FO: What Could “Collapse” Look Like?

The fine intelligence folks over at Forward Observer have posted What Could “Collapse” Look Like? Let’s Look at a Country Currently in Free Fall. No, it’s not Venezuela, but Mexico.

There’s no shortage of “collapsitarian” thought and literature out there. Make no mistake, I do believe that the United States will undergo a period of collapse, but as I’ve written previously, I don’t actually like that word: it’s so vague. (What is “collapse”? 25%? 50%? 100%? Read this for my thoughts on that.)

I certainly do expect a more difficult future for the next 10-20 or more years, but I would much rather identify specific challenges and components of “collapse” other than to just call it a collapse. America has different geographies, demographics, and cultures, and so not every area will look exactly the same. I just finished reading another blog post from a guy who peddles in collapsitarian fantasy, where he argues that America is in a “supercollapse” unlike anything in the history of the world. He doesn’t really describe what the “supercollapse” looks like and he doesn’t explain what we can expect as a result.

That, by the way, is the job of intelligence. Intelligence reduces uncertainty about the future. That’s the absolute value of having good information to produce good intelligence. Through clear thinking, structured analysis, and gaining an expertise on societies in collapse (historical and contemporary), we can absolutely gain some insight into our future challenges. There’s nothing wrong with collapsitarian literature, by the way; one very positive benefit is that each book is like a very entertaining brainstorming session that informs us of the full range of possibilities. That’s extremely beneficial, yet it’s not intelligence. The next step is to examine your local area, complete an Area Study, and begin thinking through the consequences and form some logical conclusions about how specific events or conditions would affect your area. You’re reducing uncertainty about the future by identifying what’s more likely and what’s less likely to happen. But I digress…

So what could our collapse look like at a local level? Let’s look no further than Mexico, our southern neighbor in absolute free fall, for some ideas. Here are a few things we’ve observed over the past year:

  • Mexico just elected a Leftist populist leader who railed against the incumbent president over 1) widespread corruption, 2) rising crime, 3) the inability to deal with the cartels, and 4) a lack of economic growth.
  • Drug cartels run Mexico. Underneath the positions of de jure power (the president, the congress, state governors, mayors, etc.) are echelons of de facto power. When we talk about collapse, this is the collapse of the Mexican government which lost political control over large swathes of their country. Do you remember the scene in Captain Philips, where the Somali pirate is holding the AK-47 and says, “Look at me. I am de captain now”? That’s the relationship between irregular forces in de facto authority/control over an area, and the government with de jure authority. And for much of Mexico, that’s the relationship between cartels, militias, and their federal government. That’s a great example of collapse.
  • The Associated Press last week reported about a rise in “mass crime” in Mexico…

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

Brushbeater: The Brevity Matrix

NC Scout at the Brushbeater blog has an article up about using brevity codes in your communications and how to do it. These are like amateur radio Q-codes or police 10-codes, but tailored to your own needs. Here’s an excerpt from The Brevity Matrix.

20151013_153203…[O]ne of the common questions I get is regarding the length of the reports when they’re sent. If interception is a concern, and it always is, how do we shorten this up or obscure it to the point of being useless to listen to? There’s a few answers to this question, including going high tech/more complicated/more expensive with equipment, more efficient antenna construction for directivity, and finally, creating a BREVMAT.

A Brevity Matrix, or BREVMAT, is a randomly generated series of codes that are commonly understood by your group and shorten the transmission. In the amateur radio world we use Q codes, and 10 codes are the most widely known in both the CB and public service realms. Like I state in class, what you and your group do is up to you- if the basics are observed and everyone is on the same page, then it’s not wrong.

remote setup.jpgTactical BREVMATs are created and included in your Signals Operating Index (SOI), they are recycled each time the SOI changes (which is usually a set period of time, and for missions, mission-specific). This information can then be encoded into a One Time Pad (OTP) message and sent to higher analysis and control element (ACE) if coordinated over a region.

The following is a sample BREVMAT sent in by a very well seasoned reader (it’s much appreciated my friend, stay frosty) and a template for you to follow:

Continue reading at Brushbeater by clicking here.

FO: More on SALUTE Reporting

Sam Culper at Forward Observer has an article up, expanding upon SALUTE reports titled Building Blocks of Intelligence: SALUTE and SALT Reporting.

…Today we’re talking about SALUTE reports. Every member of our community is a sensor. These people are constantly collecting information; seeing things, hearing things. The question is where does this information go? If they’re not reporting it to the neighborhood watch or community security team, that information on potential threats, suspicious individuals, and potentially criminal behavior is going into a black hole. That’s why it’s incumbent on us to get into a position to receive that information. We’re not doing our job in intelligence and improving community security if we’re not on the receiving end of their information. This may sound bland and routine now, but during an emergency where we’re faced with a real likelihood of threats and criminality, this suddenly becomes critically important.

So here’s the scenario: it’s the aftermath of a hurricane (or tornado, earthquake, etc.). There’s widespread systems disruption, there are people in need, there are people displaced, there are otherwise decent people engaged in criminal behavior, and there are long-time criminals engaged in robbery, looting, and all the other crimes we see during a disaster. Your job is to protect your family, and that includes teaming up with your neighbors to share information and provide for community security. At the risk of beating a dead horse, the greater access to information we have, the more we’ll know and the better decisions we can make. Because of our efforts before the disaster, we have a a handful of neighbors across the community who have agreed to contribute by reporting information of intelligence value: a suspicious vehicle, a group of displaced people, someone engaged in criminal behavior, someone who needs to be rescued, or a number of other pieces of information. But how best do these intelligence gatherers report their information? Enter the SALUTE report.

SALUTE is an acronym that stands for Size, Activity, Location, Unit/Uniform, Time, and Equipment. A neighbor sees a potentially dangerous situation and calls or radios over to the ACE. The reporter says, “Prepare to receive a SALUTE report” and the receiver prepares to copy down the information (I recommend having a stack of 5″x8″ index cards for this)…

Read the entire article at Forward Observer by clicking here.

Sparks31 Releases Commo Book

Sparks31, a frequent internet writer on emergency communications, has released a new book titled Commo.  It is available in print and as an eBook on Lulu.com.

Hardcopy – http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/commo/2…

Digital (Free Download) – http://www.lulu.com/shop/sparks31/commo/ebook/prod…

Sparks31 has previously written Communications for 3%ers and Survivalists and also Down-Grid Communications.

Follows an excerpt from the introduction:

Imagine, for a moment, that right now the grid goes down, either accidentally or by design. Would you be able to:
• Communicate with family members to determine their safety/well being, and have them initiate contingency plans?
• Alert and mobilize the members of your group?
• Collect intelligence information to find out local conditions?
• Collect intelligence information to find out the geographical extent of a disaster or similar event/situation?

Now lets go to the actual present, our status­quo dystopian reality. Are you able to:
• Communicate with family and group members in a manner that minimizes your footprint?
• Collect intelligence information to find out local, regional, national, and worldwide conditions/events via alternative means?
• Minimize or eliminate your surveillance footprint when necessary for privacy reasons?

Communications skills in a down­grid situation, meaning both now and in an uncertain future, is an essential survival skill for anyone interested in maintaining control over their own destiny. You don’t need to be an electronics expert, although your group or tribe will
certainly need one. You do need to have a certain level of
knowledge, dependent on your aptitude and general skill­
set.

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.

Forward Observer: Intel, Security, and Defense for Community Preparedness

Forward Observer has a post up about their return to a focus on training communities for disaster preparedness planning rather than the Early Warning briefs they have been posting and emailing. The folks over at Forward Observer have been a real asset to communities trying to prepare for a few years now.  Sam Culper’s SHTF Intelligence book, and the FO Area Intelligence Course are very good tools for learning how to think about what you should be thinking about. At the heart of intelligence is the ability to reduce uncertainty. What intelligence brings to the table is an ability to make well-informed, time-sensitive decisions. Get trained. Get intelligence. Be prepared.

I started this Forward Observer intelligence project in 2016 because I was concerned.

Rising and unsustainable national debt, expanding government authority and the continued loss of individual liberty, the militarization of police, the rise of cultural and economic Marxism, the risk of war with Russia and China, the risk of systems disruption via cyber and financial vulnerabilities — there were lot of things going on that greatly concerned me. And the question I ask is, has any of this really changed in two years?

If nothing else, many of these things are actually worse today and, despite our best hopes and optimism, the trend is set to continue. It’s very conceivable that in another two years, this country is much worse off. An economic recession, a major war, a major cyber attack, an increase in political violence — all these things have a growing likelihood.

I left the U.S. intelligence community in 2012 because I, like many of you, could see the proverbial “writing on the wall”. Considering the threats, I no longer wanted to live in a built-up area. I didn’t want to work for a government that didn’t promote the best interests of the American People. I didn’t want to serve a president who was actively undermining everything I loved about my country. So I left my job as an intelligence analyst and never once regretted it.

A lot of the fears and, at times, panic induced in the emergency preparedness community never came to fruition. Part of that reason is because a lot of the fears were exaggerated, which is why I guide my analysis through the maxim: the more extreme the prediction, the less likely it is to occur. I don’t and have never believed in total economic collapse or complete societal collapse; instead, I believed and still today believe that conditions will continually break down over a period of years until some trigger (like a major recession, some act of significant political violence, or maybe a cyber attack) is the catalyst for parts of the nation to just devolve into active conflict. It may go so slowly that it catches the mainstream by surprise, but even the mainstream is picking up on the idea that we’re moving into a reality where a domestic conflict is conceivable.

And this brings me to the Early Warning. At a meeting yesterday, we brainstormed about how we could best serve our readers in light of what’s probably going to happen in the future. Ultimately, we decided that I need to start writing again about intelligence, security, and defense for community and disaster preparedness planning. If you followed my old blog Guerrillamerica from 2011-2015, then you’re already familiar with the kinds of things I write about: intelligence collection and analysis, reducing uncertainty and navigating an uncertain future, how to build resiliency and security at the community level, and what warfighting will look like during an irregular conflict, like the one I believe we’re heading towards. So in lieu of the daily Early Warning report and email, I’m going to spend my early morning time on something that’s way more valuable, which is teaching these skills and concepts so you can use them in your everyday preparedness planning…

Continue reading at Forward Observer.

CSG: Tactical Skills Q & A -or- Be Good at Everything or Die

Another good interview with K from Combat Studies Group titled Tactical Skills Q & A -or- Be Good at Everything or Die.

In the interest of spreading useful information regarding tactics/training I wanted to relay this conversation I had with some folks from the tactical community a while back. I was asked several pointed questions which I do my best to answer below:

Question 1:

Of all the various training disciplines available, which one should be top of the training list right now in light of world events? Rifle training? Land Navigation? Communications? Patrolling, etc…

Answer:

Well, there are definitely some sacred cows on that list. It of course kind of depends on where you are as an individual with regard to the various skillsets, but lets assume you are a competent shooter with some basic fieldcraft under your belt….I would put information gathering on top. You could also label it Intel/Comms if you wanted. Why?

1. Intelligence drives the fight. Without it, you are just a bunch of armed guys in the woods.

2. Everyone can do it. Your 75 year old aunt can do it, your kid can do it. Not everyone can be an effective infantryman, but anyone can be eyes/ears/disseminators.

3. Right now nearly everyone sucks at it. I had a good buddy that was with CAG tell me once, “Everyone thinks our shooting is what makes us so effective, and while we are talented shooters there are certainly better out there….that is just a small part of what we do. It’s all those other skills that make the difference”.  I thought he made a very good point…..

Question 2:

What is the best fighting rifle?

Click here to read the entire article at CSG.