Global SITREP for Thursday, 11 January 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Thursday, 11 January 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 11 January 2024. 

  1. HIGH-LEVEL DELEGATION HEADED TO TAIWAN ON SATURDAY: The Biden administration is sending a delegation to Taipei, Taiwan, this Saturday.
  • James Steinberg and Stephen Hadley, a former Deputy Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, respectively, form the delegation.

Why It Matters: An announced high-level delegation from the Biden administration in the form of Nancy Pelosi kicked off the massive military presence and daily incursions around Taiwan in 2022. While there have been several smaller delegations, this one is timed with an election that may not go Beijing’s way. This is likely to draw a pre-planned military response from Beijing and numerous statements about “not encouraging Taiwan separatists.” – J.V.

  1. CHINA ENCROACHES INTO THE INDIAN OCEAN: China and the Maldives upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership yesterday. China will build infrastructure for the Maldives as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The Maldives kicked out Indian troops after a longstanding security agreement last week.
  • The Maldives hold a critical geographic position on a Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) and shipping lane.
  • Sri Lanka announced last week that they would no longer permit Chinese “research vessels” into their harbors.

Why It Matters: China is likely establishing a second friendly mid-Indian Ocean port for its spy ships and research vessels. A soft capture of the Maldives will give them control over a major SLOC and put them in position to observe India’s western fleet and Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, a British-owned, American-operated logistics base. All of these are critical foundations for creating a chokepoint for American and Allied forces coming from Europe. – J.V.

  1. NAVY SHORT 22K SAILORS AT SEA, RECRUITING SHORTFALLS CONTINUE: Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) Vice Admiral Richard Cheeseman announced that the Navy has 22,000 unfilled at-sea billets.
  • “There are opportunities for manning changes, including looking at what staffing levels are required for a ship in an extended maintenance period,” Admiral Cheeseman said.
  • Adm. Cheeseman expects the Navy to miss its recruiting goals for Fiscal Year 2024 and is focusing instead on “net contracts,” which include recruits in the delayed entry program. The delayed entry program has been depleted of recruits.
  • The Navy needs 175 people to join it each day to reach its FY24 goals but is currently getting only 140, according to the Admiral’s presentation.
  • “So please get out your phones. Take your selfies, take your pictures, share your stories this week. It’s really important,” Cheeseman said to help convert more potential recruits into sailors.

Why It Matters: The Navy is critically undermanned at sea, and the CNP is making several desperate attempts to mitigate that gap. Ship maintenance periods are also critical academic training and rest periods for at-sea personnel. Moving Sailors from ships in maintenance to operational ships will prevent Sailors from going to technical and operational F-schools meant to enhance their effectiveness underway. Additionally, missing the recruiting goals again will place even greater operational stress on the second-tour Sailors currently filling the gapped first-accession billets. This will hurt retention numbers, further driving the manning crisis. – 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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