Dr. Janine Davidson is senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Additionally, she serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University; as a member of the Reserve Forces Policy board; and as a senior advisor to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and NATO. Her areas of expertise include defense strategy and policy, military operations, national security, and civil-military relations.
Before joining CFR, Davidson was an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, where she taught courses on national security, civil-military relations, counterinsurgency, and public policy. From 2009 to 2012, she served in the Obama administration as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans, where she oversaw the development of guidance for military campaign and contingency plans. She also led policy efforts for U.S. global defense posture, including the military's rebalance to Asia, and international agreements related to U.S. forces stationed overseas.
Previously, Dr. Davidson served as director for stability operations capabilities in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (2006–2008), where she founded and directed the Consortium for Complex Operations (2007–2008), an innovative interagency project to enhance education, training, coordination, and performance in complex emergencies and interventions. As an associate at DFI International (2003–2004), she researched reserve affairs and Air Force mobility operations and strategy. As a research and adjunct fellow at the Brookings Institution (2004; 2008) and as director of counterinsurgency studies at Hicks and Associates (2005–2006), she conducted research on counterinsurgency, peacekeeping, and military adaptation and learning.
Dr. Davidson began her career in the United States Air Force, where she was an aircraft commander and senior pilot for the C-130 and the C-17 cargo aircraft. She flew combat support and humanitarian air mobility missions in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and was an instructor pilot at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Dr. Davidson’s writing has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, the Diplomat Magazine, and the National Interest, among others. She has appeared on PBS NewsHour, Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. She writes and edits the Defense in Depth web blog for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Her recent publications and monographs include “Retrench or Rebalance: America’s Evolving Defence Strategy,” Chatham House (September 2014); "Civil-Military Friction and Presidential Decision-Making: Explaining the Broken Dialogue," Presidential Studies Quarterly, (March 2013); "Obama's New Global Posture: The Logic of U.S. Foreign Deployments," co-author Michele Flournoy, Foreign Affairs, (July/August 2012). Her 2010 book, Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War, was published by the University of Michigan Press.
In 2012, Dr. Davidson was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, and from 2013-2014 she served as a presidentially appointed member of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Truman National Security Project.
Dr. Davidson received her PhD and a Master's of Arts degree in international studies from the University of South Carolina and a BS in architectural engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Mending the Broken Dialogue: Civil-Military Friction and Presidential Use of Force
As commander-in-chief, the president of the United States has great responsibility and authority in deciding when and how to use military force abroad. However, a mismatch in expectations and expertise between most presidents and their senior military advisors often leads to friction in the decision-making process. What has popularly been presented as a personality-driven or political debate between the commander-in-chief and his strong-minded military advisors seeking to "box him in" in fact has much deeper institutional and cultural roots. Military officers have certain expectations about how to craft "best military advice" that are deeply embedded into the organizational culture, reinforced in military education, and hard-wired into detailed military planning processes. Such expectations about the roles civilian leadership will play in providing guidance are in many ways out of sync with the expectations of the president, who for a variety of reasons seeks multiple options and creative solutions that the military planning process is not well suited to deliver. Working with senior military leaders, educators and civilian policy makers, this project seeks to uncover the deeper civilian and military drivers of this friction and make recommendations to improve both the development and delivery of "military advice." In doing so, the project might also increase understanding of military issues by civilian policy makers.
Understanding U.S. Military Power: The Art, Politics, and Business of Defense
The U.S. military must stand ready to respond to a dizzying number of contingencies: spiraling violence in Syria and Iraq; Russian aggression in Ukraine; maritime disputes in the South and East China seas; threats of genocide and global terrorism; piracy and drug trafficking; and a variety of natural disasters from earthquakes and floods to the spread of the Ebola virus. What are the proper doctrinal concepts and broader strategies for dealing with these myriad security threats? After over a decade of war and nearly seventy years of globally postured force structure, how much, if at all, can the U.S. military retrench and still ensure America's national security interests? In an increasingly austere budget environment, at what level, and to what degree of technological sophistication, should America's armed forces be funded? And how, given this array of challenges, should the all-volunteer force be organized, trained, and equipped? Through expert roundtable meetings, op-eds, and blog posts, I explore these issues and make sense of the debates over the employment of U.S. military power and the structure and purpose of America's armed forces.