Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

In Latin America, Lines Between Crime and War Begin to Blur

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Members of Mexico's military salute Members of Mexico's military salute during an official reception for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Canada's Defense Minister Rob Nicholson in Mexico City, April 24, 2014. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

While attention was focused last week on President Obama’s trip to Asia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was on a separate mission to boost military-to-military relations in another important part of the world: Latin America. Hagel’s trip to Mexico and Guatemala, two countries plagued by spiraling drug violence, highlights the increasingly blurred line between military activities and law enforcement.

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Weekend Reader: Army Cuts, Afghan Interpreters, and a Little H.G. Wells

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 25, 2014
army soldier night vision A U.S. Army soldier from 3/1 AD Task Force Bulldog uses his night vision equipment before an early morning joint patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers in a village in Kherwar district in Logar province, eastern Afghanistan, May 22, 2012. (Danish Siddiqui/Courtesy Reuters)

A difficult time for Army’s mid-career officers and senior NCOs… the Army announces that it will identify at least 2,000 current captains and majors for early retirement. Roughly 19,000 will be screened in total. This follows programs targeted at cutting senior NCOs, whose pace accelerated rapidly  this year. Nearly all those being screened have seen multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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What Hawks and Doves Both Miss on the Military Rebalance to Asia

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 25, 2014
aircraft carrier philippines A Philippine Navy patrol boat drives past the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier George Washington (L) docked after its arrival at a Manila bay October 24, 2012. (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s long awaited trip to Asia has highlighted the ongoing debate about the military part of the “rebalance.”   Criticism comes from all sides.  Those who claim the Obama administration has not matched its verbal commitment to the region with real action or military investment are countered by others who worry that the policy is overly militaristic and provocative.  Depending on the perspective, China is either going unchecked or being provoked, both of which would lead to instability if not corrected.

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Interview with CTV News: More on Putin’s ‘Clever’ Strategy

by Janine Davidson Monday, April 21, 2014
armored pro-russian guards apcs An armed man, wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard with armoured personnel carriers seen in the background, in Slaviansk, April 16, 2014. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters)

I was recently interviewed by CTV News’ Kevin Newman Live to discuss the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and Putin’s pioneering form of warfare. My assessment should be familiar to readers of this blog: “Even though there are these suspiciously well-trained militants in Ukraine, Putin can still somehow claim plausible deniability.”

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Weekend Reader: Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 18, 2014
A fighter jet flies above as Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armoured personnel carrier A fighter jet flies above as Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armoured personnel carrier in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, April 16, 2014. (Marko Djurica/Courtesy Reuters)

Introducing a new feature in which we highlight the best, the strangest, and anything else that might have fallen through the cracks. This week? It’s all about Ukraine.

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Putin’s Way of War and NATO’s Article Five

by Janine Davidson Wednesday, April 16, 2014
pro russia ukraine An armed man, who is wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard with armoured personnel carriers in the background in Slaviansk April 16, 2014. Armoured personal carriers driven into the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk had been under the control of Ukrainian armed forces earlier on Wednesday. (Gleb Glaranich/Courtesy Reuters)

The latest events in Ukraine raise more questions about the future of war and the future of NATO.  Previously, I wrote about how Vladimir Putin’s tactics reflect an uncomfortable trend around the world in which aggressors are actively exploiting the norms and laws we have traditionally held regarding crime and war.  Even the media have trouble labeling the suspiciously well-disciplined and well-armed “militants,” “rebels,” or “activists” who are seizing buildings in a coordinated fashion across Ukraine.

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Slash Manpower, Impair Readiness? For the Air Force, There’s a Better Way

by Janine Davidson Thursday, April 10, 2014
Mechanic Sgt. Stephen Fink watches a F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter Mechanic Sgt. Stephen Fink watches a F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter from the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in this September 18, 2012 photo. (Master Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock, USAF/Courtesy Reuters)

I have a new article out in The Hill co-authored with my colleague,  Dr.  Meg Harrell, a manpower expert at RAND and a fellow member of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF). We argue that the Air Force’s proposed cuts of 25,000 airmen is the wrong approach: it voids a huge training investment and accepts too much strategic risk by hampering the Air Force’s ‘surge’ capabilities. We propose a less risky strategy that will shift more airmen to the Air Force Reserve and Air Guard. This carries several important benefits: Read more »

In Afghanistan, Path to Lasting Success Will Also Be the Hardest

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Monday, April 7, 2014
An Afghan woman waits to receive her voter card at a voter registration center in Kabul, March 30, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) An Afghan woman waits to receive her voter card at a voter registration center in Kabul, March 30, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

Afghanistan’s April 5 elections were well attended, successful, and – most importantly – relatively safe. According to preliminary reports, the Taliban did not launch a single major attack from the time polls opened to the time they closed. The most striking concern was not a failure in security (there were 140 attacks this year, compared to 500 in 2009), but rather a shortage of ballots. While often indicative of vote tampering, this also revealed the zeal with which Afghans went to the polls.

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Three Nagging Myths About the U.S. “Pivot” to Asia

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 4, 2014
Chuck Hagel ASEAN U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks during a meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Honolulu, April 3, 2014 (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters).

Since President Obama announced his intention to “rebalance” foreign policy attention toward the Asia-Pacific region, there has been much debate – and much misunderstanding – about the purpose and function of this shift.  As elements of the rebalance begin to fall into place, this conversation will only grow louder.

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