Good Organization is a prime requisite for efficient operation.
In order to determine a proper organization for the United States Fleet it is essential to have a clear understanding of the reasons for its existence and what it is intended to accomplish. It is not necessary here to set forth the arguments which justify the contention that we must have a fleet and to determine what are its missions. This was done by the Navy General Board, which after long and careful consideration clearly set forth the results of its deliberations in a statement of U. S. Naval Policy, approved and promulgated by the Secretary of the Navy.
In this statement of policy are subheads which set forth in more or less detail the policies on fundamental, general, and specific matters which govern the creation, maintenance, and operation of the Navy in all its chief phases.
In this essay only those policies which are the bases for determining a proper organization for the fleet will be considered. They are:
- The statement of the fundamental naval policy which reads:
To maintain the Navy in sufficient strength to support the national policies and commerce and to guard the continental and overseas possessions of the United States.
- One of the enumerated general policies which states:
To organize the Navy for operations in either or both oceans so that expansion only will be necessary in the event of war.
- Two of the provisions under the Fleet Operating Policy, as follows:
To organize the forces afloat so as to obtain maximum administrative efficiency, tactical and strategical flexibility and mobility, decentralization and unity of command.
To operate forces afloat under balanced schedules designed to secure proficiency, discipline, and contentment of personnel and general excellence as to condition of material, administration, and tactical and strategical performance.
Let us examine the present organization of the United States Fleet to see whether or not it fulfills the requirements of these policies.
That the Navy has not been maintained in sufficient strength to support some of our national policies and our commerce is evident from what has recently occurred and is still occurring in the Far East. That the Navy is not maintained in sufficient strength to guard the continental and overseas possessions is a self-evident fact. Therefore, the organization of the United States Fleet (which is for practical consideration the Navy afloat) has been a problem beyond our strength to accomplish in accordance with our prescribed policies. This being a fact over which at present we have no control, it becomes incumbent that the fleet be organized so as to carry out to the maximum extent as many of the fundamental policies as is humanly possible. But, in organizing the fleet, the Navy Department has in the past been swayed by political and economic factors beyond its control. Unfortunately, in any future organization we must recognize that such pressures from without still exist, and will continue to exist in such force as to bear a decided influence on whatever organization may be decided upon as the best.
To make clear the above contention we hark back to the composition of the various forces composing the United States Fleet when first organized. For many years it has been recognized that our chief danger from attack is in the Pacific Ocean. So the Battle Force has been stationed in that ocean. The Scouting Force, which, of course, in any strategic campaign must operate in advance of the Battle Force, was originally stationed in the Atlantic, behind the line of most probable advance. Not only that, it contained battleships and other types which are in no wise suited for the service of information and security. That this condition existed was due, of course, to political, economic, and other influences.
This situation with respect to the composition of the Scouting Force was gradually improved, but its false location in rear of the Battle Force was not remedied until several years ago when the strained relations with Japan became of sufficient moment to overcome the local political and other considerations, and to cause the Scouting Force to be moved to the Pacific Ocean, where it has since remained.
So at present we have, with a few exceptions, all units of the fleet normally concentrated in the Pacific Ocean. As now organized this is a necessity, if we are to make even the slightest semblance of supporting our national Far Eastern policies. But this organization does not conform to the stated policy, “To organize for operations in either or both oceans,” in that with both the Battle Force and Scouting Force concentrated in the Pacific the fleet is organized for operations in that ocean only. That this is so is shown by the recent action of the Navy Department in hastily organizing a temporary Atlantic Squadron when the disturbed conditions in Europe made it evident that such an organized naval force on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal was desirable.
Is the fleet at present organized so as to obtain “tactical and strategical flexibility and mobility”? For operations in both oceans, the answer is, “no.” For operations in one ocean only the answer is “yes,” so far as tactical flexibility is concerned. It would also be “yes” for strategical operations in the Pacific Ocean only, if it were not for the fact that both major units are habitually kept in tactical concentration in the San Pedro-San Diego area. The result is that certain units which from their very nature would in time of war be employed in strategical operations at a distance from the main part of the fleet, have been almost wholly employed tactically, largely performing functions for which they are not primarily intended. We refer to the heavy cruisers in toto, and to submarines, aircraft, and destroyers, in part. The result of this concentration is that our tactical education has been overemphasized at the expense of strategical knowledge. We fail to appreciate that in the next war, as in past wars, strategical operations will be continuous, from beginning to end, while there may never be the occasion for a fleet action.
This overconcentration in one area greatly reduces mobility as there are not present the facilities for permitting rapid movements to distant places. Large units must first be sent to other bases before the fleet really becomes actively mobile.
We do have unity of command. But decentralization, no. While the present organization permits of decentralization in command, the close proximity of all units of the fleet makes the exercise of this decentralization very difficult. It depends, in fact, on the personalities of the Commander in Chief and of the commanders of the major forces. In recent years the degree of decentralization has varied from 0 to about 50 per cent. Owing to the peculiarities of human nature and to our deficiencies in the art of command we cannot expect more decentralization so long as practically the entire fleet is physically concentrated in one limited area.
The carrying out of the policy to operate forces afloat under balanced schedules designed to secure proficiency, discipline, and contentment of personnel and general excellence as to condition of material administration has been greatly simplified since we have recognized the desirability of having a permanent base for the fleet. Observations from various sources (some from high ranking officers) imply that the personnel of the fleet as a body are being softened and in consequence efficiency lessened, by basing so much of the time at the same place. This contention is not borne out by facts. Under the old schedules, where for three months of the year the fleet if in the Atlantic was concentrated in the Guantanamo area or, if in the Pacific, in the Magdalena Bay area, during which concentrations it passed through a most strenuous schedule of training—tactical, gunnery, and everything else—a high state of efficiency was reached at the end of that period. Then for the other nine months of the year the units of the fleet, more or less widely scattered, cruised around for the primary purpose of satisfying political considerations and attending flower shows, the tactical and strategical efficiency gradually decreasing until at the time for the next sojourn in our southern drill grounds the general fleet efficiency had reached a very low ebb. It is much different today with the fleet operating for the greater part of the year from fixed bases which permit of tactical and gunnery exercises throughout the year, and a personnel contentment which is conducive to high morale. Certainly there is no comparison in the all-year-round efficiency of the fleet under the old regime to that of the present.
A great drawback to the present procedure is not in the policy of operating for most of the year from a fixed base, but in that, with so much of the fleet operating from the same base, the carrying out of orderly schedules is greatly hindered by lack of operating areas, lack of services, and other considerations. Much valuable time is wasted due to these conditions. The only remedy is to organize the fleet in such a manner as will obviate this overconcentration by basing the major units having different functions in separate areas, so located as to permit them best to train for and carry out their respective missions.
From the foregoing considerations the conclusions are reached that the fleet as at present organized and based does not fulfill the approved naval policy in the following respects:
- The organization is for operations in one ocean only, instead of for either or both oceans.
- Much reorganization, instead of expansion only, would be necessary in the event of war.
- The Atlantic seaboard and our overseas possessions in the Atlantic are practically unguarded.
- Strategic flexibility and mobility are unduly restricted.
- Decentralization of command is unduly limited.
- Balanced schedules are impeded owing to overconcentration in the same area.
In considering how best to organize the fleet so as to eradicate these shortcomings, it here becomes necessary first to restate the mission in order that there can be no mistake as to what is to be done and why we wish to do it. By paraphrasing and combining the statements of policy heretofore set forth we derive, for the estimate which follows, the Mission:
To organize the United States Fleet for operations in either or both oceans so that expansion only will be necessary in time of war and so as to provide the sustained and efficient training necessary for such operations, in order to support the national policies and commerce and to guard the continental and overseas possessions of the United States.
Let us first examine the situation in the Pacific Ocean. In the recently published book The Ramparts We Watch, the author, Major Eliot, points out the truism that it is “An eternal principle that force still underlies all diplomacy.” As a result of our lack of sufficient force we are witnessing the decline of our ability to uphold the long sustained national policy of the Open Door in China, and are beginning to wonder to what further lengths the failure of diplomacy to maintain our position in this great Pacific area will lead us. We still have the Philippines, and although their independence has been guaranteed, it is uncertain what future problems will be presented by this independence. However, as pointed out in the aforementioned book, “The most important and pressing [question], as it is the most dangerous, is the determination of the future status of the Philippines.”
It is certain that whatever national policies we may adopt with respect to the future integrity of these islands, great naval strength will be necessary to support them. Our other possessions in the Pacific are Alaska, Guam, Samoa, and the Hawaiian Islands, these latter being the outposts which guard our long Pacific continental coast line and Alaska.
It is apparent, therefore, that in order to guard our continental and overseas possessions in the Pacific Ocean, and to support our policies and commerce in that vast area, we should at all times maintain in the Pacific a large part of the fleet.
In the Atlantic we find a somewhat different situation. Our relations with the European powers are usually cordial. So long as we continue the policy of “No Entangling Alliances,” the chances of our having a war in that ocean, unless drawn into a general European conflict, are remote. However, of late there has developed a restlessness of spirit among the people of this country owing to certain policies and actions of some of the European countries which force us to the conviction that so long as we adhere to our policies concerning this part of the world, peace in the Atlantic is not entirely secure. We still have the Monroe Doctrine, and this has recently been reaffirmed by the President more forcibly than heretofore. There is a tendency on the part of some nations to secure economic footholds in the countries of Central and South America, to the exclusion of our interests, which may eventually go farther. This being true, we are confronted with the situation that unless our diplomacy in these matters is backed by naval strength we fail in readiness to support our national policies. Our Atlantic overseas possessions are in the Caribbean area, in which also is the most important of all, the Panama Canal. It is incumbent upon us to keep this waterway open at all hazards.
Therefore, in order adequately to support our national policies and commerce and to guard our eastern seaboard and overseas possessions, it is necessary to maintain in the Atlantic a force of sufficient strength to insure their safety until such forces can be augmented.
If we knew that any prospective war was to be in the Atlantic only, there would be no question as to the propriety of keeping our entire naval strength in that ocean. But this we cannot foretell. The effect on a possible Pacific campaign, should the entire fleet or even the larger part of it be concentrated in the Atlantic, would be disastrous.
Based on the conception that a part of the fleet should always be in the Atlantic, but that with the larger part in that area we could not fulfill our requirements in the Pacific, and having concluded that a large part of the fleet must be based in the Pacific, we must examine this situation to ascertain whether or not such disposition could meet a threat in the Atlantic. It is believed that such a threat would initially involve the Caribbean area. The distance from the Culebra-San Juan area to Gibraltar is approximately 3,400 miles; the distance from San Pedro to the Canal Zone is about 2,900 miles. It is thus evident that such units of our fleet as might be concentrated in the San Pedro-San Diego area could reach the Caribbean area in advance of any European fleet, while ships of the United States Fleet which may already be in the Atlantic would serve as an advance information and security force in such a contingency.
Therefore, although it is evident that for a war in the Atlantic only the best place to maintain the major part of the naval forces in peace time would be in the Atlantic, no assurance can be had that there may not be war in the Pacific, until too late to change the fleet base. It is accordingly desirable, even should war in the Atlantic seem possible, to maintain the main or larger part of the fleet in the Pacific.
Having concluded that to meet the contingency of war in either ocean the best place to base the main part of the fleet is in the Pacific, the same arguments which led to this conclusion apply in the basing of the fleet for operations in both oceans. We might, of course, consider the division of the fleet into two equal parts, basing half in each ocean. This would permit of a concentration in either ocean so long as the Panama Canal is intact. But such a disposition is fundamentally unsound, unless each of the two main subdivisions are superior in strength to any enemy fleet against which it might be called on to operate. This being impracticable of attainment, such an idea must be abandoned. We accordingly conclude that the same dispositions made for operations in either ocean are also the best that can be made for operations in both oceans, which to reiterate means the larger part of the fleet concentrated in the Pacific, normally based in the San Pedro-San Diego area, and a part of considerable strength concentrated in the Atlantic, normally based in the Caribbean area.
To substantiate the conclusion that the greater part of the fleet should habitually be based in the Pacific it should be pointed out that if war comes in the Pacific it can be with only one nation and, therefore, it might come with very little or even no warning. On the other hand, should war come in the Atlantic it will most probably be the result of a general conflict which has been waged for some time, and therefore there would be ample time to move that part of the fleet based in the Pacific to the Atlantic when and if the situation indicated such action to be desirable.
What then, under this precept, should be the basic organization of the fleet?
In order to guard our continental and overseas possessions and to support our commerce we must obtain and maintain command of the sea. It is a truism that the best way to obtain this command is to defeat or contain the enemy fleet. If this is done it is a simple matter to maintain such command. Our organization, therefore, should be such as will best make this possible in whatever area the main theater of operations may fall.
Taking as a basis any naval campaign in any area it is apparent that the fleet should be so constituted and organized that there will be: (1) a part with the primary mission of fighting battles; (2) a part with the primary mission of securing information, destroying commerce, and keeping the sea lanes open; (3) a part with the primary mission of maintaining the service of supply and the necessary base facilities and protection. No single type of ship possesses the necessary characteristics for carrying out any of these missions. Combinations of types are necessary for all of them. If we organize the fleet purely by types it is manifest that the organization cannot possibly be such as will require expansion only in case of war. On the other hand, a complete reorganization would be necessary in order that the various types, required for the accomplishment of any of the three chief missions, could operate together under that unity of command essential for efficiency.
Therefore, in time of peace, to train these various types to operate conjointly, and to comply with the requirements of our approved naval policy that the basic fleet organization be such that expansion only may be necessary in the event of war, it is necessary that the fleet be organized into task groups, each composed of those types which are essential for carrying out their respective missions.
The battleships, it is conceded, form the nucleus for that major force which is organized primarily for fighting battles. These battleships are the backbone of the fleet, which fact, taken in conjunction with the fact that as a type they are not suited for employment in the service of information and other operations, is an unassailable indication that they should not be divided, but should be habitually retained in tactical concentration under one command. Such cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft best suited for operating in battle with these battleships, and in such numbers as may be available for making a well-balanced fighting force, and for giving close-in security while cruising, should be assigned to that organization of which the battleships are the nucleus.
In the event of war, heavy cruisers will be required in the service of information and security, as commerce destroyers, and for control purposes. It is a historical fact that never have there been enough cruisers (frigates) for these purposes. We may rest assured that there are not now sufficient of these cruisers for the requirements of these functions. Therefore, none of them should be diverted from their primary duties and assigned to the task group organized for fighting battles. Light cruisers, on the other hand, with their large numbers of 6-inch guns and anti-aircraft batteries, are well suited for repelling enemy attacks by destroyers and aircraft and for supporting attacks by our own destroyers.
The aircraft assigned to the Battle Force should be those to be employed primarily in offensive operations. Such planes must accompany the fleet and therefore must be based in carriers. The type of planes should be those designed for carrying bombs and torpedoes, and the minimum of other smaller types as may be necessary to support these larger ones.
We conclude, therefore, that the present organization of the United States Fleet so far as having its largest major unit organized in a Battle Force composed of battleships, light cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft is sound. As to whether or not the constitution of this force as to number of ships of the different types is correct, we defer judgment until after consideration of the other parts of the fleet which constitute its entirety. However, we do conclude, from consideration previously made, that the proper place to base this Battle Force, in order to be ready for service in either or both oceans, is in the San Diego-San Pedro area.
Consideration is now given to that part of the fleet organized primarily to operate in the service of information and security and in keeping the sea lanes open. Information of the enemy to the maximum attainable degree must form an important part of every campaign. Without adequate information our fighting forces cannot be placed in the most advantageous positions for defeating the enemy, nor can the best dispositions for beginning a battle be determined. In the great stress we have always placed on the tactical features of war, we have neglected this most important factor of information and security.
Of the surface craft, the heavy cruiser with its powerful battery of 8-inch guns is the best suited for the obtaining of information at a distance from the main fleet. As most merchant ships which are available for conversion into auxiliary cruisers are fitted for mounting 6-inch guns and are not suited, owing to their construction, to carry larger guns, the heavy cruiser is the best-equipped type to drive off these auxiliary cruisers, and at the same time wage efficient warfare against the enemy’s commerce. At times these large ships may need anti-submarine and anti-aircraft protection; and there may be areas in which they are too large for efficient operations; hence the heavy cruisers should be augmented by destroyers.
No force intended for the obtaining of all kinds of information will be adequate unless a mobile air force is one of its components. This, of course, necessitates that a carrier be assigned. There will also be required a number of long-range scouting planes which must be shore based or, in limited numbers, rely on tenders. It is not practicable for these planes to operate in advance of the fleet except so far as their radius of action from such bases permits. They are extremely valuable for obtaining information over such areas. They are also indispensable for patrolling areas seaward from all naval bases, in escort duty for convoys, and for general fleet services. Such of these planes as are to operate with the information and security force from advanced bases should be permanently assigned to that organization.
The submarine has never been employed in conjunction with the battle line in time of war, and it is doubtful if, under present-day, high-speed maneuvers, it can regularly be efficiently employed as a part of the battle force. We know, however, that the submarine is of great value in the service of information and security and as a commerce destroyer. In fact, with the advent of aircraft, much dependence must in the future be placed on the submarine for the obtaining of vital information which cannot be obtained in any other way. In an extended campaign there never will be sufficient submarines available for desired employment in these services.
As all types employed in any area in the service of information should be under one command, we are forced to the conclusion that the present U. S. Fleet organization with respect to having all the submarines, both in the Atlantic and Pacific, and scattered from New London to Pearl Harbor, in one type command is illogical. This is not in accord with the approved policy which requires the organization to be such that expansion only is necessary in time of war. Neither does it permit of adequate training with the types it will be called on to co-operate with in time of war. The submarines accordingly should be permanently assigned to the commands organized primarily for the service of information and security and the destruction of commerce.
That the Battle Force may at all times have the security and information adequate for an immediate movement in either ocean, and in order that at all times the fleet may be so disposed as to support our national policies and commerce and to guard our continental and overseas possessions in both oceans, there must be one of these combined information, security, and control forces in each ocean. The force maintained in the Atlantic should be of sufficient strength to meet all military contingencies, and at the same time satisfy the political and other considerations which demand that a part of the fleet be maintained in this ocean. If this is not done, it is probable that these outside influences may force us to maintain in the Atlantic a much larger organization than is desirable and, at the same time, one which is not properly constituted.
In the Pacific, owing to the Battle Force being normally there, and being of sufficient size to meet the political and economic demands, we are confronted only with the military necessities so far as the information and security force is concerned. We conclude, therefore, that each of these two major organizations should be similar, and that each should be composed of one-half of all the heavy cruisers, one-half of all available submarines, a squadron of destroyers, an airplane carrier equipped primarily with scouting planes, and some shore and tender based long-range patrol planes.
This force intended for operations in the Pacific Ocean should not be based with the Battle Force. Not only would such basing interfere with the training schedules owing to congestion, but it would have a tendency to overemphasize tactical training at the expense of strategic training. It would also result in a continuation of the present tendency to overemphasize centralization of command, instead of encouraging that decentralization which our approved policy calls for and which is absolutely essential for the successful carrying out of an extended naval campaign.
The ideal base for this organization, which for want of a better term we will call the Pacific Scouting Force, would be at Pearl Harbor. Here it would always be available for guarding the Hawaiian Islands, our west coast outpost, and one of our most important Pacific overseas possessions. But, as previously pointed out, there are influences other than the military that will probably prevent the basing of this large force so far from the Pacific coast. Be that as it may, the Pacific Scouting Force should be a highly mobile organization, basing as much of the time as practicable in the Hawaiian Islands and, at other times, in the San Francisco and Puget Sound areas. It should be available for cruising in Alaskan waters.
The similar force organized for operations in the Atlantic we will designate as the Atlantic Scouting Force. The ideal place for the habitual operations of this organization is in the Caribbean with its base in the Canal Zone. Here it would always be available for guarding the Canal, our most important overseas possession in that area. But, as in the case of the Pacific Scouting Force, outside influences will undoubtedly prevent such an advantageous disposition. So we must contemplate this Atlantic Scouting Force as a highly mobile organization, basing at times, other than those permitted in the Canal Zone, in the Culebra-St. Thomas, Guantanamo-Gonaives areas, at Hampton Roads, and Narragansett Bay.
With two such scouting forces, whichever way the Battle Force may be called on to move, there will be in the advance a force of sufficient strength to afford at least temporary security and to obtain essential information; and in the rear a force of sufficient strength to insure control of the sea in those areas, thereby guaranteeing an open line of communications.
When we consider the organization of that part of the fleet with the primary mission of maintaining the service of supply and the necessary base facilities and protection, we find a somewhat intricate and complex problem. This is due to the variety of services which such a force must furnish, and to the varying amounts of such services due to the movements of the various units of the fleet in accordance with the fleet employment schedules, and unexpected calls.
Each of the major combatant subdivisions of the fleet should habitually operate together in the areas assigned and under the same command. Each has its own peculiarities with respect to logistic requirements, base facilities, and services. It is logical, therefore, that the commander of each of these major combatant units should have directly under his command the organization that is charged with these functions.
At present all of our fleet auxiliaries are pooled in the Base Force directly under the Commander in Chief. This is neither logical nor satisfactory to the combatant unit commanders, as it necessitates their going through the Commander in Chief to obtain the necessary authority for the control of an organization which is vital for their efficient operations. The amount of services required by each of the three major combatant units is variable, especially for the two scouting forces which may be frequently moving from base to base.
For the Battle Force, which will normally be based in the San Pedro-San Diego area, these services will be practically stable. It would seem, therefore, that to serve with this Battle Force there should be established a Base Force directly under the Commander of the Battle Force. This Base Force should, in turn, be composed of two train squadrons, one for the service of those ships normally based at San Pedro, and one for the service of those ships normally based at San Diego. Each of the two Scouting Forces should have assigned to it a train squadron. These four train squadrons need not be similar with respect to numbers and types of ships. In fact, owing to the different composition and functions of the forces which they serve, they must, of necessity, be differently composed. Where there are destroyers there must be destroyer tenders; where there are submarines, there must be submarine tenders; where there are aircraft, there must be aircraft tenders, etc. All combatant forces require shore-based aircraft for base defense purposes and other services. Therefore, each of our train squadrons should have such planes as a part of its organization.
The composition of each of these train squadrons will not be set forth here but is shown in the diagrammatical organization of the fleet which is included as a part of this essay.
The Hawaiian Naval District and the Canal Zone Naval District are, for operative purposes, directly under the Commander in Chief. There are based at Pearl Harbor several fleet units, each with a different immediate superior in command, as follows:
A similar situation exists in the Canal Zone except there is no organized mine force in that area.
Such assignments are not in accordance with the approved naval policy which requires unity of command. However, the situation is easily remedied by placing all the units normally based in the Hawaiian Islands under the command of the Pacific Scouting Force which, until the situation warrants a change, may have a secondary designation of the Hawaiian Defense Force; and by placing all the units normally based in the Canal Zone under the command of the Atlantic Scouting Force, which, similarly, may have a secondary designation as the Canal Zone Defense Force.
Of late years we have had as a part of the United States Fleet a Fleet Marine Force which has as its primary mission the establishment and holding of advance bases for the fleet. This Marine Force is at present directly under the Commander in Chief and is divided into two parts, one normally based at Quantico and one normally based at San Diego. It may be that causes other than military are the reason for this distribution and it may be partially justified under the present practice of keeping the entire fleet concentrated. However, under the organization herein proposed, the retention of this Fleet Marine Force directly under the Commander in Chief and in the main land bases would neither be logical nor in accord with the mission of the organization. Therefore, in accordance with the reasons for establishing the two scouting forces, and for placing all mobile units in the Hawaiian area and in the Canal Zone under the commanders of the Pacific Scouting Force and the Atlantic Scouting Force, respectively, the two detachments of the Fleet Marine Force should be normally based in the Hawaiian Islands and the Canal Zone and be directly under the commanders of the mobile forces in those areas. In no other way can such a force be ready for the advanced work for which it was created and is now maintained.
There are ships in active service which at present are not included in the U. S. Fleet organization. Some of these are in the Asiatic Fleet, the Training Squadron, the Special Service Squadron, and the Naval Overseas Transportation Service. It is probable that all of these separate units should be maintained, with the possible exception of the Special Service Squadron, the duties of which it would seem might well be taken over by the Atlantic Scouting Force. Be that as it may, they are not performing functions of the United States Fleet and, therefore, they should not be a part of that Fleet, but should be directly under the Chief of Naval Operations.
This fleet organization as deduced from the foregoing considerations, together with the units which compose each of the major and secondary forces, is shown on the diagram attached hereto. However, no organization, no matter how expertly it may be put together, can function efficiently and to its best potential capabilities unless there is a proper chain of command. This is particularly true of military and naval forces which are required to perform complex, intricate, varied, and prolonged operations in the face of many difficulties and dangers. In these military and naval commands, prestige is a prime requisite. Rank is a large factor in prestige. It has, therefore, been a long recognized principle throughout the world that in every military organization the commander of each echelon should be one rank higher than the commander of the echelon next below. In our Navy this principle has not been adhered to, partly because we do not have officers of the proper ranks. For example, the Commander in Chief of the Fleet and the Commander of the Battle Force are of the same rank; a number of forces are commanded by rear admirals, each with one or more rear admirals directly under him; a number of forces are commanded by captains, each with several captains directly under him; and so forth.
In the organization attached hereto, the command principle of requiring suitable rank for each unit of the fleet is followed. In order to do this it is necessary and proper to designate the rank of the Commander in Chief as Admiral of the Fleet. There are sound reasons for this, the chief being that the United States Fleet if constituted and organized as herein set forth will, when the ships recently completed and those under construction join, be as powerful if not the most powerful naval force ever placed under one command. The responsibilities of the Commander in Chief are enormous. He should have a rank commensurate with these responsibilities. For similar reasons the commanders of the three major combatant units are designated as admirals, and there are a larger number of vice admirals than we are accustomed to in our Navy. Provision is also made for a number of commodores, which rank is revived to meet the existing conditions.
The assignment of a suitable flagship for the Commander in Chief and the force and unit commanders is an important item in this fleet organization. That the Commander of the Battle Force should be in a battleship and the commanders of the two Scouting Forces should be in heavy cruisers is logical and proper. It is also logical and proper that the commanders of the various types should be in ships of their respective types. Therefore, the commanders of the battleship unit, the heavy cruiser units, the light cruiser units, and the carrier units are all placed in ships of the same type as their unit. Destroyer squadron commanders are assigned destroyer leaders, which ships are designed primarily for this purpose. But it is not practicable to carry this logical arrangement to the larger units of the destroyers, nor to the submarines, as these types are neither large enough nor suitable for housing a flag officer and the large staff of officers and men required for their efficient administration and operation. Accordingly, light cruisers are assigned to these commands.
The present United States Fleet organization assigns a battleship as the flagship of the Commander in Chief, with a heavy cruiser as alternate flagship. It has been asserted earlier in this paper that all the battleships should habitually be kept concentrated. The detachment of any one of these ships weakens the organization more than does the detachment of any other type of ship. As the duties of the Commander in Chief, if properly carried out, require his frequent detachment from the Battle Force, it is illogical to have him on board a battleship. In fact, in an extended campaign in either or both oceans, the Commander in Chief would probably absent himself from the Battle Force continuously, at least until a fleet action became imminent.
There are many other reasons why the Commander in Chief should not be in a battleship. His command extends from Hawaii to Alaska, to the west coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal, through the Caribbean Sea, to the east coast of the United States. The Commander in Chief should be free to visit and inspect and familiarize himself with the two Scouting Forces and all the outlying bases. There are assigned officers of wide experience and high efficiency to command the various units of the fleet. These officers by Navy Regulations are charged with the training, administration, and other functions of their respective commands. The approved naval policy requires decentralization of command. The Commander in Chief should be so situated as to permit his subordinates to exercise that initiative which is absolutely essential for the efficient operation of so large a fleet. He should be free from the multitudinous details which are ever present in the daily, weekly, and monthly schedules of the fleet employment. He should deal primarily with policy, strategy, war plans, fleet problems, and annual schedule of employment. He should be free to go when and where he pleases without unduly weakening the fighting strength of the fleet. The Commander in Chief cannot properly carry out these requirements if in a battleship. Nor should a heavy cruiser be used, as all of this type of vessel should be free to go out on the trade routes and operate in the service of information.
The fact of the matter is that we should have a ship especially designed for the Commander in Chief. This not being practicable of attainment at present, the next best alternative is to assign one of our new 10,000-ton light cruisers, which can be suitably altered for this purpose.
The United States Fleet, organized and disposed as herein proposed, would at all times be ready to support the national policies and commerce and to guard our continental and overseas possessions, in that it would be ready for operations in either or both oceans so that expansion only would be necessary in the event of war, and at the same time provide for the sustained and efficient training necessary for the successful accomplishment of such operations. In other words, this organization supports the requirements and fulfills the missions as promulgated in the approved United States Naval Policy; which is not the case with the present setup.
Good organization is a prime requisite for efficient operation. Unless the fleet does operate efficiently we of the Navy are derelict in our trust. It therefore behooves us that the organization of the United States Fleet be the very best possible.
The primary object of War Organization is to facilitate Command that is, to ensure that every man in the force acts promptly in response to the will of the Commander. A secondary object of War Organization is to facilitate Administration, or the supply of each individual in the Force with all that he requires to make it possible for him not only to live, but to move and fight. Both of these objects of Organization—Command and Administration—are, however, really inseparable. The channels through which they act are identical, and the Authority which commands is necessarily responsible for the Administration which enables his Orders to be carried out. Solicitude for the well-being of the soldier is one of the most certain means for obtaining influence over him, and may be called the main lever for exercising Command.
The word Organization . . . has been more elaborately defined, by Herbert Spencer, as “the bringing of independent bodies into interdependent relations with each other, so as to form a single organic whole in which they all work together.”
It is obvious that a Commander of a Military Force cannot deal personally and directly with all those under his command, but only with a limited number of subordinate commanders. Each of the latter in his turn conveys his will to his own subordinates, and this gradually broadening system, called the Chain of Command, is carried on, till every individual of the Force receives his Orders. These Orders are founded on the original directions of the C-in-C, with modifications and details added by each lower authority in the chain, so as to suit the special circumstances of his own Command.
Each category of formations forms a step in the pyramid of organization, in which the lowest layer is forced by the units, the top layer by the Subordinate Commands, and the apex by the Supreme Commander. The commanders of each Formation, from the largest to the smallest, form the successive links in the chain of Command.—Foster, Organization.