A Naval Memo of Grand Strategic Importance

USNI Proceedings – Just over a year before the U.S. entry into World War II, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark wrote a strategic memorandum to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox outlining the challenges and choices ahead. It should be required reading for naval professionals, joint planners, and civilian policymakers today.

The Fleet Problem Exercises: An Investment in the Future

CIMSEC – Innovation and experimentation are never free and rarely cheap, but the Fleet Problems of the Interwar Navy offer a successful case study of how to go to sea to prepare for war even with limited resources.

Blame Alfred Thayer Mahan for Pearl Harbor (and Thank Him for Its Failure)

National Interest – Skip parts of a treatise and you garner only part of its wisdom—and maybe not the part most relevant to your cause.

3 Strategic Takeaways from the Guadalcanal Campaign

National Interest – Americans involved with the Guadalcanal campaign formulated Maoist-sounding ideas for holding the Solomons—and that’s how they won.

Giant Dragons Puffing Smoke: Understanding Japan’s Pacific War Strategy

CIMSEC – Contrary to their representation in war-era and post-war-era film and media, Japan was not hell-bent on conquest simply because they were evil. Japan was seeking to build an empire in Asia because that is what the United States had encouraged and trained them to do.

History – Judging the Good from the Bad

Naval History – Norman Friedman writes that when it comes to warships, bigger is usually better, and the most successful vessels are often those that are adaptable to changing times and technologies.

History – Kaiser's African Gunship Enjoys New Lease on Life

Der SpiegelKaiser’s African Gunship Enjoys New Lease on Life

Almost 100 years ago, the German Kaiser ordered a warship to be secretly constructed and carried in pieces over mountains to help hold on to Germany’s prize African colony. The battered ship is now receiving help from an unlikely source — the German state where it was first made.

History – Help was weeks away as 88 men waited in the Falklands dark for 3,000 invaders

Daily Telegraph – Major Mike Norman shares his memories of defending the islands against an over-whelming Argentine force of 3,000 soldiers.

History – A Very British War

Daily Telegraph – Patrick Bishop, who sailed 8,000 miles with the Task Force to recapture the Falklands, and is the author of Winter War which I think is one of the best histories of the Falklands War, describes the highs and lows of the campaign against the Argentines, and explains how victory transformed the national mood and ushered in the brash new Thatcher era.

History – The Greely Relief Expedition and the New Navy

International Journal of Naval History – On July 10, 1881, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greely sailed north in command of a small polar expedition. After making an unexpectedly easy passage,the expedition settled into a well-supplied base they named Fort Conger and began their mission of scientific exploration and astronomical observation. After that, everything went wrong. Thick ice prevented the scheduled resupply missions from reaching them. Greely and his men were stranded, and after two years faced starvation. After much debate, President Chester Arthur sent the Navy to rescue them???

History – Economic Power, Technological Advantage, and Imperial Strength: Britain as a Unique Global Power, 1860 ñ 1890

International Journal of Naval History – Between 1860 and 1890 Britain greatly expanded her formal and informal empire, and her commercial activity, while avoiding war with any other major power. Although this period witnessed a revolution in the technologies of war, communication and transport, and profound changes in the European state system Britain secured her interests on low and falling defence estimates. This combination of circumstances was neither accidental, nor fortunate. It reflected a coherent response to the problems facing the state, and the development of core capabilities for a truly global strategy. In examining the development of British strategy between 1860 and 1890 this study will focus on the major influences, expanding and changing commercial activity, the emergent technologies of iron, steam, and telegraphy, and the vast extent of the potential defence commitment.

History – Suez 1956: A Successful Naval Operation Compromised by Inept Political Leadership

Naval War College Review – The British and French forces that saw action during the abortive Suez invasion of 1956 produced a “copybook” performance in military terms. But flawed political decisions are likely to lead to flawed operational strategy, and today the entire episode is remembered as an embarrassing failure.

History – Fort Fischer: Amphibious Victory in the American Civil War

Naval War College Review – The first attack on Fort Fisher, during the American Civil War, failed utterly; the second succeeded magnificently. The commanders of the latter learned from the experience of the former; the lessons of both attempts were valuable for the great amphibious operations of the mid-twentieth century, and they remain instructive today.

History – The American Sound Surveillance System: Using the Ocean to Hunt Soviet Submarines, 1950-1961

International Journal of Naval History – The most ambitious and effective defense project undertaken during the Cold War next to the hydrogen bomb succeeded completely, made not a sound, and remained invisible for a half-century. Dreading an increase in the capability and geographical reach of a Soviet deep-water submarine force, the U.S. Navy decided in 1950 to turn the ocean itself against the Soviet Navy. Over the next three decades there emerged a sophisticated surveillance network with global reach that used the oceanís own characteristics to identify submarine activity. SOSUS, as the sound surveillance system became known, gradually made it impossible for the Soviets to sortie a submarine anywhere in the world without detection. The present historical analysis of this system highlights the importance of the environment in naval warfare, further illuminates the relationship between naval and civilian ocean science, and reveals significant challenges to naval culture and habits directly related to the nature of SOSUS.


History – Fixed Targets for the Enemy: Engineers Risked It All Every Day to Get the Job Done

Leatherneck – In Vietnam, Marine engineers blasted and built roads and bridges that are still used today.

History – Geography, Technology, and British Naval Strategy in the Dreadnought Era

Naval War College Review – Alfred Thayer Mahan and Admiral Sir John Fisher disagreed about capital-ship design and the utility of history as a guide to formulating naval policy, but the main difference between their ways of thinking about strategy was over the best means of defending the British empire in a maritime war. Where Mahan called for concentration at the center, Fisher contended that defense could be achieved at the periphery.

History – Night Session of the Presidium of the Central Committee, 22ñ23 October 1962

Naval War College Review – A Russian historian of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis argues from archival evidence that while authority to use tactical nuclear weapons was never delegated to local Soviet commanders, it was only with difficulty (and the assistance of the Navy commander in chief) that hard-liners were prevented from pushing through a potentially dangerous policy.