Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

The 2015 Munich Security Conference: Debate Among Allies? Yes. Disunity? No.

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko holds Russian passports to prove the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as he addresses during the 51st Munich Security Conference at the 'Bayerischer Hof' hotel in Munich February 7, 2015. (Michael Dalder/Courtesy Reuters) Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko holds Russian passports to prove the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as he addresses during the 51st Munich Security Conference at the 'Bayerischer Hof' hotel in Munich February 7, 2015. (Michael Dalder/Courtesy Reuters)

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the fifty-first Munich Security Conference. This annual event provides a high level forum for transatlantic leaders—and increasingly leaders from other parts of the world—to meet and debate major security issues. The sidebar meetings and “bilats,” among the participants are as important as the major plenary sessions, where leaders take the opportunity to express their country’s positions or in many cases propose new approaches to solving problems. Munich is where the major powers annually reaffirm their continued commitment to transatlantic cooperation in service to core Western values: democracy, rule of law, human rights.

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Putin’s Invasion Continues to Widen. Let’s Give Ukraine What It Needs to Push Back.

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, February 3, 2015
A Ukrainian serviceman is seen during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Pesky village, near Donetsk January 21, 2015. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Courtesy Reuters) A Ukrainian serviceman is seen during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Pesky village, near Donetsk January 21, 2015. (Oleksandr Klymenko/Courtesy Reuters)

Amid renewed fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists (as well as Russian regulars), the New York Times reports that U.S. senior officials are finally considering providing lethal aid to Ukraine’s beleaguered military. U.S. advocates reportedly include General Phillip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Secretary of State John Kerry; and even national security adviser Susan Rice, who has been critical of such proposals to date. This potential shift comes at a critical time: according to NATO, Ukrainian separatists, with substantial support from Russian forces, have captured 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of new territory since the “official” September 5 ceasefire. Likewise, the deployment of Russian heavy armor and artillery has accelerated since the beginning of 2015, sending a clear signal that Vladimir Putin intends—at best—to keep Ukraine in a state of bloody stasis. At worst,  he could expand his invasion further.

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Explainer: This Graph Shows How NATO’s Military Capability Has Evolved Since 1949

by Janine Davidson Thursday, September 4, 2014
Leaders watch their flags as they participate in a NATO Summit Session One: Meeting on Afghanistan and ISAF at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales September 4, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) Leaders watch their flags as they participate in a NATO Summit Session One: Meeting on Afghanistan and ISAF at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales September 4, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

As representatives of twenty-eight NATO member nations convene in Wales for the 2014 NATO summit, there are a number of significant issues under discussion. One overriding concern, however, remains the proportional defense spending and overall military capability of the alliance. In order to provide context for this debate, we have visualized a publicly available dataset on military expenditures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This graph traces, in constant U.S. 2011 dollars, the annual spending trends of each alliance member. To our knowledge, this represents the most comprehensive timeline of NATO’s 65-year evolution:
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At Wales Summit, NATO Should Not Forget the War It’s Already Fighting

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Wednesday, September 3, 2014
A French Army captain and mentor (L) supervises an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer during a shooting training session at the Kabul Military Training Center April 13, 2009. (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters) A French Army captain and mentor (L) supervises an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer during a shooting training session at the Kabul Military Training Center April 13, 2009. (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

This week,  NATO leaders will gather in Wales for the 2014 NATO summit—arguably the most important since the fall of the Berlin Wall.   The crisis in Ukraine and the growing challenge from ISIS are sure to dominate the agenda.  But as menacing as these threats are, NATO leaders should not forget about Afghanistan, where NATO’s International  Stability Assistance Force (ISAF) is struggling to bring this thirteen-year war to an end.  As our experience in Iraq should make abundantly clear, the pace and manner by which international troops (and aid dollars) withdraw and the durability of NATO’s commitment to the region will greatly influence what comes afterward.

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A Model for Multinational Cooperation? Three C-17s, Twelve Nations, and the Strategic Airlift Capability Program

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Members of Joint Communications Support Element prepare to board a C-17 Globemaster II during Airfest 2010 at MacDill Air Force Base March 21, 2010.(Staff Sgt. Joseph L. Swafford Jr./Defense.gov) Members of Joint Communications Support Element prepare to board a C-17 Globemaster II during Airfest 2010 at MacDill Air Force Base March 21, 2010.(Staff Sgt. Joseph L. Swafford Jr./Defense.gov)

Terms like “military partnership” and “multilateral engagement” are used quite often in modern defense planning, but beyond periodic joint exercises it’s not always clear what sustained cooperation looks like. One promising, little-known example is the Strategic Airlift Capability program. This program, founded in 2008 between twelve NATO and NATO “Partnership for Peace” nations, allows countries without the individual means to purchase their own expensive jets, the ability to share the logistical and financial burden of rapid-response airlift – kind of like a  multinational military version of “Netjets.”

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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 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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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 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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Interview with CTV News: More on Putin’s ‘Clever’ Strategy

by Janine Davidson Monday, April 21, 2014
armored pro-russian guards apcs An armed man, wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard with armoured personnel carriers seen in the background, in Slaviansk, April 16, 2014. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters)

I was recently interviewed by CTV News’ Kevin Newman Live to discuss the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and Putin’s pioneering form of warfare. My assessment should be familiar to readers of this blog: “Even though there are these suspiciously well-trained militants in Ukraine, Putin can still somehow claim plausible deniability.”

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