Early Warning for 21 December 2018 – Forward Observer Shop

Early Warning for 21 December 2018

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Friday, 21 December 2018.

ADMIN NOTE: Early Warning will not be published the week of 24 December 2018. I’ll be back to producing this daily report on 02 January.


White House

The President participates in two signing ceremonies today: “First Step Act” and “Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act”. (AC: The latter authorizes a new permanent WMD office at DHS.)

Shutdown: Last night, the House passed a budget bill that includes $5 billion for a border wall, despite reporting that there weren’t enough votes. The bill awaits the Senate, where — again — it’s being reported that there aren’t enough votes. A partial government shutdown will go into effect at midnight tonight if a deal isn’t reached. President Trump warned this morning via Twitter that: “If the Dems [in the Senate] vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!” President Trump is meeting with Senate leaders this morning to encourage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to change the rules to allow legislation to pass with a majority vote, requiring only 51 votes instead of 60. That’s how President Trump gets his border wall. The new Congressional session begins on 03 January, and House Democrats have promised to re-open government once they take over.

Also: A new Trump administration policy changes how asylum requests work. The administration will begin sending asylum seekers back to Mexico to await a decision on asylum, instead of allowing them to remain in the United States.


State Department

Secretary Pompeo: Nothing significant to report. (AC: The State Department’s Daily Public Schedule is three lines long this morning. It’s already shut down for the holidays, it appears.)


Defense Department

Defense Secretary Mattis tendered his resignation yesterday, effective the end of February 2019. Many see this as a significant loss for the Trump administration. While much is being made about disagreements on Syria and Afghanistan between Secretary Mattis and President Trump, it should be pointed out that under Obama, the average tenure of a defense secretary was around 700 days. By late February 2019, Mattis will have been SECDEF for 698 days. Par for the course.


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 as having returned to San Diego.

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

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as conducting joint operations in the Arabian Sea.

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.


Of note: According to their last reported locations, all aircraft carriers but one are back in home port, presumably for Christmas.

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



Blue Chip consensus and the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow both forecast Q4 growth to come in between 2.5 and 3.0 percent. Heading into 2019, Deutsche Bank published their global growth outlook. For what it’s worth, those analysts report that global economic growth will continue to slow next year. They forecast that 2019 economic growth for the U.S. will be 2.7 percent on the year. In other words, they aren’t forecasting a recession.

That said: Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recently wrote: “The odds of a U.S. recession beginning by the end of 2020 now exceed 50 percent.” He also criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates on Wednesday.


What I’m Looking at this Morning

Blackwater takes out full-page ad in RECOIL: “We are coming.”

Mattis departure takes leash off “America First” doctrine

Duckworth: We cant’ allow our country to be turned into a warzone


Notable Quotable

“No country poses a broader, more severe long-term threat to our nation’s economy and cyber infrastructure than China.” – FBI Director Christopher Wray

Mike Shelby 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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