Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

Counter-Unconventional Warfare Is the Way of the Future. How Can We Get There?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Thursday, October 23, 2014
Pro-Russian rebels ride on an armored personnel carrier (APC) during a parade in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, September 14, 2014. (Marko Djurica/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian rebels ride on an armored personnel carrier (APC) during a parade in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, September 14, 2014. (Marko Djurica/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert A. Newson

This commentary comes courtesy of Captain Robert A. Newson, CFR’s U.S. Navy fellow and a SEAL officer. He argues that the newly outlined “Counter-Unconventional Warfare” strategy will be the best way to counter the emerging threat of hybrid warfare witnessed most recently in Ukraine. Captain Newson acknowledges that this new mode of warfare will be difficult to adopt—yet failing to do so will carry much worse consequences.

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“Winning In A Complex World:” The Army Gets It. Now Can the Lesson Stick?

by Janine Davidson Thursday, October 16, 2014
Outgoing Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq General Raymond Odierno speaks during a change of command ceremony in Baghdad September 1, 2010. (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters) Outgoing Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq General Raymond Odierno speaks during a change of command ceremony in Baghdad September 1, 2010. (Jim Watson/Courtesy Reuters)

This week, thousands of soldiers and industry representatives descended on Washington, DC for the Association of the U.S. Army’s (AUSA) annual conference.  Amid the standard panel discussions about military acquisitions, organization, and veterans benefits, there also ran a new undercurrent of uncertainty—and excitement—regarding the future role of the Army. Increasingly, Army soldiers at every level are looking beyond the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and asking what sorts of missions might come next and how they should prepare.

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Appearance on Defense News TV: the ISIS Coalition and the Challenge of Leverage

by Janine Davidson Monday, June 23, 2014
iraq-isis-shiite-maliki Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a military-style training in the holy city of Najaf, June 18, 2014. (Ahmad Mousa/Courtesy Reuters)

I appeared on a Defense News TV panel alongside Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and General Chuck Wald, U.S. Air Force (retired), to assess the military options available to the United States in wake of continuing gains by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the Iraqi government.  This comes on the heels of President Obama’s June 19 announcement that he will send up to the 300 military advisers to Iraq. As we discuss, there are several important considerations to bear in mind: Read more »

On Iraq, No Quick or Easy Solution

by Janine Davidson Friday, June 13, 2014
iraq maliki A girl, who fled from the violence in Mosul, carries a case of water at a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 12, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This week’s news from Iraq is nothing but tragic.  As forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took Mosul and Tikrit before turning toward Baghdad, the bulk of Iraqi forces laid down their arms and fled, demonstrating the mess Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made of the U.S.-trained and equipped Army that was left in his care just over two years ago.

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The New FM 3-24: What Happens When the Host Nation Is the Problem?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Tuesday, June 10, 2014
karzai Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul, January 25, 2014. (Mohammad Ismail/Courtesy Reuters)

By Walter Ladwig III

This review of the  revised FM 3-24: Insurgencies and Countering Insurgenciesa long awaited update to the Army’s active doctrine, comes courtesy of Dr. Walter Ladwig III, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at King’s College London. Ladwig observes that the central challenge of counterinsurgency often revolves around successful relations with the host nation, a theme that seems obvious in light of current events, but which is so often overlooked in COIN theory, doctrine, and practice. While the new FM 3-24 generally represents a step in the right direction, it does not yet adequately address this critical issue.

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What Does NATO’s Core Mission Look Like in the Twenty-First Century?

by Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Monday, June 2, 2014
nato collective defense Soviet Army soldiers sit on their tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia. Picture taken August 21, 1968. (Libor Hajsky/Courtesy Reuters)

By Mark Jacobson

This commentary comes courtesy of Mark Jacobson, who served previously in Kabul, Afghanistan as Deputy NATO Senior Civilian Representative. Jacobson observes that the political crisis in Ukraine has caused many members of NATO to agitate for a shift back to NATO’s “core mission”—collective defense against Russian incursion—and to swear off contingency operations like the one seen in Afghanistan. Jacobson also observes, however, that the modern security environment is much different from the one in which NATO was first created. It would not be wise to dismiss Afghanistan as an aberration. 

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What Next for Afghanistan? Making Sense of President Obama’s Rose Garden Announcement

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, May 27, 2014
afghanistan obama drawdown U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an announcement on the number of U.S. troops that will remain in Afghanistan after the formal troop drawdown at the end of this year, in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, May 27, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Today, President Obama announced his plan for winding down the thirteen-year intervention in Afghanistan.  On the military side, here is the summary on how many troops will remain and what they will be doing:

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Weekend Reader: In Memoriam, the Dogs of War, and Beyond the QDR

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 23, 2014
memorial day weekend reader A member of the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) carries flags during a "Flags-In" ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington May 22, 2014. The soldiers will place American flags in front of more than 220,000 graves for the Memorial Day. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

May 26 is Memorial Day. More than 8,000 coalition troops have given their lives in thirteen years of hard fighting. May 26 is a day to honor them, and the 843,000 fallen Americans  who have come before them.

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Weekend Reader: A U.S. Robotics Gap, a New COIN Debate, and a Global Spotlight on Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 9, 2014
drone aircraft carrier An X-47B pilot-less drone combat aircraft is launched for the first time off an aircraft carrier, the USS George H. W. Bush, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, May 14, 2013. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

As militaries gear up for a robotics arms race, the United States may well get left behind. This is the argument made by Michael C. Horowitz, an expert on military technological adoption, in the lead story for Foreign Policy magazine. Horowitz, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has literally written the book on the dynamics behind diffusion of military innovation. This same week, Shawn Brimley issued a warning against the Pentagon relegating drones to a “niche capability” and refusing to invest in advanced, carrier-based systems. This follows a February 2014 CSIS report that concluded, “With the effective 2014 end of the Afghanistan War, commitment within [Department of Defense] to explore the broader possibilities of unmanned systems is retreating.”

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In Latin America, Lines Between Crime and War Begin to Blur

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Members of Mexico's military salute Members of Mexico's military salute during an official reception for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Canada's Defense Minister Rob Nicholson in Mexico City, April 24, 2014. (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters)

While attention was focused last week on President Obama’s trip to Asia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was on a separate mission to boost military-to-military relations in another important part of the world: Latin America. Hagel’s trip to Mexico and Guatemala, two countries plagued by spiraling drug violence, highlights the increasingly blurred line between military activities and law enforcement.

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