How Much Do You Know About Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Warfare?

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Percentagewise, not that many of us know much about warfare, period. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warfare is such a specialized, science fiction type of subset that only military types plus a smattering of students of history and/or current military technology have even the slightest clue about that.

But we should. As former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich states in the foreword to William R. Forstchen’s novel, One Second After,

“…when an atomic bomb is detonated above the earth’s atmosphere, it can generate a ‘pulse wave’, which travels at the speed of light, and will short-circuit every electronic device that the ‘wave’ touches on the earth’s surface. It is like a super lightning bolt striking next to your house and taking out your computer, except infinitely worse, for it will strike our entire nation, most likely without warning, and could destroy our complex electrical grid and everything attached into that grid. It is a real threat, a very real threat, and one that has deeply worried myself and many others for years….”

U.S. Navy Captain Bill Sanders, whose career focused entirely in the area of nuclear warfare, writes in the afterword to that same Forstchen novel,

“…A well-designed nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude over Kansas could have damaging effects over virtually all of the continental United States….”

That’s right. Just one bomb, calibrated correctly to produce the maximum EMP effect and fired off 25 or more miles up there, in space above the middle of the USA, could in a single stroke send us back to 19th century living standards. You think the original Wild, Wild West was something? Try surviving when 330 million people suddenly find themselves without food, water, medications of any sort, or God forbid, their precious computers and cell phones and video games. A single week of those conditions would kill literally millions of us, and those would be the lucky ones.

Naturally, America has plenty of enemies out there who’d love to make that happen. For example, let’s say our not so good buddy Iran (a) achieves nuclear capability (which seems more likely to happen than not), then (b) gets into the satellite launching business, and (c) arranges for a “satellite drop” to deliver that magically calibrated nuclear weapon above Flyover Country’s atmosphere.

It wouldn’t be pretty, it could happen, and you can bet your bottom dollar a few rogue nations are working on it even as we speak.

The younger generations, those who’ve grown up taking the grid for granted, tend to believe “electricity on tap” is forever. It’s beyond their ability to comprehend the very idea that their coddled lives of luxury could (and someday will) disappear. Few of them, even if they happen to stumble across this post, will bother to read through to the bottom of this one page. Studying the EMP problem in depth? Fuhgeddaboudit! The Super Bowl is on, doncha know, and how ’bout them Seahawks?

If we get hit with a major EMP strike, there won’t be any more Super Bowls, but they’ll not be able to comprehend that, either.

For those interested in understanding the threat represented by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, William Forstchen's book is an excellent read.

For those interested in understanding the threat represented by electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, William Forstchen’s book is an excellent read.

That’s bad enough, knowing that one of our nation’s enemies might someday succeed in blowing up our technology from on high. Unfortunately, there’s worse news…from within our own borders.

I first became aware of the potential EMP problem in 1990. At that time, my 5th future ex-wife and I lived on 40 acres in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, a few miles north and west of the town of Hamilton.

One day, we came across a notice that there would be a community hearing on HAARP in the basement meeting room of the Ravalli County Courthouse. The notice explained a bit about what HAARP did, and we became concerned enough to attend the meeting.

Fair warning: You won’t find this information in Wikipedia, or for that matter in any other online publications except those the naysayers gleefully label as “conspiracy theory” writings. But I can say this from direct experience: A U.S. Air Force Major, the designated spokesperson tasked with soothing our concerns at that meeting, confirmed every bit of what I’m about to say. HAARP stands for High Frequency Active Aurora Research Project–which sounds benign, just research–but what we residents of Ravalli County were facing that day was anything but benign.

The people’s main concern was a HAARP tower the Air Force was planning to erect near Hamilton. It would be 300 feet high, just one more in a network of dozens (at that time) already in place around the United States. The military was concerned about enemies attacking us from the air, and by triggering massive EMP pulses from each of these towers, the electronics aboard enemy aircraft and/or missiles could be rendered inoperative. According to the Major, HAARP was a wonderful defensive device for the President to have at his fingertips, and his sidekick at the meeting agreed.

Who was his partner in crime that day? Why, none other than Max Baucus, the Montana Senator (Democrat) who co-authored much of the disastrous Obamacare law, then called it a “train wreck” and announced his 2014 retirement before he could be kicked out of office.

“But wouldn’t triggering an EMP like that also wipe our own electronics here in the valley?” A member of the audience asked, and the Major confirmed that yes, it would indeed do that, though he claimed the effect would be “temporary”.

Note: You computer users know what happens when your computer gets “temporarily” slagged. At the very least, you end up buying a new hard drive.

The local Sheriff, who at that time was Jay Printz, let the Major and his Senatorial sidekick know that, “I’ve already had people calling my office, telling me that if you put this thing in, a lot of folks around here are going to be using it for target practice–and I don’t have the manpower to go chasing them down if they do that.” In other words, Mr. Air Force, expect a shooting war, Sir.

There were around 45 of us in the meeting that day, and opposition to the HAARP tower was pretty much unanimous (except, of course, for the two men at the front of the room, the Air Force Major and Senator Baucus, who were diligently attempting to sell us an EMP enema). By the end of the meeting, which took no more than an hour or so, Baucus assured us he was listening and promised to look into repositioning the planned HAARP tower. Instead of being sited in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, it would be set up over on the other side of the mountains, somewhere in the Salmon, Idaho, area–where, presumably, not so many fiery eyed rebels with hunting rifles would show up to protest its installation.

On the way out, most of the locals were ridiculously cheerful. “We won!” Sadie said, her deep blue eyes sparkling.

I stared at her in disbelief. “No, we didn’t.”

“But he said they would stop it!”

“You weren’t hearing what he was saying between the lines, honey. Baucus is pure political animal. He didn’t actually say they’d stop the HAARP program. He just said they’d move it over into Idaho–and remember, the Major admitted that a few mountains won’t do diddly to stop those EMP’s. The waves go right through dirt, solid rock, anything, up to a range of about 300 miles from each tower. And Salmon, Idaho, is a heck of a lot closer to here than 300 miles.”

“Oh.” She looked crestfallen. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I know a political weasel when I hear one. I’m sure.”

And so it was.

When attempting to do research for this post, I scoured the Net for some time–without finding one page mentioning the HAARP tower capabilities as I’ve described them here. But I was there that day, and it was common knowledge confirmed by both the military (Major) and the Congress (Senator Baucus). Heck, it deserves a bit of doggerel:

If the powers that be
In almighty D.C.
Decide to take down a region
Just trigger a HAARP
That’s playing it sharp
Then mop up with one Roman legion

No, I’m not much into conspiracy theory these days…but by gum, them thar guvmint types do make it easy!

Summary: The technology is already out there. Our nation truly is at risk from electronic magnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry–whether wielded from on high by an external enemy or triggered on the down low from the enemy within.

May the Force be with you.

7 thoughts on “How Much Do You Know About Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Warfare?

  1. Ya think? EMP waves don’t kill people, just electronics, so if/when something like this hits, we’ll all be alive long enough to give our fellow humans competition for survival resources for at least a brief time. It may never happen, but given the darkling streak running through much of human nature, plus Murphy’s Law, I wouldn’t care to bet on it.

  2. I think this sounds like it could be part of the “starwars program” we used to hear so much about. Star wars was purportedly scrapped, I wonder how many of these insane supposed “defense” programs have been politically corrected by the “new lie of the day” that tries to feed us “new” and ingenious terms to mask the truth.

    Finally found you again after a webless hiatus and re-invention of my life. This format takes a little getting used to.

  3. Welcome, Mary! Glad you found me. Yes, this format is a tad different than HubPages, but I like it. Of course, migrating hundreds of articles over to this site from HP was more than enough to get me familiar with the layout.

    Hm. A “re-invention of my life” sounds intriguing.

    You could be right about this being part of the Star Wars program. We certainly know that “truth masking” is the order of the day and has been pretty much since man came on the scene.

  4. Would love to start a dialogue with you. Intelligence never weakens one’s position. I have much to learn in your area of expertise if you’re willing to share.

  5. I’m surprised I had missed this post while going through your site, Ghost. The EMP danger is one that the Lifeboat Foundation has studied and discussed, since it is a clear and present danger to the US and the world. Of course, hardening our electronics would be the logical first step, but one that would lower profits, so it isn’t being done… 🙁 Our power grids are one of the critical elements, since they are not being well maintained, though hopefully the cybersecurity concerns are serving to replace old, soft electronics with new, hardened ones.
    Maybe you should write something on how to protect ourselves from an EMP blast… 😉
    Sadly, going off the grid is a partial solution that will not protect all the benefits of modern civilization, leaving the few survivors without modern communications, transportation, health, etc. Of course, if you are a third world country whose population lacks all sorts of amenities, the EMP blast won’t scare you at all, you might even think it will even out the battlefield odds in your favor!
    Manny

  6. Caleb: I suspect you may be overestimating my “expertise” by a whole bunch. When it comes to EMP’s, I simply happened to be at the right time and place to attend that meeting in Montana years ago–and when I came across Forsten’s book, reading Newt Gingrich’s intro was more than enough to get me to check out a few things. By “a few things”, I simply mean reading the book and running a few Google searches prior to writing this post.

    If you want to toss something out there and “start a dialogue”, sure. You can do that by continuing to comment. I’m online most nights and try to respond to readers’ comments on a regular basis. I’m just not sure how much you’ll learn from the process. 🙂
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    Manny: Good thoughts. I hadn’t heard of the Lifeboat Foundation until you just mentioned it; guess I’ll have to check it out…someday. 🙂

    As it happens, I believe it was just yesterday that I caught a snippet of news on the radio in which the guest on a talk show (didn’t catch his name) was pointing out that (a) pretty much every developed country out there could already crash our grid, either with an EMP or with sophisticated cyber attacks, but that (b) they haven’t done it so far because they know we could fire back and immediately crash theirs in retaliation. In other words, the speaker was saying, the Internet (which was the primary focus of that particular conversation) was never designed for defense. So, offense is simple for everybody, defense is difficult, and so far we’re all surviving through the Mutually Assured Destruction balance that kept the super powers from pushing the red buttons during the Cold War.

    I do believe you’re right that the less developed countries, and OF COURSE the terrorist groups, would love to smear us back to the Stone Age, whether the vehicle for doing so was an EMP, cyber warfare, or whatever. It’s only common sense that they wouldn’t care how it was done as long as it was done.

    As for “how to survive” an EMP blast, there are better experts than me out there. In fact, I don’t qualify at all. You mentioned the off grid situation, and of course you know that’s how we do live at present, but our advantages are not exactly overwhelming. I have no clue how to harden our computers or TV sets or cell phones–not my forte at all. Our vehicles are late model enough that they do have computers in them, so they wouldn’t function. Heck, even our new(ish) tractor/backhoe/loader is computer tweaked.

    In Forsten’s book, he points out the advantage of having an older (pre-computer) vehicle, but even that’s no cake walk. How many of us have the parking space and the cash to pick up a 1950’s Willys Jeep and keep it handy just in case? Then there are the supply lines for fuel, food, etc.–all of which would either vanish completely or become so minimal that the competition would become literally deadly in very short order.

    Probably the simplest way to find out “how to survive” most anything these days is simply to Google it. There are undoubtedly gaps, but hey, Google prides itself on knowing everything about everybody and every situation, and it seems to come close enough for company work. Today’s comments on this post inspired me to try the following searches, just for kicks and giggles:

    1. Preppers……1,900,000 Google results.
    2. EMP attack…734,000 Google results.

    Bottom line, I write a bit about what I’ve come across over the years and what I see out there simply by paying attention, but we wound up off grid because that was the only viable solution when we moved here in early 2009. Pam doesn’t do well with close neighbors (mental health, stress related issues), we love most wildlife excluding rattlesnakes and chiggers, and I could get us started on this land for $500 a month and go from there. It wasn’t about prepping. We don’t stockpile food. Heck for that matter, we don’t even own a shortwave radio.

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