Pink Camouflage by Gemma Morgan

Pink Camouflage by Gemma Morgan

Pink Camouflage: One soldier’s story from trauma and abuse to resilience and leadership

by Gemma Morgan

Some thoughts by Philip INGRAM MBE

Personal, Harrowing, Shocking, Brave a lived reality

I was monitoring the Kosovo Verification Mission and knew what they were up to and the difficulties there were in a poorly planned, hastily put together and questionably led mission. I knew of Gemma but didn’t know her until I followed her story after she left the military. I have been championing justice for victims of sexual assault, abuse and more with my colleagues in the Independent Defence Authority and we have heard hundreds of shocking and shockingly similar stores. However, it never stopes me being in awe of the bravery shown when someone articulates their story so well. Gemma has laid so much, so very personal out for us all to read, my respect for her is immeasurable. Harrowing, Shocking, bravely told, so well told, so well written – her book brings her experiences into reality – her description of those dark places experience sends some veterans is so clear for this of use who have been there too – she highlights issues that are still real today within the Services –

This book falls into a must read category – you can get a copy from AMAZON Here:

Day 730 of Vladimir Putin’s 10 Day Special Military Operation

Day 730 of Vladimir Putin’s 10 Day Special Military Operation

Day 730 of Vladimir Putin’s 10 Day Special Military Operation

By Philip Ingram MBE

Day 730 of Vladimir Putin’s 10 Day special Military Operation, its second anniversary passes with little indication of how the conflict will end. The doom merchants are calling it a Ukrainian failure and anticipating a potential Trump Presidency bringing an end to the conflict by imposing a settlement, in order to “stop wasting US Taxpayers Dollars.”

From a one-dimensional perspective, where success is measured purely on the changes in the land based front line, Russia seems to have regained part of the initiative with the capture of Avdiivka, defended by Ukraine since 2014.  Russia has, with the help of North Korea and Iran, regenerated some fighting capability and is probing across various parts of the frontline; Ukraine seems unable to respond through lack of artillery and other ammunition as the Wests defence industrial base is found wanting and element of political “Ukraine fatigue” sets in.

However, this conflict is far from one dimensional in its nature. Measuring overall success by purely using land operations movement simply ignores the complexity of modern warfare and the situation on the ground. From a land perspective, every meter will continue to have to be hard fought over.  Casualties on both sides will remain huge, we forget this is the most bloody conflict we have seen since the second World War.

If we look at what has happened to date from strategic, operational and tactical perspectives:

Strategic Objective: Putin re-invaded Ukraine on 23rd February 2022 to try and topple the Zelensky government, put a puppet regime in place and reduce the potential for NATO expansion.

Outcome: The Ukrainians pushed Russia from Kyiv, forced their withdrawal to the eastern part of Ukraine, re captures thousands of square kilometres of land, destroyed thousands of tanks, artillery pieces, armoured vehicles and hundreds of thousands of Russian service personnel, stopped Russia gaining Air Superiority and sunk almost a third of the Black Sea Fleet. NATO has expanded welcoming Finland with a land border with Russia and will soon welcome Sweden. The Wests Defence industrial base has been shocked into expanding production capability to meet war needs. Russia’s defence industrial base is suffering such that supplies from North Korea and Iran are essential to the Russian war effort.

Result: Russia has refocused its main effort to the East and set new success criteria as holding onto the land it has captured to date by forcing Western ‘Ukraine fatigue.’ This is enhanced by Western focus shift to the Middle East.

Strategic Objective: Dislocation of Western and wider global support for Ukraine, collapse of NATO, further division within the EU and greater US isolationism.

Outcome: NATO has come together politically and militarily better than it has been before. It has recognised many of its shortfalls and in particular relationship with its defence industrial bases. Not only is it growing but it is slowly regenerating a better conventional capability. However, the EU is becoming increasingly politically polarised and elements of UK politics crave greater isolationism, and we are seeing a growth of right-wing politics. The UK has lost its influence and ability to bridge between EU and US politics. US support for Ukraine is being held up by the Speaker of the house alone as he focuses global issues for domestic purposes!

Result: Putin sees political weakness as the way of increasing ‘Ukraine Fatigue’ and gaining his objective of a settlement at current boundaries. He will increase destabilising activities across Europe, the UK and USA, in the run up to elections. He will pull every lever he can to cause controversy in the EU, UK and then US elections. He will continue to aid further destabilisation in the Middle East and Africa in order to create further political dilemmas and refocus attention away from Ukraine.  This will be Putin’s MAIN Effort through 2024.

Operational Objective: Putin’s Operational Objective is securing the territory he has gained, increasingly try and integrate captured regions including Crimea into Russia, influence Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea. He will try and do what he can to reinforce ‘Ukraine Fatigue’ as he sees this as his only path for a clear victory.

Outcome: Ukraine retains the operational initiative with Special Operations Executive (SOE) type operations happening across all of the occupied territories and into Russia itself. Trains are being derailed, factories catching fire, oil refineries being attacked by drones and of course huge success in sinking almost 1/3 of the Russian Black Sea fleet.

Result: Russia if having real difficulty defending against Ukrainian Operational level activities and until Ukrainian tactical supplies reach the levels needed to regain the tactical initiative, this is where the Ukrainian Armed Forces will continue to operate and have significant success, it will be Ukraine’s Main Effort through 2024. These operations are being headed by General Budanov who leads the GUR, Ukraine’s Military Intelligence. They are designed to and are having success in hollowing out Russia’s ability to sustain its tactical operations whilst influencing Russia strategic decision making.

Tactical Objectives: Russia is attacking across the whole front-line area and is having success at huge cost in manpower and equipment. Putin wants to capture as much of the Donbass as possible and right up to the Dnipro River if possible. He is heavily reliant on overmatching artillery fire supported by air and thousands of troops flooding the area. He remains reliant on North Korea and Iran to supply the necessary ammunition, as his defence industrial base is struggling. Ukraine remains reliant on Western Supplies but a lack of capacity in the Wests defence industrial base combined with political hiatus is impacting Ukraine’s ability to respond in any meaningful way.

 Outcome: Russia continues to make small gains but at huge cost. Ukraine continues to hold the Russians and heavily attrit their forces. However, neither side can yet generate sufficient combat power to create decisive conditions tactically.

Result: Once Western supplies started to be delivered at volume and Ukraine can regain some control of the airspace with F16s then the tide will turn, however this may not be until the summer at the earliest. Putin will recognise this and once his election if over in March, we may see political changes putting Russia on a greater total war footing.

Western Defence Industrial Base. What had been forgotten by the West is how important the ability for its defence industrial baes to expand ammunition production in time of war actually is. Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine has brought this to the fore but it will take 3-5 years and possibly longer to rebuild production capacity for ammunition, and equipment’s. This is being funded by the huge sums we hear being ‘donated’ to Ukraine. The reality is these huge sums are being spent in home countries like the USA, Germany, France, UK to increase the capacity of their defence industrial bases to manufacture and deliver ammunition to Ukraine but it has the added benefit of jobs and tax revenue in home countries and rebuilding a vital part of countries overall defence capability. Putin has forced and is helping the West prepare for the future.

The West is just beginning to realise the same with its armoured vehicles and aircraft but there seems to be little immediate impetus to restart tank and Infantry Fighting vehicle production lines in any meaningful way to increase over current capacity. As the Ukraine conflict continues, this will probably change.

I would see towards the second half of 2024 if the internal politics in the US can be sorted that resurgent Western supplies with allow Ukraine to regain a multidimensional initiative; but will it bring a quick end to the war? Highly unlikely, unless there is a major change in Moscow, we will be talking about the Russia Ukraine war in another 730 days I believe. However, in another 730 Days Russia will be significantly weakened, it simply can’t afford much more, whereas the West, affordability is merely a political decision as the price for Ukraine losing is significantly greater. It is that that will ensure continued Western support no matter what election outcomes unfold.

Achieving election success by hacking your serotonin.

Achieving election success by hacking your serotonin.

Achieving election success by hacking your serotonin.

By Philip Ingram MBE

With at least 60 elections across the globe in 2024, including the Russian Presidential Election, US Presidential Election, EU Elections and UK General Election, what techniques are the political parties likely to use in order to persuade you, the voter, to back them?  How can we be sure that what we are seeing is right especially when our politics seems to be one of soundbites over substance? Are we being misled or worse still hacked……..?

If we start to look at the science behind messaging there is no better start than a fascinating paper, written in 2014 by Victor Danciu at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies. It is called, ‘Manipulative marketing: persuasion and manipulation of the consumer through advertising.’ What has this got to do with serotonin or election campaigns I hear you ask?

Most of us can think of an advert on the television that we like, it makes us smile, its visuals or sound is pleasing, it instantly reminds us of the product being advertised. It is that behavioural response that is triggered by the release of chemicals in the brain, with serotonin being one of them alongside dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.  These are the “feel good quartet” of compounds responsible for our happiness.  Political campaigns, like any marketing activities are designed to stimulate these compounds.

Serotonin is released when you feel significant or important. Dopamine motivates us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them. Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust, and builds healthy relationships and endorphins are released but the body when stimulated in the right way such as laughing, and they help to alleviate anxiety and depression.

In his paper, Victor Danciu talks of non-manipulative advertising and manipulative advertising. He says, “non-manipulative persuasion through advertising consists in simply presenting the product or service, in the best possible light. This type of advertising is truthful, that is the facts presented are real, the information is giving in a clear, logical manner, in order to convince by informing.”  Just think, how many political campaigns have you seen that would fit into this bracket?

He describes manipulative advertising as, “deceitful advertising which uses facts, but deceptive facts. It uses confusing, misleading, or blatantly untrue statements when promoting a product.”  Remember the product in an election is a perception, a belief, a political party, or an individual. In politics, every public comment by every politician is designed to send a message, it is marketing and advertising, you must decide if it is manipulative or non-manipulative?

Manipulative advertising uses facts, arguments in a way designed to influence consumers emotions in a misleading and deceptive manner. Photographs are photoshopped to make the subject look more appealing, the chosen words are designed to stimulate an emotional response, the right music is added to enhance that emotion and humour is used in some adverts to make people laugh. All of these are stimulating the “feel good quartet” and when that happens it is natural to think positively about what is being offered.

In a similar way emotions can be stimulated when negative arguments are pushed out like cuts in police numbers, austerity, hospital waiting times, crime, pollution, minority rights and more. The key here is not that these are being highlighted, but how they are highlighted.

A full tool set of linguistic, visual, auditory techniques are used to influence the thinking of the person receiving the messages. These are not always obvious, Danciu says, “the most important and effective linguistic manipulation is that of subliminal advertising which aims at the subliminal seduction of the customer.”

Dr Michael Kosinski who gained his PhD from Cambridge University, specialised in Big Data. He has shown that analysing a big data profile on individuals can give insights as to how people think, what they like, what they don’t like and even potentially how they probably vote. This technique is called psychodemographic profiling and he explains how this can be used to develop targeted marketing or messaging, designed to drive a behavioural response in an individual.

Now, combine Danciu’s research with Artificial Intelligence or AI, to ensure the messaging is delivered in the way you want it with the messages you want to hear using language that has had an impact on you before and that is what Dr Kosinski describes.

It is no accident that health professionals or recent hospital patients will see more political messaging about the state of the health service or new investment coming. It is no accident that police officers and people in high crime areas will see more political messaging about police cuts, or reinvestment to recruit more police.

In the United States, in the run up to the 2020 presidential election, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Trump campaign was building “a digital operation unrivalled by Democrats in its use of data-mining techniques and algorithms.” The Spectator magazine when talking of a UK General Election, “the most pivotal campaigning will take place, increasingly online. Digital campaigning has risen in importance with each election.”

“Personal data is now as important a commodity as oil,” Dean Armstrong a leading KC told The Telegraph newspaper, but the question is who has access to that personal data and could it be misused?  Michael Kosinski found in his research, that a basic profile just based on social media likes can predict your behaviours. An advanced profile, based on what websites you visit, what news you read, your job, your politics, your purchases, and more, would mean such a company knows you better than you know yourself. Combine that with the data of your friends and families and an extremely comprehensive understanding of what makes you and your loved ones ‘tick,’ can be known. This type of profiling has already been abused as the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal highlighted.

With the right data, people can be targeted at an individual level in a way they know it will have the biggest psychological effect, utilising the “feel good quartet” again.  Most people will say “I haven’t been influenced by anything; I know my own mind.” I just go back to Danciu comment, “the most important and effective linguistic manipulation is that of subliminal advertising which aims at the subliminal seduction of the customer.”

The potential for undue influence is summed up by a caveat the UK’s secret intelligence agency, MI6, put on many of their human intelligence reports, referred to as CX reports. The caveat says, “this individual may be trying to influence as much as inform.”  Influence operations are centuries old, what makes them personal is the ability for computers to develop such detailed profiles and thereby predict behavioural reactions to certain stimuli. Be mindful for your serotonin is being hacked!

Geopolitical PODCAST – 2024 a look forward

Geopolitical PODCAST – 2024 a look forward

Ian Thornton Trump CD, Lisa Forte and Philip Ingram MBE look at events coming in 2024 and what could influence them from a geopolitical and cyber perspective. This episode is sponsored by CYJAX.

Ian Thornton-Trump CD, CISO for Cyjax, Lisa Forte, Partner at Red Goat Security and Philip Ingram MBE of Grayhare Media take a look at some of the more interesting world events which are set to take place in 2024. Kicking off our usual banter on this particular topic was an article in the Economist – but due to the “Great British Paywall” I’ve substituted this article https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2024/1/3/24022864/elections-democracy-2024-united-states-india-pakistan-indonesia-european-parliament-far-right-voting instead which captures the essence of the discussion.

With great analysis from Phil and Lisa we talk about the upcoming Russian election and the tone (as usual) turns ominous as we discuss reminders of Putin’s responses to critics of his regime. https://www.newsweek.com/full-list-russians-fall-windows-putin-ukraine-war-1781790 We can expect more gravity related fatalities soon in the run up to the March 2024 Russian election.

India, the world’s largest democracy will conduct a national election April to May 2024. The growing population of India and it’s important in world affairs is fast becoming a sought after strategic partner for many powerful countries. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/dec/31/bjp-modi-india-general-election-2024 but the massive disinformation capabilities could destabilise the process to a considerable degree. Lisa, citing the recent Brazilian election experience with disinformation across social media platforms and Phil identifying the magnitude of the problem brought to light in this research: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-01-13-social-media-manipulation-political-actors-industrial-scale-problem-oxford-report place the Indian elections in the right context and identify a potential lynch pin in geopolitical relationships. This will be an election which many people will be watching the results not the least of which are the 1.4 billion Indians—and a considerable number of Indian ex-pats across the world. For additional information on this subject please see: https://news.mit.edu/2023/study-microtargeting-politics-tailored-ads-0621
The panel observes the potential impacts of recent layoffs in the big social media companies as well as AI content creation may in the words of Lisa “run amok” and the lack of safeguards or “kill switch” when it comes to viral content has every opportunity to feed a cycle of violence, anger and create the right atmosphere for successful disinformation and manipulation. The broader outcome of the election and the inevitable geopolitical forces lead to the panel to conclude that India may be open to shopping for the right defence partner in the years ahead to further its own geopolitical and national policy goals.
It’s inevitable when looking at key events of 2024 the panel turns to the big question of Russia Ukraine confit. Phil’s podcast on the tactical situation can be found here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ukraine-day-645-an-update-by-philip-ingram-mbe/id1479994480?i=1000637077000

Joy to the world, hacked again

Joy to the world, hacked again

Joy to the World Hacked again

In the run up to Christmas there are always incidents that bring joy, bring concern and bring worry.  We are reminded of Santa’s vulnerability given the amount of data he has in his databases. He knows the name and address of every child across the globe. He has details of who has been good and who has been naughty, his naughty list is one of the most comprehensive global databases, and it was hacked, but his cyber elves were able to decrypt the database so all is saved!

Now there are a few things that we need to know about Santa and the Grey Hare intelligence team have been hunting to bring them to you. He has 31 hours of Christmas to work with thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth and according to observations from the International Space Station he travels east to west.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)have a special SANTA tracking facility that is made ready once a year to ensure that SANTA is kept safe and should there be any mishaps, then the right help can be provided quickly.

This joint US/ Canadian facility will not be affected by global politics. It is a vital global service ensuring the safety of happiness and joy.

What NORAD have conferment is that Santa makes 822.6 visits per second allowing him 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house….. phew…..

So, the chances of children seeing him are very remote, however, he has specialist stealth technologies that keep him invisible, but that seems to have been compromised.

Santa’s sleigh moves at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. This makes Rudolf a very special type of reindeer as a conventional reindeer can run at a maximum of about 15 miles per hour. His defining feature is his red nose but at 650 miles per second and with special stealth technologies, only Santa and the other reindeers should be able to see it.

However, the Grey Hare intelligence team have been informed that Santa’s stealth technology was hacked at the same time his naughty list was. This has only just come to light when Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill over drone incursion incidents.  What people don’t realise is that just before Christmas each year Santa has a series of practice runs to let his reindeers stretch their legs and confirm they still remember where to go. Part of their emergency plans are landing (covertly) for quick repairs so present delivery can continue.

This is not widely publicised as at 650 miles per second, using Santa and Rudolf’s specialist anti-collision device (the red Nose) he is usually in and out between flights without being noticed. This year was different, something clearly blocked the red nose stealth tech making it visible and concerned staff will have reported it as a possible anti air attack, after all there are too many wars going on. Santa’s security team believe this may have been a deliberate act by some of the nasty people to say “Bah Humbug” to joy for all.

Severely embarrassed at disrupting flights for his adoring fans coming to the North Pole to visit him, as well as those off on holiday, Santa has refused to comment on this latest embarrassment.  Luckily, under his beard, and with his red suit, no one had noticed the gentle flush of his face going red.

What is critical is that his operations on 24thDec delivering presents goes ahead – He also appeals to all those at war to give him free passage and says “catch me if you can suckers, just  let him get on with my job and deliver joy not angst.”

Follow his progress using NORAD’s live tracker here: https://www.noradsanta.org/en/map

Geopolitical PODCAST – 2024 a look forward

The Cyber Security and Geopolitical Discussion – Crypto Cubed

Crypto Cubed

It’s enigmatic and potential problematic. Lisa Forte, Partner at Red Goat Security , Phil Ingram MBE of Greyhare Media and Ian Thornton-Trump CD, CISO for Cyjax go around the table on Cryptocurrencies and the wide-ranging impact they are having on geopolitical conflict and economic conflict. The panel covers a lot of ground. The sensational trial of Sam Bankman-Fried who was found guilty on all seven counts related to the collapse of FTX could land him 115 years in jail depending on how much momentum there is for an appeal – his attorney Mark Cohen said Bankman-Fried respects the jury’s decision but maintains his innocence and will continue to “vigorously fight the charges.” So, yet another chapter in the saga may yet unfold.

The background to the trial was straight forward. The FTX exchange fell into bankruptcy after users found they could no longer withdraw their funds, worth billions of dollars in aggregate. The money was funnelled it into a sibling company, called Alameda Research, and used it for risky stock trades, political donations, and funding his extravagant lifestyle. He also flamboyantly ignored his lawyer’s advice and prior to the trial he conducted many media interviews as well as written testimony to Congress and then as part of the final trial preceding’s appeared on the witness stand to defend himself. It’s safe to say the jury was unimpressed as he crumbled against all the evidence, he himself had provided to government prosecutors due to his public statements.

The fundraising efforts and overt Iranian funding of the Hamas terrorist organization came under discussion. Eleven days after the Terrorist attack in Israel the “U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on ten key Hamas terrorist group members, operatives, and financial facilitators in Gaza and elsewhere including Sudan, Türkiye, Algeria, and Qatar. This action targets members managing assets in a secret Hamas investment portfolio, a Qatar-based financial facilitator with close ties to the Iranian regime, a key Hamas commander, and a Gaza-based virtual currency exchange and its operator.” Digging deeper into this it was soon realised crypto currency and exchanges had played a massive part in providing the funds to conduct the sinister attack into southern Israel. It appears financial sanctions against terrorist organizations were easily bypassed by cryptocurrencies exchanges despite intelligence of digital-currency wallets connected to Hamas receiving about $41 million over the past two years according to Tel Aviv-based crypto analytics and software firm BitOK and information on Palestinian Islamic Jihad receiving $93 million in crypto during the same period, based on crypto researcher Elliptic’s data.

Zooming out of these specific revelations the panel examined the wider implications of both nation state sanction avoidance, the ability to effectively bypass the American financial system and the role of crypto currencies in funding global political movements – somewhat anonymously. There are rather chilling revelations as cryptocurrencies are found at the very centre of political agendas, disinformation campaigns and financial transactions between countries subject to economic sanctions by both US and EU/UK governments. Despite analysis proclaiming that far more legitimate and legal transactions are occurring on crypto currency blockchains than illegitimate and illegal transactions the simple conclusion is we don’t know how bad the problem is until the damage has already been done.