Back to School Offer

Get 20% of Your First Order amount back in Reward Credits!

Get 20% of Your First Orderback in Rewards

All papers examples
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

A Threat To Homeland Security, Term Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2562

Term Paper

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security was created in an effort to provide prevention of future attacks against the American people as well as to establish a system by which to provide information about threats and ways to avoid them.  Included in the various forms of attacks anticipated have been attacks against airlines, dirty bombs, and cyber-attacks.  Most recently, the airlines have implemented extreme measures in an effort to thwart passengers from boarding airplanes with potentially explosive materials hidden on their person. Body scanning machines as well as physical pat-downs have been widely criticized as ineffectual as well as in violation of the civil rights of the passengers involved.  Many experts in the field of security believe that the methods utilized in the United States to screen airline passengers are a complete waste of money and time, and serve merely to inconvenience passengers who frequently miss their flights because of the delays caused by the screenings.

Despite the focus on protecting the public, one significant means of attack has been virtually ignored, especially by those who are in a position to prevent it: an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, which could cause chaos to the nation’s electrical systems, shutting down power grids, sources and supply operations (Electromagnetic pulse conference, 2009). The country would potentially be crippled by such an attack, and the damage to the nation would be on a tremendously grand scale in addition to significantly limiting the ability to recover.  This paper will discuss the nature of this threat, the abilities to thwart such an attack and which of these methods would be most effective in creating a swift resolution to such a catastrophic event.

In the United States, the threat of an EMP attack has been discussed and debated in Congress, which has so far issued tworeports pertaining to threat assessment in both 2004 and 2008.  (Radasky, 2007.) One of the recommendations of the report was that the country strengthens its infrastructure.  However, the motivation as well as the ability of the U.S. to manually operate its infrastructure in the face of such an attack declined recently after both the Cold War with Russia and the threat of nuclear conflict declined.

In addition, the military has fallen short of planning to respond to such a threat; it is as if since the Soviet Union no longer exists and Russia is not perceived as a danger to the country, we have let our guard down despite the fact that we have new enemies who are bound and determined to attack our country on many levels.  Because making such massive changes in the infrastructure in order to ward off such an attack would involve tremendous amounts of money, the issue has become a political one as well.  Debates about how and whether to spend money and on what in the face of our tremendous deficit has completely dominated the dialogue of both major political parties.

Modern life in the U.S. involves increasing dependence on electronics and gadgetry of all kinds from instruments as innocuous as electric toothbrushes to life-saving equipment in hospitals and extending to more complex systems in the financial industry as well as homeland security.  Resultingly, the EMP threat becomes that much more devastating.(Homeland security newswire 2008).  In the event of such an attack, the electrical system could be turned off or destroyed and completely shut down for weeks or months, interfering with transportation, communications, and  health systems as well as many other public services.  When one considers that our defense system, classified intelligence information, records regarding the lists of terrorism suspects and other criminals who intend to do harm to our country could be lost or inaccessible in the event of an EMP, that possibility forecasts a potential doomsday scenario.

What causes electromagnetic pulse?  EMP can be a result of natural occurrence such as lightning or solar storms in interaction with the earth’s atmosphere ionosphere and magnetic field (Gauging the threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack, 2010).  EMP also can be created artificially by using both nuclear and non-nuclear equipment.  It has the ability to render electronics useless, a fact which has been demonstrated by tests utilizing lightning, nuclear explosions and solar storms, until such tests were banned.

The results of EMP are uncertain, but they have the potential to be quite catastrophic.  They can be caused by the detonation of a high altitude nuclear detonation, but testing such explosions has been extremely limited, hence the unknown aftermath.  Nevertheless, the threat of an EMP attack and the devastation it could cause is not in dispute, although the forces planning such an attack would have little definitive knowledge about how high in altitude the device would need to be detonated in order to have maximum catastrophic effect.  In addition, the type of effects and the level of devastation created are also uncertain.

A preview of the sort of disruption caused by an EMP attack can be illustrated by the August 2003 Blackout which affected states including Ohio, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and parts of Canada.  As a result of that situation, over 200 power plants including nuclear plants were completely shut down because the electricity was cut off.  A decrease of water pressure caused local authorities to advise affected communities that their water supply might be contaminated because of the failure of sewage systems, and people were urged to boil water before drinking it or even to use it to bathe.

The lack of electricity caused traffic lights to become disabled so that massive traffic jams and gridlock resulted, as well as other transportation problems since railways, airlines, gas stations, and oil refineries also stopped operating.  The communication system was affected because the high volume of phone calling overwhelmed the telephone systems, and at the same time, many media outlets were unable to broadcast.  The blackout lasted for only one day, cost somewhere between 7 to 10 billion dollars in spoiled food, lost production, overtime wages, and other expenses that affected almost 1/7 of the U.S. population (Weitz, 2008.)

The detonation of a nuclear weapon at an altitude of approximately 500 kilometers above the United States would cause a near-continental scale high-altitude EMP(Riddle 2004).  This sort of attack would immediately and significantly destroy significant sections of the electrical and electronic grid that is crucial to the infrastructure of the United States, Canada and even Mexico.  Because an EMP is a wide frequency range, high-intensity, extremely rapid and short duration burst of electromagnetic energy, it produces electric and magnetic fields which can attach to the sorts of metallic conductors associated with electrical grids and resulting in damaging current and voltage surges(Riddle, 2004).  A nuclear EMP is caused by interaction of high energy nuclear radiation with atoms in the atmosphere.

According to Dr. Gary Smith, the Director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, an attack of high-altitude EMP is unique in two ways: the area affected would be continental in scope, and the peak of electromagnetic field amplitude and the speed at which it increases are extremely high (Smith, 1997.) In addition, since modern life in the U.S.  involves increasing dependence on electronics and gadgetry of all kinds from instruments as innocuous as electric toothbrushes to life-saving equipment and hospitals and extending to more complex systems in the financial industry as well as homeland security, the EMP threat becomes that much more devastating.

The United States remains nearly completely unprepared for an EMP attack, despite warnings by reports such as the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, which warns that “the expanded reliance on sophisticated electronic technologies by the United States, its allies and its partners increases their vulnerability to the destructive effects of EMP” (Weitz, 2008.) Still, the Department of Homeland Security has not acted on these recommendations, choosing instead to focus on more conventional explosive devices such as chlorine bombs.  In July, 2008, Congress held hearings to examine the dangers of EMP attacks but has so far been unable to capture the attention of the executive branch to take action.

There has been some progress in defending certain targets against an EMP attack, such as protecting Air Force One, and some essential military and government services but the bulk of the electrical systems, most notably in the civilian sector, are completely vulnerable to attack.  If, however, appropriate measures were taken to protect these systems, the U.S.  could successfully survive the impacts of an EMP attack.  In order to do so, there are various actions to be taken including:

  • Performing more research on the threat of EMP. This would find ways for the United States to respond to the threat of an EMP effectively rather than wasting money on methods that will not succeedin adequately protecting the electrical system from attack.  It is vital that the United States government  is able to establish a knowledge base about the capabilities of EMP, and the amount of money, time, and effort needed for successful and  significant prevention.
  • Building a comprehensive missile defense system. Since the most probable method of an EMP attack would be a missile armed with a nuclear warhead, building this form of system would permit the United States to locate and destroy a missile that is aimed at our country.  Simply developing such a system might serve as a disincentive for potential attackers to engage in an EMP assault and would also send an indisputable message that this threat is being taken seriously.  There has been much controversy about establishing a comprehensive missile defense system in the U.Ssince the argument against it is that the tests of the system have failed many times and hence it is a waste of money.
  • Incorporating EMP attacks into National Planning Scenarios. These scenarios consist of 15 all-hazards planning scenarios that are used by federal, state, and local governments when planning for disaster response.  They are a proactive method of establishing capabilities and areas of need prior to an attack rather than waiting until it happens.
  • Establishing aNational Recovery Plan. This would identify our country’s most essential power grids, and communications and transportation structures so that in the event of an attack, the nation could get back on its feet according to this plan.  As a result, things could return to their prior operating capacity more quickly than if such a plan did not exist(Preparing for the electromagnetic pulse threat, 2008.)The Homeland Security Department has consolidated various federal response plans to emergencies into a single all-discipline management strategy for disasters.  This includes the creation of a National Incident Management System, or NIMS.  This system will “provide a consistent nation-wide approach for federal, state, and local governments to work effectively and efficiently to prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of size, cause, or complexity” (Riddle, 2004).

A crucial aspect of recovering from an EMP attack involves communication between first responders.  After an EMP attack, an efficient recovery can only be achieved if there is coordination and cooperation between state, federal, and local officials and agencies.  In addition, the Department of Homeland Security is aware that in all likelihood, the President of the United States would need to authorize the use of military force to maintain, establish and restore order in the face of a potentially chaotic situation.

Military assistance to civilian authorities may take various forms: providing law enforcement with technical assistance and support; helping to restore law and order; and assisting with incident management.  Due to the  tremendous chaos and tumult that would inevitably follow the disruptions caused by an EMP attack, it would also be necessary for the Department of Defense to assist in managing the consequences, maintaining social order, and assisting with the national recovery effort.  As a result, both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense must prepare for the eventuality of an EMP attack on American soil. (Riddle, 2004.)

There are two other processes that are available to protect electronic communication systems from the devastation of an emp attack as well.  The first is shielding equipment; the second is acquiring EMP hardened equipment.  Shielding involves several methods, including volume shielding, which describes shielding the rooms or facilities in which equipment is located.  This creates a large volume in which the electromagnetic environment is negligible.

Local shielding is another method which requires the equipment tables and electronic boxes to be shielded within a room.  This involves electromagnetic protection for each piece of shielded equipment. (M.CaJohn, 1988).  In this way, the EMP- induced waves on the equipment and cables are diverted away from sensitive components by the shields.  The shielding then protects electromagnetic fields again sensitive electronic equipment since it reduces voltages.

The other process is to develop electronic equipment that is already EMP-hardened and to maintain a rigid system hardness maintenance program.  Such a program would include configuration management, which prevents future system changes from compromising system hardness; maintenance, surveillance, test procedures, and equipment that must be developed as part of the system hardening process; training that ensures that the measures designed into a hardened system are not degraded by uninformed inaction or action; and documentation that must be completed thoroughly and successfully (M. CaJohn 1988).

Since the end of the Cold War, there have been continued and increasing concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons on the part of rogue nations and other “bad actors “bent on the destruction of the superpowers including and especially the U.S..  Many experts in the Homeland Security field envision the threat of an EMP attack as a very likely risk.  Along with cyber terrorism, bio-terrorism, and conventional nuclear weapons, the idea of an EMP attack is extremely worrisome because the incredible amount of disruption that would occur if the power grid was damaged or destroyed is almost incomprehensible.

Resolution of this threat can best be achieved in several ways:

  • by encouraging Congress and the Executive branch to take a more proactive approach to this problem so that the nation is not caught off-guard if and when an attack occurs;
  • by following through with research and planning of a missile defense system;
  • by conducting more research into prevention and responses to such an attack;
  • by establishing a recovery plan in the event that our power grid is attacked;
  • bydeveloping a plan to mobilize first responders and urgency telecommunications systems which, incidentally, presented a tremendous problem after 911 when firefighters could not communicate with each other or with the police;
  • and developing safeguards to protect our electronic and electrical systems from attack.

References:

Electromagnetic pulse conference. (2009, July 29). Retrieved November 19, 2010, from The national terror alert response center: http://www.nationalterroralert.com/2009/07/28/emp-electromagnetic-pulse-conference-sept-8th-10th/

Gauging the threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack. (2010, September 9). Retrieved November 19, 2010, from The national terror alert response center: http://www.nationalterroralert.com/2010/09/09/gauging-the-threat-of-an-electromagnetic-pulse-emp-attack/

M.CaJohn, M. (1988). Weapons of mass destruction, electromagnetic pulse-from chaos to a manageable solution. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from globalsecurity.org.

Preparing for the Electromagnectic pulse threat. (2008, April 2). Retrieved November 19, 2010, from: Homeland security newswire: http://homelandsecuritynewswire.com/preparing-electromagnetic-pulse-emp-threat-0

Radasky, W. (2007, September). High magnitude electromagnetic pulse: a threat to our way of life. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from Today’s engineer: http://www.todaysengineer.org/2007/Sep/HEMP.asp

Riddle, L. C. (2004, May 3). Nuclear high-altitude magnetic pulse-implications for homeland security and homeland defense. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from United States Army: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA424218

Smith, G. E. (1997, July 16). Threat posed by electromagnetic pulse to U.S. military systems and civil infrastructure. Prepared testimony, Congress, house of representatives, Committee on National security . Washington,, District of Columbia, United States: U.S. Congress.

Weitz, J. B. (2008, October 22). Electromagnetic pulse attack: a preventable homeland security catastrophe. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from Families security matters: http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.1533/pub_detail.asp,

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Term Paper Samples & Examples

Entrepreneurial Marketing in Online Businesses, Term Paper Example

Reflecting on the NVC content The ideas presented to the group at the beginning of the NVC were challenging and yet holistic. In that, they [...]

Pages: 8

Words: 2180

Term Paper

Book Study of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, Term Paper Example

Summary The project undertaken for the present independent reading class included two key components for learning – getting acquainted with the novel of John Steinbeck [...]

Pages: 21

Words: 5839

Term Paper

The Theory of ‘Soul’ in the Upanishads, Term Paper Example

Scholars consider the Upanishads as the beating heart of Hinduism, and they are sacrosanct texts that philosophers assert impact a deep mystery beyond the core [...]

Pages: 8

Words: 2074

Term Paper

Implementation, Context, and Complexity, Term Paper Example

Introduction Analysis of Carson Valley Medical Center (CVMC), reveals a comprehensive community healthcare system that uses market focus as its primary generic strategy. Specifically, the [...]

Pages: 12

Words: 3248

Term Paper

Ethics in Zuiangzi’s Concept and Confucianism, Term Paper Example

Introduction Ethics form a foundation for guiding people to make the right decisions. Although there is usually a clear definition of what is right and [...]

Pages: 7

Words: 2052

Term Paper

Datasets for Machine Learning, Term Paper Example

Introduction In machine learning, datasets are an aggregated collections of data representing each variable in the corresponding database. Datasets are critical components in machine learning [...]

Pages: 2

Words: 615

Term Paper

Entrepreneurial Marketing in Online Businesses, Term Paper Example

Reflecting on the NVC content The ideas presented to the group at the beginning of the NVC were challenging and yet holistic. In that, they [...]

Pages: 8

Words: 2180

Term Paper

Book Study of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, Term Paper Example

Summary The project undertaken for the present independent reading class included two key components for learning – getting acquainted with the novel of John Steinbeck [...]

Pages: 21

Words: 5839

Term Paper

The Theory of ‘Soul’ in the Upanishads, Term Paper Example

Scholars consider the Upanishads as the beating heart of Hinduism, and they are sacrosanct texts that philosophers assert impact a deep mystery beyond the core [...]

Pages: 8

Words: 2074

Term Paper

Implementation, Context, and Complexity, Term Paper Example

Introduction Analysis of Carson Valley Medical Center (CVMC), reveals a comprehensive community healthcare system that uses market focus as its primary generic strategy. Specifically, the [...]

Pages: 12

Words: 3248

Term Paper

Ethics in Zuiangzi’s Concept and Confucianism, Term Paper Example

Introduction Ethics form a foundation for guiding people to make the right decisions. Although there is usually a clear definition of what is right and [...]

Pages: 7

Words: 2052

Term Paper

Datasets for Machine Learning, Term Paper Example

Introduction In machine learning, datasets are an aggregated collections of data representing each variable in the corresponding database. Datasets are critical components in machine learning [...]

Pages: 2

Words: 615

Term Paper

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!