"The Sea is an Endless and Timeless Highway."
Now that a peace is upon us for which we are as yet unprepared, the momentous problem of the disposition of our armed forces and their future status looms as one of the most important considerations of post-war planning. Unfortunately, the natural but hardly commendable attitude of our people and Congress to demobilize over night has given an added prod of urgency to the problem which may result in imperfect decisions and hasty conclusions. It is indeed a sorry sight to see a massive victorious navy reduced, in three months after war’s end, to the state of ineffectiveness that Fleet Admiral King has lately described.
It should be emphasized that, in this strange period of unreal peace which now exists, the general need of all people in all things must be that of orderliness. Without orderly thinking, planning, and action we cannot cherish much hope to achieve in full the aims and results for which, in war, we thought we were fighting. I say orderly thinking first because that seems to be our most immediate need. It applies most force-fully to the problem which is the subject of this dissertation.
American thinking must, in order to emerge orderly, be clear in focus, broad in scope, truthful in purpose, and free from aged and common concepts of obvious propaganda. The road to real peace can only be gained through much new thought; we, in this country, can do much to lead in all things if we have the courage to lead in this.
The Navy, in modern times, seems to emerge from every test of battle as a special victim of a special kind of trick thinking which might be amusing if it weren’t so seriously taken. After proving itself beyond all doubt in this war, the amateur strategists are commencing again to solemnly proclaim the Navy is obsolete and no longer necessary. Apparently, the Navy never seems to understand this and goes right on doing a pretty fair job in every war we ever fought. The particular question of the obsolescence of the Navy will be taken up later but is briefly mentioned here to give some idea of the type of muddled and unprogressive thinking that is ever present and to point up the importance of our present need for good thoughts rather than loud words.
It is apparent, at least to me, that no study of the post-war naval establishment could be sufficiently comprehensive in scope and treatment without, at the same time, emerging too cumbrous in size to permit any but limited reading. With this in mind, the following dissertation is therefore offered only in the sense of attempting to touch upon certain phases which seem more fundamentally necessary and important to the subject at hand. Where the question of atomic weapons and other future methods of warfare would seem to be especially involved, they will, of course, be mentioned; however, they are never forgotten when not specifically mentioned. We are speaking of the unforeseeable future in this discussion, not the past or present.
In general, it was thought best to use as a guide the following outline covering the ground shown:
I. The Function of the Navy
A. Nature of War
(1) Causes of War Permanent
(2) Causes of Unpreparedness
(3) Results of Unpreparedness
(4) Means of Preventing or Discouraging War
B. Conduct of War
(1) Three Strategical Concepts
(2) Examination of Naval Strategy
(3) Is the Navy Obsolete?
II. Organization and Employment of the Postwar Navy
A. Internal Organization
B. Ships, Bases—Their Location and Use
C. Peacetime Training
D. Co-ordination Among the Armed Forces
E. Is Unification the Answer?
I. The Function of the Navy
It would seem best, at the outset, to gain an appreciation of the function of our Navy in time of war in order to better visualize the fundamentals of the problem. By “function” is not meant “how it operates” but rather “why it exists.” Thus, if the function can be cleared up properly in our minds, the question of whether or not a navy is necessary will easily be answered. This portion of the discussion will resolve itself into two parts, viz: (A) Nature of War, and (B) Conduct of War. In these two general categories we may expect to find answers to many questions coming up later.
A. The Nature of War.—In a sense, war is a fascinating subject to study. Many, many books have been written about it and many more are yet to come. Yet, in a larger sense, war deserves a much more searching study than it has yet received—in its relative effect upon the people of this earth. The evolution of war has steadily progressed from the dawn of civilization up to the present day in much the same way as the rest of the co-ordinate functions of civilization have done. Beginning as a natural function of self-preservation with little thought given as to the reasons for it, it has so closely paralleled the field of scientific endeavor (from which it yet has always been morally disassociated) and the study of one has always involved consideration of the other. With each new set of inventions, new concepts of waging war have been learned. Yet it, like science, contains the inherent tragedy that it has too rapidly outstripped the exceedingly slow evolution of human thinking. Warriors today use weapons they know very little about, much as the average civilian uses everyday devices without having the slightest conception of how they are made or the principles of their use. Also, like science, war has more and more become a larger factor in our lives. In olden days, wars were local things and created but few unpleasant scars. For this reason, they were frequent—almost seasonal. Yet as the scope of war increased, as its horrors were visited upon more and more of the world’s population, and as the periods of peace between wars lengthened, mankind has become increasingly revolted by it. Today it is adjudged (or will be) that war is a crime against all mankind. In other words, human reactions toward war have undergone very vital changes, all for the better; yet very little progress has been made to study the reasons for war’s existence and the ways it can be prevented. The reason for this lies in man’s stubborn and stupid way of clinging to outmoded ideas, superstitions, and propaganda of all kinds. Evidences of this are everywhere about us at every minute of every day, so that to attempt to break away from such outmoded thinking amounts to modern heresy. As General Marshall has aptly indicated, war is analogous to murder. In fact, there is no better analogy possible if we wish to get at fundamentals. Therefore, using it and knowing something about murder, we may deduce certain premises concerning war.
The causes of war (and murder) are many and varied, including such things as economic, political, emotional, and racial factors. Such causes are permanent. We cannot (as yet) erase them. We may never hope to entirely eliminate murder because we know of no way to eliminate that part of a murderer’s complex which produces it. However, in our organization of society, we have succeeded in making murder a moral crime which is in no way justifiable, although at times it may seem to be. This progress has greatly reduced the scope of murder and may be expected to continue to do so. Yet the causes remain as always—untreated, untouched, and permanent as long as our society remains essentially as it is. The same is true of war in all degrees. We may therefore state the first axiom which is:
(1) As long as this world remains as it essentially is, the causes of war may be considered permanent and incapable of elimination.
If the above be accepted as reasonably true, then war is always possible and we must always be prepared to face it at its outbreak. This proposition would seem reasonable, yet the United States has never been prepared for any war in which it has been involved. Why? What are the causes of unpreparedness? Surely we can ferret them out and eliminate them, as we most obviously must do!
Simply, the causes of unpreparedness are due to poor thinking. Poor thinking involves poor strategical planning, poor conception of defense, and just plain muddled thinking by our people—ostrich thinking. Put your head in a hole and you’re safe. It was told to us before and will someday be repeated. And most of the people will cheer and believe it.
Surely, no one can accuse France of desiring defeat any more than this nation can be accused of desiring our fleet to be attacked at Pearl Harbor. Lack of proper action, yes! But poor thinking, not criminal intent, engendered the lack of action. Our planning was poor because we didn’t seriously believe the Japs would attack in that quarter. The French concept of defense was responsible for the disaster of the Maginot Line. Ostrich thinking, all of it!
To eliminate unpreparedness at the outbreak of war, we must determine now to start thinking realistically in terms of what is currently happening in the world and do less daydreaming about how things ought to seem. We must think as far into the future as we dare and plan our actions accordingly. All our plans must be sound in concept and fully comprehensive of current and foreseeable conditions. If we can do that, we have a good start on being prepared next time.
To do otherwise, to fail in this, will result in unpreparedness again. The results up to now have been many extra lives lost by reason of:
(a) Initial surprise attacks
(b) Lengthening of war due to initial ground lost
(c) Necessity of costly and slow advances taking new ground
When the next war starts, the following might be added:
(d) Tremendous civilian casualties
(e) Total destruction of major sources of national wealth
(f) Unconditional surrender of U. S. unless we stand prepared
Unfortunately, unpreparedness seems to be a fetish of this country. We feel that if we are disarmed, we are a splendid example, and all other nations will follow suit. Actually, none of them has ever done so. Yet we are hearing exactly the same argument today. It is probably in today’s paper, as it was in yesterday’s.
The logic of such an argument is beautiful and pleasant-sounding and there is really nothing wrong with it except that it is based on the false assumption that other nations believe in it and will subscribe to it.
The malignant feature of unpreparedness thinking is its logical conception of disarmament. This leads us to the part of our discussion concerning means of preventing or discouraging war.
It is the candid opinion of the writer that wars cannot always be prevented, therefore the alternative word “discourage” is used as well.
We can look at the situation in two lights. We can speak of “keeping the peace,” in which case we inevitably find ourselves in Elysian fields of abstract thought which have little or nothing to do with solving the problem; or, we can speak of “preventing or discouraging war,” which is the problem. Past efforts at preventing war are well known to students of history and need not be repeated here. Suffice to say that the present effort, the United Nations Organization, is not unlike the League of Nations in most respects. The important difference lies in the fact that the U.N.O. contemplates the use of force to administer its laws regarding aggression. This is a new concept in the history of war prevention and a sound one. The United States is committed to this policy and will need armed forces to carry out such commitments as are ultimately assigned it. It is to be hoped (and fervently so) that the U.N.O. will achieve complete success. However, assuming as we must that it may not, we are returned to a policy of national defense, a policy we shall not, in any case, forsake. The question then is—how can the United States discourage any other nation from waging war against her? The first part of the answer is, of course, that we must conduct ourselves in a friendly manner. However, should we be weak or strong? It might be said that if we are weak we shall therefore prove that we are friendly. Yes, but that doesn’t work, as we have learned. Disparity of strength leads only to quarrels and finally to wars. Those wars are always started by the power which is, at the moment, stronger. I think the world would well believe us if we said we were friendly regardless of how much strength we had. It is unconceivable that this nation, even if it were stronger in armed might than all the rest of the world, would ever start a war of any kind without sufficient provocation. We are not an aggressive people except in the sense that we strongly seek the betterment of mankind. As for wealth, we have sufficient; our land area is more than ample; above all, we harbor no hatred except for those who attack us. No, armed might can never cast suspicion on our friendly spirit. We are too busy at home learning how various races can live together to worry about attacking another nation.
The only feasible answer would seem to be that only a very strong United States is the last insurance against aggressive tactics leading to war waged upon us. Any deviation from such a policy can only lead to disaster. As General MacArthur has aptly stated, “Wars are caused by undefended wealth.” Surely with such enormous wealth of all kinds as this nation possesses, a commensurately strong cordon of defense is a definite necessity. To consider our potential strength as a defense factor is faulty reasoning, since such strength may not, as we have seen, deter a potentially weaker power from attacking us. What is needed is a material strength in the form of ships, planes, tanks, and other weapons sufficient and conspicuous enough to make its presence known to any would-be aggressor. Of course, this defense will not be inexpensive but it would seem about time we stopped our national miserliness in considering defense measures. We shall have to pay—and pay well—for our insurance.
I am going to list two more axioms, therefore, which I believe true:
(2) The fundamental cause of being unprepared when war comes is wrong and/or wishful thinking.
(3) The only possible way to discourage aggressive war against us is to remain massively and conspicuously strong.
B. The Conduct of War.—The conduct of war is a science unto itself. It is at present composed of three basic and fundamental concepts of strategy—the land, the sea, and the air. There was, until Mahan, only one strategy, which resolved the conduct of war into strategic principles which, although sound, pertained to land warfare only. Some of these principles applied to sea warfare as well but others were not susceptible of such application. Due to the peculiar conditions of sea warfare, different tactics and new principles were necessary and desirable. Thus, a new strategy was born. The definite recognition of this new naval strategy was first made by Mahan after long studies and hard thinking. He it was who gave to the world his concept of sea power—a concept which, in its fundamental aspects and stripped of temporal limitations, exists today and will exist forever as long as there are seas. His fundamental concept, boiled down, was the fact that a nation relying for much of its national livelihood upon sea lines of communication must control those lines if it is to survive without outside assistance. Mahan went on to demonstrate from history how this concept had been carried out by various nations, the notable example, of course, being England.
It is true that some of Mahan’s explanations of how control of sea communications is secured are, in the light of present times, obsolete, however true they were in his time. It must be pointed out, however, that such works on naval strategy as appeared within approximately two years after Pearl Harbor are in many respects obsolete today. The point is that while the basic concepts of naval strategy remain constant, the application or use of them is continually changing. It is, however, merely desired to show at this point the existence of a strategical outlook on war differing from land strategy. We shall more closely examine naval strategy later.
The invention and rapid development of air power has added yet another strategical concept of war—air strategy. Unfortunately, however, the proponents of air power, in their natural enthusiasm, have so often neglected the two older strategies that they have bred certain basic misconceptions of war strategy which confuse not only others but oftentimes themselves.
The reason for the confusion which has existed for some years may, perhaps, be explained in the following paragraphs.
Coming back to land and sea strategy, we can see that although the two may be mutually supporting, they need not be and can operate independently of each other if the conduct of the war makes this necessary. Despite the emphasis on amphibious warfare in World War II, it must be pointed out that if in the Pacific this country had before the war been strongly entrenched in the outlying bases it now possesses, the war might have resolved into a naval and air war only. As it was, it had to be amphibious because of the existing situation at the commencement of hostilities. It is granted that purely naval wars are uncommon but they have happened; witness some of England’s wars with Spain and Holland in Drake’s days. Therefore, land and naval strategies, while mutually supporting, do not need an integration of one with the other for success.
On the other hand, it is now amply demonstrated that both land and sea strategies, to be successful today, need the integration into themselves of air power. The airmen, perhaps, still feel that this is contrary to their idea of air power, which, in their opinion, is an independent arm of warfare. True it is that independent air operations are now an established fact and will continue so; yet air power must further adapt itself to the other strategies to make them sufficiently effective.
The strategy of air is our most recent addition to the conduct of war. As mentioned above, the land and naval forces took air power unto themselves for the pursuance of their respective strategies. However, the far- reaching effect of long-range bombers soon proved that air power was not only an adjunct to other weapons, but was an independent striking weapon in itself. It was, of course, evident that in the first stages of the war, air power relied heavily upon the support of land and naval power. Thus, in the Pacific, the Navy would transport and land the Army who would take an island from which an independent air force could operate. This was triphibious warfare. It may in the future be an obsolete form of warfare if planes of such range can be built that a friendly base can be reached regardless of what strategic point on earth is to be bombed. Thus we have the essentials of air strategy, which is to strike at long ranges those enemy strong points beyond the reach of land or naval power. Yet such distant strategy is but a part of war and cannot in any way detract from the possible uses of the other strategies nor should it lessen the need which those strategies have for their own strong air power.
Now we shall turn to a more searching examination of naval strategy and the use of sea power. Sea power is not just ships, not just planes, not just Marine troops, but all of these and more. It embraces the Seabees who built our bases along the road to Tokyo. It uses all the electronic and jet-propulsion devices which the scientists have forged. It includes all the logistics and transportation which have not as yet received the full public attention deserved but without which the machine cannot function. It means bases, well-defended and amply supplied bases. All of these are the tools. What are they used for and how do we use them?
The over-all policy of the Navy is to support and carry out national policy. Remember this when you remember Pearl Harbor. In war, the national policy is, of course, to decisively defeat the enemy. That is “what” the tools are used for. As to how the Navy operates, how it functions, we must go into the basic concepts of naval strategy. We have said that sea power must control the lines of sea communications. That is always true. However, a more comprehensive definition of the function of a navy is necessary for our purpose here. The following is submitted and can, perhaps, be further elaborated upon as desired, but it is at least a starting point.
The function of sea power is to accomplish the task of:
(1) Protecting by sea and by air those lines of transportation and supply which are deemed essential to the national well-being and to the execution of national policy, whether those lines are used by sea or by air, so long as they emanate from the nation proper or any of its possessions wherever located; and by so doing,
(2) Preventing any enemy nation from threatening or severing the above lines of communications; then, having so done,
(3) Threatening and rendering untenable any such lines of communications which are equally essential to the enemy nation in order to destroy the enemy’s will to resist and to ensure ultimate and definite victory in any war in which this nation is engaged.
In carrying out the above function, the Navy follows various courses of action in accordance with prearranged plans. The various naval activities in the Pacific in the past war can be fitted into the above pattern. Thus, Guadalcanal and the subsequent naval actions in that area can be seen to have carried out tasks (1) and (2). The same would be true of Leyte, in a sense. Okinawa would come under (3) as would the operations of our submarines. Finally, with all three tasks completed, the Navy assumed a new task which would have seemed undreamed of in modern war—that of bombarding the enemy coast line and destroying his industries. However, the function as given applies to any war against any nation. Just how the Navy carries out the function depends solely upon the enemy or enemies involved and the weapons available.
It must be pointed out at this point, and most emphatically, that the Navy is not a static force any more than are the Army and the Air Forces.
People speak of the obsolete battleship, who have never even seen a modern one. An aviator who goes out and sinks Japanese naval vessels becomes convinced that navies are obsolete. The same aviator who shoots up grounded enemy planes thinks nothing of it —yet air power could become obsolete if poorly used. Observe how quickly our air forces in the Philippines and at Pearl Harbor became obsolete 1
No, neither the Army, Navy, nor Air Forces will become obsolete unless they are made so by ourselves. War is not stable enough to deliver solemn pronouncements. After World War I, it was agreed that it was folly for ships to engage shore defenses, yet we did it during the whole war. Perhaps if some other nation tries it without good carrier support, it may again be folly. At the beginning of the war, the general idea was to keep ships out of range of land-based air power, yet so powerful did our task forces become that even this rule of safety was successfully flouted. One can make such “rules” by the dozen, only to have someone come along and shatter them. War is not waged by rule, it is waged by intelligent decisions and sound use of weapons.
Therefore despite atom bombs and Buck Rogers rockets, the Navy will remain to carry out the function outlined above. Such a function must be carried out as long as sea communications exist, which they always will as long as oceans exist. No Army or Air Force can carry out that function, although it must be admitted that air power can make a good stab at it. Nor may the future Navy be entirely similar to what we have today. We might have only submarines with atom guns (an excellent method, incidentally, of delivering atomic war to the enemy coast line) or we may have ships that can fly, sail, and submerge. Whatever we have, let’s go on calling it the Navy.
II. Organization and Employment of the Navy
A. Internal Organization.—Mainly for lack of a definite national policy which resulted in a confusion of naval policy, our Navy was not ready to engage in World War II on December 7, 1941. This statement hardly needs proof; yet, if such be necessary, it was given before the Congressional Pearl Harbor Inquiry committee by the high ranking naval officers who were at the time involved. Other needed proof may be supplied by the fact that the Navy Department was reorganized in part after that tragic date.
It behooves us, therefore, in considering our future naval establishment to look toward a proper internal organization which can “convert” to war with minimum effort and maximum efficiency. Certainly, sufficient lessons have been given us by the past war to profitably do so. As far as the writer knows, no statutory authority has yet been given to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations. This should be the first step since without such authority a proper military supervision over Bureau functions would be greatly hampered. A form of organization patterned after the General Staff system could well be used. This would follow along the following lines:
General Staff Officers:
(Note: (2) and (3) would have a C of S for Air and Marine Corps.)
(1) C of S for Personnel. (Also Chief of Naval Personnel)
(2) C of S, Intelligence
(3) C of S, Operations and Training
(4) C of S, Logistics
(5) C of S, Plans
Special Staff Officers:
(1) Chief BuAer
(2) Chief BuShips
(3) Chief BuSandA
(4) Chief BuDocks
(5) Chief BuMed
(6) Chief Navy Chaplains
(7) Judge Advocate General
(8) Comdt. Marine Corps
In general, the General Staff officers would be the policy-makers for CNO in their respective fields. They would conduct maximum liaison among themselves and vertical liaison as necessary with the Special Staff. However, they would exercise no military authority over the Special Staff Officers. The latter would carry out policies given them by CNO and do the jobs necessary to implement such policy. There would be horizontal liaison as necessary among themselves. Both the General Staff Officers and the Special Staff Officers would come directly under the authority of CNO, so there would be no question of going over anyone’s head. Also, as more and more special billets became necessary, they could be added to appropriate divisions of the Special Staff without in any way encumbering the purely policymaking function of the General Staff. This system has worked well when its principles have been strictly adhered to and it seems well worth a trial.
Other than the general outline above, no other solution to departmental reorganization is offered since there is still much ground to cover in this dissertation. Before leaving the subject of internal organization, however, I should like to list in general terms some suggested principles which it is thought should be emphasized in future plans. They are:
(1) Intensify and maintain closer liaison with all research and development of weapons.
(2) Expand and intensify the obtaining of intelligence data.
(3) Insist on the closest liaison with Air and Army Forces. The Joint Chiefs of Staff plus other minor liaison bodies should be continued.
(4) As soon as war plans are made, send them to area commanders and keep them advised as to which contingent plan is currently effective.
(5) Maintain maximum war readiness status consistent with peacetime limitations. This includes all parts of the naval establishment.
(6) Keep the operating ships at sea as much as possible. When at sea, insist on realistic training in all weapons. Place especial emphasis on training of officers in command functions.
(7) Operate the Fleet in task groups rather than administratively, and in various strategic areas. Rotate sufficiently to ensure personnel are familiar with various operating conditions and with areas involved. Insure in rotation plan a reasonable stay in continental waters during which time maximum repairs and recreational leave should be obtained.
(8) Maintain special leave and replacement policies for personnel caretaking certain unattractive bases overseas.
(9) Keep educational training innovations introduced in World War II and keep improving same.
(10) Create favorable opportunities for granting commissions to especially valuable and qualified enlisted and warrant personnel.
(11) Continue efforts to ensure fair and quick promotion for officers. Fitness reports will never be perfect and will need continuous study and research. In general, give younger officers longer flag rank experience. The past war proved the value of younger flag officers.
(12) Broaden and make available to more officers the training in higher command, logistics, planning, and combined operations which is now available to only a relative few. Work out with Army and Air a plan whereby the above training can fit in with theirs so that all armed forces command training will have mixed student groups. As a beginner, expand ANSCOL training.
(13) Last but not least, if red tape is found which the Navy can operate without—cut it!
B. Ships and Bases—Location and Use.— On October 30, 1945, the House voted unanimously for a Navy larger than the fleets of all other nations combined. In round numbers, the Navy would have almost 1,100 combatant ships, about 5,000 auxiliaries, about 12,000 planes, and would be manned by 58,000 officers and 500,000 men. This was exactly what the Navy Department recommended for its need. The unanimous support and faith of Congress are warmly appreciated.
Reports differ, but the general plan seems to be to keep one-third of the ships in a fully manned and ready status, one-third in reserve fleets and manned by skeleton crews, with the remaining third decommissioned and entirely inactive. It may be as time passes that the one-third in the reserve fleet may prove excessive but, in any case, with the one-third active fleet we could build up at least three very strong fast carrier task groups with enough ships left over for overhaul, replacements, or other task duties. Fleet Admiral King indicated that our active fleet would probably be divided as follows: 30 per cent in the Atlantic, 30 per cent in the Far Pacific, and 40 per cent in the Central Pacific and West Coast. This distribution seems reasonable for the time being and at least until our troops get home, but for normal peacetime operations I would suggest a distribution about as follows:
A. Atlantic Coast (repairs and leave)—20 per cent
B. Pacific Coast (repairs and leave)—15 per cent
C. Central Pacific—20 per cent
D. Far Pacific (with occasional leave in Australia and New Zealand)—30 per cent
E. Panama Canal Area, Caribbean Area, and South America (for good-will cruises)—15 per cent.
As to bases and their fundamental importance, it must be realized that when war broke out in the Pacific, the most outstanding obstacle to our obtaining control in any local area in that theater was the appalling lack of bases from which to operate our sea and air forces. On the other hand, the possession by Japan of her long chain of island strong points provided her with an outer defense ring behind which she was able to launch her initial attacks and, for a long time, to present an effective defense to our steady advance. Only when Japan reached the Guadalcanal area did we feel sufficiently able to successfully stop the invaders, and even then the margin of safety was narrow to the extreme. It is fairly evident that the greater portion of our Pacific effort was spent in the slow but steady process of regaining by combat those island bastions so long renounced and lost by a foolish diplomacy.
To bring about the ultimate victory we had to get within striking distance of Japan itself and its vital lines of transportation and supply.
The strategic picture in the Pacific at the outset must have been most discouraging to those responsible for our military and naval policies in the theater. With heavy western Pacific commitments, with only one fairly adequate eastern Pacific base (Pearl Harbor), and with long and insecure lines of communication, it must have seemed evident that we could emerge only on a strategic defensive, regardless of what might have taken place. Our failure to demand closer supervision over the mandated islands and our congressionally expressed desires not to fortify on our own account, could lead only to an inevitable result—a fundamentally weak Pacific tenure which should have been fundamentally strong and secure.
Such a basic misconception of national defense should never again be allowed to hold in any theater of possible future conflict bordering this nation. The methods of waging any future war will be of such nature that only by having strong advanced bases for outer defense and detection can we even hope to avert defeat. Strategic defense in depth is the need. It cannot begin at our coast lines but must be as distant therefrom as possible. Much as we may wish to co-operate in every way possible in the world peace movement, we cannot so far neglect our basic needs as to fail to acquire and control outright such bases as are deemed necessary. Aside from this, we have too great an emotional and financial investment in such bases, especially those in the Pacific, to permit any relinquishment by a back-stepping diplomacy.
Specific recommendations as to bases to be kept have been made by the Navy Department and by the Izac House Naval Affairs Subcommittee. The recommendations differ only in minor respects and, in general, provide for:
A. Major Fled Bases.
Atlantic—Puerto Rico—Virgin Islands Area.
Pacific—Pearl Harbor, Marianas Area, Philippines, Manus, and possibly Noumea, New Caldedonia.
B. Secondary Bases.
Atlantic—Argentia, Bermuda, Guantanamo, Trinidad, Coco Solo.
Pacific—Kodiak, Adak, Balboa, Bonin-Volcano group, Ryuku group, Tutu-Tawitawi area, Subic Bay, Leyte-Samar area, Palau group, Puerta Princesa, Galapagos group, Attu, Johnston, Midway, Wake, Samoa, Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Truk. Additional bases in the Solomon and New Hebrides area were recommended by the above- mentioned subcommittee. In this connection, it might here be mentioned that should we remain strong north of the Pacific equator, the necessity for other than passing interest in the southern areas seems hardly justified. These southern groups were indeed necessary to us in the first phases of the Pacific War but only because they represented our sole line of communication with the western Pacific, a line forced southward by circumstances.
C. Emergency Bases. (Caretaker status)
Atlantic—St. Thomas, Antigua, Santa Lucia,
Georgetown, Great Exuma, and Jamaica.
Pacific—Dutch Harbor, Canton, Palmyra, Majuro, and Ulithi.
The above recommendations make sense and represent the least commitments we must afford. Such a network of strategic points containing proper repair and storage facilities, air establishments, and ample communication and detection equipment, coupled in an operating sense with seagoing naval groups, will inevitably make our national defense problems of the future much easier. However, we must face squarely the fact that we must invest in these securities in order to keep them operating efficiently if we ever expect someday the dividend of less bloodshed.
C. Peacetime Training.—The detailed arguments concerning peacetime training are so varied and run so rapidly from the ridiculous to the sublime, that only brief comment can be afforded here. Those sorry days during which this overly complacent nation was training its army with tin and wooden “weapons” while war was being waged abroad are perhaps forgotten now in the midst of our military abundance. Yet such conditions of training revealed so pointedly our inept state of military preparedness that it would be well for us never to forget.
The proposition is extremely simple. When the next war comes, we shall either be prepared and trained or we shall be unprepared and untrained. We shall no longer be able to conduct much training during the progress of actual war in the future as we did in the last war. The tempo and scope of war has now so tremendously increased that events will happen too fast for normal human reactions to take effect or to prevent uncontrollable hysteria. From here on out, to be unprepared at any time will perhaps mean to be never prepared. Defeat may come so quickly as to outstrip time, which is an unprepared nation’s best ally.
The maintenance of sufficient weapons and the constant training in their use of the men and women who may some day be called upon instantly to man them, all this represents the very least effort that can be made to prepare against attack from any quarter at any time. It means spending more money and making many disagreeable personal sacrifices. Yet it is high time the people of this country learned how to make the sacrifices necessary to patriotism. To say that we have made sacrifices in the lives of our dead is, of course, true, yet it reflects more brightly upon those honored dead than upon those people who resented rationing, condoned black market operations, continually urged more pay and less work, and hysterically clamor today for a hasty demobilization that may well erase some of the tangible results of a long, hard fight. We cannot get something for nothing. Certainly, we cannot buy national security at any cheap price nor in any way that will not touch us all individually.
The demands of scientific knowledge in modern warfare loom too great to permit anything other than a continuous and well- planned training program. Before taking too much to heart the well-meant but idle statements of certain educators and church groups, the American people might better harken to the words of the men who know what training means and what it entails, the leaders of our armed forces. Even in the past war, when previously untrained civilians performed so generally well in all branches of service, it was evident to all that any training given had to be a rush-order job and that, had those ex-civilians been previously trained in certain fundamentals, they would have performed even more expertly. There would, in such a case, have been fewer white crosses in foreign lands today. An enlightened public should not forget this and should insist upon, and accept, a proper training program as part of a normal American way of living.
As far as the Navy is concerned, training is especially essential. A man accustomed to being a landlubber has to be trained even in the fundamental art of going to sea. With the specialized nature of present and future naval weapons, a potentially powerful fleet might well remain relatively impotent for too long a time until enough men are trained to adequately man it. Our reserve officers performed most splendidly in this last war but their training was necessarily condensed to such a degree as to cause great concern both to themselves and to their superiors. Some of them, even at the close of the war, due to highly specialized billets which perforce restricted their over-all knowledge, could not be termed well-trained or well-indoctrinated in a general sense. This by no means was due to any fault of their own but was caused solely by a lack of continuous and thorough groundwork prior to the need for their active services.
The keynote of training, as well as any preparedness measure, is to start it, keep it going, and continually improve it. Such vital issues should never be left to be accomplished in the mad scurry of a last moment. If it be so neglected, the military burden (heavy though it normally is) becomes disproportionately and unnecessarily greater at commencement of hostilities—which is obviously the wrong time for making heavier the load.
D. Co-ordination among the Armed Forces.—The circumstances surrounding the possibility of World War II should have made it evident that air power would play a highly important part and that, if troop commitments were to be necessary, amphibious warfare would become the order of the day. There was, therefore, a great need for complete co-ordination among all arms of our fighting forces. Strangely, this need was either not fully recognized or else it was improperly implemented for, beset on both sides for two years by wars into which our ultimate involvement could only be a matter of time, this nation found itself on December 7, 1941, with totally inadequate co-ordination among its armed forces. It would be difficult at best to attempt to point out where the fault lay. However, the defect was happily seen and corrected, with time again our most potent ally.
All wars are different in nature. It might properly be stated that the Pacific struggle was a naval war in the sense that naval strategy governed in the main. Likewise, the war in Europe largely resolved itself into a ground struggle. Even the coincident air strategies in both theaters assumed quite different characteristics. Regardless, however, of the predominant features of such theater campaigns, it might well be hazardous to term a war an “air” war, or a “naval” war, or an “army” war. Teamwork among all the arms of our forces accomplished the victory, no matter where the theater or what the character of the over-all strategy. Such teamwork must be considered an essential for any future plans.
A unified effort in modern wars entails all or part of the following essentials, regardless of how accomplished:
(1) A determination in times of peace of all national policies consistent with armed force support available. All armed forces must be prepared and directed so as to support such policies with maximum effort and without delay.
(2) The development of modern military weapons and aids through organized research and development agencies employing the best scientific personnel and the finest equipment available. Such a program must also provide for the constant improvement of existing weapons not deemed obsolete.
(3) The obtaining of intelligence on all activities in all other nations of the world and the dissemination of such information to all theater and area commanders and others who need to know.
(4) The formulation and continuous modernization of comprehensive plans covering all phases and contingencies of modern warfare in which this nation might possibly become involved with any other nation or combination of nations.
(5) The maintenance of sufficient armed forces for primary implementation of such plans and the provision for further implementation without unnecessary delay of adequate additional weapons and trained men.
(6) The maintenance of a state of readiness in all agencies involved such as will cause the sudden transition from peace to war to be accomplished most efficiently and smoothly.
(7) A means of co-ordinating and directing toward a common end the activities of all armed forces, both in peace and in war, in a manner best calculated to properly use each arm and to further the carrying out of those plans mentioned in paragraph (4) above.
In general, the above might well constitute our common aims for an active, ready defense against aggression of any sort. In an atomic age such as this, in which the folly of man has not yet been played out, the assurance that we are co-ordinated, alert, and ready to assume an immediate and overwhelming atomic offensive may well be the only deterrent to aggressive measures against us that will grant security to us and our children.
As may be noticed above, the essentials of active defense require much more than merely co-ordination among the armed forces; they include all elements of national livelihood from the President down to the hard-working farmer. Yet armed force coordination would seem to be a keynote to the entire problem, which it undoubtedly is.
The problem is far from simple. It is no accident or evidence of maladministration that the Army and Navy have grown up so differently in their customs, traditions, or methods of doing things. It most certainly would have been an accident if they hadn’t. The problems of land and naval warfare are too much at variance in important respects to permit of a common approach, unless by an uncommon mind. Since the question of co-ordination, which in itself is indubitably essential, always seems to involve the problem of a unified command, we shall turn to a brief discussion of the latter at this point.
E. Is Unification the Answer?—The problem of a unified command is not a new one, nor may it ever be effectively solved. At the moment of writing (November, 1945), the problem is receiving the highest national attention and seems destined to be settled in what the writer believes to be an unsatisfactory way, viz.: an arbitrary decision resulting from only superficial consideration of many purely arbitrary statements. It has here been termed “the problem of unified command.” Yet, in itself, it is no problem or at least not the problem which was intended to be solved. It is believed that the primary problem concerns the establishment or organization of the means of accomplishing the seven points mentioned in the preceding section. The question is whether unified command can solve this problem or not. The tragic approach of the proponents of unified command has been to regard the question as already solved. Thus, we have the two divergent viewpoints of the Army and the Navy. In general, the Army is for unified command while the Navy is against it. Undoubtedly, there are various reasons of various hues which account for the formulation of the two schools of thought. However, it is apparent to one who studies the picture that, unfortunately for the American nation, the problem of national defense is not now, no more than at any previous time, receiving the careful and intelligent attention it merits. The question to be answered should be “What are the best possible measures to ensure proper and efficient national defense?” instead of “Is unified command a good thing or not?” It has yet to be proved that unified command will ensure adequate national defense. Whether it is popular or a “good thing” or not, is entirely beside the point.
If it should be shown that unified command would definitely establish a secure national defense, then the further problem of how to effectively unify the command would arise to be solved.
It has been stated that the Army and Navy appear to be irrevocably opposed in their views on unified command. It should, therefore, at the outset be evident that the question, in addition to its vital national importance, be further and more delicately studied in view of such contrary attitudes. Much has been said, and often lightly, of the Navy attitude of opposition. There must be fairly good and urgent reasons why this opposition exists and it must not be lightly brushed aside.
It has been previously mentioned that there seems to have now appeared three basic strategical approaches to conducting warfare—the land, sea, and air strategies. It was also stated that these strategies may or may not coincide or be superimposed, one on the other. Given a target, an airman will think of it in terms of bombing, an Army man in terms of ground fighting, and a Navy man in terms of how it affects the lines of sea communication. These views may or may not have to be integrated depending upon what the target is and how much the war affects it or it affects the war. The man who determines upon the action to be taken against such a target must think in terms of all three strategies. Failing to find such a well- endowed man, we must fall back on a meeting of at least three minds, each well-versed in its own strategy. Our Joint Chiefs of Staff represent such a combination.
Much of the argument for a unified command has been advanced in statements the verity of which must needs be challenged. To boldly state, as did General Eisenhower, that a unified command would have cut our personnel needs by 25 per cent, is to say something which can never be proved and which exists only in a mind favorably disposed to such a thought. To say, as many have, that a unified command will save the taxpayer much money is akin to speaking through one’s hat, so to speak. These are no arguments nor ever will they be.
Yet, the most distressing feature of the whole business is this: the arguments, pro and con, are inevitably resolved around the inability of one side to adequately consider the problems of the other. Such a state of affairs, though perhaps unavoidable, is indeed unfortunate. Nor can it be eliminated in any fashion by a solemn, ethereal, and, mayhap, prejudged pronouncement that unified command will absorb and erase all evils. If there are evils, it were best to tackle them separately. The writer believes that, despite the inherent worth of both, this country is not yet ready to attempt a unified command without further “housecleaning” in each department to be unified, any more than the world is ready for a world government until the member nations learn to internally behave. Undoubtedly, the subject requires sharp and steady analysis as much as it needs a progressive change of attitude on the part of all concerned.
Perhaps the above notes have done much less about the exact details of the future Navy than they have concerning the over-all fundamentals involved. Perhaps this was inevitable. Perhaps, all things considered, it was all that could be done. The Navy is not nor has it ever been an inflexible instrument which one could minutely gauge. It is, moreover, a fair indication of the tide of national affairs and American thinking. The ups and downs of our Navy have always been solidly cemented with the current trends of American policy. We are a naval power, more so now than ever before. Our maintenance of a strong and globe-girdling Navy may well indicate a desire for world peace. It may seem strange to state that a large navy can cement peace; yet, a naval vessel can perform ambassadorial functions which are not quite possible to a land or air contingent. There are definite international and emotional restrictions which bind the visits of warplanes and warriors to foreign lands. However, the passage of naval vessels is, in the main, relatively unrestricted and unhampered. We may, perhaps, find in time that the visitings of our naval ships may not only carry with them a healthy respect but also a healthy friendship. We have only lately waged a significant part of a very significant war. It is now for us to demonstrate the practical efforts of a dynamic and lasting peace. It must be a peace not only of declaration and meditation, but rather of visitation as well. We must and shall seek out a way of lasting friendship, and we cannot, in so doing, neglect in any fashion our sea lines of communication, over which have for so long flown our means of friendship and wealth and by which our future national well-being stands well— so well—to remain a haven of lasting peace, security, and common-sensed good will.
*The opinions or assertions in this article are the private ones of the writer, and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Navy Department or the naval service at large.