Historical thought still rolls and pitches in the confused and turbulent wake of the world crisis just weathered; yet America’s security as a democracy demands that it gain some common understanding of the nature of the storm and of the main reasons for the triumph.
The prime mover of the United Nations’ effort which won the victory was the determination of the people: its output a power generated in industry, which was applied by strategy to battle. The determination of free peoples must remain the prime basis of world security, and this generation will not forget the man-made hell of battle through which victory was gained; nor should it forget the strategy which sounded the heart of the struggle and charted the course to victory.
The Axis aim seems to have been to build up an empire by surprise and treachery, and so to fortify it and defend it that the United Nations’ offensive could not destroy it. While the popular determination and war power of the United Nations came in time to be overwhelming, this superiority depended on a unity of effort and action which only a sound and successful maritime strategy could gain. The struggle thus revolved about the employment of the initiative, which the Axis gained against an originally uncertain and divided opposition, and lost to the United Nations, which succeeded in using it to gain their victory.
Upon the employment of the German initiative opportunity of 1940-42 depended the whole course of the war; in that period the Nazis had to make such use of their forces as to secure their conquests and render successful counterattack impossible. Upon the success of the Nazi use of the initiative depended also the prospects of Japanese victory in Asia. At the risk of indulging in what has been called “that world-old game of what-might-have-been,” the nature of this opportunity might be reconstructed, and the reasons for the Axis failure be explored profitably.
The nature of the opportunity open to the Nazis, once the national strategy of aggrandizement had been decided upon, was dual; and in failing to perceive its duality, and to allot their forces in the proper offensive and defensive combinations, the Nazis came to ruin. The preliminary maneuverings of the Nazis by diplomacy had gained them the Rhineland, Austria, and the Sudeten- land, as well as the all-important right to rearm independent of foreign restraint; and in the skirmishes of the war’s opening they had conquered Poland, Denmark, and Norway. After the periods of preliminary maneuvering and skirmishing for position, the full power of the machine the General Staff had so long worked on was let loose, and the great breakthrough was achieved. With the elimination of France and the decision to continue the war, in the light of Britain’s continued defiance, two basic strategic approaches lay open to the solution of the Nazi problem.
The first approach lay through the conquest of the British power which for the past century had dominated European politics. With the loss to the United Nations of the British sea power, hemming in Hitler’s European conquests from the sea, and of the maritime power which nourished opposing armies on every front, the Nazi empire could not have been contained and brought to ruin as it was.
The British power, in 1940, was open to these four principal means of attack: invasion of the home islands, destruction of the Battle Fleets, on which command of the sea depended, ruin of the ocean-borne commerce on which national existence depended, or loss of the Middle East, gateway to empire and source of oil. For a variety of reasons the attempt at direct invasion was not made. Had it been made, and failed, it would still have forced the R.A.F. and the light forces of the Royal Navy to do battle under conditions so disadvantageous that their losses might have left Britain open to the secondary effort against the Battle Fleets and ocean commerce.
The war against the British sea forces, however, presented a considerable direct opportunity to the Nazis.1
By 1941, had the Nazis devoted sufficient attention to their fleets in the intervening year, they could have rendered the Royal Navy bankrupt in the scales of battle line power. A concentration in the north could have been effected in the spring of 1941 based upon a homogeneous squadron of four modern battleships: two of 26,000 tons, and two 41,000-tonners, which had no match in the world until the commissioning of the U.S.S. Iowa in 1943. The Bismarck, of this class, would undoubtedly have successfully completed her sortie of May, 1941, had she had the slightest air coverage. It is of interest to note that Germany could have completed two aircraft carriers laid down in 1936 for service with such a squadron, but the Nazi intentions did not reach that far. Undoubtedly the development of the necessary aviation technique would have involved difficulties, but these difficulties would have been by no means insurmountable. Only fighter coverage, the simplest sort of air support, would have been required, and low efficiency and high operational losses could have been accepted by the Nazis in the existing state of affairs. The cruiser contingent for the German squadron might have been of considerable strength; a maximum of six formidably heavy modern ships and four light cruisers. Only twenty destroyers could have been mustered, but these should have been sufficient for screening duties with the Battle Squadron. Germany had about 120 submarines2 in commission at this time, which could well have operated in support of a surface naval offensive.
To form a fast British squadron fit to contain such a concentration, had it ever been fully achieved, would have demanded the two new King George V’s which are available in the first part of 1941, as well as the three old battle cruisers, and to provide any sort of reserve against damage and routine docking, the two slow but powerful Nelsons would probably also have been called for. This would have left only the nine 15-inch gun battleships to hold in the Mediterranean and South Atlantic.
It is highly questionable, however, whether nine old battleships could have held the Mediterranean in 1941 against a determined Axis offensive. In January the Luftwaffe had made its debut in the Mediterranean by putting the new CV Illustrious out of action for the year, and by May, after the invasion of Crete, had put two battleships out of action, and inflicted still heavier losses on cruiser and flotilla forces. According to Gilbert Cant, “Of the ships engaged in the Greek and Cretan operations, three-fourths had been either sunk or damaged.”
The Italian Navy, damaged and demoralized as it was, could hardly at that time have failed to present a most serious threat to British maritime supremacy, but the potentialities of the Italian Fleet were never developed. Although only two of the new 35, 000-ton Littorios were in service, two more could have been completed by that time, and the four old 23,600-ton Cesares reconstructed to be effective in modern war. Thirteen modern cruisers were in commission, and a further fourteen A.A. cruisers of an apparently effective design could undoubtedly have been completed for service in 1941. Italy had, moreover, a formidable flotilla of about 60 modern destroyers and 100 submarines of all types.
According to Gilbert Cant,
The blanket charge of cowardice against the Italian navy can be dismissed at once. ... It is true that there had been some infiltration of professional Fascists into the navy, and many of the younger enlisted men were green conscripts, but neither of these factors was important enough to explain the lack of initiative in the battle fleet. That can be ascribed only to orders from Mussolini…3
It is known that Hitler did not grant the Italian Navy the fuel necessary to maintain a seagoing fleet in operation, and it is evident from the great delays in ship construction that industrial commitments were also withheld or diverted. The truth of the matter is that Hitler treated Italy as he treated France —as a conquered nation. As in Cyrenaica and the Ukraine, Italian infantry was sacrificed to secure safe retreat for German forces, and as the Italian aviation industry was turned to making spare parts and accessories for the Luftwaffe, so the Navy was driven to battle without plan or preparation, only to cover passage of supplies to Africa, as at Matapan; and the fuel and steel necessary to maintain it in battle conditions were withheld. Thus Mussolini was driven, like Petain, to hold the fleet as a bargaining piece, rather than as a weapon.
Vichy France controlled the 35,000-ton Richelieu and Jean Bart, exceptionally powerful ships completed in 1940, the Bart only partially armed, and the two modern 26,500- ton Dunkerques. These two latter, with the 22,000-ton Provence, of 1916, retired from Oran to Toulon, while the Richelieus lay in harbors on the West African coast. Fifteen cruisers, a maximum of 47 destroyers, of which more than half outclassed any British destroyer afloat, and a maximum of 73 submarines4 completed the Vichy fleet. It is evident that these cruiser and light forces, with those of the Italians, could have ruined the British destroyer flotillas by simple attrition, while the homogeneous squadron of four first-class battleships would have completely overbalanced the scales, had it ever put to sea.5
To what extent these forces could have been enlisted to fight the British is uncertain. To have coerced the French into action against the British would have involved great difficulties; yet, as Dr. Possony has pointed out, “ ... if the Germans had really wanted the ships they could have overcome all difficulties.”6 Had volunteer forces manned a few of the ships, or nucleus crews trained the Germans in their use, a number of the French ships might at least have become reasonably efficient units of the German fleet. The French fleet, under such circumstances, or under French control, might have been reorganized and repaired for battle by 1941, when the basis for a grand combination could have been laid, with the weakening of the British in the Mediterranean, the completion of the two Bismarcks, and the conquest of all of Europe’s coast line save only the Iberian Peninsula. The basic fault is that no real attempt was made to enlist the vital power of France in the Nazi cause. Machines, materials, labor—all were torn out of the French economy and military system, to bolster the limited powers of the German homeland. The minority of Nazi sympathizers and the mass of the apathetic were soon antagonized. Thus Vichy was forced to use its fleet as a bargaining piece, playing it one way and the other to retain the vestiges of its lost sovereignty. Some work was done on a few cruisers and destroyers after the German conquest, and evidently some German submarines were built in French yards,7 but aside from these activities and the Toulon attempt of November, 1942, no real effort was made to bring the French naval power to bear against the British.
It is evident that had the Nazis chosen to enlist the strength of the Italian and French fleets to any degree they could have wrested command of the Mediterranean from the British. Had the British sent reinforcements from the north the great German naval concentration would have been let loose. The British, it is true, had prevented the landing of sea-borne troops in Crete, at the cost of 75 per cent casualties of the forces involved, but in the face of continuing attacks, the Italian Navy, with or without French co-operation, could undoubtedly have forced landings of troops in the Middle East. Britain’s difficulties in the Middle East at this time had reached a head. “Syria,” in the words of one observer, “had become an Axis enclave in the Middle East”;8 over 2.500 trained German men were in the country. In Iraq, Rashid led a revolt which, unsupported, reached grave proportions, and conditions in Iran were nearly as bad, and compelled Anglo-Soviet occupation in August. Yet, with the Luftwaffe still dominant, the Wehrmacht at its peak, Crete fallen, and the Middle East in more or less active opposition, the Axis southern push was abandoned. Crete, key to an eccentric wedge which might have split the British Empire, became instead an offshore bastion of Festung Europa’s southern flank, and the armies wheeled for the plunge against the Soviet mass.
In spite of extensive preparations and the great opportunity, the eccentric attack on the British position apparently held small interest for the Nazis. According to the testimony of Marshals Keitel and Jodi, the Mediterranean campaign had been forced on Germany by Mussolini’s unilateral decision to enter the war.9
“We have created impregnable bases,” said Hitler in January, 1941. “When the time comes, we shall strike decisively.” By the summer of 1941, he evidently considered his continental base of power impregnable against counterattack by a Britain crippled by the defeats inflicted on it. The “British- Soviet Russian co-operation intended mainly at the tying up of such powerful forces in the east that radical conclusion of the war in the west. . . could no longer be vouched for,” of which he complained in his proclamation of June 22, 1941, did not force Germany’s turn from Britain to the onslaught on the U.S.S.R. With the use of Finnish, Rumanian, and other satellite forces a part of the Wehrmacht would have sufficed to hold off any offensive the Soviets could have mounted in 1941, without British or American aid; while the remainder could have defeated Britain through the eccentric Mediterranean offensive.
Hitler deliberately chose, however, to concentrate his offensive effort on the second great alternative open to him; that of direct assault on the primary military force of the opposition. This move left the British power unchecked: a maritime power, gifted with an extraordinary ability to recuperate from past defeat, to concentrate swiftly, to operate with great mobility to the distraction of the defense; a power which drew succor and reinforcement from every sea, from empire and allies, and which held itself an uncontained threat in the rear of the German position. Had Germany crushed this power, as it came within miles of doing in the spring of 1941, and again in that of 1942, it would have isolated the Soviet Union and at the same time have eliminated any prospect of the establishment of a second front. Hitler, in short, might have won the war, had he perceived the true significance of its maritime aspect, but he could not, apparently, understand how gravely he threatened Britain in 1941, nor how grave a threat even the weakened British maritime power was to his own position.
By late 1941, it must have been apparent that the campaign in Russia was to be no mere summer’s adventure, and Hitler, having failed to crush Britain by direct or indirect attack, having committed Germany to the attack on the U.S.S.R., went on to commit Germany still further against the opposition by declaring war on the United States. Besides extending the scope of the submarine attack on overseas reinforcement, this action marked the third and final surge of the German initiative effort, which encompassed the whole Japanese attack as a secondary effort or great diversion, and sought to create a world axis.
By early 1942, the Japanese threat in the Indian Ocean had, in fact, caused the diversion of all but Vian’s little squadron of cruisers away from the Mediterranean, and once again the way was open to Axis victory in that theater. Britain’s decimated sea forces had just suffered the loss of three battleships, with two more out of action for many months, while the Ark Royal had been sunk at last and Britain’s one remaining aircraft carrier was on guard in the north. In addition, the Nazis were only then beginning to devote real effort to the U-boat campaign, and by early 1942 had mounted the most perilously widespread and successful submarine offensive of the war.
When, in June, 1942, Rommel reached el Alamein, it was, indeed, “the Mediterranean’s darkest hour,” as the Official Account termed it. It is ironic that on this occasion Hitler had at last decided to allot two Panzer divisions to Rommel, but would do no more. The Italian fleet was superior to such a degree that, damaged and demoralized as it was, it could have forced passage to any corner of the Mediterranean, and the Nazis had the transport craft for invasion ready to hand.10 But the Wehrmacht's iron fist was reaching out to batter on the gates of Stalingrad, and there was no fuel, no armies for invasion. It is most ironic of all that the fleet and transport, every continental foe of Britain has lacked, were at last available to a conquering army, and were thrown away for the old delusive dream of conquest in Russia.
An Axis-held Mediterranean would have meant not only the opening of the rear of the Soviet position and of the approaches to India, but the conquest of Africa and the Middle East. With the loss of these positions it is inconceivable that the United Nations could have invaded West Africa in 1942, even could the necessary forces have been spared from the desperate defense, and European industry might have rendered the Nazi position secure against any attack once African and Persian resources were tapped again to feed it. The idea of a world Axis might have become reality, and the British power would have suffered so crippling a blow that it is difficult to see how the air fleets which first scourged the German homeland, and the armies which later invaded it, could ever have been mustered. Germany, thus, having twice extended an attack which as a limited offensive could have succeeded in unseating Britain, managed to hold the promise of Mediterranean victory up until a few months before the final loss of the strategic initiative in Russia and Africa. But Hitler, apparently, saw neither the vast opportunities which the command of the middle sea would have granted him, nor the terrible threat the British power in those waters held for his dream of empire.
The truth is that the Nazis did not understand the nature of maritime power, and throughout the war failed to appreciate either its potentialities or its threat to their own plans. Even the U-boat campaign was, apparently, not pressed to the limit, for at maximum effort from 520 to 780 attack submarines could have been completed between May, 1941, and May, 1942,11 but only 400 boats were in commission by 1942. To the Nazis the submarine was only a subsidiary arm of prevention in the grand assault on the Soviet Union, and Germany lacked the power to nullify the Anglo-American maritime power and conquer the Soviet Union simultaneously. Though to have worked every shipyard in Europe at maximum capacity on the construction of warships, submarines and freighters would have demanded only two million of the 42 million tons of steel produced annually in Axis Europe,12 the rearmament of the Wehrmacht after the winter’s setbacks and the insatiable demands of the not-so-economical Luftwaffe called for the employment of every available resource and facility of production.
The Nazi attitude toward surface naval development is, perhaps, of still greater significance in understanding the Nazi philosophy in regard to maritime affairs. Raeder, who from the early 1920’s onward seems to have been at the heart of the naval rearmament, is quoted as having said, in May, 1939, that “ . . . capital ships alone are able to win or defend supremacy of the seas.” Were his great Schlachtschiffe, then, to work in some combination to defeat the British Battle Fleets and ruin the British power on the seas, or were they intended to be mere super-cruisers, used piecemeal in operations such as brought the Graf Spee, Bismarck, and Scharnhorst to grief? Goering summarized an early conference with Raeder in the following brief notes: “Intensification of armament. Material to be made available. Navy’s request for iron not granted, but reduced.”13 This interview took place in 1938, when the great Deutschland, the mightiest battleship ever projected up to that time, was laid down, never to be completed. In such abortive projects and evident contradictions of policy was the Nazi naval power built up, and thus it was that Germany entered the war with only one-third of the naval tonnage granted it by treaty with Britain. Raeder, whatever his original idea, was dismissed in 1943 and succeeded by the submarine fanatic Doenitz because, according to one observer, “ ... he still maintained that a suitable balance between surface craft and U-boat construction required a large increase of surface craft.”14
In the early days, Hitler had written in Mein Kampf that he would see Germany, “ ... at the sacrifice of the . . . merchant and naval fleet, . . . switched from the feeble world-wide policy to a determined European policy of territorial acquisition.” The acquisition of the base territory in Europe was readily achieved in two years of minor campaigns; but when the world-wide opportunity lay open, the Nazis lacked the vision to grasp it. They did not lack the power, for they had strength enough and time enough to plunge deep into the immense, carefully planned and heroically executed Soviet defense, even while holding off the Anglo-American power in the west; and even in so insane a venture their immense power brought them perilously close to victory. In the words of General Marshall’s Report, “ . . . we do not yet realize how thin the thread of Allied survival had been stretched.”
The Japanese initiative effort, which in early 1942 precipitated the final and greatest crisis of the war, was subsidiary to and entirely dependent on the German effort, and was guided by the same philosophy of territorial greed to eventual ruin. Though spectacularly successful against isolated colonial garrisons, it was in the nature of a diversion, an eccentric attack on the Allied position, and failed primarily because it did not guarantee Axis victory on the main front, the European, but aimed at immediate success on independent lines of development.
The military in Japan had, like the General Staff in Germany, planned their own program of conquest, and had more or less successfully controlled political action to this end. They had seized power in the person of the Emperor in the “restoration” of 1868, of which one observer has said that “ . . ; the victorious clans were not restoring an autocrat. . . . They were installing themselves in the place of the previous clan government.”15
Having crushed the more liberal tendencies which grew up after World War I, the Japanese set out on their program of aggression, and looked northward, first, for conquest. Up to 1939 when they suffered a severe defeat at Lake Nomonhan, admitting 18,000 soldiers killed, extensive clashes with Soviet forces on the Siberian frontier were frequent.16
These early attempts on the Soviet Union are of extraordinary interest in considering the Japanese effort, because a Japanese attack on the U.S.S.R. in 1941-42 might well have led to the conquest of the Maritime Province of Siberia, the encirclement of China, and an eventual descent on the Indian sub-continent from the north. Avoiding direct provocation to the United States, Japan might have made possible Axis victory on the primary front and, at the same time, have secured substantial conquests in Asia “ . . . but it is apparent,” wrote Wilfrid Fleisher in 1941, “that the Japanese do not intend to sacrifice their ambitions in the southern Pacific,” as indeed they did not, for their defeats in the north drove them to seek easier prey in the rich, unguarded empires to the south.
To quote General Marshall’s Report again: “Japan’s object was the conquest ... of the whole Far East. She intended to make her conquest in a rapid surprise drive . . . , to form an iron ring of outer defenses against which the spiritually inferior, pacifistic combination of opponents could beat themselves into weariness while she consolidated her gains at leisure.”17
By Corbett’s classic standard, “Defense is not a passive attitude, for that is a negation of war,” and a national policy which envisaged only an absolute defensive once the objectives of the war were gained, was doomed in the face of the resurgent United Nations power, which soon covered all the seas. The German policy was doomed because it also failed at the crucial time to aim at the crucial objective: victory. Hitler could write in Mein Kampf that “ . . . victory is forever contained only in attack,” but he failed to see that such attack to achieve victory must aim only at victory, and must not cease until the enemy is crushed, or rendered helpless by destruction of his world communications; until, in brief, victory is won.
“There can be no doubt,” says Marshall’s Report, “that the greed and the mistakes of the war-making nations as well as the heroic stands of the British and Soviet peoples saved the United States a war on her own soil. Had the U.S.S.R. and the British Army of the Nile been defeated in 1942, as well they might, if the Germans, Japanese, and Italians had better co-ordinated their plans and resources and successive operations, we should have stood today in the western hemisphere confronted by enemies who controlled the greater part of the world.” But China, Britain, and the U.S.S.R. were able to survive, and by late 1942 the Axis had irrevocably lost the initiative on every front. Thenceforth the United Nations held command of the initiative, and though the Axis might muster the local power to attack, even to gain; though it had the strength to resist fiercely, it could not win.
The primary effort of the United Nations’ offensive was concentrated immediately on the primary foe: Germany. Germany, at the gates of Stalingrad and el Alamein, had to be stopped in 1942 or the war would be lost. Further retreat would have been fatal, and the Japanese threat depended entirely for its fulfilment upon Axis victory in Europe. In the war with Japan, on the other hand, a strategic defense was possible. The economical effort which the United Nations exerted against Japan was of necessity secondary and defensive in nature, and consisted of a campaign of attrition against the naval forces of the Japanese maritime empire, and limited offensives against its outposts and bases. The urge was great, of course, to avenge the insult to the flag and drive the Japanese from the Pacific with our accumulating strength. There existed an “isolationist” tendency to see in Europe’s troubles no connection with United States security or interests, and another tendency to regard the British Navy, nominally master of the Atlantic, as a sure bulwark against even a triumphant Nazism. Many still saw the United States Navy as John Quincy Adams is said to have seen it, “a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of- war.”18
Yet the sound and vital decision was made, and adhered to, in spite of all misleading side issues, and the determination and industry of the free world could not fail to lead to victory, once united. The major diplomatic unity of the United Nations was reflected in the unity of command of every operation involving various national forces, and the aggregate United Nations superiority was directed in unity to bear down the foe. Maritime communications bound together the sinews of this effort, as they had in the dark years after the fall of France bound Britain, the U.S.S.R., and U.S.A. in a commonwealth of resistance. “Thus,” as Dr. Rosinski has observed, “one of the outstanding revelations of the present conflict has been the degree to which the status of Sea Power has been enhanced through the expansion of the war to global dimensions.”19
Before the inevitable conclusion of the war, however, an event occurred which cast a searching glare on every lesson of the war, an event beyond all normal strategic calculations: the first employment of the atomic bomb. As it fell out, the bomb served only to hasten the inevitable, and did not, as it is asserted it might, reverse the polarity of victory. Its consideration as a weapon, then, is not essentially a matter of the strategy of World War II, but rather of its aftermath, the post-war political situation.
In this troubled situation lies the future of the United States. “Eternal vigilance,” runs the old saying, “is the price of safety at sea.” The United States must reappraise the doctrine and concepts of past experience, and cast an eye over the whole situation in the new light.20 The influence of aero-maritime power, or world communications, will most evidently remain as important as ever in a war involving the employment of atomic explosives. The fact that one belligerent or the other will suffer complete industrial devastation in the opening moves of the war makes recuperation and swift concentration for attack, the prime gifts of maritime power, more important than ever. A nation in which whole cities have been devastated and industry crippled can be saved only by the same sort of united world effort, dependent on aero-maritime communications, which was the key to victory in World War II. It may be true, as Dr. Brodie has pointed out, that a weapon which can effect a strategic decision independent of any other arm will demand wholesale revision of military concepts, but even when one nation has silenced the arsenals and wrecked the whole structure of another, the nation will not be conquered until occupied, and outside intervention will remain to be dealt with.21
The great military lesson of this war, in any event, lies clearly beyond all confusion of weapons and methods: it is the prime importance of world unity in the face of aggression; and such unity can be achieved only by world communications. The only true world communications are aero-maritime communications: that geographical fact is but accentuated by the existing status of transport technology. In World War II ships were, in Dr. Rosinski’s words, “the absolutely essential prerequisite of any world-wide combination.” In the future, the great routes of commerce may lie in the air, and control of these airways will be then as great a prize as has been the command of the seas. Peaceful commerce and war communications will merely flow in another medium. The great speed with which future conflicts may be violently decided may lend a noncommercial importance to air transport for war purposes,22 but in general the ways of world commerce remain the roots of world security.
The functions of the aero-maritime fleets which secure these world communications will remain essentially the same, then. Corbett has listed them as: “ . . . firstly, to support or obstruct diplomatic effort; secondly, to protect or destroy commerce; and thirdly, to support or hinder military operations ashore.”23 For military operations world communications serve as a highway to the aero-maritime power, and as a barrier to its foes: as Corbett has remarked. “ ... at sea strategic offense and defense tend to merge in a way that is unknown ashore.” A great air-sea power will be necessary to defend either the approaches to United States territory or United States international commitments. This same power would provide protection for the world-wide commerce which the United States is today in an ideal position to create, and such a commerce would, in turn, build the ocean transport without which sea power is sterile and maritime power cannot exist. In an expanding commerce may also be found to lie the opportunity for the America culture, its law and ideology, to gain understanding and friends throughout the world.
Commerce, it should be noted, has historically been more of an influence to peace than to war, and the prosperity it engenders is the surest deterrent to totalitarian government. If atomic power were devoted to the enrichment of man’s material life it might, for the individual, eliminate all question of economic contentment or power through foreign conquest, and if the individual is content the nation must be content. Such considerations, though they may determine the whole of future international relations, and, indeed, the course of man’s whole adventure on earth, are not to be discussed here. It will suffice to observe that, whatever the national policy, the diplomatic and its final mean, the military, must closely track the national policy.
Darrieus speaks of “ . . . the intimate connection which makes military conceptions the natural consequence of political conceptions,” and observes, “There is no study of strategy possible without that.” The disaster at Pearl Harbor in 1941 strikingly demonstrated that fact, as did our terrible unpreparedness in the early months of war.
The whole military service is, indeed, but an arm of diplomacy, the final guarantee of the policies and integrity of the United States. If national policy is to involve international commitments, the armed forces must be based on a great maritime power, which must, as experience has shown, be built on a network of bases, a world-wide system of fleet service supply, and a great merchant marine with trained American personnel as well as the necessary naval forces. In any future conflict it is doubtful that the United States would be allowed the months that were necessary in World War II to transform the naval defense to a great maritime initiative.
In an age where great developments depend on small events, and where the time necessary for the preparation and execution of assault is phenomenally telescoped, the military closely track an alert diplomacy, and must be given the means to support the national policy and interest. Whichever of the current proposals in organization for research, procurement, and command are decided upon; in whatever form the fleets of the future secure free aero-maritime communications: to the United Nations, the armed forces, and particularly the naval and maritime forces, must function as the effective arm of the United States diplomacy. Only in such a concept of national defense will the national security be actually assured.
1. The principal sources consulted for the following analysis were, except as noted:
(1) Jane’s Fighting Ships, Ed. Francis E. McMurtrie (New York, Macmillan Co.)
(2) Brassey’s Naval Annual. Ed. H. G. Thursfield (New York, Macmillan Co.)
(3) Jay Launer, The Enemies' Fighting Ships (New York, Sheridan House, 1944). Not always reliable, but the only available summary of unofficial information regarding Axis naval power.
For information on the distribution and conditions of. the various fleets the following were the main sources relied upon:
(1) Gilbert Cant, The War at Sea (New York, John Day Co., 1942). The most comprehensive and accurate review yet available.
(2) “Review of the Naval Campaign in the Mediterranean,” Engineering, Sept. 24, 1943. Reprinted “Professional Notes,” Naval Institute Proceedings, December, 1943. Exceedingly valuable extracts from a speech by A. V. Alexander.
(3) Bartimeus (pseud.), East of Malta, West of Suez: The Official Admiralty Account of the Mediterranean Fleet 1939-1943 (Boston, Little, Brown, and Co., 1943).
2. See Jonas H. Ingrain, in All Hands, June, 1945, reprinted “Professional Notes,” Naval Institute Proceedings, July, 1945, for all figures on strength of U-boat fleet.
3. Cant, The War at Sea, p. 175.
4. Chicago Tribune, Nov. 28, 1942. Reprinted “Professional Notes,” Naval Institute Proceedings, Feb., 1943.
5. The Bismarck’s excessive complement in her sortie of May, 1941, and the unusual number of shore ships sent after her argue that she might have been intended to join the Richelieu and Jean Bart in Africa, to form a raiding squadron for which the British would have had no match. See Cant, War at Sea, p. 243. Such a combination was evidently the greatest naval conception the Nazi philosophy could encompass.
6. Stefan T. Possony, “The Vindication of Sea Power,” Naval Institute Proceedings, Sept., 1945. An excellent consideration of the whole opportunity open to the Nazis is included in this article.
7. Launer, The Enemies’ Fighting Ships, p. 170.
8. Robert L. Raker, Oil, Blood and Sand (New York, D. Appleton-Century Co. 1942), p. 261.
9. “War Department General Staff evaluation of the interrogation of the captured German commanders,” as quoted by General Marshall in the Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United Stales Army, July 1, 1943 to June 30,1945, to the Secretary of War.
10. See Baker, Oil, Blood and Sand, XIV, “Pincers, Wedges, and Nutcrackers,” for an excellent treatment of Rommel’s drive and its potentialities, and of the prospects of a Nazi offensive from Greek and perhaps Turkish bases against the Middle East.
11. See “Professional Notes,” Naval Institute Proceedings, Nov., 1942.
13. "Goering’s Personal Notes on Conferences between July, 1938, and August, 1942, with Nazi and foreign Leaders . . . entitled ‘Besprechungen...' " Excerpt printed New York Herald Tribune, July 11, 1945.
14. W. E. Hart (pseud.), Hitler’s Generals (New York, Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1944), p. 211.
15. Hugh Byas, The Japanese Enemy (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1942), p. 38. See also Chap. IV, “Who Runs Japan?”
16. Wilfrid Fleisher, Volcanic Isle (New York, Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1943, 5th rev. ed.), p. 228. See Chap. VHI, “Japan and Russia,” for a most illuminating account of the influence of the army plans of territorial conquest in Asia and the navy plan of “southward expansion” on the formulation of Japanese policy.
17. The War Department General Staff’s analysis of Japanese objectives, quoted in the “Introduction,” Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1943 to June 30, 1945, to the Secretary of War.
18. See Walter Lippmann, U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic (Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1943), pp. 17-20, for an interesting summary of how completely U. S. Atlantic policy has depended on the strength of the Royal Navy.
19. Herbert Rosinski, “The Expansion of Sea Power in the Present War,” Brassey’s Naval Annual: 1944 (London, William Clowes).
20. See Bernard Brodie, The Atomic Bomb and American Security (Yale Institute of International Studies, New Haven), p. 11.
21. Dr. Brodie in the memorandum mentioned notes that sea power did not save France from conquest in 1940: but the shadow the surviving British sea power threw over that victory foretold June 6, 1944 and May 8, 1945.
22. Brodie, The Atomic Bomb and American Security, p. 10.
23. Julian S. Corbett, England in the Seven Years' War: A Study in Combined Strategy (London, Longmans, Green and Co., 1907), p. 6.