Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Weekend Reader: What To Do About ISIS; General Allen To Lead the Effort; Vet Suicide Prevention

by Janine Davidson
Members of the Kurdish peshmerga stand guard at a checkpoint at Tuz Khurmato village in Salahuddin Province June 26, 2014. (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters) Members of the Kurdish peshmerga stand guard at a checkpoint at Tuz Khurmato village in Salahuddin Province June 26, 2014. (Ahmed Jadallah/Courtesy Reuters)

What to do about ISIS? Following President Obama’s announcement of an expanded campaign against the Islamic State that will pair targeted air strikes with local capacity building for Kurds and Iraqi troops, a range of responses. Jim Lindsay argues that the campaign’s success will hinge on domestic American support. Peter Beinart believes that the threat to the homeland has been overstated. And Tom Ricks sees this as a continuation of a war that has raged uninterrupted since 1990.

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Weekend Reader: Hybrid War, the Al-Qaeda Counter-Caliphate, and Failing Military Hospitals

by Janine Davidson
Pro-Russian separatists patrol an area near an orthodox church in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk September 5, 2014. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian separatists patrol an area near an orthodox church in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk September 5, 2014. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters)

NATO allies must prepare for “hybrid war.” This is the word from General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as Russia’s encroachment and stealth invasion of Ukraine continues. Interestingly, as Steven Pifer notes in the National Interest, persistent Russian denials of entry into Ukraine may be domestically focused, intended to counter discontent over Russian military casualties. Regardless, as I first argued during the annexation of Crimea in March, “hybrid war” is here to stay.

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Long Weekend Reader: As U.S. Celebrates Labor Day, Crises Simmer

by Janine Davidson
Pro-Russian separatists walk past an unmarked grave at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday that Russian forces had entered his country and the military conflict was worsening after Russian-backed separatists swept into a key town in the east. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian separatists walk past an unmarked grave at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday that Russian forces had entered his country and the military conflict was worsening after Russian-backed separatists swept into a key town in the east. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters)

Invasion. As NATO confirms the presence of at least 1,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine, and releases these amazing satellite images showing actual Russian combat forces, including a convoy of self-propelled artillery, moving into Ukrainian territory and engaging in military operations. The Russian role in the conflict is no longer in doubt. According to the Russian presidential human rights council, 100 Russian soldiers have been killed in a single battle. Ivo Daalder, writing in the Financial Times, calls for a decisive response. The Washington Post observes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “hybrid war” is here to stay. CFR’s Stewart Patrick calls it “the definitive end of the ‘post-Cold War’ world.” And Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivers a scathing speech on the UN floor accusing Vladimir Putin of  flat out lying about its “deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country.  The speech is worth reading in full.  Here is an excerpt:

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Weekend Reader: Strategic Fishing Vessels, Russian “Invasion” of Ukraine and ISIS Articles Worth a Read

by Janine Davidson
A Vietnamese sinking boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands, is seen near a Marine Guard ship (R) at Ly Son island of Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province May 29, 2014.  (Courtesy Reuters) A Vietnamese sinking boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands, is seen near a Marine Guard ship (R) at Ly Son island of Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province May 29, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters)

Fishing vessels have become pawns in the South China Sea. China is using fishing vessels strategically—by creating blockades and moving into contested waters—without the risk of culpability that accompanies military movement.  This tactic isn’t new—dating back to the 1990s—but it is ratcheting up tension in the South China Sea, where other states have very few options available and the fishermen themselves will potentially pay the price.

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Weekend Reader: The Islamic State, the Russian Aid Convoy, Militarizing Police, and the Life of Robin Williams

by Janine Davidson
Comedian Robin Williams signs autographs for servicemembers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2007, during the second stop of the 2007 USO holiday tour. (Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Defense.gov) Comedian Robin Williams signs autographs for servicemembers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2007, during the second stop of the 2007 USO holiday tour. (Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Defense.gov)

Who is the Islamic State? (or is it ISIS, ISIL, or something else?) Caerus Associates breaks down the origins and evolution of the Islamic State’s name in this handy reader, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Iraq and Syria.” For more reading on the strategic dilemma facing limited U.S. intervention in Iraq, check out my own piece on the Islamic State’s leveraging of the international community’s self-imposed boundaries.

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Weekend Reader: Remembering General Harold Greene; Air Strikes in Iraq

by Janine Davidson
harold-greene Then-Brig. Gen. Harold Greene speaks at Natick, Mass., on his last day of command of the Natick Soldier Systems Center on May 10, 2011. Maj. Gen. Greene, the two-star Army general who on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed in either of America's post-9/11 wars, was an engineer who rose through the ranks as an expert in developing and fielding the Army's war materiel. He was on his first deployment to a war zone. (U.S. Army/AP)

U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene is killed in an August 5 “green on blue” attack at an Afghan base that wounds fifteen others. He was a devoted officer and father who had given more than thirty years of service. Greene held a Ph.D. in material sciences and had been long recognized for his collaborative, effective style of leadership. As War on the Rocks notes, this marks the first wartime death of a general officer since the Vietnam War.

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Weekend Reader: the WWI Centennial, the Future of War, and the A-10 Warthog

by Janine Davidson
wwi-centennial Yeoman Serjeant Bob Loughlin walks among the art installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" marking the anniversary of World War I at the Tower of London, July 28, 2014. The evolving installation by artist Paul Cummins will be formed of 888,246 ceramic poppies, to honor military fatalities during WWI. (Neil Hall/Courtesy Reuters)

World War I began July 28, 1914—100 years ago this week. The articles (and occasionally grasping historical parallels) have been coming fast and furious ever since. I especially recommend three. The Washington Post features an incredible gallery of WWI landscapes, then and now. Graham Allison in The Atlantic offers a clear-headed assessment of the similarities—and differences—between the conditions of 1914 and 2014. Finally, Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy breaks down the most significant lesson of WWI. He argues that historians focus too much on why the war began…and not enough why it lasted so long.

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Weekend Reader: The Israel-Palestine Peace Deal That Wasn’t; U.S. Military Aid to Mexico

by Janine Davidson
israel-gaza-kerry Palestinians look on at the site of a fire following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike on a building in Gaza City, July 24, 2014. (Suhaib Salem/Courtesy Reuters)

As Operation Protective Edge continues to escalate, remembering the peace deal that wasn’t. The New Republic has the story. While the United States was able to wrangle large concessions from both sides, the details proved insurmountable. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is trying again—this time, simply for a ceasefire.

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Weekend Reader: The Tragedy of MH17, Iron Dome, and Much-Needed Reform For Those MIA

by Janine Davidson
iron-dome An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 8, 2014. (Baz Ratner, Courtesy Reuters)

MH17: simply a tragedy295 airline passengers are dead and all sides are deflecting blame in one of the worst disasters in aviation history. Theories are flying as to the origin and employment of the surface-to-air missile that shot MH17 down: read my own analysis here.

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Weekend Reader: Afghan Election Turmoil, Dam Warfare, and the Geopolitics of the World Cup Final

by Janine Davidson
afghanistan-election-defense-us Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah speaks during a gathering with his supporters in Kabul, July 8, 2014. Abdullah told thousands of supporters on Tuesday he was the winner of last month's run-off election, putting himself on a collision course with his arch-rival, Ashraf Ghani. (Omar Sobhani /Courtesy Reuters)

Grim dispatches from Afghanistan’s “increasingly troubled” presidential election. With the world distracted, the news out of Afghanistan keeps getting worse. The likely loser, Abdullah Abdullah, has accused the government of “industrial-scale” fraud—and threatened not to accept the results. Meanwhile, a new United Nations report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan shows a sharp increase beginning in 2013, drawing the fate of the nation into deeper question.

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