Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson 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) The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) participates in a simulated straits transit. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher B. Janik/U.S. Navy/Flickr)

By Janine Davidson and Lauren Dickey

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.

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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) 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:

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Engage…or Isolate?

by Robert A. Newson Tuesday, February 17, 2015
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan (R) listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters, prior to their meeting in Beijing April 8, 2014.  (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan (R) listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters, prior to their meeting in Beijing April 8, 2014. (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters)

Engage or isolate? This is the national security question that will drive the United States’ response to near-peer competitors like China and Russia, destabilizing middle powers like Iran and North Korea, and even the relatively powerless Cuba. Consistent engagement, even with adversary states, is beneficial. It can help avoid miscalculations, improve U.S. ability to clarify intentions, and decipher ambiguous signals. It also can increase understanding of adversary motivations and interests, which facilitates negotiation and potential development of conflict off-ramps. Conversely, isolation can limit adversaries’ options, negatively feed their fears, and wound their pride—obstructing alternative, preferred paths.

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Admiral Greenert Speaks: What Should the U.S. Navy’s New Maritime Strategy Look Like?

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Monday, November 17, 2014
U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert inspects an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the PLA Navy headquarters outside of Beijing July 15, 2014. (Stephen Shave/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert inspects an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the PLA Navy headquarters outside of Beijing July 15, 2014. (Stephen Shave/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Sam Ehrlich

Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations,visited the Brookings Institution earlier this month to discuss future Navy strategy. Greenert, who has held the position of CNO for three years, touched on issues pertaining to Asia and the Pacific, sequestration, U.S. Naval arms and technology developments, and strategy for Navy’s assured access around the world. Greenert remained hopeful that the official Maritime Strategy would be decided by the end of this calendar year, and his remarks offered a preview as to what that strategy might include.

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Bob Work Speaks: Out of the Spotlight, The Asia-Pacific Rebalance Continues on Course

by Janine Davidson Wednesday, October 1, 2014
U.S. And Philippine soldiers pose for photos in front of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft during an Air Operations and Aircraft Static Display as part of the BALIKATAN 2013 (shoulder-to-shoulder) combined U.S.-Philippines military exercise at the formerly U.S. bases, Clark Air Base, Pampanga province, north of Manila April 13, 2013. (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. And Philippine soldiers pose for photos in front of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft during an Air Operations and Aircraft Static Display as part of the BALIKATAN 2013 (shoulder-to-shoulder) combined U.S.-Philippines military exercise at the formerly U.S. bases, Clark Air Base, Pampanga province, north of Manila April 13, 2013. (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters)

The Council on Foreign Relations hosted Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work on September 30 for one of his first public events since his confirmation five months ago. Work, an experienced hand in maritime strategy and force disposition, explained the quiet steps by which the military rebalance to the Asia-Pacific has continued on course. Amid the loud headlines out of Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, it is easy to forget that much of U.S. foreign policy is still being developed in anticipation of a “Pacific Century.” While unexpected contingencies like ISIS have dictated the tempo and focus of deployed troops, they have, according to Deputy Secretary Work, not hindered the overall rebalance, which largely continues apace.

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Taiwan Wants to Buy U.S. Subs; This Would Be a Bad Deal for Both Countries

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Monday, September 15, 2014
A Dutch-made submarine docks in a military port in Taiwan's southern city of Kaohsiung, November 7, 2005. Taiwan has long sought to buy additional diesel submarines to supplement its aging fleet. (Jameson Wu/Courtesy Reuters) A Dutch-made submarine docks in a military port in Taiwan's southern city of Kaohsiung, November 7, 2005. Taiwan has long sought to buy additional diesel submarines to supplement its aging fleet. (Jameson Wu/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey

This commentary comes courtesy of Lauren Dickey, research associate for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She discusses the new push by Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou government to expand and reinvigorate the island’s submarine program by acquiring U.S. technology and platforms. She argues that doing so would serve the strategic interests of neither Taiwan nor the United States.

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Interview with KQED Radio: the Afghanistan Drawdown and the Strength of Enduring Alliances

by Janine Davidson Wednesday, June 4, 2014
us allies U.S. marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, March 31, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters)

I was recently interviewed by KQED Radio’s “Forum with Michael Krasny,” alongside Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with many of the themes discussed. Among my observations: Read more »

The Obama Doctrine

by Janine Davidson Thursday, May 29, 2014
obama doctrine U.S. President Barack Obama arrives for a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014. Obama's commencement address was the first in a series of speeches that he and top advisers will use to explain U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a broad vision for the rest of his presidency. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s May 28 speech at West Point was long overdue. Chatter about America’s decline, the Pentagon’s budget crunch, deteriorating crises in Syria and Ukraine, and confusion over Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative—the Asia Rebalance—has left many questioning America’s ability or willingness to engage, much less lead, in the world.

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What Hawks and Doves Both Miss on the Military Rebalance to Asia

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 25, 2014
aircraft carrier philippines A Philippine Navy patrol boat drives past the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier George Washington (L) docked after its arrival at a Manila bay October 24, 2012. (Romeo Ranoco/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s long awaited trip to Asia has highlighted the ongoing debate about the military part of the “rebalance.”   Criticism comes from all sides.  Those who claim the Obama administration has not matched its verbal commitment to the region with real action or military investment are countered by others who worry that the policy is overly militaristic and provocative.  Depending on the perspective, China is either going unchecked or being provoked, both of which would lead to instability if not corrected.

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Three Nagging Myths About the U.S. “Pivot” to Asia

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 4, 2014
Chuck Hagel ASEAN U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks during a meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Honolulu, April 3, 2014 (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters).

Since President Obama announced his intention to “rebalance” foreign policy attention toward the Asia-Pacific region, there has been much debate – and much misunderstanding – about the purpose and function of this shift.  As elements of the rebalance begin to fall into place, this conversation will only grow louder.

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