Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

Russia Masses for a New Offensive in Eastern Ukraine; Number of Displaced Iraqis Now Exceeds Peak of Iraq War

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 29, 2015
Military vehicles drive along a road at the Russian southern town of Matveev Kurgan, near the Russian-Ukrainian border in Rostov region, Russia, May 24, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The “clearest evidence to date” that Russia is overseeing a concerted military buildup, roughly thirty miles from the Ukrainian border. The makeshift base, located at the Kuzminsky firing range, now has three times the equipment it did in March. These are multiple rocket launchers, tanks, and self-propelled howitzers—all weapons used by eastern Ukrainian separatists—stripped of Russian markings. 

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Five Takeaways from China’s Bold, New Military Strategy

by Lauren Dickey and Stephen E. Liszewski Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after the first annual full session of the National People's Congress, the country's parliament, in Beijing March 5, 2015. (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey and Stephen Liszewski

On Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense issued its first policy document in two years, a white paper titled, “Chinese Military Strategy.” The document, released amid ongoing Chinese island reclamation and increasingly hostile warnings to U.S. Navy aviation assets operating in the South China Sea, outlines how the Chinese armed forces are expected to support Beijing’s geopolitical objectives.

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On Memorial Day, Those Sacrifices Less Remembered

by Janine Davidson Monday, May 25, 2015
A member of the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) takes part in a "Flags-In" ceremony, ahead of Memorial Day, at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington May 21, 2015. In advance of Memorial Day, soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at the foot of more than 228,000 graves during the annual "Flags-In" ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery." (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

Twenty-three-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Sara A. Medina went to Nepal to help people. She died in a helicopter crash on May 12, alongside five other Marines. Thirty-year-old U.S. Air Force Captain William DuBois was killed on November 30 when his F-16 went down shortly after takeoff, in the midst of combat operations against the self-declared Islamic State. U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene and Specialist John Dawson were killed respectively on August 5 and April 8 while providing assistance to Afghan forces. One man was fifty-five. The other was twenty-two. These are the men and women, along with countless others from previous generations, for whom Memorial Day exists.

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The Islamic State Advances on Both Fronts; A “Real War” in Ukraine; Tragedy in Hawaii

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 22, 2015
Tourists walk near columns in the historical city of Palmyra, May 13, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken May 13, 2010. (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters)

The self-declared Islamic State increased its presence in both Iraq and Syria this week. The Institute for the Study of War provides several updated maps of Islamic State-held territory. The militants have seized more than half of Syria’s land, this now includes the ancient city of Palmyra. In Iraq, the ISIS offensive on Ramadi, or rather the retreat of Iraqi forces according to General Dempsey, has created a shift in U.S. strategy to combat the Islamic State in Iraq.

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The Battle for Afghanistan Will Be Decided by Development

by Sam Ehrlich Thursday, May 21, 2015
An Afghan girl works on a wheat field in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan May 14, 2015. (Parwiz/Courtesy Reuters)

By Sam Ehrlich

Afghan development is more critical than ever, but as U.S. eyes turn elsewhere, there is less interest in sustaining good investment, much less maintaining adequate resources for this purpose. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction(SIGAR) John Sopko’s remarks at Weill Cornell Medical College earlier this month were a stark reminder of just how necessary sustained aid funding will be, as development objectives are far from complete. The goal is not a “perfect” solution—Afghanistan will not become an advanced democracy overnight—but we must put the nation on a sustainable path.

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How to Defuse the Looming Asia-Pacific Arms Race

by Sean O'Connor Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Soldiers march during the handing-over ceremony of the Izumo warship at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo March 25, 2015. Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force on Wednesday took delivery of the biggest Japanese warship since World War Two, the Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers that battled the United States in the Pacific. (Thomas Peter/Courtesy Reuters)

By Sean O’Connor

Last month, Thailand’s navy requested funding for a submarine program which, when finalized, will make it the region’s eighth submarine-equipped nation—joining Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, and Australia. The Philippines, Thailand, and Bangladesh, meanwhile, have all expressed interest in acquiring submarine fleets. As tensions in the South China Sea continue to escalate, this arms race poses a significant threat to the security of the region.

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Deserters Offer New Proof of Russia’s Worst-Kept Secret; Air Strikes Take Their Toll on Islamic State Leadership

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 15, 2015
Opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks to the media during a presentation of the report about Russian military presence in Ukraine that murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was working on shortly before his death, in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2015. Moscow spent more than 53 billion roubles ($1.04 billion) supplying a separatist rebellion in east Ukraine and at least 220 Russian soldiers have been killed there, a report by Russian opposition activists said on Tuesday. (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy Reuters)

Russia is experiencing limited troop desertion. Several Russian soldiers, taking issue with the war in Ukraine, are quitting the fight. Some of these men have released their accounts of the crisis—confirming that the Kremlin did indeed intend for them to cross the border. A report compiled by the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has been released; its research indicates that more than 200 Russian soldiers have been killed in the Ukrainian conflict.

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A Heavy Lift: Reforming the U.S. Military’s “Calcified” Personnel System

by Amy Schafer and Jesse Sloman Friday, May 15, 2015
Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, work as a six member team to lift a heavy log over their heads 20 times while competing in the Ivy Heptathlon during Iron Horse Week, Jan. 28, 2015. Teams executed seven events in accordance with Army Regulation 7-22 in the fastest time possible. (U.S. Army/Flickr)

By Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer

Last month, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson sent a memo to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter outlining a series of ambitious and long overdue proposals to update the United States military’s manpower management system.  Carson’s memo comes on the heels of the rollout of the Defense Secretary’s new “force of the future” initiative, a campaign that aims to implement reforms across the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to ensure the military is able to recruit and retain “the best of the best in every generation.”

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This Is What a Twenty-First Century U.S. Naval Strategy Looks Like

by Robert A. Newson Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) prepares for flight operations in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 8, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

Naval strategy is in the news: Cooperative Strategy 21 (CS-21R) was released in April; the surface warfare community is discussing its supporting strategy,  ‘Distributed Lethality;’ the Secretary of the Navy released his Navy’s Innovation Visionand the HASC  Subcommittee on Seapower and Force Projection has been active with hearings and testimony from strategists.

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2014 Sees Record Number of Conflict Refugees; Little Help for Afghanistan’s Wounded Warriors

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 8, 2015
Ghazal, 4, (L) and Judy, 7, carrying 8-month-old Suhair, react after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad near the Syrian Arab Red Crescent center in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus May 6, 2015. The shelling happened during the visit by a Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy to deliver medical aid to their center in Douma, activists aid. (Bassam Khabieh/Courtesy Reuters)

A record thirty-eight million people were displaced by violence in 2014. 2.2 million Iraqis alone were displaced by the self-declared Islamic State. Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo drove the total number of refugees to the highest in a generation. For the first time in a decade, even Europe has seen large numbers of displaced people, with 650,000 Ukrainians fleeing the violence stoked by Russia.

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