Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Showing posts for "Military Operations"

What’s on “Defense in Depth’s” Summer Bookshelf?

by Janine Davidson
A U.S. Army combat tank team member reads a book sitting beside his M1A1 Abrams tank in the desert outside Kuwait City, March 14, 2003. (Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Army combat tank team member reads a book sitting beside his M1A1 Abrams tank in the desert outside Kuwait City, March 14, 2003. (Courtesy Reuters)

I was invited to appear on CFR’s “The World Next Week,” a weekly podcast hosted by Jim Lindsay and Robert McMahon (the whole episode is worth a listen). This week was about books, books, books: what people have read, what they want to read, and what texts they think provide the best window into the world and how it works. Here are my top three picks:

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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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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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How No-Fly Zones Work

by Clint Hinote
F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing in Tucson fly over an eastern Arizona training range April 8, 2015. (Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/U.S. Air Force Flickr) F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing in Tucson fly over an eastern Arizona training range April 8, 2015. (Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen/U.S. Air Force Flickr)

When conflict rears its ugly head around the world, there is usually a call for the United States to “do something.” One option that is frequently mentioned is the no-fly zone. The United States and its allies enjoy a significant advantage over most potential adversaries in the air. No-fly zones, therefore, are attractive due to the perceived lower cost and risk when compared to other options. Despite this, setting up a no-fly zone is anything but a “no brainer.” Depending on the circumstances, there may be steep costs and unseen risks. This short primer is intended to introduce readers to the way no-fly zones really work.

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

by Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking
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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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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ISIS Traces Its Roots to 2003

by Janine Davidson
A resident of Tabqa city touring the streets on a motorcycle waves an Islamist flag in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A resident of Tabqa city touring the streets on a motorcycle waves an Islamist flag in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This week, I had the opportunity to hear my friend Emma Sky speak at the New America Foundation’s first annual Future of War Conference, held here in Washington, DC.  Emma was General Ray Odierno’s political adviser during the 2007 “surge” in Iraq and is one of the smartest people I know (check out her new book about it all, The Unraveling, due to be released soon). Although she was only allotted three short minutes to speak on the panel, her message about the origins of ISIS and the shortfalls in the US strategy were as clear and compelling as they were depressing.

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

by Clint Hinote
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)

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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Why Is a Comedian the Only One Talking About the Plight of Afghan Interpreters?

by Emerson Brooking and Janine Davidson
A translator for the U.S. Army listens during a security meeting with various members of the Afghan National Security Forces near Combat Outpost Hutal in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, January 21, 2013. (Andrew Burton/Courtesy Reuters) A translator for the U.S. Army listens during a security meeting with various members of the Afghan National Security Forces near Combat Outpost Hutal in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, January 21, 2013. (Andrew Burton/Courtesy Reuters)

By Emerson Brooking and Janine Davidson

If you tuned in for last Sunday’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you also watched some of the most thorough reporting to date regarding efforts to secure Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) for Afghan and Iraqi  translators who have served for years alongside U.S. military personnel. When American servicemen rotate away, these translators remain—often becoming top-priority targets for reprisal attacks. Unfortunately, the State Department program intended to get Afghan translators and their families to safety has long been stuck in a bureaucratic swamp, stranding more than 6,000 Afghans across various stages of the process. With the visa program slated to end on December 31, many of these Afghans are now in very real danger of being abandoned. This raises two difficult questions: first, why has this been allowed to happen? And second, what now—at this late stage—can still be done to save them?

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