Global SITREP for Thursday, 01 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Thursday, 01 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 01 February 2024. 

  1. GRAVELY MISSILE KILL SUGGESTS NEAR TOTAL FAILURE OF KILLCHAIN: The Department of Defense revealed that the USS Gravely used its Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) to shoot down an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) at less than one mile to go.
  • CIWS is the last line of missile defense for ships. The Gravely has a single aft mount. 
  • The ship has at least three other means of engaging the missile dozens of miles out. The release did not specify whether any form of electronic warfare was employed.

Why It Matters: Based on the Yemeni order of battle, the missile likely had less than five seconds of flight time left when the Gravely shot it. Considering how many systems had to fail that are now proven to work, this appears to be a near-total failure of the watchstanders, with the exception of CIWS. If failures like this keep happening, a successful strike on a Navy warship is inevitable. The last time a USN ship took a missile was the 1987 Stark Incident. The United States did not immediately wage war on Iraq, where the missile came from, but did briefly wage war on Iran when the USS Samuel B Roberts struck their mine the next year. As the Yemenis have no significant navy, a successful strike would likely prompt a limited invasion to destroy any equipment in the southern part of the nation. – J.V.

  1. PHILIPPINES PREPARING FOR LARGER, MORE COMPLEX EXERCISE: The Philippines is preparing for a massive and complex iteration of the Balikatan exercise in April that will include several nations, practice in non-kinetic warfare domains such as cyberspace and information operations.
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokeswoman Colonel Francel Padilla announced yesterday that the annual Balikatan Exercise would be larger, longer, and more diverse in scope this year. 
  • Routine participants include the Philippines, the United States, and Australia, but the Philippines is open to any nation with which it has a Status of Forces agreement joining in.
  • National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya told the state-run Philippines News Agency yesterday that the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile would be delivered in the first quarter of 2024.

Why It Matters: Between 2022 and 2023, the Balikatan doubled in size, added a sinking exercise, and generally became a means of practicing joint international warfare plans rather than a senior ally training its junior. Japan is likely to join in, given the security agreements they signed with the Philippines last year. Additionally, the BrahMos missiles may play a role as the Philippines is touting their delivery as its entry to a “supersonic missile era.” All of this is going to be highly inflammatory with China just prior to Taiwan’s new government’s inauguration in May. China is likely to retaliate with exercises of their own while also spying on Balikatan. – J.V.

  1. CHINA COAST GUARD ANNOUNCED “INDISPUTABLE SOVEREIGNTY”: The Chinese Coast Guard spokesman asserted “indisputable sovereignty” over the Scarborough Shoal and its adjacent waters.
  • An estimated 200 Chinese boats surrounded the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and the grounded BRP Sierra Madre at the same time as the sovereignty claim.

Why It Matters: China is asserting its claims in the South China Sea with significant actions and statements. The 200 boats provide enough coverage that they could likely intercept any airdropped supplies before the Filipino Marines stationed on the Sierra Madre. The Philippines is likely to continue evading blockades and carrying out actions that China classifies as “escalatory” until China changes its stance on SCS diplomacy or war begins. – 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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