Newt Gingrich Sounds Alarum on EMP

I have already posted to this subject and have made the same warming but perhaps less focused on the real vulnerability that we now face. Our principal deterrence is Trident submarine deployment program. Hardly a comfort when our likely enemies are possible candidates from central casting for a staring role in ‘Megalomaniac XVII’

The threat is worse than described. All our electrical devices will be fried. The internet disappears and all our household devices likely catch fire. They have wonderful coils to overload. All the replacement parts are also fried in our warehouses. And do you really think that the military has gotten off their duffs and provided shielding for the replacement parts at least? They have protected operation equipment were really necessary.

Actual shielding should take little more that an excessive enthusiasm for aluminum foil to create Faraday cages around vulnerable equipment. A new building standard needs to be implemented by which all wall board and other paneling has a layer of aluminum foil. That simple and that cheap will in time protect most of our infrastructure.

What Newt is quite rightly saying, is that this is something that we want to be proactive about. The threat is not immediate, but the obvious solution is not immediate either. The potentiality of the threat is not going to go away so long as a nation state retains the desire and ability to make nukes. So change the building codes nationally as a federal mandate to protect the country.

Newt Gingrich: A Single Nuke Could Destroy America

Sunday, March 29, 2009 4:23 PMBy: Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen

There is a sword of Damocles over our heads. It is a threat that is real but has been all but ignored.

On February 3rd, Iran launched a “communications satellite” into orbit. At this very moment, North Korea is threatening to do the same. The ability to launch an alleged communications satellite belies a far more frightening truth. A rocket that can carry a satellite into orbit can also drop a nuclear warhead over any location on the planet in less than forty-five minutes.

Far too many timid or uninformed sources maintain that a single launch of a missile poses no true threat to the United States given our retaliatory power. A reality check is in order and must be discussed in response to such an absurd claim:

One small nuclear weapon, delivered by an ICBM can, in fact, destroy the United States by maximizing the effect of the resultant electromagnetic pulse upon detonation.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a by-product of detonating an atomic bomb above the Earth’s atmosphere. When a nuclear weapon is detonated in space, the gamma rays emitted trigger a massive electrical disturbance in the upper atmosphere. Moving at the speed of light, this overload will short out all electrical equipment, power grids and delicate electronics on the earth’s surface. In fact, it would take only one to three weapons exploding above the continental United States to wipe out our entire grid and transportation network. It might take years to recover from, if ever.

This is not science fiction. If you doubt this, spend a short amount of time skimming the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack from April 2008. You will come away sobered.

Even as the new Administration plans to spend trillions on economic bail outs, it has announced plans to reduce funding and downgrade efforts for missile defense. Furthermore, the reluctance by the United States to invest in a modern and credible traditional nuclear deterrent is a serious concern. What good will a bailout be if there is no longer a nation to bail out?

Fifty years ago it was not Sputnik itself that sent a dire chill of warning around the world; it was the capability of the rocket that launched Sputnik. The rocket that lofted Sputnik into orbit could also serve as an ICBM.

Yet for all its rhetoric, the Soviet Union was essentially a rational power that recognized the threat of mutual destruction and thus never stepped to the edge.

The world is different today. Intercontinental range missiles tipped with nuclear weapons in the hands of leaders driven by fanaticism, leaders that support global terrorism, leaders that have made repeated threats that they will seek our annihilation. . .can now at last achieve their dream of our annihilation in a matter of minutes.

Those who claim that there is little to fear from Iran or North Korea because “at best” they will only have one or two nuclear weapons, ignore the catastrophic level of threat we now face from just “a couple” of nuclear weapons.

Again: One to three missiles tipped with nuclear weapons and armed to detonate at a high altitude—to achieve the strongest EMP over the greatest area of the United States—would create an EMP “overlay” that triggers a continental-wide collapse of our entire electrical, transportation and communications infrastructure.

Within weeks after such an attack, tens of millions of Americans would perish. The impact has been likened to a nationwide Hurricane Katrina. Some studies estimate that 90% of all Americans might very well die in the year after such an attack as our transportation, food distribution, communications, public safety, law enforcement and medical infrastructures collapse.

It is a blow we most likely would never recover from.

Two things need to be done now and without delay.

1. Make clear in the strongest of terms that if a rocket is launched by either Iran or North Korea on a trajectory headed towards the territory of the United States, we will shoot it down. The risk of not doing so is beyond acceptable. And if they construe this as an act of war, so be it, for they fired the first shot. The risk of sitting back for thirty minutes and praying it is not an EMP strike is beyond acceptable, beyond rational on our part.

2. Funding for EMP defense must be a top national priority. To downgrade or halt our missile defense program, which after twenty five years of research is at last becoming viable, would be an action of criminal negligence.

Surely, with such a threat confronting us, a fair and open debate, with full public access and the setting aside of partisan politics, is in order. In the meantime, a policy must be stated today that we will indeed shoot down any missile aimed towards the United States that is fired by Iran or North Korea. America’s survival, your survival, and your family’s survival might very well depend on it.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. William Forstchen is the author of "One Second After," an account of a town struggling to survive after an EMP weapon is used against the United States.
Some Technical input:


The Problem

Dependence on electronic systems for military and other national security command, communications, control, computing, data processing, and intelligence continues to increase. The state-of-the-art electronics components used in most systems are susceptible to upset or damage from Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), including the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) from nuclear weapons. Further, to ensure communications security (TEMPEST), it is often necessary to prevent compromising emanations. Many defense-related facilities require EMI, EMP, or TEMPEST protection. Historically, a metallic liner or shield has provided protection by completely enclosing the electronics systems. The conservative designs typically provide more shielding than required and are very expensive to design, construct, test, and maintain.

The Technology

The U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories (CERL) has been experimenting with low-cost electromagnetic shielding designs for several years. These studies can be categorized as follows:

1. New Materials Development: Materials included are conductive polymers and advanced coatings for use on shield components. Materials being considered include amorphous metals and intercalated graphites. Consideration is also being given to making concrete electrically conductive.

2. Use of Inherent Shielding of Standard Construction Materials: Examples include aluminum-foil-backed gypsum board, aluminum-foil-backed insulating sheathing, metallic-clad siding, copper foils (normally used for vapor barriers), wire meshes, and sheet metal roofing.

3. Adaptation of Application Techniques: These techniques include the use of thermal spraying (primarily arc-spraying) of metals in which molten metal is sprayed in much the same manner as paint is sprayed. This metal bonds to most construction surfaces. Another technique is the use of laser welding to allow efficient welding of thinner sheet metals than conventional methods.

4. New Construction Assembly Techniques: This effort includes an investigation of seam-joining techniques for thin sheet metals, such as galvanized steel, metal meshes, aluminum panels, and copper sheets.


This research is expected to result in significant cost-reductions for electromagnetically shielded rooms or buildings. Cost reductions will result in more widespread use of shielding, thus improving overall communications security, resistance to electromagnetic interference upset, and increased probability of surviving nuclear events.


1. CERL has completed numerous arc-spray experiments and several arc-sprayed rooms and has obtained TEMPEST certification for them. One room used a unique design of copper sprayed onto fiberglass, and the project resulted in an Army Research and Development Achievement award. Current and future studies include evaluation of varying arc-spray parameter effects on the quality of coatings, investigation of the use of electromagnetic propulsion for arc spray, and use of highly flexible arc-sprayed substrates. In addition, two rooms have been installed as field-demonstrations.

2. Several candidates for advanced coatings have been identified to improve shield penetration designs.

3. A relatively new commercial design that uses snap-together joints and galvanized sheet steel has been evaluated in the laboratory and found to be acceptable for most TEMPEST designs.

4. In a current study, laser welding using fiber-optic delivery of laser-welding power is being investigated. This approach will allow for construction of large shielded volumes with non-portable welders and the use of much thinner steel than that used in conventional welded steel shields.

5. Additional details are available in the following CERL technical reports: M-86/11, Development, Design, Construction, and Testing of a Copper Arc-Sprayed Shielded Enclosure, July 1986; M-86/19, Electromagnetic Shielding Tests on a Room Shielded with Foil-Faced Foam Board, September 1986; and M-88/02, Low Cost Electromagnetic Shielding Using Drywall Composites: Results of RFI Testing of Shielding Effectiveness, October 1987; and M-92/06, Effectiveness of Low-Cost Electromagnetic Shielding Using Nail-Together Galvanized Steel: Test Results, September 1992.

Point of Contact

CERL POC is Paul Nielsen, COMM 217-373-7243; toll-free 800-USA-CERL; FAX 217-373-6732; e-mail; or CERL, ATTN: CECER-FL-E, P.O. Box 9005, Champaign, IL 61826-9005.

Visit the CERL homepage at

No comments:

Post a Comment