AmPart: Why Intel Matters

Yesterday, we posted another article from American Partisan on building an intelligence fusion center for your group. Today, we post an article which Sam Culper of Forward Observer wrote for American Partisan entitled The Decision Advantage: Why Intel Matters. Sam lays out why it is so important to be able to gather information and produce intelligence.

Several years ago, I had the great opportunity to train at an elite facility in the Carolinas. Throughout the training sessions, our instructor spoke of the ‘psychological advantages’ of why and how we do things in a gunfight. The goal of these courses wasn’t just to produce individuals who can shoot, but to graduate individuals who can think and shoot — in other words, to teach people to make sound decisions in a high stress environment like a gunfight.

Close your eyes and put yourself momentarily in a gunfight; it doesn’t matter if you choose an active shooter situation at your work or you wind up on some side street in Baghdad. What goes through your mind as you realize someone is shooting at you? Where is your nearest cover? Where is the shooter? Where are your teammates? How many shooters are there? Should you fight through the ambush?

Your brain is trying to process very quickly lots of different operations, which is why most people freeze in a situation like this. Overwhelmed by this massive problem it’s never seen before, the brain just shuts down. It doesn’t know what to do or how to respond. It’s not fight or flight — it’s fight, flight, or freeze. Humans are generally good at solving problems that we’ve solved before, but relatively few of us are good at solving problems they’ve never encountered. This is why we train.

Now let’s take this same concept — that access to information helps you to maintain situational awareness and make better decisions — and move it up one level. Aside from a beating heart, the brain is the most important part of you, and the brain is the most important part of an organization. A preparedness group, a community security team, or neighborhood watch needs a brain: a command center where information is received and intelligence is produced. Just like we can’t make sound decisions in a firefight without access to information, we can’t make sound decisions for our security as a family, group, or community without similar access to information. You’d never go into a firefight wearing a blindfold, so why would anyone go into an emergency situation without knowing how to collect timely intelligence information? It seems like a very rudimentary concept — that navigating a complex threat environment requires the ability to gather tactical intelligence on what’s going on beyond your line of sight — yet many Americans are prepared to remain blindfolded.

Let’s go back to an infrequent but still likely scenario — there’s civil unrest following a natural disaster. Think Hurricane Katrina. There’s no power, no public utilities, catastrophic damage, and lots of needy people, many of whom are out looking for targets of opportunity. If we’re interested in the security of our family and/or community then we need to gather intelligence beyond your line of sight and hearing ability; anything less and we should consider ourselves blindfolded, which would be a mistake of our own doing.

I’d hate to beat a dead horse like the OODA Loop, but it does bear repeating. The OODA Loop concept was developed by Col. John Boyd (USAF, Ret.), a fighter pilot interested in how his pilots could make better and faster decisions while in a dog fight.  OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act, and it describes the process by which humans make decisions. (Observing in this case is really a misnomer. We need to be observing, listening, and sensing. We also need to ensure that we’re connected with others who are also observing, listening, and sensing.)

The ultimate goal today — that goes doubly for combat shooters — is how to speed up our own OODA Loops while disrupting the enemy’s OODA, thus slowing down his decision-making process. In the case of intelligence, what we’re achieving by speeding up our OODA Loop is a ‘decision advantage’ for our commander or decision-makers.

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

Forward Observer: Election Legitimacy

The following comes from Sam Culper, principal intelligence analyst at Forward Observer, about the failure of governments and fears over perceived illegitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

I’ve been watching the Netflix series “Narcos” and have just about wrapped up Season 3. Narcos is a show about Pablo Escobar and the Colombian cartels in the cocaine trade of the 1990s.

Sure, there’s some security tradecraft and intelligence collection in the show, which in my opinion makes it worth the watch, but I found something more interesting:

Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar didn’t just run a cartel. He ran the entire city of Medellin and the province of Antioquia. He was untouchable. As one of the richest men in the world, he was more powerful than the Colombian president. But it wasn’t just his wealth that gave him power — it was his army of gunmen willing to die to carry out his orders and the overwhelming popular support he enjoyed in his home city.

In the show (and in real life), after a years long battle with the DEA and Colombian National Police, Escobar’s cartel is destroyed and he’s ultimately killed.

After Escobar’s death in the show, I thought, “Well, I guess that’s the end of the series.”

BUT…

The smaller cartels were battling for supremacy to fill in the power vacuum left by Escobar’s death. A clear victor emerges.

There’s an interesting dynamic here because it’s not just the competing cartels fighting for power. The Colombian National Police and their counter-narcotics units complete this circular firing squad where everyone is fighting against each other for power.

I look at this as an analogy of what happens when government loses legitimacy. We see it happen all over the world: the people lose faith in their public institutions — due to decades of corruption and ineptitude — and that’s one way you get failed states. That’s how you get competitors duking it out to fill a power vacuum.

Over the weekend, I perused the shelves of Barnes and Noble’s Current Affairs section, which was rife with anti-Trump books and warnings of the country’s impending fall into fascism. There were books on racism, sexism, religious bigotry (e.g., Christian), and every other flavor of imaginable intersectionality and victimhood. There were books about political resistance and civil disobedience, and books by conservative and progressive authors who lay all blame for every wrong in the world at the feet of their political opponents.

There are clearly a lot of grievances in America (real, imagined, and contrived).

Pending any change to the ballots, roughly 50 percent of the country is going to be unhappy about the results of next year’s elections. Roughly 30% is going to be irate. A smaller percentage may be moved to violence.

The legitimacy of elections may even fall into question again.

Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of government legitimacy. Politicians can have all-time lows in approval ratings, we can impeach and remove our leaders, and elected officials can run the country into the ground — but as long as there are free and fair elections, change is always just a few years away. We at least have faith in the process, even if we don’t like the results.

But what happens when that “faith in the process” ends?

What happens if next year’s elections are disrupted?

What happens if there’s terrorism on the morning of Election Day that keeps millions of Americans from voting due to fear of being harmed?

What happens if a winner is declared, but there are valid claims of voter fraud that might overturn the results?

What is the “hanging chad” equivalent of the 2020 elections?

If there’s one thing that “keeps me up at night” — more than EMP, financial collapse, or any other catastrophic threat — it’s what’s going to happen with this election.

It’s a big, Big, BIG reason to think about the local effects of these potential events. We can’t focus solely on the primary event: what are the second- and third-order consequences? (Financial, economic, etc.)

I’m reminded of the power vacuum left by the death of Pablo Escobar. Even in that hectic period, his enemies didn’t miss a beat. Ours won’t either.

 

And here’s a reminder that Forward Observer will bring their Tactical Intelligence class to Tacoma, WA next June and Coeur d’Alene, ID in April.

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.

Forward Observer Class Schedule

Forward Observer has announced their remaining class schedule for 2019 and early 2020. There is an online Area Study class in November, and FO will be in Tacoma, WA in June, 2020 to teach a Tactical Intelligence class.

I’ll be teaching the Tactical Intelligence Course in more than a dozen places next year. By request, I’ll also be teaching an Advanced Collection Course and the Operations Security/Communications Security (OPSEC/COMSEC) Course.
2019

12 NOV: Area Study Live (Online)

07-08 DEC: Tactical Intelligence Course – Orlando, FL

 

2020

11-12 JAN: Tactical Intelligence Course – Austin, TX

18-20 JAN: Tactical Intelligence Course + OPSEC/COMSEC – Nashville, TN

29 FEB – 01 MAR: Tactical Intelligence Course – Phoenix, AZ

21-22 MAR: Tactical Intelligence Course – Dallas, TX

28-29 MAR: TBA

25-26 APR: Tactical Intelligence Course – Minneapolis, MN

23-24 MAY: Tactical Intelligence Course + OPSEC/COMSEC – Las Vegas, NV

6-7 JUN: Tactical Intelligence – Tacoma, WA

25-26 JUL: Tactical Intelligence – Pittsburgh, PA

AUG: TBA

SEP: TBA

OCT: TBA

NOV: TBA

DEC: TBA

If you want to get enrolled in a scheduled course, do it early. These courses will fill up!

* As always, once you’ve taken this course, you can take a refresher course for free, as long as there’s space available. This applies to SHTF Intelligence Course grads.

Forward Observer: Two Things Leading to Conflict in America

From intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer:

Two big things leading to conflict in America…

Bottom Line Up Front: Pre-revolutionary Cuba and America’s likely future have something in common.

I’ve jumped into a new book about the conditions before the Cuban Revolution. The beginning of the book is about the factors that led to the Marxist revolution, which lasted from 1953-1959.

A brief summary: Under Batista, Cuba saw political reform and economic advancement. Batista left after decades in power, then corruption and stagnation began creeping back to Cuba. Batista came back in 1952 to run for president again, seized power via coup d’etat, suspended the constitution, and obstructed the ability of one Fidel Castro to be elected to the Cuban Congress.

Declaring that Batista was a fascist dictator, Fidel and Friends set about on revolution.

Citing one important point before the revolution began, here’s a quote from the book:

“… Cuban society over the years appears to have generated some degree of dissatisfaction…

The aspirations of members of the middle class for a standard of living and social status commensurate with their education… were continually frustrated by two obstacles:

The success of the upper class in maintaining its wealth and political power, and the inability of the Cuban economy to provide ‘adequate’ employment and other opportunities especially for the members of the professional middle class.”

I’ll unpack some thoughts…

1. A common complaint on the Left (and a growing one on the Right) is that America has become a de facto oligarchy where the rules of the country are largely written by the wealthiest people.

These people, after all, have the most to lose, so it stands to reason that they lobby the federal government for rules that benefit them the most.

This is the first thing that pre-revolutionary Cuba and the United States have in common. (This is exactly what’s enabled the current socialist political insurgency we see today.)

2. If we’re to believe the predictions of job displacement due to advances in automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, then we arrive at the conclusion that tens of millions of Americans — some 25 percent of the country — will have their jobs replaced in the coming decades. (Sure, some jobs will be created, but will they be created fast enough to make up for all those displaced workers? Unlikely. Can displaced workers find new skills and careers? I’ll answer below.)

So what will these tens of millions of Americans do for work? Let’s take trucker drivers, for instance. It’s the most popular job in 29 states. The age of the average truck driver is 45. They’re too young to retire and too old to re-skill. (Plus, the data on those reskilling programs is pretty bleak. Very low success rate.)

Yet, their industry is about to be turned on its head due to automated driving. And it’s not just truck drivers — there’s a host of menial and professional jobs that will be replaced by robots in the coming years and decades.

So we could very well have an economy that doesn’t provide ‘adequate’ employment and other opportunities for tens of millions of Americans, starting with low skill and moving into high skill professional occupations.

That’s the second thing that America will have in common with pre-revolutionary Cuba.

My conclusion isn’t that we’re going to have a national Marxist revolution, a la Fidel, Che, et. al.

My conclusion is that these two economic trends are going to lead to conflict. (They already are.) Many of today’s billionaires are warning about a bottom-up revolt against the ruling class. It’s coming.

Are you prepared?

Forward Observer: New Predictions of “Civil War”

This short piece of today’s Forward Observer Dispatch and intelligence analyst Sam Culper:

Combing through my daily read file today, I came across an interesting piece of information.

According to a Georgetown University survey, 7 in 10 Americans say that the country is “on the edge of civil war.”

The executive director of the institute that conducted the Battleground Poll Civility survey says that the climate is going to make the 2020 election “a sort of race to the bottom, or has the potential to be a race to the bottom.”

That’s not news, but it’s continuing evidence to support the take that a large portion of Americans are uneasy about the country’s future.

There are lots of predictions that impeachment is going to cause massive civil unrest.

As I covered in one of my Early Warning reports this week, there’s solid evidence to suggest that left wing activists will push mass mobilization during the impeachment process to pressure the Senate to remove President Trump from office. Bottom line: you should expect mass mobilization of activists and protestors across the country.

If you share the concern that civil unrest will surround the impeachment process, here’s the absolute first thing I’d do…

LOOK LOCALLY.

Identify the left wing and right wing activist groups that operate in your area, or the areas closest to you. Make a list.

If left wing activists mobilize to conduct protest activities ranging from civil disobedience to ‘direct action,’ then you can expect some disruption to take place.

That disruption may include the blocking of key bridges and intersections, commercial and worker strikes, student walk outs, the harassment of Trump supporters or other Republicans, and potentially political violence…

Forward Observer: Five Lines of Effort for Community – WROL

In this video, intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer focuses on the five areas that he want to do for his tribe or community in case of a worst case scenario or without rule of law (WROL) situation. Intelligence drives operations. You can’t respond effectively without knowing what is what and who is who.

  1. Establish local security (legitimacy and protection)
  2. Establish positive control of the situation
  3. Restore essential services (water, electricity, at least in your immediate area)
  4. Support economic & infrastructure development (Local barter system? Safe roads. What can you produce in your area?)
  5. Conduct information management (Get news and local information out to people who need it or to deter suspicious/malicious persons)

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: The Coming Cyber 9/11

Yesterday, Glenn Gerstell, the general counsel of the National Security Agency, published an opinion piece in The New York Times – I Work for the NSA. We Cannot Afford to Lose the Digital Revolution. The subtitle was Technology is about to upend our entire national security infrastructure. Today, Sam Culper, intelligence analyst at Forward Observer, has a short video out about the piece and its contents titled The Coming Cyber 9/11. In this video Sam Culper discusses the warnings and what could become a cyber 9/11.

Among other things, Sam Culper summarizes Gerstell’s warnings:

  • The government will be ineffective at handling all of the technological threats as opponents are becoming more and more “peer” rather than “near peer” adversaries..
  • Systems disruption could, and likely will, occur at any time.
  • Big tech companies will become more powerful than actual governments.
  • The effects of rapid technological development could upend governments and societies.

Related:

Al-Qaeda Chief Issues 9/11 Video Urging New Attacks on US, Europe, Russia, and Israel

Forward Observer: SHTF Intelligence Gathering

Sam Culper at Forward Observer continues his video series on how an intelligence analyst prepares for an SHTF situation with this video on SHTF Intelligence Gathering.

THIS INFORMATION WILL BE ON THE TEST…

In today’s video, I’m talking about the importance of intelligence for emergency preparedness and some ways to get started in local intelligence gathering.

There will be an SHTF Intelligence webinar held by FO on Thursday, September 19th, 2019. Register here. http://shtfintel.com

Forward Observer: SHTF Early Warning

Sam Culper at Forward Observer continues his video series on how an intelligence analyst prepares for an SHTF situation with this video on early warning.

In this video, I continue my five-step security and preparedness planning process. Let’s take a look at a methodical way to develop “early warning” of local SHTF events.

Forward Observer: SHTF Security Planning

Samuel Culper at Forward Observer has up another video in his SHTF preparedness series. This one is titled SHTF Security Planning.

In this video, I continue my five-step security and preparedness planning process. Let’s start matching missions to threats, and then break down some basic mission planning.

Forward Observer will also be holding an SHTF Intelligence webinar on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 at 1900/7pm Central. Register by clicking here.

Forward Observer: Intelligence Analyst Prepares for SHTF, Part II

From Sam Culper at Forward Observer comes part two of his SHTF planning series. For Part I click here.:

My mission is to build a network for information sharing and to bring everyone up to par in terms of preparedness and security planning.

The logic: I may be very well prepared, but if I’m not aiding the area in becoming better prepared, then we risk mission failure for the entire region. And that’s bad for us.

If you agree that building community or tribe — or as I call it, “developing the human terrain” — is important, then I’d like to invite you on this journey with me.

I started a new video series entitled “How an Intelligence Analyst Prepares for SHTF” where I’m breaking down in detail how I’m preparing locally for our future challenges.

Here is Part II: