22 JUL 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary 🔒 – Forward Observer Shop

22 JUL 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary 🔒


[wcm_nonmember]In this EXSUM…

  • Encryption laws are on the minds of legislators
  • $40B missile system won’t protect US from nuclear missiles
  • Get ready for more disruption from Russia and China
  • Black Lives Matter & its watershed moment
  • And more…


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Analyst Note:  Well, the GOP Convention came and went.  Trump was nominated, and many people lost track of most things that weren’t politically-related.  I, along with several volunteers, spent this week listening to police scanners, scanning Twitter feeds, and feeding intelligence information into our battle tracking exercise called Operation North Coast.  The protester turnout was much less than was expected, and except for a few bouts of relatively minor violence, the protests were largely calm.  I’ve included a summary of our exercise into PIR3.


Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption that could lead to a SHTF event?

PIR2: What are the current indicators of an outbreak of global conflict? (Russia, China, Middle East)

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

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

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption that could lead to a SHTF event?

McCain threatens Apple, Google over encryption

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sent a message to Apple and Google: he has subpoena power that could force executives to testify in front of Congress about why device and email encryption is so strong that law enforcement agencies can’t decrypt it.  Later in the hearing, McCain said that the absence of Apple CEO Tim Cook was “unacceptable”.  The general feeling of the hearing was that legislation is the key (no pun intended) for forcing companies to find decryption solutions in the case of investigations.  The “problem” now, especially so with the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone, is that Apple had no way of decrypting it.  If there was a way then hackers might identify it, and thus all iPhones become vulnerable.


GMD missiles will not protect the US from nuclear attack

In a report produced this week, the Union of Concerned Scientists cautioned Congress that the current crop of Ground Mid-Course Defense (GMD) missile system is not capable of protecting the US against nuclear attacks from nations like Iran and North Korea.  (Analyst Comment: GMD is a different system than the THAAD missile system mentioned in the previous EXSUM.)  “Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public,” the authors wrote.  The GMD is purpose-built to intercept missiles in mid-course, as opposed to the THAAD, which targets missiles during the terminal, or downward, phase.



PIR2: What are the current indicators of an outbreak of global conflict? (Russia, China, Middle East)

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

Should we get ready for more disruption from Russia and China?

As if Brexit weren’t a signal to Russia that EU/NATO resolve may be faltering, we saw last week a coup attempt in Turkey, a NATO “partner” who was lobbying to join the European Union.  Since the failed coup, which may have been little more than choreography, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the opportunity to purge nearly every influential sector in the nation: the judiciary, the military, national intelligence, the police, religious institutions, and the education system.  He’s done more in one week to turn an ostensibly moderate Islamic nation into a new caliphate, than the Islamic State has done in the past year.    Collectively, these two events leave NATO confounded and Russia emboldened.

This week Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that as leader of the US, he may not come to the aid of Baltic states during a Russian invasion.  While that’s problematic for Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, that’s welcomed news for Vladimir Putin.  Anti-Trump conspiracy theorists have been laying out their case that Trump is a sort of Manchurian candidate in Russia’s backdoor attempt to defeat the West.  Putin is many things, including a bully for Russian nationalism, but Trump’s handler he’s not.  While the US military positions itself in Europe to deter Russian aggression, and as F-35 fighters are headed to Eastern Europe, a Trump presidency could turn that military strategy on its head.  And make no mistake: Russia is certainly playing this hand to their advantage.

While it’s yet to be seen, retired US Army General Michael Flynn — at one time on Trump’s Vice Presidential short list, and most recently a commentator on state-owned Russia Today, broadcast in English — may play a role in a Trump administration.  From Flynn’s own book, The Field of Fight, he targets radical Islam as the world’s greatest threat, and he’s probably not wrong.  Flynn is a strong supporter of the idea that Russia is a natural ally in the fight against Islamic terror.

What I’ve observed from Trump on Russia is that he’s very open to a military alliance against radical Islam, and I think that it could mean that the US steps away from NATO in that bid.  That, of course, is not solely up to the executive branch, however, even if Trump were to be elected, I don’t think Putin’s objectives would change.  He still wants to see the West defeated, just like the Soviet Union was.

As the landscape of Europe may change due to additional departures from the European Union, we can expect Putin to act accordingly.  A win for nationalism, and a strike against globalism, is likely to embolden Putin and his new Russian army.  I still believe that Putin wants areas formerly under the Soviet Republic, and if or when NATO fades, for better or for worse, Putin is likely to get them.

As for the South China Sea, since the UN’s ruling last week that China has no claim to the disputed islands, they’ve remained indignant.  The US Navy is building its presence in the area, as well-respected military leaders like retired Admiral Dennis Blair have called for promoting incentives for China to give up control of some of those areas.  Although the US and the Philippines do share a military defense treaty, requiring the US to come to the aid of the island nation, we’re not on the verge of war.  The Obama administration has no plans to initiate a conflict, although China would be prepared to fight.  In last week’s EXSUM, I thought that the status quo would remain the same while the US applies diplomatic pressure, and it seems to be the case.

But later this year, Congress may be set to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an economic cooperation treaty involving Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.  Despite the talk of jobs and opportunity, the true purpose of the TTP is to remove China’s economic hegemony in the region, and suppress Chinese economic growth in order to limit their strategic power.  And given that this is an election year, Congress is not likely to vote on it before the general election in November.  If Congress doesn’t ratify the TPP, then I think China will see that as a victory, and could embolden their activity.

In summary, these handful of events — regardless of their domestic effects — would be perceived by Russia and China as wins against the West, and continue this global shift of influence away from the US.  As far as predicting how this affects you and me, we’re looking at significant indicators in the decline of the dollar, as well as US influence around the globe.  Examine Great Britain after it began losing its colonies to independence, and I think we have a good rule of thumb on America’s decline, as well.

Important caveat: I’m not trying to make a case for NATO or the TPP.  I think the TPP is horrible for Americans, but good for the Empire.  NATO is mixed for Americans, but good for the Empire and the West.  The problem here is that many want Americans to win and the Empire to lose, and neither NATO nor the TTP are set up for that outcome. In any case, the loss of the American Empire is going to happen, and it’s going to include some disruptions to our quality of life, just as Great Britain saw during the sunset of her empire.  The big question is if the Empire killed the Republic, and the Empire is dying, then what will replace the Empire?



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

Black Lives Matter and this watershed moment

The Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King (who was born white, but who owns his blackness and is apparently “transracial”), recently took to Twitter, telling his followers and the world that if Trump is elected, “you are fooling yourself if you think we’re far from having a coup our own selves. I’m dead serious.”  That tweet was mostly met with derision, but it’s a popular sentiment among some in the Black Lives Matter community.

This week on NPR, the three black women who founded Black Lives Matter discussed the ‘paradigm shift’ the movement is currently experiencing.  Said one, it’s popularity and the protests are “a indicator of what is to come.”  Said another, “We’re part of a movement that’s been happening for hundreds of years, and this just happens to be a tipping point.”  While not expressing any violence, these three women were resolute in their mission, and acknowledged the role that non-blacks play in the movement.

If Donald Trump is elected, even if he promises to address police brutality or discriminatory policing, we should expect Black Lives Matter to become more active, especially if the group members feel that, lacking a black man in the White House, they are once again under represented in government.

BONUS:  You can read an open source “letter to parents” so that millennial college students can explain the Black Lives Matter movement to their parents.


Operation North Coast Summary

By far, the biggest surprise was a lack of violence surrounding the GOP Convention.  In the lead up, we heard from Black Lives Matter, New Black Panther, communists, and other protestor groups who threatened one for the history books.  Despite all the fanfare, compared to Ferguson, the convention protests were actually pretty boring and fairly peaceful.  The Cleveland police union chief’s warnings, included in previous EXSUMs, about how bad the protests were going to be and about how understaffed police forces were, ended up a paper tiger.

One tactic that should be of concern is that a few police officers were approached and had stickers placed on their arms, and one reported being poked with a syringe, during a few of the melees.  Those reports were followed by the officers saying that their hands and arms had a burning or tingling sensation.  At least one protestor was arrested as a result, but he was set to be released after his stickers were tested and found to be “negative” for drugs or caustic agents.

Of particular note, the Revolutionary Communist Party, often referred to as Revcom, made a solid showing and led many of the week’s protests.  We saw Black Lives Matter lead similar protests, but conspicuously absent from any significant violence was the New Black Panther Party.  In fact, I’d wager to say that we heard just as many reports of open-carriers — both rifle and pistol, and  presumably pro-GOP counter protestors — as we did of volatile protests. And then there was the sizeable presence of Bikers for Trump.  Overall, it was a poor showing for the anti-GOPers and a very strong showing for pro-GOP groups.  To listen to the political pundits, all those open carriers should have caused a bloodbath of epic proportions, but not once did I hear that a single shot was fired.  And we may even be able to chalk up the lack of protest violence, in part, to the presence of armed Americans.

Overall, it was a great opportunity to for new folks to grow in their battle tracking skills, and for more experienced group members to test what they’d learned during previous exercises.  We’ll have another round of volunteers to battle track the Democrat national convention, starting on 25 July.  If you’d like to participate, just send me an email and I’ll add you to the group.

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

Kass: Volatility to follow the political cycle

The current bull market is one of the longest in history, and Doug Kass is warning of more volatility. “[E]levated valuations, weak global economic growth and rising geopolitical tensions” are all likely to cause volatility through the rest of the year, “as the market’s downside risks look to me like they dwarf the upside opportunities.”

US investors: Real estate, cash, gold most popular investment options

According to a recent poll of US investors, twenty-five percent of investors said that real estate is the best place for their money not needed within the next 10 years, followed by cash at twenty-three percent, and precious metals at sixteen percent (which tied the stock market).


EU: European Union

GMD: Ground Mid-Course Defense

NPR: National Public Radio

THAAD: Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense

TPP: Trans-Pacific Partnership


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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