Forward Observer: 5 Steps to Setting Up an Intelligence Network for SHTF

Intelligence Analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer presents Five Steps to Setting Up an Intelligence Network for SHTF. He also invites you to his Intel Bootcamp.

Many of you feel a sense of urgency about the future… Like things might spiral out of control around November or shortly thereafter.

And despite that sense of urgency, I know there are lots of reasons why you might not take my latest online course.

As you may have heard, the Intel Bootcamp course starts today.

I’m going to show students how they can build a local intelligence network to facilitate information-sharing during what disasters may come.

I’m removing the fogginess of what to do next, the guess work and the trial-and-error.

If you watch these instructional videos and complete the tasks I outline, then you’re going to be head and shoulders above your peers and the competition.

For those who aren’t going to take this course, I want to outline five things you need to know… (This stuff is in the course, by the way.)

1. Start a neighborhood watch. It doesn’t matter how many people join at first — just get it started. You can use this organization immediately to share information, plus there are numerous benefits later on.

2. Focus your efforts. It’s easy to get bogged down by just how much useless information comes through the news. Use my 60/30/10 model to focus your collection locally. Sign up for local sources of official information and automate your collection as much as possible.

3. Be deliberate. Identify your intelligence gaps — figure out what you need to know. From these gaps, you generate collection requirements — the pieces of information that need to be collected. If we’re not deliberate about collection, we’re going to end up with junk.

4. Develop people, not sources. Don’t think of developing sources as purely transactional. Yes, we want them to find useful information and pass it to us, but these people are our neighbors and community members. They want the same thing we do: a safe neighborhood and early warning about local threats. Build trust and friendship as you build our your local network.

5. Lean on existing groups. Lots of areas have existing civic and political groups. These groups are not only sources of information, but also recruiting pools for people who are concerned about the future and interested in communities safe from crime, mob violence, looting, or worse. Either join yourself, or task members of your network to join these groups. Many hands make light work.

There is, of course, a lot to do. And there’s a lot more to it than this.

But if you internalize these five goals for yourself and act on them, then you’re going to be well on your way to building a solid information-sharing network for when disaster does strike…

Forward Observer: Free Area Study Walkthrough

Heads up! Forward Observer is holding a free Aea Study walhtrough presentation, Thursday, March 26th, 2020 at 5:00pm Pacific time.

Hey Gang – THIS THURSDAY, I’ll be doing a free Area Study training session. I’ll livestream it and provide some time for Q&A.

It’s free and open to anyone who wants to get started with their Area Study, or who needs some guidance or motivation to finish one.

WHO: Samuel Culper
WHAT: SHTF Intelligence – Area Study Walkthrough
WHEN: Thurs, 26 March @ 7pm Central
WHERE: I’m still looking at platforms, but I’ll be sending out the invite-only link to everyone who registers here: https://SHTFintel.com

Yes, this session will be recorded. If you’re already a student/member, I’ll be adding it to your Forward Observer member area on Friday.

If not you’re not a Forward Observer member, you can still catch the livestream for free. You can attend this event for free. This won’t be a sales presentation. I’ll be going over real instruction and insight.

FREE: Sign up at https://SHTFintel.com and I’ll see you on Thursday evening.

Until then, be well.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

P.S. – If you’ve been meaning to join FO for a while, you can do that when you’re ready at: https://members.forwardobserver.com

Below is an edited version of the webinar as given:

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.

Forward Observer: Coronavirus & the Area Study

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer has a few thoughts relating to coronavirus and what you might think of related to your area study.

News from China over the weekend shows that 760 million people are on some form of lock down or quarantine as the government tries to contain the spread of Coronavirus. That’s three quarters of a billion people.

In other words, over half the entire country is being told when they can leave their homes and for how long.

Last night, my wife and I started watching a documentary series on Netflix called Pandemic, in which American pathologists repeatedly say that we’re not prepared for a pandemic in America.

Pathologists continually say that it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of when.

Most striking to me was when a physician warned that a slight mutation that resulted in a novel strain of highly lethal influenza, swine flu, or avian flu could end up killing millions of people.

My thoughts then went to second- and third-order effects:

What happens if a virus affects farm workers?

What happens if food delivery stops?

What happens if large cities or rural areas are quarantined?

What happens if pathologists discover that the virus can be or is being spread through the pipes carrying our drinking water?

And that brings my thoughts to my own level of preparedness, and specifically to my Area Study.

We build an Area Study so we can better understand our neighborhoods, who lives there, what fault lines it has, where we’re vulnerable, and what conditions could develop during an emergency.

For those of you building an Area Study, here are some pandemic considerations:

1. What medical facilities nearest to me will handle patients infected by a pandemic disease or virus?

2. How well staffed and supplied are those hospitals? In other words, how many patients can the facility house and treat, and how long can they respond before they encounter constraints on resources? (One of the limiting factors in China is that some areas have run out of Coronavirus test kits.)

3. Every county in America should have an emergency operations action plan. Have they considered a pandemic and what are their plans to respond to one? (Ask your local county officials where you can find the county’s emergency action plan. Or start with an online search: “[My County] Emergency Action Plan” I found my county’s plan via the web.) What facilities in the area might be used to treat patients that can’t fit in the hospital?

4. What are the second- and third-order effects of a pandemic? How long can my neighborhood/area function if placed under quarantined? If the virus isn’t in my area, how can I know if people are escaping the quarantine in surrounding areas (as has happened in China)? Will an outbreak or quarantine cause a mass migration? If so, how will that affect me?

I’ll be doing some research into how we can add a pandemic annex to our Area Study and what information should go into it.

In the meantime, if you have any specific considerations that you’d like to share, please let me know. You can add a comment to this post and I can include your input when I send out the next email on pandemic preparedness.

Related:

Forward Observer: An Introduction to the Area Study

Forward Observer: Area Study Part II

Forward Observer: Compiling Your Area Study (Part II)

Chief intelligence analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer has posted this second part of the area study article he started here.

In the last post, I covered why you need an Area Study and left you with a practical exercise. In this post, we’ll start looking at the Operating Environment.

First, we need to begin by identifying the boundaries of our Operating Environment. We call this the Area of Operations, or AO.

Defining the AO will help us focus on this area specifically. Your AO might be your home and property, or your subdivision or neighborhood. Wherever you expect to operate during an emergency should be considered your AO. Identify your expectations: do you plan to stick close to home, will you patrol your neighborhood, or will you be traveling to a bug out location? In short, where ever you will be during an emergency is your AO.

I’m often asked, “How far away from my home can information still be relevant?” Answer: If it’s in your AO, then it could directly affect you and it could very relevant.

Outside your AO is your Area of Interest, or AI.

Your AI is the area where things can indirectly affect you. During an emergency, what happens in my AO is my primary concern, but I’m still interested in what’s happening in my AI. That’s the difference with these boundaries.

Important Note: You’re going to define these areas on a map or, preferably, a map overlay. Draw out the boundaries. They could be circles, squares, or some odd shapes, but we want to define these boundaries so our teammates understand this concept. Your teammates may be your preparedness group, your neighborhood watch, or your neighbors during an emergency. If you want to be squared away and you want them to know that you’re squared away, start with defining your AO and AI boundaries on a map.

Next, we want to start looking at the significant characteristics of the AO and AI.

Specifically, we’re looking at the six layers of our Operating Environment. You’re going to want to identify these characteristics specifically. These are all the things that can affect you during an emergency, which is why we want to identify them and their effects before the emergency occurs.

Physical Terrain: The Physical Terrain includes traditional terrain features — mountains, hills, valleys, lakes, rivers, etc. — and man-made features like roads, houses, buildings, fences, etc. Weather is often grouped in with physical terrain, so we’ll cover weather and climate patterns, as well. Understanding how these factors could influence future events, developments, and/or conditions is an intelligence task.

Human Terrain: The Human Terrain includes the people, along with their attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and customs. From a community perspective, identifying all the elements of the Human Terrain helps us to identify security partners and potential threats and foes, especially if disaster were to strike. The better we understand the people who surround us, the more accurate expectations we can have about the future.

Critical Infrastructure: Critical Infrastructure includes the facilities and people who provide access to food, water, fuel, electricity, transportation, commerce, communications, and the internet; all of which are critical to the average AO.

Politics/Governance: Politics and governance includes elected officials, political appointees, government employees, their institutions and facilities, and their political and ideological beliefs. The better we understand how local political and governance works, the better informed we can be of their potential future decisions, especially during a protracted emergency.

Law Enforcement/Military/Security: Police departments, sheriffs’ offices, National Guard and Reserve components of the military, and private security corporations all take part in security and emergency operations. Understanding these organizations or units, their personnel, and their capabilities goes a long way in staying informed of what they’re likely to do in the future.

Economic/Financial: And finally, the economic and financial drivers of a community matter, especially if these systems are disrupted. Disruptions to economic and financial factors have very significant second- and third-order consequences, and understanding how these factors will affect the community is critical.

Practical Exercise #2…

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

Forward Observer: An Introduction to the Area Study

The intelligence guys at Forward Observer have an introduction to the area study posted. Having knowledge of your area is critical in any emergency situation. Being familiar with your area is more than just knowing a few streets along your normal routes. If you’re worried about a pandemic, some questions you may have might include: how many doctors are in my area; where are all of the medical facilities near my home/work; who will enforce a mandatory quarantine in my area; does my work/city/county have a pandemic response/preparedness plan;can you continue to work if you are quarantined to your home? If you wanted to be ready for political civil unrest, you may have an entirely different set of questions for your area study.

Chances are good that you and I have a lot in common.

We’re both concerned about the future of this country. Natural disasters, a financial crisis, economic decline, disruption to the power grid, a pandemic, political violence, a full-on Boogaloo… the list goes on and on.

From a risk and intelligence perspective, all of these are very valid concerns.

Americans purchase and acquire a lot of things in order to prepare for these events, but information is often overlooked as a critical component of preparedness.

I’m here right now to convince you of one thing: the absolute need for localized intelligence when any of these events occur.

The stuff you own isn’t going to produce intelligence for you.

No amount of beans, bullets, and band-aids will allow you to collect real-time intelligence during an emergency.

No amount of beans, bullets, and band-aids will reduce your uncertainty about what happens in the future.

No amount of beans, bullets, and band-aids can drive your decision-making during an emergency.

Only intelligence can do that.

Only intelligence can give you a more accurate picture of what’s happening now and a more accurate expectation of what could happen in the future.

And when we have accurate expectations of the future, we can be better prepared.

So what’s the best way to get started with local intelligence?

The Area Study.

During an emergency, we’re going to have blind spots. Another term for blind spot is an “intelligence gap,” or something that we don’t know but need to know. You are going to have lots of intelligence gaps.

One of the best things about doing an Area Study is that we can identify these intelligence gaps before an emergency event happens…

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

FO: How to Build an Area Study for Emergencies and Community Security

FO: The Area Study: Disaster Intelligence (Part One)

 

Forward Observer: Don’t Let This Happen to You

This is just a short note from Forward Observer about the importance of your area study.

Yesterday I heard about a guy who lost over $100,000 in stored food and gear because his underground doomsday bunker flooded. Ouch.

It reminded me of some recent feedback from a student…

“I’m working on my Area Study and am shocked that the county Emergency Management Operations Plan identified my street as in a hazard zone for an upstream dam failure, post-earthquake. I now need to move all my preps up-slope since my basement will flood. Do your Area Study, folks!!”

In the event of a disaster, this information is a GAME CHANGER for this gentleman and his family.

There’s a good chance that your county has an Emergency Management Operations Plan that you can get your eyes on. You should read over it, if you haven’t already. Add it to your Area Study.

The Area Study is absolutely foundational to security and preparedness planning. It outlines the fault lines and vulnerabilities of an area, and enables you to make plans to mitigate those risks and threats.

We’ll be running our last Area Study Live Course of the year starting on 12 November.

Take this opportunity and get your Area Study done –> Area Study Live (Online)

You can find the All Hazards Mitigation Plan for the following counties through the following links as a step on your way to completing an area study:

Benton County, WA 2019 (pdf)

Franklin County, WA 2005 (pdf)

Grant County, WA 2013 Volume 1 (pdf) and Volume 2 (pdf)

Klickitat County, WA has only begun preparing their Hazard Mitigation Plan. You can get a copy of the county’s 2013 Emergency Management Plan here.

Walla Walla County, WA 2018 (pdf)

Yakima County, WA 2015 (pdf)

The Hazard Mitigation Plans tend to identify all of the known/likely hazard scenarios that the county expects. These hazards may not be spelled out the county’s Emergency Management Plan, which instead lays out which departments are responsible for various area of disaster response and what the over all plan for recovery and response is.