Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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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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 »

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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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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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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In Afghanistan, Path to Lasting Success Will Also Be the Hardest

by Janine Davidson and Guest Blogger for Janine Davidson Monday, April 7, 2014
An Afghan woman waits to receive her voter card at a voter registration center in Kabul, March 30, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters) An Afghan woman waits to receive her voter card at a voter registration center in Kabul, March 30, 2014. (Zohra Bensemra/Courtesy Reuters)

By Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking

Afghanistan’s April 5 elections were well attended, successful, and – most importantly – relatively safe. According to preliminary reports, the Taliban did not launch a single major attack from the time polls opened to the time they closed. The most striking concern was not a failure in security (there were 140 attacks this year, compared to 500 in 2009), but rather a shortage of ballots. While often indicative of vote tampering, this also revealed the zeal with which Afghans went to the polls.

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Three Nagging Myths About the U.S. “Pivot” to Asia

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 4, 2014
Chuck Hagel ASEAN U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks during a meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Honolulu, April 3, 2014 (Alex Wong/Courtesy Reuters).

Since President Obama announced his intention to “rebalance” foreign policy attention toward the Asia-Pacific region, there has been much debate – and much misunderstanding – about the purpose and function of this shift.  As elements of the rebalance begin to fall into place, this conversation will only grow louder.

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