Rotary gets a lesson on military intelligence

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2019

When the Rotary information said the speaker on Tuesday would be Andy Sheppard, the President of Thomas University, the expectation for many was that it would be information about the school and courses offered, etc. There was a bit of that—it is the only private university in South Georgia, and in addition to offering BA and MA degrees, it also provides some certificated training.

Then, Sheppard moved into the subject he likes best—Military Theory.

He has traveled in many countries, has a PhD from a university in England and is the author of several books on terrorism.

Email newsletter signup

He has written for the National Military Intelligence Journal and created a manual for understanding Jihad intellectual sabotage, a subject he has researched deeply.

He does it in an effort to understand what governments do and to understand irregular warfare and intelligence matters and how they apply to current conflicts.

His goal is to provide clarity and guidance to planners, commanders and decision makers—bringing rationality to irrational situations.

To make his point, he showed a slide with the photos of several men and women, plus a dog, and asked, “Which one is the terrorist?” It was the least likely looking person—a young man who grew up in Texas by the name of John Thomas Georelas. He was raised a good Baptist boy, but something went astray, as he eventually moved to Syria and adopted the name Yahya al-Bahrumi and joined a terrorist group. Sheppard showed a photo of his transformation under his new name, and noted,“He is no more.”

Sheppard went on to explain how Isis happened and spoke of one he called the architect, an intelligence officer in Iraq, who converted to Isis. He was also a church attender, whose manual shows how to convince good people to start looking for the “bad people,” in their midst. Then, there was the Celebrity, or presumed leader.

Now that the most recent leader is gone, the question becomes is Isis gone? Sheppard gives a resounding “No.” He says they have just picked a new guy; and members of the intelligence community are pretty sure they will soon know the identity of the new leader.

Sheppard addressed a few issues of current conflicts.

What’s up with Russia? And his basic conclusion is that they are angry, and have been since the end of the cold war. They believe the U.S illegally interfered in the matters of Ukraine, Georgia, Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan. Those countries want independence and Russia thinks the US is aiding them. “So, Russia knew how to mess with the Internet and mess with our elections. Like it or not, we’re in a fight.” He added.

He also shared some of the information on China and the problems in the China Sea.

They were unhappy with the U.S. Asian Pivot of 2011 and the 2016 Hague rule against China’s 9 dash line. China just takes more time to respond.

Sheppard asks what we, the average person can do? He gives the following advice: Don’t jump on any bandwagons. Don’t be overly partisan. Be firm against racism, as it is a favorite device of subversives. Russia often uses racism as a divisive tactic. Be patient with the trade war situation—“It’s better than bombs,” he concludes.

Sheppard concluded his remarks by saying “Fake News” doesn’t exist. There is bias, propaganda and even sloppy journalism. If there is a message, it’s real. He added that some of what may be called sloppy journalism can be explained by having to meet deadlines, and the reporter may not have all the facts.

He advises people to use good sources such as www.reuters.com and www.UPI.com to get a better, more accurate picture of events.