Lessons and Conclusions from the History of Navy and Military Doctrinal Development
There are some excellent lessons to be learned concerning the development of military
doctrine by navies in the world. These lessons include: that navy doctrine has existed
in the past [it is not new]; it is proper to study the doctrinal lessons of other nations and
other services; important doctrinal lessons can be drawn from history; formal navy
doctrine suffered a setback with the introduction of new technologies and the end of
the Anglo-Franco wars; pre-war military doctrine cannot foresee all eventualities;
centralized military doctrine should not be cast in stone; military doctrine has changed
due to a variety of circumstances; it is not easy to institute a significant doctrinal
change in large organizations; it appears easier to change military doctrine when it is
written; measures of effectiveness are needed for military doctrine; successful navy
doctrine has been prepared by a variety of individuals; doctrine must be meaningful;
joint doctrine and multinational doctrine become more important as national forces
downsize; multinational doctrine for navy forces will be inherently different than
multinational doctrine for land forces; there is no one correct military doctrine; there
is a doctrinal renaissance in progress; good military doctrine is of no value without
good men and women who are trained and provided the proper equipment; and naval
doctrine is not risk free.
This list of lessons is drawn from a consideration of what constitutes naval and
military doctrine and the initial part of a comprehensive review of the historical case
studies of doctrine in other navies and other Services. Evidence of military and navy
doctrine can be found in primary source material-actual written materials of a
doctrinal nature, a review of past combat and after-action assessments, and by
considering actual force postures. As additional cases are developed and existing cases
are refined, these lessons will be re-evaluated and scrutinized to see if they stand the
test of new and additional information. In the meantime, they should be taken to heart
by military doctrine commands and by new doctrine writers.
The History of Navy Doctrine
Navy doctrine has existed in the past--in Spain at least since 1270. Fighting
instructions were known to have been issued by various naval commanders operating
in Renaissance Venice during the age of galleys. One of the earliest of these efforts are
the Orders and Signals of the Venetian Fleet in 1365. These orders included specific
operational formations as well as signals indicating the fleet commander’s intent. Italian
city-states fielded fleets led by admirals, such as Genoa's Andrea Doria, with a
worldwide reputation. By the time of the Battle of Lepanto (1571), the doctrine and
tactics of galley warfare in the Mediterranean had been perfected to such a state that
each side could be considered masters of the naval art.
Navy and multi-Service naval doctrine has existed, under other names, in all navies
of the world. All professions have doctrine and the military is a profession that, like all
other professions, has to have had doctrine. In addition to formal written navy doctrine,
of which there is ample abundance, informal and unwritten customary navy doctrine
has existed as a shared culture of fundamental principles of thought and actions in the
minds of its admirals and commanders. By reviewing the actions of the military
profession, as well as the after-action reports and courts-martial, we are able to
ascertain the doctrine of that profession even if it was not formally written. Both formal
and informal doctrine can serve to define what a profession thinks and how it acts.
When unwritten, professions operating without written doctrine more resemble a jazz
group jamming rather than an orchestra following written sheet music and led by a
conductor. Both practices result in music.
What is new today for the U.S. Navy is the most recent attempts at institutionalizing
formal centralized doctrine and doctrinal processes. This is neither the first
time that the U.S. naval Services have attemptedformal multi-Service naval doctrine
nor the first time that doctrine for the naval Services has been formalized or written.
Doctrine for the U.S. Navy has been written and published for many decades over our
Conventional wisdom says that the U.S. Navy never has had a centralized military
doctrine. In point of fact, the U.S. Pacific Fleet in World War II operated under
centralized war instructions, centralized general tactical instructions, U.S. Fleet
Doctrine and Tactical Orders (USF-10), Current Tactical Orders and Doctrine U.S.
Pacific Fleet (PAC-10), and type doctrines and tactical orders prepared for each class
of ship. Written and centralized multinational navy doctrine existed in the Atlantic
theater during World War II. The British and French Navies adopted many forms of
U.S. Navy doctrine during the war. This written doctrine documented how
commanders operated their forces at sea to win against a determined enemy engaged
in mortal combat. Having written Navy doctrine did not detract from our victory at sea
or the many victories of other navies.
Two more recent examples are a pamphlet issued by Admiral Arleigh Burke, USN,
Chief of Naval Operations, Origins of United States Navy Doctrine, and a similar one
by Admiral James L. Holloway III, USN, Planning, Readiness and Employment
Doctrine for U.S. Naval Operating Forces. Even when the former Naval Doctrine
Command (NDC) was stood up, formal centralized written Navy doctrine existed in
the form of Naval Warfare Publication [NWP]-1, Strategic Concepts ofthe U.S. Navy.
Navy doctrine existed also in many other forms when NDC began its operations.
Written Navy doctrine already existed as the Navy component of joint and
multinational doctrine as well as existing Marine Corps Service-specific doctrine.
Formal written functional doctrine existed in the construct of doctrine for amphibious
warfare and various specific combat arms in the form of various tactical notes and
memos. Although NDC was the first multi-Service naval doctrine command, it is not
the first military command that has written American naval doctrine; the doctrine
division at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) and joint
doctrine preceded the establishment of NDC by some years. Before that, doctrine was
prepared at major naval commands and in Washington, DC.
Basic principles of beliefs and practices do not have to be written to be doctrine.
Unwritten customary informal Navy doctrine has existed and still exists in the form of
commander's intent, and the shared experiences of the existing officer corps, especially
its admirals and commanders. When faced with situations that were not foreseen in the
pre-battle Operations Orders, Navy officers have intuitively known what needed to be
done and then acted in accordance with that unwritten doctrine to fight as bravely as
necessary to ensure victory.
For example, during the engagement off Samar Island at the Battle of Leyte Gulf
(1944), most U.S. Navy ships and aircraft were out of communication with each other
for extended periods of time and the situation encountered was not foreseen in any
Operations Order or pre-war battle simulation or exercise and without centralized
written doctrine. Yet the small force destined to defend the landing force at Leyte Gulf
managed to successfully operate together in some of the heaviest fighting ever seen at
Admiral Clifton A.F. Sprague's small escort carriers, their embarked air groups,
and the sailors on destroyers and destroyer escorts fought "against overwhelming odds
from which survival could not be expected." When the destroyer Johnston saw a
squadron of four enemy destroyers and a light cruiser coming in to attack the carriers
and complete the boxing-in of the American defending force, her captain seized the
offensive and took on the whole squadron despite being out of torpedoes. Her furious
close-in gunfire attacks so startled the enemy that the enemy's torpedoes were launched
prematurely and caused no damage. Aircraft pilots from the escort carriers continued
to make attack runs against enemy surface forces when their ammunition was
exhausted in order to force a reaction. Other aircraft flew to shore airfields or any deck
that could take them in order to rearm and rejoin the fray.
All of this was done because the officers in command knew that their role was to
protect the bigger ships and all the ships were to protect the landing force—even at the
cost of their own lives. At the end of the engagement, a small but brave force of escorts
had courageously turned back the onslaught of enemy battleships, heavy and light
cruisers, and destroyers and ensured the survival of the amphibious units and transports
at Leyte Gulf. Without having a dedicated plan to execute and being without tactical
communications to order about forces, it was the individual commander's intuitive
knowledge of how to fight and his assessment of what needed to be done that carried
Commodore Arleigh Burke, USN much like Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson before
him, chose to rely on a personal doctrine and the initiative of his subordinates. During
World War II, Burke held a series of meetings with his commanders in which ideas and
information were exchanged and doctrine was established. When the battle occurred,
very few orders needed to be issued since each commander thoroughly understood
what was expected in various circumstances. There is a long history of the informal
beliefs of the officer corps as doctrine. Such informal doctrine may even be more
powerful than the official written versions that coexist. The parallel in international law
is law based upon custom and not on treaties. Both are equally valid but treaties are
easier to change.
It is acceptable to study the doctrinal lessons of other navies and other Services
and then to borrow from them—just as we routinely borrow each other's technology. In
part, this is what the U.S. Navy did when it learned about aircraft carriers from the
Royal Navy and what the Royal Navy did when it integrated their carrier force within
the U.S. Pacific Fleet in World War II. One respected student of the Royal Navy,
Captain S.W. Roskill, RN (Ret.) openly credits French sources as having a "very
markedly]" influence on tactical thought in the Royal Navy. The Soviet Navy studied
the Royal Navy's performance in the Falklands War, in part, to learn from the
experience and especially to see how one might use their new limited-capability aircraft
carriers to support an operational-level military action in distant waters. Japanese Navy
doctrine freely borrowed from mainland China, Great Britain, and from its own ancient
pirate heritage. The U.S. Navy never developed functional doctrine for chemical
warfare defense ashore due to the existing expertise within the U.S. Army and their
supporting doctrinal literature. In the 1980s, the U.S. Army War College used a paper
written by a U.S. Navy officer in 1915 as assigned readings on the concept of military
The concept of formal written doctrine for the U.S. Navy is one that we are
borrowing from the Spanish, the Italians, the British and the French. There are other
navies in the world today that have previously thought through navy doctrine, under
various titles, that we should consider when we develop our new American doctrine.
For example, we should study the use of navy power by Arabs and the Israelis as we
shift to littoral warfare. Why not look at foreign experiences with full recognition that
not all lessons learned will be valid to our own circumstances?
We should fully expect that nations with less developed navies will study the
lessons of history and borrow those tried and proven elements of doctrine that appear
to work well against larger navies. For example, there is an extremely well-developed
theory of manoeuvre warfare doctrine that was developed by the French after long
years of warfare against the superior Royal Navy. Smaller navies could easily use this
doctrine as the model upon which to base their own tactical-level engagements against
the superior U.S. Navy.
The Value of Studying the History of Navy Doctrine
Important doctrinal lessons can be drawn from history, even from the age of sail.
For example, from even a cursory study of the past, it is apparent that major current
doctrinal issues have been debated during eras of greatly different technology. These
include: (1), what is the. principal form of attack; (2), what is the object of the attackthe
escorted ships or its escorts; (3), how much of the attacking force should be
withheld in reserve; (4), is the war essentially one of annihilation or attrition; (5), what
is more important in defense-the protection of escorted ships (or an invasion force) or
the defeat of an enemy's offensive fighting power; (6), how should navies fight in the
littoral (most naval warfare has been here); (7), what should the command and control
relationships be as naval forces project power ashore; (8), how to integrate allies and
ad hoc coalition partners to achieve a single purpose; (9) how far should the combat
commander on the scene comply with doctrine issued by bureaucracies ashore; and
(10), how much should the commander rely upon enemy intentions versus capabilities?
These are not new issues, but rather doctrinal issues of how to fight that cross national,
geographic, and technology boundaries and have been debated for hundreds of years.
To attempt to write navy doctrine without a serious review of this history would be
imprudent, at best. When trying to write substantive navy doctrine, these are the tough
issues that one must deal with if the product is to be taken seriously.
There is a tendency in the United States to view military art and military science
as all-encompassing terms that include warfare in all possible dimensions. At the apex
of theoretical studies of military art and military science are books such as Clausewitz's
On War. Within such books are doctrinal principles that have been accepted by ground
forces but may be totally inappropriate for navy and other forces. For example,
Clausewitz teaches us that the defensive is the stronger form of warfare—despite
historical examples to the contrary, such as Julius Caesar's conquests. A review of navy
warfare history also suggests otherwise. A review of air warfare and the theory of
nuclear warfare likewise suggest that the offensive form of war is stronger than the
defense. Yet we are trapped in a paradigm of military art that teaches us that the
defense is stronger. Perhaps the real issue is that there is a separate and equally
important naval art and naval science that parallels military art and military science.
A serious review of navy doctrinal development cannot help but demonstrate the
major differences between lessons learned from studying ground and maritime
examples. In studying historical examples, it is easy to get sidetracked into culturally
biased preconceptions about other Services and nations based upon historical track
records of combat prowess. In looking for lessons learned, we need not allow such
prejudice influence our thinking. After all, it is not our objective to study combat
success but rather bureaucratic behavior and sound thinking. For example, the Soviet
Union had a long-standing history of good military theory and planning but an equally
long record of poor execution at the tactical and operational-levels of warfare coupled
with strategic success. We have studied and adopted much from the Russian ground
forces model without letting that study impact our thoughts on warfare at sea.
Similarly, Germany has a long record of sound thinking and good execution at the
tactical and operational-levels of warfare with defeat at the strategic level-and we
continue to study them today. Despite the desire of ground forces to continue to study
the lessons of German ground forces, we wisely ignore the poor examples from the
lessons on German Navy doctrinal development. Indeed, the abolition of the German
Admiralty in 1889 by Kaiser Wilhelm II and the subsequent justification by Alfred von
Tirpitz of naval strategy and doctrine by reference to Karl von Clausewitz is a model
of how not to develop sound navy doctrine as proven by World War I. Despite sound
planning for ground warfare in France, the German military did not even have a
concept of operations for the fleet to contest control of the seas, or for that matter
anything, in support of the Schlieffen plan.
The general model for doctrinal development in the German Army during World
War I was quite sophisticated. When the war did not develop according to pre-war
predictions, die Oberste Heeresleitung (the Army High Command) solicited and
approved a new doctrine of defense in depth which allowed them to conserve resources
and continue the war to 1918 when they were able to mass forces for a major offensive.
The process of making these changes was extremely dynamic and incorporated from
independent experimentation in the field. When the new doctrine was approved, it was
accompanied by new equipment, reorganization, and training.
With the new opportunities afforded by their conservation of resources, the
Germans once again sought inputs for a new offensive doctrine of the breakthrough and
successfully published one in time for the 1918 offensive. This offensive doctrine made
full use of the lessons learned in the field from both the allied and German perspective.
This "maneuver" warfare offensive doctrine was quite successful on the battlefield but
failed in the face of overwhelming numbers of allied forces.
The Germans in World War I treated change with respect, but, once change was
accepted, it was pursued with ardor. No change in doctrine was considered workable
unless the Army could see how it was to be implemented. This implied a strong
correlation between doctrine and training. Despite the thoroughness in the adoption of
doctrine, the applications of doctrine in the field under unique battlefield conditions
was flexible enough to allow individual judgment by the commander. The Germans
made the distinction between techniques, which are taught and rigid, and tactics, which
allow for creativity. Doctrine for the German Army was inductive in its derivation and
in application. Doctrine for the allied armies was deductive, more rigid, and became
the formula for the massive losses of personnel during their 1917 offensive.
We apparently have much to learn from German Army doctrinal history and much
less from German Navy history. For example, German Army doctrine during the inter-
War years was based upon two field service regulations issued in 1921 and 1933.
German doctrine emphasized maneuver, mobility, the offensive, surprise, tempo, and
momentum was not lost. French Army doctrine, on the other hand, saw the battle on
the field as a series of successive methodical battles. These doctrines were
incompatible and the obsolete doctrine of the French Army drove a flawed strategy that
resulted in a catastrophe.
German Army doctrine also emphasized decentralization and initiative at the
lowest levels of the chain of command. German Army doctrine emphasized the
auftragstakik, or mission-oriented tactics that permitted the lower-echelon commander
to operate within his seniors’ intent. An officer could ignore standing directives,
naturally at his own risk, if he were responding to local conditions. French Army
doctrine was centralized and emphasized control. As a result of their doctrine, the
German could count on locally initiated counterattacks while fighting on the defensive.
The French Army needed to be ordered into a counterattack.
Yet despite this apparent value in studying the German example, there is not much
to learn there from a perspective of Navy doctrine. Yet there is a great deal to be
learned from French Navy doctrine. The myth of French military performance on the
battlefield or of French Army doctrine in no ways denigrates the proud combat heritage
of the Navy of the ancien régime and the excellent doctrinal development that has
long-characterized the French Navy. Unfortunately, most of that story has never been
adequately translated into English and been internalized by the U.S. Navy officer
corps, who views its cultural antecedent as the Royal Navy. Quite frankly, the performance
and heritage of the French Army has been allowed to cloud the opinion of U.S.
Navy officers about the French Navy in an altogether unwarranted fashion. In the
words of a well-respected scholar, "...France has had little just cause to be ashamed of
her navy: the navy may have had some just cause to be ashamed of France."
We have a rich sound naval and military history from which to draw important
doctrinal lessons of interest today. This will not be easy, since most military history
books do not index the term doctrine and many others use the term to refer to higherlevel
political policy guidance. Simply put, there will be a great deal of hard work
during which scholars will need to review military history (how navies have acted) and
extract from it the doctrinal lessons, Having done this, it will be much easier to develop
new navy doctrine, since we will obviously find that many of the issues under
consideration today, have been researched and thoroughly debated before.
Military doctrine can be learned and serves to assist the commander, even if it has
not been formally written. The early Italian campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte was
conducted without formal written doctrine. Yet those officers who participated in the
campaign were "indoctrinated" with new concepts and methods of warfare, giving them
an advantage over those who had served elsewhere. The key to finding such doctrine
is to study the actions of the military force and then verify from the after action reports
that the commander was not court-martialed for his actions.
When searching through the lessons learned, doctrinal writers need to be aware of
the full database available on any particular doctrinal issue. Where there is a reasonab
ly large sample, they should avoid the extremes and instead concentrate on the bell
curve majority. There will obviously be problems with rejecting the extremes, just as
there were problems in the 1980s with assessments regarding Soviet military capability.
Just as then, the formation of "B" teams of outsiders might also be instructive.
Equally importantly, there have been unintended doctrinal developments due to
incomplete understanding of history. First, for example, many navy officers in many
countries have thought that Nelson succeeded because he ignored the fighting
instructions of the day. This has resulted in a feeling that one simply needs to get into
combat and "mix it up" in a mêlée like Nelson did, or his French counterpart Vice
Admiral Pierre André, Bailli de Suffren-Saint Tropez, or the earlier Spanish Captain-
General Don Álvaro de Bazán, Marqués de Santa Cruz. Such thinking appears to have
come about recently with a shift to aircraft as the principal striking arm of the fleet.
A more accurate accounting of history is that Nelson followed the fighting
instructions, more often than not and, moreover, he expected his captains to follow his
directions. Nelson’s "touch" lay in his different style of Navy doctrine that was
appropriate for the time, place, and the "band of brothers" with which he served. No
military can operate with all, or even most, of its officers operating outside of the
doctrine of the profession. A single commander can more easily operate outside of the
norms—and continue to do so as long as he succeeds at the missions and tasks that he
has been assigned. In general, a military has to have a doctrine for its routine
operations that are the basis from which one may depart. If the commander chooses to
deviate from established standards, he will then know that he has done so and know
what that means.
A second incomplete lesson from history has to do with the death of Admiral Sir
John Byng. Byng was not shot for failing to mindlessly follow doctrine. This myth
seems to have permeated a number of officer corps and helped perpetuate the idea that
formal, centralized, written doctrine is not in their best interests. Admiral Byng was
shot, and the adherence to fighting instructions was an issue in his court martial—but
the issue is far more complicated. Byng was shot because the British government
needed a scapegoat for his actions and the loss of Minorca in 1756.
There are many extremely important lessons learned from our past experiences that
we can draw upon today. As we re-integrate the submarine forces back into the fleet
as integral units of task groups, there is a rich history of previous experience of that
type upon which we should draw. Submarines were not always thought of as being
"lone wolves" and the initial French and Japanese concepts were that the submarine
should operate as a part of warfare in the littoral. Furthermore, the submarine force has
been used to operating without constant communications with senior commanders; in
a sense it has always had to operate within an established doctrine that governed their
actions in the absence of communications. Since doctrine can be thought of as
principles guiding actions in the absence of communications with one’s seniors,
perhaps this part of the naval Services can teach the others how it has managed to
succeed at sea with doctrine so that other branches and combat arms need fear doctrine
Formal Navy doctrine suffered a setback with the introduction of new technologies
and the end of the Anglo-Franco wars during the age of sail. Navy doctrine was
developed and frequently refined during the wars between Britain and France over
hundreds of years. During the age of sail, there were long periods of warfare with
essentially the same technology—hence improvements to navy warfare came via other
avenues of advancement. Additionally, modem recruitment techniques had yet to be
discovered-hence improvements in personnel and leadership was not yet the way to
improve combat potential. Advances in the naval art had to come in the area of
doctrine. Debates over navy doctrine and the existence of written doctrine were normal
practice. As navy doctrine advanced, so did combat potential.
Since the early part of the 19th century, two events have had a profound change
effect on the nature of navy doctrine: technology and the frequency and participants of
war itself. First, from the time of the introduction of the ironclad, navy technology has
changed so fast and so often that navies have not had the time to deal with doctrinal
issues for forces on hand. By the time of the Battle of Lissa (1866) between Italy and
Austria, warship designs were advancing before navy doctrine could be re-evaluated
and re-written. Navies turned more of their attention to dealing with improvements to
naval art and combat potential by improvements in technologies, programming, rather
than how to fight "smarter." More often than we would like to admit, new technologies
have been introduced for which there was no accepted military doctrine for their use.
Hence, improvements to combat potential increasingly came to be seen as the result of
effective programming skills rather than skills in assessing warfighting doctrine.
Today, we need to shift our focus to other, less expensive ways of improving combat
potential, other than with the introduction of new technologies-in short, navy doctrine
as a force builder.
Second, during the long wars between Britain and France, both sides fought their
fleets in accordance with formal Navy doctrine. Each side sought improvements in
their combat potential by improving how it fought relative to the other rather than by
fielding new equipment. Once the wars between Britain and France ended, and the
assumed adversary changed to other nations or no specific nation, the perceived need
to refine the existing Navy doctrine was no longer critical.
A third factor may have also influenced the discouragement of open debate over
doctrine in the U.S. Navy. Following their victories at Santiago, Rear Admirals
William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley, USN, engaged in public debates and
discussions over their conduct during the Battle of Santiago (July 1898). Spanish
Admiral Pascual Cervera had outmaneuvered the American North Atlantic Squadron
and managed to enter the harbor at Santiago, Cuba, where he maintained a fleet-inbeing.
The Americans attempted to and eventually drew out the fleet as a result of joint
actions taken ashore and at sea, resulting in a battle in which Cervera was defeated.
The public debate went on for years and necessitated a Presidential order for it to
cease. Perhaps the acrimonious manner in which tactics were questioned poisoned the
well in the U.S. Navy for subsequent frank and open debate and discussions of a
During the last decade of the Cold War, there was a renaissance in the U.S.
concerning issues of how to fight--military doctrine. With the end of the Cold War, and
the replacement of a single adversary with multiple or no specific adversary, it may be
hard to sustain support for the armed forces as warfighting tools. If this happens, it may
be hard to sustain development and revision of warfighting doctrine. If an enemy force
has doctrine, it is more likely that one's own forces will study that doctrine and develop
military doctrine of their own. If a potential enemy does_not have doctrine, it might
breed complacency in doctrinal development. On the other hand, Services with a long
tradition of formal written doctrine and the supporting organizations, like the U.S.
Army, will probably continue doctrinal development regardless of the nature of the
A military must want good doctrine for it to have doctrine. Spain suffered navy
doctrinal atrophy because its fleet was hardly engaged in combat after Trafalgar. A
military must want to keep their military doctrine updated and be willing to fight to do
this, otherwise it is easy to get sidetracked into only concern for programming. Good
naval doctrine will come with the assignment of good personnel in doctrine
development commands; hence the key, as usual, is in a reward structure that bestows
promotion to those so detailed.
Pre-war doctrine cannot foresee all eventualities. No matter how well thought out
military doctrine is before a war, it is very likely that forces will be used in a manner
that has not been anticipated. When the real world does not develop as anticipated in
the programmed world, navy forces will still go to sea, in the ships and aircraft that
resulted from the fiscal realities that drove pre-war programming decisions. Doctrinal
developments must even continue while a war is in progress.
There is a long history of warriors being adaptive and flexible using hardware
designed for one type of combat in situations that were never envisaged by their
designers. Such examples include the use of surfaced submarines attacking escorted
convoys and "navalized" B-24 bombers used as long-range offensive interceptors
against unarmed and lightly armed reconnaissance, transport, and other utility aircraft
in the Pacific theater during World War II. When this happens, doctrine is generally
created from the bottom-up but there is no reason that doctrinal innovators cannot
adapt from similar circumstances faced by other forces.
Innovation in time of war is extremely difficult. Moreover, under today's concepts
of short regional contingencies, will we have the time to innovate during the time span
of future crises? The technological opportunities afforded by the development of the
lightweight radial aircraft engine were capitalized upon by the U.S. Navy's inter-war
peacetime doctrinal development for carrier warfare. It represented a missed
opportunity for the Royal Navy. Great Britain's Navy, and the Fleet Air Arm suffered
early in World War II because during the inter-war years, there was only modest
activity within the Royal Navy to address changes in doctrine afforded by new aviation
technologies. Doctrinal rigidity appears to have a marked negative influence on the
appreciation of opportunities afforded by "revolutions in military affairs."
Military doctrine should, and often must, be developed for situations not required
by current policy or available resources. There is no'reason that the military should not
develop prototype military doctrine today for concepts of war under political and fiscal
guidance different than that currently approved for programming purposes by
governments that are presently in office. For example, France has issued a recent White
Paper with five scenarios for programmatics involving future war. In addition, the
French military has added a sixth scenario, not used in programmatics, for a
re-emergent threat in Europe.
Witness the restructuring of the American armed forces from being able to handle
a European-centered global conventional war under President Ronald Reagan, to
planned downsizing to handle only DESERT STORM-sized major regional contingencies
and a program to reconstitute for global war under President George Bush, to a
NATO alliance and a U.S. government that does not include plans to reconstitute a
European-centered global conventional warfighting capability. Before we lose the
expertise on how we planned to fight and win a European-centered global conventional
war, we might want to document it in formal written military doctrine so that if the
doctrine is ever needed again, it will be available.
Before any war, there is an expected enemy against which military doctrine is
designed. When the intelligence community has misrepresented the capabilities of the
enemy, it is likely that prewar doctrine has suffered. For example, prior to World War
II, Navy intelligence rated Japanese antisubmarine warfare capabilities much greater
than subsequently demonstrated during the war. Paralleling this, the U.S. submarine
force thought that its submarines were extremely vulnerable to fielded antisubmarine
warfare weapons—again proven false under combat conditions. Put together, the
submarine force developed a stealthy and cautious doctrine that had to be discarded
upon analysis of combat lessons learned. Because of faulty pre-war threat assessments
and associated doctrine, the submarine force had not extensively practiced for long
combat patrols and they had not fully developed doctrine for the types of attacks
(surfaced) which would become commonplace during the war.
Prewar theory has often been developed in a sterile non-political environment in
which the "pure military" aspects of doctrine were stressed. It is impossible to separate
the "pure military" aspects of warfare at the strategic and operational levels. Whereas
the "pure military" solution might be to have am offensive and aggressive military
doctrine, British Vice Admiral Sir Edward Codrington learned at the Battle of
Navarino (1827) that the resulting crushing defeat of the Turks so embarrassed the
governments of Britain, France, and Russia that he had to be sacked and his career
ruined. Yet Codrington's doctrine and fielded technology for the battle was virtually
identical to that of the victorious Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson-but the political
context was not. Codrington had learned only the lesson of Trafalgar and not
It may be necessary to have different doctrines for different circumstances. During
World War II, there was appropriately an offensive doctrine in the Royal Navy to deal
with German surface raiders—an annihilation-oriented doctrine. Yet the navy doctrine
to deal with subsurface raiders was correctly defensive and attrition-oriented. Similarly,
military doctrine often prescribes some specific correlation of forces in one's favor
prior to attack. The results of the Battle of the Coral Sea (1942) were, in part, a result
of boldness and audacity on the part Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, USN, who
ordered an attack with forces that were weaker than those of the enemy. Thus, military
doctrine must allow for a preferred way of war with special considerations allowing for
alternative courses of action. After all, there may be different geographic locations with
different threats for which a single standing military doctrine is entirely inappropriate.
In short, doctrine is a playbook that should contain all the possible sanctioned plays
that can be selected by the commander (tactics).
Doctrine and Change
Centralized military doctrine should not be cast in stone and must be subject to the
interpretation of local commanders. Centralized doctrine must be supplemented with
local instructions. The operator in the field must be allowed sufficient latitude to use
military doctrine to his advantage and to supplement that doctrine with his own best
judgment. Where doctrine is routinely supplemented or disregarded, then doctrine
apparently needs to be adjusted. Inputs from the operators in the field are vital to
ensuring that military doctrine does not become "doctrinaire." "For any military
organization to remain doctrinally sound, it must be capable of questioning established
principles and of synthesizing new ideas. When that ability is lost, the military force
becomes a stagnant dinosaur, ready to be destroyed." Defeat of the Japanese Navy in
the Pacific during World War II can, in part, be attributed to their failure to learn and
adapt their doctrine in the face of combat losses.
Deviations from military doctrine, however, should not be the "right" of every
officer in command. Indeed, a nation can only afford so many Nelsons before it would
lack cohesion and suffer in combat capability. In general, the military should be
expected to operate in accordance with their established doctrine. Senior commanders,
however, must have the ability to deviate from established military doctrine when the
conditions under which that doctrine was established no longer exist. Before deviating,
one should be well versed in established practices that provide the necessary
background allowing such judgment. Like deviations from social etiquette, deviations
from doctrine should be knowing rather than by chance. In the absence of changed
circumstances, doctrine still represents the best way of doing the job and the way that
one's seniors will assume that the job is done.
Military doctrine will always be somewhat doctrinaire due to the inherent
personality types attracted to senior government and military service. The average
army colonel or navy captain is, by his very nature, less perceptual than judgmental as
well as more analytic than concerned with human issues. That will make he or she less
likely to respond well to innovation that threatens to upset the established order and
structure. Yet innovation in military doctrine is needed if we are to avoid the negative
lessons of history. That would imply that psychological traits of military doctrine
writers is at least as important as their tactical and combat experience, their education
and training, and their rank.
The central issue of doctrine as Mlaw” should take a book from the role of religious
doctrine. Even in the Catholic Church, "infallible" doctrine has generally been
discussed and a consensus built prior to being formally issued. The Catholic Church
has a hierarchy of doctrine, with a relatively modest amount of centralized "infallible"
doctrine and regionally adapted doctrine more subject to interpretation. Similarly,
doctrine in the Catholic Church is provided with the illusion of permanence because
of the long time period associated with change. Change does occur in Church doctrine,
but over long periods of time. On the other hand, despite the illusion of permanence
and "infallible" doctrine, the Church recognizes the need for and allows doctrinal
Another way to look at the question of interpretation of doctrine is to recognize
that if two symphony orchestras with two different conductors attempt to both play the
same musical score, they will undoubtedly sound different to the trained observer. Both
performances will present the program advertised by the symphony, but the relative
success of each effort will depend upon a variety of external factors (such as quality
of instruments) as well as the interpretation of the musical score by the conductor.
Doctrine cannot be cast in stone any more than can be Beethovan's greatest
Military doctrine has changed due to a variety of circumstances. The circumstances
have ranged from Acts of Parliament and Congress, to lessons learned in battle,
to changes in types of governments. For example, when types of government change,
or otherwise a purge of the officer corps occurs, it has often taken a long time for the
new officers to develop their own expertise in warfare and their own doctrine. Officers
from the old regime are often trapped in doctrinal thought that is no longer appropriate-
-as were Southern army officers during the American civil war.
The political realities that face a navy obviously have an effect on the types of
military doctrine that can be developed. A number of countries have made drastic
changes in forms of goveijnment during which all previous military doctrine was
automatically considered obsolete. The lesson here is that military doctrine must
transcend politics, although it obviously is subservient to it. Both the French and Soviet
Navies after their respective revolutions suffered greatly due to the loss of expertise
from the experts in navy warfare tainted by the previous regime. On the other hand, a
change in type of government, such as in France during and after World War II, led to
an instantaneous change in navy doctrine. The growth and professionalization of the
Royal Navy can be traced back to the introduction of army officers as seagoing
generals who built on and improved existing royalist fighting doctrine. In short, if
creating doctrine "from scratch," build upon existing doctrine rather than re-inventing
Perhaps the most significant reasons that military doctrine has changed, however,
have been changes in the international security environment that have had a profound
effect on policy, available resources, strategies and campaign concepts, threats, and
emerging technology. A good example of this is the effect made on Japan by the
arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, USN. Perry shocked the Shogunal officials
into recognizing the extreme vulnerability of Japan resulting in a major naval building
program, doctrinal renaissance, and the capability to fight the United States at sea.
With the simultaneous change in policies, resources, strategies, threats, technologies,
etc., going on today, there ought to be a doctrinal renaissance in the various armed
forces of the world. From the lessons of the history of doctrinal development, it would
appear that doctrinal innovation, like other forms of innovation in the military, is not
a linear process.
Military doctrine must be developed from the tried and true lessons of history, but
also with an eye toward the opportunities presented by emerging technologies and new
political realities. History is important to learn what has been tried. It is not, however,
a total guide to how we must fight in the future. One of the lessons of history is to learn
how often a new technology has been introduced without a commensurate parallel
advancement in doctrine. Changes in government will also present new opportunities
for improved tactics, operational art, and strategy.
Technological innovation during war is the type of originality that is necessary to
support our naval forces. Technological innovation, however, has not always resulted
in parallel doctrinal developments, indicating a need to formalize this process. This
inability to adapt to new technologies is as true at sea as it has always been ashore--the
failure of knights to adapt to the firearm being the classic case in point. Simply put,
there have been too many opportunities lost when technologies have been available or
even introduced but military doctrine lagged behind.
Improved military doctrine does not need to have a technological push/pull.
Improving how to fight with existing capabilities can have improved combat potential.
When the firearm did not initially reform how war was fought ashore, improvements
to infantry tactical formations were discovered to be the solution to how to overcome
the mounted knight and would have yielded the same result even without the invention
of the firearm. Similarly, doctrinal innovation can take place in the absence of
technological advances. This is what happened with Marine Corps amphibious
doctrine—conceptually developed in 1921—with the subsequent "borrowing" of
Japanese landing craft technology not occurring until just prior to World War II.
There are other good Asian cases to consider. By the mid-1930s, the Imperial
Japanese Navy recognized that despite all of the technological and industrial efforts
being made to upgrade the fleet, their projected capabilities would not result in a force
capable of meeting the improving U.S. Navy in a decisive battle at sea. The Imperial
Japanese Navy, therefore, gave more impetus to the development of night tactics and
eventually formed specialized night combat groupings (yasengun) that would weaken
the U.S. Pacific Fleet to such a degree that the subsequent daylight battle between main
fleets would be a foregone conclusion. Thus a threat was met with a doctrinal and not
It is not easy to institute a significant doctrinal change in large organizations. The
legacy of the difficulty to change within the Royal Navy alone leads one to conclude
that doctrinal change is akin to religious or ideological war. The shift of the fleet's
center of gravity from the battleship to the aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy was a
consequence of both the actions at Pearl Harbor and the controversial doctrinal
development undertaken by a small group of heretical officers within the U.S. Navy
throughout the 1930s. Similarly, alternatives to approved fleet doctrine for submarine
operations had been developed off-line, making it easier to change the tasking for
Pacific Fleet submarines at the beginning of the war. Changes to doctrine in the British
and American navies were the result of sequential bureaucratic operations—attrition
warfare, not one decisive battle—annihilation warfare. For those who want to make
major changes to a navy, it would be wise to plan a bureaucratic campaign with the
goal of "getting the camel's nose under the tent."
To foster innovation in the face of standing doctrine, navies probably need formal
structures where new ideas are tested. These organizations already exist in the form of
centers of excellence, such as: the Navy Strike Warfare Center, the Navy Fighter
Weapons School, the Surface Warfare Development Group, Submarine Development
Squadron TWELVE and the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Tactical Training Groups. The
U.S. Joint Forces Command has a joint experimentation directorate that is charged with
exactly this mission in the joint world. All that would need to be done in the U.S Navy
is to formalize lines of communications with those and similar organizations, with an
eye toward Navy doctrine development. Indeed, there is a long history in many navies
of the world of having squadrons of evolution, or other named units, whose function
was to test new doctrine. Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, USN, advanced this concept
with regard to the role of the Naval War College and the U.S. North Atlantic Squadron.
Historical test and development units were more singularly focused on operational
doctrinal development rather than today’s units that often spend a significant amount
of their effort in support of programming.
We must be prepared to change military doctrine during a war itself. If we do not
accept the possibility of doctrinal change during a war, then we risk dooming warriors
to rigid adherence to doctrine despite the lessons learned during the initial stages of
war. Nelson learned to adapt during war and succeeded. Codrington did not adapt and
failed in his mission although he succeeded tactically. Rear Admiral Sir Christopher
Craddock failed to adapt at the Battle of Coronel (1914) and was defeated. The history
of doctrinal change by the U.S. submarine force during the initial stages of World War
II in the Pacific is extremely instructive. Changing military doctrine during a war can
be exceedingly difficult. On the other hand, the lessons of the German army during the
latter stages of World War I demonstrate that a living and breathing system of military
doctrine can make successful adaptation during combat easier to accomplish.
When doctrine is stagnant, there have been disastrous consequences. For example,
on December 10, 1941, the Singapore-based Force Z of the Royal Navy was attacked
by Japanese aircraft with the resulting loss of the battleships HMS Prince of Wales and
HMS Repulse. The force commander, Admiral Sir Thomas Phillips, RN, elected to
operate outside of the umbrella of the Royal Air Force and his own carrier, HMS
Indomitable, was still aground in Jamaica. The lack of defensive air cover is generally
given as the reason for the loss of these two battleships. Yet, when German fighters in
the European theater ofthe war previously attacked HMS Ark Royal, her fighters were
kept below so that antiaircraft fire would be unimpeded-in accordance with existing
doctrine that was proven later to be inadequate. Hence Admiral Phillips may not have
known that antiaircraft fire was insufficient to defend his forces against air attack.
Doctrine should have provided Phillips with some alternatives, such as remaining in
port as a fleet-in-being or withdrawal and consolidation with other allied forces, other
than to simply sortie from Singapore and attempt an attack on enemy transports landing
troops on the Malay Peninsula.
The difficulty in changing doctrine can be best studied with detailed and fully
developed case studies that result in specific lessons learned. For example, Stephen
Rosen's Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military is an excellent
book written about change in military organizations. This book has a number of cases
that provide the military doctrine supervisor with a quick overview of the problems of
change during peacetime, during war, etc. To really get into the heart of the doctrinal
change, single book-length case studies need to be also consulted. After studying such
in depth cases, one can more easily accept the need for recommendations contained
therein, such as: support at the top, a mechanism for the building of consensus, and an
organizational climate that accepts rational analysis as the basis for doctrine.
The experiences of Spanish Vice Admiral José de Mazarredo Salazar strongly
suggest that just having the good idea is simply not enough. De Mazarredo was the
author of excellent doctrinal works and many good recommendations for improvement
of the Spanish fleet prior to the defeat at Trafalgar. Although de Mazarredo was never
defeated at sea, and thus had the credibility of a proven warrior, his outspoken criticism
of the state of the fleet, and its lack of combat preparedness, as well as his audacity in
questioning Spanish foreign policy, doomed all of his good ideas to the history books
and not as any actual improvement for the Spanish Navy.
It appears naval doctrine is easier to change when it is written. Japan did not begin
to develop formal centralized written doctrine until 1887, within years of the formation
of the first modem fleet. The first formal Battle Instructions (Kaisen yömurei) were
issued in 1901. They were revised five times before World War II and were paralleled
by a number of subordinate and parallel doctrines for amphibious and naval air combat.
During the war, the Japanese were able to successfully change their basic battle
doctrine from being centered on the battleship to being centered on the aircraft carrier.
When doctrine is written, it is a target that can be identified and defeated by adept
bureaucratic maneuver or firepower. When the target is a belief, it is internalized and
more difficult to root out. The U.S. Marine Corps was unable to embrace the concept
of amphibious warfare until an enlightened Commandant retired senior officers
opposed to its introduction. The French Navy was unable to get past the jeune école
until supporting flag officers were retired. Left over Cold Warriors may need to be
similarly disposed of in order to advance from open-ocean warfare to warfare along the
Yet even when naval doctrine is written, it may be difficult to change. For
example, the fundamental policies contained in the naval white paper...From the Sea
remain sound even a few years following its issuance. This document serves as the
basis of current naval doctrine. The basic and fundamental guidelines contained in this
white paper would only be revised if there were major and fundamental changes in the
perceived threat, available resources, or governmental goals—all of which are not likely
to change. For example, has there reemerged a resurgent global threat causing a
fundamental revision to the nation's regionally focused military strategy? Or, have the
resources been reduced enough to preclude participation in major regional
contingencies other than as an equal player with other nations. Or, has the American
public failed to embrace the role of world "fireman" and is the message from the home
from to return to isolationism?
Each of these fundamental and basic issues would require a revision to the white
paper ...From the Sea. Yet a revision to this white paper was needed in order to more
fully develop some concepts of interest today, such as naval presence, and to reflect the
personal views of new naval and political leaders. Without a change to these three
fundamental issues of threat, resources, or goals, the basic philosophy behind ...From
the Sea remained the same and the newly issued Forward...From the Sea only made
improvements on the margin. Hence, any new naval doctrine issued subsequent to
Forward... From the Sea will largely be consistent with the original... From the Sea and
naval doctrine prepared prior to that time.
Military doctrine should be the province of the warrior. However, as heretical as
it may sound, doctrinal innovation probably depends more upon one's administrative
skills than warfighting skills. Obviously more than an appreciation of warfighting must
be had by the administrative innovator, but history provides us with many examples of
skilled warriors who have served their nations well in times of extreme stress who have
won the war but been unable to articulate how they did what they did in a manner that
it would successfully change military doctrine. A wise navy will create a system by
which it can extract the doctrinal lessons learned from its proven combat leaders so that
innovation in formal doctrine will follow. On the other hand, there is no strong
evidence that excellent writers of doctrine automatically make good combat leaders.
Complete doctrinal development and revision needs the participation of both warriors
Doctrinal innovation will benefit with the creation of formal organizations charged
with monitoring doctrine. Without such organizations, who takes responsibility for the
fostering of new good ideas? When the aircraft was introduced into the U.S. Navy,
farseeing officers with vision understood the need for an organization, the Bureau of
Aeronautics, which would be responsible for the future development of the new idea.
The Royal Navy had no such organization and thus was deficient in its development
of the concepts for fleet combat centered on the aircraft.
Above all, for military doctrine to be a living and breathing document, it needs to
be supported by informal and unofficial organizations that support the non-doctrinaire
writings of officers with a new idea. No matter how important the influx of new ideas
from outside of the normal system, it is more often the case that the insiders will need
to carry the ball in order that military doctrine changes. Significant change due to
external direction, such as Congress, has been done but should not be the norm. A
profession cannot and should not be a profession unless it can reform and regulate
Preparing Military Doctrine
Measures of effectiveness (MOEs) are neededfor doctrine. The existence of a written,
doctrine is no more the "proof’ that it is acceptable than the existence of an arms
control treaty is "proof’ of the effective control of arms. Some of the MOEs for
military doctrine should be: (1), success in combat; (2), acceptability by the navy and
the nation; (3), adaptability and flexibility in the face of external and internal change;
(4), consistency with the lessons of history; (5), relevancy to the most likely scenarios;
and (6), attainability in the face of resource restraints. At the heart of effective doctrine
is a sound training and education program. Without training, doctrine is unfulfilled
wishes of how one would like to operate.
Armed with good MOEs, one needs to design a cybernetic-like feedback system
to monitor naval doctrine in the fleet and to feed back the necessary changes resulting
from actual operational practice. Feedback should not only come via informal
monitoring of the product, but also via formal inputs from training sites and commands
responsible for exercises and evaluations. The Catholic Church has a built-in feedback
system, in the form of the confessional, which allows the virtual immediate
measurement of how much of its doctrine is being followed on a day-to-day basis. The
message to internalize is simply that if the MOE for military doctrine is merely that it
is published, it runs the risk of either becoming doctrinaire or irrelevant, neither of
which is acceptable.
There will be separate MOEs for military doctrine in support of warfighting
commanders and doctrine in support of programming. Military doctrine can support
both of these, but the doctrine itself may not be the same—e.g. there was one U.S.
operational doctrine for the deterrence and fighting of the nuclear phase of war in the
mid-1980s while simultaneously there was a separate programming doctrine for
deterrence and nuclear warfighting in support of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
Although doctrine in support of programming is important and may eventually change
actual operational military doctrine if a program is fielded and the systems work as
theorized, the true MOE for programming doctrine is the success of the program and
not necessarily success in combat. Doctrine for fielded combat forces must be based
upon observed actual capability of weapons systems in as close as possible to a
realistic combat environment.
MOEs for military doctrine may not necessarily be universal-indeed they may be
culturally biased. In the Soviet Union, doctrinal development started at the top with
policy and strategy with subordinate military doctrinal (operational art) and operational
concepts flowing downward. Adherence to military strategy and doctrine (operational
art) was, in part, a method to demonstrate unity of effort. In the U.S., military doctrine
has more often started with the development of a new technology or battlefield success
and the subsequent need to codify doctrine. Adherence to a military doctrine is often
a demonstration of the strength of informal networks and formal organizations.
Successful navy doctrine has been prepared by a variety of individuals both inside
and outside of the sea Services. Doctrine has been written by navy officers of all ranks
(admirals to lieutenant), civilians (including Jesuit priests) working for navies, retired
officers, army officers, legislatures, and even bright landlubbers who have never gone
to sea and never faced the cold steel of an enemy. The tension between the
administrative officers (the plume) and the warriors (the épée) found in the French
Navy during the age of sail is paralleled today by questions of who should write
doctrine for modem navies. A successful coach in sports can devise masterful
playbooks that he himself cannot carry out. In the hands of talented athletes, however,
this playbook can yield victory on the field of contest.
Although the profession that adopts it must eventually accept doctrine, the
professionals themselves do not necessarily need to be the authors of that doctrine.
Indeed, history more often documents successful written navy doctrine being prepared
by other than serving officers than by that group themselves. On the other hand, serving
officers themselves who have had the benefit of formal education and training in their
profession and the years of operational hands-on experience that no landlubber can
bring to the table has most often developed informal, unwritten, and decentralized
doctrine in navies.
In addition to the tension between the pen and the sword, there has been another
consistent theme of tension in the history of navy and naval doctrine-control vs.
independence. Navy doctrine began in Spain, England, and France as an attempt to
ensure the massing of firepower with the cannon; a control solution to the disorder of
the battle at sea. Without advances in technology, doctrinal innovation was often the
method of advancement in combat potential. Against a second-rate enemy,
commanders learned that they could afford to depart from the battle line and take the
fight to the enemy. With advances in technologies, certain types of navy assets were
fought by officers that also fostered the idea of independence and innovation in battle
rather than control. Fleet commanders need to know when to insist on control rather
than independence—there are times for both. Perhaps the relative degree of
independence afforded navies helps explain the lack of a modem tradition of written
The role of independent thought in doctrinal development is central to a healthy
process. This suggests a role for selected retired officers. For example, when General
Maxwell Thurman, USA, needed to develop the military doctrine for corps
commanders, the work of the general officer, he realized that he could not rely upon
the staff action officer to write such doctrine since they had never been a general
officer in command of a corps. As head of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command
(TRADOC), Thurman hired a group of retired corps commanders to prepare the first
draft of the new doctrine.
One of the key lessons from healthy doctrinal development history is that military
doctrine writers need to be innovative and unconstrained by the current view of how
to fight. Finding officers with such vision is difficult but not impossible. The officer
who first developed American concepts and doctrine for amphibious warfare was
Major Earl H. Ellis, USMC. The first American to understand that the striking power
of aircraft at sea could equal that of the battleship was Lieutenant Commander Henry
C. Mustin, USN. Both of these officers, however, needed senior general and flag
officers within the established organization to protect these new ideas and allow them
Military doctrine for nuclear warfare is an interesting anomaly. Despite the
tremendous increase in the potential firepower of fleets with the introduction of nuclear
weapons, navies generally abdicated their responsibilities for the preparation of nuclear
warfighting doctrine; allowing civilian academics and analysts to prepare what can only
be described as theories of how to fight a nuclear war. Military officers eventually
translated those theories into practical war plans and targeting orders, but the debate
over doctrine was largely done outside of the military and with the full and routine
participation of legislatures.
The participation of civilians in nuclear, and navy nuclear, warfighting doctrine
was primarily true regarding strikes against the shore and to a lesser degree in fleet
versus fleet. In general, special academic theorists who benefited from the premise that
nuclear war was irrational and/or the end of politics developed the theories of nuclear
warfare. Rather than seeing nuclear weapons as just another weapon with a larger bang,
they were placed into a category with direct civilian oversight and navies were left with
generally preparing programs to field the weapons systems and operate them safely and
over the technical details of targeting. With some exceptions, great doctrinal debates
over the conduct of nuclear war from or at sea were generally left to those outside the
The mechanics of the doctrinal development process are collections of inputs to
and influences on doctrine, actual formulation of doctrine, and finally dissemination.
Existing organizations with a history of doctrinal development are generally strongest
in the formulation phase and weak in the other two. The U.S. Army has an extremely
strong program of letting doctrinal ideas appear first as articles subject to debate and
revision. Such a program tends to make the operational forces more of a participant in
the process than if they simply received revised versions of new field manuals.
Doctrine must be meaningful and address tough substantial issues. If doctrine is
allowed to become superficial, it will become irrelevant. If it deals with important
issues, it is bound to be controversial eventually as someone has another idea. The
objective in doctrinal development is not consensus but rather reflection, introspection,
analysis, and preparation of a menu of recommendations from which the combat
commander can select his tactics. A natural tendency of any bureaucracy is to avoid
confrontation; hence stifle change. Doctrinal development must welcome recommendations
As a series of examples of what are meaningful issues that should be contained in
doctrinal publications, the author offers the following suggestions. What is the
principal style of warfare-firepower, maneuver, or protection? Is the principal form
of warfare offensive or defensive? Is warfare annihilation or attrition-based? What is
the objective of a fleet engagement-sinking or demobilizing the enemy, taking the
enemy prize, or mission kill? Should the object of an attack be the enemy's
transports/auxiliaries or its convoy escorts? When attacking, should some portion of
the force be held in reserve? When defending an amphibious objective area or a
convoyed force, should the defending fighting force attempt to engage the enemy
attacking force by seeking him out or by lying in wait on the defensive? What are the
proper command and control relationships in the joint littoral? Do all naval forces
operate in task type organizations? Are allies or ad hoc coalition partners fully
integrated with own forces or assigned a separate area of operations? How far should
the combat commander on the scene comply with doctrine issued by bureaucracies
ashore? How much should the commander rely upon enemy intentions versus
The Future of Military Doctrine
Joint doctrine and multinational doctrine become more important as national forces
downsize. As militaries around the world are downsizing, due to the new international
security environment, they have to fight smarter as smaller forces. Jointness, alliances
and ad hoc coalitions are the logical steps that governments will take to ensure that
their national objectives are met with smaller national military forces. As military
Services, who have been used to operating under their own semi-independent doctrine,
are forced to operate routinely with other Services, it is more important that they all
understand how the other thinks and intends to act. The Royal Navy has successfully
adapted to all of these new conditions.
Many medium and smaller-sized navies in the world look forward to the frequent
multinational training opportunities afforded by deployments of U.S. naval forces to
their home waters. If the U.S. government wishes the benefit of continued forward
deployment of our naval forces and foreign navies intend to operate with the U.S. Navy
in the future, they are going to have to become well versed in our new written doctrine.
This, in turn, implies that U.S. Navy doctrine must be developed from the perspective
of the need to share that doctrine with foreign navies.
Multinational doctrine for navy forces will be inherently different than multinational
doctrine for landforces. When navy forces operate in an international context,
they retain their sovereignty and are quickly able to revert to national control. Hence,
governments do in fact exercise a great deal of national control over navy forces even
if those forces are operating in a multinational environment. On the other hand, when
a nation contributes ground forces to a multinational effort, the forces tend to be mixed
and eventually commanded by officers from other countries. The ground forces are not
generally subject to the same degree of residual control by their parent nations. Hence,
multinational doctrine for ground forces appears to be a vital necessity whereas
multinational doctrine for navy forces can be far less inclusive with national military
doctrine filling in the voids.
The fundamental unit for navies is the ship, which generally operates as part of a
task group with a flag officer in command. Commanding officers of individual ships
have a good deal of operational at-sea experience before being entrusted to command.
Even if a ship is detached on peacekeeping duties, it is generally an integral part of a
task group under the command of and in constant communication with a flag officer.
On the other hand, the fundamental unit for ground forces is the battalion, commanded
by officers with generally less operational experience in the field than the comparable
sea-going officer. Ground units less that battalion size commanded by junior officers
are often employed as part of multinational peacekeeping forces. Ground forces simply
have needed formal doctrine of all types to guide these more junior officers and noncommissioned
officers more than have ships with senior officers in command. This is
not to argue that navies are unique; but they are rather different, thus further explaining
why navies have not recently always embraced written and formal navy doctrine. On
the other hand, the very first written navy doctrine, from the year 1270 when the
embryonic Spanish N^vy was still an integral part of the army, presented the case that
war at sea was fundamentally different than war ashore.
There may be a parallel in history to the role that navy and aviation officers play
in combat as a whole. During the middle ages, the foot soldier gradually lost his ability
to fight as a cohesive unit and was upstaged by the man on horseback. In this era, men
on horseback formed sometimes fifty percent of a formation. Normally, individual men
are insignificant units on the field of battle, unless they are a part of a tactical unit—
infantry in the case of foot soldiers. With the creation of the knight on horseback, this
relationship of fighting men to tactical units became temporarily displaced. Knights
were initially incapable of being formed into tactical units. The best of men aspired to
be knights who fought individually and generally under a far lesser degree of control
by the commander. Eventually men on horseback later were formed into tactical unitscavalry
and were subjected to a bit more control.
Perhaps it would be instructive to study the similarity of the knight on horseback
to aerial dogfight and to the mêlée of the days of sail. In each case, there appear to be
forces that attempt to control the engagement debating those who would simply wade
in and defeat the enemy. In each case, doctrine was needed, but that doctrine would be
fundamentally different than the doctrine for the infantry formation, the strategic
bomber, or the defense of convoys.
The differences between doctrinal development in the French Navy and Army
suggest the need for similar comparisons between ground and sea Services in other
countries. Such comparisons would probably allow for some inputs to and influences
on military doctrine to be the same allowing for judgment as to why different doctrines
might develop in different Services or how the doctrine for one Service might influence
A nation with military responsibilities that extend over a wide geographic area can
have more than one military doctrine. Obviously any nation that has global responsibilities
will have a core military doctrine, but the requirements to service very different
threats in vastly dissimilar geographic locations and peoples of disparate strategic
cultures may mean that it will be proper to have slightly diverse doctrines for different
geographic areas. The way of war in Southwest Asia (SWA) may simply not be
applicable in the Korean peninsula, even if both are categorized as major regional
contingencies. Similarly, we should expect to see significant differences in Russian
operational art [military doctrine] in their Western Theater of Military Operations
(WTVD) against an "enemy" with technological superiority and in their Southern TVD
where they themselves may have technological superiority. There have often been
sound reasons why the operational and tactical doctrine found in the U.S. Atlantic and
Pacific Fleets has been different. It may prove hard to centralize them.
Perhaps we should recognize that there is a need for different military doctrine at
different levels of warfare. For example, history tells us of many examples of defensive
strategies and defensive doctrines with aggressive offensive doctrine emphasizing élan
at the tactical-level of warfare. It may be necessary to ensure that the offensive fighting
spirit at the tactical-level is not meant to spill over into the operational and strategic
levels of warfare. If that is the case, it reinforces the need for flag and general officers
to understand the differences between the tactical-level doctrines taught to the
individual sailor, marine, airman, or soldier and the doctrine that governs his personal
Over reliance on offensive doctrine is, in part, directly attributable to the defeat of
the Japanese Navy in the Pacific during World War II. At the Battle of the Coral Sea
(1942), the Japanese striking force attempted to seek out the allied battle fleet instead
of remaining with its own transports in a defensive posture. Pre-war Japanese Navy
doctrine had not completed a concept for defense of their carrier battle forces, let alone
the transports, in any other manner than an offensive strike against the enemy. Admiral
Raymond A. Spruance USN saw the virtue of the defensive and operated initially in
a defensive posture at the Battle of the Philippine Sea (1944) resulting in a major
The offensive and quick annihilation warfare is not always the correct answerdefense
and long-term attrition warfare are often the appropriate measures. The
original philosophy underlying the concepts of modem "maneuver" warfare comes
from China and the days of Julius Caesar. The U.S. Marine Corps has embraced the
concepts of Sun Tzu contained in The Art o f War, written around 400 B.C. Indeed, in
their capstone Service-unique doctrinal publication, Warfighting, FMFM-1, Sun Tzu
is quoted at the beginning of the chapter on "The Theory of War:"
"Invincibility lies in the defense;
the possibility of victory in the attack.
One defends when his strength is inadequate;
he attacks when it is abundant."
A further understanding of the value of the defense can be found in other classical
Chinese literature, such as: the Ssu-ma Fa, the Wu-tzu, the Wei Liao-tzu, the T'ai
Kung's Six Secret Teachings, the Three Strategies of Huang Shih-kung, and the
medieval Questions and Replies between Tang T’ai-tsung and Li Wei-kung. Another
Chinese classic, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way), which may predate
Sun Tzu by a few hundred years, teaches that:
’’When two great forces oppose each other,
the victory will go
to the one that knows how to yield."
The influence of Sun Tzu and other ancient Chinese philosophers on navy warfare
has not been well explored in the West. The Imperial Japanese Navy made a thorough
study of such "maneuver" warfare doctrine and embraced it prior to World War I,
about the same time as they formulated their initial war plans against the U.S. One
scholar has argued that it was because the Japanese failed to remember the teachings
of Sun Tzu and instead became fascinated by German models that they prepared poorly
for war with America.
The subjects of warfare by rapid annihilation and long-term attrition warfare, and
the offense and defense are critical questions and issues for doctrinal development.
Whereas the Chinese ground forces doctrine may currently be generally biased toward
long-term attrition warfare and the defense, ancient Chinese doctrine was oriented
toward "maneuver" warfare and subduing the enemy without actually engaging himdue
to then-particular geographic and demographic conditions. This does not mean that
modem Western military nations need to follow such ancient teachings given their
different conditions and role in the world. What is necessary, however, is a thorough
understanding of the culture of potential enemies so that we can correctly predict and
interpret their military and naval doctrine. Simply put, there is no one universally
correct military doctrine.
The first division of warfare into annihilation and attrition was by Raimondo
Montecuccoli, an Italian lieutenant general and field marshal in the army of the
Austrian Hapsburgs in the 17th Century. Montecuccoli's writings were accepted by
Frederick the Great. Reportedly Clausewitz also accepted this bifurcation and was in
the middle of revising Vom Krieg to encompass the theory when he died.
The first real acceptance of these theories in actual combat was by Helmuth von
Moltke and Alfred von Schlieffen. While Chief of Staff, Moltke developed the concept
of the continuous strategic-operational sequence that would defeat the enemy in one
great and decisive battle of annihilation—the vernichtungsschlacht—using envelopment
(kesselschlacht) rather than the standard attrition warfare of the day. Schlieffen further
refined the concept of the rapid decisive campaign in his warfare of annihilation, or
The concept of annihilation and attrition as two opposite poles was further refined
by the German historian Hans Delbrück, who termed the two types of warfare
niederwerfungsstrategie (annihilation) and ermattungsstrategie (exhaustion). The most
complete treatment of the two concepts is to be found in the post-World War I lectures
and writings of General and Professor Aleksandr A. Svechin. His book Strategy was
essentially devoted to advocating attrition war over that which he termed "destruction."
Svechin wrote probably the most exhaustive treatise of the two different types of
warfare with numerous historical examples.
In annihilation warfare, victory follows a decisive engagement against the center
of gravity-the enemy fleet. Warfare of annihilation was the basic strategy (War Plan
Orange) developed by the U.S. Navy and Army for war in the Pacific prior to World
War II. This form of warfare subordinates all actions to a single supreme purpose.
Under annihilation, withdrawal is normally not considered an honorable alternative.
Warfare by annihilation ashore has been successfully practiced by few commanders-
Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte-but has been
an accepted way of war at sea.
With an annihilation doctrine, there must be a subordinate doctrine for an
exploitation phase. If the objective of a battle or an engagement is the total annihilation
of the enemy force, then the victorious commander has to have an established doctrine
about how far he will exploit his victory. This issue has come back to haunt many
commanders over history-each being criticized during his lifetime, and in history, for
not having fully exploited the immediate victory with subsequent destruction of the
enemy force as it left the battle space.
French Admiral Anne-Hilarion de Costentin, Comte de Tourville and a proven
charismatic combat commander, failed to exploit a major victory against the combined
English and Dutch fleets at Bévéziers [Beachy Head] (1690). British Admiral Lord
George Brydges Rodney failed to exploit his victory at the Battle of the Saints (1782)
and the innovative Admiral Lord Richard Howe did the same at the Glorious First of
June (1789). Japanese Admiral Ito Yükö achieved a decisive victory over China at the
Battle of the Yalu [Yellow Sea] (1894) and was severely criticized for not exploiting
the victory-thus allowing an enemy fleet-in-being to remain.
There were a few very notable examples of failure to exploit the battlefield victory
during World War II. Admiral Mikawa Gun'ichi's failure to exploit his victory after the
Battle off Savo Island (August 1942) was, in part, due to a failure in doctrine. Of
course Admiral Raymond Spruance's decision to remain and protect the invasion force
instead of exploiting his victory at the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944) led, in
part, to the decision by Admiral William Halsey, at the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October
1944) to not stay with the invasion force but instead seek out the enemy's carriers. In
short, if one's end state is to annihilate an enemy surface fleet, it must be done
ruthlessly and included in doctrine. Victory may be determined by who leaves the
battlefield in retreat, but the desired end state can go beyond this intermediate concept.
During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), in which France became the dominant
power on the continent of Europe, French Marshal Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne,
Vicomte de Turenne, achieved the withdrawal of Holy Roman Empire forces from a
city but then he chose to not exploit this immediate success with a pursuit and
annihilation of the enemy. In a subsequent encounter in 1674, Turenne maneuvered
Austrian General Count Raimondo Montecuccoli and William Frederick, the Great
Elector of Brandenburg, out of Alsace without engaging them in battle. Montecuccoli
had demonstrated his own "maneuver" successes against Turenne in 1673 and 1675.
In his writings, Clausewitz expresses his distain for generals who sought to attain a
decision without battle. Some of the traditions of ground-based "maneuver" warfare
clearly include not engaging the enemy unless it is required. If navies are to adopt
"maneuver" warfare doctrine, then they are going to have to come to grips with
subordinate doctrine outlining policies for the opportunities of the exploitation phase
of annihilation warfare.
The navy counterpart to attrition warfare is guerre de course. Examples include
convoy defense practiced in the World War II Battle of the Atlantic and other forms
of warfare where one single engagement or battle is not crucial to the outcome. Despite
the plan to fight a war of annihilation in the Pacific during World War II, Admiral
William Halsey, actually engaged in a war of attrition against the Japanese-although
he was continually seeking a decisive battle of annihilation. Attrition warfare is
realistic under today's environment and allows the commander a higher degree of
flexibility. Under attrition, withdrawal is regularly considered an honorable alternative.
Warfare ashore by attrition has been successfully practiced by many more
commanders—Pericles during the Peloponnesian Wars, Frederick the Great in the
Seven Years' War, Britain during the World War II air defense Battle of Britain, and
by the Russians in their Second Great Patriotic War.
The obvious question is what then to do about this concept of "maneuver" warfare.
"Maneuver" warfare is a philosophy of warfare that can serve to support either warfare
of annihilation or warfare of attrition. Since modem naval warfare will still embrace
aspects of annihilation and attrition warfare, it will need to focus on the contributions
that can be made by "maneuver" warfare to both. The greatest problem with the
concept of "maneuver" warfare doctrine in the United States is that most native
speakers of American English assume that they know what the concept means because
they recognize the word "maneuver." In fact, the concept of "maneuver" warfare
doctrine, as articulated by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, is far more
complex than "movement," suggesting that perhaps the use of the term manoeuvre, in
French, would force both the writer and reader of doctrine to recognize the difference.
Indeed, a review of French Navy doctrinal literature reveals a wealth of conceptual
ideas about manoeuvre warfare doctrine for navies.
A major lesson to be learned from the doctrine of the Imperial Japanese Navy was
that early in-depth analysis and doctrinal concept development was to give way to
sloganeering and the use of catchy phrases that were not subject to criticism. As purely
Japanese Navy doctrine emerged after the Sino-Japanese War and matured throughout
the years prior to World War II, a series of phrases found their way into most official
pronouncements and policy directives, such as "using a few to conquer many" (ka o
motte, shü i seu-su) and "fight the enemy on sight" (kenteki hissen). This mystical
approach to naval doctrine did not serve the Imperial Japanese Navy well.
A doctrinal renaissance, necessitated by the need to explain to others how we
think and intend to act, is a major opportunity to educate army and air force officers
in the profession of arms by the naval Services. Formal training and education,
exercises, exchange tours of duty, etc., represent excellent opportunities to educate
these officers in the naval way of warfare. Since we will all be cooperating with each
other more than we ever have, it is vitally important that we train and educate them
correctly. The better our peacetime doctrinal development, the more likely that we will
be able to succeed when it comes time to act. Doctrinal development complemented
by training, education, and exercises, are ways to reduce risk of poor operations in the
more complex joint and multinational international security environment.
Although navies will eventually have to develop doctrine for all types of
operations, they should give priority to that which will ease the transition from informal
customary unwritten to formal written doctrine. If a navy wishes to develop warfighting
doctrine first, even though it will actually be engaged in immediate military operations
other than war, then develop the warfighting doctrine first. The transition to formal
written doctrine will be difficult, but not impossible, and each Service should be
allowed to make the choice themselves what will be developed first.
Similarly, one might argue that there will never be an independent land, air, or
naval campaign in the future. Even if such predictions are true, it may be easier for
navies to enter the world of formal written doctrine by first analyzing and preparing
doctrine for the independent naval campaign by using historical examples and
theorizing for the future. From the building blocks of Service-unique and multi-Service
doctrine will come good joint and multinational doctrine.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have now published a centralized multi-Service
doctrinal publication, Naval Warfare, NDP-1. This document serves as an overview
and introduction to the more substantive follow-on doctrinal publications that will
address naval intelligence, operations, logistics, planning, and command and control.
Of note is the naval Services embracing of the three levels of warfare, the concepts of
center of gravity and critical vulnerability, and the principles of war-none of which are
doctrine but all of which are major statements of policy.
Naval Warfare establishes that naval forces will be task organized and will favor
offensive and "maneuver" warfare. It reviews the historical and current roles, missions,
and functions of the naval Services and highlights inherent operational capabilities
emphasized under current conditions. Naval Warfare also commits the naval Services
to full partnership in joint and multinational operations.
There has been a great deal of discussion over a "revolution in military affairs"
with a great deal of emphasis on the technical aspects of that revolution. In short, the
general model is that new technological opportunities must be paralleled with
organizational and doctrinal development. This model is incomplete, however. When
reviewing where doctrine comes from, technology was only one of eleven factors. As
navies get more comfortable with the concept of centralized written doctrine, they will
have many other opportunities to develop new doctrinal concepts outside of the realm
Simply put, if doctrine merely follows the push/pull of new technology, then it will
miss the opportunity to develop new concepts of operations—and new doctrine—based
upon: reviewing newly published policy and strategy; after understanding the latest
decisions of resources to be made available to the Services; upon analyses of newly
published multinational, joint, multi-Service, other Service, and functional military
doctrine and campaign concepts; after another look at actual and emerging threats not
foreseen the year before; upon analyses of history and lessons learned; after identifying
the strategic culture of newly emerging nations; and upon studying the new geography,
demographics, and governments of new nations. All of these non-technology factors
could result in new concepts for military doctrine. All of these issues need to be
developed by doctrine commands and centers if there is to be a true doctrinal renaissance.
ood military doctrine is of no value without good men and women who are
trained andprovided the proper equipment. Simply having excellent military doctrine
is not enough. History has provided us with examples of navies with superb doctrine
but governments that did not support professional military doctrinal development with
adequate support for their fighting soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Is this the fault of
governments or of the military or both? One should assume that governments will
always attempt to minimize their investment in the military, especially in periods of
long peace. It is therefore incumbent upon the military to ensure that their needs are
explained clearly to governments (who have competing demands) and that the
consequences of inattention are expressed in terms of political outputs and not
hardware. Doctrine can help professional military officers explain what they do to busy
government officials who have a variety of issues other than the military on their plates.
Military doctrine reflects a nation's national self-image and self-confidence—and the
Political leaders will need to ensure that they do not ask too much of their
militaries. As long as they include military force as a legitimate tool for the attaining
of political objectives, they will bias military doctrine writers toward the offensive.
After all, it is with the offensive that a nation makes positive gains. Yet the military
professionals need to factor all other inputs to doctrine and make the proper
recommendations to their political leadership. Proper recommendations do not include
a mindless cheery "aye aye" to all tasking. When all factors influencing doctrine inform
the professional that the defensive form of warfare is proper, the senior military
leadership must inform their political leadership of the risks involved with the
offensive. As experienced in past history, such courage will require an extraordinary
In the absence of continued opportunities to prove the value of combat equipment
on an actual battlefield, we will have to turn increasingly to simulations, games, and
exercises to attempt to validate doctrinal theories and to help us develop new concepts
that will lead to new military doctrine. With the current state of military hardware
procurement, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to "fly before you buy" every new
weapons system. If we can find substitutes, however, then improvements in hardware
may continue in the absence of actual production. At a minimum, such a process could
be used in many non-lethal systems.
When good military doctrine is internalized by the training and education afforded
to individual soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, the results can be seen in success
in battle. One observer of the process of war has captured the importance of doctrine
and training on shaping the battlefield in terms of describing the preparation of marines
for combat on Tarawa during World War II.
"Marines were the most fearsomely efficient troops on either side in World War
II...because Marine recruits were inspired from the beginning with the conviction
that they belonged to a select and elite legion...It was the boot-camp training these
volunteers endured at Parris Island [South Carolina] that established the
foundation of this proud military attitude [which]... spawned in his homesick heart
a desperate yearning for order, and finally a love of that order and a clear
understanding that in its symmetry lay his safety and survival."
Naval doctrine is not risk free. There are a number of "down sides" to formal naval
doctrine. There will always be the natural tension between those who create and want
to enforce military doctrine and those who wish to operate at the cutting edges of new
ideas. Written naval doctrine presents a target for both intellectual and programmatic
change. Rather than fighting over new programs, the first budgetary battles may instead
be over the doctrine for their employment. Also, naval doctrine makes one's planned
operations more transparent—although in the world of deterrence, this is a partial
requirement. Having said all of this, no profession can expect to be allowed to operate
as a self-regulating entity without doctrine, and, in this day and age, that doctrine will
have to be written.
When military doctrine includes the moral potential of own forces due to élan,
there is the risk of under-funding for programming and training. Certainly fighting
spirit is one of those factors of warfare that is considered in after-action reports.
Calculating a warrior spirit as one's military doctrine, however, might again lead to
assumptions of short wars and victory by politicians anxious to hold down
Perhaps the most risky of all is that of the search for the correct doctrine. With
formal doctrine comes "the assumption that there exists a correct and appropriate
military doctrine and that, if we only identify it and apply it, we can ensure that military
means will serve the chosen aims." There is no one correct and universal military
doctrine valid for all time.
No matter how sound the military doctrine, no matter how good the equipment, or
how well trained the force, combat is a risky business. Combat requires án evaluation
of the situation by a commander and a decision based upon his best overall judgment.
Despite the military organization's best efforts to provide the commander with all the
tools necessary for sound decision-making, his judgment may, nevertheless, be faulty.
Military doctrine is drawn predominantly, but not totally, from concepts. The inputs
to military doctrine include current policy, available resources, current strategy, current
doctrine, threats, history and lessons learned, strategic culture, fielded and emerging
technology, geography and demographics, and the type of government. Although
military doctrine does normally not come from current campaign concepts, the entry
into the doctrinal field by the U.S. Navy necessitates inputs from existing doctrine,
which means an input from current campaign concepts.
Military doctrine affects how we fight, train, exercise, organize, what we buy, and
how we plan. Doctrine for the U.S. Navy does not include tactics, yet tactics,
techniques, and procedures (TTP) are directly influenced by doctrine, as are local
tactical directives. Rules of engagement (ROE) are not derived from doctrine but are
affected by it. Training and education go hand in hand with doctrine and cannot be
separated from it. Doctrine affects organization, analyses, and campaign planning. By
having an impact on campaign planning, military and naval doctrine will affect strategy
and, ultimately, policy.
For example, we need to be asking if the military, and especially the naval,
doctrine demonstrated successfully during Operations DESERT SHIELD and
DESERT STORM is the right military doctrine for tomorrow? Or, is our military
thinking still caught up in a Cold War mentality where the enemy is a foreign
government (vice a non-governmental actor with military capability) and we need to
project forces (instead of the infrastructure)?1 Is it possible to predict the doctrine that
we will need for the future? How do you develop military doctrine in the absence of
fielded forces (we did this for the Strategic Defense Initiative - SDI)?
Today, we are witnessing changes in technology as well as the international
security environment that will change how navies operate. We are also witnessing a
major redirection in government priorities away from the military. The uses of naval
forces will change in the future, which will, in turn, require different types of hardware
for the fleet. The operating environment may include less public understanding of what
we are doing at sea, or with the military in general, and there may be less support for
that effort. Under austere fiscal conditions, we may need the military doctrine first to
justify why we want to buy various types of weapons systems. Naval doctrine can help
us with all of these problems.
Even if we simply focus our initial doctrinal development on current capabilities,
before we move on to more advanced concepts of warfare, the shift from open-ocean
navy operations to joint littoral warfare will be as traumatic to Western navies as was
the shift from the battleship to the aircraft carrier. ... From the Sea and the move within
the U.S. armed forces to jointness are not business as usual-these are significant and
major changes for the Navy. Despite early emphasis on not being perceived as a
"revolutionary” organization, the Naval Doctrine Command (NDC) could not help but
be perceived as such. The first order of business for the Navy’s new organization
charged with doctrinal development is to deliver to the fleet naval doctrine that is
viewed as "useful."
New U.S. naval doctrine should first document the naval doctrine of today with the
obvious necessity to adjust from open-ocean operations to the joint littoral. Once that
is done—no easy task-the next step should be to successfully internalize that doctrine
within the fleet. Once the U.S. Navy demonstrates that it accepts formal written
doctrine and that it has value, it will then be time to move into the development of
doctrine for the future and the inevitable entree into the world of programming.
In general, joint, multi-Service, and multinational military doctrine affect the
strategic and operational-levels of warfare. In general, Service and functional doctrine
affect the tactical-level of warfare. All types of military doctrine are important at the
operational-level of warfare. If this is true, doctrinal training and education for officers
can be varied by rank with an ever widening from the combat arms to the multinational
or joint perspective. Doctrinal training and education should be associated with
leadership training and education. After all, it is the skilled combat leader that must
know when to follow doctrine, or when the conditions are so different that deviation
is not only authorized but also required.
There are some specific differences in how the U.S. Navy and other Services think
and are acting about military doctrine. Naval doctrine is a multi-Service doctrine that
will be authoritative over but not directive on the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It will
also affect other military Services and nations that hope to operate with the naval
Naval doctrine is a common cultural perspective of how the naval Services think
about war and military operations other than war and will act during time of war and
military operations other than war. It is a shared way of thinking that is evolving and
dynamic while simultaneously attempting to capture that that is enduring. By following
naval doctrine, the leader can reduce human variables to a minimum and remain
focused on the mission and not be sidetracked by immediate tasks.
Naval doctrine is composed of those fundamental principles of naval thought and
practice that have been internalized by the officer corps. It includes the experiences of
others who have been confronted with similar situations. Multi-Service naval doctrine
emphasizes the operational-level of warfare and, although affecting sailors, marines,
and airmen at every rank, is more of the province of the admiral and commander than
the seaman. Without the doctrinal direction of our admirals and commanders, naval
warfare would not succeed. In short, it is the heart of naval warfare.
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