Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Weekend Reader"

The Specter of ISIS’ Foreign Recruits; Ash Carter’s Listening Tour

by Janine Davidson
Spanish civil guards lead a detained man suspected of using social media to recruit people to violent groups like the Islamic State, in Spain's North African enclave Melilla, February 24, 2015. (Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda/Courtesy Reuters) Spanish civil guards lead a detained man suspected of using social media to recruit people to violent groups like the Islamic State, in Spain's North African enclave Melilla, February 24, 2015. (Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda/Courtesy Reuters)

ISIS made headlines again with the abduction of hundreds of Assyrian Christians in northeastern Syria. Across the Iraq border, ISIS pointed its efforts this week towards destroying history, including ancient books and sculptures. However, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is showing progress; General (ret.) John Allen, special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, commented that half of the ISIS leaders in Iraq have now been targeted and killed. General Allen continued that the goal should be to make this terrorist group inoperable; in his mind, it is unlikely they will ever be completely eradicated.

Read more »

A Savage Ukrainian Defeat at Debaltseve; What ISIS Really Wants

by Janine Davidson
A Ukrainian serviceman who fought in Debaltseve is seen in a bus before leaving for his home, near Artemivsk February 19, 2015. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters) A Ukrainian serviceman who fought in Debaltseve is seen in a bus before leaving for his home, near Artemivsk February 19, 2015. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters)

In a breach that may mark the end of an abbreviated ceasefire, fighting resumed in Ukraine over the town of Debaltseve, a strategic location in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian troops endured a terrifying, chaotic retreat from Debaltseve early Wednesday; an estimated 170 casualties occurred during the withdrawal, with even more thought to be captured or missing. The evacuation of Ukrainian forces came just days after the Minsk ceasefire went into effect on Sunday. Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sympathy, mocking Ukrainian’s inability to defend against, “people who were yesterday working down in the mines or driving tractors.” Leaders in Kiev are now worried that pro-Russian separatists are preparing for a heavy assault on the strategic port of Mariupol, located on the northern coast of the Sea of Azov.

Read more »

An AUMF at Last; One More Try for Ukrainian Ceasefire; Afghanistan Exit in Flux?

by Janine Davidson
U.S. President Barack Obama is flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Secretary of State John Kerry (R) as he delivers a statement on legislation sent to Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State, from the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington February 11, 2015. Obama asked Congress on Wednesday to authorize military force against Islamic State that would bar any large-scale invasion by U.S. ground troops and limit operations to three years. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama is flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Secretary of State John Kerry (R) as he delivers a statement on legislation sent to Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State, from the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington February 11, 2015. Obama asked Congress on Wednesday to authorize military force against Islamic State that would bar any large-scale invasion by U.S. ground troops and limit operations to three years. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama, after six months of using the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to justify the fight against ISIS, has released his draft for a new, ISIS-specific AUMF. In a public statement on Wednesday, Obama outlined his vision and expectations for the new authorization. Members of Congress have raised criticism on the issues of associated terrorist groups, geographic limits, and the use of ground forces. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA 28) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) noted that the lack of geographic limitations could allow the President to pursue terrorist groups in North and West Africa. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-IA) attacked the draft for its vague language, asserting that it was, “ambiguous and could leave us in perpetual debate on what the military is authorized to do.” With so much criticism from both parties, the stage is set for a wide-ranging congressional debate. The bill will appear before Congress next week.

Read more »

A Bold Proposal for Military Compensation Reform; Curtains Close on Afghan War Transparency

by Janine Davidson
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers take part in a training exercise at a military base in Kabul November 23, 2014. (Omar Sobhan/Courtesy Reuters) Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers take part in a training exercise at a military base in Kabul November 23, 2014. (Omar Sobhan/Courtesy Reuters)

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) released their recommendation on military compensation reforms on ThursdayMilitary compensation encompasses current pay, retirement, health care, and quality of life. Defense in Depth has compiled its own tally of facts, figures, and graphs to help contextualize this debate. The MCRMC, first created by the FY 2013 NDAA, will be tasked with updating this system for the first time in twenty years.

Read more »

U.S. Navy Prepares for Yemen Evacuation; The Battle(s) for Donetsk Airport; The New Cyber Arms Race

by Janine Davidson
A Ukrainian serviceman fires a weapon during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Pesky village, near Donetsk January 21, 2015. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Courtesy Reuters) A Ukrainian serviceman fires a weapon during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Pesky village, near Donetsk January 21, 2015. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

Yemen, the U.S. hope for a counterterrorism ally in the region, is falling into civil war. News came Thursday of the resignation of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, adding to the deterioration of the country. As the home to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Yemen was a key partner in the fight against terrorism. While Yemen was an integral part of President Obama’s anti-terror strategy, it is unclear how the U.S. will proceed. With an attempt for peace and a constitutional revision clearly failed, the U.S. will assess its next actions carefully. With widespread violence and clashes continuing this week, the U.S. Navy is taking preparatory steps for a possible evacuation, should American officials in Yemen face unacceptable risk.

Read more »

The Terror of Boko Haram; A Truly Remarkable Soldier; New Ground for the Syrian Opposition

by Janine Davidson
A satellite image taken on Jan. 7 and released by Amnesty International shows damage to the town of Doron Baga in northeastern Nigeria after an attack by members of the extremist group Boko Haram. (Amnesty International/DigitalGlobe) A satellite image taken on Jan. 7 and released by Amnesty International shows damage to the town of Doron Baga in northeastern Nigeria after an attack by members of the extremist group Boko Haram. (Amnesty International/DigitalGlobe)

Boko Haram has carried out one of the most devastating terror attacks in history—and it continues to go virtually unreportedAs satellite footage shows, the northern Nigerian town of Baga has been razed to the ground. Official tallies place Boko Haram’s killing spree in the hundreds, but eyewitnesses and analysts estimate a total closer to 2,000. This attack, coupled with a January 10 suicide attack by a girl as young as ten years old, is setting a bitter start to the new year. Ambassador John Campbell of CFR assesses the vast discrepancy in coverage: Read more »

Tragedy at Charlie Hebdo; The ISIS Economy; Major U.S.-European Base Realignments

by Janine Davidson
Armed French intervention police walk with a sniffer dog are seen at the scene of a shooting in the street of Montrouge near Paris January 8, 2015. (Christian Hartmann/Courtesy Reuters) Armed French intervention police walk with a sniffer dog are seen at the scene of a shooting in the street of Montrouge near Paris January 8, 2015. (Christian Hartmann/Courtesy Reuters)

Tragedy at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie HebdoOn January 7, two gunmen gained entry to the magazine’s offices, executing twelve—including virtually all of the publication’s senior editorial staff. The attack was premeditated, systematic, and professional. The New York Times has woven together eye witness testimony to create a timeline of the attack. The attack bears very likely—but not yet substantiated—links to Al-Qaeda, which had long threatened violence against the magazine. Condemnation of the attacks has been universal, with vigils held at cities around the globe. As of this writing, there were two simultaneous standoffs between Islamist extremist gunmen and police, both for the Charlie Hebdo tragedy and a possibly related attack on a French police officer. For France—for which this is probably the deadliest attack since the 1954-62 Algerian War—this tragedy will likely carry longstanding consequences. If you read one retrospective on the tragedy, George Packer at the New Yorker gets it best: Read more »

A Taliban Resurgence; A Preview of Cyberwar To Come

by Janine Davidson
People light candles in memory of victims of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School, along with others in a rally in Peshawar, December 17, 2014. At least 132 students and nine staff members were killed on Tuesday when Taliban gunmen broke into the school and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years. (Khuram Parvez/Courtesy Reuters) People light candles in memory of victims of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School, along with others in a rally in Peshawar, December 17, 2014. At least 132 students and nine staff members were killed on Tuesday when Taliban gunmen broke into the school and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years. (Khuram Parvez/Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week. Defense in Depth will be on hiatus until January 5, 2015. In lieu of new updates, I’ll be posting some of our best stories from the past year. 

Read more »

CIA Interrogation Report; How ISIS Was Hatched in Iraq’s Camp Bucca Prison

by Janine Davidson
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) talks to reporters after coming out of the Senate in Washington December 9, 2014. "Enhanced interrogation" techniques used by the CIA on militants detained in secret prisons were ineffective and never produced information which led to the disruption of imminent terrorist plots, a declassified report by the Senate Intelligence Committee found. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Senate Intelligence Committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) talks to reporters after coming out of the Senate in Washington December 9, 2014. "Enhanced interrogation" techniques used by the CIA on militants detained in secret prisons were ineffective and never produced information which led to the disruption of imminent terrorist plots, a declassified report by the Senate Intelligence Committee found. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its controversial report on CIA interrogation methods this past Tuesday.  The report characterized the CIA as brutal, ineffective, and misleading. Many questions remain as to the involvement of Bush administration officials in authorizing and overseeing this program. Republican Senators on the committee (with the exception of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) have issued their own report rebutting many claims of impropriety. Likewise, six former CIA directors and deputy directors penned a Wall Street Journal op ed assailing the report’s credibility. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) crossed the partisan boundary to endorse the document, including his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam as testimony.

Read more »