Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness briefing for Thursday, 19 August 2021. You can receive this daily intel brief via email by signing up at

  • PETA defeats the Army
  • SEALs prepare for high-end conflict
  • Adversaries likely have terror watchlist information
  • Biden targets nursing homes
  • Infrastructure bill alters voting laws


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THAILAND: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) won a year-long campaign to stop U.S. and Thai armed forces from drinking cobra blood during the multinational Cobra Gold military exercise. The 40-year tradition, shared by troops from more than 24 nations, is used to build camaraderie and develop skills used to survive in the jungle. Defense officials did not respond to questions about the reasoning, but PETA’s main argument was preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases among troops. (Analyst Comment: Soldiers participated in eating numerous animals and insects from the jungle, with the cobra blood ceremony being part of a previously-celebrated Defense photo opportunity. PETA held protests outside Defense Secretary Austin’s Virginia home and heavily lobbied media outlets for support. – D.M.)
SEALS: Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crews are increasing participation with conventional Navy forces. Recent exercises with the Eisenhower Strike Group used Naval Special Warfare (NSW) for underwater sabotage and reconnaissance missions. Admiral Hugh Howard, NSW commander, said SEAL Delivery Vehicles and Special Boat Teams are training to disrupt telecommunications infrastructure in coastal megacities, improving conventional long-range precision fires effectiveness. (AC: The SEALs transition from counterterrorism operations to direct conventional support is consistent with a force-wide transition to integrate special operations capabilities in full-spectrum dominance strategies. This is preparation for a high end conflict with China. – D.M.)
WATCHLIST: Around 1.9 million terrorist watchlist records were released online, including no-fly lists, passport details and other personal information. Based on the exposed records, it appears to come from the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which consolidates and manages counterterrorism information. The Department of Homeland Security took three weeks to remove the information from what appeared to be a Bahraini IP address. (AC: Gray Zone warfare often includes proxies such as terrorist groups and organized crime carrying out war-time activity below the threshold of conventional war. This information could greatly enable a foreign adversary to recruit, advise, and equip watchlist members to carry out attacks against the United States, especially considering these individuals likely already have some motivation. – M.S.)
NURSING HOMES: President Biden announced during a speech on Wednesday that the government will withhold funding from nursing homes without vaccine mandates.“These steps are all about keeping people safe and out of harm’s way,” Biden said. The National Association of Health Care Assistants predicts this will alienate around 20-30% of the workforce. Proponents are pushing for an industry-wide mandate for all healthcare workers. (AC: The government is increasingly reliant on financial coercion through mandates. The bill to require vaccines on planes has a co-sponsor and may be included in September omnibus spending. – D.M.)
RECONCILIATION: The House returns to work Monday to consider passage of infrastructure spending and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Democrats are circulating briefing notes which explain why federal subsidies for many facets of life are necessary, in their view. The voting rights bill will require same-day or automatic voter registration, prevent voter-roll audits without federal approval, and effectively ban voting identification. (AC: The measures are likely to become law, substantially changing the relationship between states and D.C. without the support of half the legislature. Democrats understand that passage of the two bills will reshape America and its elections for many years, despite the immediate political fallout. – D.M.)
HURRICANE SEASON: The remnants of Tropical Depression Fred continue bringing heavy rains to the eastern U.S. with localized flooding impacting North Carolina. Hurricane Grace is projected to miss the U.S. mainland. Tropical Storm Henri will sweep north-northwest and may bring “life-threatening surf and rip currents” for coastal communities according to the National Hurricane Center.

In today’s Early Warning briefing, Mike looks at the upcoming window for a financial bubble burst, plus the latest inflation outlook. Upgrade your Situational Awareness to Early Warning here: