Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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In World War II V-Day Parade, China Will Show Its Steel

by Lauren Dickey
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march with their weapons during a training session for a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at a military base in Beijing, China, August 22, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march with their weapons during a training session for a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at a military base in Beijing, China, August 22, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey

Amid a sudden stock market plunge and consequent domestic instability, perhaps no one in China is more eagerly anticipating next week’s military parade than President Xi Jinping. On September 3, the ten lanes of Chang’an Avenue in Beijing will fill with weapons and troops to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II, otherwise known as “Commemoration of Seventieth Anniversary of Victory of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War.” The parade—just one of many festivities planned by the Chinese government—represents not only a bold show of Chinese nationalism, military might and bilateral relationships, but also a necessary distraction from economic slowdown, the recent explosion in Tianjin, ongoing environmental concerns, and corruption at home.

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The Start of a New Chapter in Iraqi Politics?

by Jane Arraf
Protesters display a huge Iraqi flag during a demonstration against corruption and poor services in regard to power cuts and water shortages, in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, August 14, 2015.  (Mushtaq Muhammed/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters display a huge Iraqi flag during a demonstration against corruption and poor services in regard to power cuts and water shortages, in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, August 14, 2015. (Mushtaq Muhammed/Courtesy Reuters)

By Jane Arraf

It takes a lot to get Iraqis angry enough to take the risk of demonstrating in the streets. They’ve learned the hard way the cost of public protests. But this week, mounting public anger over lack of government services and rampant corruption sparked the most sweeping reform plan in Iraq’s post-war history.

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Apache, Not Fort Apache: How a Light U.S. Footprint Can Help Defeat the Islamic State

by Robert A. Newson
Then-Staff Sgt. Bart Decker, Air Force combat controller, on horseback with Northern Alliance forces. (U.S. Army/Wikimedia) Then-Staff Sgt. Bart Decker, Air Force combat controller, on horseback with Northern Alliance forces. (U.S. Army/Wikimedia)

By Robert Newson

As Iraqi government forces struggle to hold their own against the self-declared Islamic State, the limitations of the current U.S. strategy have become clear. Our side is losing both individual battles and the larger war. Although the fight against the Islamic State will not be won by ground combat alone—Vietnam taught us too well the gap between tactical success and strategic victory—we must begin by winning on the battlefield. In turn, this will require a reexamination of how U.S. forces in the region operate, as well as what level of risk senior leaders are able to accept.

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Why Putin’s ICBM Announcement Does Not Signal a New Nuclear Arms Race

by Adam Mount
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrive for the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia, June 16, 2015. (Vasily Maximov/Courtesy Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrive for the opening of the Army-2015 international military forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia, June 16, 2015. (Vasily Maximov/Courtesy Reuters)

By Adam Mount

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave brief remarks at the opening ceremony of ARMY-2015, an exposition where Russia’s defense contractors demonstrated new military technology for foreign weapons buyers. The speech was relatively sedate. It omitted much of the aggressive rhetoric that has become commonplace for the Kremlin, amounting to little more than a sales pitch for Russia’s military systems. Highlighting several pieces of Russia’s plan to modernize its military, Putin mentioned that, “This year we will supply more than forty new intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs] to our nuclear force.”

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China’s Territorial Strategy Is Gradualist, Asymmetric, and Effective. How Should the United States Respond?

by Robert A. Newson and Lauren Dickey
A U.S. Navy servicemen listens to a walkie-talkie in front of a Chinese national flag onboard U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its port call in the Hong Kong waters June 16, 2014. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Navy servicemen listens to a walkie-talkie in front of a Chinese national flag onboard U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its port call in the Hong Kong waters June 16, 2014. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert Newson and Lauren Dickey

China’s recent release of its new military strategy has rightly captured the attention of many in Washington. Now, more than ever before, the Chinese military has made clear its intentions to develop maritime capabilities that will enable Beijing to assert claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea and project military reach far beyond their immediate periphery. In the South China Sea, over the last two years alone, Chinese efforts have expanded the islands around Firey Cross Reef and Mischief Reef by 2,000 acres – equivalent to nearly 1,500 football fields—and counting. This massive “territory” building and the significant Chinese military build-up coupled with the release of strategic guidelines for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent clear signals to the Pentagon and U.S. allies in the region. China is a global competitor aggressively pursuing their aims and threatening to upend regional stability.

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Five Takeaways from China’s Bold, New Military Strategy

by Lauren Dickey and Stephen E. Liszewski
Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after the first annual full session of the National People's Congress, the country's parliament, in Beijing March 5, 2015. (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters) Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after the first annual full session of the National People's Congress, the country's parliament, in Beijing March 5, 2015. (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey and Stephen Liszewski

On Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense issued its first policy document in two years, a white paper titled, “Chinese Military Strategy.” The document, released amid ongoing Chinese island reclamation and increasingly hostile warnings to U.S. Navy aviation assets operating in the South China Sea, outlines how the Chinese armed forces are expected to support Beijing’s geopolitical objectives.

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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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