An Outline of the Past and Description of the Present
THE ORIGINAL CONCEPTION
IN ORDER to give a clear idea of the work of the Naval War College, of its past and present accomplishments and its hopes for the future, it will be necessary to make a cursory survey of the situation from the date of the original conception of the institution. In making this review the liberty has been taken of using the data furnished in the Life and Letters of Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, U.S.N., written by Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, U. S. Navy, and of quoting frequently directly from that book.
Early Suggestions of Luce In writing to the Secretary of the Navy from the U.S.S. Hartford in August of 1877, Rear Admiral, then Captain, Luce advocated the establishment of a school where our junior officers would be carried through a post-graduate course consisting of higher branches of their profession. The leading feature of the post-graduate course was to be the carrying of the young officers through a course of instruction in the art of war. Admiral Luce further suggested as a Preliminary step the sending of a select few of our officers to attend a course of instruction at the Artillery School at Fort Monroe. While the purpose of this detail was to prepare naval officers to become instructors at the naval school, nevertheless it should be noted that the bringing together of officers of the two services bent upon learning the fundamentals of their professions would assuredly result in a degree of cooperation between them, and would, in effect, pave the way for the joint consideration of military problems, a matter which today is accepted as essential. It is well to note here that the mission of the new naval school was outlined tersely by Admiral Luce in the words, “Instruction in the art of war.”
In October of 1877, Brigadier General Emory Upton in writing to Admiral Luce approved of the latter’s project to establish the naval school as a worthy one, as he says, “Someone must start the scheme, and I sincerely hope that as you have done so, you may be able to inaugurate the course and witness its triumph.”
Suggested to the Naval Institute
In 1883, lecturing before the Naval Institute, Commodore Luce suggested “the establishment of a post-graduate course for the study of the science of war, the object of which would be to prepare officers for the great business of their lives, namely, the practical operation of war.” .... “In addition to the study of war, he recommended a higher course in ordnance, a course in international law, the higher mathematics, languages, astronomy, and hydrography. While his efforts commanded respectful attention, they did not excite much enthusiasm or even interest on the subject.”
A Board Appointed
As a result of his efforts, in 1884 Secretary Chandler appointed a board, of which Luce was president, to report and consider the whole subject of a post-graduate course or school of application to be established by the Department for officers of the Navy. In June of 1884, the Board submitted an exhaustive report. The decisions of this Board were so important and to this day outline so clearly the goal toward which the Naval War College should strive that the liberty is taken of quoting in full certain of its opinions:
Campaigns that have depended for success upon the cooperation of a fleet; campaigns that hav been frustrated through the interposition of a fleet; the transfer, by water, of a numerous army to distant points and their landing on enemy's coast under the guns of a fleet; the various results of engagements between ships and shore batteries ; naval expeditions which have ended in disaster that could have been foretold through an intelligent study of the problem beforehand; and the great naval battles of history, even from the earliest times, which illustrate and enforce many of the most important and immutable principles of war, should be carefully examined and rendered familiar to the naval student. For it is upon this professional skill in the large operation of combining and utilizing to the best advantage, the floating force of the country, as well as in the more restricted one of an isolated command, that our people must rely for the protection of their interests and the guarding of their extensive coasts and coasting trade from the depredations of an enemy
Naval officers are often called upon on foreign stations to exercise diplomatic functions, and are, not infrequently, required to settle or act upon questions involving nice points of international law. They should therefore, be carefully prepared for this responsibility by an intimate knowledge of the enlightened neutrality policy which this country has had the honor of introducing and maintaining from the foundation, and of the principles of equity that have ever characterized, as well as of the instruments which control, the intercourse of the United States with foreign powers.
First Mission of the College
It is well to study these statements for in reality they indicate the mission of the Naval War College. From time to time, other and more terse missions have been assigned, but nowhere will there be found a more comprehensive view of what the College should mean to the Navy and to the country than in the two paragraphs above. The methods we adopt to perfect ourselves in the carrying out of the above missions may change, but the fundamentals enunciated stand proved through time.
The College Established—1884
As a result of this report, an order was issued by the Navy Department in 1884 establishing a College for an advanced course of professional study for naval officers, to be known as the Naval War College. In 1885, the Naval War College was founded at Newport, Rhode Island, and Admiral Luce was made the first president.
Its Early Vicissitudes
Even though the College was established, it passed through many vicissitudes before its importance was recognized. The first class consisted of eight student officers assembled for a course of one month. In 1885, 1887, and 1888 during the presidency of Captain Mahan, there were classes of about twenty officers each year for courses of from two and one-half to three months. In 1889, an order was issued transferring the War College from Coasters’ Island to the Naval Torpedo Station on Goat Island and a consolidation of the two efforts, one production of material, the other, study, was attempted. This was disastrous and had it been persisted in, the future of the War College, in all probability, would have been doomed. In 1890 and 1891 there were no War College courses. In 1892, with Mahan again as president, the class was renewed, but in 1893 no class was ordered. The War College had many enemies at the Department who believed conscientiously that it should not exist as a separate institution. However, the present War College Building was completed in 1892 and during the period 1894-1896 the College seemed to have confirmed its value and importance and apparently was firmly established. Even then there were officers who believed it would be wiser to transfer the College to Annapolis and make it an adjunct to the course there. Fortunately this opinion did not prevail. In 1899 there was no class assembled at the War College. From time to time after 1900 the idea cropped up that it would be wise to transfer the Naval War College to Washington. The genesis of this idea lay probably in the fact that by being at Washington the College would serve a dual purpose, that is, it would be a school for study and might also be part of the organization of the Navy Department, particularly in matters pertaining to advice and planning. In this proposal, the original purpose of the College, as outlined by the Board which recommended its establishment, was lost sight of. The organization of the Department at this time was in itself so incomplete (the Office of Operations not having been established) that a need was felt to utilize the work of the War College in an administrative way. The immense advantage, however, of having the College in a place where through personal contact it could effect cooperation with the fleet was entirely lost sight of by those who advocated the transfer.
During the first twenty-five years of the College’s existence, the names of three men stand out above all others. They have given it an indelible stamp. They are Admiral Luce, who gave the College life and established its mission: Captain Mahan, whose works on Sea Power brought it fame, and Captain McCarthy Little, whose untiring devotion kept the spirit of the College alive during its most trying days.
- THE COLLEGE JUST PREVIOUS TO THE WORLD WAR
Even as late as fifteen years ago, just prior to the World War, while the College was recognized as a valuable asset to the naval establishment, its full importance was not appreciated. The College was tolerated but it was not looked upon as being one of the most essential features of the Navy.
New Methods Inaugurated
About 1910, during the administration of Rear Admiral R. P. Rodgers, a change in the method of instruction was inaugurated. The scope of the problem work was increased and the method of instruction was definitely based upon a practical and competitive system, similar to the case system used at some schools but further embodying the competitive feature. This resulted from a study of the German method of the solution of a problem, which consists of a derivation of the mission, an estimate of the situation following an ordered course of reasoning, the arrival at a concrete decision and the translation of that decision into action through a concise order. This marked the beginning of the present method of instruction in the “Art of War.”
Methods Increasingly Progressive
From this time the internal work of the College was increasingly progressive. The work inauguarated under Rear Admiral R. P. Rodgers was carried on and expanded under Captain W. L. Rodgers, and Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight. The external relationships existing between the College and the rest of the naval service, however, were not so satisfactory. Even in its internal work, the College had not reached the point where it was able to take up in detailed study the partnership existing between the two military establishments, or the coordination demanded between the military establishments and the other branches of the Government, or the relationship of the combined executive departments to the national resources of the entire country. In fact, it took the World War to clarify our thoughts and extend our vision in this direction.
College Given Additional Missions
During the period now spoken of, while much advance was made in the internal development of the College, nevertheless, the mission of the College as outlined in the Board’s report sometimes was lost sight of. Perhaps, better it might be said the time had not yet arrived, where the College was in a position to undertake the work which at times the Department placed upon it. To illustrate: the course at the Naval War College during this period partook of the following characteristics. There was given opportunity for study; the solution of naval problems under the applicatory and competitive system went on, but in addition from time to time the Department, due to its faulty organization or rather lack of organization, in that most essential feature, a fully developed office of operations, occasionally threw upon the College work which properly belongs to a War Plans Division. Had the College been assigned the task of testing plans already made, this would have been another matter and a legitimate function, but there being no War Plans Division, the College frequently was forced to make plans and to test them in addition to its work of education and this was not practicable as the College was then organized. Further, the great importance of conducting studies of joint operations through the problem solving method in connection with the Army was not fully realized. This is somewhat strange for if the original report will be referred to, it must be noted there that the necessity for a study of joint operations is stressed. Howbeit, the work of the College had produced such good results that at the opening of the World War there was a small body of naval men who were more competent to face the complex situations confronting them, than if the College had never existed. In fact, no less a person than the Chief of Naval Operations during the World War, Admiral Benson, although not a graduate of the College, has often expressed his appreciation of the work performed by graduates and he himself was careful, insofar as he was able to do it, to place in positions of major responsibility those officers who had received the benefits of a War College training.
Period of Our Neutrality
During the first two and a half years of the World War the College continued its courses and had the opportunity for studying the conduct of war from the point of view of a neutral. This period proved of value to the College in enabling it to formulate more definitely its ideas on war and particularly in extending its vision. Although this period was one of importance to the War College, it was of even more value to the Navy Department.
Functions of Office of Operations, General Board and War College
In May of 1915, Admiral Benson was selected to be Chief of Naval Operations and with his appointment the Office of Operations, corresponding to that of the General Staff of the Army, came into existence on a practical basis. Formerly this work had been done through an aide for operations but the labor falling upon the shoulders of one man was so great that he could, for all practical purposes, serve only as an adviser. The details which logically must fall to the lot of an Office of Operations were so numerous that one aide could do little more than to act in an advisory capacity. An Advisory Board was already in existence in the General Board. This defect in the Departmental system was bound, in the course of time, to lead not only to a clash of opinion between the advisory functions of the Navy, but also failed to demark the lines of cleavage which should exist between the administrative function, the advisory function, the planning function and the study of the problems of war. There resulted a confusion of ideas as to the proper spheres of action of the Office of Operations, the General Board and the War College.
With the establishment of the Office of Operations on a correct, though limited, footing, the proper functions of the three major shore organizations of the naval establishment became more clearly outlined. The first result was felt immediately at the War College. The character and scope of its work at once took on more definite shape. The same cannot be said of the relations which existed at this time between the General Board and the Office of Operations. A true appreciation of the partnership which should unite these two bodies did not come until some time later. In fact, it may be said to be a development of the World War.
College Closed by War
Upon our entry into the War, the College closed and did not reopen until fully six months after the Armistice was signed. In the meantime, however, an understanding of the proper purpose of the College had been definitely reached by students of military and world affairs. During the time of our participation in the War, as was natural, the Office of Operations received a great impetus and was able to develop along logical and proper lines. The General Board now, instead of reaching out to take unto itself administrative functions, reverted to its original conception, that of a purely advisory body. These results were to have an enduring influence upon the War College when it was again reestablished at the close of the War. By this time the place and function of the executive and administrative factors, the plan making factor and the advisory factor were better understood and had been more definitely fixed.
- THE PERIOD IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE WAR
After the war, under the able administration of Admiral Sims, who played a most distinguished role during the struggle, the College was reopened. It began its new life with an increased vigor. The lessons of the war were fresh in the minds of all; the value of the College had been demonstrated and there existed now a definite desire on the part of most officers to take advantage of the course of study offered to them. This desire was increased by departmental orders which indicated that the higher commands, so far as it might be practicable, should go only to those who had received the benefits of War College training. Instead of a paltry few officers taking the course, as had been the case formerly, the classes now increased in size and the staff of the College was augmented correspondingly. During his entire administration Secretary Daniels was an ardent advocate of the War College.
About two or three years ago, under the impetus of Assistant Secretary Roosevelt, the field of the College work was expanded further. Previous to this time there had been only one class. Following the lead indicated by Colonel Roosevelt, the scope of the work of the College was enlarged to include two classes, a senior and a junior class, and the correspondence course initiated by Secretary Daniels in 1914 and again re-established in 1919 (to be taken by any officer in the Navy) was continued. Arrangement was made also for an additional and higher course to be established at the War College when the time should be ripe to accomplish this. The latter step has not yet been taken.
Present Scope of Work
Since the increase in the scope of work, pursuant to the movement inaugurated by Secretary Roosevelt and up to 1926, the internal assignments of the College have been as follows:
- A correspondence course dealing in the elementary study of tactics and international law;
- A junior course, established to fit younger officers for staff duties, dealing in problems of tactics and minor strategy;
- A senior class undertaking more extensive tactical and strategical problems.
The study of international law, which has been carried on since the time of the first founding of the College, was continued, but the output was not as great as it had been in earlier periods of the College history. Lectures on international relations were frequently given but a division for the study of international affairs had never been created and there was not the sound, official and correct background of national policy upon which to base our more technical naval studies.
Two other fields of work essential for an understanding of our country’s military needs were undeveloped. The first field of endeavor lay in the development of a course in logistics which should link up strategical and tactical movements to matters of personnel, material, supply and transport, and the further linking up of this logistic course to national resource in general, in the effort to determine the relationship which must exist, in war, between national resource and naval operations.
Relations with Army War College
The second line of effort lay in hooking up more closely with the Army War College in the matter of joint operations, from which the study of war operations on a major scale naturally results, leading ultimately to closer cooperation between the College, the Joint Board and the plan making organizations. It is true that an appreciation of the need for study and problem work in these two fields has been recognized, for in the last few years several joint problems have been played by the Army and Naval War Colleges working together, and a good lecture course had been established where authorities on their own subjects talked to the student officers, but an appreciation of the necessity for greater study and problem work along the lines just indicated did not exist at the Naval War College to the degree that it should. This was natural under the system of organization existing at the War College up to 1926 and the somewhat immature character of many of the officers attending the College courses. Too much thought was spent upon the separate departments of tactics and strategy and too little attention was paid to the fact that strategy and tactics are not separate fields of activity but both merge under the head of operations, and that operations, even purely naval, cannot hope to succeed unless careful attention is paid to material, personnel and the thousand detailed difficulties attendant upon war. Until a proper appreciation exists of the intimate relationship between the purely naval operation and its attendant activities, there is little hope that a full perception will be had of the immense scope of activities necessitated by a broad plan of campaign involving both military services, and the country as a whole.
An Inadequate Statement of the Mission of College
To illustrate more clearly this point, there is quoted from a statement prepared by the Navy Department relative to the mission of the Naval War College and the policy of the Department relative to the assignment of its graduates to important commands, the following. This statement was prepared for Congress and was dated December 4, 1925. In it the mission of the War College is stated as follows:
The mission of the War College is to furnish a medium whereby naval officers may in peace time study the conduct of naval warfare and the art of command in relation thereto. The college puts the student through a selective course of reading, lectures, and instruction and by practical naval war games teaches him to apply his acquired knowledge on the game board in solving strategical and tactical problems; starting in an elementary way and working up to major fleet operation. A correspondence course, consisting of selected material, lectures, and problems for solution, serves as a medium of preparing officers in general service for the work of the college or of enabling an officer, who because of his duty has not been to, or is unable to attend, the college, to keep up with the development in strategy and tactics. Any officer may be placed on the War College lecture distribution list at his request and keep abreast of the special lectures or even of the tactical studies or critiques of the tactical games.
In carrying on this work the College naturally has become a research and experimental laboratory for naval strategical and tactical practices.
Mission Broader in Its Scope
The President of the War College must insist that this is not an adequate statement of the mission of the War College, nor is it as broad in its scope as the enunciation of principles laid down by the original Board in 1884, at the time when the College was first to be founded. As has been pointed out in preceding statements, the limited view outlined in this last statement of mission by the Bureau of Navigation would preclude the College from undertaking studies along the broad lines indicated before. The field of international relationships is not touched upon; hints of the studies necessary to fit higher officers to cope with many of the international problems confronting naval men in times of peace are not there; that most important work, the conduct of joint operations in a grand campaign of war, is not even suggested; the testing of war plans prepared by the Department is not spoken of; the cooperation which must exist between the War College and the fleet in the staging and solution of the latter’s practical sea problems is not mentioned. Unless all of these features are incorporated into the work of the Naval War College, eventually the College will have failed of its full purpose.
Study of the Art of War and Keeping the Peace
It is true that the College exists for the purpose of studying the art of war. Admiral Luce used these words in his first letter, but he said war and not naval war only. This is its major purpose, but it is true likewise that between wars there are long periods of peace. The mission of the Navy is to know not only how to conduct efficient war in time of war, but, in time of peace, the Navy must know how to keep the peace. Older naval men constantly are confronted with problems of an international character which require of them accurate knowledge, sound judgment and frequently quick decision. While experience stands them in good stead, and while the service rendered by naval men in the past has been excellent, it could be bettered by the opportunity for thoughtful consideration, given at such times as an officer’s services could be spared from the details of executive and administrative work. As outlined by the original Board, a knowledge of international law and of international relations is one of the prime duties of a naval officer and nowhere can he find opportunity better to equip himself for these duties than at the War College.
- The Present Organization and Work ok the College The Organization
An attempt has been made to remedy the above deficiencies. The proper evolution of the War College demands an increase in the scope of the work hitherto assigned and a different arrangement. The World War made the need evident, a need which may be said extends even to the Navy Department itself. The College should proceed to adjust itself to meet the increased demands. As a first step, a reorganization of the Naval War College has been effected. This was made after an exhaustive study of the principles of command and administration, with the result that the Naval War College, as it exists today, is organized on lines similar to that of the General Staff of the Army and the office of Naval Operations of the Navy. This does not mean that the War College attempts executive, administrative or advisory work. It means, however, that it will attempt to formulate its problems and conduct its studies with a recognition of the fact that certain deciding factors enter into the composition of every war problem. The six principal elements to be considered are as follows:
(a) Personnel, material, supply (logistics); (&) Information and research;
(r) Movement and communication;
- Policy and plan;
(e) Inspection and training;
(f) Finance and appropriations.
Naturally in the college work where the time is devoted to study, such matters as inspection and finance, except as finance may come under the head of Logistics, play a minor role, but matters of personnel, material and supply lumped under the head logistics and such factors as information, operation, plan and policy must he given great weight. In brief, the organization of the War College is now as follows. No longer do we have a department of strategy and another of tactics, but both together form a division called movement, and this operation—movement—is dependent upon other accessory factors such as plan and policy, logistics (which includes personnel, material and supply) and information. Therefore the College is divided into four divisions: Division A is logistics; Division B, information; Division C, movement, communications, training; Division D, policy and plan. The two classes, senior and junior, and the correspondence course fit into this organization, and place is made for the advanced course when the Navy Department sees fit to send the properly qualified officers here, that is those who have graduated from the senior class or who have done staff duty at the college.
It should be noted here that the plan of organization fits the base plan of organization of the Office of Operations, and it can be made to fit in with the organization of the Fleet Staff. In fact, in the playing of each major problem, not only must movement, which absorbs strategy and tactics and which is the prime role of the commander after plan and policy are accounted for, be considered, but the other accessory factors must be assigned their proportionate parts. The result is that before the problem can be played competitively, the commander-in-chief must be at pains to organize his staff to handle the operation of the problem logically and efficiently. To this end the organization of the college itself serves as a guide.
It is hoped that through this reorganization more comprehensive studies may be made along lines which would be of practical benefit to the Department in case of trouble, without in any way detracting from the value to the student of the lessons learned through his study of these problems. To sum up concisely, the student under this plan is not made an administrative factor, but he still remains a student, while the scope of his work covers not only the problems of naval strategy and tactics but includes the subjects outlined in the reorganization.
If there was any one fact brought home to the mind with telling effect, from the results of the late war, it was this. No amount of brilliant tactics in the field can compensate for faulty strategical conceptions, and neither military strategy nor tactics will carry through to success unless basic principles well outside the ken of the purely military school be adhered to. Therefore, it was fit that a reorganization to meet future conditions should be effected at the War College, in order that the ideas of the graduates of this institution upon war should be sound, thorough and up to date, and their practice efficient.
The Present Course
The college consists of a staff to instruct and two classes called the senior and junior numbering together about seventy-five officers. Under the present reorganization while in the problem work the junior class still stress tactical work and the senior, strategical, the general scope of the work has been broadened. In the major problem work both classes combine. In addition to the operational features of the problem work the logistic feature is stressed, and no major problem is completely solved which neglects this important factor. Less attention is paid to individual theses, which have been cut to two, and more time is spent in committee work, studying certain selected features of a campaign, a battle, the source and supply of a raw material, or the matter of a national policy. Each committee arranges its subject so that it can be presented definitely and concisely by its speakers from the platform, and the results of the committee findings are open to discussion. Much work is crowded into the year, perhaps too much. It would be better if certain of the students of the senior class could be selected and pass over into an advanced course for another year, while some of the juniors fleeted up into the senior class. As this has not seemed feasible up to date, the courses have been crowded in order to make the officers themselves realize how many important topics there are, and how many sided is the art of war. No man can leave the College now satisfied that he has learned it all, and able to confound his less fortunate brother officer with the wise statement, “This is doctrine,” in the name of which many errors have been committed.
International Law and Lectures
The study of international law and the lecture course form a regular part of the curriculum of the College and fit nicely into Division D, the policy and plans division, and Division A, the logistics division.
International law is of course a most important study for naval men to pursue. Fortunately in the past we have had the services of one of the foremost international lawyers in the country, George Grafton Wilson, of Harvard. As a result, the Naval War College yearly has edited a blue book which comprises the international law problems given to the class for solution that year. This book has been much in demand outside the naval service. It has a circulation in foreign countries. Without thorough grounding in this branch of the naval profession, no officer is competent to face the complex problems which confront him constantly during the course of war, particularly in his contacts with neutrals. In times of peace he is frequently the only government representative on the spot and must act wisely and quickly. During the last year an officer has been assigned permanently to the college to handle international law in conjunction with Dr. Wilson, of Harvard. In the solution of the law problems, two are handled after the manner of individual solutions, and the remainder are committee solutions, given in full session of the College and subject to debate.
The lecture course which is now a permanent and important feature of the work covers fairly thoroughly the field of international relations and lately it has entered the realm of economics, finance, industry and labor to a limited extent. No study of war is complete that does not embrace the subjects which lumped under the heads of resource, management and potential strength, form the background upon which our technical problems and plans must be laid. In the matter of international relations a sound grounding in this subject is important, particularly to older naval men who must act sometimes as the temporary agent of the State Department on the spot. Therefore we seek the knowledge which various experts in their line of work have to give us, through a series of lectures on chosen subjects, and we are particularly fortunate in being situated near such seats of learning as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and other institutions whose professional men gladly contribute their services. This gives us the broad outlook and the latest information in international matters, but in order that we may steer a straight course in the matter of national policy we have lately, through the courtesy of the State Department, been given talks by the heads of the various divisions, and are furnished copies of the lectures delivered to the Foreign Service School of the State Department. This contact has proved of much value to the College. In return we furnish the Foreign Service School with such of our international law situations as they care to work upon.
In addition to the State Department, the College is endeavoring to make contacts with other Federal departments through the lecture course, realizing that the Navy is not a separate entity, but one part of a whole, a whole which must work thoroughly and efficiently in case trouble menaces our country. We have succeeded in making a number of valuable contacts which it is hoped will be continuing, in order that the mutually interdependent technical details may be understood by our naval men on the one hand, and Ula| an interest and understanding of our Problems may be created on the other.
The Correspondence Course
The correspondence course in the last two years has been revised and now operates under a different system. Previously, while conducted from the College, it was quite independent of the work carried on here. It was handled by an officer of the staff who did nothing else and the problems issued are no relation to the problems studied here. Now this officer is incorporated with the section dealing with tactics, and the problems given for solution originate with the tactical section and are reviewed by the same section of the staff which plans the tactical problems used in the course. The results of this adjustment should be an improvement in the course and more unanimity in the critiques submitted. No longer will the critique be a one man opinion but should be the consensus of opinion of the technical staff in tactics. The course itself consists of twelve situations, six of which are in the nature of questionnaires on war instructions and six on minor problem work. It is recommended that officers contemplating entering the senior and junior classes familiarize themselves with the work by taking first the correspondence course, and insofar as is practicable, this should be made a sine qua non for admission to either of these two passes. It has been found in the past that much time is wasted in elementary work, where officers upon entry to the College are not proficient in the rudiments. It is further an unnecessary handicap to those officers who are more advanced. The correspondence course is open to all officers in active service and in some cases to reserve officers. In addition, a special course in international law is open to reserve officers.
An Advanced Course Each year the need for an advanced course becomes increasingly evident. Without it constantly we are going over preliminary work and we are not fitting officers to undertake work coming under the jurisdiction of the Joint Board, the General Board and the War Plans Division (Naval Operations) as well as we might. Neither are we able to study problems involving the highest phases of command. We are behind the Army in this respect.
In time, it is hoped to extend the Naval War College curriculum by an advanced course devoted to the study and the solution of broader military problems, to the further study of international relations, and to research work, carried to a more intensive degree than has been undertaken heretofore. To receive full value, however, the Department must at an early date perceive the necessity of inaugurating the advanced course, and provide the means for carrying on. We need the man, the money and the proper facilities. In its present quarters the College is cramped for space.
Relations with the Chief of Naval Operations
Relative to the service at large, the College is not an administrative organ. Its function is educational and advisory when its advice is requested. It has only minor matters of internal administration with which to concern itself. The college is directly under the Chief of Naval Operations and as such, strictly speaking, the technical head of the Navy is responsible for the general policies of the College. With the internal direction of affairs the Chief of Naval Operations does not concern himself, merely reserving the general right to regulate the College’s relations to the service at large, or to other agencies. Fortunately the regulations in this regard are simple, direct and are better for that reason, much better than if they had lost their force through too much amplification. This attachment of the College directly to the Chief of Naval Operations is a wise proviso and puts into the hands of the Chief a very powerful instrument, useful to him in peace, and possibly doubly useful in war, for it is here only outside of the administrative atmosphere of Washington, that time can be given adequately to test theoretically the plans and ideas which the Chief of Naval Operations may have in mind. Correctly organized and used, the College may be of immense value to the Office of Operations. Under the present organization the College maintains direct contact with the War Plans Division, the Office of Naval Intelligence and with G2 of the Army.
Relations With the Fleet
It is somewhat unfortunate that the physical location of the College is at a distance from the operating ground of the fleet. This, however, is all the more reason that every effort should be made to preserve this most important contact beneficial alike to the students and to the officer personnel of the fleet. Even at present with its limited facilities, there is no reason why some of the problem work here should not partake in its general aspect the character of the fleet problems. Effort is now being made here to mould the work in this direction, in order that eventually theory and practice may go hand in hand. With the future development and extension of the College facilities, which are bound to come in time, as its practical usefulness to the service is appreciated better, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commander-in-Chief of the U. S. Fleet should have at their service an organization beneficial in the framing and testing of problems before they are executed in the fleet, and capable of giving opinions in the form of critiques to the two leaders ashore and afloat, when such opinions may be desired. In time it should be possible to draw from the College a corps of efficient judges in the matter of fleet problem work. The present organization of the institution lends itself to this conception; it needs only the adequate staff personnel to put it into effect.
Relations with the Bureaus
With the Bureaus, the College maintains contacts in technical matters, especially with the Bureau of Aeronautics, which is in the development stage. These contacts are proving of mutual benefit.
Relations with the General Board
A connection which has proven of value in the past, and one which should never be severed, is that of the College with the General Board. The President of the War College is ex-officio a member of the General Board. He sits with the full board and his opinion may be sought by that body at such times as it considers advisable.
Relations with Army War College
Perhaps it will be seen now how much more readily the Naval War College will be able to undertake joint war problems under the present reorganization than under the old. We think, or attempt to think, in matters pertaining to the art of war along lines similar to the Army’s way of thinking, and this would seem to be wise for after all there is no difference in principle between naval and military strategy and tactics though there are essential differences in detail. In matters of logistics it is a question of detail and not of principle that is involved. Only one feature is stressed to a greater degree than the Army would stress it and this is the matter of international relations. The reason for this is self-evident. The Navy is the external buffer between our federal state and other sovereign states. It works in this capacity both in peace and in war. The Army is the internal protector of the country and broadly speaking it comes only into contact with foreign states after war has been declared. Through this reorganization an attempt will be made in the future to give more emphasis to the solution of problems involving joint operations and to insure complete liaison with the Army War College. During the past year there has been an interchange of officers between the two colleges, extending over limited periods of time. In one of the late joint problems, an officer specially detailed from the Army War College was sent here to conduct the operations of the land forces operating pursuant to the problem staged here.
In the past the Navy has been prone to form a limited circle turning upon itself. This may have suited an older time, but it is not in keeping with modern progress nor is it entirely democratic in principle. Under the old system the Navy has produced many admirable officers, gallant, sound, efficient and broad minded, as the names Luce and Mahan will testify to. But the world changes. It grows broader minded each day. Its fund of knowledge increases with the scientific advance of the age, and with the improved world contacts. As the country moves forward, so must the Navy keep pace step by step; especially in an educational institution must the intellectual concepts be revised, improved and liberalized. There is no reason why a naval officer should not be a qualified technician and a broad-minded man as well, unless as lie advances in age he looks backward to the details of his work, instead of forward to the broad principles upon which his work rests. This attitude of wind, the broad viewpoint, the College endeavors to present and to inculcate in its more advanced students. To do this, and in turn to present our point of view, to make others realize that a naval man is not of necessity narrow, because he is a naval man, it behooves us to qualify intellectually and to seek contacts outside of the naval service purely. To this end, the more outside contacts of benefit that the College makes, for it is about the only naval institution which has the time, the better it is for the College, for the student body in it, and for the service at large.
Contact with the Naval Service
There can be little doubt that, as the years pass, the Naval War College is demonstrating its value to the entire service. It serves for the older officer in much the same capacity that the Naval Academy does for the midshipmen, that is it trains men to think accurately, act with decision and express themselves clearly upon subjects pertinent to their profession, and about which previously they have had little time to think. Contrary to what many officers conceive to be its mission, the College is not a school devoted to the instruction of line officers only, there is need and a place here for the representatives of every staff corps of the Navy. Though movement is the senior of all naval war operations, it is not the only factor, and no campaign of war can be successful which does not envisage the operation in its entirety. Not all men necessarily should come here. Some have not the capacity, and others are disinclined to undertake arduous mental labor. It is not the place for the theorist, until he has learned the lesson in the practical school of experience, that thinking, planning, judging and acting are all brothers, and that if the idea will not stand the practical test of service, it has little place in the efficient naval officer’s brain. For the hard working, thoughtful and practical naval man this school will give his mental processes a polish such as they have never had before, and he will be the better man for having taken the course.
In laying the cornerstone of the Army War College, Washington, February 21, 1903, that distinguished statesman, Elihu Root, expressed the substance of the thought which brought that institution into being. In addition to other remarks he said,
Other things being equal, the officer who keeps his mind alert by intellectual exercise, and who systematically studies the reasons of action, and the materials and conditions and difficulties with which he may have to deal, will be the stronger practical man and the better soldier.
The same considerations which have led individual enterprise to build up our great universities and technical schools, to which the graduates of our schools and colleges resort to perfect themselves in every profession and in every branch of applied science, apply with equal force to education in the science of war. It is fitting that our Government should profit by the lesson which all its citizens have learned, that for success in any business the evolution from the simple to the complex must be accompanied by a more perfect system, a more careful selection of agents and a broader training of the men upon whom fall the responsibilities of control.
These statements are as true now as they were the day they were uttered and for the purposes indicated therein the Naval War College exists and serves.