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 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.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

Taliban Spring Offensive Besieges Kunduz; Islamic State Eyes Baltimore Protestors

by Janine Davidson
Afghan security forces arrive at the Kunduz airport, April 30, 2015. The Afghan army and police on Thursday failed to expel Taliban fighters from the outskirts of a besieged provincial capital as a seventh day of fierce fighting put pressure on national forces struggling largely without U.S. military backup. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters) Afghan security forces arrive at the Kunduz airport, April 30, 2015. The Afghan army and police on Thursday failed to expel Taliban fighters from the outskirts of a besieged provincial capital as a seventh day of fierce fighting put pressure on national forces struggling largely without U.S. military backup. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters)

Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province risks falling into Taliban hands as the spring offensive beginsA spike in insurgents flowing from Pakistan, as well as a rise in Chechen and Uzbek foreign fighters, is making the counteroffensive effort by Afghan Security Forces increasingly difficult. Afghan military officials have said that they do not have the resources to endure an extended counterinsurgency in the region. As Afghan Security Forces struggle, the U.S. military is increasing its proportion of air strikes and counterterrorism operations in the region.

Read more »

Tensions Near Gulf of Aden; Yemeni Americans Abandoned; Quiet Troop Buildup in Ukraine

by Janine Davidson
Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 1 fly in formation over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during an airpower demonstration, March 22, 2015. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Brown/U.S. Navy/Flickr) Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 1 fly in formation over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during an airpower demonstration, March 22, 2015. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chris Brown/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

The United States bolsters its fleet off the Yemeni coast to twelve ships, including aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt—and turns back an Iranian flotilla. Iran had intended to deliver aid—and quite possibly arms—to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. This rise in maritime tensions is only the latest in a long history of at-sea altercations between the United States and Iran.

Read more »

The Islamic State Sets Eyes on Ramadi; A Little Closure in the Bitter Saga of Blackwater

by Janine Davidson
Iraqi security forces make their way during a patrol looking for Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Ramadi April 9, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Iraqi security forces make their way during a patrol looking for Islamic State militants on the outskirts of Ramadi April 9, 2015. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

 In its widest offensive since the loss of Tikrit, the Islamic State forces besiege Ramadi. The self-declared Islamic State currently holds positions on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi, forcing the evacuation of more than 2,000 citizens. However, the U.S.-led coalition launched airstrikes had blunted the terror group’s momentum on Thursday, leading one U.S. military official to comment that the fall of Ramadi is “not imminent.”

Read more »

Massacre in Yarmouk; The Islamic State and the Hand of Saddam Hussein; 116 Days

by Janine Davidson
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein yells in court as he receives his verdict, as a bailiff attempts to silence him, during his trial held under tight security in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone November 5, 2006. . (David Furst/Courtesy Reuters) Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein yells in court as he receives his verdict, as a bailiff attempts to silence him, during his trial held under tight security in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone November 5, 2006. . (David Furst/Courtesy Reuters)

16,000 Palestinian refugees stranded between the forces of Bashar al-Assad and the advancing Islamic State. The United Nations-administered Yarmouk refugee camp, once home to 200,000, now holds less than 20,000, too young or weak to flee. Speaking at the UN Headquarters, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it plainly: “We simply cannot stand by and watch a massacre unfold.

Read more »

A Deal at Last; Dangerous Escalation in Yemen; Tikrit Recaptured After Four Bloody Weeks

by Janine Davidson
Arab students shout slogans, carry banners and a Yemeni national flag during a protest against Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, in front of the offices of the U.N. headquarters in Beirut April 1, 2015. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states in an air campaign against the Shi'ite Houthis, who emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country when they seized Yemen's capital last year. (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters) Arab students shout slogans, carry banners and a Yemeni national flag during a protest against Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, in front of the offices of the U.N. headquarters in Beirut April 1, 2015. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states in an air campaign against the Shi'ite Houthis, who emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country when they seized Yemen's capital last year. (Mohamed Azakir/Courtesy Reuters)

Iranian nuclear negotiations wrapped up in Lausanne, Switzerland with the announcement of a broad nuclear accord. The deal will reduce Iranian installed centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,000; not enrich uranium above 3.67 percent (90 percent or more is needed for nuclear weapons); and a cap on enriched uranium set to 300 kilograms, down from 10,000 kilograms currently. In return, global sanctions will be lifted and Iran will be admitted into the global community. This is the best of all available options—something I argued on Fox News this Tuesday.

Read more »

The Declassified Intelligence Report Used to Justify the Iraq War; A Timeline of the Ukraine Crisis

by Janine Davidson
U.S. President George W. Bush passes crew members as he walks the deck of
the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech to the nation
as the carrier steamed toward San Diego, California, May 1, 2003. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President George W. Bush passes crew members as he walks the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech to the nation as the carrier steamed toward San Diego, California, May 1, 2003. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Declassified: the 93-page document that justified the invasion of Iraq. The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate raises further questions about the veracity of data used to show that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had restarted his nuclear weapons program. Previously classified dissents from the Department of Energy and Department of State are now public. The case, long criticized for being weak, appears to have been weakened further.

Read more »

Afghanistan and Big Data; Russian Nukes in Crimea; New Evidence of Reprisal Attacks by Iraq’s Shiite Militias

by Janine Davidson
Afghan policemen display their skills at a police training centre in Nangarhar Province March 9, 2015. (Parwiz/Courtesy Reuters) Afghan policemen display their skills at a police training centre in Nangarhar Province March 9, 2015. (Parwiz/Courtesy Reuters)

In Afghanistan, a close correlation between Taliban violence and villages’ positive attitudes toward the United States. This is the conclusion of a big-data research project run by Jason Lyall, a political scientist at Yale University. Lyall’s statistical models could help anticipate and prevent Taliban violence in the future.

Read more »