Introduction to Counterintelligence – Forward Observer Shop

Introduction to Counterintelligence

Today we live in perilous times.  If you are foolish enough to take any mainstream media at face value one hundred percent, you are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to the truth. Journalism used to be an occupation driven by integrity and the aspiration for the facts. It is now corporate and government propaganda designed to direct and guide its citizens to believe what they want them to believe. They have their agenda and they are willing to bend reality to favor how they want you to view it. You can watch any news station right this moment and you can ask yourself, “What is their agenda for airing this news story? What is their agenda for portraying the story in this perspective?”

The news isn’t the only entity that has an agenda. We all have agendas. Every day, every decision you make is focused towards an agenda you have for that day. Every relationship you have was originated, continued, and possibly terminated for a specific agenda. This is not to say agendas should always have a negative connota- tion. They are a requirement to keep moving in a direction you desire towards a goal that you want. An agenda you may have today is talking to your mechanic who is working on your vehicle. Your agenda or goal may be to work down the price a little, negotiate a shorter down time, or perhaps set up a positive rapport relationship for a repair you may know is in the future for your vehicle. Building rapport equity is important. Rapport equity and manipulation and identification of agendas are paramount when operating in a Counterintelligence operation.


The Department of Defense definition of Counterintelligence (CI) is:

“Counterintelligence is the business of identifying and combating foreign intelligence threats, knowledge, and action. Its core concern is the intelligence activities of foreign states and similar organizations of non-state actors, such as transnational terrorist groups.”

A foreign intelligence threat is a threat by any person or organization who is not allied with your organization or, for our purposes, our family. For the self reliant citizen, this may be anyone who is trying to gain access to your neighborhood, after you have secured it following a SHTF scenario.

It may be the remnants of a corrupt or severely depleted police force in your city following a catastrophic event, who are using military tactics and intimidation to maintain order. It may be a private police force that has been hired by the affluent neighborhood directly adjacent to yours. Any person who does not have the safety and well being of your organization, neighborhood, or family as priority number one should be considered a foreign threat. It is up to you how you handle and treat these threats. Counterintelligence is used to determine the threat level and risk of a foreign threat, along with their capabilities and agenda.

There are many different disciplines involved in CI, whether it’s Vetting and Asset Validation, CI Interviews, Monitoring and Surveillance, or Elicitation, just to name a few. Here’s a break down of disciplines we’ll cover in future articles.


VETTING AND ASSET VALIDATION is the process used to determine the asset authenticity, reliability, utility, suitability, and degree of control the case officer or others have. The asset is any person who is used for their placement and access by the CI collector. Asset Validation is normally used in the later stages of a long cycle of a relationship with someone, but can be used from the outset of any new relationship.


CI INTERVIEWS are conducted to gather information from a person who is aware that information is being given, although, there is ignorance of the true connection and purposes of the interviewer. CI interviews are generally overt unless the collector is other than purported to be.


MONITORING AND SURVEILLANCE are highly perishable skills that are taught to Intelligence Community Case Officers as another way to keep an eye on Foreign Intelligence Threats to catch them in an operational act. It normally involves teams of 4-12 individuals who are operating with each other over communications and in conjunction with vehicle and foot surveillance. It is a skill that requires a lot of logistics and planning.


ELICITATION is the art of deriving intelligence from someone through conversation without them knowing you are gathering information from them. Elicitation is an underutilized and difficult skill to pull off effectively. It is a skill that I use on a daily basis in any interaction I have with an individual where I want a piece of information from them, but I do not want them to know the importance of that information.


By far the most important discipline in CI, in my opinion, is asset validation and vetting. Establishing protocols and procedures to ensure that the veracity of information you are gathering from someone or about someone is an invaluable skill. It allows you to determine the reliability of an asset, the possible effectiveness of their information, and how much you can trust them. Asset validation allows you to determine how trustworthy someone is, how willing and capable they are to carry out instructions you give them, and if they are being controlled by someone else.

Counterintelligence is a vast collection of skills that can help any self-reliant citizen up to and after any SHTF scenario. It has many skills that will perish without use. You have to regularly practice to keep proficient. Just as with dry firing or target practice on the range, using skills such as elicitation regularly will keep you sharp and enable you to bend and adapt to the situation. Allowing them to degrade is tantamount to leaving your long rifle sitting outside in the rain and letting it gather rust. Counterintelligence is a self defense tool that if allowed to rust, will be the reason you fail yourself and your family. We live in dangerous world during perilous times.

Former Counterintelligence/HUMINT Specialist with the Marine Corps with a few combat deployments to Afghanistan. Extensive training in Counterintelligence, HUMINT, Interrogations, Surveillance, and Counter-surveillance. Martin is now a Firefighter/Paramedic in the Southeast.

1 Comment

  1. Great article! Don’t see much written out there about CI…glad to see some coming here to FO!

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