Forward Observer: After the Area Study – Next Steps

Chief intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer posts on the progression of intelligence products you and your group should work on to be prepared for local disasters and emergencies in After Area Studies: The Next Steps in SHTF Intelligence.

For the past few weeks, I’ve made Area Studies the primary focus of the blog and social media presence. If you want to get started in local intelligence for disasters and emergencies, the Area Study is your starting point.

For those new to SHTF Intelligence, here’s a progression of intelligence products, skills, and tasks you should be doing.

1. The Area Study – This intelligence product is the foundation of local intelligence efforts. It’s here, most importantly, where we learn 1) the significance of “Intelligence Value” and 2) the importance of identifying your intelligence gaps.

“Intelligence Value” is what what we assign to information that’s relevant to our mission. The more critical a piece of information is, the higher its intelligence value.

For instance, if your mission is pulling your neighbors out of flood waters, then knowing who needs to be helped and where they live becomes mission-critical information. During this mission, identifying these neighbors becomes one of your top priorities. Other information of intelligence value could include: future flood stages, anticipated depth of area flooding, debris in the area that could pose a hazard, other areas that could be affected by flood waters, how long the flooding will last, and the list goes on.

If flooding is a risk, then you’re going to want to put local flood zone maps in your Area Study.

An “intelligence gap” is literally a gap in our knowledge. These gaps are things we need to know but don’t. Identifying your intelligence gaps is a critical step because it’s here where we identify what we need to collect. All intelligence gathering is directed through these intelligence gaps in the form of Collection Requirements. Once we have our Collection Requirements, then we can focus on collecting.

Through our Area Study, we want to identify threats, assets, fault lines, and vulnerabilities, among other things. Intelligence reduces uncertainty about the future. If I don’t understand my Operating Environment, then I won’t understand my assets and liabilities. I can’t plan for preparedness and security if I don’t understand who and what will affect my community’s security.

If you want to get started on an Area Study, the best and easiest way is to take my Area Intelligence Course.

2. Build Local Networks – While doing your Area Study, with a particular focus on the Human Terrain, you’re going to want to start building your local intelligence network.

In our Area Study, we should be identifying our neighbors and other important or valuable people in the area. If you don’t know your neighbors, go meet them. I recently moved to a new area and started taking walks when my neighbors are getting home from work. It gives me an opportunity to introduce myself and start learning more about them. I’m building rapport with them and looking for signs of like-mindedness. (I started a Neighborhood Watch in my previous neighborhood, which allowed me to go door to door and get contact information to begin this process. I highly recommend doing that. Joining a website like NextDoor will also give you opportunities to meet and communicate with your neighbors.)

In my Area Study, I need to separate these people into three categories: A) develop, B) inform and influence, and C) monitor.

A. I need to develop like-minded people. At a minimum, that means building a relationship with them. The end goal is to develop these neighbors into valuable and cooperative members of a neighborhood watch and/or preparedness group. If you can build enough trust and rapport, invite them to the gun range or other training with you. Get them “bought in” to developing tactical, medical, communications, intelligence, and/or other skills, especially if they share the same concerns about the future.

B. I need to inform and influence my neighbors who are indifferent towards preparedness. People are busy and get distracted. Between work schedules, their kids’ football practice and karate, Netflix, news propaganda, and other things, it’s easy to completely ignore the country’s fault lines. Many times, these people would be very concerned if they knew about the risks and dangers. It’s our job to inform them and then influence them towards preparedness. (My parents are a great example. I’ll relay to them information that concerns me and they can’t believe FoxNews isn’t talking about it. Over the years, I’ve worked on informing and influencing them towards preparedness. Last time I visited, my dad had a closet stacked floor to ceiling with food and water. It’s a start.) Share information in NextDoor, invite these people over for dinner, get your kids on the same soccer team; whatever you have to do to gain access and start building trust and rapport with these people, do it. Once you can prove that a) you’re not a weirdo and b) that you’re an intelligent and competent human being, then you can being sharing information to inform and influence. (Ask for their opinion on these things. See where they sit. Confirm their suspicions, encourage their own self-study of these threats, and, most importantly, don’t become “that guy.”)

C. I want to monitor neighbors who are sketchy, involved in criminality, or could otherwise oppose or disrupt our efforts for community security, especially during a disaster or emergency. (I’m not saying to peer out your window or to conduct surveillance. Just keep an eye out.) Familiarity is a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s always good to get to know your neighbors, but it’s not always good for them to get to know you. Identify these people. If you have to, run background checks. See if these people are “familiar faces” to local law enforcement. Ask your like-minded neighbors what they know about these people. Determine the threat level of the people in this category, add that information to your Area Study, and make considerations when planning for disasters and emergencies.

What we ultimately want to do is move people up the chain: turn B’s into A’s, and develop A’s into security partners.

Once we’ve done our Area Study and identified our collection requirements, we can start relying on our A’s and security partners to, wittingly or unwittingly, provide us with information of intelligence value.

C. Get Your ACE in Gear – The Analysis & Control Element (ACE) is our local intelligence cell. It’s the control room of our intelligence efforts. We’ve demonstrated the value of running of an ACE numerous times, including Operation Urban Charger (2015) when we battletracked the Ferguson riot.

During a disaster or emergency, we’ll need to produce real-time intelligence. If you expect to make decisions, you must be well-informed. You only bridge that gap through an intelligence effort.

This is why I, as much as possible, steer preppers away from accumulating more stuff and towards developing a local intelligence network and building an ACE.

When this disaster or emergency strikes — be it a hurricane, flood, wildfire, EMP/CME, grid down, protracted conflict, whatever it may be — I want to have my preparedness group form an ACE to direct collection, monitor the security situation, and produce real-time intelligence. (Read my Ultimate ACE Startup Guide here.)

In the ACE, we need a central repository for information and group members who know what to do with it. This means that I have to train up my preparedness group in intelligence skills. Much of intelligence collection is intuitive — you have questions, you need answers, and you go find that information somewhere with the skills and resources you have.

What requires some education and training is running an entire network and getting your information turned into actionable or predictive intelligence. Improving your intelligence gathering skills means more efficient collection of a greater intelligence value. Improving the way you analyze information means more accurate and timely intelligence. That results in improving your security, surviving, and/or winning a conflict. This is why I teach intelligence collection and analysis for a living…

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

AmPart: Building Your ACE/Fusion Center

We’ve heard a lot in the past from Forward Observer about building up your intelligence capabilities. Just in case you dismissed that as one organization crying out in the wilderness, here is an article from Gray Man at American Partisan on how to build an analysis control element (ACE) for analyzing the information that you have collected and turning it into actionable intelligence, whether that is for a disaster, civil unrest, or other purpose.

In the intelligence world, we have to coordinate all of the intelligence coming in, obviously. Intelligence drives the mission. In the civilian world, you could stick with that or change it to “information dictates action”.

In order to coordinate and analyze the information coming in, you’ll do yourself a favor to set up what is called an analysis control element (ACE). You could also refer to it as your “fusion” center, seeing as you should be able to fuse together and analyze all of the intelligence you collect and compile it into useful products to drive your activities. All-source, for my current purposes, consists of using HUMINT and SIGINT to the best of your abilities.

HUMINT is human intelligence, intelligence gained by interrogation, elicitation, debriefing, source running, surveillance, reconnaissance, tradecraft, etc. Basically, you’re using yourself (your brain, ears, eyes and your words) and other people to collect intelligence.

SIGINT is signals intelligence, and covers a wide array of electronic intelligence collection techniques. This includes things like electronic surveillance, hacking, wiretapping, etc. For our purposes, it involves monitoring radio traffic and listening in on signals using basic AM/FM radio, satelitte radio, shortwave receivers and police scanners and if you’re so inclined, CBs and ham. You’re going to want to visit the Brushbeater website by NCScout for the best SIGINT information available.

In order to build your ACE, you need to have some equipment. There is a bare minimum amount of equipment you’ll need in order to have what I would call a functional ACE.

Police scanner. My recommendation mirrors that of several other bloggers. That is the Uniden Home Patrol II scanner. Use this as part of your early warning system (EWS).

A decent AM/FM radio. This is good for open source radio news collection and some weather reports. Another point for your EWS.

Shortwave receiver. I recommend the GP-5. Credit for that recommendation goes to NCScout. That’s three pieces of EWS gear.

– Topographical and street maps of your AO and any AO relevant to you. 24 inches by 36 inches is a good size. Check this piece on topo maps recently posted by our own NCScout. USGS Store and MyTopo are two other good sources for maps. You need to know the terrain features and routes in all relevant AOs. Get some Duralar plastic film or something similar to create overlays using dry erase markers so you aren’t writing on the maps themselves.

– Get some folders and start keeping files on relevant people, places and things in your AO. A police chief who sees himself as an overlord as opposed to a public servant is a good subject to keep a file on. A nearby neighborhood with a history of drugs and violence would be as well. Don’t just keep files on potential adversaries though. Keep files on people who might be sympathetic to your cause and purposes for future use.

– Get a binder and keep track of current and potential sources of information. This will help when you have a specific intelligence gap you need filled, and you can thumb through your sources and see who can provide that information to you. It’s also useful when deconflicting sources. You don’t want the same person telling you and your neighbors multiple different stories just to gain favor with everyone.

– Obviously I would recommend a good laptop with reliable internet access. This will enable use of Google Earth and other mapping systems, open source intelligence (OSINT) collection via the web, etc. I’m sure no more explanation is required as to why you’d like to have a web-connected computer in your ACE.

Obtain a copy of FM 2-22.3. This is the US Army manual on HUMINT operations.

– Newspapers are generally slow and full of propaganda, but I can’t tell you how much OSINT I was able to collect from newspapers, especially during my time in the Far East. If you’re so inclined, subscribe to some, online or on actual paper.

– If you’ve got the budget and skills, CB and ham are great options for SIGINT collection and I highly recommend you obtain some capabilities in those areas. Another EWS force multiplier.

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan. And you can read and learn plenty more about intelligence collection and analysis at ForwardObserver.com.

FO: How to Start an ACE for Community Security

Sam Culper at Forward Observer has posted How do I start an ACE for community security or emergency preparedness? This article gives a brief overview of the analysis part of producing intelligence products. Sam has a wealth of information on this topic, and his book SHTF Intelligence is still available for in depth knowledge.

One of the major commitments I’m going to make to you in 2019 is to answer more questions and write more articles about intelligence and SHTF security. (And there’s a brand new Intelligence video series I’m recording for the Schoolhouse next month.)

I understand a lot of Americans are preparing for some very dire scenarios, and 2019 is showing no signs of slowing down with regard to instability and downside risk.

This morning, I want to write you my answer to a question from a Fox Company member:

“What are the first steps a [mutual assistance group] should take to build their ACE?”

First, let’s define the ACE. It stands for Analysis & Control Element, and it’s our intelligence section for disaster response, emergency preparedness, community security, an SHTF event, or however you want to characterize local operations.

Second, the best way to answer this question is to look at this like a progression:

1. Identify the threat/scenario
2. Define the mission
3. Build an ACE that can support the mission

We build the mission to respond to the threat.

For instance, a general and simple mission statement might look like this:

“Provide security operations for the community to prevent looters and potentially violent criminals from disrupting disaster relief efforts.”

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

FO: Building an Intelligence Section for Community Security

Continuing with our recent intelligence theme, here is an article posted by Sam Culper today at Forward ObserverBuilding an Intelligence Section for Community Security. In it, he discusses why an intelligence team is necessary and how to get an intelligence team setup for your community.

First, we need to stress the importance of Intelligence as it relates to community security. The people in your preparedness group, security team — or just members of the community, for that matter — don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s not likely that they understand the value of Intelligence in the first place. The more our leadership, commander, and/or team members understand about Intelligence, the more likely they will see the extreme value of making it a priority. Illustrating the OODA Loop and how Intelligence plays a critical role in making informed, time-sensitive decisions is probably a very good first step. There are those communities which will implement intelligence and be more prepared, and there will be communities who don’t use intelligence. I believe the difference between the two will be visible.

Intelligence is critical in our ability to stay a step ahead of threats. The principles outlined on this blog are the same principles used by intelligence agencies and the military. Those two organizations happen to have roles in fighting terrorism; a mission of which community security is a microcosm. While we aren’t involved in fighting terrorists, what we may face in a worst-case scenario is a modified form of terrorism in our communities: in other words, violence against society. And we know that “no other single policy effort [other than intelligence] is more important for preventing, preempting, and responding to attacks.”

The second thing we can do is to develop some criteria we can include when scouting out potential ACE members; we need to find those mental giants capable of heavy lifting. There are probably individuals in your community who may not be able to physically contribute to security, but can certainly contribute mentally. These are the people we want…

Click here to read the whole article at Forward Observer.

RELATED:

FO: Four Bases of Intelligence and Community Security

FO: Four Type of Intelligence Collection for Community Security

FO: Why Intelligence Deserves a Role in Survival, Preparedness, and Community Security

FO: Intelligence and Community Security, Day 01

The intel guys at Forward Observer have started up their new Intelligence and Community Security series. Read it to learn what intelligence is, how to get it, and how it is critical to preparedness.  Here is an excerpt from Day 01.

America’s trajectory is pointing towards another conflict. It’s something many of us have suspected for a long time, and the question is What exactly will it look like? Perhaps a better question is Are we already in it?  My answer is probably, and I’ll describe what I believe could happen in the future. In short: empirical data shows that any potential conflict is likely going to be driven by demographic and economic change. Amnesty and a return to liberal immigration policies are less than a decade away, and artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics are likely to create more job loss than jobs created. This disproportionately affects low skill, low wage workers, meaning higher youth unemployment, which is already an early warning indicator of civil unrest around the world; and amnesty and unlimited immigration is a vehicle to amass political dominance because of the preferences of those receiving the amnesty.

These two likely unstoppable trends are going to accelerate the adoption of identitarianism based on race (social justice) and class (economic justice) instead of civic nationality. Amnesty will overwhelmingly benefit the Democratic Party at a time when a pivot to left wing populism is much needed to counter a rise in right wing populism. The effects, centered on anti-capitalist, anti-American, pro-social “justice”, and pro-international socialist policies, are going to permanently change the political landscape of America. If this is happens as soon as five or ten years from now, then we should probably expect a culture war that moves from sporadic violence to routine violence, especially in regions where government is unable or unwilling to intervene. (There are a lot more factors at play here and I’ll be sure to provide a comprehensive break down in future blog posts.)

This all sounds pretty pessimistic and, as we’ve seen with prognostications about financial and societal collapse (heaviest from 2007 to 2016), there’s a tendency by many to overstate the conditions and shorten the timeline in anticipation of events that will likely happen much later than predicted. No one can predict the future with any certainty, but we can identify what could occur in the future, and this is one such possibility. Whether it happens in two years or twenty, very significant and persistent socioeconomic conditions are a certainty, which are likely to result in some form of domestic conflict. Our next major hurdles are (1) the period between November’s mid-terms and the 2020 general election, and (2) the next recession, which could rival 2008’s in economic and financial terms, but with the toxic political and cultural climate of today. That’s a good time to revisit this potential future and revise as necessary based on the conditions.

With that as our starting point, the next question is Which systems will be disrupted and how will it affect our communities? We’ll save that for later this month, because for now we’re focusing on intelligence and community security.

A framework for understanding decision-making

We need a framework to understand how decisions are made, and we need to understand what’s necessary for good decision-making. We can make decisions without any information, and unfortunately many people do. Some information may allow us to make better decisions, but ultimately we need intelligence to make good decisions…

Click here to read the entire post.