Showing posts with label intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intelligence. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Guerilla America: Excellent Intel Resource

Over the last year I have toyed with writing more on Intelligence as it is poorly understood AND really important. However Sam Culper came along to do all the heavy lifting on that subject which means I don't have to bother. Check out his excellent blog Guerrilla America. Sam is doing an Open Source Practical Exercise on the New Black Panther Party that should be quite interesting. I'm too late (and busy) to participate but definitely interested in the whole thing. You will probably see the end results here at some point. Go read and learn.

Off Topic discussion: Sam is part of the 'III" Patriot sphere. I have minimal interest in that whole thing but that is a discussion for another day. That sphere does however overlap with survivalism. The thing about skills like intelligence is that they work against mutant zombie bikers, an oppressive regime, the thugs of the NBPP or whoever. So go to Sam's Place and learn then apply those skills to the problem sets you face, whatever they may be.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Random Tuesday Thoughts

-It might be time to re read the Matthew Bracken novels as they seem to be playing out in real life.

-This whole discussion about the NSA, Verizon, etc all data gathering is interesting. First that stuff called 'meta data' matters, modern computers using well designed programs combined with various other open source stuff can come up with huge amounts of information. Think pattern and link analysis that is largely automated based on huge amounts of information. Along these lines the idea that has been posed "it is legal under our law but may not be constitutional" says a lot about the current problems in our country.

-Silver is at 21.5ish right now. If you have a few dollars to spare that is definitely a buy. I cannot say why gold is down either but if you can afford it that is another fine place to park a few dollars.

-Ammo prices seem to be coming down (except .22lr which is going up) but availability is still spotty for sure.

-TEOTWAWKI Blog's post on Resupply Caches is worth checking out. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Whatever Targeting by CARVER

CARVER is an accronym used for targeting. In this post I am going to go through it in plain language laymen will understand. If you want more formal stuff as well as the scoring matrix click here. Use this method of targeting to look at potential options from your pattern and link analysis.

CRITICALITY- Obviously the point of attacking a target is to hurt the group whose personnel or equipment (infrastructure, etc) you are targeting. No point in going to all the risk and hassle to conduct an attack that will hardly impact the enemy. Lets say you destroy the enemies resupply of underwear, so what. On the other hand if you blow up their fuel it will hurt. This is one significant problem with the 'Shoot the enemy Joey's in the face' plan. Joey is a fine upstanding young man but he is not critical to the mission. 

ACCESSIBILITY- Sure it would be nice to kill the enemy President while he has dinner with all the top military leaders and the head of their intelligence agency but that event is probably very secure. No point in planning a mission where you can't reach the target, execute the mission and successfully exfiltrate. To me this is the reality check question.

RECUPERABILITY- How quickly can the enemy recover, repair or bypass the damage? No point in damaging a city road if they can take 2nd instead of 1st. On the other hand knocking out a bridge might take them months to fix, making a 20 mile trip to mess with your safe area into an 80 mile trip and giving you freedom of maneuver for awhile. Recuperability is another reason the shoot Joey in the face plan sucks. Sure folks will get bummed, they will have a ceremony for him, etc but there is a negligible impact on the big picture. 

[If you haven't picked it up I do not think much of shooting the enemies junior soldiers as a plan for success. Insurgents cannot risk their lives for a stupid goal of killing some 20 year old kid who only matters to his family and buddies. I am not saying there isn't a reason to engage the enemy in combat, just do it towards a goal. Attack to deny the enemy freedom of movement, harass them and push them out of an area or to capture supplies, for propaganda purposes, knife them in dark allies to put fear in their hearts or whatever. Sort of like exercising if you can't clearly state the reason for doing something it's probably good to question it.]

VULNERABILITY- Can you destroy the target with skills or weapons the team possesses? Not much of a point targeting things you cannot destroy or damage enough to meet your goals. Any redneck could knock a cell phone/ radio tower offline. On the other hand a steel and concrete bridge is a bit harder and the right equipment (explosives, det cord and detonators) really help. 

EFFECT- What will the impact of this target be on the political, military, social, economy and in particular the civilian populace? This relates to criticality; how I separate them (maybe wrongly so) is that criticality is the effect on the enemy while effect is on the larger situation. Example, You knock out a bridge that limits regime movement within the AO so it is an obvious criticality win. However this also prevents farmers from getting their crops to market easily and the flow of normal goods/ services are adversely effected. The end result is the economy being seriously hurt which makes lots of otherwise sympathetic people angry with your group. 

AND RECOGNIZABILITY- In realistic combat conditions or bad weather can the folks executing the mission quickly and accurately identify the target? Grabbing a 6'3" skinny teenager with short hair and an earring wearing a baggy t shirt, shorts and sneakers at a high school basketball tournament is going to be problematic at best. 

Well I hope this gives you something to think about. Use
pattern and link analysis then CARVER and, assuming a decent foundation in small unit tactics, there is reasonable chance of success.

I hope you enjoy this post and have a wonderful Friday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

9 Considerations for the Lone Wolf

Max Velocity started the topic and then American Mercenary added to it. Time for me to toss .02 cents into the topic.

1) You do not want to fight. It doesn't matter if you retired yesterday as an E-9 genuine JSOC Jedi from the coolest Tier 1 unit. Five rednecks with rifles probably have your number, if not today then next week.

2) Force multipliers matter even more when you have less force. I would call a guy with a NOD equal to 2 or 3 guys without them at night. If you can possibly afford it get body armor and NODs.

3) Ex filtration is probably more important than the actual operation itself. One guy can't shoot his way out of much and there is nobody to drag you off should you get shot or break an ankle. You can miss shots/ have bombs fail or whatever all the time if you can get away. Sure it sucks but you can always try again. On the other hand if you kill a tank then get blown up trying to get away you are dead. If you cannot figure out a very solid exfil plan it's probably better not to run the op. Live to fight another day is the optimal phrase.

4) Have a realistic op tempo. The reason cool JSOC guys or even plain old Infantryman can maintain the operational tempo's they do is that they have a bunch of support. People are gathering intel for them, others are planning operations, some more folks are fixing their vehicles, others are doing logistics, making food and such. Since a lone wolf does not have people doing any of those things they have to do it them self. Remember that gathering intel, planning, caching weapons, doing necessary maintenance and dealing with logistics is the stuff that lets you do the more gratifying part.

5) Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Like AM said you probably want to lean more towards assassinations than harassment. No point getting offed trying to shoot some Joey. On the other hand doing a 1 man infiltration of a Brigade sized FOB to kill a General Officer probably is not realistic either. (Remember #3 Exfil)

Put in the time and do pattern and link analysis. In doing it you will probably find there are some good targets that are not very well guarded. Whacking the proverbial lynch pin is less sexy than offing VIP's or blowing up tanks but it is arguably more effective and certainly more realistic for a lone wolf.

6) Do not set patterns. Keeping a little threat wheel of your actions is a good way to avoid setting patterns. Also taking a couple months off of kinetic work is a good way to get other things done, plan, rest and let the enemy forget about you.

7) Have a reason to be wherever you are as much of the time as possible. Maybe you like running and use that to do some recon. Maybe take up bird watching to explain always being out in the middle of nowhere with bino's and a sack lunch. The point is to be able to explain why you are where you are in a way that is sufficient to the casual contact with a member of the other side's security apparatus.

8) Caches. A lone wolf is going to be living at home, probably still going to work and all that. Some caches are to spread out your proverbial eggs. Others are more operational in nature. In North Ireland the IRA were great at this. Their shooters would just be some guys in a truck until they grabbed their guns/ explosives from a pre planned cache a couple minutes before go time and went into action. Almost immediately after they ditched the guns, probably in another hiding spot, and vanished into the population. For a lone wolf maybe this would mean stashing a pistol or a rifle in a good spot, grabbing it and going into action then either hiding it again or worst case ditching it. Especially if he takes some steps to avoid fingerprints, gunpowder resin, etc and gets out of the immediate area a lone wolfs odds of getting away are pretty good. Certainly far better than if he tries running off wearing cammies and carrying a rifle through the street or woods.

9) Make some friends so you can stop being a lone wolf. Do this now. Get out of your shell and meet some like minded people.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Intelligence Analysis Tools- Patterns and Links

There is so much that goes into intelligence that it is not going to be covered in a single post. Today I want to talk about managing intelligence (information really) and making sense of it.

Obviously any good organization is working hard to find out information about their surrounding area, people and of course enemies. Snipers are doing over watch and pattern of life analysis on high payoff targets as well as whomever happens to be around. Patrols are  tracking enemy movement/ operations and actively engaging key leaders (both hard and soft power*) as well as the populace at large. Aside from the standard listening shop keepers are noting when soldiers come in to buy 2 cartons of smokes instead of a pack or two and weeks worth of snacks instead of something to tide them over till dinner chow. Retirees and other folks with a decent reason to be hanging around near key choke points are counting numbers and types of vehicles that cross their path. All sorts of folks are sitting in coffee shops, restaurants and bars listening to the chatter. A few pretty girls, potentially willing to 'take one for the team' (sorry I couldn't resist) are spending time with the rank and file and well as key leaders when the opportunity arises. Tech geeks are listening to radio frequencies. They probably can't pick up the encrypted stuff but the walkie talkies used for admin stuff on base might be interesting to listen to. Some computer folks will probably be doing their thing also. The point is that any organization with a few members and a semi decent axillary plus a few basic resources will quickly get overwhelmed with information.

As we have seen in the last few years in intelligence the issue isn't so much the gathering of information but rapidly analyzing it, figuring out it's meaning and passing that info through command channels to the shooters. What we will discuss today is a framework for this analysis. A series of products that can be created to make sense of all the chatter by slicing it up in terms of time, individuals involved, events and space. It is important to note that these products are largely looking at the same information just from different angles.

First we will look at time. The two products we will talk about are the threat wheel and the event timeline.

Threat Wheel- I could not find a good picture of this. Imagine a bicycle wheel. The spokes are the hours of the day so obviously there are 24 of them. Next we are going to make concentric circles from the inner hub all the way out to the rim. These are days. The amount can vary by what you are doing but a month isn't a bad place to start. Every action goes onto the threat wheel. You place index the appropriate time to the day and mark what it is. A could be ambush, B could be bombing, c for snap checkpoint, whatever works.

The point of this tool is to see fairly short term patterns. Example Cool Guy in black helicopters conduct raids between 1 and 3 in the morning while conventional guys hit at more like 6 in the morning. Checkpoints get set up about 7 in the morning and run till 1 or 2 in the afternoon. You get the idea. It is important to realize that your insurgent forces actions can affect the threat wheel. If you run operations in the morning then they will look for you in the morning, raids will be conducted in hours of darkness when they suspect your force will be resting, etc.

It also might not be a bad idea to keep a threat wheel (maybe call it a friendly forces activity wheel or something) of all of YOUR actions. The reason is to avoid setting patterns that can be targeted. The other guy will be looking for those patterns to set up an ambush or drop some bombs so you better not set any obvious ones.

Event Timeline- This is just that a timeline. It is better for longer term stuff. Showing how two sides got to fighting or whatever. These are good for seeing big picture patterns. These typically focus on months and years while the threat wheel is more about days and weeks.

Example: A fellow I know was an intelligence officer who worked in South America in the 80's. He ended up advising a friendly Banana Republic in their fight against an insurgent communist group. When they looked at it this group had a pretty set pattern for moving into an area. They would send a few guys in to look around and ask questions. What were the local grievances, who were the power players, that type of stuff, next they would damage the roads, bridges and train tracks (isolating the objective) which inconveniences the people and made them dislike the police and army who could not stop this. After that they would conduct a few attacks hurting a few people and destroying most of the police vehicles to stop the lazy police from patrolling and they would move into the jungles outside the city in force. Some folks would then come in and talk about how the regime was corrupt and incapable of providing basic services. By the time they got to actually going into town the police were incapable of maneuvering, it was difficult for regime reinforcements to get there and the people were largely on their side. Information like this allowed the regime to much more effectively mass their forces (instead of guarding everything) and defeat the insurgents. Remember that patters will be exploited by people who find them. End example.

Next we are going to look at people.

Association Matrix- This is a pretty simple document. It is a triangle with a bunch of names going down the angled side.

The point is simply to show which players know each other. Here is an example.Typically one symbol will be used for suspected association, another for confirmed association and a third when one of the parties is dead.

Activity Template- This is a simple square divided by lines. On the left side we have the names of all our players from the association matrix and on the bottom we have a whole bunch of activities. Some will be key events like Regime puppet forces assassinating a local power broker and others will be broad like 'intimidation' or 'information operations'.
The same known, suspected, KIA code (the examples from the FM don't have it but it's smart to include so you don't get all whipped up about finding a connection to then realize one of them is dead) will be used here. The point is to link our players with activities. This can also feed back into our association matrix. If Bob and Jim are both confirmed to have participated in the death squad that offed a town council member they know each other. Be sure to adjust the association matrix accordingly.

Next we put this stuff together.

A product omitted from the manual but useful none the less is an Intel Analysis map overlay. Taking the people and activities and plotting them onto a map. Think of it like a threat wheel slapped onto the map. You can also incorporate a variety of other useful info like ethnicity, religion, income as needed, whether an area is pro regime, neutral, contested or pro insurgent and whatever other info you deem pertinent. I do not think this is necessarily essential but it depends on how many visual learners are in your target audience.

Link Diagram- The link diagram shows activities, players involved and the connections between them. An event will be a square, people are circles, confirmed connections are solid lines and suspected ones are dashed lines. You can use another key system but this one works fine and is easy.

The link diagram is really what all of the work we have done is building up to. It should (if you have a decent amount of info) graphically depict who is doing what and the connections between them. Also this is where this whole process really starts giving back to you.

This process is pretty helpful for managing a lot of information during a complicated situation. If you haven't figured it out yet Insurgencies are complicated situations. The Regime has conventional forces, paramilitaries, auxiliaries, folks actively and passively supporting it. Local power brokers are out doing their thing and supporting one side or both, sometimes switching back and forth as conditions change.  A variety of thugs and criminal organizations exploit the vacuum to ply their trades. The insurgent groups have a slew of loosely organized, sometimes even competing, groups, auxiliaries and supporters.

I said before that this analysis is a way to manage information. That is the most basic function for sure but it also brings up questions when you see the picture more clearly. Seeing everything put together will make connections or holes in your information become much more apparent than if they are stuck in a huge stack of reports. This will lead to new PIR (Priority Intelligence Requirements) to answer the questions that come up. Is a person who seems to be involved with every cell but not directly in any operations a courtier, some sort of specialist (explosives, commo, medical, etc) or a leader? Is the Mayor a Boss Hog style crook, a Grey Man, playing both sides or a full out regime stooge? Are the local chapter of the Masons running a pro regime death squad?

The relationship between intelligence collection and operational command is a complicated one. Way more than can be addressed in a paragraph. Simply put the Commander will give guidance on operational plans which will be supported by intelligence collection. Intelligence collection will then lead to focusing or adjusting the operational plans to suit the situation. I guess you could say that operations drive intelligence and intelligence focuses operations. Done right it is a positive feedback loop of butt kicking.

*Hard power would be established positions of authority, not necessarily of arms, such as tribal leaders, mayors, police chiefs and whatnot. Soft power folks can be just as influential but do not have a formal title parse. Think village elder, influential businessman, religious leaders and such. Their power is just as real but varies more depending on the individuals involved. If you have ever seen a Mayor make a 180 degree policy turn overnight after the town doctor and Preacher spoke against it you have seen soft power.

For further info refer to , and FM 3-07.22 particularly Appendix F where the example images came from.

I hope this is interesting to a few of you. Anyway happy day after Christmas.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Worth Reading: The Gentlepersons Guide to Forum Spies

The Gentlepersons Guide to Forum Spies

Selected passages:
One way to neutralize a potential activist is to get them to be in a group that does all the wrong things. Why?

1) The message doesn't get out.
2) A lot of time is wasted
3) The activist is frustrated and discouraged
4) Nothing good is accomplished.

Some agents take on a pushy, arrogant, or defensive manner:

1) To disrupt the agenda
2) To side-track the discussion
3) To interrupt repeatedly
4) To feign ignorance
5) To make an unfounded accusation against a person.

Calling someone a racist, for example. This tactic is used to discredit a person in the eyes of all other group members.


Some saboteurs pretend to be activists. She or he will ....

1) Write encyclopedic flyers (in the present day, websites)
2) Print flyers in English only.
3) Have demonstrations in places where no one cares.
4) Solicit funding from rich people instead of grass roots support
5) Display banners with too many words that are confusing.
6) Confuse issues.
7) Make the wrong demands.
Cool Compromise the goal.
9) Have endless discussions that waste everyone's time. The agent may accompany the endless discussions with drinking, pot smoking or other amusement to slow down the activist's work.


1) Want to establish "leaders" to set them up for a fall in order to stop the movement.
2) Suggest doing foolish, illegal things to get the activists in trouble.
3) Encourage militancy.

4) Want to taunt the authorities.
5) Attempt to make the activist compromise their values.
6) Attempt to instigate violence. Activisim ought to always be non-violent.
7) Attempt to provoke revolt among people who are ill-prepared to deal with the reaction of the authorities to such violence.
 (The emphasis is mine, Ryan)


1) Want everyone to sign up and sing in and sign everything.
2) Ask a lot of questions (gathering data).
3) Want to know what events the activist is planning to attend.
4) Attempt to make the activist defend him or herself to identify his or her beliefs, goals, and level of committment.


Legitimate activists do not subject people to hours of persuasive dialog. Their actions, beliefs, and goals speak for themselves.

Groups that DO recruit are missionaries, military, and fake political parties or movements set up by agents.


ALWAYS assume that you are under surveillance.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bad Information

History is full of epic failures caused by people making reasonable decisions which turn out to be very wrong based upon the underlying information being inaccurate or just plain wrong. Today I want to talk about a couple way’s we can run into problems with receiving information.

The first is called confirmation bias. Simply put people can have an inherent tendency to be biased in favor of people/ ideas/ information that confirms what we already believe.  Sort of like an internal “yes man”. This is bad because we seek out information or guidance to improve, increase or expand the amount of information or successful techniques we have at our disposal.  Also it tends to lean people away from more balanced approaches in favor of extreme measures, usually to their long term detriment.

Here is how confirmation bias could become an issue. Let us say that you are a person trying to figure out what to do with your money today. You have some inherent concerns about our economy and lean towards preparedness. If you only seek out and consider valid articles of gloom and doom, some of which are the delusional ramblings of a mentally ill 40 year old living in his mother’s basement you might make some questionable decisions.

The next topic is called circular reporting. Here is how circular reporting works with a real life (non opsec applicable) example: I hear a rumor about something and tell one person, that person also hears about the same rumor from 4 or 5 other people independently so he thinks it is in fact very likely true. What actually happened is that we all heard the same rumor floating around and mentioned it to this person. The info came from the same source and can be confused for the coveted multiple source intel that is generally pretty accurate.

Lastly when reading about circular reporting to confirm my informal definitions I heard about something called “the echo chamber” where something gets repeated and repeated and it gets louder and louder when in fact it is just the first thing. I think the conservative media, fox news, talk radio and political blogs definitely do this.
How does one counteract these phenomena?  When it comes to confirmation bias the first step is recognizing the problem.  I think keeping an open mind and not letting yourself get carried away is also a big part.
As for circular reporting I think taking things, particularly from certain sources, with a grain of salt is essential. Have a good perspective of how much you are willing to invest (time/ energy/ belief)in news or info from certain sources. Almost weekly I get an email with a link to something on the net that has some extreme crazy story, typically I read them just for amusement. I also see 5 people take it as gospel. You have to decide for yourself what to believe but personally if UN Shock troops invaded New Jersey under the orders of the Trilateral Commission I would probably not be getting the first news of it from Jimbo’s blog o’ paranoia.  Also Ted’s NOW watch forum does not count as a second independent source, at least to me.

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