Red Yellow Green Blue: Categories for Community Security – Forward Observer Shop

Red Yellow Green Blue: Categories for Community Security

Yesterday, Aesop had a good post about neighborhood dynamics. It reminded me of an article I wrote in 2014 over at Guerrillamerica (RIP). Here’s a slightly updated version:

For several years in Afghanistan, we had Village Stability Operations which were aimed at saving or securing Afghan villages from the Taliban. In any given area, there were red, yellow, or green villages; essentially classifications we assigned in order to prioritize our efforts in turning “yellow” villages “green”.  Very briefly:

    • Red villages were decidedly anti-US/Coalition Forces or pro-Taliban.
    • Yellow villages were on the bubble of support, mixed, or indifferent.
    • Green villages were pro-US/CF or anti-Taliban.


We had to identify these villages, classify them, and then target them appropriately for influence. We didn’t waste time on red villages in which we were unable to build support. Instead, we focused on keeping the green villages for us, and convincing/influencing the yellow villages to support us and reject the Taliban.

It’s occurred to me that this analysis has a very profound usefulness to our community as well.

We used certain criteria to classify those Afghan villages, and so you should develop your own criteria as to why and how you’re going to classify your neighbors and/or surrounding neighborhoods as red, yellow, or green. This is how I developed my “politics overlay” for my neighborhood.


One of the first things I’m going to do is identify those in my neighborhood who are diametrically opposed to Liberty. How do I find these people? As it’s been pointed out numerous times, look at political yard signs, and check out your local political offices and find out who volunteers for Leftist candidates. Your state probably has a way you can purchase or obtain voter registration information, so start with your zip code. You can also check websites like where you can look up political campaign contributions. Some of these red homes may not be at all political – they could be gang or criminal affiliated. They could be drug addicts. They could be the ill-prepared – people who, when the time comes, might believe that committing a crime is justified, given the circumstances. You can use a color and letter combination (much like military symbology) to denote more specifics. For instance, a red circle and an L might denote a Leftist (communist or socialist); a red circle and a C might represent a criminal; a red circle and a U might represent someone who is armed but unprepared to deal with any length of systems disruption. However you decide to mark your overlay, just ensure that you remain consistent and build a map legend for easy reference later.


I used yellow to denote moderate households. These are the folks whom I might want to work with during the next natural disaster or have over for a barbecue, but aren’t necessarily politically active. They may also be politically agnostic but receptive to “inform and influence” operations. The goal is to turn these yellow households green or blue.


Green households are the folks who support the rule of law and are entirely receptive to “inform and influence”. They’re probably not getting prepared, but, at the very least, they see the threats. It’s our job to act as a coach when they ask. One of the best things we can do in Intelligence is merely listen. Strike up a conversation. Ask them how they’re doing. Show you care. Build a relationship, then start asking questions about what’s going on in the political world. Ask for their opinion. Be interested. They’ll likely tell you once they get to know you, especially if you confirm your belief in what they’re saying. Now you’re building rapport, and you’ll use this rapport to plant little seeds. Pique their interest about a certain topic or about being prepared or about going to the shooting range. Cement the bond you’re building, and introduce them to the concept of a preparedness group, community defense group, or a community watch. Recruit them, then turn them blue.


“Blue” homes are ardent Patriots. These are the folks in our groups; they’re the ones we can depend on when it hits the fan. We’re responsible for herding these cats, fostering cohesion, and building the skill base of the group.

This map should give you a pretty good visual representation of the kind of neighbors you have and community you live in. If you don’t know your neighbors, do a little digging. Find out some information, then make an excuse to say hello. Just go meet them.

In the next few weeks, have your group do an “ACE Weekend” where you can spend a few hours, or a day or weekend catching up on all the intelligence activities you should have been doing. Creating intelligence products like these now will pay dividends later. Intelligence drives the fight! It also drives community security.

One security caveat: how do we determine what should be “secret” information and what should be open and available to the neighborhood? One way to identify that line is to think, “Would I want an adversarial group to see this?” If the answer is undoubtedly no, then you should ensure proper security not just over the information itself, but over the knowledge of the existence of that information. The best way to keep a secret is to deny that one exists in the first place.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper




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. The county Tax Assessment web sites is a huge source of information in getting names and addresses (and neighborhood maps) for neighbors around you. Then combine with voter role or any other information to assess threat status. Just google your county name and property tax appraisal and you will be surprised the info that is available.

  2. Or… Get a hold of team left’s CATALYST database. That identifies motivated lefties, those who have to be dragged along to vote team D, and possibly actual Americans on the “do not contact/waste of time” part of the database.

    1. Both Democrats and Republicans have similar databases. For what you’re asking. Democrat Primary Voters = motivated lefties, and GOP Primary Voters = motivated righties.
      Best way to get access to this type of data is to form a local Conservative/Liberty/Libertarian/Etc Political Action Committee and use the lists to spread messaging. For instance, the firm i360 is a Koch Network project and supports the NRA’s PAC data needs w/ their 2A voter modeling available w/ a subscription, other models available too. Data on the right is much cheaper than data on the left, and you’re at least paying someone who is somewhat on your team.

      Regarding colors on your own maps — my suggestion would be to use colors that aren’t immediately correlated to any meaning. Last thing you want is for the bad guys to get ahold of your own intel. Obviously, having a burn bag, etc, and a metal trashcan for sensitive stuff like this is a good idea too.

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