Dr. Lowell Wood*
''If you would have peace, prepare for war.''
I am grateful for the Committee's kind invitation to offer testimony on electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and its implications for our Nation's military
capabilities and for the continuation of American civilization.
I have been an interested observer of both American and foreign capabilities with respect to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) phenomena for three
decades, and I have been involved with both offensive and defensive aspects of electromagnetic pulse weaponry for more than two decades.
During the '70s, I served on the Defense Nuclear Agency's Scientific Advisory Group on Effects (SAGE), the DoD's senior technical review
group concerned with electromagnetic pulse, as well as all other military nuclear issues having a technical character. In the late '70s and early
'80s, I worked on ''Third Generation'' nuclear weaponry, a major component of which was nuclear explosive-driven generators of
electromagnetic pulses of potentially greatly increased efficiency and military effectiveness; spinoffs involving non-nuclear means of generating
potent EMP also engaged my attention. Later in the '80s and early '90s when strategic defense was emphasized, I worked on the development
of defensive technologies of very high efficacy against nuclear EMP, with particular reference to military space systems. With the fall of the
Soviet Union, my attention has turned to the implications of EMP in a nuclear-multipolar world, while remaining mindful of the EMP
implications of the enduring Russian nuclear force structure.
I have been privileged to appear on a number of occasions before this Subcommittee and its siblings during the past two decades, testifying on
a variety of national security topics. I have also served the Committee in a technical consulting capacity, initially under Chairman Les Aspin
nearly a decade ago, and more recently under the leadership of Chairmen Floyd Spence and Duncan Hunter.
SOME HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
More than a third-century ago, due both to commentary from our British allies and to some truly striking experimental results, military
technologists in the United States became generally aware that high-altitude nuclear explosions often generated electromagnetic effects of
completely unprecedented magnitudes, physical and temporal scales - and effects on both the physical environment and human handiwork. (It
had been appreciated in a rather qualitative manner for some time previously by American workers that electromagnetic phenomena of
singularly large magnitudes and quite exotic natures occurred in the immediate vicinity of nuclear fireballs created near the Earth's surface, but
these effects were largely ignored against the background of the nuclear explosion-unique blast and heat effects.)
The first American high-altitude nuclear weaponry experiments after the Soviet breaking of the nuclear test moratorium of '58-'61 revealed a
wealth of phenomenology of completely unprecedented - and largely completely unanticipated - character. Most fortunately, these tests took
place over Johnston Island in the mid-Pacific rather than the Nevada Test Site, or ''electromagnetic pulse'' would still be indelibly imprinted in
the minds of the citizenry of the western U.S., as well as in the history books. As it was, significant damage was done to both civilian and
military electrical systems throughout the Hawaiian Islands, over 800 miles away from ground zero. The origin and nature of this damage was
successfully obscured at the time - aided by its mysterious character and the essentially incredible truth.
Intensive effects commenced to understand what had happened - and what might happen in the event of hostilities involving high-altitude
nuclear weaponry usage. These efforts were spurred by the knowledge that the Soviets had experimented extensively with high-altitude nuclear
weaponry, including some uniquely high-yield explosions, during their '61-'62 test series, and presumably understood the implications of these
at least as well as we did. American efforts were complicated by the cessation of high-altitude testing associated with implementation of the
Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty in '63, so that access to experimental truth was greatly complicated and, in some crucial respects, entirely
At this point, the Soviet Union and the United States commenced to engage the nuclear EMP issue somewhat analogously to two men fencing
with very sharp blades in utter darkness: both knew that the weaponry which they wielded was extremely potent, but neither knew the other's
time-varying posture, let alone the precise location of either vulnerable spots or especially well-armored ones. This deadly duel continued for
three decades, through the collapse of the Soviet Union. It continues today. It will continue into the foreseeable future. EMP crippling of the
American military machine and of the modern American nation remain real prospects.
THE NATURE OF EMP
Electromagnetic pulse is sufficiently alien to ordinary human experience that it seems to many to be either magic or illusory. Such entirely
understandable human reactions have not facilitated the development or implementation of apt responses to the profound threats which it
poses, either by political or military leaders. Thus, a few operationally-oriented fundamentals may be of use:
EMP is really severe static electricity, everywhere, all at once. Without needing to understand the undeniably esoteric means by which
EMP arises in various military circumstances, it suffices to recall that it presents itself as something closely akin to static electricity, extremely
intense but exceedingly brief, everyone within line-of-sight to a high-altitude nuclear explosion, ''all at once.'' (This ''static electricity'' pulse is
carried on radio-frequency electromagnetic waves of uniquely high intensity. The bomb's extraordinarily intense prompt radiations essentially
transform the entire atmosphere underneath it into a gigantic radio transmitter-antenna - for a very brief interval.)
Extended metallic structures within line-of-sight of the explosion - telephone and electrical lines, radio and TV antennae, fence wires, etc. - then
serve to gather up the broadcast energy of EMP and deliver it into whatever they connect to, often with locally ruinous results which are
basically similar to those resulting from a lightning-strike. Since it travels at the speed-of-light, EMP arrives essentially instantaneously, from the
general direction of the explosion.
EMP can blanket an entire U.S.-sized continent from a single source. EMP originates in the interaction of gamma-radiations from a
nuclear explosion with the Earth's atmosphere at altitudes of a few dozen kilometers and propagates predominantly toward the Earth's surface.
Thus, since you can readily see a bomb explosion a few hundred kilometers above the central U.S. from anywhere in the ''lower 48'', the EMP
arising from that explosion's interactions with the Earth's atmosphere can also ''see'' you.
To be sure, at greater distances, the intensity of the pulse will be smaller, but not necessarily as indicated by the familiar
inverse-square-of-the-distance law. Likewise, its severity is only roughly proportional to the yield, or total energy production, of the bomb.
(The sharpness of the EMP actually depends rather sensitively on esoteric aspects of the bomb's design and operation. Low-yield
specially-designed bombs may pose as significant EMP threats as do high-yield ''ordinary'' ones.)
EMP doesn't linger. Since it arises from a nuclear explosion's promptly-emitted gamma radiation interacting with the Earth's atmosphere,
nuclear EMP goes away very quickly. It is a phenomenon of real interest only for time-scales of microseconds - millionths of a second. (Within
this time-frame, however, it can be quite compelling.) It has none of the character of nuclear radioactivity or fallout.
EMP isn't sensed by people, and it doesn't damage the human body. The nervous system and associated sensory faculties of people are
essentially totally insensitive to electromagnetic radiation of the frequency and the time-duration of EMP. We don't sense it in any way.
Because it arises and then goes away so exceedingly quickly, electrical currents due to it do not really begin to flow in our bodies, and no
physiological damage of any kind takes place. EMP really ''speaks'' only to metallic objects, and to things connected to them.
EMP is much more threatening to big electrical systems than to small ones. Because metallic objects of many different shapes can
effectively gather up and then concentrate the energy associated with EMP, physically large systems comprised of metal - lines, cables, wire
and dish antennae - often manifest exceptionally great vulnerability to EMP damage. Their spatially extended components ''harvest'' the
broadcast EMP energy, which falls fairly uniformly over wide areas, and bring it to wherever the system's ''barn'' may be - the often-centrally
located components of the extended system which may be quite sensitive to electrical overload. Physically small systems usually don't get EMP
''illumination'' so well-collected or -focused within themselves, and thus tend to be more durable to its effects.
EMP is much more threatening to modern electronics than to old-fashioned ones. Older electrical and electronic systems are generally
built out of massive components, which are innately much more tolerant of the effects of EMP. Vacuum tubes, for example, are extremely
EMP-rugged, while the ever-tinier transistors which have almost totally replaced them in the U.S. military machine - as well as in U.S. civilian
electrical/electronic systems of all types - are ever-more-vulnerable to EMP destruction. The Soviet technological lag behind the Americans
has been a substantial - and vigorously exploited - advantage in this somewhat perverse respect.
EMP in space is different from EMP near the ground, and is typically nastier. EMP arising in spacecraft due to exposure to prompt
nuclear hard-x-ray and gamma radiations - even from very great distances - is often tedious in the extreme to eliminate effectively and with
adequately great assurance. (It is assuredly possible to accomplish, however, even against the most severe threats.)
Nuclear EMP correspondingly poses an extremely serious threat to the assured functional survivability of space assets, both military and
civilian, the more so as the essential system-level testing always was quite expensive and currently is effectively impossible.
EMP defenses are simple, and traditionally have added ~10% to military system costs. For typical military systems which do not
operate in space, the rule-of-thumb has been that robust hardening against EMP effects adds roughly 10% to the total system life-cycle cost, if
such hardening is engineered-in from the outset.
Such hardening consists primarily of high-integrity albeit thin (e.g., tinfoil-like) metallic shielding to keep the EMP radiation out of enclosed
volumes containing vulnerable systems components and of special electrical devices - e.g., high-tech lightning arresters - for protecting
absolutely essential penetrations of such metallic enclosures from inadvertently admitting significant amounts of EMP energy into the interior
''sanctuary.'' The major fractions of this ~10% added-cost have traditionally been spent in performance-testing and life-cycle maintenance of
EMP-robustness, not in creating the ''sanctuary'' itself. Significant economies might be realized in these cost-dominating areas in future efforts
by intelligent use of more modern technologies. If, on the other hand, EMP hardening is back-fitted to an existing military system, costs have
generally been in the range of 20% of total system cost.
SOME FUNDAMENTAL TECHNICO-MILITARY DIFFERENCES
There were several fundamental differences in the technical and military approaches which the Soviet Union and the United States took toward
EMP. These differences are reflected in the postures of the two nations' military machines today, and likely will be enduring ones.
The Soviets basically decided that EMP represented not only an exceptionally severe threat to the integrity of their military apparatus and their
civilian infrastructure, but also offered extraordinary opportunities to their strategic offensive forces. Relatively deficient in computational
modeling tools with which to understand the quantitative details of EMP generation and interaction with a wide variety of particular structures
and systems, they took a generic, highly empirical ''belt and suspenders'' approach to protection of both military and civilian systems against
EMP, deploying protective hardware quite lavishly (as compared to the U.S.) and providing extensive counter-EMP training to both civilian
and military personnel involved in the operation and maintenance of these systems.
Soviet strategic strike forces characteristically featured weaponry very well-suited to efficient EMP generation over exceptionally wide areas.
That EMP strike component exists today in the Russian strategic order-of-battle, moreover at its maximum Cold War strength. I
very confidently predict that it will be one of the last features of Soviet strategic nuclear weaponry to be retired from the Russian
force structure. It has long be considered highly likely by U.S. strategic war planners that a Soviet first-strike would commence with a
multi-explosion ''laydown'' of high-intensity EMP all over the continental U.S., significantly before any target on the ground is brought under
attack, simply because the cost of such an attack-commencement is low and the benefits gained are great. Indeed, memories of strategic war
games long past have as a major common feature the beginning of the game with a massive Soviet EMP laydown all over the U.S., followed
immediately by an extended time-out while the game's referees rip up huge handfuls of U.S. military capability of all types and throw it away as
We Americans, in contrast, collectively saw EMP as a major nuisance which could be rather precisely understood, defended against ''good
enough'' - and thereafter largely ignored. The Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA), succeeded by the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA)
and now by the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA), in exceptionally fruitful long-term collaboration with dedicated components of
American industry (of which the RAND Corporation Physics Department, later re-organized as R&D Associates, and the Mission Research
Corporation were particularly distinguished leaders), developed a really outstanding technical appreciation of EMP, how to model and simulate
it with high fidelity, and how to effectively defend major military systems against it. Indeed, I estimate that half of DASA/DNA/DSWA's
third-billion dollar ('96 $) time-averaged annual budget was expended for such purposes for three decades.
Programs then came into existence to express and embed this evolving understanding - excellent albeit imperfect - of EMP in major American
strategic warfare systems, primarily the offensive ones but also the defensive components. However, because neither supercrats nor senior
commanders really understood - or, in some cases, believed in the existence of - EMP and its effects, these EMP hardening programs
generally followed uncertain trumpets, and their average effectiveness was not exceedingly high. (At that, U.S. strategic military systems were
vastly better EMP-protected, on the average, than were our tactical ones.)
Some CINCs stand out in my memory as exceptionally diligent in their efforts, the results of which were especially praiseworthy. (A few senior
Navy admirals, enjoying unusually great tenure and discretion over the resources of their large commands, did very well by the enduring
National interest in these respects.) Too often, though, protecting against a poorly-understood, deemed-unlikely threat of a semi-magical
character lost out in the unceasing battles-for-resources, and was deferred, largely or completely, to ''next year'' - a well-known interval of time
which never quite arrives in DoD-Land. In some notable EMP-hardening programs, sustained and strenuous efforts were made without
securing desired results, outcomes which were sometimes obscured to the present day by lack-of-candor leveraged with high security
classifications. Case histories abound, but are not appropriate for open discussion.
As a result, the present-day U.S. strategic force structure is a veritable patchwork quilt with respect to its EMP durability. The bottom line is
that, in really bad weather, this quilt won't keep at all warm the fundamental National interest. This situation is undoubtedly well-known,
even in many of its details, to our potential near-peer adversaries - and it presumably incentivizes exploitation-directed efforts on
their part. At that, America's strategic forces are much better-postured against EMP attack than are our day-to-day, tactical
The EMP robustness of the civilian infrastructure of the United States can be summarized far less equivocally: it is entirely non-existent. Our
civilian telephony, electricity, communications and electronics plants are all naked to our nuclear-armed enemies. Even a modest,
single-explosion EMP attack on the U.S. would likely devastate us as a modern, post-industrial nation.
PECULIAR ASPECTS OF EMP ATTACKS
Indeed, a nuclear EMP attack on a nation is, in the large, the obverse of what the neutron bomb was asserted (utterly falsely by
anti-deployment-directed Communist propaganda, but nonetheless with great political effect) to be in the small: an arch-capitalist weapon
which killed people but didn't destroy the capital plant in which the people were located. EMP weaponry (potentially even in single copy),
in acute contrast to this now-ancient canard, potentially destroys in a highly effective manner the high technology
electrical/electronic plant of any advanced nation - the heartland of modern civilization - while not directly harming people at all.
It is profoundly unsettling that the electrical/electronic infrastructure of a large modern nation - which may be valued at more than ten thousand
dollars per capita, or a few trillions of dollars for a nation such as the U.S. - can be so threatened from afar by a single nuclear explosion. That
this can be done without harming people - potentially even invisibly, if done in broad daylight - gives real pause for thought, in a still-troubled,
ASPECTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL STATE-OF-PLAY
Several aspects of the current and likely-future geopolitical state-of-play seem impacted by such considerations.
Through the end of the Cold War, we Americans could ''attribute'' any EMP attack on us with exceedingly high confidence to precisely one
source: the Soviet Union. Moreover, we usually anticipated that such an attack would merely comprise the precursor of an all-out attack and,
as such, ''will be met with a full retaliatory response.'' Toward the end of the Cold War, American strategic war planners worried about more
nuanced Soviet attacks, possibly EMP-intensive ones involving quite limited damage-on-the-ground, and how to most appropriately respond
to such damage-intensive but ''casualty-poor'' attacks. Such perplexities seemed largely obviated by the end of the Cold War and the cessation
of such ''virtual hostilities'' with the Soviets.
But were they really? It is widely-known that we Americans contemplated, briefly and in a non-pervasive fashion, a nuclear EMP laydown on
Iraq (a NPT signatory legally entitled to immunity from all nuclear attacks) as an exceptionally high-effectiveness commencement to Operation
Desert Storm - and that two-thirds of the American people polled on the subject in that season supported the taking of such steps to protect
the lives of American troops. It certainly should not be surprising if other nuclear-capable nations were thereby stimulated - if indeed any such
external stimulus was needed - to contemplate employment of a similar tactic against their various adversaries, of which the U.S. may well be
What would the U.S. response be to a nuclear EMP ''bolt from the blue'' - or even one from a geopolitically overcast sky? What if such an
attack, e.g., executed with a single rather modest Earth-orbiting bomb, arguably could have been mounted not only by Russia, but also by
China or India or Iran - or North Korea? Particularly if none of our fellow citizens died as a direct-and-immediate result of such an attack,
what degree of certitude of attack attribution would we require of ourselves before an American President would order a retaliatory strike
imposing condign punishment on the suspect nation? Paralyzed as a modern nation, thrown back decades in time in industrial capabilities but
still retaining a reasonably full set of nuclear teeth in our national mouth, how would we Americans then choose whom to bite - if anyone?
That scenarios of this general flavor are currently considered ''within the pale'' is illustrated by the ''Army 2020'' war game conducted at
Carlisle Barracks earlier this year. Especially notable for its openness, it postulated a U.S. expeditionary force in the Ukraine clashing with an
invading Russian force, two decades hence. When the Russian force fared poorly in ground combat operations, the Russian General Staff used
a set of nuclear explosions in space to effectively destroy the 'high eyes and ears'' of the U.S. military - and all the civilian comsats and all the
Russian space systems, as well - in order to express ''national resolve.'' In addition to the far-distant Russian nuclear explosions giving
American decision-makers real pause for thought, the entirely unexpected, abrupt and total loss of the ''high ground'' conferred by U.S. space
assets nearly cost the American force its collective skin. Just as this game was ending in Russian-American armistice, the Chinese, noting
America's unprecedented military incapacity, commenced to make their long-expected moves in the Far East. . . .
At that, wafting out of this unusually thought-provoking exercise was a faint aroma of ''Blue-preferred Red responses,'' a well-known key
ingredient of politicomilitary folly. The Army's game-designers were willing to postulate nuclear explosions in space of a flavor which acted
over time-scales of hours to days to dramatically ''burn down'' American space assets largely owned-or-operated by the Air Force. However,
they didn't care to consider an arguably equally plausible Russian nuclear EMP laydown over Ukrainian territory within which the American
expeditionary force was operating - which, without inflicting casualties, likely would have devastated the electrical/electronic sinews of
American tactical assets (ones incidentally almost entirely owned-and-operated by the Army).
Indeed, EMP laydowns constitute a generically attractive response on the part of any major regional power - not just Russia - to virtually any
American power-projection attempt. They exemplify what is termed a ''technologically asymmetric response'' to the impending Revolution in
Military Affairs, one in which our adversary acts purposefully to leverage his set-of-strengths and exploit our set-of-weaknesses. (Saddam
Hussein fought us entirely on our terms; we must assume that we will not be gifted with a similarly inept adversary for some long time.) Because
a very small number - potentially just one - nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude over an American expeditionary force
attempting forced entry against a major regional power could potentially tip the balance against our efforts, all such powers who
contemplate someday possibly confronting us will be incentivized to develop, acquire or retain nuclear weaponry - quite contrary to
the goals of ongoing nuclear nonproliferation efforts and to the objectives of the Revolution in Military Affairs. (It should be noted in
this context that there are over 10,000 ballistic missiles presently owned by over 30 countries which are potentially capable of lofting a nuclear
weapon to high altitudes over proximate U.S. forces - and that none of the ballistic missile defense programs of the current Administration aim
at military ''products'' which could defend against such ''pre-apogee'' attacks.)
Both as a demonstration-of-military capability and a show-of-national resolve, exploding a nuclear weapon continues to have no peer. (The
South African example naturally comes to mind in the current context, both with respect to its motivations and its successful covertness.) If
exploded so as to also cripple opposing military forces without also inflicting mass casualties, the potential attractiveness of such weaponry
likely becomes compelling. A few nuclear weapons and unstoppable delivery systems (e.g., ballistic missiles facing only Clintonesque missile
defenses) which can throw them into space, one at a time, over an invader's forces thus naturally rise to the top of the ''wish list'' of many types
of national leader.
Thus, for several reasons, each one good-and-sufficient, the U.S. would be well-advised to manifest far more effective concern
than prevails at present regarding EMP attacks against its national territory and against its forces abroad. Conventional
approaches to threat assessment - i.e., those which attempt to conservatively assess both capability and intent - may lead to Pearl
Harbor-class catastrophes in the context of EMP attacks.
EMP ISSUES FACING THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT
Against such current and anticipated-future geopolitical backgrounds, then, what are the major EMP-related issue-sets facing the DoD?
First, having incompletely triumphed in its EMP hardening efforts during the Cold War - when the threat was clear-and-present and the
resources were relatively plentiful - how can credible DoD responses to present and emerging EMP challenges be rationally anticipated now?
Specifically, how would a reasonable skeptic be persuaded of the seriousness and effectiveness of any new-found DoD sense-of-purpose with
respect to EMP defenses?
Second, how can DoD reliably eliminate the prospect of a single moderate-to-large yield nuclear explosion occurring at high altitude over the
U.S.? (Indeed, how can it detect that such an EMP attack is underway, or that it is likely?) How can it robustly attribute the origin of such an
attack (noting that at least Russia, China and India manifestly have the capability to execute such an attack today)? If reliable defense is not
feasible and robust attribution-for-deterrence is not possible, how is eventual attack to be rationally judged to be at all unlikely?
Third, how much is DoD willing to carve out of its present-day, shrinking-in-real-terms budget to defend itself and (a clearly independent issue)
to defend its Nation-sponsor from EMP attacks? Where, in particular, is how much money going to come from? How is this amount to be
seen as credible, relative to what level of EMP defensive/hardening requirements?
Fundamentally, DoD must decide that it is significantly more important to engage EMP defenses now that it was a decade or two ago, or
precisely no intra-Departmental motion is possible in the current budgetary environment. (The emphasis given EMP issues in the recent QDR
seems diagnostic in this respect.)
It must then learn the lessons of how-and-why it succeeded in some EMP defensive programs and more-or-less failed in many others, over the
past three decades. (The associated large-scale scrapping of pleasant fairy tales and reversion to full candor necessary for such self-education
in this area may be possible only because so much time has elapsed since most such programs culminated.)
Then resources adequate to the EMP defensive tasks must be identified and robustly fenced, and a single, highly-capable,
long-term-accountable, senior-level-reporting individual given responsibility for all aspects of program execution, from start to finish. Only
under such circumstances is it realistic to rationally expect real progress.
EMP ISSUES FACING THE CONGRESS
With all due respect, the only fundamental issue facing the Congress is determining the degree of its own concern regarding the EMP threat to
National military capabilities and to the at-risk portions of the Nation's infrastructure.
Once the degree of this concern is determined, the Congress may then ascertain quite readily whether or not it is sufficient to elicit a voluntary,
''If you want it done, we're willing to do it'' response from the DoD. If it isn't, then the only remaining question is whether the Congress is
minded to mandate in statute the desired response from an unwilling DoD - with all the well-known risk, cost and oversight hassles thereto
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONGRESSIONAL CONSIDERATION
If the Congress chooses to initiate an EMP defensive program, I respectfully recommend that any such initiative include the following features:
Mandated Organization-For-Success. A brand-new, single-purpose organization is a political luxury in DoD, but it is a time-proven ''high
road'' to programmatic success. Such an organization must be run by a highly competent, surpassingly dedicated ''benevolent dictator'' whose
enjoys unquestioned tenure and direct reporting to top-level DoD officials. (E.g., the House's FY'98 Defense Authorization Bill mandates such
a reporting line for the Director of BMDO).
The government staff of this organization must be exceedingly few in number, exceptional in professional preparation and highly empowered.
Industrial collaborators must be carefully selected for across-the-board competence, trusted and empowered thereafter and without exception
- and likely compensated on a CPFF basis. External meddling in organizational business must be sharply minimized, and programmatic
turbulence of all types - particularly with respect to budget and ''mission creep'' - rigorously suppressed.
DoD doesn't create many of these operations, for reasons both regrettable and obvious; if the Congress really wants EMP defensive
programmatic success, it'll mandate such an operation into existence. (All of these are features identified in a recent RAND study of the F-117
Stealth fighter program to be common to those DoD acquisition programs that perform in peacetime like the really crucial ones usually do in
Mandated Across-The-Board Competition. All routes to programmatic success must be fairly and objectively evaluated, and defensive
hardware from all vendors evaluated objectively on a common basis. Insisting on ''picking winners and losers'' is a regrettably common way for
ego-blinded DoD program managers to fail. Mandating such pervasive competitive arrangements is the only reliable way to gain them.
Assured Managerial Accountability and Stability. Most DoD acquisition programs perform as abysmally as they do, relative to the closely
comparable people-sets working in American industry, primarily because managerial stability is distinguished by its absence and managerial
accountability is correspondingly non-existent. ''State property is nobody's property'' as the old Soviet saying went, and the Government's
interest in programmatic success of its Defense acquisition programs is almost invariably ''co-owned'' by precisely no one, civilian or military.
Even a superficial comparison of Soviet and American experience over the past few decades indicates clearly that, without some type of
proprietorship, no ''property'' will be decently looked after, and the long-term consequences likely will be telling ones. The Congress would be
well-advised to act accordingly with respect to creation of EMP defenses: the program's senior managers should be ''lashed to the mast'' until
the programmatic ship weathers the inevitable storms.
Design-To-Cost Focus. One pervasive problem encountered in the DASA/DNA/DSWA EMP hardening program was a single JCS
specification for EMP hardness which had to be met, no matter what the attendant cost or difficulty might be for particular military systems.
While this hardness level had a fundamental, rational basis, it might be more appropriate under prevailing circumstances to have two or more
hardness levels, and to design hardening to a specified, not-to-exceed total cost-per-system hardened. Some significant degree of hardening is
always better than no hardening at all. Congressional cost caps of undoubted robustness wonderfully concentrate both the bureaucratic and the
defense-industrial minds - particularly if profits-and-fees are specified-in-advance to be paid out the wrap-up portion of the program's capped
''Free Fixes'' Arrangements With DSWA Customers. One of the standard ways-to-crash in the DASA/DNA hardening program arose
from the fact that the agency's folks were chartered to provide all manner of free assessment, advice and technical consulting to the military
customer, but the customer had to pay all of the actual costs of hardening his own systems. As a consequence, only the unusually rich or the
exceptionally diligent customer ever managed to pay for more than a small fraction of the hardening work to be done. An obvious fix for this
fatal hesitation is to subsidize - perhaps even completely - the hardening work, and maybe even offer incentives to sign up for hardening. Again,
cost caps on fixes - perhaps supplemented by fee incentives for on-spec/under-budget performance - may serve usefully to keep overall
program budgets on-track.
Independent Periodic Assessments. For nearly three thousand years, the applicable maxim of Western jurisprudence has been ''No man is
an apt judge of his own cause.'' Particularly in its oversight of any Congressional initiative - one in which DoD co-ownership may be somewhat
lacking - the Congress would be well-advised to commission independent reviews and assessments of programmatic progress made and
problems encountered. No honest program will object to a single swiftly-executed annual review by competent-and-objective folks who can
be ''brought up to speed'' without undue effort or delay.
Frequent Full-Up Trials Of Prototypes. Those DASA/DNA EMP hardening programs which were more likely to be successful had
frequent testing of hardened sub-systems and systems as a major feature. Such exercises build confidence that progress is being made while
also uncovering problems when they're small and relatively quick-and-cheap to fix. They're not diversionary, and should be mandated if simple
encouragement to do so is insufficient.
It is notable in this context that the system-level EMP hardness of most all American space assets currently is entirely conjectural, due to a
pervasive lack of realistic full-up testing in recent years; any assertions to the contrary can be most charitably characterized as white lies. That a
National capability to conduct realistic full-up system-level testing of critical space assets was developed and exercised so tellingly - and then
abandoned - is a major ''blot on the copybook'' of several OSD crews with respect to safeguarding the National interest. A clear and firm
Congressional mandate is the only ''sure cure'' for this problem.
Performance Certifications. Several large-and-venerable investment houses have sustained titanic losses in the past few years by allowing
their high-rolling traders to run their own back-offices, with the result that losses were effectively concealed until they ran into ten figures.
Government programs that are allowed to monitor, review and appraise their own performance often run into similar difficulties - with the
notable difference that these are typically entombed in classified document repositories. Certification of EMP hardness of various military and
civilian systems in transparently-operated all-DoD test facilities is a sine qua non for programmatic integrity.
Mandated Balance Between Military- And Civilian-Directed Efforts. Encouragement by the Government of civilian builders and
operators of EMP-vulnerable components and systems should be pervasively encouraged - using all necessary means - to design, build and
operate EMP hardness into their systems. These means may range from building to GSA-issued EMP standards in order to provide equipment
to any Government agency to GFE-type testing and certification of industrial equipments offered to the commercial market, akin to a UL
seal-of-approval, and may include mandates to federal regulatory agencies, e.g., the FCC, which supervise and license EMP-vulnerable
national infrastructure. In any case, the Congress should periodically re-visit and, as necessary, re-tool statutory language aimed at balanced
hardening efforts in the military and civilian sectors, so that national security ''front-doors'' are not locked while ''back-doors'' are left wide
Obvious features of hardening of civilian infrastructure will surely include regularly hardness-tested ''backbone'' systems, e.g., for essential
communication functions, and regularly exercised rapid-reconstitution ways-and-means, e.g., for restoring large-scale electrical power systems
from hardened, distributed component stores. While largely civilian-sector in character, assuring that such minimum essential capabilities either
reliably survive EMP attack or can be quickly re-constituted thereafter surely falls within the ambit of ''. . .providing for the common defense''.
Continuing Congressional Engagement. Accompanying all of the above is a need for continuing Congressional engagement with the DoD's
best thinking and analysis, of the general character which is traditionally associated with Congressional oversight proceedings which review
mandated annual reporting and ad hoc certifications.
Congressional oversight with which I'm familiar in the strategic warfare area has been highly commendable in its peak intensity, its intellectual
acumen and its cogency but, with all due respect, has been less-than-perfect in its regularity and follow-through. Constancy and perseverance
will be crucial in seeing Congressional mandates faithfully and efficiently translated into DoD programs and EMP defenses-in-being,
as cognizant Government officials-and-officers come and go. Commitment of highly capable, single-task Congressional staff members to such
functions would have both symbolic and practical significance.
Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a ''weapon of mass hardware destruction'', even one instance of which can cripple the U.S. military machine
and which also can lay waste to modern American civilization - without directly harming a single American. Technical means of defense against
EMP exist which are of unquestioned technical feasibility and military effectiveness. Whether EMP defenses are financially and
programmatically feasible to produce and deploy is for the Congress to determine - for corporate DoD seems to have elected to
not face this esoteric but possibly historic issue.
Information Submitted In Compliance With Rule XI, Clause 2(g) of the House of Representatives
Dr. Lowell Wood is a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, and a permanent staff
member (currently on the Director's Technical Staff) of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, operated under long-term contract
(since 1953 through the present) by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy and its predecessor organizations, under
Contract W-7405-eng-48. The Hoover Institution has received grants and contracts in support of its research activities from the Federal
Government for many years, including the grant of its principal office building pursuant to an Act of Congress in 1974 memorializing President
Herbert Hoover. The Livermore Laboratory, designated a National Laboratory by Act of Congress, has received total funding of the order of
$1 billion (FY'96 $) annually for several decades from many agencies of the U.S. Government, with approximately 80% currently coming from
the Department of Energy, approximately 10% coming from the Department of Defense and 10% from other Federal agencies.
Dr. Wood is unaware of any funding currently being received for any purpose by either the Hoover Institution or the Livermore Laboratory -
or funding received during the past three years, or funding which is anticipated or being negotiated for - on the subject of his testimony. In
particular, Dr. Wood has received or benefited from no such funding personally.
Dr. Wood is not representing the Hoover Institution or the Livermore Laboratory, or presenting positions of either of these organizations, in the course of his appearance before the Subcommittee. (To the best of his knowledge, neither of these organizations maintains any positions on any of the subject matter of his testimony.) Neither the Hoover Institution nor the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have contributed to the preparation of his testimony, which has been prepared by him as a private individual. Dr. Wood's testimony is offered as being solely his own, not necessarily representing the opinion of anyone - or anything - else.