29 July – 04 August 16 – SHTF Indicators Tracker 🔒 – Forward Observer Shop

29 July – 04 August 16 – SHTF Indicators Tracker 🔒

29 July – 04 August – SHTF Indicators

(Updated @ 1400 on 04 August 2016 – 34 Data Points)

An indicator is an observable or potentially observable clue about capabilities, intent, or a future event.  Our mission is to identify indicators in order to provide early warning of future events, identify the likelihood of future events, or identify capabilities or intent that could cause an emergency or SHTF scenario.

This is the long-form intelligence reporting of our EXSUMs.  If you’d like a summary and analysis of the intelligence reporting, see our previous Executive Intelligence Summaries.


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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? (Russia, China, Middle East)

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

Critical Infrastructure

Waste water spillage continues to be the number one threat to clean water, particularly after heavy rains.  Typically, boil advisories are issued until crews are able to decontaminate the water.  Cyber attacks and exploitation come in at second place, with ransomware attacks claiming the top trend.

“There is no question cyberwar exists,” he says. “Whether it rises to the level of weapons of mass disruption is another question. We don’t have a decisive answer yet.”  For the past two years, Geers has been working with Nato, observing cyber warfare in Ukraine…  The first acknowledged incidence of cyberwar occurred in Estonia in 2007, when attackers launched a huge distributed denial of service attack against the Baltic nation’s computer infrastructure. Though the source of the attacks has never been confirmed, forces friendly to the Kremlin are widely assumed to be behind it…  “Today’s tanks, planes and ships are really just rolling, flying and floating computers,” he says. “If you’re a tank commander and the enemy launches a zero-day attack against an application you’re depending on, you may not win on the battlefield that day.” (03 August; GuardianUK)

“The company found that nearly 80% of U.S. companies suffered a cyberattack of some kind in the last year, with 47% experiencing a “ransomware incident.”… The U.S. seems to be the hardest-hit country, with 22% of American firms reporting over 20 cyberattacks of some kind during the past year. For the other surveyed countries, that number ranged between 8-10%. (03 August; Fortune)

“By sending digital signals within the internal network of a big rig truck, the researchers were able to do everything from change the readout of the truck’s instrument panel, trigger unintended acceleration, or to even disable one form of semi-trailer’s brakes. And the researchers found that developing those attacks was actually easier than with consumer cars, thanks to a common communication standard in the internal networks of most industrial vehicles, from cement mixers to tractor trailers to school buses.” (02 August; WIRED)

“The FBI rarely issues press releases to publicize job openings, but chose to do so when announcing the expansion of its cybersecurity division. Oddly resembling more of a public help-wanted ad, the press release said it was hiring for a new job: senior data level scientist, a position which the FBI described as unprecedented… The senior data scientist will sort through increasingly complex computer data sets in search of cyber “needles in a haystack,” tidbits of information that might show an impending cyber threat. And this person will be tasked with staying ahead of the threat, figuring out how to process the data even faster and more efficiently… “The cyber problem continues to be a significant issue,” he said. “And we continue to hire more and more people–and highly qualified people–to do this work.” (03 August; CBS)

Election 2016

“Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday the federal government should consider designating the U.S. election process as “critical infrastructure” to give the voting system greater protection against cyber attacks… “We are actively thinking about election cybersecurity right now,” Johnson told reporter. (03 August; USAToday)

“And the past two weeks, in particular, have been eventful: Five courts in five states ruled against voter ID and proof-of-citizenship laws.  There’s still time for appeals and stays. But for now, advocates for voting access are celebrating.  “It’s been like Christmas Day,” one activist told CNN on Monday. (02 August; NPR)

“RNC Chair Reince Priebus, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani hope to persuade Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to reset his campaign…” (03 August; Bloomberg)

“Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing, frankly, if we actually got along with Russia and worked out some kind of a deal where we go and knock the hell out of ISIS along with NATO and along with countries that are in the area,” Trump said. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful, as opposed to fighting?”  Trump, who has weathered accusations that he is cozy with Russia and strongman Vladimir Putin, previously said that World War III would break out if the United States was to intervene to help Ukraine take back Crimea. (03 August; Politico)

“[Trump] now says he might recognize Crimea as Russian territory and lift punitive U.S. sanctions against Russia. The alternative, he warned on Monday, could be World War III… While the reason for his shift is not clear, Trump’s more conciliatory words — which contradict his own party’s official platform — follow his recent association with several people sympathetic to Russian influence in Ukraine. They include his campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has worked for Ukraine’s deposed pro-Russian president, his foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and the former secretary of state and national security adviser Henry Kissinger.” (03 August; Politico)

“Trump is still behaving like as though it was the primaries and there were 17 candidates. He has not made the transition to being the potential president of the United States, which is a much tougher league,” Gingrich said in an interview on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria.” “People are going to watch you every single day. They’re going to take everything they can out of context, and he is not yet performing at the level that you need to.”  Gingrich remarked that Trump’s performance recalled quarterback Joe Montana’s “stretch during his career where he kept throwing interceptions, and, for about half a season, it looked like he wasn’t Joe Montana anymore.”… Trump has “thrown a series of interceptions in the last week that really do not bode well for his campaign,” Gingrich warned.  (03 August; Politico)


“The Budget Control Act of 2011 is probably the largest challenge the next administration faces and not just in defense but spending across all the federal agencies… Looking to the new administration and Congress taking office, “a lot of [possible change] comes down to the makeup of Congress” and “being willing to negotiate.” (02 August; USNI)


“In a speech at Fordham University on Wednesday, Mr. Comey said counterterrorism officials are focused on the prospect of hundreds of Islamic State fighters surviving the battlefield and flowing into Western Europe to commit attacks like the recent ones in Brussels and Paris. The ease of travel would also make the U.S. vulnerable to this threat…” (28 July; WSJ)


“A FBI electronics technician pleaded guilty on Monday to having illegally acted as an agent of China, admitting that he on several occasions passed sensitive information to a Chinese official…  That information included the identity and travel plans of an FBI agent; an internal organizational chart; and photos he took of documents in a restricted area related to surveillance technology.” (01 August; Yahoo)




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

NATO indicators

“The Defense Department established the U.S. Cyber Command in 2009 and plans to have its full, 133-team, 6,200-member force (which will include the component commands at each of the military services) fully in place by 2018. (28 July; DefenseSystems)


Russia indicators

“The Russian Navy is expected to receive 12 warships, eight combatant craft and 23 auxiliary vessels this year… The minister said previously that the Russian Navy’s combat strength would be replenished this year by seven warships and two submarines. In 2015, the plans for the Navy reinforcement were not fulfilled – USC alone failed to deliver on time seven warships and vessels….
(o1 August; TASS)

“There’s a long term [Russian] strategic goal of weakening NATO and dividing European countries from each other, and then dividing Europe from America”…The “foreign policy objective of Russia is to stir up and weaken Europe”…  (28 July; CipherBrief)

US, NATO, Russia signal de-escalation?
The Russian Defense Ministry is ready for consultations with the colleagues from the Baltic and Scandinavian states, as well as with representatives of Poland on removal mutual concerns caused by the near-border military activities… Russia is “ready for joint work aimed at preventing sea and air incidents based on the bilateral agreements in this sphere, as well as consultations with the defense departments of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Sweden and Finland on removal mutual concerns caused by the military activity in the near-border areas.”  (01 August; TASS)

“The Defense Ministry of Finland said in a statement on Tuesday that Russia’s proposal to hold consultations in September with NATO military experts on the military-political situation in Europe is interesting.  “The Russian Defense Ministry said it invites representatives of the NATO member states, as well as of Finland and Sweden to Moscow in September. It’s an interesting initiative. As there is no more specific information at this stage on Russia’s plans to invite countries to these discussions, it is not possible to give a more detailed comment on this information,” the Finnish Defense Ministry said.” (02 August; TASS)

“Russia and Latvia will begin in the near future restoration of their inter-governmental contacts, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters on Tuesday after an informal meeting with the Chairman of the City Council of Riga (Mayor), Nil Ushakov.” (02 August; TASS)

China indicators

“If THAAD is deployed (in South Korea), Northeast Asia will be placed under the shroud of a new Cold War… the THAAD deployment is “aimed at containing China and strengthening U.S. hegemony in Northeast Asia.”  South Korea’s decision to host THAAD puts regional security in peril, and countries in the region would have to choose sides in a looming confrontation... The X-band radar of THAAD can detect all of Chinese territory and Russia’s Far East… “The THAAD deployment is not an issue for South Korea alone but an issue involving all countries in the region.”.. Moreover, THAAD is incapable of protecting South Korea from nuclear and missile threats from the North as the majority of DPRK missiles fly at an altitude of 20-30 km, lower than THAAD’s intercepting altitude of 40-150 km… (03 August; Xinhua)

“[L]ately rhetoric has been stepped up a notch, with the AFP reporting that a Beijing minister urged preparations for a “people’s war at sea.”  In fact, China’s state-run media has been awash with bluster on the subject of their military and sovereignty. China’s Global Times went as far as to challenge Australia directly, saying: “If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.”  Usually, regional powers are deterred from making power plays on international waters and shipping lanes by the deterrent factor of the US’s massive military, but Beijing seems emboldened by both their own rapidly advancing military might as well as the US’s preoccupation with the presidential election… But despite China’s impressive ballistic and cruise missile programs, the country’s military is largely untested in modern warfare. Conversely, the US navy is stretched thin seeing to interests around the globe, and they would face huge difficulties in abandoning their posts worldwide to focus on China.  A war between China and it’s neighbors also has the dangerous possibility to divide the world. The US will no doubt come to the aide of it’s allies, and China and Russia have increased military ties which could further complicate the scenario.” (03 August; BI)

“The Chinese Navy held live-fire drills in the East China Sea on Monday, the Defense Ministry said in a short statement posted to its website.  The drills, the statement said, involved firing dozens of missiles and torpedoes and was aimed at bolstering “the assault intensity, precision, stability and speed of troops amid heavy electromagnetic influences,” an apparent reference to electronic warfare… China has ramped up its military and coast guard activity in the waters in recent months, with the Japanese Defense Ministry reporting early last month that fighter jets had been scrambled a record 199 times between April and June…  China announced last week that it would hold joint naval drills with Russia in September…” (02 August; Japan Times)

North Korea indicators

“North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Wednesday morning — including one into the Sea of Japan — in the country’s latest defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, U.S. and South Korean authorities said…  North Korea is prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile launches under U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed in part at curbing the country’s development of nuclear weapons.” (03 August; CNN)

Israel, Iran & the Middle East indicators

“In a chain of cloak-and-dagger moves, terror organization Hezbollah managed to “interview” ex-Defense Minister Amir Peretz, MK Tzipi Livni, Major General (Reserves) Eyal Ben-Reuven, and Tomer Weinberg, who was wounded while patrolling with captured soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The interviews were aired Saturday night on Hezbollah’s news channel, Al-Mayadeen.” (02 August; Arutz Sheva)

European Civil War

“The European Union is on the brink of total collapse if its trade deal with Canada falls through, an EU bureaucrat has warned… In a devastating blow for Brussels, the EU needs all of its 38 national and regional parliaments to agree the deal for it to be signed by Canada, which could result in delays and possible vetoes to the agreement…Demarty delivered his chilling warning at the bloc’s trade policy committee, claiming Brussels would have a “big credibility problem” if it failed to secure the agreement. (03 August; ExpressUK)

“Single attacks, however terrible, can unite a shocked nation, but France has suffered at least 14 terrorist assaults in the past two years, in which at least 240 people have been killed and over 600 injured. Moreover, the attacks have been widespread: eight of the 12 mainland regions of France have been hit. Intelligence services say many more plots have been foiled… Ten months before a presidential election, a mood of anger and frustration over the state’s failure to keep people safe is growing… All of this is casting doubt on Mr Hollande’s future… 65% of respondents lacked confidence in his handling of terrorism. He had promised to end France’s state of emergency… instead, after the outrage in Nice, he extended it: polls show most voters crave a stronger crackdown.” (30 July; Economist)

“French President François Hollande on Thursday confirmed that a National Guard would be formed from existing reserve forces to better protect citizens facing terror attacks…  He said he hoped the guard, made up of volunteers from the police, paramilitary police and military, would be operational by early autumn… Hollande had called on French “patriots” to enlist in the country’s operational reserves… The French presidency said some 15,000 operational reservists should be available by the end of the month “to ensure security for various events of the summer”. (28 July; France24)

“With Germany stunned by a series of bloody attacks, Chancellor Angela Merkel called Thursday for an “early warning system” to detect radicalization among asylum seekers… She said Germans were now locked in “a struggle, or a war, if you like” with the Islamic State… But even some former supporters of the policies have raised questions after four assaults in the span of two weeks — including two involving asylum seekers who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State… She additionally called for the army to begin training under the supervision of German police, so it could respond in the event of major terrorist attacks… ‘Tens of thousands of people of fighting age who haven’t been properly registered are in our country. Of many of them, the state neither knows their proper name, nor their right age, nor their current place of residence.'” (28 July; WaPo)

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


Black Lives Matter

Anti-law enforcement

“A pipe bomb exploded under a police vehicle in suburban Maryland on Wednesday morning…  The cruiser was parked in a driveway in Thurmont, Maryland…. The explosion sent shrapnel into a nearby house caused damage to the cruiser’s windshield… The officer who was using the cruiser was not injured. A source told CBS News the bomb was “legit.” (03 August; CBS)



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



European economic problems

[T]he risk of European and global volatility may have been only briefly postponed. Leaving aside other global risks (including a slowdown in already-mediocre U.S. growth, more fear of a Chinese hard landing, weakness in oil and commodity prices, and fragilities in key emerging markets), there is plenty of reason to worry about Europe and the eurozone… [A]n ugly divorce may also lead Scotland and Northern Ireland to leave the U.K. In that scenario, Catalonia may also push for independence from Spain. And without the U.K., Denmark and Sweden, which aren’t planning to join the eurozone, may fear that they will become second-class members of the EU, thus leading them to consider leaving as well,”” (02 August; SMM)

Dollar weakness & precious metals

“Gold futures closed sharply higher Tuesday, with the yellow metal finishing at its highest level in more than two years… Gold booked its best finish for a most-active contract since March 2014, according to FactSet data.” (02 August; Marketwatch)

“Beijing and Moscow are building up gold stocks for a variety of reasons, ranging from unease about undue dependence on the dollar — particularly acute in Russia’s case, in view of U.S.-led sanctions over the invasion of Crimea — to distaste at the low or negative returns on Europe currency holdings, especially the euro… China seems to be following a more strategic campaign to counter the weight of the dollar… the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right… will be enlarged to include the Chinese currency from Oct. 1, which could possibly be the precursor to the Chinese authorities attempting to strengthen the SDR — currently an artificial unit which is not traded on private markets — as a multilateral reserve currency… Compared with China, Russia has registered higher average monthly gold reserve purchases between January and June 2016 at 14 tons a month, according to latest IMF figures. But with more than 300 tons less gold in its reserves than China, Russia would still need six years to close the gap with France and Italy. (02 August; Marketwatch)


Market sentiment

“Negative returns and principal losses in many asset categories are increasingly possible unless nominal growth rates reach acceptable levels,” Bill Gross said in his latest Investment Outlook note published Wednesday.  “I don’t like bonds; I don’t like most stocks; I don’t like private equity. Real assets such as land, gold, and tangible plant and equipment at a discount are favored asset categories.” (03 August; Fortune)

“[T]he market sentiment patterns we follow have been suggesting that the [S&P] is heading to the 2537-2610 region before we see a major correction take hold in 2018.” (01 August; Marketwatch)

Jeffrey Gundlach, the chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said on Friday that many asset classes look frothy and his firm continues to hold gold, a traditional safe-haven, along with gold miner stocks.  ‘The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel – sell everything. Nothing here looks good,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. “The stock markets should be down massively but investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong.'” (30 July; Reuters)


Inequality leading to civil unrest

“The role of student loans in weighing down household balance sheets combined with repayment struggles indicate that student debt could be a factor in growing inequality, the researchers write.” (02 August; Marketwatch)


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.

1 Comment

  1. Regarding France. Really this apples to anywhere else. The Islamic extremists are expert at appearing much bigger than they really are. The word Terror is an invented term that is synonymous with Wolf. Those Boys that cry Wolf in government and the Chicken Littles in the Media love and profit from all this. Cut off a head and millions panic. And the relatively few Islamic Extremists are delighted – and do more! I think in time we will become more thick skinned and put in things in true perspective. Otherwise we will become our own worst enemy and threat – exactly what the minority of extremists/”Terrorists” are counting on.

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