Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

As China’s Military Modernizes, Woody Island Deployments Are Just the Beginning

by Lauren Dickey Monday, February 22, 2016
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, on their armoured vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles, arrive at Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015 (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, on their armoured vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles, arrive at Tiananmen Square during 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

China continued to make waves in the South China Sea last week with its deployment of surface-to-air missile launchers and a radar system on the contested Woody Island. While this development undoubtedly challenges both the claims of littoral states and the U.S. regional presence, China’s actions should be thought of as part of a much broader agenda aimed at modernizing the capabilities and operations of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Beyond China’s posturing lies an important process of structural and organizational reforms that will shape the war-fighting capabilities of the PLA for the decade ahead. While a lot remains unknown, President Xi Jinping’s planned comprehensive reforms of the PLA appear to target the development of a leaner, stronger Chinese fighting force, an enhanced power projection capability, and an even greater focus on deterring threats along the periphery.

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Cold War II? Not Yet, But the Temperature Is Falling

by Sean R. Liedman Monday, November 23, 2015
Russian servicemen, dressed in historical uniforms, hold a barrage balloon as they take part in a military parade rehearsal in Red Square near the Kremlin in central Moscow, Russia, November 6, 2015. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters) Russian servicemen, dressed in historical uniforms, hold a barrage balloon as they take part in a military parade rehearsal in Red Square near the Kremlin in central Moscow, Russia, November 6, 2015. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters)

“The assault on free institutions is world-wide now, and in the context of the present polarization of power a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere.” – NSC-68, April 14, 1950

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

by Robert A. Newson and Lauren Dickey 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) 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.

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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) 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.

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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) 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.

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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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