Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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)

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.

Read more »

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)

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).

Read more »

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)

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.

Read more »

China’s Territorial Strategy Is Gradualist, Asymmetric, and Effective. How Should the United States Respond?

by Lauren Dickey and Robert A. Newson Thursday, June 4, 2015
A U.S. Navy servicemen listens to a walkie-talkie in front of a Chinese national flag onboard U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its port call in the Hong Kong waters June 16, 2014. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert Newson and Lauren Dickey

China’s recent release of its new military strategy has rightly captured the attention of many in Washington. Now, more than ever before, the Chinese military has made clear its intentions to develop maritime capabilities that will enable Beijing to assert claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea and project military reach far beyond their immediate periphery. In the South China Sea, over the last two years alone, Chinese efforts have expanded the islands around Firey Cross Reef and Mischief Reef by 2,000 acres – equivalent to nearly 1,500 football fields—and counting. This massive “territory” building and the significant Chinese military build-up coupled with the release of strategic guidelines for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent clear signals to the Pentagon and U.S. allies in the region. China is a global competitor aggressively pursuing their aims and threatening to upend regional stability.

Read more »

Five Takeaways from China’s Bold, New Military Strategy

by Lauren Dickey and Stephen E. Liszewski Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Military delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after the first annual full session of the National People's Congress, the country's parliament, in Beijing March 5, 2015. (Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey and Stephen Liszewski

On Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense issued its first policy document in two years, a white paper titled, “Chinese Military Strategy.” The document, released amid ongoing Chinese island reclamation and increasingly hostile warnings to U.S. Navy aviation assets operating in the South China Sea, outlines how the Chinese armed forces are expected to support Beijing’s geopolitical objectives.

Read more »

How to Defuse the Looming Asia-Pacific Arms Race

by Sean O'Connor Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Soldiers march during the handing-over ceremony of the Izumo warship at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, south of Tokyo March 25, 2015. Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force on Wednesday took delivery of the biggest Japanese warship since World War Two, the Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers that battled the United States in the Pacific. (Thomas Peter/Courtesy Reuters)

By Sean O’Connor

Last month, Thailand’s navy requested funding for a submarine program which, when finalized, will make it the region’s eighth submarine-equipped nation—joining Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, and Australia. The Philippines, Thailand, and Bangladesh, meanwhile, have all expressed interest in acquiring submarine fleets. As tensions in the South China Sea continue to escalate, this arms race poses a significant threat to the security of the region.

Read more »

This Is What a Twenty-First Century U.S. Naval Strategy Looks Like

by Robert A. Newson Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) prepares for flight operations in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 8, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

Naval strategy is in the news: Cooperative Strategy 21 (CS-21R) was released in April; the surface warfare community is discussing its supporting strategy,  ‘Distributed Lethality;’ the Secretary of the Navy released his Navy’s Innovation Visionand the HASC  Subcommittee on Seapower and Force Projection has been active with hearings and testimony from strategists.

Read more »

How Serious Is the Rebalance? U.S. Military Record Tells (Part of) the Story

by Janine Davidson and Lauren Dickey Thursday, April 16, 2015
The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) participates in a simulated straits transit. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher B. Janik/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s travels to Japan and South Korea last week—designed no doubt to highlight the continued U.S. commitment to the region—instead resurfaced concerns that the rebalance to Asia is no longer a priority for Washington. Skeptics worry that world events from Russian aggression in Ukraine, to the continued conflagrations across the Middle East, and negotiations with Iran will continue to challenge Washington’s ability to deploy what Carter referred to as the “next phase of our rebalance.” Debates over the defense budget back in Washington further stoke worries that the military side of the rebalance will remain more talk that action. While there may be other valid concerns about the rebalance (Is it focused sufficiently on Southeast Asia? Overly provocative toward China? Likely to be derailed entirely without the TPP?), concerns that the United States has not prioritized the rebalance do not stand up to the facts. A survey of actual U.S. military activity in the region helps differentiate facts from opinion.

Read more »

Forward, Engaged, Ready: Four Lessons from the United States’ New Maritime Strategy

by Stephen E. Liszewski Friday, March 13, 2015
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8)., January 28, 2015. (Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Rodney Davidson/U.S. Navy Flickr)

This week marks the release of “A Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century: Forward, Engaged, Ready” by the combined sea services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard). This is a revised capstone strategic document that describes how the United States will design, organize, and employ naval forces. As Congress continues to deliberate on the President’s FY 16 budget submission, it is worth considering why sea power is important for the United States right now. Here are four of the most significant reasons why sea power is important to the United States:

Read more »