A New Introduction to the Forward Observer Daily – Forward Observer Shop

A New Introduction to the Forward Observer Daily

Tomorrow I start on Day 01 of a five-day series on intelligence and community security to get us started. It’s an introduction and overview before we progress into much more advanced material about community security during a time of emergency.

You may be tempted to skip over this section, but don’t. Please understand why I’m going to dedicate a substantial part of my life to this blog.

In 2002, a professor gave some advice to a student of his, explaining how to succeed in graduate school:

You need to have a problem — at least one, maybe two or three. You must be willing to devote a substantial part of your life to solving this problem. This means that the problem must really bother you; that you find it gripping, emotionally, and challenging, intellectually. You are doomed to failure, in my opinion, without such a problem…

Your problem should be broad and daring in scope, but you should be able to state it in explicit terms. Furthermore, you should aim to solve it — really; not to take steps towards solving it, not to further the research in the area — but to solve it.

I’ve always been fascinated by war; from my first real introduction to the War Between the States as a kid wearing a gray kepi during a re-enactment, to further investigation of the American Revolution and the Indian Wars, and then reading some books about unconventional war during World War II, and then to enlistment into the military and a few years spent in Iraq and Afghanistan where my irrational exuberance for war quickly wore off. I’m somewhat anxious and reluctant to write this, but I do believe that America is likely to end up in a domestic conflict within the lifetimes of most people who are reading this. I’m still forming my opinion of what it’s going to look like. It may not rival the period of 1861-1865, but it will be just as contentious and historic, and marked, as any war, by its own forms of brutality. Armed conflict may be sporadic and regional, and characterized as “low intensity conflict”. (See this for an introduction to the concept.)

Whether it’s nation-state conflict being carried out by conventional militaries fighting one another with tanks and planes, or irregular conflict being waged by armed and politicized social bases, most who find themselves stuck in a war remain stuck. They’re the civilians living in the apartment building that’s being bombarded, or the family eating at a restaurant when a bomb goes off, or the kids playing in the street when a firefight breaks out. They’re not fighters, war just happens to them. As a result, these people may join the war. They become accidental guerrillas, a term coined by David Kilcullen to describe individuals who must choose a side after finding themselves in the midst of war. These people may be fighting to defend themselves, their families, their communities, their ways of life, or for some other cause, but they’re still fighting a war they were virtually forced into. As the adage goes, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

The question is how do we secure our communities from the effects of systems disruption while winning a conflict? One of many problems is that most of us don’t know how or where to begin, so this blog is dedicated to getting started and showing you some ways forward from people who’ve dedicated their lives to fighting wars. Occasionally, I’ll bring in some friends to fill in the areas where I lack expertise.

Tomorrow is the beginning of this new daily blog, and I’ll be writing about how we should begin to form our thinking on the needs of intelligence, the problems that intelligence solves, and how even basic intelligence activities can greatly aid our community security efforts, whether we experience world war, a domestic conflict, a national emergency, a natural disaster, or anything short of that.

—> READ NEXT: Day 01 of Intelligence and Community Security: Shifting Landscapes and the OODA Loop

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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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