Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Showing posts for "Weekend Reader"

The End of Mullah Omar; Turkey’s Complex New Front in the Anti-ISIS Fight

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson
An armed man escorts others carrying the coffins of the victims of Monday's bomb attack in Suruc, during a funeral ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2015. (Murad Seze/Courtesy Reuters) An armed man escorts others carrying the coffins of the victims of Monday's bomb attack in Suruc, during a funeral ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2015. (Murad Seze/Courtesy Reuters)

After a long hiatus, Defense in Depth is back, wrapping up an eventful week:

Mullah Omar, the elusive and now erstwhile Taliban leader, has been dead for years, as the Taliban has now confirmed to western media. The BBC originally broke the story on Wednesday, citing sources that claimed Omar died in a Pakistani hospital in 2013. While Omar has been incorrectly reported dead many times before, multiple corroborating statements suggest that this time is for real. His successor has already been appointed; observers are concerned Omar’s death could spell the end of a negotiated peace with the Taliban. While it remains to be seen whether the Taliban will splinter in wake of this news, so far, the insurgents’ summer offensive against the Afghan government continues unabated.

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Islamic State’s One-Year Anniversary Marked by Global Terror; New Challenges for U.S. “Train & Equip”

by Janine Davidson
Messages and flowers are placed at the beach of the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, June 29, 2015. The gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at the Tunisian hotel last Friday with a rifle he had hidden in an umbrella, killing 39 people including Britons, Germans and Belgians as they lounged at the beach in an attack claimed by Islamic State. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) Messages and flowers are placed at the beach of the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, June 29, 2015. The gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at the Tunisian hotel last Friday with a rifle he had hidden in an umbrella, killing 39 people including Britons, Germans and Belgians as they lounged at the beach in an attack claimed by Islamic State. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

My Fourth of July long weekend reader:

Worldwide terror as the self-declared Islamic State celebrates its first anniversary. Three attacks attributed to the Islamic State struck three different continents within three hours last Friday. In France, a brutal decapitation preceded an attempted destruction of an industrial gas factory in Grenoble. A bombing of a mosque in Kuwait left twenty-seven dead and over 200 wounded. Meanwhile, a one-shooter rampage at a Tunisian seaside resort killed thirty-nine and wounded roughly thirty-five. At least twenty-seven British nationals number among the dead, making it the worst mass-casualty event for Britain since the “7/7” London tube bombings in 2005. This as the Islamic State claims a wave of attacks in the Sinai Pensinula that have killed at least thirty Egyptian soldiers.

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The Battle for Kunduz; NATO Defense Spending Declines for Third Straight Year

by Janine Davidson
Afghan forces prepare for battle with Taliban on the outskirts of Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan June 21, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Afghan forces prepare for battle with Taliban on the outskirts of Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan June 21, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

On Monday, Taliban forces closed within four miles of the city of Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan. If they capture the city, it will be the first time the Taliban has controlled a city away from the battlefields in the southeast of Afghanistan since 2001. Also on Monday, seven Taliban fighters launched a coordinated assault on the parliament building in Kabul that left two dead and thirty-one wounded.

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What It Would Take to Embed U.S. Troops in Iraq; Chinese Hack of OPM “Worse than Snowden?”

by Janine Davidson
A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters) A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters)

A renewed debate over U.S. “boots on the ground” in the fight against the self-declared Islamic State. In a Wednesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey reiterated that “winning” in Iraq will rest on the capacity and political will of the Iraqi government. They did not, however, rule out the ground presence of U.S. troops as Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTACs).

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450 More U.S. Troops to Iraq; Many European Citizens Reluctant to Uphold NATO Defense Guarantee

by Janine Davidson
Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released June 2, 2015.  (Sgt. Cody Quinn/U.S. Army/Courtesy Reuters) Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released June 2, 2015. (Sgt. Cody Quinn/U.S. Army/Courtesy Reuters)

More U.S. advisers are on their way to Iraq. As the Wall Street Journal reports, President Obama requested additional military options against the self-declared Islamic State following the fall of Ramadi in mid-May. The result will be 450 new U.S. advisers, deployed to Al Taqqadum air base in Iraq’s Anbar Province. In return, the White House has sought assurances from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that he will incorporate thousands more Sunni fighters into the official, Shia-dominated Iraqi security apparatus.

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Ukraine Braces for “Invasion;” Burial of Fallen U.S. Guardsman Denied by Arlington Cemetery

by Janine Davidson
A member of the Ukrainian armed forces holds a tattered Ukrainian national flag at his position near the town of Maryinka, eastern Ukraine, June 5, 2015. Ukraine's president told his military on Thursday to prepare for a possible "full-scale invasion" by Russia all along their joint border, a day after the worst fighting with Russian-backed separatists in months. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the Ukrainian armed forces holds a tattered Ukrainian national flag at his position near the town of Maryinka, eastern Ukraine, June 5, 2015. Ukraine's president told his military on Thursday to prepare for a possible "full-scale invasion" by Russia all along their joint border, a day after the worst fighting with Russian-backed separatists in months. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters)

Following Russian-backed separatist attack on Maryinka, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenkso warns of “full-scale invasion” from Russia. Ukraine has massed 50,000 troops in the east to respond to new incursions by an indeterminate number of separatists and 9,000 Russian soldiers. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter convenes a closed-door meeting of two dozen generals, ambassadors, and other senior leaders to assess American strategy in the region.

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Russia Masses for a New Offensive in Eastern Ukraine; Number of Displaced Iraqis Now Exceeds Peak of Iraq War

by Janine Davidson
Military vehicles drive along a road at the Russian southern town of Matveev Kurgan, near the Russian-Ukrainian border in Rostov region, Russia, May 24, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Military vehicles drive along a road at the Russian southern town of Matveev Kurgan, near the Russian-Ukrainian border in Rostov region, Russia, May 24, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The “clearest evidence to date” that Russia is overseeing a concerted military buildup, roughly thirty miles from the Ukrainian border. The makeshift base, located at the Kuzminsky firing range, now has three times the equipment it did in March. These are multiple rocket launchers, tanks, and self-propelled howitzers—all weapons used by eastern Ukrainian separatists—stripped of Russian markings. 

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The Islamic State Advances on Both Fronts; A “Real War” in Ukraine; Tragedy in Hawaii

by Janine Davidson
Tourists walk near columns in the historical city of Palmyra, May 13, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken May 13, 2010. (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters) Tourists walk near columns in the historical city of Palmyra, May 13, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken May 13, 2010. (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters)

The self-declared Islamic State increased its presence in both Iraq and Syria this week. The Institute for the Study of War provides several updated maps of Islamic State-held territory. The militants have seized more than half of Syria’s land, this now includes the ancient city of Palmyra. In Iraq, the ISIS offensive on Ramadi, or rather the retreat of Iraqi forces according to General Dempsey, has created a shift in U.S. strategy to combat the Islamic State in Iraq.

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Deserters Offer New Proof of Russia’s Worst-Kept Secret; Air Strikes Take Their Toll on Islamic State Leadership

by Janine Davidson
Opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks to the media during a presentation of the report about Russian military presence in Ukraine that murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was working on shortly before his death, in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2015. Moscow spent more than 53 billion roubles ($1.04 billion) supplying a separatist rebellion in east Ukraine and at least 220 Russian soldiers have been killed there, a report by Russian opposition activists said on Tuesday. (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy Reuters) Opposition activist Ilya Yashin speaks to the media during a presentation of the report about Russian military presence in Ukraine that murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was working on shortly before his death, in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2015. Moscow spent more than 53 billion roubles ($1.04 billion) supplying a separatist rebellion in east Ukraine and at least 220 Russian soldiers have been killed there, a report by Russian opposition activists said on Tuesday. (Maxim Zmeyev/Courtesy Reuters)

Russia is experiencing limited troop desertion. Several Russian soldiers, taking issue with the war in Ukraine, are quitting the fight. Some of these men have released their accounts of the crisis—confirming that the Kremlin did indeed intend for them to cross the border. A report compiled by the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has been released; its research indicates that more than 200 Russian soldiers have been killed in the Ukrainian conflict.

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2014 Sees Record Number of Conflict Refugees; Little Help for Afghanistan’s Wounded Warriors

by Janine Davidson
Ghazal, 4, (L) and Judy, 7, carrying 8-month-old Suhair, react after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad near the Syrian Arab Red Crescent center in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus May 6, 2015. The shelling happened during the visit by a Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy to deliver medical aid to their center in Douma, activists aid. (Bassam Khabieh/Courtesy Reuters) Ghazal, 4, (L) and Judy, 7, carrying 8-month-old Suhair, react after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad near the Syrian Arab Red Crescent center in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus May 6, 2015. The shelling happened during the visit by a Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy to deliver medical aid to their center in Douma, activists aid. (Bassam Khabieh/Courtesy Reuters)

A record thirty-eight million people were displaced by violence in 2014. 2.2 million Iraqis alone were displaced by the self-declared Islamic State. Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo drove the total number of refugees to the highest in a generation. For the first time in a decade, even Europe has seen large numbers of displaced people, with 650,000 Ukrainians fleeing the violence stoked by Russia.

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