(This article appeared in the 8 September 2015 issue of Koinonia House eNews)
Note: The author Jeremy Richard is a retired U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst. During his last assignment, he was an Intelligence Observer/Coach/Trainer at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA. He has 2 combat tours to Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne Division. He worked for the Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy, Plans, and Assessment (C–5) Multinational Force Iraq HQ and also had one tour to the Sinai, Egypt with the Multinational Force and Observers Peacekeeping mission. Jeremy works as an Intelligence Staff Technical Trainer. He is a member of the Koinonia Institute and is a Bronze Medallion holder. He also operates the website “Most Likely Most Dangerous.”
The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute.
In the Tactical Operations Center
“Attention in the TOC! 60 Taliban just walked through a Red Falcon ambush and are about to contact the rest of Charlie Company!” I yelled out in the 407th Brigade Support Battalion TOC (Tactical Operation Center) which only elicited a slight head raise from the Assistant Operations Officer. About twelve hours earlier I had given a briefing to the command and staff where I had assessed the enemy would attack our TWPS (Tactical Water Purification System) site which I based off of three different indicators my analysts had found during the previous day. The TWPS was a huge target because it was the only source of water for the entire 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division ever since we had jumped onto the small island where we were now operating. We wouldn’t be able to just drive down the street to Walmart and buy some bottled water if the enemy destroyed that piece of equipment.
I had been really excited 45 minutes earlier when a report came in that a collection asset had eyes on 60 military age males with rifles and two trucks. They were standing in a semi-circle around one individual who was pointing around to people. I had yelled out:
Attention in the TOC! 60 military age males with rifles and two trucks spotted 1.5 clicks (kilometers or ~0.9 miles) away from the TWPS site! I assess the individual in the middle is either taking roll or giving instructions.
At that point both the Operations Officer and Intelligence Officer walked over to where I was sitting and scolded me for calling out “attention in the TOC” because that was only to be used when urgent information needed to be broadcast for the entire tent to hear. I didn’t respond to them other than to look at my All American combat patch on my right shoulder and give them a shrug. I had been in the first unit deployed for “The Surge” ordered by President Bush and had already spent 15 months as an intelligence analyst in combat. I considered it urgent. They did not.
And even now, there was no urgency as Charlie Company was about to get slammed. The ambushing platoon didn’t initiate the ambush because you weren’t supposed to if the element walking through your ambush was numerically superior, which I knew from days in the infantry. I also knew the situation was not only bad for the Red Falcons, but for us as well because the TWPS site was about 600 meters (~650 yards) south of that location. In short order, gunfire erupted and the radios started going crazy with the Red Falcons coordinating their defense and asking for support. Not two minutes into the fight, I heard a call that 30 of the bad guys had broken off and were headed south. That was great news for the Red Falcons, but bad news for our dozen people down by the lake at the TWPS site. I called out again that 30 enemy had broken off and were headed down to that position. The Operations Officer calmly picked up the radio, called the TWPS site and said, “Hey, you guys might get contact.”
And that was it. That was all the warning they were to receive. In short order, the shots rang out louder and the entire site was overrun, the TWPS and 2 gun trucks were destroyed, and one of our soldiers was captured. The good news is this was only a training exercise on Sicily Drop Zone at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Observer Controllers (OCs) from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) out of Hohenfels, Germany were on hand to evaluate the unit to help us be prepared for the upcomingGlobal Response Force mission. The Task Force OC and the JMRC Commander both presented me with their coins for the Most Likely Most Dangerous courses of action predictive analysis assessments which turned out to be correct.
Most Likely Most Dangerous
What is Most Likely Most Dangerous (MLMD) and how could this intelligence method be applied to biblical prophecy? I’ve been studying biblical prophecy for about 25 years and I’ve noticed when it comes to our individual views on prophecy, science, theology, or philosophy we tend to get emotionally attached to whatever position we’ve taken on a given subject. Often times, so much so that it can impede our critical thinking when information comes along that may challenge a particular view. We tend to pick our camp, plant our flag, and play king of the emotional mountain while potentially pushing away valuable information that ends up rolling down the hill only to land in the swamp of condemnation-before-investigation.
But maybe there’s a better way.
Before we jump into MLMD, let’s examine courses of action and indicators. Take a look at the example below. There are three different paths in the graphic. For this illustration, the paths represent avenues of approach that must be used by a Russian Tank Brigade to maneuver through the mountains and each path is a “course of action.” We need to confirm or deny tanks are moving on a given path by looking for indicators. One way to do that would be to send an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) out to Path 1 to look for indicators of tanks moving on that path. Each path is very long, so we want to focus our search into a search box, or named area of interest (NAI) because we don’t have the time to examine every mile of the path. So, we send our UAV out to look for Russian tanks, but it doesn’t find anything. There isn’t a trace or indicator that Russian tanks are moving through the area. Have we wasted our time? Certainly not. We know they must come down one of the paths, but we have now “denied” that path one is the course of action being used by the enemy. That takes away an option, and leaves us free to examine paths 2 and 3. Once we start seeing some indicators tanks are moving along path 2, we can confirm path 2 is the course of action being taken.
With our courses of action and indicators established, let’s move on to MLMD. Put simply, the enemy’sMost Likely course of action is the one that he will Most Likely take based on historical patterns, past indicators, analysis, and reporting. This is what we expect the enemy to do. On the other end, Most Dangerous is the course of action the enemy takes that is Most Dangerous to us and the mission. What could the enemy do that would really damage our mission, throw us off our game, and bring things to a grinding halt. An example of this would be a remote Combat Outpost (COP) in Afghanistan. On any given day, the Most Likely course of action would be a couple of Taliban fighters firing mortars from the nearby mountains and maybe taking a couple of pot shots with small arms fire.
The Most Dangerous course of action would be 200 Taliban fighters in a coordinated, complex attack involving multiple maneuver elements, mortar fire from the mountain, all initiated by a suicide bomber at the gate to the COP. Such an attack could overrun the entire COP, and these have happened before, such as the Battle of Wanat, where then Sergeant Ryan Pitts fought and was later was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions. Sometimes the Most Likely and the Most Dangerous course of action can be the same, such as the case in the JMRC exercise where the enemy overran our position and destroyed our TWPS site.
MLMD is a good method to use because predictive analysis is pretty tricky to get right, especially when predicting human behavior. The intelligence process is half science and half art. And in that aspect, biblical prophecy is like military intelligence. You aren’t making an assessment that an event WILL happen at a certain time or in a certain way, but instead the assessment is about an event that will MOST LIKELY happen in a certain way or at a given time. That leaves you free to accept other indicators and may very well change your assessment if more information is later introduced. The most obvious application of this, in my opinion, is the pre-trib and post-trib views about the Rapture. This event is in a special category because there won’t be any indicators if the pre-trib view turns out to be correct and there will be many, many indicators if the post-trib view ends up being correct.
In the pre-trib view, the Rapture happening before the Tribulation (or Great Tribulation) is Most Likely to happen based on the many indicators given in scripture. Those who believe the post-trib view will not agree with this, of course. But both pre-trib and post-trib believers can agree the Most Dangerous course of action is the post-trib view, because that means Christians are still here when the Antichrist takes power and starts to wage war on the saints. Thus, I assess the pre-trib view is Most Likely, but the post-trib view is Most Dangerous and both pre and post should agree on the latter. It doesn’t hurt to be mentally, spiritually, and physically ready for both. I wouldn’t pull a Harold Camping, set dates, and sell my house; but it would be wise to be prepared for the worst because at the end of the day, we simply don’t know the timing of the Rapture. If you don’t need all of the stuff you’ve prepared because the Rapture happened, then God could use those items for other people’s benefit who will go through the Great Tribulation. So it is a win either way.
MLMD and Ezekiel 38/39
Now let’s examine the Ezekiel 38/39 Magog Invasion of Israel since it is one of my favorite topics and there are many indicators in the news on this subject every day. With regard to the identity of Magog, there are really only two options considered by most scholars. Either Magog is Russia or Turkey. In essence, we only have two paths we need to examine for indicators since nobody is out there advocating that Swaziland or Paraguay is Magog, which makes our job easier. The advantage and brilliance of biblical prophecy is we already know the course of action. We know what will happen. In the case of The Magog Invasion, we know the what, the where, and the why. The only questions left are who and when.
The What – The invasion of Israel by 5 countries ends with the utter destruction of those countries’ armies by God in a supernatural event.
The Where – In or near the current state of Israel.
The Why – The “hook in the jaw.” To take spoil and plunder.
Now to address the who. Most scholars believe Magog is either Russia or Turkey. Since I believe it is Russia, I will cite examples that are indicators Russia fits the description better than Turkey does. For example, I opine in one of my commentaries on a story from Fox News titled, “Why US must keep a close eye on Russia’s plans for the Arctic” with the following analysis.
But the key indicator I want to highlight is Ezekiel 39:2 and I’ll use several Bible versions to compare the texts.
I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. — NIV
I will turn you around and drive you toward the mountains of Israel, bringing you from the distant north. — NLT
And I will turn you about and drive you forward, and bring you up from the uttermost parts of the north, and lead you against the mountains of Israel. — ESV
and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel. — NAS
Here we have several descriptions of where Gog, the Prince of Magog, will originate from at the time of the invasion. The descriptions are the far north, the distant north, the uttermost parts of the north, and the remotest parts of the north. Since I believe every phrase, every word, and every letter in the bible is there by deliberate design, then I can’t ignore the text here as it relates to the Turkey/Russia debate. Back in Ezekiel’s day, Turkey would indeed be a long way north of Israel. But Russia matches the description here better than Turkey does, which leads me to the story below. It doesn’t get any more north or uttermost parts of the north than the Arctic Circle. In fact, Magnetic North, not to be confused with Grid North or True North, is slowly migrating to Siberia. That, in my opinion, is certainly a fantastic indicator that helps confirm Russia as Magog.”
This is just one example from one news article. There are hundreds to choose from, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Consider the following two products that list the highlighted news articles for these two days:
What has shocked me the most when making these products is these are not weekly summaries, but each of these news stories in their respective slides all happened the same day! I’d like to highlight one more indicator that identifies Russia as a better candidate for Magog over Turkey. Here is a story from the Jerusalem Post titled, “Cheney: Iran Deal Likely to Lead to First Use of Nuclear Weapon Since WWII.”
From my commentary:
Ezekiel 39 describes NBC (Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological) weapons and their use so accurately that the details could be taken out of a modern military NBC handbook. This is a solid indicator that confirms the coming Magog Invasion.
In verse 11 they bury the dead in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Downwind)
NBC 3 Warning of Predicted Contamination Report.
The NBCC uses NBC 1 reports and wind information to predict downwind hazard areas” (FM 3–7 p1–14)
In verse 14 they have to bury them and they hire professionals to do it, i.e. Hazmat crews.
After 7 months verse 15 says anyone who sees a bone will have to place a marker beside it so the professionals can come clean it.
NBC 5 Actual Contaminated Areas Report – Once the NBC 4 reports are posted on the situation map, an NBC 5 report is prepared showing the contaminated area.
NBC 5 reports usually are prepared by division. The preferred method of dissemination is by map overlay (FM 3–7 p1–14)
Derive the location of the attack from NBC:
- Chemical report and plot the location on a map or template.
- Draw a 1-km radius circle around the point of attack.
- Determine the maximum downwind hazard. (FM 3–7 p5–2)
Actual NBC Markers to be used:
In this example we see Israel will burn the weapons for their fuel. I will suggest this is describing nuclear weapons as I don’t think burning smallpox will run anyone’s iPad. With this opinion in mind, which country better fits the identity of Magog? Certainly Russia has nukes. Turkey does not, although it does host U.S. nukes so there is a window of opportunity there, in theory at least (but not “Most Likely”).
I could go on with several more sub-topics, but you get the idea and there are even more questions to ask and products to make to help lift the fog. What are the political relations like between Russia/Turkey and Persia (Iran), Gomer (Germany), Phut (Libya), and Sudan (Cush)? Does Turkey or Russia supply arms to the other 4? Does Russia or Turkey exert more political influence? Are there business ventures links?
Be an Intelligence Berean
The point is if you think Turkey is Magog, then search for indicators that help confirm your suspicion. But be critical in your research and also use the same context of your search to find out if Russia is meeting or exceeding the requirements for which you are searching.
What do I mean by confirm?
Look at the example below. On the right you will see a small box called “Index of Civil Conflict” with a green to red bar and a few arrows highlighting points on the line.
This graph is just to illustrate the fact that finding one indicator does not make for a complete assessment. The more indicators you confirm, the more solid your conclusion. Using the green to red bar I can tell you Russia positively identified as Magog is almost to the green, if not there yet. Now, if indicators start rolling in that confirm Turkey as Magog, then I will have to reassess the total picture.
The Sum of the Matter
In conclusion, my goal with the MLMD method and the website is not necessarily to present my views on a given eschatological subject. My goal is empower you with some “best practices” and a database of news articles so you can look for indicators to help confirm or deny your views. The problem with information and intelligence is there’s way too much out there for any one individual to handle. The point of all of this is to show to the world that the bible tells history in advance, and every detail is there by deliberate design. When we do this accurately, we might get stares or rejections, much like the Operations Officer in the opening story, but we just might have people watching in the background who admire our work and might force themselves to challenge their own worldviews. Each interested observer is a possible soul saved.