Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness briefing for Wednesday, 18 August 2021. You can receive this daily intel brief via email by signing up at

  • Omaha’s new Counterterrorism Center
  • Chinese media targets Taiwan
  • More truckers on the road
  • Colorado River drought gets worse
  • Chinese hackers target Israel


You can watch today’s Daily SA briefing on YouTube (click the box above).

OMAHA: The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology and Education Center (NCITE) in Omaha, Nebraska is one of 10 centers used to “study urgent security concerns.” The center manages a $3.65 million budget for research across 18 universities including a Capitol Hill Riot defendant database, ISIS repatriation studies, and technology-enhanced counterterror methods. The director pledged the location in Omaha would prevent “the next Timothy McVeigh.” (Analyst Comment: Critics cite civil liberty concerns as the center is unlikely to fulfill its mandate without breaking the law. DHS’s orientation toward the Midwest is designed to be a signal to would-be domestic violent extremists that the Federal response is not isolated to the coasts. – D.M.)
TAIWAN: Chinese state-media are working overtime to damage U.S. credibility following recent news from Afghanistan. Pointedly drawing parallels between the Revolutionary War, Saigon, Kurdistan, and Kabul, the Chinese contend the U.S. doesn’t have the will to fight or defend “allies” and will seek convenience first. This is a renewed propaganda effort to degrade Taiwanese faith as well as Western cohesion, centered around U.S. leadership. (AC: The propaganda efforts of Chinese state-media are often amplified by self-loathing Westerners in major media and social media outlets. This is an easy talking point for China, for which the U.S. doesn’t have a cohesive or believable response. – D.M.)
TRUCKERS: Werner Enterprises is seeking to alleviate driver shortages across the country. The company filed an application with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to allow commercial learner’s permit (CPL) holders on the road faster. The change in status would allow more driver teams to be on the road, reducing the impact of driver shortages and logistics backlogs. The company believes inexperienced drivers will be up to the task as the demand for drivers and goods is not slowing down. (AC: Other driving companies received approval from FMCSA for similar permitting changes, giving hope to logistics analysts that relief may be in sight as holiday shipping is underway. – D.M.)
WATER: Due to extended drought conditions, Arizona’s water apportionment from the Colorado River is being cut by 18% for water year 2022. The Bureau of Reclamation also announced a 7% cut in Nevada’s apportionment. Lake Mead will operate in a shortage condition for the first time in its 85 year history. The Colorado River system is down to 40% capacity, risking power access for millions and 2.5 million acres of crops in Arizona alone. (AC: Mexico is facing a 5% reduction in concurrence with the 1944 Water Treaty with Mexico. Separate from domestic resource scarcity, extended global drought conditions could begin to have geopolitical impacts as shortages are projected to remain for a number of years. – D.M.)
CYBER: Following the U.S., NATO, and EU announcement of persistent Chinese cyber espionage efforts, Israel finds itself the victim of similar efforts. For the past two years, Sharepoint vulnerabilities were exploited across the Middle East and Central Asia. Cybersecurity firm Fireeye said, “analysis showed multiple, concurrent operations against Israeli government institutions, IT providers and telecommunications entities” and is likely ongoing. (AC: The Chinese units involved are not directly publicly linked but shared methodology and tradecraft indicators give a higher likelihood the efforts are coordinated. China appears to be engaging in these espionage efforts globally and without recourse or meaningful attribution. – D.M.)
HURRICANE SEASON: Tropical Depression Fred continues to deliver heavy rainfall across Appalachia and will dissipate over the next 48 hours according to the National Hurricane Center’s final alert for Fred. Tropical Storm Grace turned slightly south and is no longer projected to impact the Texas coast. Tropical Storm Henri remains in the Atlantic and is expected to dissipate within the next 72 hours.

In today’s Early Warning briefing, Dustin looks at the shaky long term future between China and Russia. Plus there’s information on over 50 coordinated protests nationwide in today’s Low Intensity Conflict SITREP. Upgrade your Situational Awareness to Early Warning here: