Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Want To Fix Retention? Start by Making the Military a Real Meritocracy

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, run in formation along Red Beach Training Area, Dec. 6, 2013. (Sgt. Sarah Fiocco, USMC/Courtesy Marines Flickr) Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, run in formation along Red Beach Training Area, Dec. 6, 2013. (Sgt. Sarah Fiocco, USMC/Courtesy Marines Flickr)

By Amy Schafer

This commentary comes courtesy of Amy Schafer, research intern for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She notes that an inflexible promotions structure and rigid “all or nothing” pension system push too many talented servicemembers to leave the military early in pursuit of other opportunities. A better system, Schafer argues, would emulate some of the best practices of Silicon Valley by rewarding high achievers and allowing more freedom in choice of assignment.

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The Problems With Military Health Care Don’t Stop at the VA

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
military-healthcare-problems Lt. Col. Mark Carder, Grafenwoehr Health Clinic Commander, explains to Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, Surgeon General and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Command, how a portion of his clinic is used in the post- and pre-deployment health assessment. (Douglas Demaio/Flickr)

By Jesse Sloman

This commentary comes courtesy of Marine Corps veteran and CFR research associate Jesse Sloman.  He observes that issues with military health care do not end with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Recent reporting has found similarly systemic issues in the Defense Health Agency, the health care system for active duty personnel directly administered by the Department of Defense. A truly inclusive solution to military health care must address problems in both of these systems.

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In Iraq, What Exactly Was the Alternative?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
iraq-policy U.S. soldiers stand near the Swords of Qadisiyah monument in Baghdad March 13, 2008. Picture taken March 13, 2008. (Ceerwan Aziz/Courtesy Reuters)

By Emerson Brooking

This commentary comes courtesy of Emerson Brooking, research associate for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Brooking argues that out of many recent criticisms of the United States’ 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, very few have put forward a viable alternative. He observes that critics’ commonly held position—that U.S. forces should have stayed “until the job was done”—neglects the actual role played by the U.S. military in theater. Absent political pressure and a fundamental shift in Iraqi governance, lasting strategic success in Iraq could not have been won by soldiers alone, no matter the duration of their stay.

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The New FM 3-24: What Happens When the Host Nation Is the Problem?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
karzai Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, January 25, 2014. (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters)

By Walter Ladwig III

This review of the  revised FM 3-24: Insurgencies and Countering Insurgenciesa long awaited update to the Army’s active doctrine, comes courtesy of Dr. Walter Ladwig III, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at King’s College London. Ladwig observes that the central challenge of counterinsurgency often revolves around successful relations with the host nation, a theme that seems obvious in light of current events, but which is so often overlooked in COIN theory, doctrine, and practice. While the new FM 3-24 generally represents a step in the right direction, it does not yet adequately address this critical issue.

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Seventy Years Ago, We Did the Impossible. Could We Do It Again?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
d-day Landing on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire are these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat, June 6, 1944. (Robert F. Sargent/Courtesy National Archives)

By William J. Parker III

This commentary comes courtesy of Captain William J. Parker III, CFR’s own U.S. Navy fellow and a surface naval warfare officer by trade. Parker traces the years of intensive logistical and operational planning that culminated in the famous June 6, 1944 landing at Normandy. He argues that D-Day was ultimately the result of many seemingly disparate operations. Parker also asks an important question: with all the transformations in modern warfighting, could the United States today accomplish a similarly impressive feat?

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What Does NATO’s Core Mission Look Like in the Twenty-First Century?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
nato collective defense Soviet Army soldiers sit on their tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia. Picture taken August 21, 1968. (Libor Hajsky/Courtesy Reuters)

By Mark Jacobson

This commentary comes courtesy of Mark Jacobson, who served previously in Kabul, Afghanistan as Deputy NATO Senior Civilian Representative. Jacobson observes that the political crisis in Ukraine has caused many members of NATO to agitate for a shift back to NATO’s “core mission”—collective defense against Russian incursion—and to swear off contingency operations like the one seen in Afghanistan. Jacobson also observes, however, that the modern security environment is much different from the one in which NATO was first created. It would not be wise to dismiss Afghanistan as an aberration. 

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A Commission on the Structure of the Army? Careful What You Wish For

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
army commission U.S. Army Generals stand ready to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013. (From L to R) Judge Advocate General of the Army Lt. General Dana K. Chipman, Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brig. General Richard C. Gross. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

By F.G. Hoffman

F.G. Hoffman offers another perspective on Adam Maisel’s argument for a Commission on the Structure of the Army to revisit issues related to the National Guard and Reserve Component. Hoffman observes that a call for a commission might denigrate the work already done by the Guard’s defenders. He also suggests that the outcome of such a commission would not necessarily be in the favor of those advocating for it.

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It’s Time for Congress to Get Serious About Military Compensation

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
congress capitol hill A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, October 6, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

By Jesse Sloman

This commentary comes courtesy of Marine Corps veteran and CFR research associate Jesse Sloman.  He addresses one of the most conspicuous “third rail” issues between Congress and the Pentagon: the question of compensation and benefits.  He calls on Congress to get the spiraling spending under control. The alternative will be a “hollow force”—well compensated but undertrained and unequipped to tackle future contingencies.

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Paging Dr. Abrams: Why This Soldier Thinks We Need a Commission on the Structure of the Army

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
calvary soldiers at attention U.S. Army soldiers stand at attention to receive their spurs following a 24 hour Cavalry "Spur Ride" for members of the US Army's 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Drum, New York, September 30, 2010. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters)

By Adam Maisel

As markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 gets underway, senior leaders in the Army and Army National Guard are sharpening their knives. Stemming from a contentious aviation restructuring plan in the proposed budget in which the Army Guard would lose all of its attack aviation (as well as cuts to tens of thousands of soldiers, should sequestration return in FY16), both sides are girding for an Active-Guard war. Congress has responded in kind by advocating for an independent commission to study the force structure of the Army, similar in scope to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force formed in 2013.

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

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
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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