A Funny Thing Happened

After my phone was tapped by the KGB as discussed in this post. Well, funny to me though I suspect it wasn’t to some others.

I was finishing up school in Chicago at the time of my brush with the KGB (and possibly the GRU). The cold war was still dragging on, and most Soviet intelligence operations were being run out of the Polish Consulate on Lakeshore Drive. How do I know this? Well, maybe some of my new “friends” might have mentioned something. Maybe it’s because of a story done by one of the local television stations.

As it turns out, they had been covertly following and taping the Chief of Station as he did his job. They had video of his meeting with people, picking up stuff, heck, they may have even caught him working dead letter drops. The thing is, they had done this for a year without detection. A. Year.

When the expose ran, it is fair to say that the excrement hit the rotary impeller. There was damage to operations, covers were apparently blown, and despite the frantic claims from the consulate that nothing was being done from there everyone knew there was. Needless to say, the Chief of Station (I forget what title he officially held) was recalled.

This was all going on about the time I was graduating and getting ready to leave. Having finished up my photographic internship at Playboy, I decided to walk from the North Side to downtown, and grab some stock shots of the city. It was a pleasant day, a nice walk, and I was getting some at least average city shots. As I came down along the lakeshore, I saw the Polish Consulate and decided to grab a photo or two of it.

As I was doing so, a vehicle pulled in and several people got out. In the middle of the group was the Chief of Station. He looked over, saw me taking photographs, and rather energetically flipped me off. Several times. He may have said something as well, but I couldn’t make it out. I waved as he went inside, then resumed my walk.

Several of us figured he was about to take a bullet to the back of the head (if you watched The Americans, Nina’s execution is remarkably accurate) once he was home. I actually felt a little bit sorry for him on some level, while the rest of me was just a touch gleeful at the whole thing (which may have splashed a bit of egg on some three letter agencies too). I heard years later that they didn’t shoot him, and am sorta glad.

All that said, I got a good laugh out of his reaction that day. He was the man in charge of tapping my phone, possibly bugging the apartment, and coordinating some of the other things that went on (apparently). It felt good to piss him off for a change, since his operations had pissed me off while they were happening.

Just a bit of memory that surfaced that I decided to share. With the test/procedure tomorrow, there may not be a post. Will see how it goes. Please do consider helping me get out of here by hitting the tip jar or the fundraiser.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

Mock Away

Intel Wars

The Revenge Of HUMINT

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

The Revenge Of HUMINT

In yesterday’s post, I talked a bit about the push in the US to get away from human intelligence (HUMINT) because it truly is messy, as well as being offensive to Jimmy Carter’s sense of morality. Instead, the US went all-in on technology, which became National Technical Means (NTM) and is now apparently referred to as NRO Overhead Systems (NOS).

Now, satellites and other technical means can get you a lot of data. You can count ships, planes, and tanks; you can see structures being built; and, you can watch for movements and activities. However, there are strong limitations to satellites and related, and they don’t give you context to go with what you see. Which is why you need other means, including HUMINT.

Today, we have an unprecedented amount of information at our fingertips. Open-source intel groups do some fantastic work. There are websites and apps that track almost every aircraft in the air around the world. There are others that track ships, trains, and about any form of transportation you can imagine. Commercial overhead imagery is better than what aircraft and satellite cameras got early on.

Then, you add in professional and social media, plus the World Wide Web, and you have a situation that if it is not information overload, it is not far from it. Instead of frantic efforts to find out about a unit and maybe get a hint of its commander, you go to the unit’s website and get pretty much it’s complete order of battle. From social media, you can find out about morale and how things are going (hint: lower enlisted everywhere in the world are prone to bitching about things, they just now do it online as well as in the chow line). You may even find a professional writing by the commander, as well as his own social media posts. Thank you internet and computer technology!

But, all of that technology has thrown you right back into the HUMINT trap. Is that Pvt. Ivanabitchconstantly a real private, or disinformation? Is the information being posted by a “reputable source” online accurate, precise, or highly biased? Motivation matters as it tends to skew what is being posted.

As a quick aside, information tends to be either accurate, precise, or biased/bogus. When I wrote press releases for a part of DoD, the releases were accurate: the information within was valid. They were not, however, precise as while those designing and building various things want friends and even enemies to have some idea about the system, they sure were not stupid enough to tell everything including full performance data. I will note that a lot of USSR/Russian releases go the biased/bogus route as anything done by them is bigger, better, and does more than anything we design. They tend to advertise a lot of Ronco products in my book.

Finally, you have to take into account social filtering. This is the need to avoid getting in social trouble for what you are posting. Because the Chinese monitor and censor so heavily, people are very careful either to not post anything that could get them in trouble, or they use language that the censors don’t (yet) recognize as saying something other than what it might appear.

In both Russian and the Ukraine, the government is monitoring and even mild criticism can and will draw an official response. In Russia, it is also easy to note that other members of the public are quite happy to deal with complaints or objections to the war by a variety of means ranging from loss of job to loss of teeth. So, again, you get people either not saying what they think, or saying it in a way that will evade the censors for a while. Or, by finding platforms dark or deep that aren’t being monitored or from which they can’t be traced.

This all applies double to what is going on in the Kremlin and other centers of leadership at all levels. I think the following is universal: politicians leak; the leaks are always biased to hurt another and advance the leaker; and, the only thing more vicious than a cornered rat is a cornered political apparatchik. In Russia, politics has been a blood sport for centuries. What we might think of as a minor setback can literally be a matter of life or death. The higher you go, the more likely those are the stakes. Don’t believe me? First, study Russian history, and then go ask those Gazprom and other leaders that all just committed suicide after killing their wives and children. When someone tells me that the Russians won’t do X because they aren’t that way, or because of their children, I know they are ignorant of Russia and Russian history.

Which is why when I hear reports and rumors of discussions in the Kremlin and elsewhere, I tend to use a lot of salt. Why is that information leaking? Why is this or that spokesperson, minister, etc. saying X in public? What are they saying off camera? Is all the discussion of nuclear war a bluff? A legalistic warning and stage setting within Russia? A push to see how far they can push before getting pushback? Other? On that, I’m in wait and see mode as I know that at some point someone with a political axe to grind is going to leak something about it. Something that may not be accurate or precise, but will still reveal what was going on.

In the meantime, we still have to filter everything else. Those who continue to process everything through our cultural blinders are going to continue to be horribly wrong. Those who can set those aside and consider things from the Russian (Ukrainian, etc.) point of view are going to get it mostly right. At least on a threats and intentions basis. On a tactical/strategic basis, those who bleat about Russia having 10,000 X have yet to grasp that while that may be true, if even a third of X is useable it may constitute a miracle. At least with conventional. While I have strong questions about nuclear on both sides, as well as the reliability of the rockets, I also am in no hurry to get the answers and especially don’t desire to find out the hard way.

So, welcome back to the HUMINT trap. All our vaunted technology has brought us full circle back to the messiness that Peanut couldn’t stand.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

Mock Away

Intel Wars

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Intel Wars

Sorry for the lack of free ice cream, but Tuesday and to some extent Wednesday were rough. Weather changes take a toll on me, one of the reasons I beg for people to hit the tip jar or the fundraiser so I can get to a better place. I’m also having to do preparation to prepare for the test/procedure next week. Joy.

That out of the way, I want to at least start saying a few thins about the Intel Wars. No, nothing to do with chips or with the interactions between various intelligence agencies both within countries and in different countries. If you don’t think there isn’t some fighting and sniping going on between agencies in the same country, I have a bridge for sale. Cheap.

What I want to get into a bit is the war that started back in the Carter years over the use of HUMINT resources versus what used to be called National Technical Means (NTM) which apparently is being replaced with NOS for NRO Overhead Systems for reasons about which I don’t have a clue. Kamil Galeev sparked this with some interesting discussions on Twitter that I don’t (yet) see on threadreader.

Back in the Carter years, someone finally realized that various intelligence agencies had been consorting with some most unsavory characters. In fact, I would agree that some of those regular contacts and sources should have been sent to take a dirt nap; but, I will also note that the people who know about bad things or are willing to share information against their own country or to rat out other bad people are not likely to be saints.

In fact, it was somewhat of an axiom with J.J. Angleton and others that the more pro-America/screw Russia/USSR they were, the more likely they were a plant. The reality is just a bit more complex, and in many ways defectors were and are far different from those who agree to provide information.

With defectors, you have people who defect for any number of reasons. Problem is, they can be a plant designed to give you false information and/or to gather information that they can then send back home. They can also be quite sincere and then turn around years later and try to go back home, usually gathering data to prevent prison or death. Even the most sincere defectors can/did have a hard time at some point, simply because the world as they knew it was gone, and they could never go home again.

Which means that no matter what, defectors are never fully trusted again. Some have built good lives, some others have had problems. Even after talking with some, I won’t begin to suggest that I understand all they have gone through.

Sources, whatever appellation you apply to them, are quite a different breed of fish. Some are doing it for ego, some for money, some for other things. There is a difference between those who are acting for political reasons versus say someone ratting on a terrorist group. As I discussed with a friend the other day, some of them are not wrapped very tight.

For example, check out the story of Vladimir Ippolitovitch Vetrov, aka Agent Farewell. Recruited by the French (who have him a code name that pointed at the CIA, nice touch!), he provided the intelligence that allowed Reagan, Thatcher, and Mitterrand to bring down the USSR. He was blown after he realized that he had told his mistress he was working against the USSR and stabbed them as they were parked in an area used for sex. He did a poor job of it, but did kill the off duty policeman who came up to check on things/shake them down for money (take your pick, shakedowns are a big part of cops in Russia being able to eat/have nice things).

Of course, this led to his arrest and conviction. In fact, word is that instead of the usual one page confession most gave, he provided around sixty pages gloating over all he had done. If you haven’t read about him, take the time to do so as it is interesting. Also, if you want an easy check on if someone or some publication is spreading Russian disinformation, just look to see if they try to claim Reagan and/or Thatcher betrayed him. Hint. It’s a lie. Sadly, he did himself in with his own actions.

In short, HUMINT is messy and you can’t take anyone at their word. Worse yet, from the viewpoint of the second-worst President in our history, most of them just weren’t the type you would introduce to mother or take to church down in Plains. As a result, he began an effort to reduce the use of HUMINT across the board. Instead, we would use our technology to gain information.

The fact is, using satellites, intercept gear, and other means you can gather a lot of information. You can track troops, vehicles, see where people are going, what unit is doing what, and more. Just look at all the open-source intel available on the war in the Ukraine.

To my mind, the problem is that you lack context. Yes, Russia has 10,000 tanks parked in various depots. As someone noted on Twitter the other day, the problem is that only about 3,000 of those run, and it is doubtful that many or any of them are combat ready as many are missing crucial electronics and other parts that have been sold on the black. That context was and is missing from the analysis of many.

NTM/NOS/Whateverthisweek can tell us quite a lot about what an enemy has and were it is. Careful analysis can even give you some clue about how much of it actually works or is truly combat ready. Where we can intercept communications between leaders and others, you can get an idea of what they are going to do with them. Where we don’t have that penetration, you really do need HUMINT in all its messy glory.

And all of it depends on politicians and others keeping their mouths shut. The current group in DC is particularly bad about it, from the demented Meat Puppet blowing up attempts to provide Vladimir with an exit to other sharing information on capabilities or that we are doing things that can be seen as an act of war by Vladimir. When they blab and HUMINT is revealed, people die. When they blab about NTM/NOS, we often lose that penetration.

A good example was Carter, who to show how much he knew and was in control of the situation, revealed to the public that we were listening to the Soviet leadership talk to each other over their car phones/radios. His revelation that he had heard Brezhnev discussing the apparently superior assets and skills (cough) of a masseuse named Olga if I remember correctly, seemed to offend Carter’s sensibilities. Needless to say, that bit of showboating resulted in the immediate loss of that penetration.

This needs fuller discussion, but that’s it for today. Depending on who you talk to, Carter either initiated some long-overdue reforms, or let his sanctimonious side try to eliminate the use of HUMINT as much as possible. Elements of truth to both, to be honest. That said, it bears on what is going on today as we have a lot of technical info. What we lack is the ability to analyze it in context because we both don’t have HUMINT in areas where it is needed nor do many of our analysts realize that the people involved are from a different culture with different ways of doing things. Nor have they updated in the face of new data coming in, and have not done so for a long time.

More on this sometime soon I hope.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

Mock Away

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Mock Away

I don’t care. I’m actually quite happy to be wrong. In fact, I’m ecstatic to be wrong. No declaration of war, no nuclear saber rattling, and in fact a surprisingly mild speech given the rumors coming out of Russia in advance.

Again, three possibilities. First, I and everyone else who heard the chatter were wrong. Second, that the chatter was disinformatzia or testing to see what type pushback he would get/how far he could push before getting pushback. Third, that something happened to change the internal calculus.

If the first, or the first part of the second, we may hear nothing directly addressing things or mockery at having believed the chatter. If the second of the second, there will be (ultimately) some chatter within Russian and other diplomatic channels. If it’s the third, something will eventually leak.

I’m content to wait, and enjoy the silence for now. I’m sure we will hear more out of Vladimir and others soon. Until then, well, I’m thinking of smoking a good cigar (not that I smoke anymore) in celebration, and enjoying what I can of life.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Pins And Needles Time

In chatting with another writer this morning, he used the phrase above, and we both agreed it’s going to be a long weekend. Monday, 9 May, is likely to tell the tale. I don’t like where my own analysis leads, especially as I tend to think the line between tactical and strategic exists only in the minds of idiots.

Of the people I respect and/or know, they seem split between three options. In the first, Vladimir declares goals accomplished and in effect goes home. In the second, Vladimir declares war on the Ukraine, mobilizes, and goes all out with conventional forces. In the third, Vladimir declares war on the Ukraine and uses both chemical and nuclear as part of the “escalate to de-escalate” program.

To be very honest, I hope and pray that Vladimir does the first. It would be the wisest course given all. That said, I’m not sure he can do it for a variety of domestic political reasons. He invested heavily in the 24-48 hour victory fantasy, then doubled down when it failed. The current offensive is effectively at a standstill, which is not a good position for declaring unilateral victory/success/goals met.

On the second, I think a brutal slog will get even more brutal. Unlike some, I also think that Vladimir will use chemical weapons while threatening to escalate and/or ignoring any and all posturing by the West. After all, the extensive use of chemical weapons in Syria did not bring about any meaningful response despite a lot of posturing by Western leaders who decided the line was neither red nor a line.

On the third, I think it will be a literal miracle if Vladimir only declares war on the Ukraine. All of the proper legal (Russian) and other steps to widen the conflict have been taken. There are reports that Vladimir is particularly irked with the British, and the case has already been made in multiple avenues that Russia is already at war with NATO. While in the past we have made accommodation with the Russians taking a very active role in its proxy wars with the West, there is no guarantee Russia will return the favor. In fact, they have made it rather clear that they are not inclined to do so.

In regards the third option, my own take is that they will use chemical and are likely to use one or more tactical nukes against a headquarters, logistics center, or symbolic target and one or more of those targets may not be in the Ukraine. Poland is the likely target, but other countries can’t be ruled out. After the use, the word will go out that we accept or they go strategic and launch everything they have. The response of the Biden administration, NATO, and others is not guaranteed.

In fact, the possibility of panic and/or dementia anger scares me. You have the meat puppet, a VP who apparently refuses to read the daily intel brief, and a brain trust that not only seems determined to start a war (see all the leaks of how we are helping the Ukraine kill generals, sink ships, etc.) but reportedly has never done any exercises involving nuclear war… Yeah, we could live a version of The Sum Of All Fears. I really don’t want an answer to the question of what happens when no leader is strong and secure.

Until the 9th and a definitive statement from Vladimir, we sit on metaphorical pins and needles. My suggestions are: prayer, and lots of it; preparation; and patience. I’ve made what preparations I can, and really wish the fundraiser hadn’t stalled so I could be moving right now. Where I am, I either have a good chance, or am totally fucked if they are using one of the old targeting packages. Going to hope for the former, and hope that an order gets here before anything happens, and top up some of my preparations. Nice thing is on the food, it can be used when things get lean later in the year if Vladimir does call it and go home.

Be safe and be prepared. And hope for the best on Monday.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Back on the second, I posted the following: “Second, I’m going to do something no author or pundit is ever supposed to admit: I hope I’m wrong. Not a little bit, not a lot, but run away and hide in shame wrong. Mercilessly mocked wrong.”

Here’s one I’m hoping is right. I’m not a fan of the current pontif, to the point I regard him as an anti-pope. Yet, I’m going to pray that what he said here is right. It would be nice if some sanity has broken out behind those red brick walls. I hope you will join me in praying for this outcome, as I will take being mocked as a victory lap for mankind. It would be a far better outcome than the one being pushed by the hardliners.

Either way, the 9th should reveal that to come.

How To Spy On The Russians

More years ago than I care to think about, I was a guest at DragonCon and one of my panels was “How To Spy On The Soviets.” It was a fun thing, and I managed to piss off a couple of Navy Intel people, and get a few points across. This was the DragonCon where Tom Clancy and Larry Bond were guests, and I spent several evenings in Tom’s suite having/listening to very interesting conversations with a number of interesting people. For example, Tom had brought as a guest the former MIG pilot who had defected along with his then newest and greatest MIG in the Soviet arsenal. To say that our intel people had been glad to get both of them is an understatement.

I think it is time to update that panel a bit, as the situation has changed. Not the least, as I noted to John Ringo on Twitter yesterday, is that we are living in what is almost a post-OPSEC world.

If you are interested in a country, for whatever reason, you don’t have to be telepathic or a distance reader, or even have covert and overt sources there. If you do have overt or covert contacts, great, but keep in mind that HUMINT can be a very chancy thing.

Instead, it is amazing what you can find in open publications. This was true then, and is even more true now. Back then, you had to depend primarily on printed magazines, newspapers, press releases, etc. Today, you have the internet and if the counter-intel people were driven crazy back then trying to keep things out of print, I can’t imagine how they are handling today when pretty much everyone is posting videos and commentary across dozens of platforms.

I can’t vouch for today, but back then I found Western press releases (of which I wrote a few) tended to be restrained. They were accurate, but not necessarily precise as you needed people to know some basics, but you also didn’t want to tell anyone unfriendly the full capabilities of a given item or system. On the other hand, Soviet press releases tended to be a bit over the top. Capabilities were overstated because of the Soviet inferiority complex. Every system had to beat the public data on capabilities of Western items/systems by a large factor, while providing soft-serve ice cream and other aid to the operator, user, pilot, etc. Okay, little hyperbole there but not much…

These days, you can find online policy debates that once would have been hard to find or even classified. As but one example, you can find information on the “Escalate to De-Escalate” policy online as people in and out of government debate it. You can also find out who supports it and who doesn’t the same way.

It’s called research, a concept lost on the terminally stupid, but a thing that can be used by those truly interested in a topic/country/etc. to gather a huge amount of information. As John Ringo pointed out yesterday, in WWII (and even after) we were lucky to have any information on individual officers or the leadership of a given unit. Today, you can find the table of organization for pretty much any unit, along with details about its leadership, on their web site. Want to know the conditions and morale in a unit? Read what the enlisted have to say on various social media platforms. The amount of data that is available today is almost overwhelming.

It still won’t let you read a mind, but it can help you determine patterns in thinking of various leaders, which can give a clue towards intentions. It can show you weaknesses, problems, and more. Given that a lot of intel analysis is all about pattern recognition, the data field for such is amazing.

Which reminds me that I think I agreed to say a bit about how I got into being a Soviet Watcher. While I was in college, I wrote professionally for newspapers, magazines, and pretty much anyone who would pay me. At SpaceWorld magazine, I was a Correspondent-at-Large and gleefully covered space exploration around the world. Having been embarrassed a few year before at how little I knew about Soviet space efforts, I had dug in and learned all I could. In the course of that, I noticed a pattern in the data around Soviet launch failures. I wrote it up, noting that if the pattern held, the next launch was likely to have problems. It was published, and I moved on.

Low and behold, the next launch failed, rather spectacularly. The next thing I knew, my phone was (badly) tapped and I was approached by someone offering to share information on Soviet efforts if I would share open info with him. Long story short, all the antics ended up pissing me off and that’s when I really dug into things. I declined the offer and reported it to the FBI, and got rid of the bug by calling and reporting it from the tapped phone. I think it was gone in less than an hour.

A few years later, my Master’s thesis was entitled “The Soviet Watchers: A Directory of Western Observers of Soviet Space Efforts.” Yes, I wrote an open spook directory of people who could talk to the press and (mostly) offer some good info. I was very happy that one person declined to be in it (believing that such would hurt me and my effort), as I respected neither then nor their work. I was disappointed that I could not include one person, as the person who declined had helped drive them back to Langley.

I stepped away from detailed Soviet/Russian watching for a while, keeping up with just a few things to do with leadership. Some of the policy debates had caught my eye, for example. The last couple of months have been a crash course on getting back into the details on things at all levels. There are people far better than I at observing and explaining individual actions and campaigns, and there are yet others who are covering logistics and other important topics.

If you do decide to become a X-Watcher, especially a Russia Watcher, do take some basic precautions. Add an extra firewall to your computer, along with anti-malware software. Use VPN and Tor if you make forays into that country’s data nets. It may not completely protect you, but make them work for it. Be safe, have fun, and keep in mind how good you have it today.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

By Dawns Early Light…

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

By Dawn’s Early…

First, some homework. While I would love for you to read everything I’ve written on Russia/Ukraine and Vladimir, reality says you are probably just going to skim this post. For those who truly want to understand what I’m going to write today, please take the time to read this update, this post, and this post. It’s not complete, but it does give you enough background for a foundation to today’s post.

Second, I’m going to do something no author or pundit is ever supposed to admit: I hope I’m wrong. Not a little bit, not a lot, but run away and hide in shame wrong. Mercilessly mocked wrong.

Now, let’s get started. The planned victory celebrations on May 9 for Czar Vladimir I aren’t going to happen. As noted before, the Ukrainians dared fight back, and won great victories. Vladimir shifted to take the East and South, but even there things are not going to plan. Not only are the Ukrainians taking a certain delight in offing Russian generals, they have apparently hit targets in Russia. I say apparently because I suspect the R&D fire was typical ineptitude (there’s a bit of history of such, particularly when R&D and production are combined); if the chemical plant was the Ukraine, my hats off to them; and, finally, some of the events are possibly false flag with both sides denying responsibility.

Why the false flag ops? Simple, Vladimir has to show that Russia has been attacked. He has been being extremely legalistic (by Russian standards) throughout, starting with declaring that there was a Nazi menace in the Ukraine. He has continued that even into the nuclear threats, and as he builds the case for a war. I had wondered a bit at why special weapons had not already been used as the Russian military has hit situations that called for such use per doctrine. However, since it’s officially not a war…

Vladimir very much needs to make this a war. With a formal war declared, he can keep his conscript and contract troops for the duration. With a formal war declared he can mobilize reserves and more. With a formal war declared, he can take the gloves off.

The question is, will the Ukraine be the sole target of his war? There are very interesting rumors that it will not be limited to the Ukraine. As I noted a while back, we are seeing an increasing emphasis on being at war with NATO and certain non-NATO countries that are providing assistance to the Ukraine have also felt Vladimir’s verbal ire. If those rumors and reports are true, at the very least, the declaration of war will directly or indirectly include NATO and other countries.

No, that’s not weasle-wording. Despite being a despot, Vladimir does not operate in a complete vacuum. There are arguments, let’s say, for and against naming one and all. A strong argument can be made (cough) for not listing but rather using a phrase like ‘and countries supporting the Ukraine or the attacking of Russian targets on Russian soil’ as it gives you a lot more flexibility. Keep in mind how legalistic he is being, and keep in mind his audience for this is not primarily the West (with caveat to come) but rather the internal Russian audience.

Vladimir is a true believer in the Russkiy Mir plan and a staunch Russian nationalist. Vladimir is of the school that sees communism as having been a poison for Russia because it was a non-Slavic philosophy forced onto Slavs. He also believes in the idea of ‘Escalate to De-Escalate’ as I’ve noted multiple times.

Right now, two options have caught my attention. In the first option, after a declaration of war gives him the troops and legal use of the full might of the Russian military, he can then use conventional weapons against targets outside of the Ukraine per the declaration of war. If he hits targets in the UK, Europe, or in route to the Ukraine, he then has a legal defense that he can present to Russia and the world for such, even as he threatens to use his nuclear arsenal if there is any retaliation. And, trust me, anything and everything will be a retaliation. Option two is much the same, but chemical, biological, or nuclear (tactical/small strategic) are used.

Vladimir is already well aware that Biden is terrified of a nuclear exchange or starting WWIII. For all that the dementia-ridden meat puppet told him that in talks a while back, there is the matter of Biden’s well-known anger issues. If anyone can name a single thing the so-called Biden administration has gotten right, please do let me know. Every effort to find or even build an off-ramp that might have worked (not sure Vladimir will take one even if offered) has been blasted out of existence by the Biden administration. It’s almost as if some of them want WWIII. The administration has proven Obama right when he said ‘Never underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.’ Yeah, single quote as I’m not sure it’s an exact quote.

So, I suspect any diplomatic effort out the current administration will simply strengthen Vladimir’s resolve. The contempt Vladimir feels towards most ministers and other government officials has been massively on display with Macron. He’s also very pissed off with the British right now (Russia/British relations are a large topic for another day, as a lot of it dates back hundreds of years). That leaves Xi, who has seen his alliance with Russia go sideways on multiple levels. Outside of those leaders, I’m not sure who could step up, have Vladimir actually listen to them, and find a good diplomatic solution. There are, of course, many bad diplomatic solutions most of which revolve around the world abandoning the Ukraine to its fate.

Now, let’s complicate things just a bit further. A while back, I noted that I had seen a change in Vladimir’s thinking that indicated a rather strong personal shock. The kind of thing where you realize your mortality, your country’s mortality, or otherwise had some type of Road to Damascus moment. While I noticed it a couple of years ago, whatever happened could have taken place as far back as five years ago. I’m not sure if the reported upcoming cancer surgery is related to it, but since I believe this report to be true you have to also accept that it is a factor in his thinking and planning. When I used the word Gotterdammerung the other day, I wasn’t joking.

If Vladimir and his clique have an ounce of sense, they will keep any and all attacks conventional. I’m not confident enough to place a bet they will. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on tactical use of special weapons. Under normal circumstances (whatever they may be), I would not see things escalating to a strategic exchange. With the situation as it exists now, I won’t bet against it.

If it were up to me, I would be looking hard for someone or several someones to try to find a diplomatic solution. I would be reaching out to Vladimir, I would be reaching out to Abramovich, I would be reaching out to the dog lounging at the Kremlin gates. It would be quiet, but it would be done along with trying to say the right things in public (something our administration has yet to do).

At the same time, I would be making sure a number of scheduled, “scheduled,” and unscheduled drills take place. I would be dispersing our nuclear forces and weapons. The Air Force would be testing plans to disperse fighters, bombers, tankers, and other aircraft to auxiliary fields. The Army would be doing much the same, so that one bomb doesn’t really take out a whole base. Every sub that can sail, would sail. The troops taking part in NATO drills or to bolster the defense of NATO allies? They need to practice dispersion and/or digging in, so do it. I would have as many in the line of succession off on business trips, junkets, etc. as possible. You better believe I would be making sure the E4Bs and E6Bs were flying. This can be done without officially raising our alert level, and I would be starting to do it NOW. Yes the Russians would see much of this. They are supposed to. It’s called deterrence. Right now, Vladimir believes Western leadership is too weak to respond. This at least helps diminish the strategic threat.

Edited to add: Patriot, Iron Dome, and any other ABM defense systems we have or can get is put out with the troops. Anything that can be activated CONUS should be activated, even if it’s been in orbit for a decade or two. Bring it all online.

What little influence I may have ever had in DC went away about the time Reagan left office. So, all I can do is look at stepping up my personal preparedness levels a bit more, and really really wish enough would come in to the fundraiser so that I could move now, now, now. I would suggest to you, my reader, that you up your preparedness levels a bit too. Given inflation and the growing amount of problems with the food chain, it can’t hurt to have food you normally use laid in.

I also will suggest prayer. The prayers offered up for me since I was hit by lightning last year have made a difference. Right now, I think our best hope is with the Devine.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

What’s It Like To Be Hit By Lightning?

I’ve been getting this a lot lately, so I thought I would talk a little about what happened and what is happening now. I’m glad to say that a lot of good things are going on, including cognitive therapy.

Last June 30, I went out on the front porch to drink my coffee and read the news at about 0430 hours. There was a thunderstorm about a mile off, moving away from my location, that was putting on a light show. I had checked the weather radar before going out to see what it was doing. For those interested, I was seated facing West, and watched the light show through the brick arches to my right (North).

At approximately 0445 hours, I think I had just finished reading Instapundit when my world went white, then black. I realized as it flashed white that lightning had hit to my right. I thought I was clenching up in fear, but it turns out I was locked up. There was a roaring sensation, not sound, in my head and I remember every hair on the right side of my body standing straight up and those on the left trying to do the same. I also remember as everything went black that I thought we were having a power outage, instead of just a me outage.

I really don’t know how long things stayed black, but it was long enough for me to wonder what I was going to see when the lights came back on: heaven, hell, or something else. When vision returned/lights came back on, I was relieved to find myself still on the porch and intact. At least no chunks were missing. I got up, went inside, and gave thanks to God and the Blessed Mother that the lightning had missed me. Me being me, I got a shower and went to work completely missing that I had indeed been hit. I spent a lot of the day talking about the near miss, even though I was starting not to feel good.

Turns out, burns and blast injuries are not the most frequent result of a hit. Rather, it’s concussion symptoms and I soon had those in spades, along with a spike in blood pressure that had me well above stroke range. Finally got to the point I went to the ER, and that’s when we started putting things together. It’s also when I found a small black hole in the ball of my right foot, and evidence of a corresponding melt hole in the shoe I was wearing.

Right now, the best guess (and it is a guess) is that the main bolt hit a tree that is roughly ten feet (or less) from the porch where I was sitting. There is debate on mechanisms, but some part of it came over to say hello and while we don’t know exactly where/how it went into my upper body, we know where it came out. It is also worth noting that the radio in my car, which was parked not too far from the tree apparently got fried at the same time.

Things continued to deteriorate on the cardiac side, and in October I ended up having open heart surgery to: replace some arteries in one section of my heart that had gotten so inflamed that they were not letting any blood through; zap seven spots on my heart to stop the atrial fibrillation I was experiencing; and, to put a clip on the back of my heart to block off an area to prevent blood clots and strokes. We are still working on BP issues, but things are much better than they were.

Testing found that I’ve lost all the high frequency hearing in my right ear and that the nerves are dead. There is also an increase in my tinnitus. Holding off on a hearing aid for now, plan is to track and see what happens.

Which leads to the neurological side of things. God’s own stun gun got fired into the motherboard of the most powerful bio-electric computer currently known, the human brain. My brain. The good news there is that there was no physical damage found. Cognitive testing has me clocking out very well in most areas, but there is an area where even though I do well on the test, we know there are problems.

One way I’ve described part of it is like saying ‘Oh, I need that and it’s over here in this filing cabinet drawer’ and discovering the thing and/or the drawer aren’t there. Another part is that short-term memory can be really short. The more mental and physical distractions, the harder it is to keep up. It’s as if some of the data in my brain is scrambled. Actually, some of it may be gone. Some of it is just not where it used to be. I’m told that it will be about three years before everything settles down.

So, the cognitive therapy has provided me with some things to do to help exercise the area of the brain/cognition that took the worst hit, and to develop mechanisms to cope with the issues. One of the things I do is make extensive use of lists to be sure I get everything done I need to in a day. This includes sub-lists on each task. I will note for the record that it helps not to leave the lists at home when you head out for appointments and errands.

It can be odd what does pop up in my head on occasion, and equally odd what doesn’t pop up. For one example, I may see a face and hear a voice in my memory, but I can’t match it to a name or anything else. More often, I can associate it with some things, but not with major things. If I stumble, mispronounce, or have another issue, just be patient.

In so many ways, I am blessed. I am alive. I survived the open heart surgery. My brain is clocking along above average in most areas, and there are ways to compensate for where it is not operating at peak efficiency. The support I’ve gotten medically, financially, and otherwise has been overwhelming. I’ve still got a ways to go, and it does bite to have been out of work so long. But, with continued support and prayers, I will hang on, I will recover as fully as possible, and I hope to move out West soon.

Thank you all who have prayed for me, donated, and otherwise encouraged me. Your gifts have made the difference. Thank you.

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.