Early Warning for 28 August 2018 – Forward Observer Shop

Early Warning for 28 August 2018

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 28 August 2018. (All times Eastern.)


White House

The President is scheduled to have lunch with the Secretary Mattis, and then meet with the president of FIFA (the soccer organization).


State Department

Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to attend meetings at Foggy Bottom.

Of note: From 26 August to 05 September, the Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs is on travel to Japan, Philippines, Singapore, and India, to discuss the Trump administration’s strategy to ensure “a free and open Indo-Pacific region”. That’s State Department-speak for preventing Chinese dominance in the region.


Defense Department

Defense Secretary Mattis is expected, along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, to make an announcement this morning. No further information.

SECDEF is scheduled to be in the Indo-Pacific in September and will then travel to Europe.


The Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was last reported as having returned to port in San Diego.

The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was last reported off the coast of Florida.

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported back as participating in an exercise off the coast of southern California.

The Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) was last reported in port at Norfolk.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was last reported in the Philippine Sea.

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

Conflict requiring a Carrier Strike Group does not appear imminent.



Significant House Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

Significant Senate Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

* Reporting will appear in the Strategic Intelligence Summary or National Intelligence Bulletin.



– Yesterday, President Trump announced a 16-year trade deal with Mexico. It didn’t include Canada, although they may join later. This is almost entirely the fault of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who unexpectedly criticized the president after an agreement had been reached during June’s G7 summit.  Trade advisor Peter Navarro and economic advisor Larry Kudlow both accused Trudeau of back-stabbing, and that’s partly the reason why the Trump administration hasn’t found a deal with Canada. The other reason is because the Canadians refuse give up unrealistic trade demands. To recap, President Trump struck a deal with the European Union on tariffs, struck a deal with Mexico, and is working on expanding trade deals in Asia to compete with China. Ultimately, this looks like part of a strategy of Chinese containment, whereby the Trump administration builds a coalition of fair trade partners to isolate China over its bad behavior. After last week’s failed talks with China, expect the trade war to continue unless the Chinese surprise everyone by striking a deal sooner than next year.



The National Hurricane Center reports nothing significant for the Atlantic Ocean, although Tropical Storm Miriam is expected to become a hurricane in the Pacific and possibly threaten Hawaii.

REMINDER: This hurricane watch section will remain in this report through the end of the season. I check the latest from the National Hurricane Center each morning and will provide details as necessary.


Drought conditions persist across much of the Southwest. This map is updated every Thursday.



What I’m Looking at this Morning

NORTHCOM: ‘Homeland no longer a sanctuary’

Despite strong economy, many Americans still struggling


Notable Quotable

“We’re in a changing security environment. We used to think about the sanctuary we had with oceans and friendly countries to our north and south, but that’s changing with adversaries that are actually able to reach out and touch us now.” U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Northern Command

Yesterday’s Reporting

Time allowing, I may start including the highlights of the previous day’s Strategic and National intelligence reporting.

National Guard to see more deployments, missions to South America?

During a speech at the 140th National Guard Association of the United States conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, this weekend, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the National Guard would play an important role in cultivating allies, particularly in South America. “This is not a one-time mission, and the Guard is uniquely suited to sustain allied efforts over many years thanks to the amount of corporate continuity you maintain in your ranks.” Mattis said this Guard mission will be instrumental in supporting the Department of Defense strategy of renewed “great power competition” by courting allies, both old and new. During his speech, Mattis made several comments regarding efforts by China to gain influence in South America, and how this strategy can be used to help counter those efforts.


NATO’s Latvia holds military exercise to quell ‘civilian unrest’

During a two-week NATO exercise in Latvia that began on August 20 and is scheduled to end on September 2, Latvian Armed Forces, National Guard, law enforcement and volunteers will join more than a dozen other NATO states’ military forces. According to media reports, the total number of troops participating will be 10,000, the largest NATO exercise in Latvia since it gained independence. In addition to conventional military operations, the exercise will have troops responding to counter “spontaneous unrest” in the general public. According to Lieutenant Colonel Gunars Grikmanis, Commander of the Military Training Department of the Armed Forces Joint Staff, “The main challenges in the training will be related to this cooperation with other state structures – with the police and the border guard. Cooperation with state and local government institutions and the civilian population will also be essential.” Analyst Comment: Latvia is a Baltic state fearing the potential for Russian hybrid activity, which includes information operations that could cause civil unrest. Last year I reported that U.S. Special Forces were conducting foreign internal defense missions in Europe to develop the guerrilla warfare capabilities of small states like Latvia and Estonia, which last year published its own civil defense/guerrilla warfare manual for its citizens, against a potential Russian hybrid invasion.

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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