Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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The Battle for Afghanistan Will Be Decided by Development

by Sam Ehrlich
An Afghan girl works on a wheat field in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan May 14, 2015. (Parwiz/Courtesy Reuters) An Afghan girl works on a wheat field in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan May 14, 2015. (Parwiz/Courtesy Reuters)

By Sam Ehrlich

Afghan development is more critical than ever, but as U.S. eyes turn elsewhere, there is less interest in sustaining good investment, much less maintaining adequate resources for this purpose. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction(SIGAR) John Sopko’s remarks at Weill Cornell Medical College earlier this month were a stark reminder of just how necessary sustained aid funding will be, as development objectives are far from complete. The goal is not a “perfect” solution—Afghanistan will not become an advanced democracy overnight—but we must put the nation on a sustainable path.

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How to Defuse the Looming Asia-Pacific Arms Race

by Sean O'Connor
Soldiers march during the handing-over ceremony of the Izumo warship at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo March 25, 2015. Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force on Wednesday took delivery of the biggest Japanese warship since World War Two, the Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers that battled the United States in the Pacific. (Thomas Peter/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers march during the handing-over ceremony of the Izumo warship at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo March 25, 2015. Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force on Wednesday took delivery of the biggest Japanese warship since World War Two, the Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers that battled the United States in the Pacific. (Thomas Peter/Courtesy Reuters)

By Sean O’Connor

Last month, Thailand’s navy requested funding for a submarine program which, when finalized, will make it the region’s eighth submarine-equipped nation—joining Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, and Australia. The Philippines, Thailand, and Bangladesh, meanwhile, have all expressed interest in acquiring submarine fleets. As tensions in the South China Sea continue to escalate, this arms race poses a significant threat to the security of the region.

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A Heavy Lift: Reforming the U.S. Military’s “Calcified” Personnel System

by Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer
Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, work as a six member team to lift a heavy log over their heads 20 times while competing in the Ivy Heptathlon during Iron Horse Week, Jan. 28, 2015. Teams executed seven events in accordance with Army Regulation 7-22 in the fastest time possible. (U.S. Army/Flickr) Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, work as a six member team to lift a heavy log over their heads 20 times while competing in the Ivy Heptathlon during Iron Horse Week, Jan. 28, 2015. Teams executed seven events in accordance with Army Regulation 7-22 in the fastest time possible. (U.S. Army/Flickr)

By Jesse Sloman and Amy Schafer

Last month, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson sent a memo to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter outlining a series of ambitious and long overdue proposals to update the United States military’s manpower management system.  Carson’s memo comes on the heels of the rollout of the Defense Secretary’s new “force of the future” initiative, a campaign that aims to implement reforms across the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to ensure the military is able to recruit and retain “the best of the best in every generation.”

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This Is What a Twenty-First Century U.S. Naval Strategy Looks Like

by Robert A. Newson
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) prepares for flight operations in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 8, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King/U.S. Navy/Flickr) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) prepares for flight operations in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 8, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

Naval strategy is in the news: Cooperative Strategy 21 (CS-21R) was released in April; the surface warfare community is discussing its supporting strategy,  ‘Distributed Lethality;’ the Secretary of the Navy released his Navy’s Innovation Visionand the HASC  Subcommittee on Seapower and Force Projection has been active with hearings and testimony from strategists.

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Time for Congress to Reconsider the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund

by Sam Ehrlich
U.S. Special Operations Command Africa commanding general Brigadier General James Linder (R) shakes hands with a Nigerien military officer during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Niamey, March 9, 2014. (Joe Penne/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Special Operations Command Africa commanding general Brigadier General James Linder (R) shakes hands with a Nigerien military officer during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Niamey, March 9, 2014. (Joe Penne/Courtesy Reuters)

In his address to West Point cadets last May, President Obama announced a new plan to combat the spread of terrorism in Africa and the Middle East, specifically through the use of a $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF). By August 2014, the White House drafted a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism efforts in Africa. The statement included a plan to partner with and train African militaries to fight against al-Shabab, Boko Haram, and al-Qaeda, among others.

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Bravery and Folly at Gallipoli, One-Hundred Years Ago

by Emerson Brooking
Bearing heavy loads, a group of Entente soldiers tow their rowboat to the shore of Gallipoli, April 25, 1915. (Charles Bean) Bearing heavy loads, a group of Entente soldiers tow their rowboat to the shore of Gallipoli, April 25, 1915. (Charles Bean)

On April 25, 1915, 78,000 British, French, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers stormed ashore the Gallipoli peninsula amid a fury of Ottoman machine guns and shellfire. They struggled up treacherous bluffs wreathed with barbed wire, reading from maps as much as seventy years out of date. This was D-Day fought with the tactics and technology of World War I. The amphibious assault, intended to dismantle the Turkish guns that dotted the straits of the Dardanelles, would fail decisively. Facing hardened trench lines and determined Turkish defenders, the Entente forces would spend eight months and 47,000 lives to advance—at their maximum—four bloody miles. They would never come close to their day-one objective.

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It’s Time for the U.S. Military to Double Down in the Asia-Pacific

by Stephen E. Liszewski
A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy personnel stands on the deck of the Chinese naval guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) during a welcome ceremony as it docks at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong April 30, 2012. (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy personnel stands on the deck of the Chinese naval guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) during a welcome ceremony as it docks at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong April 30, 2012. (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters)

The Council on Foreign Relations’ newly released Council Special Report, Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China, proposes a new approach to address the challenges and potential dangers posed by China’s economic, diplomatic and military expansion. The new, proactive approach from Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill and Dr. Ashley J. Tellis moves beyond old models based simply on integration and engagement. The military element of the recommended grand strategy calls for significant investment in “Capabilities and capacity specifically to defeat China’s emerging anti-access capabilities and permit successful U.S. power projection even against concerted opposition from Beijing.”

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Ash Carter’s “Force of the Future” Personnel Reforms Can’t Come Soon Enough

by Jesse Sloman
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter gave a speech at his former high school that laid out his vision for reforming the military’s manpower policies. For those like myself who have argued that the current system is inflexible, antiquated, and poorly adapted for the needs of millennial service members, it was refreshing to see a sitting defense secretary stake out such a forward-thinking position on personnel issues. Carter laid out an array of different policy proposals, three of which I found particularly intriguing: Read more »

Building a Survivable, Exquisite, Expensive Unmanned Aircraft Misses the Point

by Robert A. Newson
An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) after launching from the ship in the Atlantic Ocean in this May 14, 2013 handout photograph released on May 16, 2013 by the U.S. Navy. (Erik Hildebrandt/U.S. Navy/Courtesy Reuters) An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) after launching from the ship in the Atlantic Ocean in this May 14, 2013 handout photograph released on May 16, 2013 by the U.S. Navy. (Erik Hildebrandt/U.S. Navy/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert Newson

The Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) aircraft should be at the heart of a comprehensive debate about the future of unmanned technology and related concept of operations. Unfortunately, the current debate is narrowly focused on how advanced, large, and expensive to make the UCLASS.

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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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