Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

As China’s Military Modernizes, Woody Island Deployments Are Just the Beginning

by Lauren Dickey Monday, February 22, 2016
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, on their armoured vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles, arrive at Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015 (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey

China continued to make waves in the South China Sea last week with its deployment of surface-to-air missile launchers and a radar system on the contested Woody Island. While this development undoubtedly challenges both the claims of littoral states and the U.S. regional presence, China’s actions should be thought of as part of a much broader agenda aimed at modernizing the capabilities and operations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Beyond China’s posturing lies an important process of structural and organizational reforms that will shape the war-fighting capabilities of the PLA for the decade ahead. While a lot remains unknown, President Xi Jinping’s planned comprehensive reforms of the PLA appear to target the development of a leaner, stronger Chinese fighting force, an enhanced power projection capability, and an even greater focus on deterring threats along the periphery.

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FY17 Coast Guard Request Strikes Balance Between Rebuilding the Fleet and Managing Risk

by Ronald A. LaBrec Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Polar Star, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, completes ice drills in the Arctic in this July 3, 2013 handout photo. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Rachel French/U.S. Coast Guard/Courtesy Reuters)

The hot-off-the-presses fiscal year 2017 presidential budget request includes a $10.3 billion top line request for the Coast Guard and several areas of progress for Coast Guard modernization. Despite record funding for acquisition, construction and improvement (AC&I) of capital assets in 2016, the FY17 request continues a general trend of lower AC&I funding that began in 2013. The investment in several key shipbuilding programs, however, is important as the service focuses on meeting its missions with an ancient fleet. The majority of the service’s offshore ships are between thirty and fifty years old. While most have gone through major service-life extension projects they are reaching the end of their useful lifespan and are becoming increasingly unreliable and costly to maintain.

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