Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

Building a Survivable, Exquisite, Expensive Unmanned Aircraft Misses the Point

by Robert A. Newson Tuesday, March 31, 2015
An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) after launching from the ship in the Atlantic Ocean in this May 14, 2013 handout photograph released on May 16, 2013 by the U.S. Navy. (Erik Hildebrandt/U.S. Navy/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert Newson

The Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft should be at the heart of a comprehensive debate about the future of unmanned technology and related concept of operations. Unfortunately, the current debate is narrowly focused on how advanced, large, and expensive to make the UCLASS.

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The Declassified Intelligence Report Used to Justify the Iraq War; A Timeline of the Ukraine Crisis

by Janine Davidson Friday, March 27, 2015
U.S. President George W. Bush passes crew members as he walks the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech to the nation as the carrier steamed toward San Diego, California, May 1, 2003. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Declassified: the 93-page document that justified the invasion of Iraq. The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate raises further questions about the veracity of data used to show that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had restarted his nuclear weapons program. Previously classified dissents from the Department of Energy and Department of State are now public. The case, long criticized for being weak, appears to have been weakened further.

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Is the Partner the United States Needs to Get the Job Done

by Emerson Brooking and Janine Davidson Thursday, March 26, 2015
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, March 26, 2015. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

If there is one thing we have learned from the painful experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is that success in such missions requires political as much as military solutions. This is why Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore worked together just before leaving office to jointly publish their interagency 2009 U.S. Government Counterinsurgency Guide. In contrast to the U.S. Army’s Counterinsurgency: FM 3-24 (arguably the most famous doctrine ever released, published by General David Petraeus in 2006), this little handbook was aimed squarely at policymakers.

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Korea: Not a Shrimp Anymore

by Clint Hinote Thursday, March 26, 2015
South Korean honor guards perform before a joint commissioning ceremony for 6,478 new officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines at the military headquarters in Gyeryong March 12, 2015. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters)

South Korea faces a great challenge, and it has a great opportunity. Its handling of a relatively obscure issue will provide great insight into its future in a vital and volatile area.

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Afghanistan’s Riddle: For Lasting Stability, U.S. Presence Is One Important Step Among Many

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Wednesday, March 25, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani arrive for a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington March 24, 2015. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

By James West

Yesterday’s announcement of a new timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal will see the full 9,800 U.S. contingent remain in Afghanistan through at least the end of 2015. This marks an important, positive step in building Afghan stability as it acknowledges that while the combat mission may have ended, much work remains to be done. Equally important is the pledge to request Congress’ continued funding of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), maintaining a goal of 352,000 soldiers and policemen through 2017 and costing roughly $4 billion dollars. Continuing U.S. support will be required as Afghanistan seeks to develop and diversify its infrastructure and economy, secure international aid, and enhance regional integration necessary to prevent disintegration along ethnic lines and an amplified civil war. All of these steps are necessary to keep Afghanistan safe, free, and secure.

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Afghanistan and Big Data; Russian Nukes in Crimea; New Evidence of Reprisal Attacks by Iraq’s Shiite Militias

by Janine Davidson Friday, March 20, 2015
Afghan policemen display their skills at a police training centre in Nangarhar Province March 9, 2015. (Parwiz/Courtesy Reuters)

In Afghanistan, a close correlation between Taliban violence and villages’ positive attitudes toward the United States. This is the conclusion of a big-data research project run by Jason Lyall, a political scientist at Yale University. Lyall’s statistical models could help anticipate and prevent Taliban violence in the future.

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Understanding the United States’ New Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy

by Pat DeQuattro Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The crew of the Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter Margaret Norvell interdicts a go-fast with two drug smugglers and eighteen bales of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea, January 31, 2015. (Ricardo Castrodad/Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)

The illegal trade in drugs, people and weapons is a $750 billion global criminal enterprise that undermines the governance and rule of law of those countries impacted by the cultivation, transportation and distribution of the illicit products and trafficking. Many countries in the illicit drug transit corridors are gripped by staggering unemployment, poverty and widespread violence at the hands of traffickers who are attempting to supply our nation’s demand for cocaine. Documented cocaine flow from South America into the Central and Eastern Caribbean region has doubled over the past four years from forty-two metric tons in 2010 to ninety-five metric tons in 2013, and now represents approximately 15 percent of total documented cocaine flow in the Western Hemisphere.

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Forward, Engaged, Ready: Four Lessons from the United States’ New Maritime Strategy

by Stephen E. Liszewski Friday, March 13, 2015
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8)., January 28, 2015. (Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Rodney Davidson/U.S. Navy Flickr)

This week marks the release of “A Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century: Forward, Engaged, Ready” by the combined sea services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard). This is a revised capstone strategic document that describes how the United States will design, organize, and employ naval forces. As Congress continues to deliberate on the President’s FY 16 budget submission, it is worth considering why sea power is important for the United States right now. Here are four of the most significant reasons why sea power is important to the United States:

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Growing Fears of Sectarian Retaliation in Tikrit; Tragedy off the Florida Panhandle

by Janine Davidson Friday, March 13, 2015
Eleven flags line the road across from the staging area where crews search waters around the Navarre Bridge following the crash of a military helicopter, east of Pensacola, Florida March 11, 2015. (Michael Spooneybarger/Courtesy Reuters)

Fears of sectarian retaliation amid the battle to retake Tikrit. The ethnic targeting of Sunni residents by Shiite militias had been a persistent cause for concern during operations to liberate Tikrit. The Iraqi force that regained control of Tikrit was composed of 20,000 Shiite fighters and only 1,000 Sunni. However, a member of one of the main Shiite militias argued that the battle of Tikrit, “has proven to the world that the Sunnis and Shia are united.” In addition to worry over the conduct of Shiite militias, U.S. officials are also investigating potential atrocities committed by U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces.

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In Planning for the Future, U.S. Army Must Look to the Fight Against Boko Haram

by Michael W. Rauhut Wednesday, March 11, 2015
A Chadian soldier poses for a picture at the front line during battle against insurgent group Boko Haram in Gambaru, February 26, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters)

The collective security response to Boko Haram’s emergence as a regional existential threat reveals a growing appreciation and desire for effective countermeasures to the terrorist group, now potentially allied with ISIS.  Eric Schmitt’s recent New York Times article, “African Training Exercise Turns Urgent as Threats Grow” reflects proven foreign internal defense approaches, but absent a broader, enduring landpower network—a network of established relationships with partnered land forces able to shape security environments—any progress may prove temporary.

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