Early Warning for 18 January 2019 – Forward Observer Shop

Early Warning for 18 January 2019

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Friday, 18 January 2019.

ADMIN NOTE: Early Warning will not be published on Monday, January 21st.


Early Warning: Get ready for colder weather. In addition to expected blizzard conditions for parts of the eastern U.S., the latest 8-14 day outlook for temperature is warning of a polar vortex for the eastern half of the country through the end of this month. Here’s the map for 25-31 January 2019.


White House

The President is scheduled to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Shutdown: 28 days. Yesterday, President Trump cancelled Speaker Pelosi’s Congressional delegation to Belgium and Afghanistan while Democrats were sitting on the bus waiting to go to Andrews Air Force Base. Both Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) were reportedly furious. He also cancelled the U.S. delegation to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Both trips were cancelled due to the partial government shut down. But after Pelosi disinvited him from giving the State of the Union Address in the House chamber, President Trump showed that she’s not the only one capable of giving short shrift. As far as shut down talks go, according to one Hill reporter, Pelosi had not planned further negotiations until Congress reconvened later this month. Congress is scheduled to be out all of next week. The next move for Pelosi is to use House appropriations bills to stop Trump’s agenda priorities, a near certainty now. The rest of 2019 is likely to become even uglier.

On a related note: The Department of Defense is fully funded through September, although some military contractor companies are also paying employees who provide support outside the Defense Department. Many of those contracts aren’t being paid. That means the viability of these contractor companies is being put at risk. Adversaries know this, and financial need is a key motivator for U.S. officials to conduct espionage on behalf of the foreign governments that pay them. At this point, the shutdown represents a dire and growing counterintelligence risk.

Impeachment: It’s Buzzfeed, so take this with a grain of salt, however, they’re reporting that according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation (presumably the Mueller investigation), President Trump directed his former attorney to lie to Congress about a real estate deal in Moscow. This could be a bit of circular reporting: Michael Cohen was the first to describe this series of events, so the two law enforcement officials could be acknowledging the Cohen accusation instead of confirming their own new evidence. But, still, this development is already fueling House talk of impeachment for obstruction of justice. Here’s the thing: for Democrats at this point, the accusations piling up give the perception of wrong-doing and they may not even require proof before they move to impeach. I’ve long thought that Democrats would bring an impeachment vote, and the case for impeachment, as many House Democrats see it, is bulletproof. Still, Pelosi — so far — has maintained that any impeachment proceeding would be bi-partisan.

Border Wall: The Justice Department recently published a job posting for two attorneys based in McAllen and Brownsville, Texas. The two attorneys will be providing support to “border wall civil litigation” for the DOJ in South Texas — a signal that President Trump might pursue the national emergency option to seize property to build the wall. [source]


State Department

Secretary Pompeo is expected to meet with a North Korean envoy about denuclearization.


Defense Department

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has no publicly scheduled events.


These are the last publicly reported locations of these ships. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group does not appear imminent.

The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was last reported on a three month deployment to the Western Pacific.

The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as in the Persian Gulf.

The Harry Truman (CVN-75) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported as having returned to home port in Yokosuka, Japan.

The George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) was last reported as having returned to Norfolk.


Bold indicates significant changes to last reported location or other amplifying information.



Significant House Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

Significant Senate Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

* Only events pertinent to national security are listed. Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports



For what it’s worth, three GDP-forecasting models are consistent in their results that 2018’s Q4 annualized growth rate will come in at the range of 2.4 percent (Oxford Economics), 2.48 percent (New York Federal Reserve), 2.6 percent (Bloomberg Consensus), and 2.7 percent (Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow). Bloomberg Consensus has downgraded its forecast for 2019 Q1 to 2.16 percent, which is expected and is likely to go lower. The general feeling among financial analysts is that 2019 will see an economic slowdown, but remain well short of a recession.


What I’m Looking at this Morning

U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet (Atlantic) is becoming operational

SEALs turning focus to fighting big wars

Army to ramp up rotations to combat training centers


Notable Quotable

“America is in this position today because Republicans believe that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a greater threat to America than Vladimir Putin.” – Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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