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"

Amid Growing Evidence of Russian Involvement in MH17 Tragedy, No Sign of De-Escalation

by Janine Davidson
mh17-ukraine-intelligence College students gather around candles forming the shape of an airplane, during a candlelight vigil for victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, at a university in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province July 19, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

As the Russian media continues to spin its own increasingly far-fetched narrative about the tragic shoot down of MH17, the U.S. military has released new intelligence that solidly links Russian military assistance to the disaster. The intelligence reaffirms the White House’s statements that Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists, likely with Russian help, are responsible for firing the Buk missile that downed a passenger jet flying over Ukrainian airspace.  Officials have also stated that the Ukrainian military had no surface-to air-assets within striking range of MH17.

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In Shootdown of Malaysian Airlines MH17, Two Likely Scenarios

by Janine Davidson
mh17-russia-ukraine-military The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. The Malaysian airliner Flight MH-17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels in which Russia and the West back opposing sides. (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy Reuters)

The downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 and death of all 295 passengers on board is a heartbreaking tragedy. It ranks as the fourth deadliest single-plane disaster in aviation history, and the deadliest from a manmade cause. While the facts of the crash will take many days to determine, the political ramifications will come almost immediately. As Russia, pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists, and the Ukrainian government each cast blame from one to the other, it is important to understand how this terrible event might have happened.

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Is It Mission Creep? Making Sense of the Increasing Troop Levels in Iraq

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets U.S. Marines stationed at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during his visit to Iraq on June 23, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets U.S. Marines stationed at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during his visit to Iraq on June 23, 2014.

This week’s announcement that the President will be sending a few hundred more troops to Iraq immediately, and predictably, raised questions of “mission creep.” For some military planners, however, this was probably no surprise. Planners understand that in order for 300 troops to actually be able to do anything, they will need support. And, although it may be counter-intuitive to some observers, whether we are sending troops into combat or for humanitarian or advisory purposes, the risk of casualties can actually increase if the number of troops falls below a certain level.

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Drones: Three Misconceptions, Concerns, and Ways to Make Things Better—a Report from the Stimson Center Task Force

by Janine Davidson
drone-stimson-task-force Demonstrators deploy a model of a U.S. drone aircraft at the "Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against Mass Surveillance" near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 26, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

A new report is out today from the Stimson Center’s Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy, co-chaired by General John Abizaid, U.S. Army (ret.) and Rosa Brooks, of which I was also a member. Our study took place over the course of a year, examining three key issue sets in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) debate: 1) defense utility, national security, and economics; 2) ethics and law; and 3) export controls and regulatory challenges. Our examination identified UAV misconceptions, areas of concern,  and—significantly—a few concrete ways to make things better.

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Struggling to Wrap Your Head Around the Iraq Policy Debate? Read This, That, and These.

by Janine Davidson
iraq Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces stand guard during an intensive security deployment in Baghdad's Amiriya district, June 18, 2014. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Courtesy Reuters)

There’s little doubt that the security situation in Iraq is fast-moving; if you’re reading this even a few hours from now, the terrain will likely have shifted again. Amid the rhetoric about who to blame and what the United States should do next, it’s easy to lose sight of the broader picture—as well as the history that got us to this point.  Here are some of the best resources I’ve found to acquaint readers with some of the deeper issues at play:

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On Iraq, No Quick or Easy Solution

by Janine Davidson
iraq maliki A girl, who fled from the violence in Mosul, carries a case of water at a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 12, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This week’s news from Iraq is nothing but tragic.  As forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took Mosul and Tikrit before turning toward Baghdad, the bulk of Iraqi forces laid down their arms and fled, demonstrating the mess Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made of the U.S.-trained and equipped Army that was left in his care just over two years ago.

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Seventy Years Ago, We Did the Impossible. Could We Do It Again?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
d-day Landing on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire are these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat, June 6, 1944. (Robert F. Sargent/Courtesy National Archives)

By William J. Parker III

This commentary comes courtesy of Captain William J. Parker III, CFR’s own U.S. Navy fellow and a surface naval warfare officer by trade. Parker traces the years of intensive logistical and operational planning that culminated in the famous June 6, 1944 landing at Normandy. He argues that D-Day was ultimately the result of many seemingly disparate operations. Parker also asks an important question: with all the transformations in modern warfighting, could the United States today accomplish a similarly impressive feat?

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What Next for Afghanistan? Making Sense of President Obama’s Rose Garden Announcement

by Janine Davidson
afghanistan obama drawdown U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an announcement on the number of U.S. troops that will remain in Afghanistan after the formal troop drawdown at the end of this year, in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, May 27, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Today, President Obama announced his plan for winding down the thirteen-year intervention in Afghanistan.  On the military side, here is the summary on how many troops will remain and what they will be doing:

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In Latin America, Lines Between Crime and War Begin to Blur

by Janine Davidson
Members of Mexico's military salute Members of Mexico's military salute during an official reception for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Canada's Defense Minister Rob Nicholson in Mexico City, April 24, 2014. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

While attention was focused last week on President Obama’s trip to Asia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was on a separate mission to boost military-to-military relations in another important part of the world: Latin America. Hagel’s trip to Mexico and Guatemala, two countries plagued by spiraling drug violence, highlights the increasingly blurred line between military activities and law enforcement.

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In Afghanistan, Path to Lasting Success Will Also Be the Hardest

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
An Afghan woman waits to receive her voter card at a voter registration center in Kabul, March 30, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) An Afghan woman waits to receive her voter card at a voter registration center in Kabul, March 30, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

Afghanistan’s April 5 elections were well attended, successful, and – most importantly – relatively safe. According to preliminary reports, the Taliban did not launch a single major attack from the time polls opened to the time they closed. The most striking concern was not a failure in security (there were 140 attacks this year, compared to 500 in 2009), but rather a shortage of ballots. While often indicative of vote tampering, this also revealed the zeal with which Afghans went to the polls.

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