Global SITREP for Friday, 15 December 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Friday, 15 December 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Friday, 15 December 2023

  1. RED SEA: TANKERS OUT, DESTROYERS IN:Shipping giant Maersk sent a notification to its fleet of tankers to remind them that they have the right to avoid the Red Sea and circumnavigate Africa. The United Kingdom also announced they’re sending a destroyer to the Red Sea to combat Houthi shipping attacks.
  • Maersk is the second largest shipping company by shipping capacity, holding 14.7% of global shipping capacity. 

Why It Matters: The international shipping defense coalition rumored earlier this week appears to be forming. The United States, Israel, France, and now the U.K. are deployed to the Red Sea with Australia requested and Japan and India maintaining an anti-piracy presence nearby. Notably, only the U.S. has intercepted the cruise missiles used against shipping so far. The coming months will demonstrate to the world the West’s ability to intercept anti-ship missiles and protect sea lanes. A failure to do so could send international shipping looking for a more capable protector. – J.V.

While many analysts have focused on the potential decrease in oil demand as the global economy slows, we’ve reiterated the need to monitor the supply side for signs of disruption and higher prices. Continued Houthi attacks in the Red Sea could be a growing supply-side problem in 2024, as about 10% of all seaborne oil travels through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on the southern end of the Red Sea. – H.B. 

  1. UK CSG TO INDO-PACIFIC IN 2025: PART OF A LARGER ALLIED TREND: United Kingdom Defence Minister Grant Shapps announced yesterday that the Carrier Strike Group 2025 plan will send a strike group to the Indo-Pacific.
  • France announced they’ll send the Charles de Gaulle Strike Group on a 2025 Indo-Pacific deployment last year for dual-carrier operations with the U.S. Navy.

Why It Matters: Starting in 2025, the U.S. seems to be building a multi-carrier presence in the Indo-Pacific. This rapid succession of strike group deployments is likely going to be back-to-back, keeping at least three strike groups deployed at all times. The U.S. has close relations with India and Italy, which also have carriers capable of carrying fixed-wing aircraft. Both nations have deployed to the Western Pacific in recent years. There are likely backroom talks to bring those two nations into the cycle to maintain a longer presence. – J.V.

  1. SEVENTH SINO-RUSSIAN JOINT AIR PATROL:China and Russia conducted their seventh joint air patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea since it started in 2019 on Thursday. 
  • For the first time, it included electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft alongside the normal fighters and bombers.
  • A Chinese cruiser, their primary naval air defense platform, was reported in the Sea of Japan this week and may have been integrated into the patrol.

Why It Matters: The mission packages are growing increasingly complex as these patrols continue. Introducing electronic warfare and reconnaissance capabilities to the strike packages allows greater accuracy and greater flexibility via threat identification and monitoring. Further and more complex integration between Russia and China indicates preparation for Russia’s Pacific Fleet joining in on a potential Pacific War. – J.V.

THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. Thank you for reading. If you know folks who would also like to receive this email, would you please forward it to them? We appreciate you spreading the word. – M.S.

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