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"

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.

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It’s Ash Carter; Iran Joins the Anti-ISIS Air Campaign; The FY15 NDAA Inches Ahead

by Janine Davidson
Ashton Carter listens while U.S. President Barack Obama announces that he will be his choice to replace outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel while in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, December 5, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) Ashton Carter listens while U.S. President Barack Obama announces that he will be his choice to replace outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel while in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, December 5, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Ashton Carter is officially announced as the twenty-fifth secretary of defense. The best profile of Carter has been written by the man himself—an autobiographical account of his early life and interest in defense policy, published as a faculty profile by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His appointment has received praise from Senators Carl Levin and John McCain alike. Carter takes office at a time when crises balloon around the globe and the Pentagon’s bureacratic challenges continue to mount: he’ll have little chance to learn on the job. At Slate, Fred Kaplan asks a significant but largely unexplored question: in today’s complex world, what makes a person qualified to lead the United States’ largest public or private institution?

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Defense #Longreads for a Long Weekend (II): Chinese Might; “Little Sparta” in Arabia

by Janine Davidson
Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy recruits march during a parade to mark the end of a semester at a military base of the North Sea Fleet, in Qingdao, Shandong province December 5, 2013. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy recruits march during a parade to mark the end of a semester at a military base of the North Sea Fleet, in Qingdao, Shandong province December 5, 2013. (China Daily/Courtesy Reuters)

CFR brings together inquiring minds who specialize across a range of regions and issues. In preparation for the long weekend, I asked CFR’s junior staff to recommend articles and essays that help illuminate security challenges around the world. Today, it’s all about east Asia, as well as a remarkable profile of the United Arab Emirates. This follows yesterday’s segment.

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Defense #Longreads for a Long Weekend: The Scramble for Iraq; Border Insecurity; Lost Memories of WWII

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Marine Corp Assaultman Kirk Dalrymple watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad's Firdaus Square, in this file photo from April 9, 2003. A powerful blast ripped through the Mount Lebanon Hotel March 17, 2004 which is located behind Firdaus Square. The war started on March 20 Baghdad local time, March 19 Washington D.C. local time. (Goran Tomasevi/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Marine Corp Assaultman Kirk Dalrymple watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad's Firdaus Square, in this file photo from April 9, 2003. A powerful blast ripped through the Mount Lebanon Hotel March 17, 2004 which is located behind Firdaus Square. The war started on March 20 Baghdad local time, March 19 Washington D.C. local time. (Goran Tomasevi/Courtesy Reuters)

CFR brings together inquiring minds who specialize across a range of regions and issues. In preparation for the long weekend, I asked CFR’s junior staff to recommend articles and essays that help illuminate security challenges around the world. Today, it’s about Iraq, the U.S. Border Patrol, and a remarkable World War II retrospective. Tune in tomorrow for part two.

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Tensions Broil in Ukraine; Cyber Wargames; The First Armed Drone Operator Breaks Silence

by Janine Davidson
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk into a hall before a news conference in Kiev, November 21, 2014. U.S. Vice President Biden on Friday condemned Russian behavior in Ukraine as "unacceptable" and urged it to abide by a September peace deal by adhering to a ceasefire and removing military forces from the country. (Courtesy Reuters) Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk into a hall before a news conference in Kiev, November 21, 2014. U.S. Vice President Biden on Friday condemned Russian behavior in Ukraine as "unacceptable" and urged it to abide by a September peace deal by adhering to a ceasefire and removing military forces from the country. (Courtesy Reuters)

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

Ukraine: “a slow collapse?” That’s the opinion of the New York Times editorial board. Meanwhile, the United States steps up delivery of non-lethal aid to Ukraine, including its first Humvees. The ceasefire continues to fray: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns that Ukraine’s planned economic blockade of the eastern separatists “paves the way for a new invasion.” Pavel Felgenhauer, writing in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, concludes that eastern Ukraine’s Donbas has effectively become a Russian protectorate. The crisis isn’t over.

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Fight Against ISIS Continues To Scale; Uncertainty Swirls Around Iran Nuclear Talks

by Janine Davidson
Syrian fighters fire a machinegun against Islamic State positions from a location west of Kobani during fighting on November 4, 2014 A Syrian rebel flag covers the front of the truck. (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters) Syrian fighters fire a machinegun against Islamic State positions from a location west of Kobani during fighting on November 4, 2014 A Syrian rebel flag covers the front of the truck. (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters)

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

On November 10, President Obama called for more funds to be allocated in the fight against ISIS. The key figures highlighted in the 34-page letter from the Office of Management and Budget include: Read more »

Afghan Casualties “Not Sustainable;” The Return of Tiered Readiness; Russian Fracturing of NATO

by Janine Davidson
Mohammad Zaman (R), a 45-year-old local policeman who was wounded in Daikundi province, and Abdul Basir, a 25-year-old national policeman who was wounded in Zabul, sit at an ICRC hospital for war victims at the Orthopedic Center of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, August 26, 2014. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters) Mohammad Zaman (R), a 45-year-old local policeman who was wounded in Daikundi province, and Abdul Basir, a 25-year-old national policeman who was wounded in Zabul, sit at an ICRC hospital for war victims at the Orthopedic Center of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, August 26, 2014. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Afghan troop troubles linger in a transforming nation. Afghan forces suffered 4,634 casualties this year—a jump from 4,350 in 2013. Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson commented that these casualty numbers are “not sustainable.” As U.S. troop levels dwindle (with 9,800 left in Afghanistan by early 2015), it will be crucial that Afghan forces become self-sufficient.

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New Estimates of the Cost of the ISIS Fight; Baltic-Russia Tensions; The Looming U.S. Midterms

by Janine Davidson
A Kurdish boy has his face painted with the U.S. and the Kurdish flags as he waits to greet Peshmerga fighters near the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province October 29, 2014. (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters) A Kurdish boy has his face painted with the U.S. and the Kurdish flags as he waits to greet Peshmerga fighters near the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province October 29, 2014. (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters)

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

The new daily cost of operations against ISIS: $8.3 million per dayThis latest Pentagon estimate is a marked increase from last week’s estimate of $7.6 million per day. The total cost of anti-ISIS operations has now likely passed $1 billion. In the Best Defense, Colonel Gary Anderson, USMC (ret.) argues that the effort against ISIS will grow more effective if U.S. policymakers admit that they have adopted a containment strategy. Meanwhile, ISIS itself seems to have mixed up its social media strategy, responding directly to reports by mainstream Western press.

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“Syria’s Stalingrad;” The Hunt for a Submarine (?) in October

by Janine Davidson
Smoke and flames rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, October 20, 2014. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Courtesy Reuters) Smoke and flames rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, October 20, 2014. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Kobani: “Syria’s Stalingrad?” Although, according to Pentagon officials, the Turkish-Syrian border city of Kobani does not play a significant part in broader anti-ISIS operations in the region, it appears to be assuming a significant strategic value due to the fierce media battle now being waged by both ISIS and Kurdish forces. Although ISIS forces have reportedly lost momentum in the past few days, the Pentagon concedes the town could still fall.  More broadly, the United States announced that it killed 521 ISIS militants and 32 civilians in its first month of Syrian bombing. And more broadly still, the outlook for Syria has darkened considerably in the past few months. A RAND Institute “Alternative Futures” study now suspects that operational momentum has shifted back to the Assad government—with grave consequences for the region.

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Weekend Reader: The Quiet Abandonment of Afghan Development; ISIS Tightens Noose Around Baghdad

by Janine Davidson
An Afghan girl walks outside of her shelter in the outskirts of Kabul February 3, 2013. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters) An Afghan girl walks outside of her shelter in the outskirts of Kabul February 3, 2013. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters)

Post-conflict development efforts in Afghanistan are quietly unraveling. The Afghan girls’ school in Kandahar is only the latest casualty of dwindling development dollars. In January, the U.S. Congress voted to halve development funds to Afghanistan. As the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction warned in July, the United States has “no realistic plan” to ensure electrical supply in Kandahar beyond 2015. This news is deeply troubling and is largely escaping public attention. As I’ve written previously, it is crucial that Afghan reconstruction assistance continues beyond the withdrawal of U.S. troops to prevent the unraveling of Afghan security and development.

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