Strategic Intelligence Summary for 17 November 2017

STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY – 17 November 2017 

In this report (4,998 words)…

  • Gun confiscations coming to Washington State
  • Russian hackers mimicking U.S. government emails
  • Experts believe drug resistance to spreading Madagascar plague inevitable
  • Filipino Factor poses problems for the U.S.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran moving closer to outright war
  • Russian military reportedly to reach 1.9 million next year
  • War preparations for North Korea continue as China will probably fall short of delivering for Trump
  • DHS drills to simulate ‘biological attacks’ on critical U.S. infrastructure
  • Defense in Brief reports
  • And more…

 

ADMIN NOTE: The Holiday Season is upon us. Both Strategic Intelligence and Low Intensity Conflict will be published on Friday, 24 November on the week of Thanksgiving. The week of Christmas (25-29 December), we will be publishing both reports in a shorter format. After the new year, Strategic Intelligence will be published regularly on Thursdays, and Low Intensity Conflict on Fridays. Thank you for the support, and we hope that you have a wonderful rest of the year with us.

ADMIN NOTEx2: We’ve updated our PIRs this week, and these will remain for the foreseeable future. Following a more traditional PMESII format, through these four PIRs we’re now covering instability in Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, and Infrastructure sectors. We’ve also expanded our Defense in Brief reporting, which will now appear in PIR2.

 


Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the new indicators of political or governmental instability that could lead to collapse or failure?

PIR2: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?

PIR3: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the economic or financial industry that could lead to instability?

PIR4: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to society and critical infrastructure that could lead to instability?


PIR1: What are the new indicators of political or governmental instability that could lead to collapse or failure?

Gun confiscations coming to Washington State

King County, Wash., officials are preparing to go after guns possessed by persons convicted of domestic abuse. Council members approved $600,000 in funding — unanimously — to target those convicted of domestic abuse who refuse to turn over their firearms to police, as the law requires. The council approved the measure just a day after a Texas man convicted of domestic abuse killed 26 people in a small-town church; the Air Force admitted it had failed to report the former airman’s conviction and court martial for domestic abuse to the FBI, as required by federal statutes. “Too many times weapons aren’t being surrendered. The perpetrator is denying that they even exist and we know that’s not true in many cases,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. [source: http://www.king5.com/news/local/king-co-funds-task-force-to-get-guns-from-domestic-abusers/490023935]

(Analyst Comment: Given that police departments have utilized heavily-armed SWAT units to make arrests for minor drug offenses, we have to believe they will most certainly be used for gun confiscation raids. Militarization of law enforcement and the likelihood that their targets are considered armed and dangerous increase the risk of violence.)

 

Russian hackers mimicking U.S. government emails

One of every eight emails sent from what appeared to be a government address in October was phony. The emails came from hackers and spammers, officials with cybersecurity firm Proofpoint said, with about 10 percent of the spoofed emails from IP addresses outside of the country. In the case of one federal agency the firm won’t name, 80 percent of spoofed emails that appeared to originate from the agency actually came from Russian IP addresses.

(Analyst Comment: Without debating whether Russia ‘colluded’ with the Trump campaign last year to help him win the election, Russia remains no friend of the U.S. — or this administration — and is actively seeking to undermine our security on a daily basis, just as they have been for decades.)

 

Experts believe drug resistance to spreading Madagascar plague inevitable

The outbreak of plague in Madagascar continues to sweep across the island while threatening to spread further into Africa and beyond. Health officials are now warning that it’s inevitable that this bacterial infection, already infecting over 2000 people, will become resistant to antibiotics — which is the only way to treat someone infected with the plague. Experts are warning that, due to overuse, antibiotic resistance is inevitable. Once the bacteria is resistant, the Madagascar healthcare system will be overwhelmed, and the disease will have control over the nation. And from there, it’s likely to spread beyond Africa. Professor John Joe McFadden from the University of Surrey recently said, “Fortunately in plague, it has not developed much antibiotic resistance. If that kicks in, the plague will be far, far scarier. If you throw more and more antibiotics at patients, antibiotic resistance is more less inevitable.” [source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5084903/Madagascar-s-healthcare-unable-plague.html]


PIR2: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?

South China Sea SITREP

The Filipino Factor poses problems for the U.S.

As President Trump headed home from his 12-day Asian trip, one thing seemed clear: He was unable to fully convince Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he should keep his country well within the economic and security sphere of its oldest Western ally, the United States. Rather, Duterte praised China as Trump departed.

“Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte concluded an annual meeting of Southeast Asian nations with warm words for China—the neighboring power whose territorial claims have galvanized opposition from some of the region’s smaller nations at past summits. Mr. Duterte wrapped up meetings Tuesday describing China as gracious for agreeing to begin talks on a long-awaited code of conduct in the South China Sea. The Philippine president had established after taking office last year that he wouldn’t challenge Chinese expansion in the disputed waters, eliminating a flashpoint that had roiled gatherings of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

What Duterte is actually doing is trying to have it both ways. He wants to remain flirtatious with the U.S. — there is some inherent value in that — while sucking up to China as the rising dominant power. The “code of conduct” he believes is forthcoming is not likely to be wholly honored by China.

There’s more indicating Manila’s shift to Beijing is more than just an observation. The Philippines signed 14 deals with China during the first visit by a Chinese head of state to the country in a decade. And Duterte praised Beijing for its timely delivery of a supply of arms to help put down an Islamist insurgency in the southern city of Malawi at the “critical” moment. (He also praised Russia for sending arms but they didn’t arrive until after the fighting was over.) The problem with this narrative is that it leaves out one critical detail: Above all it was U.S. arms and support that enabled an old ally to put down the insurgency, so Duterte’s comments are an intentional slight against Washington.

At the same time, Trump is touting that the U.S.-Philippines relationship is on the mend and in fact is “great” after souring during the Obama administration. But with every action Duterte takes, he proves that he’s more interested in cultivating and improving a relationship with a South China Sea rival of the U.S.

Outlook: This will pose strategic problems for the United States in the future. It’s very possible that other regional powers — none of whom individually could stand up to China militarily, and they know it — will follow Duterte’s lead and form agreements that Beijing will keep only as long as it serves its interests, to “keep the peace,” even as China continues to pursue policies not in their interest.

 

Middle East SITREP

Saudi Arabia and Iran moving closer to war

The world is beginning to take more notice of the mounting tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Middle East’s biggest powers outside of Israel. Tensions between both have increased since our last Strategic Intelligence Summary, and the next battleground between the two could be Lebanon. Locals there are seeing signs they’ve never witnessed before, with one barber in the Shia suburb of Dahiyeh commenting, “This one’s different. It could lead to every valley and mountaintop. And if it starts, it may not stop.”

That’s because now, more than at any point in modern history, the Saudis and Iranians are squaring off against each other, with each seeking nothing less than regional domination. At the same time Iran is desperately moving to complete a land corridor extending from Tehran to Tartous in Syria, on the Mediterranean coast, which gives it access to a seaport a long way to its west — far from the heavily patrolled Persian Gulf. “They are two months from finishing this,” said a senior regional intelligence official. “This changes things. It gives them an open supply line to move whatever they want. And it gives them strategic depth. It is a big deal.”

The most valuable player in all this for Iran has been its proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, which Tehran is currently using to blunt Israel, and the risk of war is real. The Israelis put their military on high alert this week, and while the alert reportedly was in response to threats of retaliation from another terror group, Islamic Jihad over the deaths of 12 of its members, it comes at a time of heightened tension anyway and serves as a convenient reminder that Israel has many enemies in the region.

Finally, earlier in the week the Saudis began preparing their air force for strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon, an action that, if it takes place, would no doubt benefit Israel and may even be conducted in conjunction with the Israeli air force. The Saudis have ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon, strongly suggesting that some form of military action may be imminent.

Outlook: A wider war in the Middle East between two major oil-producing countries will have extremely negative effects on global oil markets, at a bare minimum, which of course will spill over into the U.S. economy. While it’s not very likely that the Saudi-Iranian conflict spills into a conventional war of invasion, the conflict will certainly continue through proxy wars across the Middle East. The losses are real, costs are high, and there’s a real likelihood of worsening internal instability across the region.

 

NATO-Russia SITREP

Russian military reportedly to reach 1.9 million next year

Russian president Vladimir Putin recently signaled his intention for the Russian military’s strength to grow to 1.9 million personnel by January of 2018, which includes civilian support roles. It’s unknown just how large the Russian military is now; but estimates are around 800,000. Putin’s goal for next year is to grow military personnel to over one million. Significant growth is expected in both naval and land forces, with a focus on Russian strength in its Western military district which borders European and NATO nations. The Russian military also announced that it’s holding joint anti-missile drills in Beijing with China next month.

Perhaps the biggest news this week was an announcement from the Russian Ministry of Defense, which accused the United States of providing support to Islamic State militants in Syria. The MoD released photographic evidence as proof, however, it was later determined that at least one of the photographs was a screenshot from a video game called AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron. Another photograph was taken from 2016 video footage in Iraq. The Russian MoD later admitted the mistake and removed the photos.

Meanwhile in Europe, NATO released an unclassified version of its Strategic Foresight Analysis (DOWNLOAD), which includes their expectations for the region to the year 2035. Characterized by “a rapid rate of change, complexity, [and] uncertainty,” the future security environment outlined in this report will inform NATO commanders of battlefield expectations.

This week, NATO officials said they were concerned about an “increased risk of major conflict”. In September, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said that Russia was the greatest military threat, but that China would overtake them around the year 2025.

Lastly, NATO this week formally apologized for offending Turkey, technically at NATO member, during a drill in Norway. Apparently, a chart of enemy forces was used which allegedly showed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the leader of an enemy force. Turkey protested and withdrew their 40 troops taking part in the exercise. Turkey and the rest of NATO are on tenuous terms as it is, over Turkey’s special relationship with Russia. Most recently, U.S. officials threatened that if Turkey follows through with the purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, then they will not be able to purchase some U.S. equipment, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Outlook: I’ll read over the SFA report this weekend and provide a detailed overview for SI subscribers next week. It was just released yesterday and I’ve not had time to read it in earnest. As for developments in the NATO-Russia cold war this week, we continue following a trend of military developments, exercises, and deployments. Both sides are in regular contact with each other, and war is unlikely imminent. Both sides, however, continue to act as if they’re preparing for a large scale war, and unless NATO changes course on its policy of expansion in Europe, then war is likely inevitable. Putin has no other choice than to push back against NATO expansion, and it’s really as simple as that.

 

North Korea SITREP

War preparations for North Korea continue as China will probably fall short of delivering for Trump

In a further indication that war with North Korea is a distinct possibility that every element of the U.S. military is preparing for, sources close to the National Guard told Strategic Intelligence that the state-level reserve force is also actively planning for that contingency — hard to do, given that the Guard, while subject to federal call-up, is first a state military element that cannot be quickly mobilized for great-power war like the active duty force. That said, units around the country that the Pentagon would tap are front-loading their annual training — from the traditional late-spring/summer months to January and February, and for longer periods of time (three-week annual training periods as opposed to the traditional two-week stint). The source said that the longer training would amount to “home station” preparation: Weapons qualifications, updating medical records, physical exams, dental exams, and other pre-mobilization requirements. The money has yet to be allocated for large-scale call-ups, but the source said if that showed up in state Guard coffers, units could expect that war is on the horizon.

That said, President Trump spent time in Asia this past week on his first swing through the region, which included meetings with leaders from South Korea, Japan and China, three powers that would or could be affected by war in the Korean peninsula. No doubt that the subject of what to do about North Korea’s continuing nuclear weapons and ICBM programs came up with each of these leaders. The key has always been, and remains, China: If the government of President Xi Jinping ever gets serious about cutting off nearly all economic lifelines to Pyongyang, it’s likely the regime of Kim Jong-un would not survive, at least in a manner that could threaten global stability.

China may be willing to do what it takes at this point. Trump touted several “major” trade deals with allies in the region but also with China; understand that China will never act against North Korea for such lofty goals as “world peace.” Beijing would have to get something in return — something it values more than a continued (tenuous) relationship with Pyongyang; like better trade conditions with the U.S. — something Trump has threatened to cut for the better part of two years, through his campaign last year and as president.

Just a few days after Trump said he and Xi had “agreed that we would not accept a so-called freeze-for-freeze agreement,” the Chinese government announced it was pushing for that very thing. Beijing has asked Pyongyang to freeze its missile and nuclear tests in exchange for the suspension of annual U.S.-South Korean joint military drills.

Outlook: Let’s remember that Trump has inherited the North Korean mess, and at a time when Pyongyang is the furthest along in its missile and nuclear development. So the freeze-for-freeze policy has to reflect that reality, and it’s one that no administration prior to his has employed. Like Duterte in the Philippines, previous U.S. administrations also tried appeasement with North Korea, unsuccessfully. None ever put as much pressure on China to help out.

Still, China’s concern about a U.S. ally on its borders following a collapse of North Korean society still appears to outweigh its desire denuclearize a pesky neighbor who isn’t threatening Beijing. And in the end, if anything is done about the North Korean nuclear threat, the U.S. may have to go it alone, with or without China’s agreement. To that end, the South Koreans — well aware of some conciliatory dialogue from the U.S. president during his just-completed Asian tour — “didn’t see any change in Mr. Trump’s basic position on Pyongyang.”

 

Defense in Brief: What are the new developments and indicators of war in the U.S. military-industrial complex?

Air Force

The U.S. Air Force says it is short about 2,000 pilots out of a force of some 20,000 pilots, meaning 1 in 10 pilot openings is unfilled. What’s more, as Air Force leaders tallied up the numbers at the end of the fiscal year, they said they weren’t really surprised by the shortfall. “Last summer, we were reporting to people that we were about 1,500 pilots short in the Air Force — and we expected it to get worse,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon. (Analyst Comment: These aren’t crisis numbers just yet, however, the Air Force’s pilot numbers are trending in the wrong direction. If the trend continues, it will represent a huge national security problem.)

Air Force brass say they won’t use President Trump’s executive order to recall retired pilots because involuntarily recalling retired pilots to active duty isn’t the long-term solution the service needs. The president’s 20 October executive order alters current U.S. law allowing up to 1,000 former pilots to return for three-year duty, up from 25. “We appreciate the flexibility, but we want pilots with more than just a three-year commitment,” an Air Force spokesman said. While acknowledging the current shortage, the spokesman said the service typically wants a 10-20-year commitment from pilots. (Analyst Comment: The Air Force intends to close the pilot shortage through a three-part process that focuses on the retention of pilots, improvement of the training process and a review of the branch’s policies to find the “most efficient ways” to use pilots.)

The rising North Korean nuclear and ICBM threat is fueling a missile defense “renaissance” in the U.S. defense industry. At a single plant in Huntsville, Ala., defense contractor Raytheon is manufacturing about 20 Standard Missile variants each month, most of them destined for U.S. and Japanese warships in the Pacific. Soon the facility will begin manufacturing the SM-3, called Block II-A, which can travel farther and higher to better intercept intermediate-range ICBMs. They should be delivered beginning next year. “Strike missile capability and missile defenses are ramping up in terms of interest, both with the United States and our partners and allies, and also among our adversaries,” said Tom Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The Air Force says it wants to upgrade the country’s nuclear forces more quickly. With design work just barely underway for new ICBMs and nuclear cruise missiles, the service’s top general is already looking for ways to speed up the design and acquisition process. Gen. David Goldfein said he’s “comfortable with the technology I’m seeing,” however, “not as comfortable with the the schedule.” The new missiles are expected to be ready to deploy by the late 2020s, and that’s only if Congress and the White House approve the $100 billion it would take to acquire them. “My sense is that we’re in a good place right now in terms of how we’re working with industry going forward,” the Air Force chief of staff said in an interview. “The question I’ll continue to have is: How do I move it left? How do we get this capability earlier? Because if you can actually get it faster, you can get it cheaper sometimes.” (Analyst Comment: Russia has a head start on the U.S. regarding upgrades to its nuclear forces; China is also moving ahead with new missile designs. The U.S. nuclear arsenal is aging and we’re clearly playing catch-up.)

Navy

An internal U.S. Navy memo is warning against bringing back mothballed Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, saying the effort would cost billions while cutting into shipbuilding funds for new, better warships and adding little to the sea service’s overall capabilities. The idea of reactivating the old frigates comes amid President Trump’s call for a 355-ship fleet, but the Navy says in its memo that bringing back just 10 of the ships would cost $4.32 billion over a decade. In doing so, the fleet would essentially get a toothless ship capable of only the lowest-risk missions like counter-drug operations. “With obsolete combat systems and aging hulls, these vessels would require significant upgrades to remain warfighting relevant for another decade,” the document reads. “Any potential return on investment would be offset by high reactivation and life-cycle costs, a small ship inventory, limited service life, and substantial capability gaps. Furthermore, absent any external source of funding, these costs would likely come at the expense of other readiness, modernization or shipbuilding programs.”

The U.S. Navy is so short of qualified manpower, fighter planes and other vital gear that it’s struggling to send aircraft carrier battle groups to sea. Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker testified to the House Armed Services Committee last week that in order to “get Carl Vinson, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt ready to deploy in January, June and October of this year, and equip their embarked air wings with the required number of mission capable jets, 94 strike fighters had to be transferred to and from the maintenance depots or between F-18 squadrons on both coasts. This included pulling aircraft from the fleet replacement squadrons, where our focus should be on training new aviators. That strike fighter inventory management, or shell game, leaves non-deployed squadrons well below the number of jets required to keep aviators proficient and progressing toward their career qualifications and milestones, with detrimental impacts to both retention and future experience levels.” More: “Additionally, to get those air wings ready, several hundred parts had to be cannibalized from other Super Hornets across the force, further decimating the readiness of squadrons and adding significantly and unnecessarily to the workload of our maintainers. From a manning perspective, to fill gaps in those deploying squadrons and the three carriers, over 300 sailors had to be temporarily reassigned from other squadrons, have their orders changed or get extended beyond their normal sea tour lengths, which hurt our sailors — which — which hurts our sailors and their families and has cascading effects on enlisted retention across the force.” (Analyst Comment: While we don’t doubt that other great powers have similar staffing and equipment shortfalls and difficulties, this is an unacceptable risk to our national security, period. The Navy is our most visible and powerful forward-deployed force; it’s long history as a tool of U.S. foreign policy is being systematically degraded to the point where shortfalls in gear, tech, manpower and planes will negatively impact its mission, putting the country’s national security objectives at risk. The answer: Real defense budgets, not continuing resolutions, which is all Congress has passed in the past eight years, making it nearly impossible for any branch of the military to plan out military programs and spending. That includes, of course, maintenance, the purchasing of spare parts, and training.)

Army

A little-noticed policy change in August from the U.S. Army caused much consternation among many in the ranks and especially at lower command levels will allow potential recruits with past histories of mental issues like “self-mutiliation” as well as alcohol and drug abuse to apply for, and receive, waivers for enlistment. The policy shift is reportedly in response to continued challenges in meeting recruiting goals. Well, once the story broke — and members of Congress began weighing in, most with negative comments – the Army brass took control of the situation and full damage control began. “There’s been no change in standards. The Army hasn’t reduced standards or changed standards,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. “And oh, by the way, the Army couldn’t do that even if it wanted to, because the standards are Department of Defense standards.” So what happened? Milley said that in August the Army moved its waiver approval authority back to the commander in charge of Army accessions, where it was before 2009 and where it is for the other service branches. “Commanders are people who should be authorized with the authorities to make decisions within the United States military,” Milley said. “So a decision was made in August to go ahead and re-empower the commanding general with the authority to consider, grant and waive things.” However, he reemphasized, the standards for entry are the same.

The Army, in conjunction with Bell Helicopter, is testing new “stealth characteristics” of the next-generation V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft that should be operational by 2030. While they’re not calling the new aircraft “stealth,” developers did say that it contains “stealthy” characteristics such as infrared heat-suppressing systems and various fuselage contours specifically designed to make the aircraft less targetable. “We will definitely employ some passive measures in terms of how we shape the aircraft, to make it invisible. The key is not to be able to target it and reduce the signature passively so radar sweeps do not see anything. In the end, you do not want to get detected or engaged,” Vince Tobin, vice president of advanced tiltrotor systems, Bell Helicopter, said. Many details about the aircraft’s stealth capabilities are not going to be made public, naturally.


PIR3: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the economic or financial industry that could lead to instability?

Junk bonds tanking?

Junk bonds had a bad week last week and analysts forecast darker times ahead. Cracks in the U.S. high-yield bond market are starting to yawn a bit more, after U.S.-based high-yield funds suffered their second consecutive week of cash withdrawals. “Folks have become super negative on risk all of a sudden,” said Greg Peters, managing director and senior portfolio manager at PGIM Fixed Income. Investors pulled $621.9 million from U.S. junk portfolios in the latest reporting week, following outflows of $1.2 billion the previous week, according to Lipper data. Funds shed one percent on the week, which is their sharpest drop in three months. (Analyst Comment: Many financial experts continue to believe the markets are over-leveraged, out of whack, and overdue for a major correction.)

 

Another Great Recession is likely on the horizon

Three ominous signs appeared this week suggesting that there could be trouble brewing below the surface. John Hussmann, president of the Hussman Investment Trust and a former economics professor, shows particular concern for the growing dispersion of stock market returns. “Dispersion, which reflects how widely market returns are distributed, is an important measure to watch to assess the crosscurrents that drive broader indexes. On Tuesday, the number of New York Stock Exchange companies setting new 52-week lows climbed above the number hitting new highs, representing a ‘leadership reversal’ that Hussman says highlights the deterioration of market internals. Stocks also received confirmation of two bearish market-breadth readings known as the Hindenburg Omen and the Titanic Syndrome.” (Analyst Comment: Hussman says these three signs have not occurred at the same time since 2007, just as the Great Recession was beginning. Before then it occurred again in 1999, right before the dot-com collapse. There were also warning signs last year, which had been accurate about 80% of the time, that a recession would begin within 12 months. We’re past that 12 month mark now and there is no highly reliable, predictable way to foresee a recession, other than history. We know another recession is coming, and there’s reason to believe that it will be worse than the 2008 recession.)


PIR4: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the critical infrastructure that could lead to instability?

DHS drills to simulate ‘biological attacks’ on critical U.S. infrastructure

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced another round of apocalyptic drills. DHS will hold at least two lengthy drills in 2018 — one from January through February and another later in the summer — focusing on “biological attacks” on critical infrastructure. The exercises will be held near the border of Oklahoma and Kansas, and they come following a series of other drills staged by the U.S. military and the federal government in recent years. (The most recent exercise was conducted by the Pentagon, which simulated a power grid collapse, and the state of Wisconsin just announced it will simulate a grid collapse this month.) The drill: a hypothetical release of two different biological agents to test detection and recovery efforts. The building characteristics said to be the focal point of the ‘contamination’ resemble apartments.

(Analyst Comment: Not surprisingly, DHS — like the other government agencies before it — is providing little in the way of explanation for its scenario. DHS will downplay the importance of these types of drills by describing them as ‘scheduled’ or ‘routine’, however, the reason for the drills in the first place suggests that these events meet a threshold of likelihood that make them potential events.)

 

MS-13 murders and violence spreading to the ‘burbs

Members of the notorious MS-13 gang are terrorizing American suburbs and they are ill-equipped to handle the onslaught or fight back. Two teens were recently killed, and in a savage manner, in Fairfax County, Virginia, an upscale zip code near the nation’s capital, and authorities believe MS-13 gang members are responsible. “Away from urban areas that have seen a rise in gang-related activity, MS-13’s brutality is turning up in small towns and communities across the country – places not always equipped or ready to deal with the growing and alarming threat. In the last year or so, police say, the gang known for its execution-style shootings and machete-hacking deaths has cropped up in a tiny Colorado town, two Virginia suburbs and Annapolis, Md. In parts of Long Island, N.Y. MS-13 is terrorizing once-sleepy neighborhoods that are now experiencing a scourge of violent deaths.” (Analyst Comment: The Trump administration has vowed to use “whatever laws we have” to eradicate MS-13, but that pledge won’t do much for sleepy suburbs and smaller communities who are being forced to deal with this threat in the short term.)

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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