The U.S. fighting experience in World War I was framed by a tale of two leaders—the oft-praised General Pershing and the undervalued Admiral Sims.
During the first of the last century’s world wars, General of the Armies John J. Pershing was the most lionized of American flag officers. His, however, was not the most vital part played by an American commanding in that war. Indeed, the attention garnered by Pershing has long served as a distraction from acknowledgment of the far more laudable contributions to victory of his naval counterpart, Admiral William S. Sims. Furthermore, the path to greatness traveled by Sims affords the student of warfare with a better example of the development of a leader capable of engaging in adaptive thinking under the most demanding of circumstances. The Great War brought forth many new and seemingly intractable problems that only the most nimble of minds could surmount; fortunately for the United States and the Allied cause, Sims was a remarkably fast study.