Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Making Intelligence Work For Your Family

In the past I’ve written about privacy and keeping your personal information out of the hands of anyone else. I’ve talked about operations security (what and how you do things), communications security (not talking about or talking “around” sensitive information), and even not giving away information with your trash and stickers on the back of your vehicle. All of this is denying the “enemy” intelligence (intel). The enemy may be criminals, nosey people or relatives, or actual terrorists. Regardless of who, it’s to our advantage to know about intelligence and how it works.
This information is based on military ideas and tactics. You can tailor these things to work for you and your family.
1-Identify Your AO
You first must define your AO (area of operations). That’s a fancy term that just means your immediate situation and the various areas that comprise your daily routines and interactions. This could be your backyard, your neighbors, your street, the entire neighborhood and all the way out to your community and city. Where do you spend the majority of your time? What areas do you travel through, visit frequently, or work in most often? What information about these areas is available?
The objective here is to identify the major areas you interact with, in order to refine your analysis and focus later. Take into account any characteristics in your area that could affect the way you interact with the environment. By defining your AO, a geographical boundary is established; this boundary sets the stage for the next steps, when an analysis of how the environment affects you is conducted.
Characteristics to Consider:
• Geography
• Terrain
• Weather
• Ethnic, religious, income, & age groups
• Political and socio-economic factors
• Transportation systems and other infrastructures
2-Explore Your AO Environment and Its Effects
Next you must determine how the various characteristics of your AO affect you and your family. Identify any limitations or opportunities that your home, neighborhood and city offer. Where is the local police station? What’s the neighborhood like? Is it a safe area or does it offer freedom of movement to criminals and other nefarious activity? Where are the bad parts of the city and do you travel through them or work in them at all?
The key here is to identify and explore any factors that could affect you and your family in the neighborhood, city, etc. Research the characteristics you just identified in Step 1 to determine their effect on you. Is there any correlation to certain weather that usually leads to an uptick in crime in certain neighborhoods (i.e. the summer months when everyone’s outside)? Is there an imbalance in income distribution that creates a more targetable area for concentrated crime? Is the public transportation safe and reliable and can you use it in the event of car failure or an emergency?
Depending on your attention to detail, desire for situational awareness and resources, this step can be as brief or in-depth as you like. At the tactical level, there are even methods that can be applied to perform this analysis on various locations you deem appropriate, i.e. your house or place of work.
Terrain Analysis Aspects (military):
• Observation points (what can you see, what can they see)
• Fields of Fire
• Cover
• Concealment
• Obstacles (barriers, other buildings, vehicles, etc.)
• Key Terrain (nearby high-rises, choke points, bridges, major intersections)
• Avenues of Approach (main roads, side streets, sidewalks, etc.)
3-Understand the Threat Environment
Once you have defined your primary AO (the areas that most frequently define where you live, work and travel0 you must identify threats in those areas. What type of threats exists, what are the activity levels and in which areas are threats prevalent? Is it organized crime? Violent crime? Narcotics? This is the step in which you identify what threats exist and which ones are the most critical to your daily life and that of your family. This can be something as simple as railroad tracks. If you are near tracks there can always be a chemical spill from a train wreck. So consider simple things as well.
Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself
In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, there is a major emphasis on understanding as much as possible about one’s enemy. The old phrase “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” represents this relationship perfectly. It is up to you to understand your enemy (threats) in order to best counter them and properly apply your skills effectively.
There are many tools available to you that can be used to gauge and understand the threats to you, your loved ones, or community; chief among these tools is the power of information and the easy access to it. A large part of this is found through the Internet. This is also a place for dis-information so be careful. There is no cut and dry method for preparing yourself for any and every emergency, life-threatening situation, or traumatic experience. There is also not enough time to allow you to master all of the skills needed to successfully defeat these situations. But you can attempt to predict what skills are most likely to be useful to you.
Some resources are:
Online resources. Find website you can trust because you’ve observed that their information is sound.
Human intel. Coworkers, neighbors, friends or business owners, etc.
Community intel. Local law enforcement agencies, community networks, local clubs.
Local news media. Like all media remember to have a skeptical eye.
Personal intel. Map reconnaissance of immediate area, site reconnaissance (walking the streets, driving to and from work, running errands, etc.) Situational awareness is important in this.
Once you’ve gathered as much research as applicable, outline the various threats in your area, how they operate (their tactics, techniques and procedures), who the major players are and whether or not they are actually a threat to you. A few baseline items to consider are listed below.
Analyzing a Threat:
Composition. What is it made up of? Loose gangs, organized criminal activity, etc.
Disposition. How does the threat look at you and your family?
Strength. Is the threat large or small? How worried should you be?
Recent Activity. What has happened recently? In the last month, year?
Effectiveness. How much damage has the threat done?
4-Anticipate the Threats
Finally, you must determine the possibility, plausibility and actuality of becoming a victim or attempted victim of any of these threats. Analyze information to predict what your enemy will do next. Have they only robbed banks in the past? Have they targeted innocent bystanders or targets of opportunity? What is their capability and intent? Based on whatever information is available, analyze it to determine possible courses of action they could take and act accordingly to counter it (developing your tactical skills).
Be sure to identify the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How factors when analyzing a threat. This will aid in finding a specific way to defeat the threat successfully.
Through these four basic steps you can make intelligence work for you. The four steps are by no means all-inclusive and only scrape the surface of the level of detail that goes into ensuring that you are as prepared as possible to counter threats in your AO.
Treat analysis and intelligence as a skill set that can be used to better understand the threats you’re trying to counter. As stated above, the majority of this is already being done whether you realize it or not. Intelligence need not be a complicated thing. It is usually simple and easy to analyze. The description in this article is much more than it really is on the level of you and your family. As I have said numerous times, security and safety are mindsets and become part of your everyday living. That’s how you want it to become, so you don’t need to devote a lot of study and discussion in trying to figure out how to stay safe and secure. It will become a natural part of everyday living.
Semper Paratus
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