02 – 08 July 16 – SHTF Indicators Tracker – Forward Observer Shop

02 – 08 July 16 – SHTF Indicators Tracker

02 – 08 July – SHTF Indicators

(Updated @ 1500 on 08 July 2016 – 23 Data Points)

An indicator is an observable or potentially observable clue about capabilities, intent, or a future event.  Our mission is to identify indicators in order to provide early warning of future events, identify the likelihood of future events, or identify capabilities or intent that could cause an emergency or SHTF scenario.

This is the long-form intelligence reporting of our EXSUMs.  If you’d like a summary and analysis of the intelligence reporting, see our previous Executive Intelligence Summaries.


This content is for subscribers only. To continue reading, please log in or subscribe here. [/wcm_nonmember]

[wcm_restrict plan =”fo-osint”]

Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption that could lead to a SHTF event?

PIR2: What are the current indicators of an outbreak of global conflict? (Russia, China, Middle East)

PIR3: What are the current indicators of military, government, political, or social-related instability or violence that leads to domestic conflict?

PIR4: What are the current indicators of economic, financial, or monetary instability that leads to civil unrest?

PIR5: What are the current indicators of Islamic terrorism or the expansion of the Caliphate?

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption that could lead to a SHTF event?

Critical Infrastructure

Waste water spillage continues to be the number one threat to clean water, particularly after heavy rains.  Typically, boil advisories are issued until crews are able to decontaminate the water.  Cyber attacks and exploitation come in at second place, with ransomware attacks claiming the top trend.

Iranian “Passive Defense” document details EMP threat: Rep. Franks (R-AZ) says, “We’re a thousand times more vulnerable [to EMP] than we were even 50 years ago…”  “[The Iranian document] outlined that the best way to deal with countries like America, a country that was much stronger than them, was an asymmetric strategy of attacking our electric grid,” Franks said.  Franks’ viewpoint is shared by Peter Pry, who also worries about North Korea’s ability to launch a similar strike on the U.S. (Newsmax – 07 July)


Russia could be using a ‘trust-building exercise’ to send spy planes over North America: For years, Russia and the West have been flying spy missions over each other’s territory and, for years, both sides have been okay with the mutually-agreed-upon snooping. But Russia is taking the spying to the next level, and American lawmakers are worried… Last February, Reuters reported that Russia was moving to upgrade its surveillance aircraft with high-tech digital sensors… With the new digital cameras, Russia “will be able to maintain this technological advantage over Canada, Italy, France, the UK and the US, who still use analog cameras, for several years,” according to Kremlin-owned Sputnik News… (VICE – 06 July)

State Department emphasizes ‘ongoing’ Chinese espionage: An internal State Department document is placing an emphasis on the fact that Chinese espionage is “ongoing,” contrary to the way it has been characterized in the media… The report follows a June study released by cybersecurity firm FireEye finding that Chinese hackers targeting American companies had diminished in number to 13 primary entities, down from 72 in previous years… “At a higher level, paramount attacks against various U.S. organizations continued in 2015, and Chinese hackers exceeded other nation-state actors for consistency, volume and severity of cyberattacks during the past year,” the [State Department] report said. (Examiner – 29 June)


PIR2: What are the current indicators of an outbreak of global conflict?


NATO expanding its intelligence capabilities and coordination:  NATO is positioned to take an important, integrative step in establishing the new Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security… In addition to designing the new ASG-I&S, the NATO intelligence community over the past six months developed a new intelligence doctrine known as the Overarching Intelligence Policy (OIP). (James Clapper – ODNI – 07 July)

NATO can’t stop Russian invasion of Baltics:  General McMaster runs the Army’s most elite think tank, the Army Capabilities Integration Center, and he’s leading a crash study of the Russian military threat and how the U.S. should respond. He told Congress that the Russians have the ability to jam and blind U.S. military communications. He said the networks of Russian missiles and artillery could put at risk the aircraft on which the U.S. relies to counter enemy air defenses and jam enemy communications, attack tank formations and support friendly ground troops. Russia’s long-range artillery, he said, is “more lethal” than anything the U.S. can field.  f Putin ran the same lightning land-snatch in the Baltic states, his forces could smash through NATO defenses and occupy at least two Baltic capitals within 60 hours, according to a series of war games conducted by the Rand Corporation. (HuffPo – 05 July)



Russian spy ship off the coast of Hawaii:  Moscow has dispatched a specialized spy ship off the coast of Hawaii with the likely mission to monitor the U.S. Navy led Rim of the Pacific 2016 exercise… The Russians are developing more modern AGIs but “until more modern units such as the new Yuriy Ivanov-class (Project 18280) intelligence collection ships enter service during the next few years, it makes sense that the Russians would consider sending a vessel from the older Bal’zam-class to monitor U.S. and allied naval exercises,” said Eric Wertheim, a naval analyst.  (USNI – 06 July)

Air defense units in west Russia to hold over missile 300 launches:  Troops of Russia’s Western Military District will hold over 300 launches from Tor-M1 antiaircraft and Igla man-portable surface-to-air missile systems during drills at the Kapustin Yar practice range in south Russia… The drills will involve over 1,000 troops and about 300 pieces of armament and combat hardware… Missile crews will be assigned the task to change their combat positions and instantly bring missile launchers into the state of combat readiness. (TASS – 07 July)

New division to be deployed near Russia’s Smolensk by mid-2017:  Russia’s motorized rifle division that is being created in the Smolensk region and that will be part of the 1st Guards Tank Army will be finally deployed by the middle of 2017, a source in the Russian General Staff told TASS on Tuesday… The source said that the number of personnel of the division with the headquarters in Yelnya will be around 10,000 men. According to him, the new formation will comprise three motorized rifle regimens and one armored regiment, a self-propelled artillery regiment and an anti-aircraft missile regiment, as well as support units. (TASS – 05 July)

Arms Expert: Russia Quick to Threaten Nuclear Strikes in Regional Conflicts: The Soviet Union’s old doctrine was: You deter World War III with nuclear weapons. Now Russia’s new doctrine: Threaten to use nuclear weapons against any major power that may try to block Moscow from having its way in a regional conflict, a specialist in Russian nuclear strategy said on Monday.  He noted Russian exercises in 2003 carried out a simulated nuclear strike against Diego Garcia, and in 2007, against Guam.  In the case of Ukraine, Sokov said “a lot of rhetoric” about possible use of nuclear weapons in support of the separatists in the eastern part of the country was “directed at the domestic audience.” He added, “Generally speaking, Russian love nuclear weapons. . . . If you don’t have nuclear weapons, that’s when you lose sleep.” (USNI – 28 June)

Russian defense minister promises response to NATO’s buildup: Russia’s defense minister says the military will respond in kind to NATO’s buildup near Russian borders.  Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday the deployment of additional NATO units and weapons in Eastern Europe “has undermined strategic stability.”  Shoigu said that NATO’s moves have prompted Russia to take countermeasures, adding that Russia’s western military district will receive 2,000 new weapons units this year. He noted that as part of the response to NATO’s buildup, Russia’s Baltic Fleet has received new ships and other weapons and the military has formed a new army corps to support it. (Military Times – 28 June)

Russian Defense Ministry dismisses Baltic Fleet commander, chief of staff:  Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has dismissed Commander of the Baltic Fleet Viktor Kravchuk and the Fleet’s Chief of Staff Sergey Popov for combat training deficiencies, as well as for distortion of the real state of affairs in reports…  “The defense minister and members of the Defense Ministry collegium expressed sharp and principled criticism of the activity of officials for serious shortcomings revealed in their work…”  The Baltic Fleet was inspected in the period from May 11 to June 10. “The defense minister ordered to approve as soon as possible the plan of removing the shortcomings, implement it and again inspect the Baltic Fleet at the end of this year”, the Defense Ministry press service said. (TASS – 29 June)


Beijing warns U.S. on sovereignty ahead of South China Sea ruling:  The United States should do nothing to harm China’s sovereignty and security in the South China Sea, China’s foreign minister told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, ahead of a key court ruling on China’s claims in the disputed waterway… China hopes the United States “speaks and acts cautiously, and take no actions that harm China’s sovereignty and security interests”, the statement paraphrased Wang as saying.  Tensions and rhetoric have been rising ahead of a July 12 ruling by an arbitration court hearing the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea in the Dutch city of The Hague.  China is conducting military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the north of the region this week, while U.S. Navy officials said on Thursday that U.S. destroyers had been patrolling around Chinese-held reefs and islands in the contested Spratly Islands to the south. (Reuters – 07 July)

U.S. Navy destroyers stalk China’s claims in South China Sea:  U.S. Navy destroyers have been quietly stalking some of China’s man-made islands and claims in recent weeks ahead of a ruling on contested claims in the South China Sea…  Over the past two weeks, the destroyers Stethem, Spruance and Momsen have all patrolled near Chinese-claimed features at Scarborough Shoal and in the Spratly Islands, according to two defense officials.  “We have been regularly patrolling within the 14 to 20 nautical mile range of these features,” one official said, who asked for anonymity to discuss diplomatically-sensitive operations.(NavyTimes – 06 July)

PRIORITY China should prepare for ‘military confrontation’ in South China Sea: As the result of the international arbitration over the South China Sea dispute approaches, China is undertaking a military drill from July 5 to 11 in the waters around the Xisha Islands. In Western media reports, this exercise is happening “at a sensitive time,” because the arbitral result will be announced on July 12. Beijing has announced its position of neither participation in nor recognition of the arbitration.  The US will probably project more military power to the West Pacific in a bid to press China militarily and politically. (GlobalTimes – 05 July)

Navy Will Position Another Amphibious Ready Group in Pacific by 2019:  The Navy and Marine Corps are moving forward with plans to position a three-ship amphibious ready group in the Pacific — with some 2,500 Marines and sailors aboard — as soon as 2019…  “So not only will you have a forward-deployed naval force with forward ships that are home-ported in Japan, but you will have additional amphibious capability on multiple 90-day patrols in and around the Asia Pacific,” he said. (DODBuzz – 29 June)


North Korea

North Korea: U.S. Sanctions Tantamount to Act of War:  “Now that the U.S. declared a war on the DPRK, any problem arising in the relations with the U.S. will be handled under the latter’s wartime law,” the statement says, using the initials of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  (RCD – 08 July)

Seoul to expand anti-NK broadcasts:The South Korean military plans to double its number of loudspeaker facilities to beef up anti-North Korea propaganda broadcasts along the border in retaliation to Pyongyang’s continuous provocative actions including its recent series of ballistic missile launches.., “We plan to add 10 new loudspeaker broadcast stations by the end of this year,” a military official said on the condition of anonymity.  The military currently operates 11 loudspeaker facilities near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) as a means of conducting psychological warfare. (KoreaTimes – 06 July)

U.S. sanctions North Korean leader for first time over human rights abuses:  The Obama administration on Wednesday slapped sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and 10 other regime officials for their alleged complicity in human rights abuses against the North Korean people… U.S. officials briefing reporters on the new actions say they expected the sanctions to have “a worldwide ripple effect” making it harder for those on the list to do business with global financial institutions. (CNN – 07 July)


Middle East

Israel looks to step up Iron Dome production to meet evolving threat:  Israeli air defence units are preparing to deal with unprecedented rocket barrages in future conflicts, while the Ministry of Defense is seeking to increase the rate at which Iron Dome batteries and interceptors are produced. (Janes – 29 June)


PIR3: What are the current indicators of military, government, political, or social-related instability or violence that leads to domestic conflict?


Baltimore, Detroit, and El Paso police forces shrink while crime rises:  The number of uniformed officers in the mid-Atlantic city fell 6.1 percent last year and has shrunk by even more in the first half of this year, according to police data seen by Reuters and not previously reported.  The fall in 2015 was the biggest decline in police numbers among nine comparably-sized U.S. cities reviewed by Reuters. The police force in Detroit and El Paso shrank by 4.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, while Denver and Las Vegas saw increases of over 5 percent… The reasons for the fall are unclear, but it comes at a difficult time when the number of murders and other violent crimes have risen sharply in Baltimore and many other U.S. cities. (Reuters – 06 July)

Cleveland Court To Stay Open Late During GOP Convention: Cleveland’s Municipal Court will extend its hours during the convention to deal with an expected increase in arrests.  The court normally closes at 4:30 p.m. It will operate from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. during the convention that begins July 18.  The court typically processes about 200 people in arraignment and initial appearances each day, but it’s getting ready to deal with as many as 1,000 people a day. (ABCNews – 06 July)

Bill Kristol encourages floor revolt against Trump: Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol joined a conference call on Tuesday night to encourage Republican delegates to protest on the floor of the convention in a last ditch effort to block Donald Trump from obtaining the party’s nomination… The group of delegates, lawyers, rules experts and political action committees insist that delegates are not bound to any primary or caucus vote and are looking to pass convention rules that allow them to vote their “conscience.” Kristol told organizers on Tuesday night that if their representative at the convention doesn’t cast a vote in accordance with their wishes, they should protest on the floor. (TheHill – 05 July)

VA purchases millions worth of guns and ammo: The Department of Veterans Affairs bought more than $11 million worth of weapons, ammo and other security equipment between 2005 and 2014, according to a report released last month by a nonprofit organization that tracks spending across the federal government… The VA acquired a variety of pistols — Berettas, Sig Sauers, Lugers — and ammunition, as well as body armor, police batons, ballistic shields, riot shields and helmets, night gun sights, tactical equipment for crowd control and more.  The $11.6 million in weapons and gear includes $200,000 for night vision equipment, $2.3 million on body armor, more than $2 million on pistols and about $3.6 million on ammunition, the report said. A chart included with the report also shows a variety of training weapons and a night gun scope. (T&P – 05 July)

Black Lives Matter leader warns Clinton of convention protests: A  leader of the Black Lives Matter movement warns that activists are prepared to protest the platform at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next month, citing the congressional sit-in on the House floor last week over gun control as a possible model. (USA Today – 02 July)


PIR4: What are the current indicators of economic, financial, or monetary instability that leads to civil unrest?

Jim Rickards explains gold and silver prices, timing of interest rate hike: “Part of the reason gold is going up is because people are losing confidence in central bank money, from all central banks,” said Jim Rickards, author of The New Case for Gold.  Speaking on the Federal Reserve, in particular, Rickards said the U.S. central bank’s credibility is “already in shreds” and will likely get worse as interest rate hikes don’t materialize, which should continue to help the metals…  Based on CME’s FedWatch Tool, futures markets are pricing in no chance of a rate hike this month, while only a 5.9% for both September and November Fed meetings, and a 17.8% chance in December.  Rickards also speculated that the Fed could be politically motivated to stay its hand as an interest rate hike could support a Donald Trump presidency. (Kitco – 07 July)

“If they raise rates this year, certainly before November, that’s probably enough to put the U.S. into recession and elect Donald Trump,” Rickards noted. “I dare say that’s the last thing they want so I think it’s another reason why we can take rate hikes off the table.”

Economist Nouriel Roubini on the US and global economy: Roubini is of the opinion that the UK’s bid to leave the EU may lead to a disintegration of forces in Europe, adding that the crisis may threaten the EU single market and result in the collapse of the Schengen Agreement.  In a scenario in which the UK’s departure from the EU leads to calls for independence from Scotland and Northern Ireland, Roubini believes that Catalonia will then want to break away from Spain, and even sees the potential for a Swedish and Danish exit… The population is growing older not only in the U.S. and Japan, but also in China and Russia, Roubini pointed out. And yet, he concluded, the existing global risks are not capable of leading the world into a new crisis. (RBTH – 07 July)

Goldman Sachs says 10% market drop is possible this year: Goldman Sachs says the U.S. stock market will finish the year pretty much where it is now. But warns that U.S. stocks could suffer a drop of 5% to 10% along the way.  (USAToday)

Goldman Sachs is cutting back on travel spending: Goldman Sachs has asked its 2,000 some employees at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, GSAM, to cut back on costs—including travel that doesn’t involve meeting a client or getting new business. (Forbes – 05 July)


PIR5: What are the current indicators of Islamic terrorism or the expansion of the Caliphate?

North America

Intelligence agencies concerned about influence of the Islamic State on young Muslims:  It’s possible that these [lone wolf attacks] are the first signs of a phenomenon already seen in other countries: lone-wolf attackers or small cells of young people planning and executing attacks based on the general guidelines that ISIS disseminates online, without having any real connection to the group’s command structure or local operatives.  They operate separately from ISIS’ organized cells, which rely on better-trained operatives and veterans from its fighting in Syria, and who have actually sworn allegiance to ISIS and receive funding and instructions from it. (Haaretz – 05 July)

CIA Director warns of large-scale attacks in US: Four hours after three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and wounded hundreds more at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, CIA Director John Brennan said the attacks bore the grim hallmarks of ISIS and warned that the fanatically violent Islamic terrorist group wants to conduct similar large-scale attacks in the United States. (Yahoo)






Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *