The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to install a presidential network in the Washington area this year that will be able to survive an attack by a nuclear weapon that generates a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP), which can burn out circuit boards and other electronic devices, according to budget documents.
The agency started work on the network in 2008 and plans to install communications equipment resistant to damage by a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse. The network was developed at the direction of the "National Security Presidential Directive on Survivable Senior Leadership Communications in a HEMP Environment." It features Promina network switches from Network Equipment Technologies Inc. and manage communications over a specially designed and deployed Voice over Internet Protocol network.
DISA developed the HEMP system, which includes upgrades to a UHF network serving senior leadership in the Washington area, as part of a National Emergency Action Decision Network to serve the president, secretary of Defense and other senior leaders. John Garing, DISA chief information officer and director of strategic planning, said the network supports radio systems on helicopters and feeds into the HEMP network. Funding for all systems in the National Emergency Action Decision Network is pegged at less than $1 million.
The systems will be installed in ground installations and executive aircraft, including Air Force One, four VIP Boeing 757s and two VIP Boeing 737 aircraft.
DISA also asked for $49.5 million in its fiscal 2010 budget for the Crisis Management System, a "high-performance, closed network that provides classified multimedia teleconferencing for the president, Cabinet secretaries, designated agency directors and their staffs," budget documents noted.
A HEMP attack potentially could disrupt or damage electronic systems over much of the United States, William Graham, chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States From Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee in July 2008.