The Daily SA for Wednesday, 28 July 2021 – Forward Observer

The Daily SA for Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness briefing for Wednesday, 28 July 2021. You can receive this daily intel brief by signing up at


  • Situational Awareness
  • South Africa’s Port of Durban disrupted
  • House scuttles Defense spending
  • CDC rolls grenade into governance
  • Biden signals war over cyberattacks
  • UPS buried in boxes
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SOUTH AFRICA: A widespread cyber attack in South Africa’s Port of Durban continues to upend logistics. The attack was discovered last week and forced the terminal to declare force majeure for the second time this month. Impacted companies are declaring their own for majeures, including manganese producers which support the automotive and technology industries. The Transnet cyberattack is being blamed on “insurrectionists” and coincides with a separate shutdown of critical rail systems in the country. (AC: The perpetrators may be locals but the broader cyber environment points to ransomware-as-a-service from a state-backed criminal organization. The South African government is using this theory to pursue suspects under counter-terror authorities. – D.M.)

HOUSE: The House Armed Services Committee continues their National Defense Authorization Act markup this week. The topline $740 billion budget from the Senate is being met with skepticism by House appropriators and reduced Defense spending to $705.9 billion. Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, Rep. McCollum (D-MN) said, ”The Senate can do what it chooses to do. So far I haven’t seen much action or anything ever come out of the Senate. I support the number that I marked up to.” No floor vote is currently scheduled. (AC: The bifurcation between House and Senate stands to place the US at a significant disadvantage in addressing China. This budgeting process may prove our Achilles heel as some lawmakers deny the reality of conflict in favor of procurement platitudes. -D.M.)

GOVERNANCE: The Centers for Disease control released their revised guidance on mask wearing for vaccinated individuals, schools and public spaces. The White House quickly reinstated mask mandates and several metropolitan areas likely will follow suit. States like Arizona and Utah, have legislatively banned mask provisions for schools, ensuring a fight between teachers’ unions, parents, lawmakers and health advisers. Texas’ Gov. Abbott is being actively lobbied by unions to reinstate mask mandates. (AC: The health issues are quickly becoming secondary to power struggles between government and adjacent organizations. The potential disruption from a union-backed walk-out would be temporary and economic in nature but demonstrates the lack of credibility and perceived authority by the elected government. – D.M.)

BIDEN: During a speech to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) staff, President Biden said, “It’s more than likely that we end up in a shooting war with a major power as a result of a cyberattack.” The President noted the DNI report he received Tuesday on Russia’s intent to interfere in the 2022 midterms without specifying any defensive actions underway. The administration has faced pressure from lawmakers, states, and industries to address persistent cyberattacks and state-backed ransomware groups’ apparent freedom to exploit US digital infrastructure. (AC: President Biden’s candid statement has domestic and international policy to back it up. Whether this is yet another rhetorical blunder or signals a shift in policy, the US remains substantially vulnerable to the economic and psychological impacts of cyber operations. – D.M.)

PACKAGES: UPS said their delivery infrastructure will be overwhelmed by 5 million packages per day this holiday season. Last-mile partnerships with USPS for many small and medium sized business deliveries declined year over year but is not going to provide much relief for on-time deliveries. UPS and FedEx are frantically procuring storage facilities and aircraft while implementing surcharges and slowing low-margin packages. Despite increases in revenue and decrease in overall package volume, the previous fall season saw a 7.2 million daily delivery capacity shortage. (AC: Given the domestic labor shortage in inventory, retail, and transportation, in-store purchasing of items from appliances and electronics to clothing may not be a viable option this holiday season. International shipping remains stressed as Asian Typhoons and South African cyberattacks delay deliveries, globally.- D.M.)


HURRICANE SEASON: Nothing significant to report.

In today’s Early Warning briefing, Dustin delves into the struggle for influence in Europe between the US and Chine in today’s In Focus and Max details recent and upcoming Far Left activity. Upgrade your Situational Awareness to Early Warning here:

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