04 AUG 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary – Forward Observer Shop

04 AUG 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary


[wcm_nonmember]In this EXSUM… (4367 words)

  • Radioactive material reported stolen in northern Mexico (UPD: Recovered)
  • DOJ announces crack down on sanctuary cities as resistance grows
  • FBI officials may be called to testify against the president
  • NATO-Russia, China, Koreas, and Middle East SITREPs
  • Defense in Brief
  • UPCOMING: 12 August – Unite the Right – Charlottesville, VA
  • Retail chains testing more job-killing inventory technology
  • The bull market may be coming to a screeching halt
  • And more…


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Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption or instability that could lead to civil unrest or violence.

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

PIR3: What are the current indicators of organized political violence?

PIR4: What are the current indicators of economic, financial, or monetary instability?

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

Radioactive material reported stolen in northern Mexico

Mexican authorities reported the theft of an unknown amount of radioactive material from an engineering school in Nuevo Leon, putting five Mexican states on alert.  There was no further information about what was stolen or by whom.  [source]  UPDATE: Radioactive material has been recovered.  [source]


Justice Department announces funding crack down on sanctuary cities as resistance grows

As he pledged to do earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week the Justice Department may begin withholding law enforcement grant money from “sanctuary cities”. Sessions’ threat to withhold funding is currently aimed initially at four cities: Baltimore, Md., Albuquerque, N.M., Stockton and San Bernardino, Calif.  Sessions said if these and other sanctuary communities want federal funding to fight drug trafficking and gang-related violence, they would be required to follow federal rules for receiving such funds. More cities are likely to be named in the future. [source]  Some cities are already moving to block federal efforts to ramp up identification and deportation of illegal immigrants, including Denver, which is now considering a new ordinance — and it looks likely to pass — that would essentially block federal immigration authorities from carrying out their sworn duty. [source]

(Analyst Comment: Obstruction from some cities is likely. At first, resistance will consist primarily of legal challenges, however, there is a possibility that local law enforcement officers in a sanctuary community will be ordered to directly impede federal immigration authorities in the performance of their duties. Additionally, we can expect pro-immigration activists to conduct protests and actions of civil disobedience in opposition to the federal rules.)


FBI officials may be called to testify against the president

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with some members of President Donald Trump’s campaign has entered a new phase: a grand jury has been empaneled in Washington, D.C., in addition to one that had been empaneled in Virginia, to look into the ties of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The new grand jury may be utilized to issue records subpoenas and to hear witness testimony. [source]

But a more alarming — and potentially destabilizing — development relates to a separate report claiming that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe has informed several high-ranking FBI officials that he, and they, may end up being called as witnesses against the president, their ultimate boss, in Mueller’s probe. “What you are going to have is the potential for a powerful obstruction case,” a senior law enforcement official said, according to the report. “You are going to have the [former] FBI director testify, and then the acting director, the chief of staff to the FBI director, the FBI’s general counsel, and then others, one right after another. This has never been the word of Trump against what [James Comey] has had to say. This is more like the Federal Bureau of Investigation versus Donald Trump.” [source]

(AC: Despite polls, there are clear signs that Trump’s overall support among his base remains very strong. The empaneling of a second grand jury, in addition to the growing number of lawyers that Mueller has hired (another one this week — and another one with ties to Democrats) suggests his probe is ramping up, is much more extensive than first thought, and is not going to be over anytime soon. If in fact currently serving FBI officials are called to testify against Trump, that is more likely than not to cause much consternation among his electorate, to say nothing of the political reverberations in Washington and throughout the country.  Whether you want to call them the “deep state,” Obama hold-overs, or partisans with an axe to grind, this represents the most serious threat to the Trump presidency.)

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

The prospects of global conflict continue to revolve five geopolitical actors: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and the Middle East. In the event of war with any of these nations, consider domestic systems disruption a distinct possibility.


By summer’s end, a Russian military exercise will send perhaps as many as 100,000 troops to the western edge of Russian territory in a massive military buildup. In addition to serving as a readiness exercise, it’s a major form of intimidation in response to previous NATO exercises this spring and summer.  While NATO commanders claim their exercises are defensive in nature, they are also meant to showcase military capabilities as well as enhance cooperation and interoperability between the various NATO forces. One of the primary objectives of the NATO exercises is to demonstrate to Moscow how quickly the alliance can bring a lot of muscle to bear to any flashpoint.

Russian troops will be conducting military maneuvers in the Zapad exercise, from 14-20 September.  It will be similar to last year’s Kavkaz exercise, where 120,000 military and civilian personnel were involved.  Zapad will take place primarily in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, in Russia’s west, and in the enclave of Kaliningrad.  2013’s Zapad exercise was much smaller, with some estimates reaching 70,000 involved.  The exercise is being viewed as Putin’s latest effort to project Russian military power — against NATO, which is bolstering its own forces in the east — and to the world, including allies and prospective allies (China is no doubt taking notice as well).

These exercises are of the size and scope of drills that have not been seen since the days of the Cold War, indicating that Moscow and NATO are taking each other seriously. They don’t simply involve the movement of troops and armored units; ships, warplanes, artillery and logistical units are also involved. “Deterrence is about capability, it’s about making sure that any potential adversary knows that we are prepared to do whatever is necessary,” outgoing U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges told reporters recently. “What escalates tensions is when we look weak, not connected, not prepared, that is what invites aggression… The Russians only respect strength, so if we demonstrate cohesion, if we demonstrate that we are together, that we are prepared, then I think we don’t have to worry.” [source]

While readiness exercises are part of keeping armies sharp and ready at a moment’s notice, it’s the size of these drills that is noteworthy.  Last year’s Kavkaz put NATO on edge, especially smaller nations who feared that the large scale exercises would enable Russia to invade quickly, already having its formations deployed.  In fact, we’ve already heard a lot about that threat and we’re likely to hear much more in the build up to 14 September.  Still, as of right now, it looks like Zapad is a response to NATO exercises and not an invasion.


South China Sea SITREP:

War in this region may not start where we expect

What will finally cause war to break out in the South China Sea? Perhaps a war that breaks out somewhere else in Asia, which has not seen large-scale conflict since Korea in the 1950s and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. (The last “war” China fought occurred in 1979.) Nevertheless, the region has become one of the world’s most volatile, and that won’t soon change.

That growing volatility is feeding the expansions of several countries’ militaries throughout the region, including Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Most of their expansion has occurred in response to increased aggression by China, which is clearly angling to become the dominant power in Asia, supplanting the U.S. and its coalition of allies. This comes on top of the fact that Asia is also the most militarized part of the world, with the three countries — the U.S., China, and Russia, in that order — that spend the most on their militaries having significant assets there.  The world’s seven largest militaries including China, the United States, India, North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, and South Korea are all (at least partly) found in Asia.  What’s more, six of those seven are nuclear powers; North Korea being the least-developed of the six.

With such militarization and so many interests competing for many of the same economic prizes — trade, energy and natural resources — these components make the potential for great and regional-power conflict much higher than in other parts of the world where there is far less to compete over and far fewer military assets. What’s more, with growing military power can come a heightened sense of relying upon it to settle disputes and achieve nationalist political objectives.

Consider these potential Asian scenarios:

— China and the United States in a dispute over waters Beijing claims but Washington says (rightfully) are international in nature;

— Island disputes between China and Japan, Japan and Russia, China and Taiwan;

— The current standoff between Chinese and Indian troops over a small patch of earth near the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan;

— War on the Korean peninsula;

— A clash over fishing and/or energy resources between China, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

That’s just to name a few.

As has been said here numerous times before: in this part of the world, tactical decisions can carry strategic consequences.  One miscalculation, most likely by a nation that has not recently fought and therefore has no sense of war or any experience with it, to ignite a much wider, far more destructive regional (or global) conflict that could quickly turn nuclear.


Korean Peninsula SITREP:

In an appearance on the “Today” show earlier this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared to indicate that President Donald Trump is ready to strike North Korea following Pyongyang’s second ICBM launch, which missile analysts believe has the distance to strike a number of major U.S. cities, including Chicago.  Sen. Graham also indicated that if the president were to issue the order, the U.S. military would utterly destroy North Korean opposition.  Asked by the show’s host about whether there is a viable military option in the region, Graham was especially insistent that the naysayers who have consistently claimed one does not exist are incorrect.

“They’re wrong. There is a military option to destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself,” he insisted. “If there’s going to be a war to stop him [Kim Jong-un], it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there, they’re not going to die here and he’s [Trump] told me that to my face.”

“And that may be provocative, but not really. When you’re the president of the United States where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States. This man, Kim Jong-un, is threatening America with a nuclear-tipped missile. President Trump doesn’t want a war, the Chinese can stop this, but to China, South Korea, and Japan, Donald Trump is not going to allow this missile.”

As to the likelihood of a preemptive strike by the U.S.: “I’m saying it’s inevitable unless North Korea changes because you’re making our president pick between regional stability and homeland security,” Graham explained. “He’s having to make a choice that no president wants to make. You can stop North Korea militarily or diplomatically, I prefer the diplomatic approach. But they will not be allowed to have a missile to hit America with a nuclear weapon on top and to allow them to do that is really abandoning homeland security.”

In a statement released by the White House following North Korea’s second ICBM test last weekend, Trump said again, unequivocally, “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.” We believe him.

As for Kim, a top U.S. Korea expert says the pudgy leader is not about to negotiate away his nuclear capabilities “at any price.” [source]  For the better part of a year, several admirals in US Pacific Command have warned that North Korea is the most likely scenario for the next war.  Without question, this region is the White House’s biggest, most serious challenge for the time being.


Middle East SITREP:

Iran, Russia growing tighter with new trade deals and military cooperation

Iran is finally beginning to emerge from years of crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western powers over Tehran’s quest to develop nuclear weapons. One of the biggest benefactors of this emergence, if not the biggest, is Russia.  The two countries often found themselves at odds during the Cold War, but many of those old differences have since been worked out or no longer matter as they once did. That has left the door open for Moscow and Tehran to grow closer, if nothing else, out of necessity.

Iran is currently engaged in an infrastructure-building boom. Decades of sanctions left much of the country’s transportation sector in a state of disrepair; as such, Tehran is on a building tear, refurbishing existing roads and rail systems or constructing new ones. The country is expected to add more than 9,000 miles of new rail lines over the next five years, which will require between 8,000 and 10,000 new rail cars.

Because of its strategic location, sitting astride of Asia to its east and Europe to its west, Iran figures to become a vital, vibrant Eurasian trade hub, moving goods from China, India, and others to Europe and vice-versa. Because both Russia and Iran figure into U.S. and Western sanctions — President Donald J. Trump just signed a bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress slapping new economic sanctions on Moscow over its alleged election interference.  And the U.S. continues to sanction Iran for its support for terrorist groups. Both nations’ relationship moving forward is likely to be as much one of convenience as one of necessity. American and European companies are essentially frozen out of doing any major business in Iran because of the political baggage associated with the sanctions regime. Russian companies, meanwhile, don’t have to deal with such baggage. One of the biggest sectors set to explode, most likely, includes Iranian and Russian cooperation in energy production.  Russia has much to offer in terms of production, refining, and distribution technology, while Iran has much need it.

Military support and trade between both countries is also increasing. Since the end of sanctions triggered by the Iran nuclear deal, military sales and technology transfers between Iran and Russia have grown dramatically. Russia has sold Iran sophisticated S-300 air defense systems, military aircraft, and other equipment with the aim of revamping Tehran’s 1970s-era forces. Both countries appear to be cooperating in Syria as well, as both are witnessing a convergence of interests in support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Still, there are areas where both countries will likely remain competitors. Both are hydrocarbon behemoths; both rely on their export of oil and natural gas for much of their countries’ gross domestic product, and both compete with other Persian Gulf oil producers for markets share, and Iran’s “return to the global economy” is not proceeding as expected by some. As such, average Iranians are not benefiting quickly from the additional economic activity, which is exacting a political toll on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s approval rating slipping from 61 percent just after the Iran nuclear deal was signed to the current 38-40 percent range.

Still, overall the relationship between Moscow and Tehran is definitely improving, forged from a mutual rejection from Washington and much of Europe. And while Rouhani may voice a desire to improve relations with the West, the barriers in front of him make shifting towards Moscow easier, more politically palatable, and give him a better chance of improving things for his country and average Iranian citizens more quickly. [Sources: here and here].


Defense in brief

Sixth-generation Russian fighters will have lasers

The next generation of Russian fighter planes is likely to be equipped with a high-powered laser weapon that can burn through the optics of incoming missiles. The Adviser to the First Deputy CEO of Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) Vladimir Mikheyev, told Russian newswire service TASS that sixth-gen Russian fighters will “be able to burn out ‘the eyes’ of missiles that ‘look at’” them. “Naturally,” he said, “such systems will be installed on sixth-generation aircraft as well.” Also in the mix for the next generation of Russian air assets: Microwave weapons, provided Moscow’s defense industry can figure out how to protect pilots. Finally, Mikheyev said the Russians are also working on radio-photonic radar for their next-gen fighters, which “will be able to see farther than existing radars” and be sophisticated enough to provide radar operators “an almost photographic image” of incoming fighters and other threats. “The plane’s computer will immediately and automatically identify a flying object, for example, and F-18, with specific types of missile armament.” [source] (AC: The U.S. Air Force is also developing lasers for its sixth-generation fighters, hopefully fielding them by 2022. [source])

China carries out test of anti-satellite missile

In an ongoing effort to develop an asymmetrical capability for disrupting an enemy’s satellite-driven military (and civilian) systems, China has conducted another test of an anti-satellite missile, the Dong Neng-3. The July 23 test emanated from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia, in northwestern China. Intelligence officials who monitored the test said it was unsuccessful; the DN-3 appeared to have malfunctioned in the upper atmosphere following the night launch. But despite the test failure, China’s space warfare program is continuing apace. In December, the Defense Department’s annual report on Chinese military progress noted that Beijing created a new Strategic Support Force designed to unify space, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities. [source]  China conducted a successful test of the DN-3 in December 2015, the eighth such test at the time. [source] Russia is also conducting anti-satellite missile tests; Moscow’s weapon is called Nudol. [source]

US STRATCOM commander concerned about slow pace of U.S. nuclear modernization

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, head of STRATCOM, which primarily encompasses America’s nuclear triad (air, sea, land), says he’s growing concerned about the slowed pace of weapons modernization, especially as peer competitors like Russia and China continue to modernize their nuclear systems. And while current forces are sufficient to protect the country, Hyten said, the systems are in dire need of modernization, and the Pentagon — and Congress — are not moving fast enough. That includes modernization of nuclear warheads. “My biggest concern is the ability to go fast enough,” he said, noting that the process is expected to take between 12 and 18 years. Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office estimated that modernization of nuclear systems over a decade would cost in the neighborhood of $341 billion. The Pentagon is currently studying modernization under the Nuclear Posture Review. [source]


PIR3: What are the current indicators of organized political violence?

Two anti-white TV series are nearing production

One of the recurring themes of this PIR is the presence of films — both short and feature-length — and television shows that portray very ugly periods of American history.  While sold as venues where today’s black Americans can be educated about what happened in the past, the second- and third-order effects are overall negative for the stability of the nation.  Recent flicks such as Twelve Years a Slave, Get Out, Django Unchained, Detroit, and other racially-charged movies serve only to inflame racial tensions.  That’s manifested in reactions on social media showing the rise of resentment of whites, and in some cases even violent rhetoric towards whites that undoubtedly serves as motivation for anti-white crimes (of which there are a great many more than are widely reported).  These sentiments lead to punishing those alive today for what happened decades or hundreds of years ago.  And so it’s unfortunate that HBO and Amazon are preparing to produce two TV series that are likely to further inflame the racial divide:  Confederate and Black America. HBO’s Confederate imagines a world where the CSA won the War of Northern Aggression and slavery has adapted into a modern institution.  Given HBO’s penchant for egregious sex and violence, we can imagine how this series might promote anti-white sentiment and possibly violence.  Amazon is working on Black America, a show portraying a black ethno-state across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  The nation, “New Colonia,” is a rising world power, despite the military incursions and meddling of the white United States.  The show’s creator was quoted as saying that the show “will speak to where we are now and the mistakes this country has made and things we should do going forward.”  It’s difficult to imagine how these shows will positively enable black communities while simultaneously victimizing them. [source]

UPCOMING: 12 August – Unite the Right – Charlottesville, VA

On 12 August 2017, a confederation of Alt-Right members will rally and likely spar with “anti-fascist” groups in Charlottesville, VA’s Emancipation Park, recently renamed from Lee Park.  The Alt-Right is expecting hundreds of supporters to show up, and given Charlottesville’s proximity to strong East Coast Antifa groups, I expect a similar mobilization by the Left.  Outbreaks of violence at these events are most dependent on a strong police presence.  Where ever law enforcement officers can compete with, or in some cases outnumber, protesters, we’ve seen very limited and sporadic violence.  The Charlottesville City Council has been tight-lipped about their security plan and the size of law enforcement presence, however, they do say that they will publish those details soon. (Source: here, here and here: https://itsgoingdown.org/nonewkkk-mobilize-defend-charlottesville-va/)


Antifa Roll-Up

Patreon account for radical/violent Leftist website It’s Going Down was removed (https://itsgoingdown.org/patreon-caves-to-tim-pool-alt-right-bans-igd/)

OAN: Redneck Revolt (YouTube)

CA: Yvette Felarca charged with inciting riots

CO: Antifa group ‘drives out neo-Nazis’ (https://itsgoingdown.org/colorado-springs-co-community-drives-neo-nazi-trans-rights-rally/)

LA: New Orleans Antifa confronts Alt-Right (https://itsgoingdown.org/report-back-new-orleans-out-of-town-far-right-stickmen-confronted-by-parade/)

TN: Nashville Antifa organizes direct action (https://itsgoingdown.org/combatting-wage-theft-nashville-collective-direct-action/)

TN: Antifa report back from American Renaissance Conference (https://itsgoingdown.org/american-renaissance-disruption-report-back/)

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

Retail chains testing more job-killing inventory technology

Tally is the world’s first fully autonomous, robotic shelf-auditing and analytics solution for the retail industry. It roams isles taking inventory of stock, then transmits the data to managers who then use it to improve the availability of items for purchase. It is believed that global retailers lose $450 billion annually because of out-of-stock merchandise; Tally is aimed at helping store managers avoid such losses. But as with all other automation, the efficiency of this retail robotics product will come at a price beyond what they cost in money: They will likely cost jobs as well. Human inventory-taking is not efficient; Tally will take the guessing out of the equation and help boost store profitability — by improving inventory management and helping retailers shed workers. [source]

What we ought to be teaching preschoolers about the future economy

At a recent summer camp sponsored by the Developmental Technology Research Group from Tufts University, young children in the preschool-to-second-grade range were being taught a number of ‘kid’ skills — blocking building, taking turns, and dealing with frustration. But the researchers running the camp also say they were attempting to help the kids learn how to succeed in an increasingly automated society, where millions of jobs that are available today won’t be by the time they get old enough to have one. In the age of automation and artificial intelligence, it is more difficult than ever to predict which jobs will still exist when these kids grow up, when ones won’t, and what new jobs will be created. To prepare them for those changes and the automation evolutionary process, educators and researchers say they need to start before they even begin school. Early research indicates that while many parents want their children to learn computer code and lingo, it’s far better to teach human skills that machines cannot replicate, such as collaboration, problem-solving and empathy — though learning technology, of course, will be important, too. [source]

The bull market may be coming to a screeching halt

Despite the fact that most every major stock index is at a record high, some analysts nevertheless see storm clouds gathering on the horizon that could bring about a 2008-style crash-and-burn — and maybe something worse. It should be noted that most major stock purchases over the past eight years or so have been companies buying up their own stock. The other traditional buyers such as institutions, households, and foreigners have either been selling or are buying small quantities. This year, says analyst Bert Dohmen, just a half-dozen stocks have produced 40 percent of the gains on the S&P 500, and it does not take a major amount of manipulation to boost their value. The companies are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft. “S&P 500 earnings have declined for almost three years while the indices go to new highs. That’s abnormal,” he says. He also notes that other indicators are signaling trouble: margin debt in stock is high ($540 billion); student loan debt has topped $1.4 trillion and many are in default; leverage in the financial system is currently around 370 percent of annual U.S. gross domestic product. “All this means that when the recession and bear market finally start, the consequences should be much worse than what we saw in 2008, or year 2000.” And some sectors are already experiencing a slow down: Energy, car sales, retail, car rental, auto parts, and restaurants. [source] [AC: Each week someone seems to predict a market slowdown, but most everyone who does cites many of the same reasons — over-leveraged markets and out-of-whack market factors. Plus, historically, market corrections occur more frequently in the age of central banking. To that, here is another source predicting similar storm clouds.]


Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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