23 SEP 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary 🔒 – Forward Observer Shop

23 SEP 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary 🔒


[wcm_nonmember]In this EXSUM (2136 words)…

  • Gas shortages in North Carolina; a first-hand look
  • SWIFT comes under persistent cyber attack
  • The asymmetric future of the US/NATO-Russia conflict
  • DHS speeds up technology contracts for domestic use
  • Immigration trends map
  • Financial poll finds Americans gloomy about financial future
  • And more…


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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?

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?

This past weekend’s mini-SHTF event

On 09 September, a gas pipeline that delivered fuel out to the East Coast burst in central Alabama.  As of the 16th while I was at Prepper Camp in North Carolina (and mostly off-grid without internet access), I hadn’t even heard about it.  But by Friday, lines were forming at gas stations in parts of five states as the news broke and everyone rushed to top off their vehicles and extra gas cans, which led to shortages.  Apparently, police at one North Carolina gas station broke up a fight over who was going to get gas first.

On my way back Sunday night, I drove around several gas stations that advertised gas prices but had none to sell, which was problematic.  I later filled up with premium at $1.58/gallon, which was the only fuel available at the station.  Were it not for price gauging laws, we would have seen $10 gas.  So in all, it could have been worse.  Much worse.  There were still outages as of Thursday afternoon, although I have noticed that gas stations have recently received deliveries.  I’ve heard for years that one of the best ways to be prepared is to never let your gas tank fall below half a tank.  That’s solid advice, as I’d made sure that I had enough gas to drive to a friend’s house.

When DHS warned of ‘severe consequences’ due to aging infrastructure earlier this year, I think this is about what they had in mind.  Still, I expect worse events to unfold in the future as repairing critical infrastructure after a failure is less expensive than replacing all the ageing infrastructure before it breaks.


SWIFT comes under attack, new attacks persist

The global financial networking system that banks use to communicate, SWIFT, made news several times over the last few months over a string of cyber attacks.  This came after an $81 million cyber heist in February against the Bangladeshi Bank.  Since June, SWIFT disclosed, cyber attackers have been sending fraudulent payment instructions to financial institutions.  Some of those attacks have been successful.  An official from SWIFT stated that continuing attacks are “persistent, adaptive and sophisticated.”

Luckily, US financial institutions have much stronger security protocols than the Bangladeshi Bank, however, they’re not impenetrable from determined adversaries.  The likelihood of a major financial cyber attack that leads to a SHTF event is low, but it’s not impossible.



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

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 price and availability of fuel, is also a top concern that could cause a SHTF event.

The asymmetric future of the US-Russia conflict

After the 2012 election, during which Mitt Romney warned that Russia was our greatest geopolitical threat — an accusation which Obama rebuffed and after which he received wide celebration from the media — US intelligence agencies are turning their focus towards Russia, which is now admittedly our greatest geopolitical threat.  Whereas US intelligence agencies once spent forty percent of their resources countering the Soviet Union during the Cold War, they now spend around ten percent, which has increased since 2012.  (According to one estimate, there are 150 officers in the US from SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service.)

Vladimir Putin doesn’t want to live in a world controlled and influenced by the West, so Russia is seeking every opportunity to diminish US influence at home and abroad.  Putin caught US policy makers by surprise when he invaded Ukraine, and again when he got involved in Syria to prop up the Assad regime, which the US was attempting to replace.  Putin is absolutely using his intelligence and security services to save his anti-US allies and sow discord in the US, to the detriment of the US government.  We’re seeing that even as he casts doubt about the results of November’s general election.

What I see is a growing movement and a concerted effort to topple US influence and “free the world” of the West’s superiority.  That may be bad for the bankers and globalists, but that’s also going to be bad for Americans.  Should Hillary Clinton be elected, my concern is that she’s likely to pursue any course of action, including war, to prop up US influence.  That’s going to mean giving away more taxpayer money as bribes to buy foreign support in the guise of financial and humanitarian aid, and it could mean a very hard line against Russia that results in war.  We’re already seeing Cold War 2.0 against Russia and China as they seek to bump the dollar off the global pedestal.  Like the first Cold War, we can probably expect a Clinton regime to undermine Chinese and Russian financial stability, as both countries face the risk of collapse, as well.  Collapse could result in regime change without a costly war, so that may be the most likely course of action for all involved.  At the risk of using a bad analogy, this is like pugil sticks: how can we force our opponent off his platform while staying on ours?  Our platform is still (yet diminishing) global military and financial dominance.  Their platforms are ejecting the US as the world’s superpower so that they can increase their regional influence and power to begin re-shaping their parts of the world to their advantage.

We should absolutely be prepared for the eventuality that economic, financial, political, or social issues here at home are exploited by Russia and/or China to topple America off first, and we could a noticeable start as early as November.  (I consider the past several years’ worth of cyber exploitation by Russia and China as ‘shaping operations’.  There’s plenty of room for Russia to turn up the heat.)



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

DHS speeds up contracts for technology ‘solutions’

The Department of Homeland Security is putting a new spin on federal contracts, turning what is typically a long and laborious months-long process into a matter of just days.  According to a senior DHS official, the DHS Science & Technology Directorate has signed contracts within 10 days of a verbal pitch.  It’s part of their strategy to keep up with fast-moving technology startups and gulp up new technology that will aid their domestic operations.  I reported in a previous EXSUM that DHS was setting up an office in Silicon Valley to immerse themselves in the world of tech startups and gain access to bleeding edge technologies.  To date, DHS has funded five start up companies to provide services for homeland security.

The bottom line is that we can expect more Orwellian technology be put to use by DHS, like their Quantitative Analysis Program.  Right now, DHS is a very bureaucratic, lumbering domestic force just trying to keep pace with their mission.  But as artificial intelligence and new technologies enable computers to make better decisions faster and cheaper than human employees, we’re getting closer to the movie Minority Report.  I’ve seen few indications that would prevent DHS from developing off-the-book programs for technology they wanted to secretly employ.  This should be a real concern for all Americans because 1984 is exactly where we’re headed and with a quickening event horizon.


Lichtman: Trumps wins 2016

Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C., uses a true/false indicator system to predict presidential favorites, and allegedly has correctly predicted every presidential race since 1984.  This year, he says Trump is favored to win.  But there’s one caveat:  he also warns that we’ve never had a presidential candidate like Donald Trump, and that he may lose the election, even if the historical indicators point to his victory.

I’ve also heard several political and financial commentators (most recently “Bond King” Jeffery Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital) say that the winner of the first debate will become president.  That first debate is on Monday, 26 September.

If we’re looking for an SHTF event on the horizon, then we’re entering new territory between now and January.  I remain concerned that this election cycle is vulnerable to disruption that will lead to a domestic SHTF situation.  I don’t expect anything as sudden and devastating as an EMP, however, a failed or contested election, an assassinated candidate, or any other disruption could produce such a large amount of fear and uncertainty about the future that we experience very real and significant domestic unrest.

And should nothing disrupt the election, a Trump victory is likely to lead to similar results: domestic unrest, a stock market crash, economic recession; this is what the professional traders and financial analysts are saying every day.  It could be the case that, like Brexit, financial fears are completely overblown and will settle after folks realize that it’s not (yet) the end of the world.

But I certainly think that we’re in uncharted territory, and that the risk of SHTF remains elevated for the next few months politically, for the next six months with regards to an economic recession, and indefinitely until the global financial crisis plays out.


Immigration trends map

(Note: Subscriber submission; thank you.)

The Center for Immigration Studies published a series of maps depicting immigration trends by county in the US from 1990 to 2014.  Be sure to take a loop at Map 3, which shows the immigrant share of adult population for your county, and that information into your Area Study.  Here’s the link.

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

Financial poll finds Americans gloomy about election

A new Bankrate poll found that sixty-one percent of Americans believe the election poses the greatest financial risk in the next six months.  Uncertainty over the direction of America’s future weighed heavily on the survey.  And for the first time in 27 months consecutive months, Bankrate reported deteriorating conditions in their financial security index, showing that fewer Americans say they’re better off than they were the previous year.  Bankrate financial analysts say that these are indicators that businesses will delay purchasing new equipment and hiring new staff.


Faber: Bubble won’t burst as long as money is printed

In an interview about asset prices and the financial bubble, contrarian investor Marc Faber says that the bubble could actually last for a long time; as long as central banks print the money that feeds the bubble.  The problem is what happens when central banks stop printing, so he expects money printing “until the system breaks down”. That also means that the actual value of money will continue to decrease, just as it has done for the past 30 years.  Until then, he says, printing massive amounts of money will help governments introduce “state-ownership, socialism and communism”.

Rogers: Expect markets to swing in the next couple of years

Billionaire investor Jim Rogers is warning the the markets will be very volatile, at least for the next couple years.  And investors “should be very worried” about the upcoming turnaround in the markets.  Rogers also warned that the US dollar isn’t currently in a bubble, but as investors seek security, he implies that the dollar could burst sometime in 2018 or after.

“Today if I had to do one of the other, I should buy US dollars. If you look around the world, the Japanese yen, the euro, the ruble, nobody wants these other currencies. The Australian dollar, the Canadian dollar, people are very worried about all of the other currencies, which is the reason the main thing people would buy is the US dollar, because they think it is a safe haven.”


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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