Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

With Naval Strikes into Syria, Russia Is Now Messaging with Missiles

by Sean R. Liedman Thursday, October 8, 2015
On October 7, Russian warships launched twenty-eight cruise missiles into Syria from the landlocked Caspian Sea. (Russian Ministry of Defense/YouTube) On October 7, Russian warships launched twenty-eight cruise missiles into Syria from the landlocked Caspian Sea. (Russian Ministry of Defense/YouTube)

By Sean Liedman

The Russian Navy’s initial firing of twenty-six cruise missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea into Syria yesterday generated little effect on the Syrian battlefield—but that may not be the primary objective. Russian President Vladimir Putin capitalized on this opportunity to showcase this new sea-based, long range precision strike capability as a strategic messaging tool aimed at a variety of audiences: Read more »

Six Questions That Should Now Guide U.S. Defense Planning in Syria and Iraq

by Emerson Brooking Monday, October 5, 2015
Russian Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack planes perform during the Aviadarts military aviation competition at the Dubrovichi range near Ryazan, Russia, August 2, 2015. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters) Russian Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack planes perform during the Aviadarts military aviation competition at the Dubrovichi range near Ryazan, Russia, August 2, 2015. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters)

By Emerson Brooking

Into one of the most complex conflicts in modern history, Russia has leapt seemingly overnight. Russian President Vladimir Putin has waded in like the Donald Trump of geopolitics: brash, disruptive, and unbowed by international criticism. This combination, fresh fuel for the Syrian tinderbox, will drastically raise the risk of military miscalculation.

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Vladimir Putin’s Naval Ambitions Have Only Begun

by Sean R. Liedman Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during celebrations for Navy Day as it rains in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia, July 26, 2015. (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin, Courtesy Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during celebrations for Navy Day as it rains in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia, July 26, 2015. (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin, Courtesy Reuters)

By Sean Liedman

Defense in Depth is proud to welcome Captain Sean R. Liedman, U.S. Navy, who will be serving as a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations for the 2015-2016 term. Today, he assesses recent shifts in Russian naval planning and deployment, and considers what might come next.

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Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Precision Strike

by Zachary Austin Wednesday, September 16, 2015
A B-2 Spirit flies into position June 11, 2014, during a refueling mission over the North Atlantic Ocean. The B-2 is conducting training flights and regional familiarization in the U.S. European Command area of operations. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. (Sgt. Paul Villanueva/U.S. Air Force Flickr) A B-2 Spirit flies into position June 11, 2014, during a refueling mission over the North Atlantic Ocean. The B-2 is conducting training flights and regional familiarization in the U.S. European Command area of operations. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. (Sgt. Paul Villanueva/U.S. Air Force Flickr)

By Zachary Austin

On average, it took 1,000 sorties of B-17 bombers dropping nearly two-and-a-half million pounds of “dumb” bombs to successfully knock out a significant Nazi target in 1944. By contrast, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a B-2 bomber could reliably achieve the same result with a single 2,000 pound “smart” bomb—and then go on to strike up to fifteen more targets in a single mission.

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When Should the 9/11 War End?

by Emerson Brooking Thursday, September 10, 2015
The Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of lower Manhattan during events marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2014. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters) The Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of lower Manhattan during events marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2014. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters)

By Emerson Brooking

The last survivor had not yet been pulled from the World Trade Center’s 200,000 tons of twisted steel when senior White House officials met to lay the legal foundation of the future war on terror. In New York, 2,606 people were dead; aboard planes bound for Los Angeles and San Francisco, 246; at the Pentagon, where the jet fuel still burned, 125. As the nation reeled, government lawyers struggled to authorize combat operations against an enemy whose identity was still unknown. The resultant resolution, passed by both houses of Congress on September 14, 2001, stated: Read more »

Chinese Animators Envision a Future Asia-Pacific War—and Blow Up the Internet

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Thursday, September 3, 2015
An enemy surface ship, almost surely part of a U.S. carrier strike group, comes under Chinese attack in a newly released military propaganda film. (“Battle to Capture an Island: a Full View of Chinese Military Strength,” Tencent and Visions Media, September 3, 2015) An enemy surface ship, almost surely part of a U.S. carrier strike group, comes under Chinese attack in a newly released military propaganda film. (“Battle to Capture an Island: a Full View of Chinese Military Strength,” Tencent and Visions Media, September 3, 2015)

By Lauren Dickey

Alongside the military spectacle that passed through Tiananmen Square in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Chinese media conglomerate Tecent also released a new computer-generated video, “Battle to Capture an Island: a Full View of Chinese Military Strength.” Available via the social media platform QQ, the five-minute video appears to show a Chinese aerial attack and subsequent invasion of a tropical island.

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Under Xi, China Prepares for Modern Warfare

by Lauren Dickey Thursday, September 3, 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping waves as he reviews the army, at the beginning of the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping waves as he reviews the army, at the beginning of the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey

Chinese military muscle was on full display in Beijing this week, with hundreds of new weapons platforms, fly-bys, 12,000 troops, and foreign dignitaries all in the global spotlight of Tiananmen Square. Yet, it wasn’t just the land-based anti-ship ballistic missiles and ground assault units that stole the show. Simmering behind the scenes, and underpinning Chinese President Xi Jinping’s evolving political-military agenda, were the renewed discussions of imminent plans for an overhaul to the operating structure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

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Veterans Affairs Backlog at Historic Low; The Americans Who Leave Home to Fight ISIS

by Janine Davidson Saturday, August 29, 2015
The sign in the front of the headquarters building at the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen as a man walks past in Washington, May 23, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) The sign in the front of the headquarters building at the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen as a man walks past in Washington, May 23, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Veterans Affairs case backlog drops below 100,000—an historic firstRoughly 98,500 of the 363,000 pending VA claims are now backlogged, defined by cases that have been pending for more than 125 days. Although the number is still high, it represents a remarkable turnaround from two years ago, when the number of backlogged cases peaked at 613,000. Average processing time has fallen from 282 days to 105 today.

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In World War II V-Day Parade, China Will Show Its Steel

by Lauren Dickey Thursday, August 27, 2015
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march with their weapons during a training session for a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at a military base in Beijing, China, August 22, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march with their weapons during a training session for a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, at a military base in Beijing, China, August 22, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey

Amid a sudden stock market plunge and consequent domestic instability, perhaps no one in China is more eagerly anticipating next week’s military parade than President Xi Jinping. On September 3, the ten lanes of Chang’an Avenue in Beijing will fill with weapons and troops to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II, otherwise known as “Commemoration of Seventieth Anniversary of Victory of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War.” The parade—just one of many festivities planned by the Chinese government—represents not only a bold show of Chinese nationalism, military might and bilateral relationships, but also a necessary distraction from economic slowdown, the recent explosion in Tianjin, ongoing environmental concerns, and corruption at home.

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Tensions Rise on the Korean Peninsula; Charting the Human Cost of Post-9/11 Interventions

by Janine Davidson Friday, August 21, 2015
An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field Fla., April 24, 2014.  ( Staff Sgt. John Bainter/U.S. Air Force/Flickr) An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field Fla., April 24, 2014. ( Staff Sgt. John Bainter/U.S. Air Force/Flickr)

Tensions rise on the Korean peninsula.  North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire and harsh rhetoric this week, reflecting rising tensions between the Pyongyang and Seoul. The latest clash began after the North fired into the Demilitarized Zone in an attempt to silence loudspeakers that have recently begun to broadcast anti-North messages.  The South responded with its own artillery, placed its military on high alert and warned the North against “rash acts” that would result in more severe punishment from the South. The North, which is also protesting the current annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises, has threatened strikes deeper South if the loudspeakers are not removed by Saturday.  There are approximately 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

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