12 MAY 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary – Forward Observer Shop

12 MAY 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary


[wcm_nonmember]In this EXSUM… (4389 words)

  • DNI testifies on Russian election hacking
  • President Trump signs EO to establish commission on election integrity
  • Russian Multi-Domain Battle poses challenges to US
  • US ready to add capabilities to deter Russia in Europe
  • NATO: We’re creating ‘credible deterrent’ to Russia, despite some problems
  • Defense in Brief
  • May Day Austin: Red Guards AAR
  • Militant tactics in Antifa organizing
  • Goldman Sachs: Low volatility in market is ‘worrisome’
  • And more…


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ADMIN NOTE:  Thank you for bearing with me between travel and moving.  I’m settled into a new place and will resume daily intelligence reporting on the Intel Dashboard (https://members.shop.forwardobserver.com).  I have a podcast scheduled for next week, and will resume routine activities.  I’ll also produce the first set of videos from the SHTF Intelligence Course, which will be up in the members area next week.


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?

DNI testifies on Russian election hacking

This week, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats testified before the Senate over accusations of Russian election hacking.  Before getting into what he said, understand that Dan Coats was previously the Republican chairman of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress.  Coats repeatedly warned lawmakers that the national debt and budget deficit were national security issues, going so far as to say that the $20 trillion national debt was the greatest national security threat facing the country.  I have a great amount of respect for Dan Coats, and I think he’s going to make a great DNI.  Therefore, I place a great amount of credence to his testimony.  That said, Coats described Russia as being a “major threat to US Government, military, diplomatic, commercial, and critical infrastructure.”  He continues:

Moscow has a highly advanced offensive cyber program, and in recent years, the Kremlin has assumed a more aggressive cyber posture. This aggressiveness was evident in Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 US election, and we assess that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized the 2016 US election-focused data thefts and disclosures, based on the scope and sensitivity of the targets. Outside the United States, Russian actors have conducted damaging and disruptive cyber attacks, including on critical infrastructure networks. In some cases, Russian intelligence actors have masqueraded as third parties, hiding behind false online personas designed to cause the victim to misattribute the source of the attack. Russia has also leveraged cyberspace to seek to influence public opinion across Europe and Eurasia. We assess that Russian cyber operations will continue to target the United States and its allies to gather intelligence, support Russian decision-making, conduct influence operations to support Russian military and political objectives, and prepare the cyber environment for future contingencies.

We know that Russia has advanced cyber capabilities, and there are very good reasons to believe that some of their capabilities surpass the US.  This year, the Defense Science Board claimed that the offensive cyber capabilities of both Russia and China currently outpace by at least a decade the US ability to defend our critical infrastructure against attacks.  We’ve seen Russian cyber and influence operations against both NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe, and we know that Russian intelligence services are very active against the US, which includes domestic espionage operations.  If you need a further indicator that this is the case, consider that the US and Western intelligence services are very active against Russia, too.

In several EXSUMs following the 2016 election, I’ve stated my case that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not pro-Trump, but simply anti-US.  (Although I do believe Putin was anti-Hillary, as has been explained.)  This is the backdrop:  Putin wants to bring back the Russian Empire and restore the Russian Federation as a global superpower.  He can’t do that as long as the US and NATO, and the West at-large, pursue a generally open policy of containment.  The West’s goals of containment and Putin’s goals of Russian emergence are mutually exclusive; that is, there can be only one.  (This is a large reason why the Russians are so active in militarizing the Arctic: to break containment and challenge the US from the north.)  Therefore, disrupting the US election cycle was likely, at a minimum, an attractive course of action.  With the US sidelined by a domestic political dispute, US leaders would not have been able to focus as much on Europe, which would have allowed Putin to break down Ukraine as a containment barrier implemented by NATO, and then focus on breaking down support for the West in former Warsaw Pact and Soviet satellite states, as Putin is certainly doing right now.  This is the crux of the conflict in Ukraine: it’s the buffer zone between Russian emergence and Western containment.

Even before the election, I documented cases of Russian cyber exploitation and espionage against the US and other Western powers.  Details over the election aside, there is no doubt that Russia is heavily involved in influence activities in the US.  Can you imagine a scenario where the US is carrying out influence activities in Russia, but Russia is not responding in kind?  That is perhaps the greatest supporting indicator pointing to Russian activities against the US, and turnabout is fair play.


President Trump signs EO to establish commission on election integrity

On Thursday, President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, whose mission is to “study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections,” with the ultimate goal of purging non-eligible voters off voting rolls.  Last year, judges in at least six states struck down Voter ID laws, citing that voter fraud either didn’t exist or occurred so infrequently that a law was not useful.  Since federal elections are in the federal purview, we can expect issues of voter fraud to be discovered and publicized through this commission.  This will, however, inflame political tensions on the Left, will likely aid in radicalizing Leftists, and give Leftists more opportunities to spread agitprop (see Militant tactics in Antifa organizing under PIR 3.)  (SOURCE)


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, and Iran. In the event of war with any of these nations, consider domestic systems disruption a distinct possibility.

Russian Multi-Domain Battle poses challenges to US

“So we did this Russian new-generation warfare study — that’s what essentially spotlighted for us that there were old technologies being used in new ways and new technologies being used in new ways, and the combination of those are creating gaps that we do not have solutions for,” said Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, acting director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center.  “Even a most casual look into what Russia is doing in eastern Ukraine today tells us insights into what a multi-domain battle environment will look like,” according to Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, the commanding general of 21st Theater Sustainment Command. “It will require us to operate and sustain operations in an unforgiving lethal environment, one in which our Army [has] not operated in since World War II or some of the battles in Korea.”


US ready to add capabilities to deter Russia in Europe

On his trip to the Baltics, SECDEF Mattis said that the US is ready to deploy additional units to Europe in order to deter Russian operations.  “We will deploy whatever capability is necessary here,” Mattis said.  Defense officials previously discussed a temporary deployment of a Patriot missile battery over the summer.  At a training ground in Lithuania, Mattis said, “The reason for the deployment you see right now is the lack of [Russian] respect for international law.”  It’s become quite common for both US/NATO and Russian officials to accuse each other of overstepping international law.  In June, US and NATO battalions will participate in exercises to defend the Suwalki Gap in Lithuania.  In September, Russia is set to hold its annual military exercise called Zapad, which will include 70,000 to 100,000 Russian soldiers, near the Lithuanian border.


NATO: We’re creating ‘credible deterrent’ to Russia, despite some problems

“It is a complex area, and Russia intends to keep it that way,” BG Tate says of the situation in Europe.  Recently, NATO made the decision to rotate an additional Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) to the region in order to create a “credible deterrent” against Russia, although its effectiveness is in question.  “There are unique requirements in Europe that our [combat aviation brigades] are not equipped with or prepared for… [T]he forgotten art of camouflage is something we’d better start getting smart with really quick,” BG Tate said.  “We will not have big aviation [forward operating bases] that will be unthreatened anywhere in Europe if we get into a fight with Russia.”

In addition, that rotational CAB currently lacks a heavy armed reconnaissance squadron, so they’re missing two unmanned aerial systems for the fight.  Despite some problems, one Army colonel said, “[T]he benefit of having 10th CAB in theater with the voracious exercise schedule that we have is each of those battalions is going to participate in enough training at the platoon and company and battalion task force level where they’re truly building readiness.”


Defense in Brief:

According to a February memo, the Army Science Board is set to conduct a study “to assess operational approaches and capabilities (leveraging technology, partnerships, and local populations) which would enable Army units to operate effectively in megacities and dense urban areas in the 2025-2030 time frame.” Megacities are defined as areas with a population of 10 million or more. (DOWNLOAD MEMO)  “In megacities and dense urban areas, the sheer population and structural densities will require Army units to modify the way they conduct missions, as kinetic operations have a much greater potential for unintended second- and third-order consequences and collateral damage in these environments…  In the case of megacities, there will [be] some system of infrastructure in place, even if degraded, that units can learn to leverage to exert some measure of control over the population.”

The Marine Corps is set to establish the first “information warfare group” this year.  Despite no plans to achieve initial operating capacity this year, a Marine general said, “[T]he thinking is create the formation and let’s get started as quick as we can.”  This new unit will focus on communications, offensive and defense cyber operations, and intelligence for the Marine Corps.  This follows a larger trend in the Army of being able to forward deploy cyber units, especially to Europe, in order to compete with Russian information warfare, which includes cyber warfare and influence operations/propaganda.


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

May Day Austin: Red Guards AAR

May Day Austin was an admitted failure for the communists (1; URL below).  Red Guards Austin (RGA) is the local communist group here, and they fashion themselves as the militant revolutionary vanguard for the communist movement in the US.  I’d like to share a few things from their recent after action review (AAR), which I think has implications far beyond Austin.  (These points also show the value of both their propaganda and open source intelligence collection.)

“For the past 3 years RGA has led the development of a militant coalition called the May Day Brigade which organizes street actions on May 1st.”

If you live near a major metropolitan area and a college campus, then chances are good that you have a similar group with similar goals.  Spend 15-30 minutes this week to:

  1. Identify your local communist group(s)
  2. Identify how they disseminate information and propaganda
  3. Identify their community organizing activities; then
  4. Monitor these dissemination channels for future information
  5. Monitor their community organizing activities (i.e., identify movement growth)

The post cites the reasons why RGA’s May Day was overrun with right wing Patriots; namely, that there were two May Day events that split their numbers.  Still, RGA says, “We had no prior knowledge to the plans of the far right.”  This speaks to intelligence gathering.  Yes, it’s possible that they did have advanced warning, however, it’s more likely that they’re pointing out a failure that they aim to correct.  RGA says as much when they say that the “far right” and communist/social-democrat groups “cannot co-exist”.  Therefore, there’s a high likelihood that they are completing steps 1-5 as outlined above for the “far right”.  So should you for communist groups.

There’s also a symbiotic relationship between the police and the far Left, although it’s not mutually beneficial in orthodox terms.  For the past several months, far Left websites have pointed out that the “far right” and “fascists” are proxy groups for the Trump administration; in essence saying that the “far right” is carrying the message that Trump cannot.  The communists also accuse the police of providing protection for the “far right,” as the two march hand in hand in fascist solidarity against the anti-fascists.  RGA specifically complains that the Austin Police Department defended the “far right” May Day protesters.  This is a selling point for communists as ‘victims of state repression’ — a plank of their movement — and is pure propaganda.

RGA also says that it’s the duty of every communist to defend themselves:

“The main thing is to remember that if a fascist tries to attack you or snatch what you are holding it is your duty to offer stiff and swift defense. If you have a stick use it to break their knuckles or noses.”

During the protest, “far right” marchers antagonized and in a few cases even attacked communists.  RGA says that they should have switched into “combat” mode:

“We failed to switch tactics from marching tactics to battle tactics due to a crisis of on-the-ground leadership for which we take full responsibility and are putting measures in place to prevent this error in the future.”

On this point, RGA seems to have a (potentially temporary) crisis of leadership, which resulted in “breaks in discipline as well as chain of command.” While we continue to gather intelligence information on RGA leadership, it’s incumbent on you to gather similar information about the leadership of your local communist cells.

Then RGA goes into the topic of guns:

“The right has had extensive access to firearms and training and the left has been playing catch up… We must work toward and facilitate an armed and trained left which is also composed of experienced and confident street fighting units which should be armed with sticks or other blunt and close range weapons.”

According to RGA, after an altercation with a fascist, a communist “Partisan unit moved into the ready position prepared to chamber a round,” presumably of a firearm.  Some communists in the march were armed, and by RGA’s admittance there was nearly a gunfight (cannot independently confirm the latter).  (After looking through these photos a second time, one RGA member is carrying a commo pouch which has an antenna sticking out.  That’s probably worth checking out for your own area.)  See following photos:

Furthermore, should Red Guards Austin export their lessons learned around the country, then the following paragraph will have important implications.

We have come to the understanding that power only respects power, that the police engage differently when a group is armed for fear of escalation. With unarmed demonstrations they bark their orders and with armed demonstrations they tend to show more manners.  We should not take this fact to mean that they will hesitate to defend fascism with lethal force, just as we must not hesitate to defend each other likewise… We will continue training physically, mentally, and with arms to resolve the principle contradiction.


We on the other hand do not fear fascists and we do not fear confrontation. We are prepared to lose certain brawls in the interest of winning the coming war.

Later on the article (which is quite long), RGA points out a disagreement central to the Leftist movement: those who support “civil disobedience” don’t support revolutionary violence, which forms a rift among the far Left.

It must be mentioned that without hesitation social democrats and Trotskyites wasted no time using this as an opportunity to attack the Maoist left. Their ideology, like that of Trotsky, rushes to attack actual revolutionaries when the fascists make their move. Meanwhile they engaged in “civil disobedience,” voluntarily allowing some of their people to take arrests. These arrests were for show and no one was booked. We insist that getting arrested should never be something revolutionaries accept willingly, that while we should not fear arrest we should not volunteer for it—we should always resist arrest.

RGA ends the article by saying that the “fascists themselves will probably be emboldened by this event,” which was a communist defeat, “and they will surely try to march openly in our streets again”.  (Yes, there will certainly more pro-Trump marches in Austin, I can assure you.)  RGA continues:

We should all take this seriously and take every measure to shut them down. We must not hesitate to sharpen our specific fighting skills with the understanding that there are a number of ways to fight. We must persist in political education geared towards the masses themselves and we must learn from the people while we provide communist leadership.

Following losses in Berkeley (April 15), Auburn (April 18), Austin (01 May), and other locations, the communist and anarchist alliance is doubling-down, promising to continue training, which includes firearms training.  This isn’t over by a long shot.

1:  https://redguardsaustin.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/fight-fail-fight-again-fail-again-fight-again-until-victory/


13 May: Boston Free Speech Rally to be marred by Antifa protests

On 13 May, members of the Alt-Right and supporters of free speech are scheduled to hold a Free Speech Rally in Boston, MA (see Facebook event image below).  Predictably, New England antifas plan to disrupt free speech.  We will not be battle tracking this event, however, I encourage those of you in the northeast to spend some time looking at the event.

As always, we ask that you please pass along pertinent details to us, if you attend.



IWW spring issue now available

Pro-union, socialist group Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) released their Spring 2017 issue late last month.  Page 2 of the PDF is an ‘IWW Director’ with contact info for IWW chapters in 39 states.  Page 16 features an interview about how unions can organize and mobilize ‘workers’ to fight back against capitalism.  The subject of the interview recommends that union leaders start listening to worker complaints again, explaining that unions should spend 70 percent of the time listening, and 30 percent of the time talking, which should be ‘agitation’.  The subject pushes face-to-face meetings with the working class, and asking a series of questions that leads workers down the path of ‘self-discovery’ that, presumably, the working class is exploited and the answer is to organize and mobilize against capitalism.  There’s nothing ground breaking in this issue, but if you have an IWW chapter in your area, then I’d encourage you to spend a few minutes looking it over.  I have a list nearing 100 IWW chapters that I’m organizing and will post on the IWW page of the Intelliwiki (HERE).  (Source:  https://iww.org/content/industrial-worker%e2%80%94spring-2017-1779-vol-114-no-2-0)


Militant tactics in Antifa organizing

I recently read an interesting interview about “militant tactics in anti-facist organizing,” which will help us understand the dogma behind Antifa.  Keep in mind that this interview is biased; it’s clearly omitting certain details to paint Antifa in the best light possible, and the right wing in the worst light possible.  (That’s something we call agitprop, or “agitation propaganda”.)  According to this interview, Antifa aims not to disrupt the free speech of far right politics, as he explains, but rather to oppose the organization of the far right.

“And so the way we approach fascist organizing or right wing organizing is not really focused on the question of free speech but is focused on whether or not we’re going to let them organize to implement their program. And our perspective is that we’re not. We’re going to challenge it. We’re going to try to stop it. We’re going to try to stop them.”

The communists and leftist-anarchists understand that the traditionalist, conservative, “Alt-Right” factions pushing back against cultural Marxism and political communism is part of a nationwide culture war.  At least in this instance, Antifa organizers are not as much concerned with an individual supporting right wing politics, as they are afraid of the right wing organizing against them in the culture war.  By stopping the grassroots activities of the Right, Antifa inhibits the organization and mobilization that sustains the right wing movement.  (Although, it’s arguable that Antifa riots and Leftist political violence against conservatives has done more to awaken right wing supporters than the right wing leaders themselves.)  A schism has formed among the Left over these violent tactics.  Last year, I wrote about how Socialist Party USA eschews violence until a critical mass of popular support can sustain a violent revolution.  Communist Party USA, at least publicly, does not currently support violence or a violent revolution, although there are revolutionary elements of other communist organizations, such as Revolutionary Community Party (RevCom), who do support a violent struggle.  This interview mentions “hearts and minds” and alienating potential Leftist supporters by using violence.  The subject says:

“So I think that we have to be really careful about arguments like that [against using violence], because I think it tends to try and reduce all of our tactics to whatever the most moderate elements within the movement are willing to support. And that’s just not a recipe for building the kind of movement that we need.”

Clearly violence will remain on the menu of Leftist agitators and organizers as they export tactics.  The interview goes into the General Defense Committees; the more militant wing of the IWW.  The subject explains:

“I think that while we are proud to be militant anti-fascists, and we take that identity seriously, and we take those tactics seriously, we don’t want to marginalize ourselves, we don’t want to be… a vanguard versus vanguard where people just see two street gangs fighting with each other… Instead, we want to try and organize ourselves and our coworkers and our neighbors into a popular response to the fascists. One that, when we take action, we’re not just doing it on behalf of a small cadre of people but that it’s really an expression of a community, and of the working class as a whole.”  (Entire interview: https://iww.org/content/militant-tactics-anti-fascist-organizing-interview-transcript)

What this subject is explaining is the early process that supports a classic Marxist insurgency.  Over the past couple of decades, ‘propaganda by deed’ — that is, news coverage and viral videos of anarchist riots like 1999’s Battle of Seattle and other, more recent events — has given “social anarchism” and Leftist agitation a platform whereby millions of Americans have been reached, and thousands recruited to Leftist organizations.

Insurgencies begin with dissatisfaction with governance, or grievances based on political, religious, ethnic, societal, or economic grounds.  These communities become a “politicized social base,” which is the first step of an insurgency: an unruly and angry social base dedicated to social or political change, most often through violence.  Here are some indicators of a Marxist/communist insurgency, along with check marks where indicators are present (red = strong; yellow = moderate/increasing; green = anecdotal evidence).

  • Agitators form an atmosphere of discontent through propaganda, creating a politicized social base []
  • Funding (typically foreign, but not always) sustains increased agitation []
  • Recruitment and indoctrination increases to expand this social base []
  • Extreme elements of the politicized social base begin to arm themselves, or outside funding provides arms []
  • Expansion of and coordination among resistance networks []
  • Establishment of formalized, armed resistance elements []
  • Intensification of propaganda, psychological preparation for revolt [?]
  • Overt and covert pressures against government; strikes, riots, and disorder [?]
  • Sabotage and terror to demonstrate weakness of government [?]
  • Increased underground activities to demonstrate strength of revolutionary organization [?]
  • Intense sapping of morale of government, police, and military [?]
  • Increased political violence, terror, and sabotage [?]
  • Establishment of shadow government, shadow governance activities [?]
  • Minor military and paramilitary actions [?]
  • Large-scale military and paramilitary actions [?]

There are indicators that a potential insurgency is forming, although the presence and/or development of these first six indicators does not mean that future indicators will also develop.  This is something I started tracking in November 2016 and I plan to host a matrix of indicators under PIR 3 on the Intelliwiki because I do expect to see additional indicators in the future.  There is an additional consideration that should be understood.  We’re not looking at a national insurgency, but rather regional insurgencies.  Leftist strongholds where, upon recognizing the futility of national revolt (happening now), insurgents will seek to carve out a state within a state.  It’s these communities where popular support is being built, or where it has been achieved, that an insurgency is most likely to occur, and it’s exactly these areas where social anarchists envision their ‘no go zones,’ much like Muslims have built in cities in France, Germany, and the UK.

Until violence becomes more frequent in volume or intensity, know that there are currently six indicators out of 15, which act as an ‘early warning’ that an armed Leftist insurgency is forming or could form in the future.  I’ll continue to keep an eye on how this develops, and work on getting this system implemented in the Intel Dashboard (https://members.shop.forwardobserver.com) to track regionally.


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

Goldman Sachs: Low volatility in market is ‘worrisome’

“I don’t know what brings us out of the doldrums, but I do know this is not a normal resting state,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, referring to the CBOE volatility index that hit lows not seen since 2006.  “The low volatility may be a bit of a bubble of confidence, but we won’t know until we know,” Blankfein said. “My own expectation, which I never rely on, … is that we’re muddling through. A lot can go wrong, but the base case is that things are going right.” (SOURCE)


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.

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