[VIDEO] BESTMAPS and Emergency Preparedness – Forward Observer Shop

[VIDEO] BESTMAPS and Emergency Preparedness

ADMIN NOTE: Is Forward Observer TV going to become a real thing? Long form episodes?! I can’t say for certain just yet, but I want to start putting some of my blog posts into a video format.

The videos will probably be easier to consume for some, and if we can use Forward Observer TV to reach, teach, and inspire more Americans about the utility of intelligence for emergency preparedness, disaster response, or something worse, then we will.

This is our “minimum viable” episode. If you’d like for us to work on future episodes, along with some long form content, please let me know in the comments below. More than anything, you can make your support known via liking and subscribing to our YouTube channel. In the meantime, we’ll get working on other video platforms as well.

Without further ado, here’s FOTV Episode 1: BESTMAPS and Emergency Preparedness


RECOMMENDED READING: Preparedness and Assessing Local Risk

This is meant as a quick guide to BESTMAPS, a tool developed for strategic debriefing which has some applicability to our mission of community security.


Transportation and Telecommunications
Military Geography
Armed Forces
Science & Technical


Please let me know if you’d like us to develop some video content in addition to my regular blog posts.

Always Out Front,
Samuel Culper



Samuel Culper 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. Outstanding. Thanks for putting this all together — not just this episode but all of your work on trying to get us “up to speed” on all things Intel —- I don’t often comment on stuff but please know that I / we consider this absolutely necessary and it is definitely appreciated —- probably won’t really be appreciated until later.

  2. Thanks for trying a new way to bring the information. I’ve struggled with trying to get started with even basic intel gathering. I know there is a ton of work to develop a usable product but I don’t know where to go to get the raw data. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines because I don’t know what I don’t know. I’m interested, but not yet enabled. Still waiting for my “aha” moment.

    1. Hey Gary – First, thank you for commenting. The good news is that you’ve identified the problem: not knowing where to get information, how to compile it, and how to produce the actual intelligence. There’s a really good way to begin solving that problem. If it’s alright with you, I’ll send you an email about some next steps you could take. How does that sound?

  3. Echoing a previous commentor, the audio/vid delivery is more effective for me than text in terms of absorption and retention. I listen to audio books and podcasts all day long while working.

    1. Hey Del – Good copy. Thank you for letting me know. It sounds like we may move forward with more audio and video content.

  4. Excellent introduction. Please continue. I knew the answers to the questions about the resources you mentioned. I had not though about how to use the info.

  5. Good job, appreciate all the hardwork and quality work that you put into these and other information deliverables.

    Question: How does one strike a balance between the two systems, electronic and manual, in order to transition from one to the other in the event of system failure; i.e. EMP, Cyber grid down, and what levels of op sec for each? Manual bulks up real fast with maps, notes reports. What would be departure critical for BO understanding that a different package would be most likely required for BO AO2? Would also be payload limited for transportation mode selected during BO.

    Jame (NAV)(Jax)(FL)

  6. Thanks for making this episode. If you ever have the time I would love to see this taken a step further with maps you have created using these overlays, both physical and electronic. Also, I am curious as to what electronic tools and resources are the most useful for gathering this information. I have listened to all your podcasts and read many of your articles over the years and you have mentioned a lot of sources but it would be great to have them all listed in one place. Maybe a list of what you work with and why as well as an area for subscribers to add their own tools that they use and why. Thanks and keep up the great work. BTW I am a great fan of podcasts and video so more of these in the future would be awesome.

  7. Thanks for doing the video. Increasingly if I sit down to read something my eyes close, (yes I’m over 60). Listening to this allowed me to pause and take notes and also replay. I often listen to podcasts while working and this will be replayed the same way. Thanks for all you do helping us spin up.

  8. Great information, and as others have said, very useful for the auditory learners among us. One suggested improvement for future videos would be to take greater advantage of the visual element afforded by a video. Example products, a sample of what key infrastructure looks like on google earth, how you visually organize the data on the overlay, etc. all while the same audio rolls.

    This would be very helpful for us visual learners in the crowd. Thanks for the work!

  9. Speaking of maps, this is difficult to describe concisely, but near and dear to my heart and preparedness efforts.
    As a Freeman who resides in one of the most rural and off the main lines of drift, mountainous, regions east of the Mississippi, understanding, and mapping out the main lines of drift invaders foreign to my remote AO are likely to traverse, is extremely important, to my tactical citizen small unit infantry combat grasp of the strategic and tactical imperatives of local agrarian community defense in limited access steep mountain terrain.

    Ive used Geological survey quadrangle maps all my life, even before my Boy Scouts map & compass orienteering training, you could say it is a long family tradition. I see this as literally nothing short of a fantastic resource in so many ways, I never stop learning and discovering what these maps offer after more than 50 years.
    In recent years I have employed them in developing tactical use of terrain around my home and community, yet, there are unknowns and unknown unknowns in regards to interlopers and would be enemy actors and how they could react if the use of limited developed, vehicle capable road access was denied them, how they might choose to travel on foot or small 1-2 person RV, how unfamiliar terrain effects their choice of, or instinctive use of natural lines of drift. The most obvious routes need no explanation, its under austere conditions, where motives and events are much different than before “civility” breaks down, how this effects decision making and motivation.
    My personal understanding and use of these maps, may be blinding me to how the uninitiated and outsiders could react, how I might take for granted aspects of terrain others see and use differently.

    I understand too this is a very subjective thing with a myriad of variables, there are no straight standard answers. Only acting itself is always the best thing you can do.
    It is more about a sense of getting inside the heads of potential actors moving out into the rural remote farm and forrest lands of the higher elevations of Appalachia.
    I know they will come at some stage if events continue to devolve, for all the reasons evident in the approaching cultural/race war, because in no doubt, we who reside in these so called agenda 21 referred “unsecured spaces”, are the Kulaks now to the neo-bolsheviks. That circular feature of history, and our liquidation is a clearly stated ideological imperative. Interdiction of this threat, with limited resources and manpower, which is one of the main drivers of understanding, and efficient utilization of terrain, and understanding the probable enemy elements reactions noted above.

    Would you have any insights or experiences you care to share on this subject? Sometimes it is the smallest seeming things which are the seed of greater understanding.
    Thanks and I truly appreciate you all for the hard work and resources you all provide.

  10. I enjoyed the BESTMAPS introduction. And the format with keywords followed by your commentary. However, a few images or examples, would be helpful to build out the visual in my mind..in future episodes. I know adding material causes more editing, the but value of your tribal knowledge would shine with a little more than the talking point, very high level bullet points. Given that, I liked where you started. Getting confortable with development of local intel in my AO is a pretty tall order for the average non-Mil grey man, but you’ve wet my appetite. Keep it coming, Sam!

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