Global SITREP for Thursday, 25 January 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Thursday, 25 January 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 25 January 2024. 

  1. USN EXPERIMENT ANSWERS SHIPBUILDING CRISIS: The United States Naval Institute (USNI) disclosed yesterday that the containerized SM-6 surface-to-air test on the USV Ranger last year included a portable version of the Aegis Combat System.
  • The containerized SM-6 was also able to integrate with the Army’s AN/TPQ-53 phased array radar, a radar similar to the SM-6’s native SPY radar system.
  • USNI also revealed that the Navy is retrofitting several older destroyers with a smaller version of the new SPY-6 radar.
  • Jim Juster, the chief technology officer of Program Executive Officer Integrated Warfare Systems and the man overseeing the development of the “rapid capabilities” program, said that this will help rapidly field new technologies.

Why It Matters: Containerizing and generally making combat systems portable will allow the Navy to rapidly field the newest and most capable technologies and equip any ship with a flat deck with strike, area defense, and surveillance capabilities they would not normally have. This largely mitigates the ship production issue plaguing the navy. The only things standing between the Navy and a new era of U.S. Naval dominance are bureaucratic approval and spin-up times on new missile production. – J.V.

  1. HOUTHIS ATTACK U.S. SUPPLY LINE: PROPAGANDA FOR BOTH SIDES: Houthis launched three anti-ship missiles at two U.S.-flagged ships, M/V Detroit and M/V Chesapeake, that were carrying Defense Department cargo.
  • Navy escorts shot down two of the missiles, and another “splashed into the water,” according to US CENTCOM.
  • Ship masters report no personnel, cargo, or even the vessel were harmed.

Why It Matters: Houthis are following through on their threat to shoot U.S.-flagged vessels, which verifies the threat to shipping. However, the successful defense of the ships proves that the Navy can still provide an effective escort, which should help mitigate fears about traversing the Red Sea. Additionally, reports of a missile “splashing into the water” while being engaged suggest the Navy is finally using electronic warfare for point defense. The only named escort is the Gravely, which does not have electronic attack capabilities but would carry chaff and Nulka, both of which would be considerably cheaper than missiles and far easier to reload at sea. Defense Acquisition would have to spin up production on chaff. – J.V.

Japanese megabank MUFG wrote this week that “military conflict in the 21st century is quickly shifting to maritime theaters… geopolitical risk and de-globalization will pose significant challenges to the world’s most important geopolitical chokepoints in the decade ahead.” Unlike many other banks, MUFG is concerned about global trade disruption, as about 25% of the world’s trade flows through three Middle East chokepoints – the Suez Canal, Bab-el Mandeb Strait, and the Strait of Hormuz. – H.B. 

  1. CHINA-WEST COMPETITION IN OCEANIA ON THE BALLOT AGAIN: Tuvalu will elect its new Parliament tomorrow for all 16 members. Enele Sopoaga and Seve Paeniu are campaigning for Prime Minister on anti-China and anti-West platforms, respectively.
  • Tuvalu is one of 12 remaining nations that recognize Taiwan.
  • Paeniu has vowed to scrap a security treaty with Australia and “review” the relationship with Taiwan.

Why It Matters: China has been steadily converting Taiwan’s Pacific allies and bringing an anti-Western sentiment with them. Scrapping the Australian security deal strongly suggests that China will take its place as there was a need for a security deal in the first place. Tuvalu is likely to become one more picket in China’s Pacific Fence to keep Australia and the U.S. out of the Pacific in the event of a potential 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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