Forward Observer: Why the Battlefield Is Everywhere

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer talks about China and cyber warfare in Why the Battlefield Is Everywhere.

Good morning. It’s Sam Culper with this week’s Forward Observer Dispatch.

Last week, I wrote about the reasons why conflict is virtually certain to escalate with China, leading to either a shooting war or a financial, monetary, and cyber conflict, which could lead to a shooting war. The history lesson is that monetary wars lead to military wars.

Either way, this is going to be a messy 10-20 years.

I’m picking my way through another chapter of Unrestricted Warfare, the 1999 essay/manual written by two People’s Liberation Army officers.

I want to share a key takeaway from the chapter:

The authors discuss how technology is changing the nature of warfare, from a “line” to an “area” and eventually to the entire world. Here’s the money quote:

“Just think, if it’s even possible to start a war in a computer room or a stock exchange that will send an enemy country to its doom, then is there [a] non-battlespace anywhere?”

“Where is the battlefield?” the authors ask. “The answer would be: Everywhere.”

The authors go on to write that, in light of this, the future protagonist of war is not the professional soldier, but the hacker.

This is exactly the kind of mindset and activity we’re seeing today, re: Chinese hacking campaigns.

At some point in the next four years, perhaps coinciding with the 2024 election, the U.S. could be forced to decide and act on going to war with China over Taiwan. I’m not advocating for or against it, but simply pointing out that a decision will be made.

This is one reason why Trump tried to pull U.S. Forces from the ends of the Earth.

Chinese military leaders privately say they’re within two years of being able to invade Taiwan.

The commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is requesting missiles be deployed to Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines to counteract what he describes as a shifting balance of military power that has become “more unfavorable” for the United States.

I want to encourage you, if haven’t already, to consider how prepared you are for systems disruption. If we go to war with China, we’re going to feel the effects here at home: disruptions to power, internet, communications, transportation, the stock market and financial services, etc.

According to Unrestricted Warfare, the key to beating the United States is to make them prioritize self-preservation ahead of geopolitical goals. Prepare accordingly.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

See also, Yahoo!’s ‘We’re going to lose fast’: U.S. Air Force held a war game that started with a Chinese biological attack

Financial Times Admiral warns US military losing its edge in Indo-Pacific

Forward Observer Tactical Intelligence Course, Tacoma, WA – June 6-7, 2021

Intelligence group Forward Observer is holding a Tactical Intelligence course in Tacoma, WA on June 6-7, 2021. Cost is $400.

This Tactical Intelligence Course is two days of instruction and exercises to prepare students to gather and analyze information in emergency situations. Each training day begins at 0900 and ends approximately 1700 (5pm).

We begin by exploring and analyzing the threats we’re likely to face during an emergency scenario, and then we get into how we should configure our intelligence section. This is the ‘brain’ of community security. We work on understanding our mission and conduct some threat analysis to identify what we should be preparing for. Then we build our intelligence team around the mission.

You’ll have the opportunity to do group or individual work where you’ll navigate the Intelligence Cycle and complete relevant intelligence products for your situation. We discuss Intelligence collection and then we collect. Then we discuss Intelligence analysis and we analyze incoming information in order to produce intelligence.

What we do over these two days is train students to become the ‘intelligence officer’ during an emergency scenario. The student will have an understanding of his/her roles and responsibilities, be able to direct collection and then produce threat intelligence. That’s our number one goal for any scenario — produce early warning and threat intelligence.

This training course is taught by intelligence professionals, so please arrive prepared and ready to engage. You’ll receive a link to begin the online training portion of this course upon receipt of your deposit.


Course Syllabus:

Introduction to Intelligence
Understanding the Operating Environment
Understanding the Intelligence Cycle
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
Threat Intelligence
Area Study Production
ACE Operations
Practical Exercise

Register here

Forward Observer: Beware the Ides of March

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer talks about some upcoming events to keep an eye out for in Beware the Ides of March.

“Beware the Ides of March” was the soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar, foretelling his death in Shakespeare’s play.

It’s just 13 days until the Ides of March 2021, and… beware of these events coming up.

First, this weekend is the “Autonomous Day of Action,” a series of anarchist riots planned for several cities across the country. We’re looking at Portland and Seattle as ground zero, but demonstrations are likely to happen in a few other cities.

Second, the trial of Derek Chauvin starts next week. As the city of Minneapolis builds security barriers around Hennepin County Courthouse and brings in National Guard and out-of-state law enforcement, Leftist groups are building momentum for protests and riots if (or when) Chauvin isn’t convicted of murder. A final verdict isn’t likely until April or May, but unrest is likely throughout the process.

Third, as I emailed you last week, there’s a speculative bubble in the market, and some hedge fund managers are concerned about bubbles in other parts of the economy. “They can last longer than you can remain solvent,” as the saying goes, but they all end in tears.

Fourth, the House is set to pass a major gun control bill. Maybe it will be killed in the Senate! Still, it’s very likely to roil gun rights groups, and is virtually certain to lead to a growing sense of unease among the Right.

Fifth, Leftist groups continue to plan and conduct “direct action” demonstrations against ICE facilities. Over the weekend, rioters in Portland attacked stores (some with customers inside) and vandalized a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services building. (I must have missed this story on CNN.)

Sixth, well, I could go on. In fact, I do in my Early Warning report.

Stay ahead of the curve of conflict and try it out with a free 7-day trial.

Some people call it the “Prepper’s Intelligence Report,” but I just write intelligence briefs on what concerns me about the direction of our country.

I write about developments in our Low Intensity Conflict (what some people call the “coming civil war”).

Our team tracks the activities of Far Left revolutionary groups.

Plus, I write a weekly Economic Early Warning, which outlines the warnings from hedge funds and others who have a history of reliable warning.

Do you have five minutes a day? If so, then you can read our report and get a deeper understanding of what’s happening right now and what’s likely to happen in the future.

Frankly, we report on things you can’t afford to miss.

Forward Observer: The Bubble of All Bubbles

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer talks briefly about The Bubble of All Bubbles

In today’s Early Warning report, I discussed a number of prominent asset managers who are warning of another market bubble. (Get access to my daily Early Warning intel brief here.)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell brushed off a question about it during Congressional testimony this week, but it’s clear that the Fed’s easy money policies are inflating yet another financial bubble.

“It will end in tears,” says one investment manager.

But something else caught my attention…

Dr. Michael Burry — the trader who foresaw the 2008 financial meltdown, made famous in the book and movie The Big Short — is warning about the risk of hyperinflation.
He drew a number of comparisons between pre-collapse Wiemar Germany and the United States today.

We’ve heard these predictions of imminent collapse and hyperinflation for the past decade. I’ve been skeptical and doubtful that the threat was ever imminent, but here’s the thing…


The window for this happening is likely somewhere between 2024 and 2044, for reasons I described in this morning’s Early Warning brief.

But I want to draw your attention to what you can do to prepare.

I don’t know the exact solution yet, but I can tell you that I’m actively doing four things:

1. Growing my local community and fostering a culture of preparedness.

2. Getting plugged in with local farmers and ranchers, farmer’s markets, and agricultural co-ops, and thinking about how to foster a functioning local economy once the dollar goes.

3. Getting my home and family as self-sufficient and self-reliant as I possibly can.

4. Making sure that I develop contacts for local information-sharing in case the worst case scenario does happen.

Intelligence reduces uncertainty about the future and it fills in “blind spots” we’re going to have during an emergency, however brief or protracted it is. (And I do think we’re headed for multi-year, if not decade-long, emergency.)

Earlier this month, my new training company Gray Zone Activity went live. It’s the online platform where I’m teaching the intelligence and security skills required to navigate this country’s Gray Zone future.

I’m teaching in-person classes this weekend in Austin, Texas and another one next month in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Disaster/Tactical Intelligence classes are being scheduled for Nashville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tacoma, New Jersey (TBA), and several other locales.

If you want to schedule a 1-day Disaster Intelligence Course or 2-day Tactical Intelligence Course near you, then let me know by getting in touch. I’ll get as many classes on the books as I can.

And I’d like to invite you to sign up for the Gray Zone newsletter to stay aware of training opportunities. You can sign up at

Until next time, be well.

Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper

Forward Observer: Our Gray Zone Future

“Gray Zone warfare is a set of actions that press conflict without starting an actual shooting war.” Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer talks about Our Gray Zone Future.

Gray Zone warfare is a set of actions that press conflict without starting an actual shooting war.

Like our own Low Intensity Conflict, these activities fall below the threshold of conventional war but remain well above peaceful, routine competition.

A book I’m reading outlines some CIA gray zone activities taken against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In addition to supporting the liberal intellectual class in the Soviet Union, CIA shopped books and films like Dr. Zhivago to Soviet outlets, which would distribute these often-unknowingly subversive materials.

Author Boris Pasternak writes in Dr. Zhivago, “[R]evolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind… They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries.”

This is a great example of the kind of subversive media the Agency seeded into the Soviet Union in order to foment revolution and topple the Soviet regime. This was Gray Zone warfare aimed at internal disruption.

Now bear with me for a moment…

French President Emmanuel Macron and other French intellectuals are renewing complaints about the dangerous ideas emanating from U.S. college campuses; specifically warning of “ideological excesses” that lead to the “ethnicization of the social question.”

These ideas on race, gender, post-colonialism, multiculturalism, and forced diversity — what Macron described in October 2020 as “certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States” — are undermining French society, according to Macron and other government officials.

Macron went so far as to warn that these ideas are “breaking the [French] republic in two.” France’s education minister last year remarked, “There’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities.” French professor François Cusset summarized what’s happening: “It’s the sign of a small, frightened republic, declining, provincializing… and which thus seeks those responsible for its decline.”

This sounds oddly a lot like similar Gray Zone activities that undermined Soviet society during the Cold War, and which are now being propagated across the West.

I’m not explicitly saying that America’s current Cultural Revolution is the result of Cold War-era Gray Zone tactics come home to roost.

But maybe they are.

As if our own internal disputes weren’t enough, our domestic information environment is made even more complex due to foreign involvement in politics and the manipulation of public opinion through information operations.

The United States today is, virtually by definition, a Gray Zone of subversive ideas and armed belligerent groups. It’s a virtual certainty that foreign governments will become more involved.

Political pundits and casual observers have warned that another American Civil War is coming. They’re wrong. As I’ve been writing since 2016, it’s already started. We’re in the early stage of a Low Intensity Conflict and, regardless of the final form it takes, it’s likely to be waged well into this decade.

Given that Gray Zone warfare exists below conventional war — and it’s being waged by domestic groups if not foreign ones — it would behoove Americans to study gray skills, like intelligence and security.

We at Gray Zone Activity teach these skills for emergency preparedness and community security. I’d like to invite you to sign up for the Gray Zone newsletter to stay aware of our research and training. You can sign up at
Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper

Forward Observer: One Major Left Wing Advantage Over the Right

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer discusses One Major Left Wing Advantage Over the Right

I was reading an article in a socialist magazine last week, where the author accused the Far Right of wanting the Far Left dead. Coincidentally, that’s the same thing the Far Right says of the Far Left: “They want us dead.” Ultimately, both sides may be correct.

A survey of soft and hard power availability likely dictates how each side will attempt to achieve its end goals.

This view of soft power and hard power may be the biggest strategy difference between right wing and left wing groups. In short, left wing groups exercise soft power, while right wing groups emphasize the use of hard power.

“Soft power” is influence, persuasion, and appealing to moral authority, as opposed to “hard power” which is primarily armed coercion and violence.

Exercising control over national institutions — the Cathedral of education, media, pop culture, the federal government and its agencies, etc. — is the center of gravity for this exercise of the Left’s soft power.

This is why athletes, musicians, and other pop culture figures are applauded for joining the social justice movement: this has always been an effort to saturate social justice messaging into the mainstream, to shape moral authority and the moral high ground, and activate those who sit outside the political and social spheres of influence.

In the information environment of today, it’s very difficult to sustain the use of hard power (coercion or violence) without substantial soft power.

But the reverse of this power balance is almost always true: the most important thing to understand about soft power is that it’s a great enabler of hard power. Soft power is the ability to frame information through a popular narrative, which absolutely supports armed violence if the message can shape the moral high ground that supports it.

One reason why Floyd’s Rebellion went on all summer is because of soft power messaging that justified violence and property damage. In the summer of 2020, how many times were we told that “A riot is the language of the unheard”? Through this moral imperative, the country was obligated to hear the rioters.

This is a lesson that the Far Right is learning the hard way. They exercise very little soft power because they’ve been cut off from the most widely available mainstream avenues.

This is why the Far Right, as of right now and likely by design, is doomed to the use of hard power to achieve its goals. It cannot achieve its goals politically, especially not with the rapidly shifting political and demographic landscape. With no soft power to gain support for the use of hard power, the Far Right is likely to ultimately lose.

For the Far Left (and the broader Left, in general), soft power (the ability to shape popular moral authority) is and will continue being used to support hard power (coercion and violence). Social pressure, the politics of exclusion and federal law enforcement action is primarily how they’ll pursue their goals against the Far Right.
Here’s the ground truth of this Low Intensity Conflict: unless the Far Right can build substantial soft power through political representation and access to the mainstream, violence is the only way forward. This is why these avenues are being shut off. It’s also why “There is no political solution” is a popular refrain among the Far Right. They already know it.

This is likely why there’s a growing government focus on domestic violent extremism (DVE) — not because of the levels of violence today, but because of the likelihood of growing levels of violence to come. It’s going to be a long decade.

Until next time, be well.

Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper

Forward Observer: Early Warning for Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021

Intelligence company Forward Observer send out to subscribers a daily summary of national information with analysis. Occasionally, Forward Observer will publicly publish these so that you can see what you get for your subscription. Below is their Early Warning report for Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021.

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 28 January 2021.



  • The GameStop pump is a populist revolt
  • Significant Activity Rollup 
  • Leftists employing risk assessment tools
  • Anarchists call for suburban riots to regain 2020 drive
  • Alleged III% militia member and Trump supporter arrested for explosives
  • Upcoming Event Calendar

InFocus: The GameStop pump is a populist revolt

In yesterday’s InFocus, I wrote about the GameStop trade, where a group of Reddit users, gamers, and trolls have now reportedly caused a total of $23.6 billion in losses for hedge funds and others short-selling the GameStop stock. I described it as a form of digital plunder and questioned when social tribes would realize the immense power they could wield by weaponizing things not traditionally thought of as weapons. More than digital plunder, though, this is a populist revolt against the financial elite.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian described it as a “bottom-up revolution,” adding that he doesn’t believe society can come back to a world where this never happened. Anthony Scaramucci of Skybridge Capital described it as “the French Revolution of Finance.” In other words, social bases are realizing they can build new forms of non-traditional power through tribal communities connected via the internet, which is exactly what you’d expect in a Fourth Generation war.

Fourth Generation War is waged by tribal entities, against each other or against the state (sometimes both), and it exists because citizens increasingly give their allegiance to their tribes — social, ideological, political, racial/ethnic, religious, etc. — rather than to the nation-state. Nationality becomes a secondary or tertiary identity at best. There are probably lots of reasons that explain why this is happening, but I believe it’s primarily because unpopular wars, financial crises and bailouts and public corruption have eroded the federal government’s legitimacy over the past 20 years. We know that governments suffering from a legitimacy crisis virtually always leads to internal strife, which is why we’re in a protracted low intensity conflict likely to last well into this decade.

Here’s why this gets worse. Instead of taking the loss, the elite class struck back. Reddit restricted access to the Wall Street Bets forum (where the GameStop plan was hatched), chat service Discord deleted the Wall Street Bets server, NASDAQ (the exchange where GameStop is listed) suggested a future trading halt “to give investors a chance to recalibrate their positions,” and popular trading apps like Robinhood restricted new buy orders on GameStop to reverse the rise of the stock price. There are likely to be new regulations and possibly legislation aimed at preventing another iteration, and there may even be bailouts for Wall Street firms wrecked by this nasty trade reversal. Yes, there was a potential for large losses to worsen if no action was taken, with debt defaults being passed off as losses to banks and insurers, which some say could threaten financial contagion. But the attempts to both limit the damage and erase these tribal villages from the internet will backfire. Instead of giving up, members of the digital populist revolt are vowing to redouble their efforts to drive the GameStop share prices higher and punish the hedge funds, even if it means financial ruin. On this morning’s open, GameStop soared momentarily to $469, and sits at $226 at the time this report was published. According to NASDAQ data, 129% of GameStop shares are still in open short positions.

Ultimately, this is a net win for populists and another “red pill” that delegitimizes the ruling class. The extremely online Generation Z was exposed to possibly it’s first glimpse of “the system” in action, where it’s okay for Wall Street to profit from the demise of others, but it’s not okay for financial elites to get wrecked. This is probably going to ensure the survival of populism for another generation in what the elites hope is a post-Trump, counter-populist, technocratic society. They’re going to be wrong. – S.C.

Significant Activity Rollup


  • The Biden administration is developing a commission to study reforms to the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. At least one commission member has expressed openness to expanding the Supreme Court. (Analyst Comment: As we recently see, lawsuits filed by conservatives states are likely to plague the Biden administration’s efforts to enact some executive orders and other federal policies. Texas won a lawsuit this week after a federal judge, a Trump appointee, blocked the administration’s plan to “pause” deportations for 100 days, which likely confirmed administration expectations of judicial roadblocks spurring the commission in the first place. The order is temporary, and the Biden administration is appealing. – S.C.)


  • Nothing Significant to Report (NSTR)


  • NSTR


  • The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin yesterday, warning that domestic violent extremists (DVE) “could continued to mobilize to incite or commit violence.” (AC: The report didn’t cite a credible or specific threat. I’m not discounting the risk of political violence, but this really looks like an attempt to keep this topic in national headlines and create latitude for the Biden administration to pursue DVE security policies and possibly legislation. For years, we’ve reported on “accelerationist” chatter, while accelerationists have complained about the lack of accelerationist violence. For now, there simply isn’t enough right wing violence to justify the Biden administration’s policy plans, which leads me to believe that these efforts are directed towards a future where domestic policies foment unrest, protests, and possibly political violence by right wing groups or individuals. Biden executive orders, regulation changes, or legislation aimed at gun control will likely be a trigger for renewed unrest, which could follow immediately after these new DVE policies and/or laws are passed. – S.C.)


Leftists employing risk assessment tools

Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists and antifascists are conducting risk assessments when building affinity groups, identifying member roles, and planning for public disruptions. One basic risk assessment tool they are employing is PEARL — physical capabilities, emotional capabilities, arrest-ability, roles, and loose ends. (AC: Far Left groups continue to riot and carry out disruptions this year, but lack the massive public attendance of 2020. They are utilizing these risk assessment tools, especially considering the wave of federal action against anti-state suspects, in an effort to reduce excessive or unnecessary exposure to law enforcement. In addition, they could allow for better role identification within affinity groups and better planning for higher impact disruptions. – M.B.)

Anarchists call for suburban riots to regain 2020 drive

In response to a loss of momentum of 2020 level riots, the anarchist groups Leveller and Ultra called for Leftists to shift their efforts away from large metropolitan areas and focus on the suburbs or smaller cities. They observed that urban areas are heavily policed, awash with surveillance systems, and can easily be cordoned off to stifle rioting. They stated and provided supporting materials that detail the weaknesses and advantages of these smaller cities. They noted that suburban police departments tend to be heavily equipped, but lack the experience and skill to handle unruly crowds. They highlighted the fact that they can easily be provoked into overstepping and responding with disproportionate force. They also noted that these areas often lack proper, established law enforcement staging areas, are harder to cordon off, and give the advantage to larger crowds. Finally, they recommended that rioters adopt a tactic of small groups employing vehicles to outmaneuver overwhelmed police, setting fires, looting, and serving as mobile “nodes of the riot.” (AC: We’re observing multiple groups proposing the establishment of anarchist hubs in suburban areas or smaller cities. This roughly began in October 2020 when Far Left mutual aid groups called for supporters to build infrastructure in smaller cities like Kenosha, Wisconsin, and later in Vancouver, Washington. Moving out of dense metropolitan areas into smaller cities is based on tactical considerations as well as a likely attempt to avoid isolation. – M.B.)

Federal court charges alleged Three Percenter and Trump supporter

Federal prosecutors charged Ian Rogers of Northern California for possessing unregistered explosive devices this week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) raided Rogers’ home on 15 January following anonymous tips received in late 2020 from a disgruntled former employee that he possessed illegal firearms. The FBI repeatedly dismissed the tips on the basis that there was no connection to terrorism. The JTTF decided to act on the tip following the 06 January riot at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. In total, law enforcement seized five pipe bombs, “materials to make more,” 49 firearms, and several bomb making manuals. According to documents, agents also noted III% stickers on Rogers’ vehicles, a reference to the Three Percent ideology. Rogers’ attorney said he has no connection to the 06 January riot and added, “Mr. Rogers is not a member of any militia, or any hate group. He doesn’t espouse extremist views, even the tipster endorsed that when he was interviewed by law enforcement.” (AC: Rogers could face terrorism charges due to an exchange of text messages concerning bombings and attacks on Democrats, technology companies, and George Soros in combination with possession of explosives. Federal prosecutors highlighted a III% sticker on his vehicle and a gag gift “white privilege” card to suggest he was part of a larger, anti-state, white supremacist movement. Members of conservative militia groups will be increasingly scrutinized by federal law enforcement over the next few years, especially with any new domestic terrorism legislation being passed. We can likely expect more raids from federal law enforcement under the new administration as they appear to be taking action on a backlog of previously dismissed tips. Further attribution of acts of political violence or terrorist plots with the gun rights movement could trigger high intensity conflict. – M.B.) [source:

Upcoming Event Calendar

30 January: Justice for Juan Hummel Jr. (Bothell, WA)

31 January: “Black Lives (Still) Matter” disruption (Seattle, WA)




S.C. indicates analyst commentary from Samuel Culper

M.B. indicates analyst commentary from Max Baer

Forward Observer: January’s Unrestricted Warfare

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer summarizes January’s Unrestricted Warfare in the ongoing saga of America’s low intensity conflict.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Forward Observer Dispatch, where I get to share my latest thoughts on Low Intensity Conflict, or the “war at home.”

I’m working my way through Unrestricted Warfare, a 1999 paper written by two colonels in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The timing is serendipitous because I see this book reflected in current events.

The authors’ premise is simple: the United States is stuck with a view of warfare that’s going to be increasingly outmoded in the future. Facing a far superior conventional superpower, American adversaries (e.g., China) will simply change the definition of war to include traditionally non-war activities that will be used on non-traditional battlefields. This kind of asymmetry short-circuits conventional national security strategies.

The authors describe the use of any force — armed or unarmed, military or non-military, lethal or non-lethal — that exploits the myopic American view of war. Unrestricted Warfare sought a new concept of weapons: cyber, economic, commercial, financial, information, political, or literally anything else than can be weaponized and used against any adversary target, making just about anywhere a potential battlefield. This may seem like old news now, but it was ahead of its time more than 20 years ago.

Prior to 06 January, a concerted effort was already underway to set the stage for the “de-Trumpification” of politics and society. After the Capitol protest, I think we’re seeing a kind of Unrestricted Warfare develop against Donald Trump and everything in his orbit.

Here’s a hefty, albeit incomplete, list of political, economic, and information warfare against Trump and his supporters:

  • Lists of Trump administration officials, donors, and supporters, including personal information such as home addresses
  • Planned boycotts of companies that hire former Trump administration officials
  • Pressure against companies to not hire former Trump administration officials
  • Boycotts of companies that make political donations to Republicans who opposed the election certification
  • Banning of dozens of high profile, Trump supporting social media accounts
  • Initial claims by the Justice Department that Capitol protesters sought to “capture and assassinate elected officials,” which was later withdrawn due to a lack of evidence
  • FBI warnings of wide scale violence ahead of last weekend, repeated breathlessly by the media, but which ever materialized
  • Calls for the IRS to investigate and disqualify tax exempt political groups present at the Capitol protest
  • Calls for a “USA PATRIOT Act 2.0” to combat domestic right wing extremism
  • Legislation entitled “Insurrection Financing Transparency Act,” which would force the disclosure of ownership information of private companies alleged to have given money to tax exempt political groups at the Capitol protest
  • Calls for Facebook to expand de-platforming of “domestic terror networks,” and the encouraged hiring a full-time executive to counter extremism on the social media platform
  • Cancellation of data hosting services for Parler, and continued campaigns to prevent use of the social media site
  • Leaking and/or hacking of data on Parler databases, and the exploitation to expose personal information such as geolocation data and potentially images of driver’s licenses
  • Revoking the availability of Parler from the Apple and Google app stores
  • Calls for “de-programming” and “re-education” efforts against Trump supporters
  • Calls for a new domestic security agency to track right wing domestic terror groups
  • Calls for the Federal Communications Commission to counter broadcast outlets like Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN
  • Pressure against cable and data companies to drop FoxNews, Newsmax, and OAN
  • Pundit and “expert” comparisons of Trump supporters to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists, feeding further fear and needless agitation

I’m surely omitting some, but these are from recent recollection and our Early Warning reports.

If there’s a whiff of violence accurately or inaccurately associated with the right wing during tomorrow’s inauguration, then there’s going to be a long train of additional measures, regulations, and, probably, laws implemented to counter future violence and Trump-like political movements.

I look at the buildup of active duty Army and National Guard troops in D.C., and it is concerning. I think it’s primarily a show of force meant to deter attacks, and overreaction out of an abundance of caution.

It also carries with it substantial political benefits for the incoming Biden administration, which can use the drastic measures to continually warn of the dangers of boisterous political opposition.

In the coming weeks and months, we could see warnings towards Republicans to curb their language — something like, “You can disagree, but your anti-Biden rhetoric will inflame these potential domestic terrorists.”

I ask what kind of curbs might be put on political language and the freedom of speech in light of perceived potential violence. The Capitol protest has been built up into something much greater than it actually was, and those political and social effects are going to linger for years.

Until next time, be well.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

Forward Observer: 2021 – The Future of Low Intensity Conflict

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer discusses 2021 – The Future of Low Intensity Conflict

Welcome to 2021. New Year’s celebrations seemed to have been a mix of relief that 2020 was over and optimism for how much better 2021 can be.

There may be the expectation that presumably without President Trump in office for the next four years, our low intensity conflict is over. That perspective is misguided.

This conflict is likely to be waged well into this decade and possibly longer. There also exists the possibility of periods of higher intensity. With this in mind, let’s look at what’s ahead.

In my last Dispatch, I briefly outlined three initial conclusions about the future of Low Intensity Conflict this decade. You can read that missive here, but I’ll summarize the three points below.

1. Advances in technology will wipe out between 10-50% of jobs, depending on who you ask, over the next 20 years. These technologies will rapidly scale, and job losses are expected to accrue faster than new jobs can be created. We risk widespread and persistent joblessness. As a result, Capitalism versus Socialism will continue to define class conflict.

2. The Culture War will expand as biotechnology, neurotechnology, human-machine systems, augmented reality, and other advancements assault traditional moral beliefs and pose new ethical questions. As we saw with abortion clinic bombings and the murders of abortionists in the 1990s, we may see similar attacks against the people and companies developing these unconscionable technologies.

3. Far Left and Far Right groups have expressed a desire to engage in cyber warfare against the government. Radical and extremist groups have publicly advanced cyber capabilities as a strategic imperative for their revolutionary aims. In addition to nation-states and criminals, domestic activists and revolutionaries could carry out disruptive cyber attacks as a part of the low intensity conflict. The targets of these attacks are unlikely to be limited to the federal government, and will likely include commercial entities and critical infrastructure. (Imagine a physical protest supported by a simultaneous cyber attack against security systems of the target facility.)

I’ll eventually compile a cumulative list of why and how low intensity conflict will rage this decade, but for now I’ll add just one more.

Last month, the Department of the Army released a strategy that warned about how foreign adversaries would target Army installations, especially in the continental United States. We reported it in 16 December’s Early Warning brief.

Pointing out that the “homeland is no longer a sanctuary,” the report warned that foreign adversaries will target Army facilities and critical infrastructure, along with soft targets like the family members of military personnel, using conventional and unconventional means, including cyber attacks, protests, and criminal activity.

I noted that this sounds a lot like the Army is preparing for domestic hybrid warfare, or a scenario where the homeland becomes contested space due to foreign “conventional or unconventional means.”

It’s in this context that I add:

4. Foreign adversaries like China and Russia have developed sophisticated information operations and hybrid warfare strategies that foment unrest and complicate domestic security efforts. Foreign powers may already be providing, or could provide, direct or indirect support to criminal groups, protest organizations, and radical, extremist, and revolutionary movements. Hybrid warfare tactics commonly seen in other parts of the world are unlikely to cross the threshold of conventional war, but would exploit existing political, social, and economic vulnerabilities in the United States. According to the Army, this is a baseline scenario.

I’ll end this Dispatch with two final points.

1. This is the type of information we cover in the Early Warning brief. I invite you to try us out free for seven days. If you don’t find value in the report, you can cancel at any time within seven days at no cost. Sign up here.

2. Starting this month, I’ll be resuming my intelligence and security training courses. Now more than ever, it’s important to learn the skills and concepts required to navigate this future instability. I’ll be hosting Tactical Intelligence Courses in 10 states this year. You can sign up to receive additional information about these courses at I’ll be publishing my training schedule very soon.


Until next time, be well.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

Forward Observer: Low Intensity Conflict & the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer talks about Low Intensity Conflict & the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Klaus Schwab is the founder and executive director of the World Economic Forum.

Schwab made headlines over the summer when he started talking about the “Great Reset,” which he says will rewrite the framework of the economy, society, geopolitics, the environment, and technology.

That’s going to be the focus of next month’s World Economic Forum conference, but we at Forward Observer have been getting spun up on what it means and how it’s going to affect us in the future.

Each year, I spend several hours watching the Forum’s live streams and reading transcripts and first-hand accounts of the presentations. The world’s financial elite often share their expectations of the future, which I then report on for FO subscribers. I’ll do the same this year.

Over Christmas break, I got caught up on two of Schwab’s books — The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2017) and Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (2020) — in preparation for next month’s WEF.

As Schwab describes, the First Industrial Revolution happened in textiles, which led to the replacement of human labor with machines.

The Second Industrial Revolution included electricity and sanitation, which lead to longer human lifespans and a general higher quality of life.

The Third Industrial Revolution included microchips and computer processing.

And the Fourth Industrial Revolution includes artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In short, Schwab is concerned that these technological advancements will lead to further income and wealth inequality, and he wants to ensure that the technological benefits and wealth creation are distributed equally.

The underlying problem is that technology and its effects will be disruptive and lead to conflict — hence the need for elites and society to “shape” the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to Schwab.

And this brings us to Low Intensity Conflict.

Some of us woke up on Christmas morning and checked the news to see a bombing in Nashville.

While investigators haven’t published a motive for the bombing (at the time of writing this), there’s speculation that the Nashville bomber attacked an AT&T building out of fear of 5G communication networks.

Coincidentally, Schwab writes about this kind of oppositional violence. Technological advancement in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics will not only displace millions of jobs but will also drive fear and unrest. This will manifest itself in an expansion of low intensity conflict.

My approach to understanding and analyzing Low Intensity Conflict is centered on three structural fault lines: political, social, and economic (below).

I haven’t made up my mind if technology is a fourth plane or merely an accelerator, but I am certain that technology will drive Low Intensity Conflict.


1. Technological advancements are expected to displace millions of American workers — somewhere between 10-50% of all U.S. jobs in the next 20 years, depending on who you ask — at increasingly faster rates than the last 20 years. Because of the rapid scalability of these technologies, job losses are likely to accrue more quickly than jobs created, resulting in persistent and widespread joblessness leading to heightened levels of class conflict. Capitalism versus Socialism will dominate socio-economic conflict this decade.

2. There’s also likely to be an expansion of the Culture War as biotechnologies, neurotechnologies, human-machine systems, augmented reality, and a number of other advancements assault traditional moral beliefs and pose new ethical questions. As we saw with abortion clinic bombings and the murders of abortionists in the 1990s, we may see similar attacks against the people and companies that are developing unconscionable technologies. Other than 2018’s YouTube shooting, the Nashville bombing is the only other technology-related attack that I can recall, assuming the bombing targeted AT&T’s 5G network. Technology-related terrorism may become common this decade.

3. We’ve seen elements of the Far Left and Far Right express a desire to engage in cyber warfare against the government and other targets. Radical and extremist groups have publicly advanced cyber capabilities as a strategic imperative for their revolutionary aims. The Fourth Industrial Revolution brought us the Internet of Things, and as more devices, appliances, facilities, and systems will be on the internet this decade, the surface area for cyber exploitation will increase. There’s the possibility that, in addition to nation-states and criminals, domestic activists and revolutionaries will carry out disruptive cyber attacks as a part of the low intensity conflict.

I have other concerns about how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will affect our country and our every day lives. If enough people are interested, I’ll prepare a Forward Observer Futures presentation with some of my thoughts on what’s ahead.

Until next time, be well.

Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper