Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

Tensions Broil in Ukraine; Cyber Wargames; The First Armed Drone Operator Breaks Silence

by Janine Davidson Friday, November 21, 2014
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk into a hall before a news conference in Kiev, November 21, 2014. U.S. Vice President Biden on Friday condemned Russian behavior in Ukraine as "unacceptable" and urged it to abide by a September peace deal by adhering to a ceasefire and removing military forces from the country. (Courtesy Reuters) Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk into a hall before a news conference in Kiev, November 21, 2014. U.S. Vice President Biden on Friday condemned Russian behavior in Ukraine as "unacceptable" and urged it to abide by a September peace deal by adhering to a ceasefire and removing military forces from the country. (Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

Ukraine: “a slow collapse?” That’s the opinion of the New York Times editorial board. Meanwhile, the United States steps up delivery of non-lethal aid to Ukraine, including its first Humvees. The ceasefire continues to fray: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns that Ukraine’s planned economic blockade of the eastern separatists “paves the way for a new invasion.” Pavel Felgenhauer, writing in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, concludes that eastern Ukraine’s Donbas has effectively become a Russian protectorate. The crisis isn’t over.

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Afghan Casualties “Not Sustainable;” The Return of Tiered Readiness; Russian Fracturing of NATO

by Janine Davidson Friday, November 7, 2014
Mohammad Zaman (R), a 45-year-old local policeman who was wounded in Daikundi province, and Abdul Basir, a 25-year-old national policeman who was wounded in Zabul, sit at an ICRC hospital for war victims at the Orthopedic Center of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, August 26, 2014. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters) Mohammad Zaman (R), a 45-year-old local policeman who was wounded in Daikundi province, and Abdul Basir, a 25-year-old national policeman who was wounded in Zabul, sit at an ICRC hospital for war victims at the Orthopedic Center of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, August 26, 2014. (Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

Afghan troop troubles linger in a transforming nation. Afghan forces suffered 4,634 casualties this year—a jump from 4,350 in 2013. Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson commented that these casualty numbers are “not sustainable.” As U.S. troop levels dwindle (with 9,800 left in Afghanistan by early 2015), it will be crucial that Afghan forces become self-sufficient.

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New Estimates of the Cost of the ISIS Fight; Baltic-Russia Tensions; The Looming U.S. Midterms

by Janine Davidson Friday, October 31, 2014
A Kurdish boy has his face painted with the U.S. and the Kurdish flags as he waits to greet Peshmerga fighters near the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province October 29, 2014. (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters) A Kurdish boy has his face painted with the U.S. and the Kurdish flags as he waits to greet Peshmerga fighters near the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province October 29, 2014. (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

The new daily cost of operations against ISIS: $8.3 million per dayThis latest Pentagon estimate is a marked increase from last week’s estimate of $7.6 million per day. The total cost of anti-ISIS operations has now likely passed $1 billion. In the Best Defense, Colonel Gary Anderson, USMC (ret.) argues that the effort against ISIS will grow more effective if U.S. policymakers admit that they have adopted a containment strategy. Meanwhile, ISIS itself seems to have mixed up its social media strategy, responding directly to reports by mainstream Western press.

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Weekend Reader: Hybrid War, the Al-Qaeda Counter-Caliphate, and Failing Military Hospitals

by Janine Davidson Friday, September 5, 2014
Pro-Russian separatists patrol an area near an orthodox church in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk September 5, 2014. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian separatists patrol an area near an orthodox church in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk September 5, 2014. (Maxim Shemetov/Courtesy Reuters)

NATO allies must prepare for “hybrid war.” This is the word from General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as Russia’s encroachment and stealth invasion of Ukraine continues. Interestingly, as Steven Pifer notes in the National Interest, persistent Russian denials of entry into Ukraine may be domestically focused, intended to counter discontent over Russian military casualties. Regardless, as I first argued during the annexation of Crimea in March, “hybrid war” is here to stay.

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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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