Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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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 Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
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)

By Jesse Sloman

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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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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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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The Air Force’s Argument to Retire the A-10 Warthog Doesn’t Add Up. Here’s Why.

by Ben Fernandes
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram Air Base flies a combat mission over Afghanistan, in this handout photograph taken on June 14, 2009 and obtained on May 20, 2014. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram Air Base flies a combat mission over Afghanistan, in this handout photograph taken on June 14, 2009 and obtained on May 20, 2014. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/Courtesy Reuters)

The U.S. Air Force and the rest of the military desperately need to cut billions of dollars while minimizing the loss to combat capabilities. Eliminating platforms provides the greatest cost savings due to the fixed costs associated with each platform. The Air Force plan: retire the A-10 Warthog. As an Army officer relying on anecdotal experience and public evidence, I find this decision perplexing, as do Air Force ground controllers, Senator Kelly Ayote (R-NH), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I cannot find systemic evidence articulating the impact of losing the A-10 on the Air Force’s close air support (CAS) capability because the Air Force has failed to articulate this information. Instead the Air Force provides irrelevant or misleading information.

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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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Digging into the Compensation Commission’s Proposals: Great for Troops AND the Pentagon Bottom Line

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
Alphonso Maldon, Jr., chairman of the Department of Defense Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, asks for service members' ideas for improvement aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 25, 2014. (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System) Alphonso Maldon, Jr., chairman of the Department of Defense Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, asks for service members' ideas for improvement aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 25, 2014. (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)

By Jesse Sloman

Last week, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) released its long-awaited final report, outlining fifteen recommendations for updating military pay and benefits. The Pentagon, Congress, military advocacy organizations, and think tanks are all studying the proposed reforms to determine who stands to gain, who stands to lose, and what their positions will be.

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

by Robert A. Newson
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)

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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