Secretary Nielsen Statement on Executive Order to Protect the U.S. from Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks

On March 26, President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses to build resilience and protect against electromagnetic pulses, or EMPs, which are temporary electromagnetic signals that can disrupt, degrade, and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems across large areas.

“EMPs pose a potential threat to our nation’s critical infrastructure, and this executive order will advance our national goal of increased resilience across all infrastructure sectors. DHS remains committed to working with our interagency partners to ensure a more resilient, prepared America by reducing the risk of  EMP events. DHS is grateful for the president’s leadership on this critical issue and continued commitment to protecting our country and keeping Americans safe,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.

The executive order outlines DHS’ lead role in implementing the following activities: 

  • Provide timely information on credible EMP threats and events to stakeholders;
  • Take a risk-informed approach to understand and enhance resilience to the effects of EMP across all critical infrastructure sectors, including coordinating the identification of national critical functions and prioritization of associated critical infrastructure at greatest risk to the effects of EMP;
  • Coordinate response to and recovery from the effects of EMP on critical infrastructure;
  • Consider EMP scenarios as a factor in preparedness exercises;
  • Conduct R&D to better understand and more effectively model the effects of EMP on national critical functions, and then develop technologies and guidelines to protect this critical infrastructure;
  • Maintain survivable means to provide necessary emergency information to the public during and after an EMP event; and
  • Develop quadrennial EMP risk assessments, with the first risk assessment delivered within 1 year of this order.

The executive order will foster increased resilience to EMP events through better data gathering, testing, risk assessments, and private sector coordination. It directs departments and agencies to coordinate and streamline efforts, while fostering an environment that promotes private sector innovation to strengthen U.S. critical infrastructure.

DHS last year announced the Strategy for Protecting and Preparing the Homeland against Threats from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD), which laid out a vision and an approach for DHS to take to protect critical infrastructure and prepare to respond and recover from potentially catastrophic electromagnetic incidents. The strategy also reflects a consensus Intelligence Community assessment of the EMP threat posed by America’s adversaries. Primarily focused on Departmental activities, the DHS strategy recognizes the importance of continued close collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial decision-makers, sector-specific agencies, and private sector critical infrastructure owner-operators.

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