.

Andrew C. Weber, Assistant Secretary of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, and Elaine Bunn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, testified in 2014 before the House Armed Services Committee  that the United States would cut nuclear stockpiles under the New START treaty with Russia.

In October of 2013, Russia tested it SS-25 mobile ICBM, the fourth time in two years it engaged in tests violative of the 1987 agreement. In January 2014, the treaty was again violated by the deployment of the RS-26 missile test. Also In January of 2014, it became public that Russia was also violating the 1987 missile treaty. Despite that fact, the Obama Administration took no action.

The Administration’s move comes despite Russia’s placement of nuclear-armed ISKANDER missiles on the border of Europe in response to absolutely no threat from NATO.

Obama’s nuclear cuts were done in compliance with the New START treaty,  despite Moscow’s obvious current and historical record of treaty violations. That treaty, by the way, completely failed to address Moscow’s 10-1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons

Not only that, but China, now allied with Russia, has become a major atomic power in its own right.  According to the Arms Control Agency, Beijing commands about 260 [strategic] atomic warheads. The 21stCentury Arms Race  site indicates that China has up to 100 missiles with which to launch them. But this information may significantly underestimate the true size of the arsenal. A Diplomatstudy notes that “China officially communicates the least about the size, status and capabilities of its nuclear forces. A Georgetown University study by Dr. Philip Karber  points out the challenge of correctly estimating the nuclear capability of a secretive state.  In the case of China, a large number of weapons may be concealed in a vast array of tunnels. “During the cold war we missed 50% of the Soviet stockpile…while the U.S. has tracked PRC tunnel construction for years, the scope, magnitude and strategic rational behind the “Underground Great Wall” has been under appreciated…the Chinese buildup of their Theater-Strategic Rocket Force has not been the focus of a comprehensive all source analogy…public numbers [of atomic warheads] could be easily off by a factor of 10…”

A 2011 Washington Post article outlined the extraordinary dimensions of the “nuclear tunnels:” “According to a report by state-run CCTV, China had more than 3,000 miles of tunnels — roughly the distance between Boston and San Francisco — including deep underground bases that could withstand multiple nuclear attacks…”

And of course, there is the growing nuclear arsenal of North Korea. Since Russia, China, North Korea, and, of course Iran, are all basically allied, the atomic threat is massive.

The Report continues tomorrow    

Blunt Talk about the North Korean Threat

The North Korean detonation of a hydrogen bomb, and the claim that it can mount such a device atop an ICBM, has appropriately resulted in a deeply worried reaction within the United States. Much of the general analysis has missed several key factors, however.

As viscerally satisfying as it is to discuss a pre-emptive strike or other direct military action in response, the reality is that both Russia and China have delivered not-so-subtle messages that they will assist Pyonyang in any armed confrontation. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Washington needs to clearly and openly understand that Kim Jong-un couldn’t have achieved this level of  conventional, nuclear and missile proficiency without outside help, both technological and, particularly, economic.  North Korea’s vast conventional, as well as its atomic, prowess directly helps both Moscow and Beijing in their long-range goals of the expansion of their power throughout the globe.

The key questions is, Should Washington risk what will essentially be a world war at this time? To answer that, another question must be asked: Does the Pentagon have the ability to prevail in such a conflict?

 In 2012, the Obama Administration abandoned the long-held policy of having a U.S. military equipped to fight a two-front war.  Inexplicably, this was done at the same time that it was becoming increasingly evident that the alliance of China and Russia, as well as the cooperation in missile and nuclear technology betweenthose two and Iran and North Korea, was becoming increasingly evident.  Other than as an excuse to transfer defense dollars to more politically popular domestic programs, there has never been an adequate explanation of the reasoning behind the Obama Administration’s controversial decision. This has become a larger issue as the threats from North Korea become more credible, dangerous and frequent.  It would be naïve to believe that if it were necessary to deploy additional American forces, for example, on the Korean peninsula, that Iran would not take advantage of U.S. weakness in the Middle East, or that Russia would not expand its aggression against Ukraine.

Heritage study found “that the U.S. needs a military that is large enough and has a sufficient range of capabilities to cover multiple major military contingencies in overlapping time frames… Such a capability is the sine qua non of a superpower and is essential to the credibility of our overall national security strategy.” However, as previously reported by the New York Times  and Atlantic monthly  “The U.S. military of the future will no longer be able to fight two sustained ground wars at the same time.”  That future may be now.

Direct threat to the United States

Some have attempted to downplay the threat to the U.S. based on the imbalance between U.S. and North Korean forces. However, it is now undeniably evident that almost the entire span of continental U.S. could be crippled by an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack from a single nuclear weapon detonated at a specific altitude.  An EMP attack would breakdown America’s electrical grid, disable almost all transportation facilities (including cars, trucks, trains and planes) and medical centers.  The inability to deliver food, water, energy and essential services, it is estimated, would result in the deaths of up to 80% of the American population within less than a year.

On September 3, Peter Landers, writing in the Wall Street Journal stated that “North Korea’s threats against the U.S. now include a tactic long discussed by some experts: an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, triggered by a nuclear weapon that would aim to shut down the U.S. electricity grid. North Korea’s state news agency made a rare reference to the tactic in a Sunday morning release in which the country said it was able to load a hydrogen bomb onto a long-range missile. The bomb, North Korea said, “is a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.”

In a 2015 letter to the Obama Administration, the EMP Task Force warned:

“The consequent failure of critical infrastructure that sustain our lives is a major national security threat and would be catastrophic to our people and our nation…“Russia and China have substantially hardened their electric grids. Other nations are beginning to harden theirs. But the United States has done little or nothing to counter this threat…Russia and China have already developed nuclear EMP weapons and many believe others possess EMP weapons including North Korea and soon Iran-and likely their terrorist surrogates. For example, they could launch nuclear-armed short or medium range missiles from near our coasts, possibly hiding the actual sponsor from retaliation. North Korea and Iran have tested their missiles in ways that can execute EMP attacks from ships or from satellites that approach the U.S. from the couth where our ballistic missile warning systems are minimal…”

While the military problems, caused by decades of an ineffective policy based on the appeasement of North Korea concerning nuclear weapons that began with the Clinton Administration and the disinvestment in the U.S. military during the Obama Administration has left Washington in a weakened condition, there are options, as well as steps that must be taken.

Solutions

First, China and Russia must pay an enormous and unprecedented economic price for their role in Pyongyang’s, and, for that matter, Iran’s– nuclear program.  It is time to seriously consider—as stunning as it sounds—a program that lays out a clear timeline of severing economic ties between those two aggressor nations and the United States if Moscow and Beijing fail to rein in their client state.

Second, it is time to realize how precarious a situation the Obama disinvestment in defense has produced, and to be fair, the GOP failure to respond to that move. American industry must be placed on an emergency footing to make up for lost time.  Some of the expense of that costly endeavor–which must also include the development of an effective anti missile shield– will be made up for in the reinvigoration of the American manufacturing sector. Key allied nations, such as those in NATO, as well as Australia and Japan, must do their share, as well.