Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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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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In Revised USAID Policy, A New Model for Civil-Military Cooperation

by Janine Davidson and Zachary Austin
American soldiers carry relief supplies for families affected by Typhoon Durian from a cargo plane after its arrival at the Manila International airport December 7, 2006.  (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters) American soldiers carry relief supplies for families affected by Typhoon Durian from a cargo plane after its arrival at the Manila International airport December 7, 2006. (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Zachary Austin

From stabilization operations in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to humanitarian activities across the globe, today’s military is routinely called on to perform missions removed from the conventional battlefield. In these tasks, the military rarely acts alone; the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is often close at hand. USAID has announced a new policy on cooperating with the Department of Defense (DOD) that is poised to realign their relations with DOD, redefining a partnership critical in managing today’s conflicts.

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Five Key Takeaways from the New U.S. National Military Strategy

by Janine Davidson
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aboard a CH-47 traveling from Bagram to Kabul, Afghanistan, for meeting with ISAF, CENTCOM, State Dept. and Afghanistan military leadership Aug. 20, 2012. (D. Myles Cullen/U.S. Army Flickr) Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aboard a CH-47 traveling from Bagram to Kabul, Afghanistan, for meeting with ISAF, CENTCOM, State Dept. and Afghanistan military leadership Aug. 20, 2012. (D. Myles Cullen/U.S. Army Flickr)

General Martin Dempsey, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has just released a new, remarkably readable National Military Strategy (NMS). This document, alongside the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Secretary of Defense’s National Defense Strategy (NDS), forms the three pillars  of top-level U.S. defense strategy. The NMS offers the Chairman’s professional assessment of the global threat environment, which he describes as “the most unpredictable I have seen in forty years of service.” While the entire document is worth a read, here are five big takeaways from the new strategy:

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Islamic State’s One-Year Anniversary Marked by Global Terror; New Challenges for U.S. “Train & Equip”

by Janine Davidson
Messages and flowers are placed at the beach of the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, June 29, 2015. The gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at the Tunisian hotel last Friday with a rifle he had hidden in an umbrella, killing 39 people including Britons, Germans and Belgians as they lounged at the beach in an attack claimed by Islamic State. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) Messages and flowers are placed at the beach of the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, June 29, 2015. The gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at the Tunisian hotel last Friday with a rifle he had hidden in an umbrella, killing 39 people including Britons, Germans and Belgians as they lounged at the beach in an attack claimed by Islamic State. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

My Fourth of July long weekend reader:

Worldwide terror as the self-declared Islamic State celebrates its first anniversary. Three attacks attributed to the Islamic State struck three different continents within three hours last Friday. In France, a brutal decapitation preceded an attempted destruction of an industrial gas factory in Grenoble. A bombing of a mosque in Kuwait left twenty-seven dead and over 200 wounded. Meanwhile, a one-shooter rampage at a Tunisian seaside resort killed thirty-nine and wounded roughly thirty-five. At least twenty-seven British nationals number among the dead, making it the worst mass-casualty event for Britain since the “7/7” London tube bombings in 2005. This as the Islamic State claims a wave of attacks in the Sinai Pensinula that have killed at least thirty Egyptian soldiers.

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The Battle for Kunduz; NATO Defense Spending Declines for Third Straight Year

by Janine Davidson
Afghan forces prepare for battle with Taliban on the outskirts of Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan June 21, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Afghan forces prepare for battle with Taliban on the outskirts of Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan June 21, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

On Monday, Taliban forces closed within four miles of the city of Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan. If they capture the city, it will be the first time the Taliban has controlled a city away from the battlefields in the southeast of Afghanistan since 2001. Also on Monday, seven Taliban fighters launched a coordinated assault on the parliament building in Kabul that left two dead and thirty-one wounded.

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What It Would Take to Embed U.S. Troops in Iraq; Chinese Hack of OPM “Worse than Snowden?”

by Janine Davidson
A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters) A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters)

A renewed debate over U.S. “boots on the ground” in the fight against the self-declared Islamic State. In a Wednesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey reiterated that “winning” in Iraq will rest on the capacity and political will of the Iraqi government. They did not, however, rule out the ground presence of U.S. troops as Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTACs).

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What’s on “Defense in Depth’s” Summer Bookshelf?

by Janine Davidson
A U.S. Army combat tank team member reads a book sitting beside his M1A1 Abrams tank in the desert outside Kuwait City, March 14, 2003. (Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Army combat tank team member reads a book sitting beside his M1A1 Abrams tank in the desert outside Kuwait City, March 14, 2003. (Courtesy Reuters)

I was invited to appear on CFR’s “The World Next Week,” a weekly podcast hosted by Jim Lindsay and Robert McMahon (the whole episode is worth a listen). This week was about books, books, books: what people have read, what they want to read, and what texts they think provide the best window into the world and how it works. Here are my top three picks:

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How the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund Works—and Why Congress Wants to Make It Bigger

by Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force fast-rope from an MH-60R during maritime interoperability training off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., Jan. 16, 2015. (Sgt. Jamean Berry/U.S. Marine Corps/Flickr) U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force fast-rope from an MH-60R during maritime interoperability training off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., Jan. 16, 2015. (Sgt. Jamean Berry/U.S. Marine Corps/Flickr)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

For nearly fourteen years, the U.S. military has been on a war footing. Extraordinary amounts of money—often in excess of $100 billion dollars each year—have been appropriated beyond the military’s base budget to fund operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. At the peak of the Iraq surge in late 2007, $211 billion was allocated for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, on top of $541 billion in base spending. Today, even as most of our troops have redeployed from Afghanistan and Iraq, the OCO fund has remained high. Atop a base budget of $496 billion, Congressional leaders have added an OCO of roughly $89 billion. By contrast, President Obama has requested a base budget of $534 billion with an OCO of $51 billion. While both requests total approximately $585 billion, debate over the size of the OCO has sparked sharp disagreements in Congress and a veto threat from the White House. This whole showdown raises questions: Is this just a political shell game or does it actually matter which pot of money funds what if the total amount is nearly the same? More broadly, why—if the number of U.S. troops in direct combat roles has shrunk to its lowest point since 2001—is the OCO still so large a percentage of the total budget?

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450 More U.S. Troops to Iraq; Many European Citizens Reluctant to Uphold NATO Defense Guarantee

by Janine Davidson
Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released June 2, 2015.  (Sgt. Cody Quinn/U.S. Army/Courtesy Reuters) Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released June 2, 2015. (Sgt. Cody Quinn/U.S. Army/Courtesy Reuters)

More U.S. advisers are on their way to Iraq. As the Wall Street Journal reports, President Obama requested additional military options against the self-declared Islamic State following the fall of Ramadi in mid-May. The result will be 450 new U.S. advisers, deployed to Al Taqqadum air base in Iraq’s Anbar Province. In return, the White House has sought assurances from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that he will incorporate thousands more Sunni fighters into the official, Shia-dominated Iraqi security apparatus.

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Ukraine Braces for “Invasion;” Burial of Fallen U.S. Guardsman Denied by Arlington Cemetery

by Janine Davidson
A member of the Ukrainian armed forces holds a tattered Ukrainian national flag at his position near the town of Maryinka, eastern Ukraine, June 5, 2015. Ukraine's president told his military on Thursday to prepare for a possible "full-scale invasion" by Russia all along their joint border, a day after the worst fighting with Russian-backed separatists in months. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the Ukrainian armed forces holds a tattered Ukrainian national flag at his position near the town of Maryinka, eastern Ukraine, June 5, 2015. Ukraine's president told his military on Thursday to prepare for a possible "full-scale invasion" by Russia all along their joint border, a day after the worst fighting with Russian-backed separatists in months. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters)

Following Russian-backed separatist attack on Maryinka, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenkso warns of “full-scale invasion” from Russia. Ukraine has massed 50,000 troops in the east to respond to new incursions by an indeterminate number of separatists and 9,000 Russian soldiers. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter convenes a closed-door meeting of two dozen generals, ambassadors, and other senior leaders to assess American strategy in the region.

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