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Thread: Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses

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    Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses

    Some here might find the details interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by POTUS-45
    Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses

    Infrastructure & Technology
    Issued on: March 26, 2019

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

    Section 1. Purpose. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) has the potential to disrupt, degrade, and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems. Human-made or naturally occurring EMPs can affect large geographic areas, disrupting elements critical to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity, and could adversely affect global commerce and stability. The Federal Government must foster sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective approaches to improving the Nation’s resilience to the effects of EMPs.

    Sec. 2. Definitions. As used in this order:

    (a) “Critical infrastructure” means systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.

    (b) “Electromagnetic pulse” is a burst of electromagnetic energy. EMPs have the potential to negatively affect technology systems on Earth and in space. A high-altitude EMP (HEMP) is a type of human-made EMP that occurs when a nuclear device is detonated at approximately 40 kilometers or more above the surface of Earth. A geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) is a type of natural EMP driven by a temporary disturbance of Earth’s magnetic field resulting from interactions with solar eruptions. Both HEMPs and GMDs can affect large geographic areas.

    (c) “National Critical Functions” means the functions of government and the private sector so vital to the United States that their disruption, corruption, or dysfunction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.

    (d) “National Essential Functions” means the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation before, during, and in the aftermath of a catastrophic emergency, such as an EMP that adversely affects the performance of Government.

    (e) “Prepare” and “preparedness” mean the actions taken to plan, organize, equip, train, and exercise to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from those threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation. These terms include the prediction and notification of impending EMPs.

    (f) A “Sector-Specific Agency” (SSA) is the Federal department or agency that is responsible for providing institutional knowledge and specialized expertise as well as leading, facilitating, or supporting the security and resilience programs and associated activities of its designated critical infrastructure sector in the all-hazards environment. The SSAs are those identified in Presidential Policy Directive 21 of February 12, 2013 (Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience).

    Sec. 3. Policy. (a) It is the policy of the United States to prepare for the effects of EMPs through targeted approaches that coordinate whole-of-government activities and encourage private-sector engagement. The Federal Government must provide warning of an impending EMP; protect against, respond to, and recover from the effects of an EMP through public and private engagement, planning, and investment; and prevent adversarial events through deterrence, defense, and nuclear nonproliferation efforts. To achieve these goals, the Federal Government shall engage in risk-informed planning, prioritize research and development (R&D) to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and, for adversarial threats, consult Intelligence Community assessments.

    (b) To implement the actions directed in this order, the Federal Government shall promote collaboration and facilitate information sharing, including the sharing of threat and vulnerability assessments, among executive departments and agencies (agencies), the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate. The Federal Government shall also provide incentives, as appropriate, to private-sector partners to encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations, and appropriate guidance.

    Sec. 4. Coordination. (a) The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), through National Security Council staff and in consultation with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), shall coordinate the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of EMPs. The APNSA shall, on an annual basis, submit a report to the President summarizing progress on the implementation of this order, identifying gaps in capability, and recommending how to address those gaps.

    (b) To further the Federal R&D necessary to prepare the Nation for the effects of EMPs, the Director of OSTP shall coordinate efforts of agencies through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The Director of OSTP, through the NSTC, shall annually review and assess the R&D needs of agencies conducting preparedness activities for EMPs, consistent with this order.

    Sec. 5. Roles and Responsibilities. (a) The Secretary of State shall:

    (i) lead the coordination of diplomatic efforts with United States allies and international partners regarding enhancing resilience to the effects of EMPs; and

    (ii) in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other relevant agencies, strengthen nuclear nonproliferation and deterrence efforts, which would reduce the likelihood of an EMP attack on the United States or its allies and partners by limiting the availability of nuclear devices.

    (b) The Secretary of Defense shall:

    (i) in cooperation with the heads of relevant agencies and with United States allies, international partners, and private-sector entities as appropriate, improve and develop the ability to rapidly characterize, attribute, and provide warning of EMPs, including effects on space systems of interest to the United States;

    (ii) provide timely operational observations, analyses, forecasts, and other products for naturally occurring EMPs to support the mission of the Department of Defense along with United States allies and international partners, including the provision of alerts and warnings for natural EMPs that may affect weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States;

    (iii) conduct R&D and testing to understand the effects of EMPs on Department of Defense systems and infrastructure, improve capabilities to model and simulate the environments and effects of EMPs, and develop technologies to protect Department of Defense systems and infrastructure from the effects of EMPs to ensure the successful execution of Department of Defense missions;

    (iv) review and update existing EMP-related standards for Department of Defense systems and infrastructure, as appropriate;

    (v) share technical expertise and data regarding EMPs and their potential effects with other agencies and with the private sector, as appropriate;

    (vi) incorporate attacks that include EMPs as a factor in defense planning scenarios; and

    (vii) defend the Nation from adversarial EMPs originating outside of the United States through defense and deterrence, consistent with the mission and national security policy of the Department of Defense.

    (c) The Secretary of the Interior shall support the research, development, deployment, and operation of capabilities that enhance understanding of variations of Earth’s magnetic field associated with EMPs.

    (d) The Secretary of Commerce shall:

    (i) provide timely and accurate operational observations, analyses, forecasts, and other products for natural EMPs, exclusive of the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense set forth in subsection (b)(ii) of this section; and

    (ii) use the capabilities of the Department of Commerce, the private sector, academia, and nongovernmental organizations to continuously improve operational forecasting services and the development of standards for commercial EMP technology.

    (e) The Secretary of Energy shall conduct early-stage R&D, develop pilot programs, and partner with other agencies and the private sector, as appropriate, to characterize sources of EMPs and their couplings to the electric power grid and its subcomponents, understand associated potential failure modes for the energy sector, and coordinate preparedness and mitigation measures with energy sector partners.

    (f) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

    (i) provide timely distribution of information on EMPs and credible associated threats to Federal, State, and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and other stakeholders;

    (ii) in coordination with the heads of any relevant SSAs, use the results of risk assessments to better understand and enhance resilience to the effects of EMPs across all critical infrastructure sectors, including coordinating the identification of national critical functions and the prioritization of associated critical infrastructure at greatest risk to the effects of EMPs;

    (iii) coordinate response to and recovery from the effects of EMPs on critical infrastructure, in coordination with the heads of appropriate SSAs;

    (iv) incorporate events that include EMPs as a factor in preparedness scenarios and exercises;

    (v) in coordination with the heads of relevant SSAs, conduct R&D to better understand and more effectively model the effects of EMPs on national critical functions and associated critical infrastructure — excluding Department of Defense systems and infrastructure — and develop technologies and guidelines to enhance these functions and better protect this infrastructure;

    (vi) maintain survivable means to provide necessary emergency information to the public during and after EMPs; and

    (vii) in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and informed by intelligence-based threat assessments, develop quadrennial risk assessments on EMPs, with the first risk assessment delivered within 1 year of the date of this order.

    (g) The Director of National Intelligence shall:

    (i) coordinate the collection, analysis, and promulgation, as appropriate, of intelligence-based assessments on adversaries’ capabilities to conduct an attack utilizing an EMP and the likelihood of such an attack; and

    (ii) provide intelligence-based threat assessments to support the heads of relevant SSAs in the development of quadrennial risk assessments on EMPs.

    (h) The heads of all SSAs, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall enhance and facilitate information sharing with private-sector counterparts, as appropriate, to enhance preparedness for the effects of EMPs, to identify and share vulnerabilities, and to work collaboratively to reduce vulnerabilities.

    (i) The heads of all agencies that support National Essential Functions shall ensure that their all*hazards preparedness planning sufficiently addresses EMPs, including through mitigation, response, and recovery, as directed by national preparedness policy.

    Sec. 6. Implementation. (a) Identifying national critical functions and associated priority critical infrastructure at greatest risk.

    (i) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of SSAs and other agencies as appropriate, shall identify and list the national critical functions and associated priority critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets, including space-based assets that, if disrupted, could reasonably result in catastrophic national or regional effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall update this list as necessary.

    (ii) Within 1 year of the identification described in subsection (a)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of other agencies as appropriate, shall, using appropriate government and private-sector standards for EMPs, assess which identified critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets are most vulnerable to the effects of EMPs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide this list to the President, through the APNSA. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall update this list using the results produced pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and as necessary thereafter.

    (b) Improving understanding of the effects of EMPs.

    (i) Within 180 days of the identification described in subsection (a)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of SSAs and in consultation with the Director of OSTP and the heads of other appropriate agencies, shall review test data — identifying any gaps in such data — regarding the effects of EMPs on critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets representative of those throughout the Nation.

    (ii) Within 180 days of identifying the gaps in existing test data, as directed by subsection (b)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of SSAs and in consultation with the Director of OSTP and the heads of other appropriate agencies, shall use the sector partnership structure identified in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan to develop an integrated cross-sector plan to address the identified gaps. The heads of agencies identified in the plan shall implement the plan in collaboration with the private sector, as appropriate.

    (iii) Within 1 year of the date of this order, and as appropriate thereafter, the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the heads of other agencies and the private sector, as appropriate, shall review existing standards for EMPs and develop or update, as necessary, quantitative benchmarks that sufficiently describe the physical characteristics of EMPs, including waveform and intensity, in a form that is useful to and can be shared with owners and operators of critical infrastructure.

    (iv) Within 4 years of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Interior shall complete a magnetotelluric survey of the contiguous United States to help critical infrastructure owners and operators conduct EMP vulnerability assessments.

    (c) Evaluating approaches to mitigate the effects of EMPs.

    (i) Within 1 year of the date of this order, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and in consultation with the Director of OSTP, the heads of other appropriate agencies, and private-sector partners as appropriate, shall submit to the President, through the APNSA, a report that analyzes the technology options available to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure to the effects of EMPs. The Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security shall also identify gaps in available technologies and opportunities for future technological developments to inform R&D activities.

    (ii) Within 180 days of the completion of the activities directed by subsections (b)(iii) and (c)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of other agencies and in consultation with the private sector as appropriate, shall develop and implement a pilot test to evaluate available engineering approaches for mitigating the effects of EMPs on the most vulnerable critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets, as identified in subsection (a)(ii) of this section.

    (iii) Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of relevant SSAs, and in consultation with appropriate regulatory and utility commissions and other stakeholders, shall identify regulatory and non regulatory mechanisms, including cost recovery measures, that can enhance private-sector engagement to address the effects of EMPs.

    (d) Strengthening critical infrastructure to withstand the effects of EMPs.

    (i) Within 90 days of completing the actions directed in subsection (c)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy and in consultation with the heads of other appropriate agencies and with the private sector as appropriate, shall develop a plan to mitigate the effects of EMPs on the vulnerable priority critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets identified under subsection (a)(ii) of this section. The plan shall align with and build on actions identified in reports required by Executive Order 13800 of May 11, 2017 (Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure). The Secretary of Homeland Security shall implement those elements of the plan that are consistent with Department of Homeland Security authorities and resources, and report to the APNSA regarding any additional authorities and resources needed to complete its implementation. The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, shall update the plan as necessary based on results from the actions directed in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.

    (ii) Within 180 days of the completion of the actions identified in subsection (c)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Energy, shall conduct a pilot test to evaluate engineering approaches used to harden a strategic military installation, including infrastructure that is critical to supporting that installation, against the effects of EMPs.

    (iii) Within 180 days of completing the pilot test described in subsection (d)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Defense shall report to the President, through the APNSA, regarding the cost and effectiveness of the evaluated approaches.

    (e) Improving response to EMPs.

    (i) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the heads of appropriate SSAs, shall review and update Federal response plans, programs, and procedures to account for the effects of EMPs.

    (ii) Within 180 days of the completion of actions directed by subsection (e)(i) of this section, agencies that support National Essential Functions shall update operational plans documenting their procedures and responsibilities to prepare for, protect against, and mitigate the effects of EMPs.

    (iii) Within 180 days of identifying vulnerable priority critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets as directed by subsection (a)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and Commerce, and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, shall provide the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the Director of OSTP with an assessment of the effects of EMPs on critical communications infrastructure, and recommend changes to operational plans to enhance national response and recovery efforts after an EMP.

    Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

    (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

    (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

    (b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

    (c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

    DONALD J. TRUMP

    THE WHITE HOUSE,
    March 26, 2019.
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    Executive Order Highlights Electromagnetic Pulse Threat

    By Jon Harper
    04 June 2019
    National Defense - NDIA's business and technology magazine

    In March, President Donald Trump signed an “Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses,” which many observers see as an important step in confronting an unconventional threat that could wreak havoc on the United States.

    An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is an intense burst of energy that can be released by a nuclear weapon detonated high in the atmosphere, or by a geomagnetic disturbance caused by natural phenomena such as solar flares.

    Consider this scenario that some analysts have envisioned: An electromagnetic pulse hits the nation’s electric grid. The power goes out across a large swath of the country, communication systems and other critical infrastructure are disrupted, military readiness is degraded, chaos ensues and many people die.

    That is a nightmare situation that the U.S. government is making a new concerted push to avoid.

    “It is the policy of the United States to prepare for the effects of EMPs through targeted approaches that coordinate whole-of-government activities and encourage private sector engagement,” Trump’s directive stated.

    The federal government must provide warning; protect against, respond to and recover from the effects of electromagnetic pulses through planning, investment and stakeholder engagement; and prevent EMP attacks through deterrence, defensive capabilities and nuclear nonproliferation efforts, the order said. It called for prioritizing research and development to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and implementing pilot programs.

    The executive order provided a list of implementation instructions to the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Energy, Commerce and State, and the Director of National Intelligence. It also put the assistant to the president for national security affairs and the National Security Council in charge of coordinating the executive branch’s efforts.

    For years, experts and advocacy groups have been sounding the alarm about the possibility of a far-reaching, disastrous incident.

    “An electromagnetic pulse … poses a direct threat to the U.S. electric grid and the products, services and activities that depend on access to electricity,” Heritage Foundation analysts warned in a policy paper published last year titled, “The Danger of EMP Requires Innovative and Strategic Action.”

    “An EMP could cause widespread failure of the electric grids of entire regions, grinding the U.S. economy to a halt,” the authors added. “Without electricity, almost nothing will work, which means that millions of people will die as a result of not being able to refill medical prescriptions, millions more will be without food, and predictable rioting and looting can quickly create a state of anarchy.”

    A loss of electric cooling for nuclear power plant reactors and spent fuel pools could expose Americans to dangerous levels of radiation, warned a report by the military-civilian Electromagnetic Defense Task Force, citing the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan as a cautionary tale.

    The Heritage Foundation policy paper noted that a high-altitude EMP attack could also temporarily or permanently damage satellites — most of which are not hardened to withstand its effects.

    Critical civilian infrastructure aren’t the only assets at risk. The U.S. military could also be vulnerable.

    “From an adversary’s standpoint, military installations represent the vulnerable underbelly of the defense enterprise,” the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force said in a self-titled report published last year by the Air Force’s Air University.

    An installation’s ability to maintain connectivity would depend on the nature and severity of an EMP incident. But in all likelihood, the facility would be unable to continue uninterrupted operations within a short period of time in the absence of a cohesive response and sustainment plan, the study said.

    Installation response plans often omit EMP contingencies from planning and programs, it noted.

    “In many cases, an interruption of [command-and-control systems] could lead to a degraded ability to bring organic mission capabilities to bear for national defense or civil recovery operations,” the report said.

    Nevertheless, U.S. efforts to understand and address the EMP threat have been limited by insufficient information sharing, coordination and investment among different parts of the government and the private sector, analysts say.

    Trump’s new directive aimed at addressing the problem was well received by non-governmental observers.

    “It gives the issue more prominence and more visibility within the departmental agencies,” said Michaela Dodge, a defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation who co-authored the think tank’s policy paper. “It’s fairly specific as to which agencies do what. It puts time pressure on accomplishing what the executive order demands. And so I do believe it’s a step in the right direction.”

    So far, the United States hasn’t been very successful in terms of organizing its government to deal with the EMP threat, she said. The executive order “is very positive and a large contribution to the way we sort of deal with that problem,” she added.

    Duke Energy, one of the nation’s largest electric power companies, said it also views Trump’s directive as a positive step. “We are pleased with the efforts to coalesce activities of the various federal entities and the focus on non-classified research to understand the [potential EMP] impacts better,” a spokesperson said in an email to National Defense.

    However, there is disagreement among observers about the magnitude of the threat and what should be done to address it.

    Trump administration officials have said there is no intelligence indicating that an EMP attack is imminent.

    However, William Graham, the chairman of the congressionally-chartered Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, has said that EMPs represent an “immediate, existential” danger that could wipe out a large fraction of the U.S. population through the effects of starvation, disease and societal collapse.

    The Heritage Foundation policy paper described electromagnetic pulse events as “low probability” but “high risk” scenarios.

    But others are warning against overreaction.

    “EMPs are by no means one of the top-tier national security challenges, nor the most pressing concern for the safety of our electrical grid,” Gregory T. Kiley, a former senior staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and U.S. Air Force officer, said in a recent op-ed published by The Hill.
    Trump’s executive order is reasonable but “we must also be vigilant to ensure the EMP threat is not overblown and thereby dedicate limited resources to a highly unlikely threat,” he added.

    In April, the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute released the results of a three-year study titled, “High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse and the Bulk Power Systems: Potential Impacts and Mitigation Strategies.”

    EMP fields can impact large areas. One stemming from a detonation of a nuclear weapon at an altitude of 200 kilometers could affect a circular area equivalent to 3 million square miles, the report said. However, the strength of the EMP field would dissipate the farther away it was from ground zero, it noted.

    The study concluded that a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, or HEMP, attack similar to the ones that were modeled could cause regional disruptions or voltage collapse.

    However, “research findings do not support the notion of blackouts encompassing the contiguous United States and lasting for many months to years,” the report said.

    Recovery times for a HEMP-induced blackout would be commensurate with historical large-scale blackouts if robust protections for grid components are deployed. However, additional research is needed to address remaining uncertainties about electromagnetic pulse effects, the report said.

    The Secure the Grid Coalition — which includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former CIA Director James Woolsey — and the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security issued a joint statement dismissing the EPRI findings as “junk science,” and accused the organization of underestimating the threat to serve the interests of the electric power industry.

    Paul Scharre, director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security, said U.S. military assets could be vulnerable to electromagnetic pulses because most of them aren’t hardened against that type of threat. But the Pentagon should be more focused on other, more likely methods of enemy attack, he added.

    “It wouldn’t be at the top of my agenda,” Scharre said. “I’m really more concerned about cyber and more traditional kinetic attacks on those DoD infrastructures than something more exotic like a high-altitude EMP.”

    As of press time, the Defense Department had not provided comment for this story.

    Studies have recommended a number of steps to protect critical infrastructure against electromagnetic pulses including: various methods of equipment shielding and surge protection; adding “firebreaks” to the national electric grid to limit the scope of damages and power outages; and investments in boost phase and space-based missile defense technology that could shoot down enemy nuclear-armed ballistic missiles before they were able to release an EMP.

    Scharre said EMPs raise interesting questions about deterrence because the pulses wouldn’t kill people directly. “You would have sort of this non-kinetic attack where the [nuclear] blast wouldn’t kill anyone. It would be disrupting the infrastructure, but that might have second order effects that could lead to mayhem and death and other problems.”

    It’s unclear how U.S. policymakers would react, he said.

    “Would it be seen as a nuclear event or as a non-kinetic event? Is it something that’s either worse than a conventional bomb [attack] or less than a conventional bomb [attack]?” he asked.

    “There’s just no good way to know how big the effect would be as well as how people would respond,” he added. “It’s one of the reasons why you do worry that it could be appealing to an [enemy] actor if they might see it as a cheap way to disable U.S. electrical infrastructure or disrupt the United States in a way that there was a perception that it was less escalatory than a more traditional form of attack.”

    The situation is further complicated by the fact that geomagnetic disturbances are natural phenomena that, unlike a nation-state actor, cannot be deterred militarily.

    “It seems like a low probability event and I think it’s easy to be dismissive, but it’s probably a prudent measure to shore up the resilience of our electrical grid,” Scharre said.

    If there were a geomagnetic disturbance and a large section of the country lost power for a period of time, people would be angry that the government hadn’t done more to prepare, he said. “It can look like hype and people overreacting [to the threat] until one of those events occurs, and then everyone wants to know why didn’t we act sooner.”

    Dodge noted that bolstering defenses against electromagnetic pulses will come with a price tag.

    “There is a great deal we can do,” she said. “The question is how to fund it and who pays for what?”

    Trump’s executive order noted that the federal government must foster efficient, cost-effective approaches to enhance resiliency.

    In a 2017 report for the EMP Commission, Graham said protecting and defending the national electric grid and other critical infrastructures from electromagnetic pulses could be achieved at reasonable cost and with minimal disruption to existing systems.

    Scharre said electric companies and other stakeholders might be reluctant to spend large amounts of money hardening their assets. Measures that make systems more resilient and robust add costs, and they are expenses that don’t add value for businesses and shareholders on a day-to-day basis, he noted.

    The government could end up funding those measures directly or creating incentives for companies to do so through tax breaks or other means, Scharre said.

    The Heritage Foundation policy paper said critical national defense assets that rely on the electric grid should be hardened by the federal government at the expense of taxpayers, and utilities should be allowed to recover costs for EMP-related investments.

    “It’s a little bit silly to assume that the private market will automatically step in and do things when there is not a profit incentive to do so,” Scharre said. “It’s going to require some government involvement to make that happen.”
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    Last edited by JRT; 28 Feb 20, at 01:35.
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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Beyond some "incredibly bad pulses of some kind" he probably has absolutely no clue as to what he has put his name to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    Beyond some "incredibly bad pulses of some kind" he probably has absolutely no clue as to what he has put his name to.
    Perhaps, or perhaps not. I expect that he was briefed on what he was signing, and he likely has some personal memories of experiencing several significant blackouts affecting NYC in his lifetime, so would have some grasp of effects of a much larger and very much lengthier blackout affecting a very much broader set of systems beyond just the power grid, affecting distribution of water, food, fuel, electricity, communications, public safety services, vehicles and transportation systems, etc.

    While I expect that the fire control system for Minuteman III ground based strategic deterrent system likely has good hardening against EMP, I suspect that most other things in our increasingly electronic controlled world do not, and many low voltage microcircuits would be permanently damaged in presence of large EMP, and would be difficult to repair or replace in timely response.
    Last edited by JRT; 29 Feb 20, at 05:28.
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    So i can see why hardening essential equipment like power grids to an EMP can be a good idea but the question is why.

    What is the source of this unconventional threat ?

    You need a nuke or something approaching that to let off an EMP large enough to damage equipment.

    WHO is the unconventional threat here ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    So i can see why hardening essential equipment like power grids to an EMP can be a good idea but the question is why.

    What is the source of this unconventional threat ?

    You need a nuke or something approaching that to let off an EMP large enough to damage equipment.

    WHO is the unconventional threat here ?
    Corona mass ejections following a large solar flare can be a natural source of EMP, and those events of a scale within historical norms can be very damaging to low voltage electronics in assemblies not designed to protect against EMP damage.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

    Problems associated with EMP are largely outside historical human experience, not because the EMP events did not happen, but rather because our vulnerability to EMP is relatively new in human experience.

    EMP can also be caused by a suitable nuclear warhead triggered at suitably high altitude above or nearly above the target region, called HEMP because of that High altitude. A primitive low yield warhead can be effective in this. It does not necessarily need to be launched immediately prior, rather could also be dropped out of orbit.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime

    Note that Starfish Prime was a small warhead and happened in 1962, long before the modern widespread use of unprotected MOSFETs in switch mode power supplies and voltage regulators.
    Last edited by JRT; 03 Mar 20, at 15:27.
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRT View Post
    Corona mass ejections following a large solar flare can be a natural source of EMP, and those events of a scale within historical norms can be very damaging to low voltage electronics in assemblies not designed to protect against EMP damage.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

    Problems associated with EMP are largely outside historical human experience, not because the EMP events did not happen, but rather because our vulnerability to EMP is relatively new in human experience.
    ok, so this one something that could happen.

    How will it cost to harden the required infrastructure ?

    How to go about doing it.

    EMP can also be caused by a suitable nuclear warhead triggered at suitably high altitude above or nearly above the target region, called HEMP because of that High altitude. A primitive low yield warhead can be effective in this. It does not necessarily need to be launched immediately prior, rather could also be dropped out of orbit.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime

    Note that Starfish Prime was a small warhead and happened in 1962, long before the modern widespread use of unprotected MOSFETs in switch mode power supplies and voltage regulators.
    Yes but there is no terror threat here. The US would have to be at war for something like this to happen. Depending on the adversary cyber operations might be more effective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    ok, so this one something that could happen.

    How will it cost to harden the required infrastructure ?

    How to go about doing it.

    Yes but there is no terror threat here. The US would have to be at war for something like this to happen. Depending on the adversary cyber operations might be more effective.
    I think that many of the vulnerabilities can be corrected if the vulnerable components are replaced with suitably EMP hardened components at the end of the component's life cycle. It's a matter of changing the systems engineering requirements sooner rather than later so that the ongoing replacements and new installations utilize EMP hardened components instead of more of the same vulnerable components. If that had been addressed 25 years ago, it would not be much of a problem today.

    So while the new components would have increased cost, there is not necessarily much if any added installation costs if associated with replacements or new installations where those installation costs would exist regardless EMP/HEMP hardening.

    As to vulnerabilities to HEMP attacks from state or non-state entities, if they fix vulnerabilities to natural EMP events then they will also have fixed vulnerabilities to intentional HEMP events. Regardless whomever may or may not be able to launch a HEMP attack today, anyone's motivation to develop and deploy a HEMP attack capability, or to launch a HEMP attack, would be demotivated by reducing vulnerability to that attack vector.

    Attacks and vulnerabilities to attacks in the cyber domain are also real, but seem to me to be largely unrelated to EMP vulnerabilities. ...except for consideration of allocations of limited resources in addressing these vulnerabilities.
    Last edited by JRT; 05 Mar 20, at 02:35.
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