Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Tensions Rise on the Korean Peninsula; Charting the Human Cost of Post-9/11 Interventions

by Janine Davidson
An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field Fla., April 24, 2014.  ( Staff Sgt. John Bainter/U.S. Air Force/Flickr) An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field Fla., April 24, 2014. ( Staff Sgt. John Bainter/U.S. Air Force/Flickr)

Tensions rise on the Korean peninsula.  North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire and harsh rhetoric this week, reflecting rising tensions between the Pyongyang and Seoul. The latest clash began after the North fired into the Demilitarized Zone in an attempt to silence loudspeakers that have recently begun to broadcast anti-North messages.  The South responded with its own artillery, placed its military on high alert and warned the North against “rash acts” that would result in more severe punishment from the South. The North, which is also protesting the current annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises, has threatened strikes deeper South if the loudspeakers are not removed by Saturday.  There are approximately 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

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In First Speech as Army Chief, General Milley Sets the Tone

by Janine Davidson
Incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley addresses the audience during a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summeral Field in Arlington, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. (Eboni L. Everson-Myart/U.S. Army/DVIDS) Incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley addresses the audience during a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summeral Field in Arlington, Va., Aug. 14, 2015. (Eboni L. Everson-Myart/U.S. Army/DVIDS)

Last week, General Mark Milley assumed command as the thirty-ninth chief of staff of the United States Army. It was an occasion replete with ceremony—rows of distinguished guests,  a B-52 and a C-17 flyover, a display by the Old Guard, and a traditional “pass and review” by both the outgoing General Odierno and the incoming General Milley — reminders of the peaceful transition of authority that characterizes the U.S. military. Amid the excitement, however, it was also the first chance to note the new Chief of Staff’s priorities and outlook as he approaches the heavy responsibility before him. Among my takeaways from his speech:

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Retired Admirals and Generals Weigh in on the Iran Deal; The Families that ISIS Foreign Fighters Leave Behind

by Janine Davidson
An activist holds a banner during an event of delivering more than 400,000 petition signatures to Capitol Hill in support of the Iran nuclear deal in Washington July 29, 2015. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters) An activist holds a banner during an event of delivering more than 400,000 petition signatures to Capitol Hill in support of the Iran nuclear deal in Washington July 29, 2015. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

A group of thirty-six retired generals and admirals have released an open letter urging support for the Iran nuclear deal. The group, representing retired leaders from every branch of the military. Their argument, in part: Read more »

Seventy Years Since the Day That Changed Everything; A Saudi Ground War in Yemen

by Janine Davidson
Hiroshi Harada, a 75-year-old atomic bomb survivor and former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, stands near a red ball indicating where the atomic bomb exploded above Hiroshima city, at the museum in Hiroshima, western Japan, March 26, 2015. (Issei Kato/Courtesy Reuters) Hiroshi Harada, a 75-year-old atomic bomb survivor and former head of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, stands near a red ball indicating where the atomic bomb exploded above Hiroshima city, at the museum in Hiroshima, western Japan, March 26, 2015. (Issei Kato/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday marked the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at the remembrance ceremony, noting “To coexist we must abolish the…ultimate inhumanity that is nuclear weapons. Now is the time to start taking action.” These calls for disarmament are in line with those of survivors of the attack—like Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who survived the strikes on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki—who have long called for nuclear disarmament. Paul Ham, writing for the Atlantic, explores the bureaucratic mechanisms that ultimately led to the selection of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over other potential targets, and the ensuing annihilation of roughly 200,000 people.

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The World Next Week: Gulf States React to the Iran Deal; Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Invasion of Kuwait

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured, accompanied by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, speaks at a joint news conference at the Chief of Mission Residence, Paris, France, Friday, May 8, 2015, following a meeting with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council. (Courtesy Reuters/Andrew Harnik/Pool U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured, accompanied by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, speaks at a joint news conference at the Chief of Mission Residence, Paris, France, Friday, May 8, 2015, following a meeting with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council. (Courtesy Reuters/Andrew Harnik/Pool

I had the opportunity to appear again on CFR’s “The World Next Week,” a weekly podcast in which I served as co-host alongside Robert McMahon. The whole episode is worth a listen. Among other things, we discussed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)’s reaction to the Iran deal, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the cumulative cost of U.S. operations against the self-declared Islamic State. Read more »

The End of Mullah Omar; Turkey’s Complex New Front in the Anti-ISIS Fight

by Janine Davidson
An armed man escorts others carrying the coffins of the victims of Monday's bomb attack in Suruc, during a funeral ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2015. (Murad Seze/Courtesy Reuters) An armed man escorts others carrying the coffins of the victims of Monday's bomb attack in Suruc, during a funeral ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2015. (Murad Seze/Courtesy Reuters)

After a long hiatus, Defense in Depth is back, wrapping up an eventful week:

Mullah Omar, the elusive and now erstwhile Taliban leader, has been dead for years, as the Taliban has now confirmed to western media. The BBC originally broke the story on Wednesday, citing sources that claimed Omar died in a Pakistani hospital in 2013. While Omar has been incorrectly reported dead many times before, multiple corroborating statements suggest that this time is for real. His successor has already been appointed; observers are concerned Omar’s death could spell the end of a negotiated peace with the Taliban. While it remains to be seen whether the Taliban will splinter in wake of this news, so far, the insurgents’ summer offensive against the Afghan government continues unabated.

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Greatest Hits: Untangling the Circular Logic of America’s Torture Apologists

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) listens as President George W. Bush makes remarks about the U.S. defense budget after meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon in Washington, November 29, 2007. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) listens as President George W. Bush makes remarks about the U.S. defense budget after meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon in Washington, November 29, 2007. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Defense in Depth will be on “summer slowdown” mode until July 22. In lieu of the Weekend Reader, I’ll be posting some of our best stories and analysis from the past year. Today: my response to Vice President Dick Cheney’s defense of enhanced interrogation techniques, originally published December 16, 2014.

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Greatest Hits: How Serious Is the Rebalance? U.S. Military Record Tells (Part of) the Story

by Janine Davidson and Lauren Dickey
The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) participates in a simulated straits transit. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher B. Janik/U.S. Navy/Flickr) The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) participates in a simulated straits transit. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher B. Janik/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

By Janine Davidson and Lauren Dickey

Defense in Depth will be on “summer slowdown” mode until July 22. In lieu of the Weekend Reader, I’ll be posting some of our best stories and analysis from the past year. Today: Lauren Dickey and I provide an overview of U.S. military elements of the Asia-Pacific rebalance, originally published April 16, 2015.

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Greatest Hits: The Warrior Ethos at Risk: H.R. McMaster’s Remarkable Veterans Day Speech

by Janine Davidson
Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities an Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures for the U.S. Army Training Doctrine Command, speaks at Georgetown University's Veterans Day ceremony. (Georgetown University Office of Communications) Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities an Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures for the U.S. Army Training Doctrine Command, speaks at Georgetown University's Veterans Day ceremony. (Georgetown University Office of Communications)

Defense in Depth will be on “summer slowdown” mode until July 20. In lieu of the Weekend Reader, I’ll be posting some of our best stories and analysis from the past year. Today: H.R. McMaster’s powerful Veterans Day speech, originally published November 18, 2014.

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Greatest Hits: Everything You Need to Understand the Military Compensation Debate

by Janine Davidson and Jesse Sloman
Snapshot of a graph depicting the growth of per-soldier costs over time. The cost of an active duty U.S. service member nearly doubled between 1998 and 2014. (Emerson Brooking/Defense in Depth, Council on Foreign Relations) Snapshot of a graph depicting the growth of per-soldier costs over time. The cost of an active duty U.S. service member nearly doubled between 1998 and 2014. (Emerson Brooking/Defense in Depth, Council on Foreign Relations)

Defense in Depth will be on “summer slowdown” mode until July 20. In lieu of the Weekend Reader, I’ll be posting some of our best stories and analysis from the past year. Today: Jesse Sloman and I unpack the military healthcare and compensation debate, originally published January 28, 2015.

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