“[O]ur nation as a whole has not looked at EMP, we have not looked at the critical infrastructure that could be damaged by EMP, and we need to take a step back and look at that entire threat because it is a realistic threat.” ~ USAF General John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command
General Hyten’s public comment that such an attack possibility is a “dangerous and very realistic threat” deserves great attention because, as the commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), he is vested in assuring the viability of nation’s ability to respond to such threats, under the President’s direct command authority.
General Hyten’s presentation below is well worth an hour of your time to hear his full review of his command’s responsibilities in view of all the threats he perceives our nation faces — and his assessment of some important shortcomings in our ability to counter those threats.
General Hyten was absolutely correct in his main message, which was that we have to remember how to get things done faster, as we once understood how to do. In both his explicit and implicit comments he noted that we have lost our way from the era when I was a young Air Force officer in the 1960s.
He emphasized the important pioneering roles of Generals Bennie Schriever and Sam Phillips, who were also my heroes, while they were plowing new territory with innovative measures.
In the 1960s, I served at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, studying nuclear weapons effects and how to design our strategic systems to survive those effects, and was actively involved in the innovative activities led by those two generals.
That laboratory is now known as Phillips Laboratory after General Sam Phillips who, under General Schriever, led the development and initial deployment of the three-stage Minuteman ICBM in about five years from a standing start, and then led NASA’s Apollo Program to meet ahead of schedule President John F. Kennedy’s May 25, 1961 challenge to send a man to the Moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of that decade. Click here for that memorable speech.
My first personal encounter with General Schriever was when gave me an award for my R&D efforts in the 1960s, and I got to know him quite well while directing President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative — another visionary activity, regrettably cut short by the Clinton administration in 1993 — a great frustration to me still.
I learned that General Schriever likewise was frustrated by the “powers that be” while he was on active duty, because they wanted to avoid any indication that the military could or would use space for military purposes. And as the Father of Air Force Space Systems, he remained an advocate for reversing those constraints for the rest of his life.
General Schriever would have been delighted by General Hyten’s speech — and his vision for what our nation should be doing to catch up with other nations that have staked out the use of space in their strategic plans for conquest, by whatever means.
Certainly, General Hyten’s is a most welcome voice for me — not just for ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems in general, but in particular for those based in space.
Moreover, he was explicitly clear in identifying EMP as a major unaddressed threat to our survival.
Go to ~41 minutes in to hear the question on EMP and his informed response, which includes the comments above, that it was a very “dangerous” and “realistic” threat for which STRATCOM is prepared, but that “our nation as a whole” is not.
He said that therefore, STRATCOM was prepared to respond — but was silent on what such a threat would mean for the citizens of our nation.
Given his clear statement that our critical civil infrastructure is vulnerable, and that “our nation as a whole” is not prepared, the obvious consequence of such an attack likely would mean the death of most Americans within a few months from starvation, disease and societal collapse.
The EMP Commission concluded in 2004 that the EMP threat is “one of a small number of threats that has the potential to hold our society at risk and might result in defeat of our military forces.”
Thus, if Deterrence fails and any of our opponents carries out an effective EMP attack, which could be accomplished by a few nuclear weapons — perhaps only one — detonated over the United States, there’s currently little hope for most Americans.
We need fundamental changes in our ability to address the EMP threat, which North Korea has officially announced is its “strategic goal.”
Our retaliation after such an attack will not save American lives. We need to protect Americans against that existential threat. That’s the right answer to President Reagan’s wise rhetorical question, “Wouldn’t it be better to save lives than to avenge them?”
Thus, as General Hyten stated, we must include all aspects of the threats we face in developing our strategy for countering them — and time is not on our side. Meeting and defeating the daunting EMP threat demands that we determine how to accelerate our ability to respond with effective countermeasures.
In this context, it is great that we have such a well-informed STRATCOM commander who is gaining the ability to integrate our strategic forces — and to think about the requirements for truly effective BMD system and how to meet those requirements, including for our space systems and directed energy systems. Such considerations have been deferred since my watch as director of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
Moreover, since no defense is perfect, we should be working as quickly as possible to harden our critical civil infrastructure — especially our electric power grid — to counter the existential threats such as EMP.
And as General Hyten said, “[W]e need to take a step back and look at that entire threat because it is a realistic threat.”
And then we must respond as did Generals Schriever and Phillips — and their team of mostly young engineers and scientists — a half century ago.
General Hyten’s excellent presentation should be a “must watch” for all Americans who seek to preserve our heritage in the face of growing threats that are not being effectively countered today.
It is comforting that such a leader is now in a key position where he can work in an informed and innovative way.
A key question is, do we collectively have the time and will to follow such leadership in dealing with existing threats to our very survival as a nation?
This week, congress will give a clear signal whether it will be as serious about dealing with the existential EMP threat as was General Hyten in identifying it.
The clearest pending indication of the current political status will be the outcome of the Senate-House Conference on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018, and particularly its consideration of a future EMP Commission.
Two urgent recommendations:
- Previous commissioners should be reinstated if they wish to continue to serve, to assure continuity in the effort and to avoid “reinventing the wheel;” and
- The future commission should be stationed in the White House with a direct channel to President Trump — to assure a “whole of government” response to this existential threat.
No one below the President has this “whole of government” mission and is in charge with the needed resources and authority to deal with the existential EMP threat. As a consequence, the current federal government is dysfunctional. A viable EMP Commission with a direct channel to the President would be a major help in rectifying that situation.
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.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.
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