18 MAR 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary – Forward Observer Shop

18 MAR 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary


The National PMESII section is a break down of national- and regional-level Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information events and trends.   Appendix: Collection of acronyms and definitions used.

[wcm_nonmember] In this EXSUM…

  • Obama Administration Working Against FOIA Reform
  • U.S. War Readiness at Atrocious Levels
  • Global Trend of Dumping the Dollar Accelerates
  • Why Using Open Secrets is a Great Use of Your Time
  • Oregon Passes Law Eliminating Coal-Fired Power
  • The Chinese Software That Will Predict Instability

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[wcm_restrict plan =”fo-osint”]

National PMESII:

Political/Government: Obama Administration Working Against FOIA Reform

After its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were ignored for a year, the Freedom of the Press Foundation filed suit against the government over access to information.  As a result of winning their lawsuit, they uncovered documents showing that the Obama Administration — “the most transparent administration in history” — actually worked against Congressional attempts at FOIA reform.  (Continue reading…)  (Additionally, here are some FOIA statistics from the Justice Department.)

(Analyst Comment: The regime hasn’t worked so diligently to kill FOIA reform because they don’t have time to deal with FOIA requests.  These activities have one purpose: to keep information from seeing the light of day.  Even if Congress passes a very strong FOIA reform bill in favor of making information more publicly accessible, current and future administrations have two options to dispel FOIA requests.  First, they can still drag their feet by saying that the number of FOIA requests are too large to process.  The second method is that they can reject FOIA requests for a number of reasons, including that the information is too sensitive to make publicly available.

Federal FOIA laws don’t apply to state and municipal governments, although state FOIA laws do exist.  From an intelligence gathering perspective, however, taking some time to investigate local and state activities through FOIA requests could be a valuable use of your time.)


Military/Security/Defense:  U.S. War Readiness at Atrocious Levels

(AC: This week, FO produced a report on the military’s war readiness levels.  What came out in Congressional testimony is alarming, as it shows how budget cuts are negatively affecting readiness.  Lower than desired levels of readiness doesn’t mean that the U.S. isn’t prepared for war or national defense, however.  One common theme among the four services is that its representatives said that the military was prepared to fight a war, however, the cost of warfighting, in terms of time and lives, would be greater.  As “near-peers” like China and Russia catch up to U.S. military capabilities — and in few cases exceed U.S. capabilities — the U.S. won’t enjoy as large of a competitive advantage as its used to.  This means that Americans should expect greater casualties in future wars, especially against determined near-peer adversaries.)


Economic/Financial: Global Trend of Dumping the Dollar Accelerates

There are several global financial trends right now; one of which is continued slide of the dollar against more favorable currencies, especially for nations who have a vested interest in getting off the dollar.  CNN Money reported that China is shifting its spending on foreign reserve currencies in favor of pumping up their domestic economy.  Due to the decline in oil prices, top oil export countries are also dumping U.S. Treasury debt to cover the gap in falling revenue from low oil prices.


Social/Demographic: Why Using Open Secrets is a Great Use of Your Time

For those unfamiliar, I’d like to introduce a website of tremendous intelligence value.  It’s called Open Secrets and it allows users to look up political campaign contributions.  This is one of the websites we use in my SHTF Intelligence courses because it helps students make sense of their communities.  It’s major use, for instance, is that it gives us the ability to collect raw intelligence information to identify households or individuals who tend to lean to the left or two the right.  In an SHTF scenario, I’d be much more likely to approach a community member who I know has donated money to Ted Cruz, Herman Cain, or Gary Johnson (actual candidates who I learned my neighbors have supported) than I would one who’s made donations to Bernie Sanders or any number of non-Liberty candidates.  Make good use of this website in your Intelligence Preparation of the Community (IPC) efforts.


Infrastructure/Energy: Oregon Passes Law Eliminating Coal-Fired Power

Last week, Oregon passed a very clean energy bill into law, that will eliminate electricity produced from coal-fired power plants by 2030.  Beyond the terrible economics of higher electric prices, the law also affects other states.  Oregon currently receives a third of its electricity from coal plants in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming.  (Oregon is shutting down is last remaining coal-fired power plant in 2020.)  Some analysts expect that those plants will struggle to find replacement buyers in neighboring states and that jobs could ultimately be affecting through decreasing output.


Information Systems/Surveillance/Communications: The Chinese Software That Will Predict Instability

Defense One reported that the Chinese government is building software that is aimed at predicting instability and other events like riots and protests.  If the software works, then the Chinese government will shorten its reaction time at suppressing destabilizing events, and increase its ability to quell dissent.  Based on predictive policing methods current in use by U.S. law enforcement, the software should enable the Chinese government to reduce crime, as well.

(AC: We should expect more news stories about this type of technology being employed around the world and especially in the U.S. As advances in computing and data storage continue, the ability to manage and analyze “big data” will also increase.  Our most significant concern is that these types of software suites have been proven to reduce crime a the cost of privacy.  As crime or terrorism increases, so will calls for reduction in privacy in order lessen the pain of the daily headlines.)



AC: Analyst Comment; an opinion, explanation or clarification

EXSUM: Executive Intelligence Summary

OSINT: Open Source Intelligence


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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