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<• 6 /’"'i unnery, gunnery, gunnery, all else is twad- Vjdle. Hit the target.”
These striking words were written in 1914 by one of the legendary figures of 20th-century naval history, Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher of the Royal Navy, who had just been recalled from retirement to serve as First Sea Lord. Some years earlier, he had applied his impulsive genius and energies to maneuvering the tradition-bound Royal Navy into the new century with far-reaching administrative reforms, and had revolutionized naval power by introducing the Dreadnought-c\ass battleships. The quotation is typical of Fisher in its pithiness. It comes directly to the point that the end- object of a naval force is to be able to hit the enemy. Unfortunately, it is also typical of a myopic conception of naval tactics—that the subject can be grasped almost solely in terms of the principal weapons available and the results which they might achieve. Indeed, the subjects of weapons and their possible accomplishments are important components of tactical thought, but they are by no means a suitable basis for the whole of it, because all else is not twaddle!
The weapon-centered approach is an extreme example of the narrowly bounded character of much tactical thinking. A better approach—but not by much—is found in Admiral Giuseppe Fioravanzo’s book, A History of Naval Tactical Thought (Naval Institute Press, 1979). Fioravanzo provides a broad historical review and attempts to summarize naval tactics in terms of the geometric patterns and dynamics of the formations which are made possible by the interplay of the propulsion systems and armaments available to a naval force. This approach is also too limited in scope to form a basis for the comprehensive understanding of naval tactics.
A clue to what is missing—and it is a great deal— is found in Fioravanzo's comments on the Battle of the Coral Sea. He concludes that, “The fundamental tactical position is no longer defined by the geometric relationship of the opposing formations, but by an operational element: the early detection of the enemy.”1 While the aircraft carrier-dominated warfare in the Pacific in World War II made it obvious that detecting an enemy was an important element of tactics, that fact certainly was not news— even then. The Battle of Jutland, fought a quarter- century earlier, was dominated throughout by problems of detection, or—put more generally—by perception-dependent processes of many kinds. Some of these processes can be described as detecting the enemy in poor visibility, but others resist so simple a description. While the weapon systems and formations used at Jutland characterize that battle in some sense, they were merely the end products of tactical perceptions and their dependent processes of thought; some were immediate to the battle, but many dated from months and even years beforehand.
Other examples might be given of the fact that perceptions are an inherent feature of tactics, but they should not be necessary. It should suffice to speculate that the early hominids, fighting with the most rudimentary weapons, hundreds if not thousands of millennia before us, must have owed their very survival—or the lack of it—to knowing where their enemies were and what they were doing. From such a conjectural perspective, it is easy to conclude that tactical thought must encompass more than a consideration of weapons and the most obvious ways of moving and using them. We can accept Fioravanzo’s definition of tactics—the art of fighting of employing the implements of war in ways suited to their characteristics2—as a definition of g°°“ tactics, but we must look beyond it for a satisfactory basis for tactical thought, whether dealing with tactics of the past, present, or future.
The distinction between tactics and tactical thought is important. Tactics is an art which is actually praC" ticed by a very few, and only on rare occasions’ Tactical thought is practiced by a countless many- often as an inconspicuous, but nonetheless vital- part of what they are doing. The legislator indulgeS in tactical thought in some sense when he considers a naval appropriations bill. The military bureaucrat imagines a tactical situation when he advocatesa weapon system development. The scientist or engineer envisions tactical encounters when he toils through the morass of science and technology bear' ing on a weapon system development and strive5 to give that system a useful tactical capability. The naval officer cultivates tactical thought when he studies his weapon systems and the doctrines f°r their use. It is the product of all of this tactica thought that may someday be used in tactics. .
Since tactical thought is the precursor to tactic3 practice, it is vital that the conceptions which ar the tools of tactical thought reflect the practice. Since perceptions of the enemy—and of ourselves—arc inherent to tactical practice, it is time to give rep resentation to that fact in the formal constructs 0 tactical thought. .
The current trend in discussions of tactics is |0 the direction suggested. Both better known and oc casional naval writers are beginning to give the pT° cesses of perception and perception-dependent ters their due in discussions of weapons and supP0 j systems, force structures, operational concepts, a^ tactics. Some articles by Norman Friedman ar> Norman Polmar make the dependence of tactics0 sensing systems quite clear.1 Captain A. M. Bowe j writing on a modified surface warship operatin'1 concept, makes frequent reference to sensing terns and the problems of information gather'0-;' processing, and dissemination.4 Lieutenant C- '
Enemy Removed From Tactical Context
ohnson's article explores the problems of estab- ishing a foundation for tactical thinking and incudes consideration of the need for information on • • • operational capabilities of friendly and threat suPport systems (intelligence, surveillance, contend and control, communications).”5 Commander Wells II not only gives emphasis to the “methods °t observation in naval warfare,” but takes an important further step in discussing some tactical pos- ■Pilities in terms of an “observation-orientation- ecision-action” concept of conflict, which is cred- , l° Colonel John Boyd of the Air Force.6 In the ^nuary 1982 Proceedings, Captain R. C. Powers .ntes about the tactical value of an offensive-pas- Ve ship, and Commander P. T. Deutermann pro- P°sos that the Charles F. Adams (DDG-2)-class *u>ded missile destroyers and Knox (FF-1052)-class §ates should be matched to form new tactical units, finally, Frank Uhlig, Jr. gives a well-proportioned ,Scussion of tactics, replete with historical exam- es’ and couched in terms of the weapons and sen- ^ used, and of the operational ranges of those hies.7 Uhlig’s piece makes it clear that percep- n is—-and has always been—fundamental to tac- ^ s- even though the means have progressed from . eyes and ears which we take for granted to in- and 6 t*1e highly sophisticated products of science technology. Uhlig’s closing words neatly sum- arize the present-day problem of tactics: ”... jj the tactician of today must do is to widen his riZoris to those of his sensors and his weapons, ■s they, more often than his ships, that he must ConiP°late. Assuming forces of similar power, the
^inlander who best does this is the one most likely to \y,n „ 7
°f this bodes well for progress in tactical nuSht, but it lacks clear organization. Perhaps the baneeded step is the development of a perception- pep6c* lheory of tactics—a synthesis which gives CePtion and its related processes a coherently ^ctured part in our basic conceptions of tactics, suh' Car^‘nal problem in creating a conception of a a S0 comPlex as tactics is that of establishing js vocabulary of thought—a construct which fle Bj to the subject as it is now understood, but the - e enough to accommodate innovation. While ihieh 0*3servation-orientation-decision-action” idea ada 1 °e Used’ 't seems better to use a concept which Pts to varying levels of activity in time, and which den*CtS at *east 01051 rudimentary of depen- rrta Cles—for example, that any action, such as a cUrreuver, depends and builds upon earlier and con- ^°t observations and decisions. tyL • £ Proposed scheme is illustrated in Figure 1, Ce . rePresents a level of activity versus time con- Thel0n f°r a simple, time-phased tactical encounter, first encounter begins at a time when the enemy is Perceived in a context which either allows for
Figure 1: The level of activity in a tactical encounter is a function of time. The perception-decision phase persists throughout the encounter and underlies all phases of higher-level activity.
Enemy First Perceived In Tactical Context
the use of weapons (his or ours), or might be developed to that point. From that time until the enemy is removed from the tactical context, the perception-decision level of activity is maintained. The commander of each force uses all of the means at his disposal to keep track of all forces involved and uses the information in synthesizing his plans and decisions. Perception-decision is the level of activity on which higher levels, if they occur, must be based.
The level of activity moves a step higher as the commanders’ decisions result in “doing something.” The typical action that may be taken at this level is to maneuver or deploy forces in an effort to develop the situation. The maneuver-deployment phase could involve concentration of forces, dispersal of forces, closing the range, or withdrawal, depending on the motivations and objectives of each commander. Indeed, the maneuver-deployment phase could be only an embryonic one, if the decisions are to do “nothing” but maintain the status-quo (e.g., course and speed), perceiving that to do so (a maneuver in itself) achieves or maintains a desired objective of relative position. The maneuver-deployment phase, without the use of weapons, is as far as some tactical encounters develop, and it can often be the best way to achieve an objective.
The highest level of activity in the tactical structure diagram is the weapon-use phase, which rests on the continuing perception-decision and maneuver-deployment phases. Naval forces owe their creation to the possibility that this phase may develop into an encounter between enemies.
The full structure of the diagrammed concept is
generally trapezoidal in shape, with stepped leading and trailing slopes, as the level of activity steps up to the highest involved in the encounter, and then later steps off to the termination of the tactical circumstance. The time-phasing of levels of activity is i variable, as is the intensity of each phase as a function of time, even though this diagram, for simple ity, shows fiattopped levels. In this full, three-level form, the suggested structure of tactical encounter is the stuff of which naval tactics are made, and h rests throughout on a base of perceptions and per' ception-dependent decisions. From a general perspective, it is a matter of detail whether those perceptions are made with human senses or with the aids of radar, sonar, and other sensors carried by aircraft and orbiting satellites of earth, and whether the decisions are made by the unaided human intellect or are, in part, the products of electronic data processing facilities. Such detail is vitally in portant to any particular tactical encounter, but is not relevant to the general format of the subject.
In developing a tactical encounter model, we can make good use of that common tool of the logician- the Venn diagram. The largest diagram in Figure - .
presents the most general possible form for the situations in which a commander might attempt to per' ceive a tactical circumstance. The rectangle enclosing the circles denotes the "universe of choice, and can be thought of as depicting all of the relevant possibilities inherent in a tactical situation—the numbers and types of enemy weapon platforms that conceivably could be involved, for example. The ^ circles within the universe of choice enclose specia areas, or domains called subclasses. The circle la' beled "truth” represents the actual situation—-aS to numbers and types for the example cited abo'e- The one labeled “perception” represents what the commander might perceive in the situation, using all of the means of perception at his disposal. The interaction of the two primary subclasses gives nse to three derivative subclasses, or areas, which rep resent the missing, valid, or false perceptions.
Although simpler cases exist, all three derivative subclasses are potentially present in any real Per ception process, whether using our natural faculty or man-made aids to perception. Naval history rich with examples of commanders who based the’1 actions on a mixture of valid and false perception while remaining oblivious to—or at best anxiou about—vital information that was missing. The val> subclass of perceived information requires no i
planation. Missing perceptions can result from ba weather, smoke, sensor equipment and comma111 cations failures, or from deliberate enemy action such as sensor jamming. False perceptions can re suit from anomalous performance of sensor sy terns, false messages, enemy decoys, and the lib1"
The fact that the truth-perception Venn diagra ^ applies to the perception-decision phase of Figure
figure 3: The full tactical encounter is modeled as logically coherent, perception-dependent, and perceptionlike Pr°cesses, with some examples of missing- and false-domain possibilities.
Our targeting confused; some enemy units unhit; surprise countermeasure
We fail to pursue enemy turn-away, or fail to concentrate force on enemy detachment
Enemy obscured by clouds, smoke; attacking missiles using radar-absorbing finishes o Our weapons misfire, or enemy succeeds in evading our missiles o Enemy maneuvers contrary to expectation; feints new threat; our order miscarries o We misread enemy force composition; enemy sends misleading messages
im easi.ly susta>ned- For a tactical commander’s is ^ . ate perceptions in an action, the applicability im °Vl0Us- His decisions are the products of those ediate perceptions and a lifetime of experienced tio CCpti.ons' woven together in a process of cogni- and a*so has the potential for missing, valid,
sio ta Se cornPonents' so that the perception-deci- an Phase of tactics can be modeled summarily as p0j^rcePti°nlike process from the logician's view-
0f^ 's °nly a little less evident that the higher levels SjJ^hvity in the tactical encounter can be treated in tJar|y- They are also perceptionlike activities.
sense that they deal with events in which the outcome (the truth) is not necessarily coin- v-n‘ w>th the expectation (the perception in ad- jnCc °f the fact, or assumption). The lack of co- not‘ ence derives from the fact that the events are tj0tJeterm>nistic, but involve the unpredictable ac- jjj s °f an enemy, as well as the uncertain perfor- (jeJ?Ces of man and machine. In the maneuvered °^rnent Phase, orders can miscarry, or an enemy hut e°Untermaneuver in unexpected ways—to give Uev W° examPles- For the weapon-use phase, it is Usiner known beforehand what the effect will be of c0lT)8 Weapons against an enemy force. We have tj0ne to believe too implicitly in the simplistic noon]ofa "probability of kill,” a concept that applies y to a carefully constrained set of circumstances.
and in itself not deterministic for any particular event.
In the real world of tactics, an enemy might confront us with unexpected countermeasures, unexpected resistance to damage, or even unexpected vulnerabilities. It is most unlikely that Admiral Gunther Lutjens expected to destroy HMS Hood in a mere six-minute action, or that most British officers knew that they were fighting with defective shells at Jutland. The point is made that the maneuver-deployment and weapon-use phases of a tactical encounter are representable as perceptionlike activities—ones in which the expected result does not necessarily agree with the reality of developing events.
A conceptual framework of perception-based tactics emerges from a meld of the concepts represented in Figures I and 2. Figure 3 relates the two earlier concepts, by placing the three perceptionlike levels of activity into the single universe of choice for all possibilities of perception-decision, maneuver-deployment, and weapon-use. For distinction between the levels of activity, the circular domains are drawn so as not to overlap between levels. In a real encounter, there could be considerable overlap if the circumstances of truth and perception changed little throughout an encounter. In fact, in an otherwise dynamic situation, the truth and perception domains could remain nearly unchanged for all levels of activity. An example would be: two approach-
ln«s / junc i98.
ing fleets maneuver into lines of battle with same courses and speeds, open fire and battle for some time without appreciable effect, then withdraw.
The individual commander’s view within this universe, at each level of activity, is limited to his perceptions, as suggested by the more visible solid- lined constructions. The true reality at all levels is denoted by the dashed-line constructions. Although shown as a single diagram, an additional reality is that perceptions, truths, and even the universe of choice may vary in time throughout an encounter, as decisions and actions taken foreclose some earlier situations or open up new ones for consideration and action. To the right of the diagram are two columns, giving a brief list of examples of tactical features which could populate the missing (m-domain) and false (f-domain) subclasses within each level of activity. Within this general framework lies the infinite potential for variety and for surprise in the subject called tactics.
Just because it is possible to model a tactical encounter in the way suggested does not mean that the process is free of problems. For example, the surprise countermeasure listed in Figure 3 for the weapon-use phase might be thought of with equal validity as a truth about the enemy which we have missed, or a falsity in our perception that he had no such countermeasure—a perception problem in its own right! There is no question, however, that perceptionlike processes can give rise to purely m-domain and f-domain phenomena, as any surveillance specialist knows. It is not so important to classify rigidly all of the possibilities in tactics as it is to have some comprehensive and coherent framework for classification. If the framework exists, the tactical thinker is less likely to forget or miss important elements in his thinking than when searching through a morass of unstructured possibilities.
The perception-based structure for tactical thought poses an additional problem in that its scope is so broad that it allows thought in many subject areas. The m-domain and f-domain examples of Figure 3 contain items of technology, natural phenomenology, and human psychology. But that is the way it is! Tactics is a very broad subject—a continuum of interacting subjects, in fact—and tactical thought which is confined rigidly to isolated subject areas is incomplete. The structure is also limited, in the sense of not providing for the motivation of tactics—i.e., whether the modeled tactics are offensive or defensive in objective. But that is also the way it is! The desire to attack or defend, to advance or withdraw, will guide the selection of options within a structured subject, but is not necessarily inherent to the structure of the subject. Wanting a particular objective is not the same thing as understanding what may be involved in achieving it.
Fundamental Equations: nT = (nm + n.); nP = (n, + n.)
Reality: Eight attacking missiles, each
deploying one bright" decoy, two radar artifacts.
Assume. Decision to attack all perceived *
threats, one-on-one; deployment- maneuver and weapon-use phases succeed perfectly.
Results: Fraction of enemy targets
destroyed, (*v'nT) = (5 8) = 0.625 Fraction of our weapons effective (rvrv) = (5 15) = 0.333
As developed thus far, the model structure is one of logic diagrams and words, which is a more diS' ciplined result than is often achieved with words alone. But there are those who prefer to think in quantitative terms, and a perception-based theoO of tactics can be taken in that direction as well- - brief example serves to illustrate the importance 0 the perception-decision phase on the possible oih come of a tactical encounter. The example, with >ts fundamental relationships and assumptions, is Pre sented in Figure 4. A commander looks at a searc radar display on which attacking enemy a,r to-surface missiles appear as countable objects, ^ in number. But what the commander sees are («>■ it/) objects, where nf of them are either radar deco> or products of the radar system interacting with 1 bad weather conditions. What he does not see at nm missiles which his radar does not detect. becaaS the enemy is using radar-countermeasure finish on his missiles. The commander decides to lal,nC( radar-guided interceptor missiles, one-on-one, aga|a * each of the perceived threat objects. The maneu'e deployment phase is simply his order to fire. a everyone gets the word. In the weapon-use phaS. ’ all tubes fire successfully, and every interceptor m1^ sile finds its designated “target” and destroys j The commander fired 15 defending missiles—onc j 1 everything he could see. Ten of those were was against false targets. Three of the enemy attach
Were not detected and are still on the way.
Perceptions are an inherent feature of tactics and njUst therefore play an important role in tactical '"ought.
a valid conceptual framework—this or some
pU>^‘- In the rational, heroic extreme, it is Captain
C'UVVarH C i-' r- • _!•__ n_________ iixzo,<
*y armed merchantman Jervis Bay to stand off the f0r^erful pocket battleship Admiral Scheer—if only c ■ a few minutes. Each of these commanders per- Vefi a tactical objective and achieved it with the ”*** at hand.
his perception-based approach to tactical thought
suF n0t be tbe best wa^ to ma*<e Pr08ress >n a Ject which seems to be “caught in irons” be
But who needs such a basis as this or any other 0rmally structured basis for tactical thought? Cer- ainly not the tactical genius. But he will not always e Present to vote on legislation, design a weapon Astern or a ship, or encounter an enemy. Perhaps ?en °f more ordinary mental abilities could benefit
' |ber'~which gives tactics a structural organization q.0w.'n8 them to understand what they are mking about—an organization which is coherent, et efficiently broad in scope to provide for thought several levels and in many subject areas. d.fiact'cs is an art, infinitely varied and therefore id| u't to understand and characterize. On the rig- i ^ disciplined extreme, it is the cautious, method- a Admiral John Jellicoe—beset by poor visibility, °or scouting support, and anxieties about the qual- at I f his material—who deployed the Grand Fleet utland with a competence that has withstood 65 0,ars °f critical analysis. In the case of simple res- 2gtl0n' and also at Jutland, it is Captain Wolfgang nker, holding the sturdy Von der Tann to her a.IOn in the line of battle with main battery out of tj '?n' Because she could still serve a valuable tac- ai objective: to dilute the enemy’s fire against the k, er ships of Vice Admiral Franz von Hipper’s is th Cru'ser squadron. In the realm of cunning, it timK Crafty David Dixon Porter sending a bogus, riv ber'built facsimile of an ironclad floating down- d er to trick the Confederates, resulting in their struction of the captured Union gunboat, Indi- ^ward S. F. Fegen, signaling Convoy HX-84 to t. ter into the covering smoke and turning the fee- cause of the confusing winds of technology and nearly aground in the shallows of theoretical concepts. But we must somehow fill our sails and gather steerageway. Modern technology makes it possible to build an infinite variety of ships, aircraft, satellites, weapons, sensors—contrivances ad nauseam! How do we structure all of these choices and put them in proper perspective? How do we choose among new weapons and ships, and the means of perception which are needed to make them effective? We must truly understand tactics and break free of the problem of that nautical personage described by the brilliant children’s poet, A. A. Milne:
“There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew Who had so many things which he wanted to do That, whenever he thought it was time to begin.
He couldn’t because of the state he was in.”8
And so, if not this approach, what are some other ideas? As Commander M. A. Libbey suggested, ”... we can at least write about how to approach the problem of encouraging thought about tactics and thereby expose others to possible solutions.”9 'G. Fioravanzo, A History of Naval Tactical Thought. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1979). p. 209.
:Ibid.. p. 3.
'N. Friedman. "C1 War at Sea.” Proceedings, May 1977. pp. 124-41: "SOSUS and U. S. ASW Tactics," Proceedings. March 1980, pp. 120-23: N. Polmar. "The U. S. Navy: Sonars. Part 1." Proceedings. July 1981. pp. 119-20; "The U. S. Navy: Sonars. Part 2.” Proceedings. September 1981. pp. 135-37.
JA. M. Bowen. Jr.. "A Modified Operational Concept for the Surface Warship,” Proceedings. May 1981. pp. 132-49.
5C. H. Johnson. "Tactics." Proceedings. October 1978. pp. 37-43.
6L. Wells II. "Maneuver in Naval Warfare." Proceedings. December 1980. pp. 34-41.
7F. Uhlig. Jr.. “Naval Tactics: Examples and Analogies." Naval War College Review. March-April 1981, pp. 92-104.
"A. A. Milne. Now We Are Six. (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.. Inc.. 1927). pp. 36-41.
’M. A. Libbey III. "Time Out for Tactics." Proceedings. January 1979. pp. 52-57.
Mr. Taylor received his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Marquette University and Ohio State University, respectively. He specializes in the definition and planning of military space systems at the Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo. California. Mr. Taylor is a retired U. S. Naval Reserve officer.
.Thank God It's Not Friday.
the finne tbe Antarctic explorations some years back. Rear Admiral George Dufek, one of t' . rst Americans to reach the South Pole, was examining the ice-capped landscape with
P'S* 1 __ __________ ____ . . w . . .
r0aeJ" Urban Joseph Linehan. a geophysicist from Boston College, when he brought It' sandwich and offered it to his companion. “No. thank you,” said Father Linehan. '•v r'day, you know.’’
stgDs’ Bather,” replied the undaunted admiral, "B wenty paces to the left and it'll be Thursday.”
But. in Antarctica, all you have to do is