Forward Observer: Where Do We Go from Here? Riot Edition

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer discusses riots and low intensity conflict in Where to we go from here?

Are these protests and riots the beginning of something larger in our country’s low intensity conflict?  I’m going to try to answer that question here in a few points…

First, let’s start with a simple fact: These riots are what we consider “low intensity conflict,” which exists below the threshold of conventional war (tanks and bombers) but above routine, peaceful competition. This is a gray zone between the black and white of war where we see both violent and nonviolent activity that fails to meet the definition of declared war.

The United States is in a low intensity conflict and has been since at least 2016, if not 2008.

Second, these riots are a continuation of a broader conflict. While many were rather pure in their desire to protest the death of George Floyd, there were other elements using the opportunity to take other action.

Those who committed violence over the past several days can be separated into four categories.

1. Opportunistic actors who sought personal gain.

2. Social conflict actors who expressed their anger over the death of George Floyd and used violence as a means to coerce the political class into making desired changes.

3. Class conflict actors who committed acts of violence in their class struggle against the capitalist system. As one professor recently put it, “[L]ooting is an expression of power.”

4. And, yes, I’ve seen plenty of criticism over some of law enforcement’s heavy handed tactics. This violence should not go unnoticed, because police forces are a part of this conflict, too.

(I’ve also seen some claims that “white supremacists” were in some way responsible for the violent rioting, which comes as no surprise when one considers the outlets pushing that narrative. Pressed on that claim, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said over the weekend that “nobody really knows” the political motivations behind the violence. It didn’t stop him from making that claim prior to the interview. I’ll wager a guess: those responsible for the violence weren’t doing it on behalf of white supremacy.)

Third, it’s important to note the development of soft power. Some on the Right minimize the capability of the Far Left because the Far Left is largely unarmed. This is a mistake.

Aside from hard power — the ability to project force — there’s soft power, which exists on the moral and information plane of conflict.

Over the weekend, we saw much of mainstream media excuse the behavior of the rioters and deflect responsibility for what’s happening.

CNN’s Don Lemon complained on his show that America’s power class weren’t coming to the defense of the protestors and rioters.

“Why aren’t they helping these young people? These young people are out there standing on a platform at the edge of an abyss by themselves… Get on television or do something and help these young people instead of sitting in your mansions and doing nothing. And have some moral courage and stop worrying about your reputation and your brand,” Lemon begged.

That’s soft power. Money and funding, influence, moral support and framing the moral authority — these are the elements that enable hard power. And Don Lemon pleaded with celebrities and the donor class to help develop this soft power.

Finally — let’s look at where we could go from here because the worst might still be ahead for at least two reasons.

First, over the past few days, I’ve seen numerous examples of protestors and rioters saying they want to go to the suburbs next.

With the exception of the one video that was linked to the Drudge Report, the evidence has been on social media, with organizers and influencers putting out these suggestions to those who want to continue the protest outside of urban areas.

I read most of these comments with some skepticism, but I’m completely open to the possibility that protests and violence do migrate in some instances. That would be a mistake, in my opinion.

Today (Sunday), Attorney General Bill Barr published a press release in which he warned that the Department of Justice and the states will “reestablish law and order” through a large scale presence of police and the National Guard.

Barr also threatened that federal law enforcement is out for “violent radical agitators,” and labeled the antifascists as engaging in acts of domestic terrorism. The Department of Justice is working with all 56 regional Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) to facilitate this action.

The risk in either of these cases is that violence is escalated.

For one, some suburbs might make easy targets in the beginning, but just as we saw militias forming to protect businesses, the suburbs are likely to become harder targets for would-be rioters and looters. If it develops, this scenario obviously brings a likelihood of violence.

And two, law enforcement actions, to include arrests or raids on the homes of “violent radical agitators,” are going to aid the argument that the United States has descended into fascism. That could spark more protests and more unrest.

Forward Observer: Breaking Down the “Conflict” of Low Intensity Conflict

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer Breaks Down the “Conflict” of Low Intensity Conflict. Mr. Culper has been saying for some time that there is a low intensity conflict going on in the United States. In these article he goes into some more detail on what conflict means aside from armed groups shooting at each other. It starts with a short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXMtWZOy_hI

Last Thursday, I gave the latest Strategic Warning presentation where I broke down how our low intensity conflict is shaping up.

For the uninitiated, “low intensity conflict” is war that exists below the threshold of conventional war (tanks, bombers, troops) but above peaceful, routine competition. This is essentially tribal war, as opposed to a war between standing armies, and the U.S. is still in the beginning stages.

There’s no doubt that we’re already in a low grade domestic conflict. We meet every doctrinal requirement to call this a low intensity conflict. From here, two crucial questions are 1) How bad will it get? and 2) When will it accelerate? Answering these two questions has become the focus of my work here at Forward Observer.

I want to share with you a slide from last week’s presentation, which I gave to Forward Observer subscribers, who allow me to have this incredible job.

 

Because the United States is so complex and diverse, this conflict is also complex and diverse. It’s not as simple as the Left versus the Right. The simplest way to view this low intensity conflict is through three primary layers: political, social, and economic.

We see conflict emerging where these layers overlap: the culture war (established), class conflict (developing), and intra-elite conflict (also developing).

The “Culture War”: Most are already familiar with the culture war, which has been waging since at least the 1960s. It hit another high point in the 1980s and is hitting another point now. This used to be as simple as conservatives versus progressives. But the expansion of identity politics, along the revolutionary aims from a growing number of left wing and right wing groups, make this conflict much more complex. Last year, in a piece for Foreign Affairs, Stacey Abrams (GA) wrote: “Americans must thoughtfully pursue an expanded, identity-conscious politics. New, vibrant, noisy voices represent the strongest tool to manage the growing pains of multicultural coexistence.” Stacey Abrams is the future of the Democratic Party. Regardless if you agree or disagree, this kind of attitude is driving our low intensity conflict.

Class Conflict: Wedged between the Social and Economic planes, we have class conflict. This is most easily described as “capitalists versus socialists,” which is a conflict that elites have been warning about for some time. Revolutionary politics is the main accelerator of this conflict. While the U.S. has had socialist movements in the past, the most recent iteration was brought about by the 2008 financial crisis and bail out of the corporate and investor class. And we’re seeing another iteration during this economic and financial crisis, which is leading to anger, resentment, and a desire to change the system. Socialists call this “late stage capitalism” and their movement is growing, along with the belief that the capitalist system has run its course.

Intra-Elite Conflict: Lastly, this conflict exists between the Political and Economic layers. It’s a term I first heard from Professor Peter Turchin, who also believes that the United States is headed for a period of domestic conflict. I don’t know who first coined this term, however, I use it to describe the elite political and billionaire classes fighting for control over the levers of government. As long as their guy is in the White House, their interests are preserved. More recently, this has taken the form of technocrats versus populists, which in one way breaks down into the ivory-tower-elitists-who-know-what’s-best-for-the-world versus the country-bumpkin-commoners-who-cling-to-their-guns-and-religion. It’s here where we can answer the question, “When will this conflict accelerate?” If the country’s elites capitulate to reality and choose sides in this conflict, either by desire or necessity, then we will have a legitimate and bloody domestic conflict.

One of the primary trends driving our low intensity conflict is New America versus Old America.

New America is diverse, socially liberal, economically progressive or socialist, and they lack ties, or they hold no loyalty, to the historical events, places, and people who founded the country. It’s for this reason that they want a new founding of an America that best fits their ideals and desires.

Old America, on the other hand, is primarily white, socially conservative, economically conservative, and they believe that America is an exceptional country and that Americans are an exceptional people. They often hold deep ties to the lands, events, and people who founded the country, and they believe that, while not perfect, their future is best guided by the Founding principles.

So what we have taking shape here is a bit of a Thucydides Trap. Harvard professor Graham Allison has used the term to describe what happens when a status quo power is challenged by a revisionist power, which in a majority of cases as resulted in war. The term comes from historian Thucydides, in his writings about the rise of Athens, which threatened Sparta, and ultimately led to war between the two states. More recently, the Thucydides Trap is used to describe what’s happening now between the United States and China…(continues)

Forward Observer: Leveraging HUMINT Sources

Intelligence Analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer continues writing about human intelligence (HUMINT) — see part one here — and how to exploit it for better decision making in Frontline Intelligence: Leveraging HUMINT Sources.

I continue to pick my way through Frontline Intelligence (1946), guide for new intelligence officers. One of the key responsibilities of an S2 during World War II was to gather information from friendly units. Your job as the Neighborhood S2 is no different.

“Every soldier, not just those designated as reconnaissance or Intelligence personnel, should provide the maximum information [possible]… [They should] know what you want, [should] keep their eyes and ears open, and when they find out anything [should] immediately report it.”

 

As the Neighborhood S2, it’s important that the members of your preparedness group, community security team, or neighborhood watch know what our requirements are. They have to know what has intelligence value and what they should be reporting about crime, violence, suspicious activity, etc. Additionally, they should understand how to report this information to you: phone call, email, face to face, etc.

In the Army, we used to say, “Every soldier is a sensor.” Well, every person in your group should also be a sensor and understand that they’re a sensor.

The authors continue with this advice: talk to as many soldiers as possible, explain what information you want, why you need to know it, and how it will be used to benefit the troops. “Only in this way will you ever overcome the two main stumbling blocks to troop collection of information, namely: inertia and preoccupation.”

One of the problems we encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan is what we called “the stovepipe of excellence” (because everything in the Army is “of excellence.”) Like smoke through a stovepipe, intelligence information would be pushed up from subordinate units to higher commands, but often the finished intelligence would never make it back down to the lowest levels. That in turn kept a lot of soldiers in the dark, and they often didn’t understand why it was necessary for them to report up information. They thought their efforts were useless and they were less interested in continuing to report.

The authors solved this intelligence problem as early as 1946, but it’s a lesson forgotten by many today. Don’t forget this important lesson as a Neighborhood S2.

Engage the members of your preparedness group, community security team, or neighborhood watch. Get them to understand what has intelligence value (i.e., what are your intelligence gaps?), and why reporting that information is critical. Don’t hide your conclusions from those who contributed to them. Finish that loop, so to speak. The more they understand what’s going on, the more likely it is that they’ll know where they fit in the process, and the more engagement and cooperation you’ll get from them.

The authors also point to training as a part of the solution. “The average soldier is apathetic toward all extra chores and particularly so to any which do not appear to him to be immediately and vitally essential… In battle men do most things by reflex. The things they are properly trained to do they will do automatically. It should be automatic for all seasoned troops to look for the right enemy information, and to tell the right people about it promptly.”

This means we have to invest our time and effort into our sensors, whether they’re frontline troops, our neighbors, or community members. You must develop in them a mindset geared towards recognizing information of intelligence value at all times, and then passing that on to you.

One of the largest challenges you’re going to face in organizing a local intelligence network is developing this mindset in other people. And maybe this applies to you, too. Most people are just not accustomed to being ‘turned on’ to the nuances of their environment…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

Forward Observer: The Importance of HUMINT

Chief intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer has a post about the value of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), that is the intelligence gathered from other people rather than from radio signals, electronic information, or other sources, to neighborhood decision making during an SHTF situation.

Last month, I started reading Frontline Intelligence (1946), a guide for the new S2 — the military’s term for the intelligence officer.

What I like about these old intel books and manuals is that they paint a picture of what intelligence looks like without electricity and modern technology. (This manual is still talking about using gas lamps.)

It basically answers the question: How do people like you and I perform the work of the Neighborhood S2 in a worst case scenario?

If you’re reading this email, I presume one of two things: You actually ARE your neighborhood’s S2, or you’re interested in learning the skills.

Frontline Intelligence gives us a glimpse of what rudimentary Human Intelligence (HUMINT) looked like during World War II.

If you are operating in a friendly foreign company there will be, in addition to the organized allied forces, partisan groups, guerrillas, underground movements, and other sorts of patriots… Despite the fact that most textbooks ignore them, these people are extremely useful…

The author then tells the story of a group of Melanesians who later became pivotal for U.S. Forces in the Pacific.

The Japanese had impressed the island-fairing people into slavery to build fortifications. Over the course of two months, a small group of the Melanesian slaves secretly built a canoe, which they hid in some bushes, with the intention of escaping back to Allied territory.

Three of them managed to escape and, at the end of their 135-mile canoe trip, finally ran into Australian forces. The Australians quickly linked them up with an American Marine S2, where the escapees provided information to produce a detailed map of Japanese fortifications along the islands’ coasts.

It seems the same slaves that had built the Japanese system of fortifications were also the ones with some of the most detailed intelligence information about them!

So my question for you, the Neighborhood S2:

What human assets do you have in your community?

What individuals are willing or, with some coaxing or development, could become willing to share information with you, your preparedness group, your community security team, neighborhood watch, etc?

Let’s start with this simple step…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

 

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: COVID-19 Update

Intelligence analysis and training company Forward Observer sent out an email this morning with some COVID-19 news/updates.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Confirmed cases in the U.S. reached 1,257 — nearly a 24 percent increase from yesterday. Yesterday’s increase was 28 percent. The truth is that these numbers are way off. First, Chinese officials estimate that the U.S. had over 9,000 cases earlier this month, based on international flight data from Wuhan. Some American health officials are saying there’s likely to already be 20,000 cases nationwide.

A happy-medium estimate of 10,000 cases at a conservative 10 percent daily growth rate would put us over 3,000,000 cases in the next 60 days, by mid-May. While there may be some mitigating factors to exponential growth, we’re facing an incredibly disruptive future.

THE BAD NEWS: Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician for the U.S. Senate, warned senators on Tuesday that anywhere from 70 to 150 million Americans will contract COVID-19.

To put this into perspective, according to the American Hospital Association, there are 36 million hospital admissions in the U.S. each year. If 20 percent of all COVID-19 patients require hospitalization, then there could be 14-30 million extra hospital admissions. Now, China reports that about 15 percent of patients require hospitalization, but Italy says that 50 percent of COVID-19 patients have required hospitalization! If we see anywhere near that range, there’s simply not going to be enough room or staff to treat that many people.

THE GOOD NEWS: The University of Maryland School of Medicine announced that the spread of COVID-19 should ease this year as temperatures rise. That’s the first medical institution I’ve seen backing that theory. Officials warned, however, that more northerly latitudes could continue to see outbreaks into summer.

AND THEN: That pretty much confirms that COVID-19 will be back in the fall for another round of outbreaks.

U.S.: President Trump announced a series of policy steps he’s taking to stop the spread of COVID-19. By far, the most disruptive policy is that travel from most European countries will effectively end for 30 days starting on Friday. American citizens and permanent residents will be exempt.

Boeing leads the pack of U.S.-based corporations tapping credit lines, saying they’ll take out a $13.8 billion loan as insurance against a cash flow crunch. Hilton Hotels is in for $1.75 billion. Meanwhile, San Francisco is reporting hotel revenue dropping by 46 percent, 35 percent in Seattle, and 20 percent in New York. With spring break upon us and summer break right around the corner, it’s going to be a tough and sparse few months for the tourism industry. Port activity was also down 20 percent on the West Coast for the month of February. (Although, by looking at the charts, they’re used to it: they saw worse in previous years during the height of the trade war.)

ECONOMIC WARNING: BlackRock, the nation’s largest asset manager with $7 trillion AUM, advised clients that they don’t see the COVID-19 pandemic “as an [economic] expansion-ending event” — just as long as an effective federal response is enacted. Still, they see “a sharp and deep economic slowdown in the near term.” (Analyst Comment: This outlook underscores their faith that massive fiscal stimulus and favorable monetary conditions can blunt any effects leading to a 2008-esque meltdown. Yeah, my fingers are crossed, too.)

Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin advised clients that the 11-year bull market run is over, and painted a bleak picture of economic reality: “Supply chains have been disrupted and final demand has declined for many industries. Travel is contracting sharply as both individuals and businesses restrict movement. Airlines, hotels, cruises, and casinos report plunging demand, lower occupancy, and cancellations. Employees are being furloughed.”

JPMorgan Chase is alerting its clients that “a market sell-off of this magnitude implied a 65-75% chance of recession in the next year,” but a “timely, strong counter-policy response” and “a peak of COVID-19” in the coming weeks should prove the market drop an overreaction. (AC: JPMorgan Chase is expecting a peak in the coming weeks, which is at odds with what epidemiologists are saying when they expect a continuation for months.)

SHORTAGES: Coca-Cola warned of potential shortages of Diet Coke, due to supplier disruption. (The next panic buy?) Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble is warning of coming shortages, as well, for the same reason. According to one economist, the “worst impact for businesses [will] come in April and May.” (AC: At some point, accusations of “panic buying” will no longer be sufficient to explain empty shelves, and the reality of shortages will set in. Based on what I’m hearing from China, there will be a period of weeks where shortages will persist. Those shortages could be sporadic or regional, based on where your local retailers source their goods. Regardless: it’s coming.) //END

STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE: https://members.forwardobserver.com

Each and every morning, I’m looking out for my readers. If you sign up and you’re not satisfied, just email me within seven days and I’ll refund your subscription. You literally have nothing to lose and a lot of warning signals to gain. You can sign up here: https://members.forwardobserver.com

Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper

Forward Observer: A Brief Q&A on COVID-19 Preparations

Chief intelligence analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer posts a brief Q&A on coronavirus issues/preparation.

Hey Gang – I’m getting enough questions that it’s more economical for me to write a blog post rather than trying to answer them individually.

Question: Is COVID-19 that big of a threat?

Answer: For the average American, the greater risk is actually the financial and economic impact of COVID-19.

I’m not concerned about catching COVID-19, as 80 percent of cases are mild. The older you are and the worse shape you’re in, the more you should be concerned.

If you’re reasonably healthy, then you have less to worry about.

I’m way more concerned about impacts to the economy.

 

Q: On “panic buying” — is it prudent to go buy a month’s worth of supplies if I don’t already have them?

A: Yes, I believe that’s prudent. Here’s why:

Health experts, risk management firms, and financial asset managers are warning that COVID-19 outbreaks will likely last for months.

– Morgan Stanley advised clients that economic disruption could last into Q3, which is July to September.

– Supplier delivery times have started to tick up, which is bad news for just-in-time inventory. China is struggling to resume production, which will be self-evident in the coming weeks.

– Goldman Sachs is warning of “severe” global supply shortages if China can’t get back to normal by the end of the month. Meanwhile, production facilities in China’s coastal regions are operating at 70-80 percent capacity, but many factories are still experiencing labor shortages.

– Prominent hedge fund and asset managers have warned about coming supply and demand shocks.

– The Federal Reserve made an emergency cut to interest rates this week, and the futures markets are pricing in another rate cut this month. What exactly is the Fed trying to get ahead of?

There’s no need to panic and the world isn’t ending. In light of the data, however, it’s prudent to get what you need soon or face the risk of shortages later.

As we’ve seen in Washington, Arizona, California, and other states that experience community outbreaks, there will be more panic buying. There will be more lines at Costco, more purchase limits, and more empty shelves.

As one friend put it, buying things today is preparing for the panic to come, not “panic buying.” Preparing now for anywhere between two to four weeks is prudent.

 

Q: Will the U.S. be as hard hit as China has been?

A: Right now, that looks unlikely in the near term. The fact is that no one knows just how bad this will get. I’m confident in saying that conditions will get much worse before they get better.

Chinese officials initially ignored the outbreaks, which exacerbated the problem.

You may have seen news that major corporations like Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, and others are cancelling events. Expect a lot more of that.

Domestic air travel ticketing is down 20 percent through May. Expect more disruption to the travel and tourism industry. (In fact, airline executives met with Vice President Pence this week to discuss air travel during the COVID-19 epidemic.)

We have a far better healthcare system than China does, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune to overcrowded and understaffed medical facilities. According to epidemiologists, one bad community outbreak could quickly overwhelm local or regional medical infrastructure.

 

Q: But, but, but more people die from common influenza.

A: That’s not a question, but you’re right.

We expect influenza every year. Influenza has a season. We currently don’t know how long COVID-19 outbreaks will last, nor do we fully understand the extent of the economic or psychological impacts.

I’m reading through these earnings guidance calls from Fortune 500 companies and they don’t know how to estimate the financial impact of COVID-19 for Q2 of this year. There’s simply too much uncertainty.

Professional number crunchers who can accurately forecast how much their company will earn in the next quarter (April-June) are shrugging when asked about the impact. If they don’t know, then certainly no one else does.

As far as I can tell, health officials have said this will last for months, and some have said it will last into next year. That’s a long time for the type of disruption we’re already starting to see.

I’ve seen some people say that warmer weather will kill COVID-19. I look at Australia, which is coming out of summer and heading into fall, and they’re accumulating more COVID-19 cases. It’s warmer there than it is here, and I’m in Texas.

The bottom line in all of this is that authorities are trying to keep the lid on panic.

The absolute best ways to avoid panic is to have realistic expectations of the future so you’re not surprised, and to be prepared.

I can’t help you with your day to day preparations, but I CAN HELP YOU gain a better perspective on the future.

I can help you to understand what’s more likely and less likely to happen. I can provide you with intelligence that reduces your uncertainty about the future.

Try me out: https://members.forwardobserver.com

 

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: 2020 Is Going to Be Lit

In 2020 Is Going to Be Lit, the intelligence analysts at Forward Observer briefly touch on some possibilities for civil violence in 2020 in the USA.

To get a sense of where 2020 is headed, I’m going to let you know about five stories and trends I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks…

1. A Muslim Community Patrol and mosque in Brooklyn are trading threats with a chapter of the Bloods gang, after a community patrol member roughed up the son of the local gang leader for making “disrespectful” remarks to a Muslim woman. The Bloods designated the mosque and its members as “food” for the gang’s “dogs” to eat, a reference to violence.

2. Following this weekend’s machete attack at a Hanukah party, some Orthodox Jews are encouraging each other to join/revive the Jewish Defense League, a group known for planning and committing acts of terrorism against Muslims in the 1980s. The JDL was previously described by the FBI as a “Jewish extremist organization.”

3. We continue to follow numerous socialist and pro-gun Leftist groups who are purchasing firearms and combat gear. Many of these groups have regular training days at the range and are preparing for armed “self-defense.”

4. The Boogaloo, a reference to a second civil war, is still a popular topic among counter-culture conservatives and libertarians.

5. Second Amendment activists in Virginia are fomenting support for popular resistance to the state’s proposed gun laws.

These are just five situations that could lead to armed violence between competing factions in the United States. There are likely dozens more across the country.

Your New Year’s Resolutions should include identifying your own local fault lines

Related:

Wilder Wealthy and Wise: The Biggest Story of 2019 – Society Unravelling

Forward Observer: Eyes on Virginia 2020

This comes from the intelligence shop Forward Observer in reference to the goings on in Virginia.

Numerous people have asked my thoughts on Virginia. I’ll do a YouTube video on it over the weekend. For now, here are some thoughts.

1. In the 13 December Watch Report, I pointed out that Virginia politicians had done some backpedaling on the concept of gun confiscation. I know the topic is still circulating in the news, but it’s not going to happen the way some people think it is.

There was that article about Governor Ralph Northam mobilizing the National Guard. (A state representative floated this possibility, not the governor himself. Still, it’s unlikely.)

Then there was that article about Governor Ralph Northam cutting off power and cell service during confiscation attempts. (Fake news.)

There’s a LOT of disinformation out there.

2. Here’s what I think is most likely to happen…

The SAME THING that happened in New York and Connecticut — states that floated similar proposals and passed similar laws.

No mass confiscation. No National Guard (many of whom are likely AR-15 owners themselves). No cutting power and cell service for gun owners.

Yes, Northam has scaled back on confiscation, but only to introduce a gun registry scheme that few are going to comply with.

3. 2020 is an election year. No Democrat presidential candidate is going to risk his or her election based on a large number of civilians getting killed over their AR-15s (for now).

With the way pro-Second Amendment groups are organizing, they could build an incredibly violent insurgency in parts of the state. No politician wants to risk that (for now). (Mass confiscation can only come after firearms manufacturers are out of business, by the way. The number of AR-15s, spare parts, magazines, and other accoutrements flooding into the state would be massive.)

4. So I think 2020 will bring Virginia some new gun laws, which could very well be watered down by the time they’re passed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Virginia rolls out a gun registry program, but I would be incredibly surprised if any meaningful number of Virginians complied. (Same as in New York and Connecticut.)

Democrats are going to keep on changing gun culture by propagandizing young people. If successful, they’ll eventually erode support for “assault weapons” and the gun community will get smaller. Meanwhile, the Democrats will ban the transfer of “assault weapons” through inheritance. That’s going to make confiscation less of a challenge when some citizens are selling back “assault weapons” themselves (peacefully).

The state is likely to impose civil and social costs for being a well-armed citizen. They’ll likely pursue some kind of “gun owner insurance” scheme and/or encourage insurance companies to write in gun-owner provisions that jack up the cost of keeping an “assault weapon” in the home. They’ll try to put gun manufacturers out of business, thus reducing the availability of “assault weapons.” The state of Virginia has to raise the costs of owning “assault weapons.”

These things are not only possible, but LIKELY in the future.

And, yes, I’m sure there will be an increase in red flags where the state of Virginia curbs Second Amendment rights of some citizens over the risk of “imminent threats.” The goal for the state is to characterize these enforcement actions as “common sense,” like targeting gun owners who pose a “clear and present danger” to themselves or others. The evidence of “clear and present danger” could well be manufactured (“anonymous tips,” etc.).

What’s uncertain is exactly how, when, and where pro-Second Amendment groups will react to red flag laws in the future. There very well could be instances where gun rights activists impede or attempt to impede extreme risk protective orders from being carried out. Those instances could lead to bloodshed.

So what’s more likely in the near future is the shooting death of a gun owner at his own home during a red flag search, which could initiate a cascade of political violence (i.e., The Boogaloo/The Big Igloo/The Hootenanny).

What’s unlikely in the near future is bands of masked law enforcement and/or soldiers going door to door, doing mass confiscation while your power and cell phone service is down.

The situation is still developing. And politicians know that the groundswell of peaceful pro-gun activism is backed up by something harder. That’s why in the near term they’re most likely to try and erode support for “assault weapons” and legislate them out of existence, as opposed to confiscate everyone’s AR-15s… for now.

These are my thoughts. I hope you’ve found them helpful.