Mr. Stanley J. Jakubiak

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee.

I am grateful for the opportunity to address the Committee on the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) threat environment and to discuss its impact on commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment used in military command and control systems.

The detonation of a nuclear weapon between 50 and several hundreds of kilometers above the earth’s surface will produce an electromagnetic pulse that can, under certain conditions, damage electronic equipment operating under its footprint. Although the EMP phenomenon has been studied for many years, its impact on unprotected electronic equipment is at best uncertain. We know it will impact electronic equipment, but due to the variation of tolerances built into commercial equipment and the different system configurations, we can’t accurately predict how wide spread any damage or disruption will be.

To counter the EMP threat, we have in the past taken a simplistic approach to the problem by assuming that all unprotected systems, including the entire commercial infrastructure, could not be relied upon for critical military operations. Critical military command and control nodes and systems that must operate throughout an EMP event have been identified and provided the necessary protection. In selected systems this includes the provision of EMP protected back-up power generators to mitigate any failure of the commercial power grid.

To capitalize on leading edge technologies, military systems are becoming increasingly dependent on commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment, which are not specifically designed to mitigate the effects of an EMP environment. To insure reliable operation in an EMP environment, systems incorporating COTS equipment are tested in simulators to the projected threat. Failures are analyzed and modifications retrofitted to the system to meet EMP protection requirements.

Testing of COTS equipment has allowed us to make some observations regarding the vulnerability of COTS equipment to a range of EMP environments that may be of some use in assessing the impact of an EMP environment on the unprotected commercial infrastructure. In general, it is possible that some equipment upset can occur when the EMP environment field strengths are between 3 – 8 kilovolts per meter (kV/m). When the field strengths reach above 8 kV/m the risk that some equipment will upset becomes more probable. In the range of 7 – 20 kV/m there is a possibility that some equipment will be damaged, above 20 kV/m damage is probable. Results from some recent testing of COTS computer equipment in September 1998 reconfirmed these observations.

In conclusion, due to the sensitivity of COTS equipment to various EMP field strengths we have, over the past several years, sponsored an effort at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to assess the potential field strengths that can be produced by nuclear weapons. When you receive Dr. Michael Bernardin’s assessment in closed session keep in mind the COTS vulnerability levels that I have addressed in my statement.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, on behalf of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I appreciate this opportunity to present the Joint Staff’s insights on the EMP environment.