Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Before Calling for More U.S. Troops, Let’s Figure Out What Their Mission Is

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
U.S. soldiers from D Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment walk on a hill after finishing with a training exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 30, 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. soldiers from D Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment walk on a hill after finishing with a training exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 30, 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert A. Newson

Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein recently discussed the need to review the current counter-terrorism strategy and warned that the United States may need more troops in Yemen and across the Middle East. The national media focused almost exclusively on the question of more troops. This is a common oversight. Sending additional troops puts the cart before the horse or, more to the point, the troops before the strategy. More troops to do what?

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Does America Have a Warrior Caste?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Members of the Armed Forces Color Guard and drummers from he U.S. Air Force Band, all based in Washington, D.C., perform during the Super Bowl XLV game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Feb. 6, 2011. U.S. Air Force photo (Senior Airman Melissa Harvey/U.S. Army Flickr) Members of the Armed Forces Color Guard and drummers from he U.S. Air Force Band, all based in Washington, D.C., perform during the Super Bowl XLV game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Feb. 6, 2011. U.S. Air Force photo (Senior Airman Melissa Harvey/U.S. Army Flickr)

By Amy Schafer

Who is truly bearing the burden of repeated deployments and protracted conflicts? Who comprises our shrinking all-volunteer force? As the daughter of an A-10 pilot, I see my fellow military brats enlisting and being commissioned at incredible rates. Anecdotally, it has seemed at least one child in every military family tends to serve, while the ROTC programs in the Ivy League are some of the smallest in the country, and military service is left unconsidered as a viable career option for most young Americans.

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Misperception of U.S.-Cuba Policy Shift Among Cuban Migrants Threatens Tragedy

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014. (Peter Polack/Courtesy Reuters) Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014. (Peter Polack/Courtesy Reuters)

By Pat DeQuattro

In the first five days of 2015, a total of ninety-six Cuban migrants were interdicted at sea during seven events in the Florida Straits. All seven interdictions involved dangerous conditions that included unseaworthy, homemade vessels that posed significant risk to the migrants attempting to make the perilous, ninety-mile journey across the open ocean of the Florida Straits. In the month of December, a total of 481 Cuban migrants were either interdicted at sea or landed in the United States during thirty-seven total events. These activities represent a 117 percent increase from December 2013, with a distinct spike in migrants following the President’s announcement on December 17 that U.S-Cuba policy changes were forthcoming.

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Amid Ballooning Chinese Defense Budgets, Force Protection Still Comes Up Dry

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Frost covers the mask and part of the hat of a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as he stand guard near the border of China and Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province December 10, 2014 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Frost covers the mask and part of the hat of a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as he stand guard near the border of China and Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province December 10, 2014 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey and Emerson Brooking

A recent report by the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly on investments to outfit and equip Chinese soldiers in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sparked controversy both within China and abroad—revealing sharp fissures in China’s ballooning defense budget. With a total defense budget estimated at $132 billion in 2014 and 2.28 million active duty soldiers on payroll, the PLA allocates a mere $1,523 (9,460 yuan) in outfitting each soldier, roughly one-thirteenth the value of the average deploying U.S. serviceman’s personal gear. At a time when the combat-readiness of China’s armed forces is already widely debated, costs of the basic infantrymen kit highlight critical shortcomings of the Chinese military.

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In the Last Days of Afghanistan, Too Many Shadows of Vietnam

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
A shadow cast by a U.S. soldier from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment shades spent brass strewn on the ground during a joint training mission, near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 12, 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters) A shadow cast by a U.S. soldier from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment shades spent brass strewn on the ground during a joint training mission, near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 12, 2014. (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert A. Newson

Recently, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted a screening of Rory Kennedy’s film Last Days in Vietnam. The stunning documentary, with never-before seen-footage, tells the story of courageous Americans at the U.S. embassy and on ships at sea who put their lives and their careers on the line to rescue 77,000 South Vietnamese during the fall of Saigon. These heroes did all they could as individuals to meet an American obligation to those who stand with us in our foreign wars—those who risk their lives and the lives of their families against a common enemy. The film also tells the story of an American government that came very slow and far too late to uphold this obligation.

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Congress Just Took an Important Step Toward Real Military Compensation Reform

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
U.S. troops march during a military parade celebrating Romania's National Day in Bucharest December 1, 2014. (Radu Sigheti/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. troops march during a military parade celebrating Romania's National Day in Bucharest December 1, 2014. (Radu Sigheti/Courtesy Reuters)

By Jesse Sloman

On Tuesday, the U.S. House and Senate reached an agreement on the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, setting the Pentagon’s expenditures and budget, is one of  the least controversial items on Congress’ annual agenda; an NDAA has been passed every year for the past 52 years.

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In Recent Battles, the U.S. Has Forgotten How To Tell Its Side of the Story. It Must Remember.

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Maurice Greene from the USA carries his nation's flag following his team's victory in the men's 4X100m relay final at the Sydney Olympics September 30, 2000. (Ian Waldie/Courtesy Reuters) Maurice Greene from the USA carries his nation's flag following his team's victory in the men's 4X100m relay final at the Sydney Olympics September 30, 2000. (Ian Waldie/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert A. Newson

This commentary comes courtesy of Captain Robert A. Newson, CFR’s U.S. Navy fellow and a SEAL officer. He argues that, by failing to provide a credible counter-narrative in recent contingencies involving ISIS and Russia, the United States has effectively ceded the information domain without a fight. Captain Newson argues that an effective information operations strategy will hinge on both long-term commitment and a willingness to expose audiences to the full complexity of political issues rather than resorting to misinformation and simplification.

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Is the Top Leader of ISIS Dead? Here’s What to Expect

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first public appearance on July 5, 2014, at a mosque in the center of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet. (Courtesy Reuters) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first public appearance on July 5, 2014, at a mosque in the center of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet. (Courtesy Reuters)

By Clint Hinote

Numerous news outlets have reported that the U.S.-led coalition operating in Iraq and Syria may have injured or killed the overall leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an air strike near Mosul. If this is true, it is welcome news, but it will not signal the end of the movement. Instead, this is a significant part of the overall military strategy to apply broad pressure to ISIS and halt its momentum. Over the long run, stopping ISIS will require alleviating the underlying conditions that drive violence and gave rise to the movement in the first place. While the outside world can help create the necessary conditions, only repudiation by the local population will kill ISIS.

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“Win in a Complex World (II):” Why an Integrated Conventional and Special Operations Force Will Work Best

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire at an enemy bunker during Task Force Training on Camp Roberts, Calif., Feb. 1, 2014. (Spc. Steven Hitchcock/U.S. Army Flickr) U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire at an enemy bunker during Task Force Training on Camp Roberts, Calif., Feb. 1, 2014. (Spc. Steven Hitchcock/U.S. Army Flickr)

By Mike Rauhut

This commentary comes courtesy of Colonel Michael Rauhut, CFR’s U.S. Army fellow. He observes that the newly released Army Operating Concept shows an unprecedented level of acceptance and integration of special operations capabilities into conventional Army forces. Colonel Rauhut argues that the result of this integration is overwhelmingly positive, affording policymakers a wider range of options in pursuit of their strategic objectives. This follows a piece by Janine Davidson on the Army Operating Concept and institutional learning.

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The Air Campaign Against ISIS (II): Military Partnerships Will Be the Deciding Factor

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
F-16 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation over Hudson river in New York, August 18, 2012. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters) F-16 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation over Hudson river in New York, August 18, 2012. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters)

By Clint Hinote

This commentary comes courtesy of Colonel Clint Hinote, CFR’s U.S. Air Force fellow. He discusses the role of military partnerships in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, drawing on his own experience as an Air Force weapons and tactics instructor. According to Col. Hinote, international participation—particularly by Arab partner nations—will prove a critical component of the strategy to dismantle ISIS. This piece follows Col Hinote’s previous discussion of the utility of air strikes.

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