Global SITREP for Thursday, 08 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Thursday, 08 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 08 February 2024.

  1. CHINA STATE ACTOR CAUGHT SPYING ON NETHERLANDS: The Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) announced yesterday that they discovered Chinese malware in an unclassified armed forces research and development network last year. The MIVD says it was a “Chinese state actor is responsible for this.”
  • China’s embassy to the Netherlands responded that “China always firmly opposes and cracks down on cyber-attacks in all forms in accordance with the law” and that they oppose malicious speculation and groundless accusations.

Why It Matters: Chinese individuals are frequently accused of cyberattacks and espionage, but this is one of the few times China has been accused of using a state actor. This is unlikely to draw a NATO Article V response as the network was isolated and not connected to infrastructure. However, China’s actions are driving Europe away from it, so we could see increased sanctions and derisking actions from Europe in response to China’s belligerence. – J.V.

  1. SETTING UP FOR FAILURE: NAVY RECRUITS PEOPLE WITHOUT DIPLOMA: Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral Richard Cheeseman is trying to assuage fears of incompetency in the Navy as the first recruits since 2000 enter the service without a high school diploma or GED.
  • Admiral Cheeseman says he sees no risk in allowing these recruits to join since recruitment numbers are so low. He is also adding a requirement that they score at or above the 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test instead of the 31 mandated by law.
  • Admiral Cheeseman’s goal is to recruit 500 of these recruits after seeing 2,442 prospects turned away last year. The Navy fell 7000 recruits short of its goal last fiscal year.

Why It Matters: Cheeseman’s initial batch of diploma-less recruits might not perform much worse than the average recruit across the board, but his 50th percentile policy can be revised down on a whim. The Admiral also seems to miss that the Navy has gotten far more technical and the education system far less rigorous (with one state doing away with math, reading, and writing requirements last year). The 50th percentile is an average based on recruits in a similar area within a short timeframe, so there is very likely a change in the quality of recruits at that percentile from one decade to the next. The Navy is likely worsening its competency crisis as it deals with a war in the Middle East and prepares for a high-tech war in the Pacific. – 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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