Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 141216
Needed: A Rickover to Counter EMP and Build Space Defenses!
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
December 16, 2014
“I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. Admittedly, one man by himself cannot do the job. However, one man can make a difference. We must live for the future of the human race, and not for our own comfort or success.” ― Hyman G. Rickover
Tomorrow (at 9 P.M. on WETA in the Washington DC area; check your local paper for station and time) PBS will air “Rickover—The Birth of Nuclear Power,” a special report on the extraordinary contributions of the legendary Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. Click here for Manifold Productions’ press release describing this program, which I urge you to watch. Click here for a trailer for the PBS special, illustrating a few encounters of ADM Rickover’s brusque no-nonsense style that made him feared by some, annoying to some, respected by many and endeared to his loyal followers.
We desperately need at least some such individuals to cut through today’s bureaucratic morass that blocks progress on at least two urgently important programs to counter existential threats to all we hold dear:
1. Natural and man-made electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats to the electric power grid; and
2. Advanced ballistic missiles that may soon be able to defeat our current ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems to attack us and our overseas troops, friends and allies.
Briefly consider a few attributes of ADM Rickover’s extraordinary achievements—and their relevance to dealing with these two threats.
Counter the EMP Threat.
ADM Rickover is widely recognized as the “Father of the nuclear Navy,” powering hundreds of U.S. ships and submarines operating around the world—indeed, also of the hundred-plus nuclear power reactors that produce about 20-percent of U.S. electric power, mostly in the “Eastern Interconnect” where most Americans live. About 60-percent of South Carolina’s electric power is produced by nuclear reactors—a reason why I emphasize helping my home state in dealing with the EMP threat. Click here the World Nuclear Association’s comprehensive discussion of U.S. power reactors.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just released an important 2012 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report titled “Federal Interagency Response Plan – Space Weather 2012.” Pertinent discussions of this important report are provided by Michael Maloof in World Net Daily and Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon. This “tardy” report (actually reflecting analyses from prior to 2012) indicated that over a hundred million Americans would be without power for years following a major solar storm—referred to as a coronal mass ejection—that interacts with the earth’s geomagnetic field to produce a major “natural EMP” event.
DHS still has not even listed this “natural EMP” threat, which will surely one day occur, among those against which federal, state and local governments are supposed to prepare effective responses. That situation should be rectified by congressional direction if the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA), passed unanimously on December 1 by the House also passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President. Click here for CIPA and associated floor statements.
In addition to hardening the electric grid to EMP as quickly as possible, U.S. nuclear power plants should be configured to support a national restoration plan. If they operate through a major solar storm, they at a minimum would be a resource in restoring sufficient electricity for the public to survive and rebuild. But if they also lose power along with the major components of the electric grid, then they become an additional threat to the public because without electricity to cool the fuel rods, 100 Fukushimas would result. Click here periodically for current wind patterns; in conjunction with the above figure, imagine how threatening melt-down radiation might be distributed—especially in the Eastern U.S.
As I understand it, our reactors shut down if the grid is lost today—and they have a week’s supply of diesel fuel to keep the cooling water pumps going, after that a meltdown would be inevitable.
To this engineer, this is an absurd situation—the reactors should be configured at least to provide power to cool their own cooling water system.
Click here for a brief discussion of this issue associated with a September 8, 2011 event when the electrical grid in and around San Diego, California experienced a blackout lasting more than 12 hours—due to a human error that caused a large transmission line from Arizona to turn off unexpectedly. The author also referred to another explanation of why such a single failure should not have caused such a widespread grid failure, and how New York City will be much more susceptible to similar events if Indian Point Nuclear Plant is shutdown prematurely.
If ADM Rickover had been in charge, I doubt he would have designed and built these nuclear reactors and left the interconnected electric grid in this deplorable state. He was too good an engineer. And if he by magic could be put in charge today, he would fix the problems quickly.
Submarine nuclear reactors are designed to keep running under conditions where their electrical load is lost as in the case of an electric grid shutdown; electric power grid reactors should be designed and deployed to follow suit. Such nuclear power reactors have years of on-site nuclear fuel and would be a valuable resource for “black-starting” major segments of the grid from a full stop, especially in the absence of the coal plants now being decommissioned to accommodate “environmental” concerns.
ADM Rickover also delivered on his promise to send a nuclear powered submarine to sea within six years—indeed the Nautilus went to sea in under five years, contrary to the prognosis of the scientific elite that it would take decades. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb in less than three years—a notable feat in and of itself, thought it would take at least 30-years. A few years after the Nautilus was launched in 1954, ADM Rickover oversaw development of the first commercial nuclear power plant near Pittsburg—operational in 1957, and the Enterprise aircraft carrier went to sea in 1961 powered by his nuclear reactor.
ADM Rickover’s rules for management would assure a lean, mean competent engineering team not only to make the U.S. nuclear reactors a viable part of the solution; they would also innovate the burdensome, bloviated government bureaucracy that takes decades to accomplish the kind of innovation that used to take months and years. These Rickover rules and a companion set of fourteen rules from Kelly Johnson, who led the Lockheed “Skunkworks” in developing the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird high altitude “spy aircraft” in record time, should be considered by those who would like again to see the Pentagon do something, anything, in record time.
In particular, the powers that be should consider that the rules could be applied with considerable benefit by an appropriately empowered Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to assure the nation’s nuclear power reactors can operate through a collapse of the rest of the nation’s electric power grid and help enable its restoration. That would be a tribute to the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” and it would counter the existential threat posed by natural and manmade EMP.
Counter Advanced Ballistic Missiles.
The Rickover and Johnson rules could also be applied with great effect in providing the nation with an effective defense against the advanced ballistic missiles that can defeat our current BMD systems, as discussed in my December 4th email message— “Time to Debate About Space-Based Defense.” Such advanced ballistic missiles are being deployed by Russia and China—and surely soon will also be by North Korea, Iran and others.
These advanced missile systems employ so-called “offensive countermeasures” to enable their nuclear warheads to avoid detection during their flight above the earth’s atmosphere and to maneuver rapidly after they reenter on their way to their targets. The most effective way to defeat these offensive countermeasures is to shoot down the attacking missiles before their offensive countermeasures can be deployed, in their “boost phase” while they are rising from their launch pads and their rockets are still burning. And the best way to accomplish this objective is from space.
As discussed in my December 4th e-mail and several times previously, this needed space-based innovation has been understood for decades and was at the essence of the BMD systems considered in President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Indeed, the most effective missile defense concept to come from the SDI era (1884-93) was the Brilliant Pebbles space-based interceptor (SBI) system. Lt. General James Abrahamson began the program as a special access program on his watch as SDI Director; Lt. General George Monahan carried the program through a “season of studies” to formal concept validation approval by the Pentagon’s defense acquisition authorities in 1989; and, on my watch, I carried the program through a congressional gauntlet until it was sharply curtailed by the “congressional powers that be” in 1992. See Don Baucom’s “The Rise and Fall of Brilliant Pebbles.”
Moreover, we believed over twenty years ago that, under management rules like those of Rickover and Johnson, the Brilliant Pebbles system could be developed and deployed within five years of a go-ahead decision. But like in Rickover’s era, the technological and scientific elite believe it will take much longer and cost much more than we—and the Pentagon’s independent cost estimators—believed in 1989 ($!0-billion in 1988 dollars, including 20-years operations).
But these considerations were not the cause for ending the nation’s research on the technologies to enable building such a cost-effective system—an ideological commitment to the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) Treaty blocked any effective BMD system that could defend the American people. The ABM Treaty is no more, but nothing has been done to revise this now 20-year-old decision and again pursue development of truly effective BMD systems, those based in space.
So . . . we need to review the accomplishments of a quarter century ago and find a modern Hyman Rickover to lead the no-nonsense development of cost-effective space-based defenses of the American people against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
This defense would not only defeat currently maturing ICBM “offensive countermeasures” to our BMD systems, it would provide truly global coverage against ballistic missiles of essentially all ranges more than a few hundred miles. In particular, it could protect the American people against the manmade EMP threat, delivered by ballistic missiles from vessels off our coasts—especially from the Gulf of Mexico.
Key Bottom Line:
Whether hardening of our electric power grid or building truly cost-effective BMD systems in space, it will be important to have innovative, dedicated, competent leadership. Another Hyman Rickover would be most welcome to repeat the impressive accomplishments of the legendary Admiral. Watch the PBS special tomorrow evening to be treated to his storied accomplishments—as briefly summarized in the PBS Trailer.
Bron Cikotas: RIP.
Click here to read my colleague Peter Pry’s tribute to another, but lesser known, Cold War pioneer in creating survivable strategic systems to protect America, Bronius Cikotas.
Bron, as he was known to his many friends, was a proud Lithuanian and true American patriot with whom I was privileged to serve at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory a half century ago, when he was beginning his life’s work to understand the EMP threat and how to defend against it. While we have stayed in touch over the years, we recently began again to work together more closely to counter one of today’s most important existential threats.
Bron applied his skill wisely in innovatively leading the nation’s efforts to harden our strategic nuclear forces and their command, control and communications systems—and more recently was turning his impressive talent to protecting the electric power grid against both manmade and natural EMP threats to the survival of all Americans—not just our deterrent strategic forces.
Bron was a devoted family man and a Christian friend to many who will miss his friendly smile and partnership. May God rest his soul.
I could not close without wishing my Jewish friends a Happy Chanukah and referring all to my December 5, 2013 message, “Where Are Today’s Maccabees?” I emphasized that the American heritage and love of liberty also was indelibly linked to the Maccabees.
On this, the first day of the 8-day Jewish Festival of Lights/Feast of Dedication, as Jews worldwide begin their celebration of the Maccabee victory that liberated their Temple over two millennia ago, all Americans should remember our common love of liberty, the heritage that has set the West apart, and the common enemy that threatens our very existence and freedom today.
We need modern Maccabees to preserve that heritage of liberty for our posterity. So may it be . . . With that challenge in mind, I urge that you read my last year’s Chanukah message again this year.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
As time may be running out for effective U.S. action, we will continue to inform all who will listen about the existential EMP threat and how to counter it. Our primary focus will be to help state and local authorities, particularly the National Guard, protect the citizens under their charge. Past experience shows that it is foolish to wait for the federal authorities to respond effectively.
High Frontier will continue to advocate the most cost effective BMD systems that the powers that be will permit.
And we will seek effective means to harden the electric power grid. As quickly as possible.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
And support us with your tax deductible gifts to help enable our continuing efforts.
If you found us via our Social Sites, and you would like to subscribe, please click below!