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Five Intelligence Essentials for Community Security

We as veterans are blessed.  Not only can we say that we answered the call and served in our nation’s military (many of us at time of war), but we also received some of the best training the world has to offer.  I enlisted as an aimless 20 year old, and military service instilled in me discipline and taught me a skill, as well as the purpose, direction and motivation for providing value to society outside of the Army, too.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans have similar stories.

As veterans, we may very well be called on again to lead our communities during turbulent times.  There are few areas outside the military that require its teams to complete tasks and accomplish the mission during stressful and often dangerous situations.  And there are few greater examples of leadership right now than preparing your community today for tomorrow’s emergency.

Although we encourage veterans to get involved, civilians play a critical role in community security as well.  Here are five areas where veterans, patriots, and preparedness-oriented Americans should work together to build an intelligence capacity for community security.

If you’re not very familiar with intelligence, then it’s your job as a leader to become familiar and get someone on your team trained up to fill the role of S2.  We’re not talking about being James Bond or leading top secret missions; instead focus on conducting threat analysis and developing early warning intelligence.  It’s the S2’s job to immediately begin contributing to these areas for a future SHTF event.

Here are five ways that you can better prepare for community security through intelligence.

1) Maps – You simply must have maps of your area of operations (AO).  In order to understand the mission of community security, you’ll need to identify just what your AO is — in other words, the boundaries of what you’re going to protect.  Identifying the AO is the first step in a line of several steps that we’ll cover later in the article.

Step into any tactical operations center, or TOC, in Iraq or Afghanistan and you’re likely to see several types of maps of the AO.  The first map we’ll need is a topographical map at 1:24,000 scale available from the USGS.  Printing off a map at your home or office printer is better than nothing, however, what’s best is having a large map hung up on the wall.  You’re going to need at least a 24″x36″ map if you want to be the best prepared.  You’ll also be interested in having plenty of street maps and imagery of the AO, too.

2) Police Scanner – Scanning local emergency services frequencies is the absolute best way to get up-to-the-second intelligence information during an emergency.  Unless you live in an area where this traffic is encrypted, you’ll have access to some of the same information that law enforcement does.  And when it comes to making informed, time-sensitive decisions, a police scanner will be your best friend.  They’re expensive, however, I highly recommend the Uniden Home Patrol 2.  It’s my police scanner of choice for several reasons, one of which is because, unlike other scanners, its screen shows me what agency is transmitting.  That goes a long way in my ability to determine the area of transmission.

3) Intelligence Preparation of the Community – I modified the Army’s Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for civilian use in my book SHTF Intelligence, and designed Intelligence Preparation of the Community (IPC).  Once we have our maps and map overlays set up, we need to identify and mark on our maps any critical infrastructure in the area, along with what’s called the human terrain.  Critical infrastructure includes police and fire stations, government buildings, power plants, and fuel depots (among many others), and the human terrain includes community leaders and demographics (among many others).  We need to pay attention to the people, places, and things that keep life-as-we-know-it up and running, and we need to not only know exactly where they are in relation to our AO, but also how they’ll affect our AO.  Doing the legwork now in order to understand the community is a top priority for the S2, and this step never ends.

4) Threat Analysis – We need to begin identifying threats in our AO, which includes threats from outside the area that have the potential to migrate into the AO.  Threats are broken down into four categories:  conventional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive.  Once identified, we begin developing intelligence requirements so we can learn more about each threat and provide better analysis.  If you don’t know the threat, then you can’t defend against it, and if you can’t defend against it, then it’s going to eat your lunch.  In other words, understand each threat as he understands himself.  In the Military Intelligence Creed, that would be “find, know, and never lose the enemy.”

5) Early Warning Intelligence – Once we’ve identified and analyzed current and potential threats, it’s imperative for us to find ways to provide early warning for them.  For current threats, our greatest early warning, in general, will be the effects of the SHTF event, which are likely to cause criminal behavior.  But beyond that, how can we develop tactical early warning intelligence?  Having ‘eyes on’ our community’s avenues of approach is one of the best ways.  Through our threat analysis, we should know from what direction these threats will migrate and, therefore, we need to identify these threats as they’re migrating as quickly as possible.  For potential threats — that is, threats that have yet to arise — we need to begin looking for ‘indicators’ of their activity.  We might begin looking for tagging on signs and walls, gang-related clothing and hand signs among the populace, noticeable surveillance of potential targets — anything you’d expect to happen before an attack occurs.  If we can identify these indicators soon enough, then we’ll be a leg up on the competition and know they pose a threat to us before it’s too late.

Samuel Culper is a former Military Intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst who spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He’s the executive editor of Forward Observer Magazine and the author of SHTF Intelligence: An Intelligence Analyst’s Approach to Community Security.


We are honored to have Samuel Culper now contributing articles here at Oath Keepers, and we encourage all of you to read his work and take his intelligence classes.  Oath Keepers sponsored one of his weekend classes last year, in Idaho, with Oath Keepers from several mountain states in attendance, and it was an incredible, vital class.

Oath Keepers, we need to add intelligence as one of our core vital skill categories in CPT, and each local chapter and CPT needs to develop an intelligence team and get it to work doing the ground work assessments Sam recommends.   And likewise for county and state chapters.  And no matter what group you are in, or even if you are not in one, you need intel.  Now is the time to get it done, and there has never been a more vital need.   Unfortunately, there are no shortage of threats to take into account.




Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now runs Forward Observer, an intelligence services company.



  1. Thanks Sam this is just what a civilian needs to get up to speed.And being that I am a civilian I will use it.

  2. Good info but, its seems like most civilian are in the mind set its the governments problem blind to really. It would help if oath keeper could find each other in our area Thank you.

    1. Agree Sam…..I been hanging out, been a few months since I joined and still no contact from any stalwart Rep or organizer in the State of Florida, the region.or any OK Enity from anywhere. Appears to me OK has gone underground. Hope the National Member Register is secure. Don’t want to be taken for a lion amoung the lambs without just cause.
      5 or so old men with guns on the national stage wearing an OK Tab is not the message I expected. Max Sends

      1. Great article. I am a Viet Nam Vet. and have been a member for a couple of years. I have contacted Oath Keepers several time hopeing to make contact with others in my area (Palm Springs, CA.) but have never received a return response. I also have Oath Keepers decals on my truck and have explained numerous time to civilians what Oath Keepers is all about, and proudly I might say. I can’t be the only Oath Keeper in this whole valley. If TSHTF in Los Angeles the population will pour out of the LA basin and run right over us in the Desert communities. We really need a Community Response Team here. in the Coachella Valley.

  3. As a retired Military /Criminal Intellligence Professional of more than thirty years service to the national level I found Mr.. Culpers approach to Tactical Intelligence rather broad brushed.and lacking in substance. He heavey on junk, maps, radios ect and short on the basics building blocks a G/S2 must possess. Suggest Sam pull out some of those rat edged text book he got in that little red school house out in that nasty Arizona Desert and give out with a primer starting with the basic how to’s like the Intelligence Cycle, OOB, Collection Management, Security, CI. Sam know, it’s not the show & tell, it’s the conclusion drawn. Regards, Max Sends

    1. Hey Max – Thank you for the comment. For guys like you who’ve been wheeling and dealing and running super secret squirrel black ops (like criminal intelligence, for instance) their entire lifetimes, the Intelligence Cycle and Collection Management makes sense. Most people reading this are starting from square one, or very close, and so they need to equip themselves with some tools to do some basic threat analysis and develop some early warning indicators. The intent of this article is get folks better prepared for Day 0. We can work on the intelligence that gets them through Day 90 in a future article. We’ll build up.

      As for maps and a police scanner, those are some bare bones basics. Being able to listen into what’s beyond your line of sight and then track events on a map is standard intelligence work. If you’ve done intelligence work for 30 years, then you should know that. C’mon, man.

      Remember that a great teacher doesn’t try to show off by teaching everything he knows, but teaches what his students need to learn where they are. Let’s just start with some basics to get folks prepared, and then we can start training intelligence collectors and analysts. With all your years of experience, surely you could write something to contribute to the effort.

      Be well.

  4. Different strokes for different folks. I started at Holidird back in the day Sam. There and every formal occupational field school attended they always begin with a broad brush overview of the art form, concept and areas of interest. The nuts and bolts followed. I don’t disagree with the thrust of your topic. I just disagree with its level. Since this blivet appears to be the first of a series I’d of started with the need for an organized command structure and the importance of intelligence in the decision cycle. You built from there. Sun Tzu leads the way. Max Sez

    1. I don’t know anything about military tactics or assessing threat levels, but I do recognize pomposity and hubris.

  5. Sam the article is primary for entry level civilians who will fill rank and file members. We advance from where you left off. It is important not to be overwhelming in mass detail. Well written. Stay well stay safe!

  6. Ladies and Gentlemen
    I have found the best opportunity to assess the community and their responses is to get everyone involved. I have started them with the SALUTE Reports. I will type them out for brevity.
    S) =Size
    A) Activity
    L) Location
    U) Unit/Uniforn
    T) Time and Date
    E) Equipment
    As the head of S2 I have my phone number and email address on a copy of that SALUTE report so that all of your members can call it in. I sometimes receive SALUTE reports on low flying aircraft from the time they enter our county until the time they leave knowing airspeed, height and direction of travel as well as description.. The one thing that this does is allows everyone to be an asset and prepare them for SHTF delivery by whatever means available and the ability to observe and write what they see. It also lets me ask if anyone has formal training and if they would like to be on the S2 team. It is an easy button to get started with.

  7. I personally believe there should be ongoing reminders of the BASICS and if you think the basics are mundane, tell everyone how 6 feet under will save you from the BASICS.

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