03 FEB 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary – Forward Observer Shop

03 FEB 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary


[wcm_nonmember]In this EXSUM… (3003 words)

  • Texas police department loses years of data to ransomware
  • Russia & China SITREPs
  • Russian, Chinese missile systems pose challenges to US defense
  • Obama issues statement in support of anti-Trump protests
  • ‘Resistance is our only shot’ – Some notes on Antifa
  • DEA’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment
  • Obama presidency ends in abysmal economic conditions
  • And more…


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Bottom Line Up Front:  As always in this report, my PIRs and what I report are subject to the changes in significance of the event/topic; so I’m making some changes to PIRs 2 and 3 to reflect what I believe are more likely threats.

  • Change #1:  The information covered in the Russia SITREP will be reduced to include only very significant developments.  This is due to some positive shifts in the US-Russia relationship, and I may change this altogether if/when the US and Russia develop a strategic partnership to fight Islamic terror groups.  As it stands right now, an invocation of Article V — which mandates that NATO member states come to the military defense of another member state — doesn’t appear likely in the near-term (PIR 2).
  • Change #2: I’ll continue to provide significant developments in the China SITREP, but they will be brief updates, along with my analysis of whether or not a Chinese conflict is becoming more likely.  The closer we get to a Chinese conflict, the more I’ll include in the China SITREP (PIR 2).
  • Change #3:  With the reduced reporting in PIR 2, I’ll be greatly increasing what I cover in PIR 3, with a specific focus on leftist political violence.  In November, I reported that of the 20 indicators of organized political violence, insurgency, and revolution; leftists organizations are exhibiting seven.  I wholly intend on providing in-depth tracking and analysis of leftist groups and monitoring information that indicates a shift towards organized political violence.  I differentiate between political violence, like the kind we’re seeing now, and organized political violence, which would reflect a violent insurgency.

For this reason of shifting focus to political groups committing violence domestically, I’m asking members of Forward Observer to consider helping me purchase some software.  I plan to use Maltego Classic and Casefile to begin plotting these organizations and their members, and then producing local/regional threat intelligence.  Maltego, which costs $760, automates the collection of social media, and offers users a host of analytic tools to investigate relationships.  Casefile is a link analysis tool, which is free.  (If we can raise $1800, then I will purchase Maltego XL.)

I’ve included a screenshot (below) of some work I was doing last night on Maltego’s free version, which severely limits query results, which makes thorough analysis impossible.   Antifa is the short version of a group who call themselves “antifascists”, who include among their ranks Marxists and outright communists.  (#Antifa is one of their Twitter hashtags I was searching through.)  My aim is to begin developing a national-level view of these organizations and then provide leads for more local/regional collection and analysis.  If we’re to see a legitimate violent conflict in America — and I believe we’re already seeing a very low-level insurgency — then being able to learn about violent elements of Black Lives Matter, the Antifa Movement, Black Bloc, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, and others, will help us to anticipate future violence and instability.  If you’d like to donate to help me purchase this software, please get in touch with me via email (editor@fostagingwcdev.wpengine.com), subject line Analysis.  (Or if you would like to invite your friends to become subscribers, that would also very much help.  Of the 61 million Americans who voted for Trump, maybe we can find seven to subscribe and help pay for Maltego.)  I appreciate your support and I’m very much looking forward to spending most of my day analyzing violent leftist political groups.




Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption that could lead to civil unrest?

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

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

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

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption that could lead to a civil unrest or domestic emergency?

Texas police department loses years of data to ransomware

After being hit with ransomware, the Cockerell Hill Police Department has lost years worth of videos and digital documents.  After consulting with the FBI, the department decided not to pay the ransom.  Although the department stressed this was not a case of deliberate targeting by hackers, the department did admit that an employee clicked a link on an email which started the ransomware attack.  This is just another incident in a long string of ransomware attacks, which will continue to be a problem for municipalities and critical infrastructure in the US. (SOURCE)


Over 70 percent of DC’s CCTV hacked days before Inauguration Day

Between 12 and 15 January, as authorities were still planning security for the Inauguration, a ransomware attack had infected 123 of the 187 networked video cameras across Washington DC.  City officials had to take the video storage devices offline, wipe their operating systems, and then bring them back to avoid paying the ransom.  (Analyst Comment: Although there is no public proof linking this event to the Disrupt January 20 organization, which planned to ‘shut down’ DC during the Inauguration, my first thought was to wonder if there are links.  It would make sense that, if an organization was trying to shut down the city, you remove the ‘eyes’ and recording capability from close circuit television cameras in the area of operations.  It’s nothing more than conjecture to link the two, however, it does make one wonder.)  (SOURCE)

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

The prospects of global conflict continue to revolve around the usual players: Russia, China, and the Middle East. The ways in which global conflict could cause or contribute to a SHTF scenario in America are myriad and they largely depend on which conflict is initiated. We’re certainly at risk of cyber attack in the event of conflict in any of the three regions. Systems disruption, like the price and availability of fuel, is also a top concern that could cause a SHTF event.


There are no new indicators that US-Russia relations are worsening, as both Trump and Putin, along with most of their staffs, seem to be looking forward to greater cooperation.  That, of course, puts NATO member nations at a state of unease because many of them still see a potential war with Russia on the horizon.  But the Trump administration, despite its shaky start, confirms that they’re still committed to Europe, and that’s certainly the case for Defense Secretary Mattis.

The US Army is set this week to finally finish the deployment of M1A2 Abrams tanks to the Baltics (Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania), after the completion of joint exercises in Poland.  As part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, additional Army units will be sent to Hungary, Germany, and Romania.  Speaking during the joint exercises, Army Lt. General Hodges said, “Poland will become the center of gravity for U.S. (Army) operations in Europe. We believe an attack from the east is unlikely, but it’s having troops on the ground here that makes it even more unlikely.”

Moving northward, both US and Russian militaries eye further expansion into the Arctic.  This was one of Vladimir Putin’s strategic objectives, and leaders at the Pentagon were tasked in 2016 with developing a comprehensive Arctic strategy for the US.  According to Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), “Over the last two years, Russia has continued its massive buildup of the Arctic.”  Along with four new brigade combat teams, the Russian military has developed an additional 14 airfields and is scheduled to continue to add ships to its Arctic fleet this year.  “Clearly, Russia is militarizing the Arctic. What’s their end game? And to me that’s a really important question,” Sullivan said.



The media this week picked up on the words of Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist, who said, “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years.”  Bannon made those remarks in March 2016, and has undoubtedly influenced the Trump administration’s policy on China.

Meanwhile, one of the several phone calls President Trump received last week was from Indian Prime Minister Modi.  That phone call allegedly centered on defense policy, and surely involved issues regarding Pakistan and China.  For decades, the US and India have had a positive relationship, and it looks as if the Trump administration may grow much closer to India as a strategic ally in the region.  India’s defense spending ranks sixth in the world.  Although recent reporting indicates that India will increase defense spending by ten percent this year, its military still lags far behind advances in the Chinese military.

In another development, Defense Secretary Mattis traveled to South Korea this week to discuss the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems.  Despite unpopularity among some South Koreans and protests from the Chinese, the THAAD deployment is still scheduled to occur in 2017.  To reiterate for newer Forward Observer members, the THAAD’s X-band radar is capable of tracking aircraft over all of China and much of Russia, which is the real reason both countries are warning against its arrival in South Korea.  Japan has also considered purchasing the THAAD system to defend their island against a possible North Korean nuclear missile.

Finally, during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Chinese president Xi Jinping jabbed at US wars in the Middle East and the 2008 global financial collapse, which he blamed tacitly on the greed of US financial institutions.  The media largely lauded the speech with speculation that China was getting ready to replace the US as the global economic leader.  But the truth is that China is not ready to supplant the US.  In fact, the Chinese economic situation is worse than is being officially reported, and that’s going to become more apparent in the months and years ahead.


Russian, Chinese missile systems pose challenges to US defense

Speaking last week at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, the head of US Strategic Command spoke about Russian and Chinese hypersonic missiles, saying that they pose challenges to US defense systems. “High-speed maneuvering weapons pose a very significant change in how we’ve addressed strategic capabilities over the last 30 or 40 years. They fit inside a gap organizationally, technologically, that we have not yet addressed. They have potentially intercontinental range, they fly at hypersonic speeds, they maneuver and they have been tested by Russian scientists and Chinese scientists and they’ve had some very good success.”  (Emphasis mine.)  Specifically, “over-the-horizon” weapons provide a large stand-off range with which to target adversary ships.  (They’re called “over-the-horizon” because they allow a ship at sea to target enemy vessels that are literally hidden over the horizon due to curvature of the earth.)  Being that China’s strategy in the South China Sea is to eventually be able to deny access to the US military, these hypersonic, over-the-horizon missiles are a significant advantage the Chinese military currently fields when it comes to long range weaponry.


Iran conducts ballistic missile test, Flynn puts Iran ‘on notice’

Earlier this week, Iran produced footage of a ballistic missile test, which the Trump administration said violated the spirit of Obama’s Iran Deal.  It clearly violated a UN resolution, which prohibits such missile tests despite this being the second such test.  In response, National Security Advisor Mike Flynn gave a brief press conference, saying, “The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions — including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms.  The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk.”  “As of today,” Flynn continued, “we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

Mike Flynn has long been angered by Iranian support of proxy groups in Iraq who killed American soldiers.  (Related: Survey of Iranian Terror Threat to the US)  On Friday, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against Iran.  Defense Secretary Mattis is also a hardliner on Iran, and so I expect the Trump administration to threaten more than just sanctions.


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


Obama issues statement in support of anti-Trump protests

On Monday, a spokesman for Barrack Obama issued a statement that read, “Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”  It should be no surprise to readers that Obama is breaking a custom afforded by previous presidents to stay out of political discussions after their tenure.  And Obama is joined by a chorus of former government officials who have very publicly criticized the Trump administration.  Statements like these, whether or not they’re issued by a spokesperson, provide legitimacy to the idea that Trump is an illegitimate president pursuing “un-American values”.  Over the past two weeks, the terms ‘resistance’ and ‘resist’ are being used frequently by those on the Left who support impeachment or who have intimated or suggested that President Trump be removed by other means.  Many of the Left are acting like rabid dogs, which is a very good indicator that political violence will persist.


‘Resistance is our only shot’ – Some notes on Antifa

Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to give a speech at the University of California at Berkeley on Wednesday night (01 FEB).  But those plans went awry after a protest turned into a riot, where Trump supporters were attacked, windows were smashed, barricades were torn down, and fires were set by a group under the umbrella of the ‘Antifa’ movement.  Antifa is a shortened version of ‘anti-fascists’, a collective of protesters prone to violence, who were also very active in protesting the Inauguration of President Trump.

According to an article appearing in left-wing publication The Nation in January, “Antifa combines radical left-wing and anarchist politics, revulsion at racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes, with the international anti-fascist culture of taking the streets and physically confronting the brownshirts of white supremacy, whoever they may be.”  “We are willing to resist by any means necessary,” one Antifa protestor told reporters on Wednesday night.

The origins of Antifa can be found back in the 1930s, when fascism was taking hold in parts of Europe.  The anti-fascists often engaged in brawls with pro-fascist marchers.  But I think these two movements are a far cry from each other in reality.  In reality, Milo Yiannopoulos is not a fascist, just a libertarian firebrand.  While it’s undeniable that pro-fascist ideology is becoming more popular — almost entirely due to the violence and degeneracy of the radical Left and social justice warriors — Antifa is more than willing to target conservatives, libertarians, and even liberals who are completely associated with fascism.  When the Antifa movement sees itself as a hammer, everything in opposition is a nail.

But even those on the Left have warned about using violence as an expression of political beliefs because the pendulum swings both ways. Once political violence is normalized as acceptable or even tacitly promoted by one side, the other can justifiably follow suit — and that’s how insurgencies, revolutions, and civil wars start.  One of the reasons I’m putting less focus on conflicts with Russia and China right now is because this political violence has the potential to escalate into something bigger.  And if or when it does, I intend on ensuring that members of Forward Observer are at the forefront of the most informed and prepared Americans trying to navigate this conflict.  Thank you for your continued support.


DEA’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment

While doing some research on which transnational gangs and cartels are active in the US and where, I came across this Drug Enforcement Agency report (DOWNLOAD), which contained the map below showing the areas of influence of Mexican drug cartels.  There’s a significant amount of good information in this report, so be sure to search (Ctrl + F) for your state.  Also refer to the several maps in this document and include the cartel information in your Area Studies.



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

Obama presidency ends in abysmal economic conditions

Now that 2016’s 4th Quarter numbers are in, we’ve seen a downturn in overall Gross Domestic Product growth.  While the Office of Management and Budget had forecast an overall growth rate of 2.6% for 2016, a final analysis shows that the GDP only grew by 1.6%.  (In fact, during the eight years of the Obama presidency, the average annual growth rate was an astounding 1.5%, which is less than half the yearly average — 3.4% — for the previous 50 years.)  Here are 2016’s annualized GDP growth by quarter:

  • Q1: 0.8%
  • Q2: 1.4%
  • Q3: 3.5%
  • Q4: 1.9%


El-Erian: Markets are in third phase of Trump Rally

If you’re a market-watcher then I recommend reading this article by Mohammad El-Erian, who has parsed out the phases of the Trump Rally.  El-Erian explains that we’re in the third phase, in which economic policy largely will determine the outcome of a higher or lower market.

“Specifically, the implementation of a well-designed set of policies built around the president’s three headline initiatives — tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure — would unleash reflationary forces that would validate existing asset valuation, and could take them a lot higher if the rest of the world were also to improve its policy mix. If, however, the U.S. stumbled into protectionism and trade wars, the markets would give up more of the recent gains, and possibly even overshoot on the way down.”



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.


  1. I find it interesting that Google has changed the definition of “Fascist” so as to justify the Anarchist’s actions. What do you think the probabilities of the DOJ infiltrating these groups, indicting the leaders and financial supporters under the Patriot Act so as to refill the jail cells in Gitmo that Obama emptied out?

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