OK Boomwar
June 5, 2020 1:52 PM   Subscribe

"Documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a Pentagon war game, called the 2018 Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program, or JLASS, offered a scenario in which members of Generation Z, driven by malaise and discontent, launch a 'Zbellion' in America in the mid-2020s." [original document]

Context:
The Zbellion plot was a small part of JLASS 2018, which also featured scenarios involving Islamist militants in Africa, anti-capitalist extremists, and ISIS successors. The war game was conducted by students and faculty from the U.S. military’s war colleges, the training grounds for prospective generals and admirals. While it is explicitly not a national intelligence estimate, the war game, which covers the future through early 2028, is “intended to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions,” according to the more than 200 pages of documents.
They're young, they're sad, and most importantly...they're furiouz:
Both the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession greatly influenced the attitudes of this generation in the United states, and resulted in a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity among Gen Z. Although Millennials experienced these events during their coming of age, Gen Z lived through them as part of their childhood, affecting their realism and world view … many found themselves stuck with excessive college debt when they discovered employment options did not meet their expectations. Gen Z are often described as seeking independence and opportunity but are also among the least likely to believe there is such a thing as the “American Dream,” and that the “system is rigged” against them. Frequently seeing themselves as agents for social change, they crave fulfillment and excitement in their job to help “move the world forward.” Despite the technological proficiency they possess, Gen Z actually prefer person-to-person contact as opposed to online interaction. They describe themselves as being involved in their virtual and physical communities, and as having rejected excessive consumerism.
And they're going znternational:
During face-to-face recruitment, would-be members of Zbellion are given instructions for going to sites on the dark web that allow them to access sophisticated malware to siphon funds from corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits that support “the establishment.” The gains are then converted to Bitcoin and distributed to “worthy recipients” including fellow Zbellion members who claim financial need. Zbellion leadership, says the scenario, assures its members that their Robin Hood-esque wealth redistribution is not only untraceable by law enforcement but “ultimately justifiable,” as targets are selected based on “secure polling” of “network delegates.” Although its origins are American, by the latter 2020s, Zbellion activities are also occurring across Europe and cities throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, including Nairobi, Kenya; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Amman, Jordan.
[Previouzly]
posted by Ouverture (42 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I, for one, welcome our new Zbellion overlordZ.
posted by zamboni at 2:03 PM on June 5 [27 favorites]


I was hoping for zombies.
posted by meehawl at 2:06 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Strong “Boomer peering through venetian blinds at some teenagers loitering nearby, with one hand on the phone” energy in this paper.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:11 PM on June 5 [49 favorites]


Make that 'zombzeez'.
posted by jamjam at 2:12 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Two things here.

One: While these big table exercises are always have at least one "crazy out there" experiment to push the War College folks to think creatively, this still shows that the "thinkers' in the military establishment see that there is at least a perception of massive inequality (there IS, i"m just point out that they may label it a perception), enough to merit a thought exercise.

Two: In the military it's normally a lot more fun/interesting to play the Opposing Force in exercises, and I absolutely would have loved to be the one coming up with the threats for this one.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:13 PM on June 5 [36 favorites]


Meanwhile in Canada, the Zedbellion.
posted by allegedly at 2:17 PM on June 5 [36 favorites]


So what I am to take away from this is that basically the government has near-future LARP sessions
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:18 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


So what I am to take away from this is that basically the government has near-future LARP sessions

It's more or less the other way around. If you squint, you can draw a more or less straight line from kriegspiel and Strategos to Braunstein and D&D, then modern gaming and LARPs.
posted by zamboni at 2:26 PM on June 5 [20 favorites]


So what I am to take away from this is that basically the government has near-future LARP sessions

Yes indeed, I used to work in the Land Warrior Testbed (goofiest damn name), where about twice a year on various military bases I'd have to get all the middle ware working to patch together computer simulations of things like "voice operated robots in each infantry squad" and how does that play out against Soviet, post-soviet, and insurgent force types.

I quit during the run up to the Invasion of Iraq because fuuuuck that.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:27 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


Neither the article or the document say whether z good guys won or not.
posted by rodlymight at 2:36 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


So...yeah...uhhh....so apparently I now own zbellion.com and zbellion.org. Honestly was on autopilot and added them to my hosting account while on a Zoom call without thinking about it too much....

The revolution will be (poorly) monetized I guess. If anyone can think of a way of using them - hit me up - open to using them for anything positive or a good gag (hell will even cover the hosting).
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:37 PM on June 5 [49 favorites]


So what I am to take away from this is that basically the government has near-future LARP sessions


All the time. I think we do 3 or 4 a year. Except we call them Table Top Exercises (paper only) or Live Plays (full go). A few years ago, I had to drive 2.5 hours to another city, stand on a street corner and pass an envelope off to someone from another department. It was such a spy moment. In actual fact, it was something pretty mundane, a simulated lab report, but still.

To be clear I have only about a 1% overlap with security, and I think even that portion has been stood down now for almost a decade. But the whole emergency response community uses simulated exercises a whole lot. It's even written into our regulations and indeed part of our treaty structure between US and Canada how and how often we have to do them.
posted by bonehead at 2:58 PM on June 5 [12 favorites]


Wargames II: WarGaMeZ

Also, ze first rule of Project Zbellion is zu do not azk queztions

(Ze zecond rule is turn off ze Autocorrect)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:01 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Fire ze missiles!
posted by zamboni at 3:02 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Fire Ze Frank!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:03 PM on June 5 [12 favorites]


sorry I got carried away
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:04 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Meanwhile in Canada, the Zedbellion.

Zedbelly was a great Canadian blues hoser, eh?
posted by rodlymight at 3:08 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


inflatablekiwi: "
The revolution will be (poorly) monetized I guess.
"

The rezolution, shurely.
posted by chavenet at 4:02 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Can you just give everyone free healthcare and college tuition and win the exercise? Oh wait, you'd have to raise taxes, and I assume that crashes the simulation...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:18 PM on June 5 [13 favorites]


You'ze right.

Anyway zbellion.com and zbellion.org should both redirect to Color of Change now. Somewhat haphazard choice by me - if anyone has suggestions let me know.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:23 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


this is how you get policymakers thinking about the future, and how you get intelligence analysts thinking about indicators and warnings for situations to monitor/contain/intervene/avoid. and yes, it's also about the only way you can get the people who are most likely to be put in a position to inflict violence to really think about what happens once they commit to that course of action so that they have the chance to avoid that version of their future.
posted by rye bread at 4:31 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


If anyone can think of a way of using them - hit me up

Ooh, I have an idea! Let's set up sites on the dark web that allow members to access sophisticated malware to siphon funds from corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits that support “the establishment.” Then we'll convert the gains to Bitcoin and distribute it to “worthy recipients.”
posted by whir at 5:30 PM on June 5 [32 favorites]



During face-to-face recruitment, would-be members of Zbellion are given instructions for going to sites on the dark web that allow them to access sophisticated malware to siphon funds from corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits that support “the establishment.” The gains are then converted to Bitcoin and distributed to “worthy recipients” including fellow Zbellion members who claim financial need. Zbellion leadership, says the scenario, assures its members that their Robin Hood-esque wealth redistribution is not only untraceable by law enforcement but “ultimately justifiable,” as targets are selected based on “secure polling” of “network delegates.” Although its origins are American, by the latter 2020s, Zbellion activities are also occurring across Europe and cities throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, including Nairobi, Kenya; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Amman, Jordan.

So uhhhhhhhhh can we.... get on this?
posted by bleep at 5:36 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]




Also do you think it's good that now we have the idea to do this or bad that they already would know how to stop it or best that we know what they would do to stop it.
posted by bleep at 6:59 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Two: In the military it's normally a lot more fun/interesting to play the Opposing Force in exercises, and I absolutely would have loved to be the one coming up with the threats for this one.


Obligatory reminder: the last time the US Navy tried to wargame its way into stomping a plucky asymmetric insurgency, it got its ass handed to it.
posted by Mayor West at 7:37 PM on June 5 [18 favorites]




bleep, face to face meeting. Or at least mask to mask meeting.
posted by gryftir at 8:40 PM on June 5


"Sir, they've infiltrated our secure communications!"
"Oh FFS. Which one of you idiots refused to stan Loona"
posted by fullerine at 10:39 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


All your baze are belong to uz.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:44 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Get to ze chopper?
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:53 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Well the Boomers will be mostly dead. Gen X welcomes our overthrow by GenZ.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:02 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


Well the Boomers will be mostly dead. Gen X welcomes our overthrow by GenZ.

Nooo. I don't wanna be dead yet. Write me in as ze guy wiz ze bunkerz. I'll be good. I'll cut my hair. I'll shave my beard. Youze can drive my honda.
posted by mule98J at 8:12 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Location: Some corporate boardroom
Time: This morning

CEO: The good news, we won the $26 billion, 7 year military contract. The bad news, we still have no real idea how to manufacture hadouken-proof riot gear .
posted by otherchaz at 10:12 AM on June 6


it’s worth considering how the Pentagon’s war gamers chose to focus the military’s attention on a generation now demonstrating peacefully in America’s streets.

Forget the generation, it's worth considering why they are role-playing combat against the country's own citizens, which is not what a military is for.
posted by ctmf at 7:09 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


It is frightening that exercises like this reinforce a particular mindset among participants. It is subtle propaganda that plops the seed of "Us vs Them". Which would be fine if it was against really bad people like neo-nazis or white supremacists or anti-government 2nd Amendment crazies. But it never is.
posted by JJ86 at 6:24 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Which would be fine if it was against really bad people

With you in spirit, but still no. That's what police are for. Military and police are not the same thing, and conflating the two is how we get rampant abuses in both domains.
posted by ctmf at 2:47 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


What comes after Generation Z? I was trying to come up with a joke .... hmm (thoughtfully strokes chin age wattles), maybe that IS the joke ..?
posted by Chitownfats at 4:51 PM on June 8


Generation AA
posted by bleep at 5:04 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Generation AA-> EBs: The Energizer Bunny Generation
click me
we'll sext
then vape
ctrlaltdel
posted by mule98J at 9:57 AM on June 9


What comes after Generation Z?

Generation Yuzz. On beyond zebra!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:33 PM on June 9


I think that's already been determined: Gen C(orona)
posted by Ghidorah at 7:20 PM on June 9


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