Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Must-Read on EMPs...

...from William Forstchen, author of ONE SECOND AFTER (courtesy of the Silver Bear Cafe):
An EMP attack is different since it only requires but one nuclear weapon, detonated 300 miles above the middle of the United States. One bomb. The launch could even be done from a container ship somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and in that instant, the war is already over and won.

An analogy. Aircraft carriers existed in 1941 but few saw them as a true strategic threat. Most in the military and their civilian leaders saw the role of carriers as platforms for launching scout planes, spotting targets, and acting always in support of the trusted and proven battleship. No one seriously considered the potential of putting half a dozen such carriers into one group and launching a full out attack in the opening minutes of a war. We all know what changed that belief forever, but by then, it was too late for the nearly 3,000 Americans who were killed on that Day of Infamy. The next Day of Infamy will be infinitely worst.
Not a wide eyed sci fi novel or something sensationalistic, or even something set long after the event, like the book "The Road." But instead it was my goal to write a novel like the classic "Alas Babylon," or the more well known "On the Beach." To do something that might trigger a response, any kind of response. It was my good fortune, while researching for the book that I met Captain Bill Sanders of the Navy, one of our country's leading experts on EMP and Congressman Bartlett who heads the Congressional committee that issued a little known report on the threat of EMP. Both of them provided me with valuable information, which I must always emphasize was not classified, and encouraged me to get the story "out there."
I therefore wrote the novel from the perspective of a single dad with two daughters, li ving in small town in North Carolina. .and what he will do, and finally must do to try and keep his daughters alive. And yes, it is very autobiographical. I am a single parent of a teenage girl, and I live and teach in a small North Carolina mountain town that is the actual setting for my story.

My greatest frustration and something I hope my novel will stir is the realization that only a minimal effort, to start, could radically cut the number of casualties after such an attack, perhaps by a full magnitude from over 250 million dead to less then 25 million dead...which is still a horrific number.

An off the shelf purchase of hand held two way radi os by every local police, fire, sheriff, and emergency response department in the country would mean, that if then properly stored along with a large stock pile of batteries that within minutes after an attack, a nation wide network of communications would be back up and running. This can not be emphasized enough, that proper communications and what the military calls "command and control," will go a long step towards maintaining public order.

Another inexpensive step is just simple training. We are a nation that sadly has become entirely dependent on someone "up the ladder" passing orders as to what to do. Very few of us today are conditioned to think and act independently. This has to be reversed in the event of an EMP strike. Every first responder should be trained to be able to recognize an EMP hit, and in coordination with their local departments, have a plan in place as to what to do first, and then next, and then after that. This author would recommend a first step being the seizing of supplies at every veterinarian's office in the country.

That might sound strange, but vets are most likely the only ones in your community that have a full array of surgical equipment, anesthesia and pain killers. Armed with this equipment, medications seized from pharmacies, dentist offices and doctor's offices, and then set up at a local school, staffed by local doctors and nurses, would mean that each community has made a major step towards tending its injured, ill and elderly.

Other training would be oriented towards how to organize a community, locating vehicles that still run, and retro fitting those vehicles, that had minimal electronics in them, so that law enforcement, medical, and fire control have transportation.

A next step would be public education for all citizens, similar to the programs in place during the 1950s. How to recognize an EMP strike and then what do you do? After Katrina we have learned to now start educating our citizens that they must rely upon themselves and their own good judgment, and not expect government to come instantly to the rescue. Contrast the chaos in the days before Katrina to the orderly evacuations when Gustav hit New Orleans this year.

But a week's worth of emergency food stockpile and water, just recycling used milk and soda bottles, filling them with sterile water and storing them away could buy a precious week's worth of time, nation wide. A few simple medical supplies such a sterile bandages and just a basic family first aid manual. Simple things even our grandparents, still living on farms knew, about how to insure water is safe, where to put a privy pit, and properly store any food that might last long term. If a family member has a serious il lness or condition keep a full level of medicine on hand and not wait until the bottle is empty before refilling. This alone could be a life saver for millions, buying extra weeks or a month or two.


coderpunk said...

I just read the book, and some of the spurce material on EMPs. Its some scary shit -- if I were N. Korea or Iran, that's the kind f weapon I'd be building.

Anonymous said...

EMP is for real but I will have to disagree that we know how well it works. Nobody has set one off to induce one since we did some preliminary tests over the pacific back in the 1950's and early 60's. The old estimates (from and IEEE paper back in 1982) were that it would take between 3 and 9 soviet nukes in the 10Mt range to induce the truly catostrophic results they wanted as part of their strike at the U.S., but nobody knew for sure....while I don't dispute the whole theory of what happens after and effective emp attack, I seriously question if anyone but the Russians or Chinese have enough highly capapble nukes to pull off a massive emp attach with the widespread and pervasive damange attributed to the attack that brings on this guy's scenario....I am interested in reading some more serious science on this, I am not interested in some half ass congressional report, because I know that 75% of those are a crock of bull, no matter what the subject...

Rastus said...

Dear Anonymous,
We do know how well EMP works and the old IEEE paper is just that, old. A huge amount of work and research has been performed since that nearly three decade old document was created.

Do an honest search on mil-std publications for EMP and become aware. Search on the USSR's experience with EMP. There are many commercial vendors who provide EMP certified equipment. Check out some of the DOE testing done...I think Starfish Prime may get you started.

Hess, Wilmot N. (September 1964) (PDF). The Effects of High Altitude Explosions. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA TN D-2402. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.

Anonymous said...

Much information has been declassified since 1982. See Operation Argus.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who builds EMP-resistant amateur radio equipment?
Hmmm. . . Back to the vaccuum tubes.

B Woodman

Will said...

What sort of shielding is needed to preserve an electronic device, both in storage and in use?

Anonymous said...

This author would recommend a first step being the seizing of supplies at every veterinarian's office in the country.
That might sound strange, but vets are most likely the only ones in your community that have a full array of surgical equipment, anesthesia and pain killers.

This guy never heard of a hospital or an urgent care?
Granted, the little towns around the country don't have regular hospitals but they aren't usually filled with needy "where's my free FEMA shit" people either.