Global SITREP for Wednesday, 17 May 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 17 May 2023

THE WHAT: The Global SITREP is a free daily email briefing about geopolitics and defense from Forward Observer. 

THE WHY: We want to share five important global developments shaping Cold War 2.0.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re sending out this email Monday through Friday on a trial basis through the end of the month, so be sure to let us know if you want it continued. Thank you! – M.S.

  1. FIRST UP: Biden cancels second leg of Asia Pacific trip
  • President Joe Biden was forced to cancel the second leg of his Asia Pacific trip, which would have included a Quad defense meeting. The Quad includes the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India.
  • Biden’s in Japan for a G7 meeting, but will cancel visits to Australia and Papua New Guinea, which recently announced a new mutual defense pact.

Why It Matters: Biden is returning early to deal with debt ceiling negotiations – a sign that talks are not going well. Chinese media outlets are characterizing the cancellation as a lack of U.S. commitment to the Asia Pacific region.

  1. POLICY DISRUPTION: China containment policy threatened by budget woes
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo all warned Congress that the debt ceiling hangup and lack of budget progress is helping China.
  • Austin warned that a continuing resolution would leave new defense programs, such as munitions production, unfunded. “It will delay our ability to get the critical munitions that we need for ourselves and also to support our allies and partners,” Austin said.
  • “Xi Jinping has assessed the United States as a flawed and failing political and economic system. Nothing we could do would reinforce that impression more than defaulting on our national debt or failing to appropriate,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-CT) added.

Why It Matters: A technical default would disrupt the U.S. policy of containing China and undermine U.S. stability.

  1. RUNNING ON EMPTY: White House uncertain on new Ukraine aid
  • The $48 billion military aid package to Ukraine has $6 billion left, and the White House and lawmakers are concerned a new package could run into the debt-ceiling debate. 
  • Lawmakers do not know when the Ukraine money will run out, but a Congressional aide said funds will run dry in July.

Why It Matters: Getting more funding for Ukraine through Congress could run headfirst into Republican skeptics who used a four-vote margin to hold up the vote for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in January.

  1. MORE, MORE, MORE: UK approves more weapons to Ukraine
  • The United Kingdom agreed to send additional missiles and attack drones to Ukraine, but stopped short of approving jet fighters requested by Ukrainian President Voldodymyr Zelensky.
  • The UK will provide additional Storm Shadow missiles, which were used in an attack against Russian-held Luhansk over the weekend.

Why It Matters: New missile and drone shipments enable Ukraine to continue strikes into Russian territory.

  1. PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY: Biden uses PDA to approve new Taiwan arms package
  • The Biden administration is using the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to supply Taiwan with $500 million in new military aid.
  • The PDA authorizes the transfer of munitions and equipment from active duty military stocks.

Why It Matters: This is the second large military aid package that the Biden administration has promised to fill using PDA from active U.S. military stocks. Even under war-time rates of production, some of these munitions will take 5-7 years to replace.

And that does it for today’s edition. If you want us to keep going, let us know in the comments or via email. And sign up below to receive this report in your inbox each day, Monday through Friday.

Mike Shelby is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. He's now the CEO of Forward Observer.


  1. Great SITREP an analysis. Lookingforward to tomorrow. Also would love more information on the low level surveillance communication intercept course!

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