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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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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