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.

AmPart: Community Security Toolkit – SPACE

Sam Culper, chief intelligence analyst for Forward Observer, has written an article for American Partisan on the intelligence tool called SPACE analysis for signature, profile, associations, contrast and exposure.  He explains how to use this tool to identify weakness in an opponent’s security measures or to evaluate your own. Who are your opponents? It could be gangs, political extremists, criminals, competitors for scarce resources or any number of other groups.

During my last tour in Afghanistan, Palantir was quickly becoming the sweetheart analysis software suite of the Army and Marine Corps. Before I deployed, I sat through a class offered by the company, and immediately recognized that it’s great software. Intelligently designed, easy to use, top notch functionality, and categorization options allow an end-user to drill down and really dissect the adversary and surrounding events. It is, however, only as powerful as the end-user allows it to be.

By the time I left the Intelligence Community, I had become disillusioned with the state of the average analyst (though not every analyst) and much of leadership which was more interested in developing the latest technology instead developing the minds of their analysts.

Intelligence analysis is, and likely will be for decades to come, 80% investigation and 20% technology; but tools like Palantir are trying to invert that ratio. Without a highly inquisitive mind motivated to find the solutions to unanswered or seemingly unanswerable questions, and the proper analytical methods to pick apart your adversary, your analysis of information of intelligence value will be found wanting. Still, for all the faults of technology, Palantir made SPACE analysis way easier.

SPACE is an acronym that every good analyst should use, especially where it concerns community security. Its roots are in our operational security (OPSEC) manual, and when the adversary doesn’t care enough to implement SPACE into his security considerations, it’s our job as intelligence analysts to exploit their mistakes. (That road goes both ways, by the way.)

One of the things an analyst should consider of an adversary are his vulnerabilities, which makes OPSEC so important to both parties. In SPACE, we’re presented with invisible vulnerabilities: indicators that aren’t often considered and don’t appear to be vulnerabilities at face value, but are useful nonetheless when applied to the enemy’s operating picture.

Keep SPACE in mind when inventorying your own security measures…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

Forward Observer: SHTF Predictions & Intelligence Analysis

Sam Culper’s most recent Forward Observer podcast is about predictions about collapse as compared to using intelligence analysis to reduce uncertainty about the future.

Sam discusses how predictions are usually wrong, but that intelligence analysis does not make predictions. Rather intelligence analysis is used to reduce uncertainty about the future, to discover the most likely courses of action. He spends a little time at the end discussing how our country is already in collapse; a collapse that will simply continue, rather than being a sudden catastrophic event.

…One reason our society is already in collapse is because we can’t even agree on what American is. We’ve always had competing sides, but I think it could actually be different this time because so many on the Left are pushing so hard towards the Far Left. I don’t think it will be this election cycle that we swing hard left. But my concern is still that inequality is exploited so greatly and capitalism is so widely blamed for economic turmoil that in another decade we’ll have a legitimately far left government.

Our society is in collapse because half of America believes our Founders and their ideals are evil. Our society is in collapse because somewhere around one-third to one-half of us believe that government’s sole purpose is to take care of its citizens from cradle to grave, and to provide universal, fundamental human rights like healthcare and the freedom from want. Our society is in collapse because we’ve lost the one thing that used to unite us, which is the desire for freedom and liberty. We’ve lost our freedom and liberty incrementally since this country’s founding. And I say country, because we’re are no longer a nation. We are a country made of numerous nations, and that’s why I’m pessimistic about social cohesion.

Yes, it is an assumption; in fact, it’s my key assumption, that as things get worse financially and economically in America, that things will also get tougher socially and politically. I feel safe in making that assumption, because we’re already seeing this “low intensity conflict” bubbling beneath the surface of our country. And I’m concerned that the next election will make things much, much worse.

And if you want to talk about the value of intelligence analysis applied to SHTF preparedness, we really have to start with what Democrats are planning once they return to power. That, by the way, ends with how national-level politics will affect you locally…

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.