Global SITREP for Tuesday, 27 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 27 February 2024.

  1. DID HOUTHIS REALLY CUT RED SEA UNDERSEA COMMS CABLES?: Israeli newspapers are claiming Yemen’s Houthi government cut underwater communications cables in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea.
  • Yemen has no official diving units, submarines, or undersea warfare capabilities except for one captured Remus 600 unmanned underwater vehicle and an undefined “submarine weapon” they intend to use to attack ships.
  • There was a brief media campaign over the past three weeks about the threat to underwater cables in the Bab el-Mandeb simultaneously toting the threat to them and the inability of the Houthis to reach them. 

Why It Matters: The Houthis have made no official threat against the undersea cables, are unlikely to possess the ability to attack them, and would be severely affected by their destruction. It’s feasible that the cables were damaged by accident or were otherwise cut by another state actor with a more mature underwater warfare program. – J.V.

  1. PHILIPPINES ARMY STANDING UP COMMUNITY DEFENSE RESERVES: The Philippines Army Spokesman, Colonel Louie Dema-ala, announced that the Philippines Army is standing up community defense groups and centers to bolster the reserve force and to enhance procurement and reserve organization.
  • The Philippine Senate also has a bill in progress that would make the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) curriculum mandatory for all higher education institutions and technical vocational institutions.

Why It Matters: Likely taking a lesson learned from Ukraine’s unpreparedness, the Philippines appears to be preparing for a total war, including dedicated regional reserves and a readymade officer corps. This effort is bolstering an existing one-million-man reserve pool, just shy of 1% of the Philippine population. – J.V.

  1. MACRON: WESTERN TROOPS IN UKRAINE NOT RULED OUT: French President Emmanuel Macron told a group of European leaders at a conference yesterday that they had to do everything they could to prevent Russia from winning in Ukraine, including potentially sending troops into Ukraine.
  • The remarks came after a debate on the matter. Macron and Polish President Andrzej Duda both confirmed that there was no consensus on whether Europeans would send troops to Ukraine.

Why It Matters: Sending troops to Ukraine would start a war between Russia and  NATO in earnest and likely result in an extraordinary amount of NATO deaths as those countries are still getting a wartime footing for equipment production and personnel training. These Head of State statements follow much stronger calls from the Permanent Representatives to NATO and the Foreign Ministers. As such, the indecision Macron and Duda are referencing appears to be for the whole of the EU and NATO, even though they have already likely decided to send troops. – J.V.

  1. NORTH KOREA ARMS SHIPMENTS TO RUSSIA: Western and South Korean intelligence estimate that North Korea has sent between 1.5 million and 3 million artillery shells to Russia during the war in Ukraine.
  • Russia is paying North Korea in food, raw materials, and weapons parts. 

Why It Matters: Artillery has been a key mission area in the Russia-Ukraine war and will likely be key to upcoming peer-to-peer conflicts. This relationship appears to be mutually beneficial by providing Russia with millions of artillery shells it didn’t have to make and North Korea with food and modern weapons. However, if these shells are pre-produced and North Korea lacks the ability to mass-produce them, this could be an indicator that North Korea does not intend to go to war in the near term. – 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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