Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

It’s Time for the U.S. Military to Double Down in the Asia-Pacific

by Stephen E. Liszewski Tuesday, April 14, 2015
A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy personnel stands on the deck of the Chinese naval guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) during a welcome ceremony as it docks at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong April 30, 2012. (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy personnel stands on the deck of the Chinese naval guided missile destroyer Haikou (171) during a welcome ceremony as it docks at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong April 30, 2012. (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters)

The Council on Foreign Relations’ newly released Council Special Report, Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China, proposes a new approach to address the challenges and potential dangers posed by China’s economic, diplomatic and military expansion. The new, proactive approach from Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill and Dr. Ashley J. Tellis moves beyond old models based simply on integration and engagement. The military element of the recommended grand strategy calls for significant investment in “Capabilities and capacity specifically to defeat China’s emerging anti-access capabilities and permit successful U.S. power projection even against concerted opposition from Beijing.”

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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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Amid Ballooning Chinese Defense Budgets, Force Protection Still Comes Up Dry

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Monday, January 12, 2015
Frost covers the mask and part of the hat of a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as he stand guard near the border of China and Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province December 10, 2014 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Frost covers the mask and part of the hat of a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) as he stand guard near the border of China and Russia in Heihe, Heilongjiang province December 10, 2014 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

By Lauren Dickey and Emerson Brooking

A recent report by the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly on investments to outfit and equip Chinese soldiers in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sparked controversy both within China and abroad—revealing sharp fissures in China’s ballooning defense budget. With a total defense budget estimated at $132 billion in 2014 and 2.28 million active duty soldiers on payroll, the PLA allocates a mere $1,523 (9,460 yuan) in outfitting each soldier, roughly one-thirteenth the value of the average deploying U.S. serviceman’s personal gear. At a time when the combat-readiness of China’s armed forces is already widely debated, costs of the basic infantrymen kit highlight critical shortcomings of the Chinese military.

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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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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 »

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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Mind the Gap: Putin’s Actions and the Future of War

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Masked members of a pro-Russian defense unit take an oath to the Crimean government in the city of Simferopol on March 10, 2014. Masked members of a pro-Russian defense unit take an oath to the Crimean government in the city of Simferopol on March 10, 2014 (Vasily Fedosenko/Courtesy Reuters).

Molly K. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post is worth a read. The authors wisely observe that Putin’s aggression in Crimea—like in Georgia in 2008—reflects the future of great power conflict. Putin is not playing some sort of 19th-century geopolitical game, they argue, but rather he is “redefining 21st-century warfare”: Read more »