One Reality of War…

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis loves to point out that “the enemy gets a vote” when it comes to warfare. Despite the best planning, plans go awry when the enemy gets to react to what you’re doing. To quote Eisenhower, “plans are useless but planning is indispensable”.

And both of these quotes highlight one of the most profound truths in conflict. It doesn’t matter if you’re a soldier in the Arghandab Valley in Afghanistan, a patrol cop in a bad neighborhood, or a concerned citizen trying to build a community security team. You are facing off against sentient beings who can think and react. And sometimes these people have both the intent and capability to do us harm and that makes them incredibly dangerous.

I remember back in 2010 when “insider attacks” in Afghanistan started to become a popular trend. The Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army were recruiting to bring stability to the country with the help of embedded U.S. military trainers and advisers. And so, naturally, those organizations became attack vectors because Taliban leaders could think and react.

So those leaders started encouraging Taliban fighters to enlist in the army or join the national police force in order to conduct insider attacks. And now, it seems that not a month goes by without some kind of insider attack, which have killed and wounded dozens of U.S. troops.

Back in February, the Taliban had even infiltrated Afghanistan’s national intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and eventually carried out an insider attack that killed 16 intelligence officials. I’ve worked alongside NDS and they, for the most part, are the cream of the crop of Afghanistan, but this attack just goes to show that war is always a two way street. And you can feel safe, and sometimes you might be, but a thinking and reacting adversary who has the intent to do you harm will always find a way.

Just yesterday, there was another Taliban attack against Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior in Kabul. While it’s not a new tactic (they were doing this back during my first tour in 2006), these Taliban fighters were wearing U.S. Army Combat Uniforms and driving a captured U.S. humvee. Luckily, they were stopped before they could gain access to the MOI office, but this is evidence of an enemy who is clearly thinking and reacting.

I can’t say for certain what the future holds for America. I know that things aren’t looking good for the future, and that I remain rather pessimistic about the next 20 years in this country. I’ve documented several of these reasons on this blog, and we document a lot more indicators each week in our intelligence reporting.

Today’s take away is that life is tough, and it’s tougher when you’re at war against a determined enemy who can think and react. An enemy who can observe patterns and exploit observed vulnerabilities is a significant threat. We may never see a domestic conflict on the order of Afghanistan, but a “dirty civil war” is not outside the realm of possibility. Furthermore, even cases of systems disruption due to natural or man-made disasters could cause protracted and dangerous conflicts for entire regions in America.

The best we can do is to have a realistic expectation of the future but know the entire range of possibilities that we might encounter. Once we know those possibilities, we can begin to examine what’s most likely, what’s more likely, what’s less likely, and then prioritize our training, knowledge, and preparations to mitigate the risks of those events.

Take some time today and think about the potential threats for your area. What would a week without power do to your community? What would the second- and third-order effects be? How will the next recession, which could rival 2008’s, affect your neighborhood? How prepared are your neighbors to deal with systems disruption, whether it’s for 12 hours or 12 days? The more we begin thinking about and accurately answering these questions, the more realistic expectations we can have about the future.

If you’re concerned about the future, you’re not alone. The intelligence analysts and special operations veterans here at Forward Observer are, too. And that’s why we’ve lined up a group of intelligence reports published each week that keep our subscribers informed about the range of possibilities. We’ve also recently launched an online training platform so that we can bring concerned Americans up to speed on intelligence and security skills.

We’re in the final days of our Early Bird sale for our online training. The sale ends for good this Friday, 01 June.

Your training subscription will get you access to the current training modules and at least one new skill each month (in addition to new lectures), the Mission Essential Task List (so you can ensure that your neighborhood watch, community security team, or preparedness group is proficient in the required skills and tasks), and it will also go to support our Mission Teams which will be providing intelligence support to humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.

If you want access to this top notch community security and intelligence training, you can subscribe here.

If you want access to this training PLUS our three intelligence reports each week, you can subscribe here.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. After 39 months of deployment time to Iraq and Afghanistan, he's now the conflict and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

1 Comment

  1. We have had the same problem here in the United States, where evil people have subverted our system of law, culture, religion, etc. and use psychological warfare against the minds of illiterate, dumb down and distracted people to enter and hold the minds of the masses. Than you have the refuge crap that is used to flood the native people in the US and give them special treatment and protection from rape to murder. I personally don’t give a hoot what is going on somewhere else, the citizens in the US are always the enemy of the people running this Corporation called United States.

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