Global SITREP for Wednesday, 20 December 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Wednesday, 20 December 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 20 December 2023

  1. OP PROSPERITY GUARDIAN ANNOUNCED, HOUTHIS DOUBLE DOWN: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin officially announced Operation Prosperity Guardian, the international operation to secure shipping lanes in the Red Sea. In response, Houthi leadership promised that they would not stop and, “Whoever seeks to expand the conflict must bear the consequences of those actions.”
  • Combined Task Force 153 (CTF 153) already oversees maritime security in the Red Sea and will take command of the operation.
  • The United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy, Spain, Bahrain, the Seychelles, the Netherlands, and Norway are participants, according to Austin’s press release.
  • The HMS Diamond, FS Languedoc, and ITS Viriginio Fasan from the U.K., France, and Italy, respectively, are already on station.

Why It Matters: The international coalition has several well-equipped navies that could allow the U.S. to give the reins to another nation. The CTF 153 was previously headed by Egypt, part of a larger coalition that rotates headship. This can potentially free up U.S. Navy assets for other missions and a longer rest and refit cycle. India, which maintains anti-piracy task forces in the region, is noticeably absent. – J.V.

  1. UKRAINE TO RAMP UP DRONE PRODUCTION: The Ukrainian Strategic  Industries Ministry announced its plan to produce a million first-person-viewer (FPV) drones and over 11,000 medium- and long-range attack drones next year.
  • A thousand of those attack drones are expected to have a range of over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), enabling attacks deep into Russian territory.

Why It Matters: These FPV drones will increase Ukraine’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, with one million sensors to scout out and find Russian fighting positions. While these drones represent a formidable weapon, one thing they don’t do is clear and hold territory – a task that remains both a high priority and a challenge for the Ukrainian military. These drones will also ensure that advances deeper into Ukraine remain a hyper-lethal mission for Russian soldiers. – M.S.

  1. UK DEFENSE OFFICIALS MEET WITH SINGAPORE COUNTERPARTS: Officials from the United Kingdom Strategic Command’s Joint Warfare division met with defense officials from Singapore this week to improve defense cooperation between the two countries.
  • A readout of the meeting heralds improved cooperation among the Five Powers Defense Arrangements (FPDA) between the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.

Why It Matters: The U.S. is not alone in defense cooperation agreements across the Indo-Pacific. In addition to the UK, Japanese defense officials met with Malaysian counterparts last week to improve their military cooperation, as well. These meetings represent advances in coalition-building ahead of diplomatic and possibly military action against China in the coming years. – M.S.

  1. CROATIA: WE MUST PRODUCE OUR OWN WEAPONS: Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said his country must be able to produce more military weapons and munitions, given the situation in Ukraine.
  • “Croatia must start producing some of its own weapons. When I say part, I don’t mean airplanes, helicopters, and complex systems, but ammunition, from personal caliber to artillery shells. This war in Ukraine, but also the years before this war, show that it is vital,” Milanovic said.

Why It Matters: Croatian arms are supplied by a coterie of NATO countries, and Croatia is realizing that they’re not a high priority for munitions deliveries, given NATO’s current commitments and shortages. The U.S. is already struggling to replace arms shipments to Ukraine. The reality is that a strained Western defense industrial base in support of Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan is likely to cause more countries to develop their own munitions production facilities rather than face shortages in a time of war. – M.S.

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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