Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Showing posts for "Defense Strategy"

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Is the Partner the United States Needs to Get the Job Done

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, March 26, 2015. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters) Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, March 26, 2015. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

If there is one thing we have learned from the painful experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is that success in such missions requires political as much as military solutions. This is why Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore worked together just before leaving office to jointly publish their interagency 2009 U.S. Government Counterinsurgency Guide. In contrast to the U.S. Army’s Counterinsurgency: FM 3-24 (arguably the most famous doctrine ever released, published by General David Petraeus in 2006), this little handbook was aimed squarely at policymakers.

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Korea: Not a Shrimp Anymore

by Clint Hinote
South Korean honor guards perform before a joint commissioning ceremony for 6,478 new officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines at the military headquarters in Gyeryong March 12, 2015. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters) South Korean honor guards perform before a joint commissioning ceremony for 6,478 new officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines at the military headquarters in Gyeryong March 12, 2015. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters)

South Korea faces a great challenge, and it has a great opportunity. Its handling of a relatively obscure issue will provide great insight into its future in a vital and volatile area.

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Afghanistan’s Riddle: For Lasting Stability, U.S. Presence Is One Important Step Among Many

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani arrive for a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington March 24, 2015. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani arrive for a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington March 24, 2015. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

By James West

Yesterday’s announcement of a new timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal will see the full 9,800 U.S. contingent remain in Afghanistan through at least the end of 2015. This marks an important, positive step in building Afghan stability as it acknowledges that while the combat mission may have ended, much work remains to be done. Equally important is the pledge to request Congress’ continued funding of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), maintaining a goal of 352,000 soldiers and policemen through 2017 and costing roughly $4 billion dollars. Continuing U.S. support will be required as Afghanistan seeks to develop and diversify its infrastructure and economy, secure international aid, and enhance regional integration necessary to prevent disintegration along ethnic lines and an amplified civil war. All of these steps are necessary to keep Afghanistan safe, free, and secure.

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Understanding the United States’ New Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy

by Pat DeQuattro
The crew of the Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter Margaret Norvell interdicts a go-fast with two drug smugglers and eighteen bales of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea, January 31, 2015. (Ricardo Castrodad/Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System) The crew of the Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter Margaret Norvell interdicts a go-fast with two drug smugglers and eighteen bales of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea, January 31, 2015. (Ricardo Castrodad/Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)

The illegal trade in drugs, people and weapons is a $750 billion global criminal enterprise that undermines the governance and rule of law of those countries impacted by the cultivation, transportation and distribution of the illicit products and trafficking. Many countries in the illicit drug transit corridors are gripped by staggering unemployment, poverty and widespread violence at the hands of traffickers who are attempting to supply our nation’s demand for cocaine. Documented cocaine flow from South America into the Central and Eastern Caribbean region has doubled over the past four years from forty-two metric tons in 2010 to ninety-five metric tons in 2013, and now represents approximately 15 percent of total documented cocaine flow in the Western Hemisphere.

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Forward, Engaged, Ready: Four Lessons from the United States’ New Maritime Strategy

by Stephen E. Liszewski
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8)., January 28, 2015.  (Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Rodney Davidson/U.S. Navy Flickr) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8)., January 28, 2015. (Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Rodney Davidson/U.S. Navy Flickr)

This week marks the release of “A Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century: Forward, Engaged, Ready” by the combined sea services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard). This is a revised capstone strategic document that describes how the United States will design, organize, and employ naval forces. As Congress continues to deliberate on the President’s FY 16 budget submission, it is worth considering why sea power is important for the United States right now. Here are four of the most significant reasons why sea power is important to the United States:

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In Planning for the Future, U.S. Army Must Look to the Fight Against Boko Haram

by Michael W. Rauhut
A Chadian soldier poses for a picture at the front line during battle against insurgent group Boko Haram in Gambaru, February 26, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters) A Chadian soldier poses for a picture at the front line during battle against insurgent group Boko Haram in Gambaru, February 26, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters)

The collective security response to Boko Haram’s emergence as a regional existential threat reveals a growing appreciation and desire for effective countermeasures to the terrorist group, now potentially allied with ISIS.  Eric Schmitt’s recent New York Times article, “African Training Exercise Turns Urgent as Threats Grow” reflects proven foreign internal defense approaches, but absent a broader, enduring landpower network—a network of established relationships with partnered land forces able to shape security environments—any progress may prove temporary.

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Four Myths That Drive (and Endanger) U.S. Defense Policy

by Janine Davidson
Maserati Alfieri car is pictured during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 4, 2014. (Arnd Wiegmann/Courtesy Reuters) Maserati Alfieri car is pictured during the media day ahead of the 84th Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 4, 2014. (Arnd Wiegmann/Courtesy Reuters)

U.S. defense planning has evolved since the mid 1970s, with the end of the Vietnam War and the founding of the All-Volunteer Force (AVF). Since then, at least four troubling myths have become baked into doctrine, strategy, and force planning processes. These beliefs focus on our strengths, but have in some ways blinded us to the enduring nature of conflict. They have hindered our ability to institutionalize lessons from our most frustrating operational experiences in favor of constructs like the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), “rapid, decisive, operations” and (most recently) AirSea Battle. As the Pentagon grapples with diminishing resources and an accelerating technology curve, it is worth reflecting on these myths and how we can overcome them.

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Engage…or Isolate?

by Robert A. Newson
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan (R) listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters, prior to their meeting in Beijing April 8, 2014.  (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan (R) listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters, prior to their meeting in Beijing April 8, 2014. (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters)

Engage or isolate? This is the national security question that will drive the United States’ response to near-peer competitors like China and Russia, destabilizing middle powers like Iran and North Korea, and even the relatively powerless Cuba. Consistent engagement, even with adversary states, is beneficial. It can help avoid miscalculations, improve U.S. ability to clarify intentions, and decipher ambiguous signals. It also can increase understanding of adversary motivations and interests, which facilitates negotiation and potential development of conflict off-ramps. Conversely, isolation can limit adversaries’ options, negatively feed their fears, and wound their pride—obstructing alternative, preferred paths.

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The 2015 Munich Security Conference: Debate Among Allies? Yes. Disunity? No.

by Janine Davidson
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko holds Russian passports to prove the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as he addresses during the 51st Munich Security Conference at the 'Bayerischer Hof' hotel in Munich February 7, 2015. (Michael Dalder/Courtesy Reuters) Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko holds Russian passports to prove the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as he addresses during the 51st Munich Security Conference at the 'Bayerischer Hof' hotel in Munich February 7, 2015. (Michael Dalder/Courtesy Reuters)

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the fifty-first Munich Security Conference. This annual event provides a high level forum for transatlantic leaders—and increasingly leaders from other parts of the world—to meet and debate major security issues. The sidebar meetings and “bilats,” among the participants are as important as the major plenary sessions, where leaders take the opportunity to express their country’s positions or in many cases propose new approaches to solving problems. Munich is where the major powers annually reaffirm their continued commitment to transatlantic cooperation in service to core Western values: democracy, rule of law, human rights.

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Putin’s Invasion Continues to Widen. Let’s Give Ukraine What It Needs to Push Back.

by Janine Davidson
A Ukrainian serviceman is seen during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Pesky village, near Donetsk January 21, 2015. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Courtesy Reuters) A Ukrainian serviceman is seen during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Pesky village, near Donetsk January 21, 2015. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Courtesy Reuters)

Amid renewed fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists (as well as Russian regulars), the New York Times reports that U.S. senior officials are finally considering providing lethal aid to Ukraine’s beleaguered military. U.S. advocates reportedly include General Phillip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Secretary of State John Kerry; and even national security adviser Susan Rice, who has been critical of such proposals to date. This potential shift comes at a critical time: according to NATO, Ukrainian separatists, with substantial support from Russian forces, have captured 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of new territory since the “official” September 5 ceasefire. Likewise, the deployment of Russian heavy armor and artillery has accelerated since the beginning of 2015, sending a clear signal that Vladimir Putin intends—at best—to keep Ukraine in a state of bloody stasis. At worst,  he could expand his invasion further.

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