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The Navy must shed its history of antipathy toward doctrine and develop a naval doctrine built on proved strategy, tactics, and operations. Far from a prescription for action, this doctrine will provide a common ground—the way our warriors should think about war.
Two quotations from the former Soviet Union have made the rounds of U.S. Navy training commands for at least ten years, most often preceding lectures on war fighting:
One of the serious problems in planning against American doctrine is that Americans do not read their manuals nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.
The reason that the American navy does so well in wartime is that war is chaos and the American navy practices chaos on a daily basis.
Loose attribution of the two quotes, together with their universal familiarity in the officer corps, have elevated them to the status of cultural myth in the U.S. military. Significantly, they summarize the ambivalent and even hostile attitude the U.S. Navy officer corps has toward an official Navy doctrine.
Our sister services are not the same. The U.S. Army’s first doctrine was Baron von Steuben’s 1779 Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United
States. Although by no means an unbroken succession, the current edition of Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, the Army’s keystone doctrine, cites von Steuben's work as its antecedent.2 Retired Army Colonel Harry G- Summers has said, “The U.S. failure in Vietnam can be traced to the effects of . . . inappropriate doctrinal concepts” and that “Doctrine provided the basis for victory in the Persian Gulf War.”3 He traces the development of Army doctrine in this century and the link between doctrine and success or failure on the battlefield in his books, establishing the vital importance of doctrine in the Army 4 Doctrine is also important to the Marine Corps and the Air Force. The Marine Corps has had an official doctrine development organization since the 1920s, and Fleet Marine Field Manual (FMFM) I, Warfighting. presents the Marine Corps’ “philosophy on war fighting ... the authoritative basis for how we fight and how we prepare to fight.”5 In conjunction with FMFM 1-1, Campaigning, FMFM 1-2, The Role of the Marine Corps in the National Defense, and FMFM 1-3, Tactics, it provides a comprehensive doctrinal foundation. General A. M. Gray, the signatory of FMFM 1, notes in the foreword, “I expect every officer to read—and reread—this book, un-
Proceedings / April 1994
derstand it, and take its message to heart. The thoughts contained here represent not just guidance for actions in combat, but a way of thinking in general.”6 In the foreword to Air Force Manual (AFM) 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United, States Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Merrill A. McPeak calls it “one of the most important documents ever published by the United States Air Force” and “the heart of the profession of arms for airmen.”7 For the first time, the March ! 1992 version has two parts: Volume I, outlining the basics of aerospace doctrine; and Volume II, providing detailed essays of support for various subtopics. General McPeak charges “every airman, and in particular, every noncommissioned and commissioned officer to read, study, and understand Volume I and to become fully conversant with Volume II.”8 The three services—Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps—and their doctrines share more than they differ in their visions of war and how to fight. The Navy, on the other hand, until now, has been conspicuously absent.
On 25 September 1992, Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5450.16 established the Naval Doctrine Command as “the primary authority for the development of naval concepts and integrated naval doctrine,” and on 12 March 1993, the command was opened officially. Among its initial tasks is the development of “capstone publications.” The first of these will be Naval Doctrine Publication (NDP)-l, Naval Warfare of the United States Navy and i the United States Marine Corps, scheduled for publication in the near future.9 How the Navy came to be the last of the services to recognize the importance of doctrine, what doctrine is or should be, and what the Navy should do with the new capstone doctrine publications as they are promulgated are all important issues. A brief overview of the history of doctrine in the Navy will shed light on °ur current situation.
In the October 1993 issue of Proceedings and in the autumn 1993 issue of Joint Force Quarterly, Rear Admiral Frederick L. Lewis, Commander, Naval Doctrine Command, began articles about the command by quoting then-Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox’s 1915 Naval Institute Prize Essay, “The Role of Doctrine in Naval Warfare.”10 The Navy’s strange love-hate relationship with doctrine begins with this essay. Admiral Lewis Quotes Knox describing “the vital difference between °ur naval manuals which describe minor doctrine and those of the modem Army.”11 Admiral Lewis goes on to say that °ur doctrine publications, the Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) series being chief among them, are little more than unrelated manuals on tactics, techniques, and procedures, and “do not flow from anything higher up, but represent merely a detached work unrelated to the other ^ranches of the profession.”12 Admiral Lewis says that “his [Knox’s] thoughts are as applicable today as they were then; there is little new under the sun.”13 Knox’s essay won a prize, but any impact it may have bad beyond the General Prize Essay Contest vanished in Subsequent years. No tradition of doctrine has been handed down. The essay is, nevertheless, a starting point for
today’s Navy. Knox begins with a statement as true now as it was in 1915: “The American Navy acknowledges no superior in its ability to steam and shoot.”14 If nothing else were required to win in war, he says, we could rest easy. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The problem of the proper use of the ability to steam and shoot—the problem of command—is the greater challenge. Knox’s analysis of the problem of command rests on three fundamental aspects of naval combat:
> Navies are made up of many decision makers.
> Time (or lack of it) creates pressure on decision makers in battle.
>■ The stress of grave danger and responsibility will hinder decision making.
These three, all elements of Clausewitz’s notion of friction, still render coordinated actions among fleets more difficult, despite the advances in technology in the 80 years since Knox wrote. For example, all three aspects were present in the 1988 shooting down of a civilian airliner by the USS Vincennes (CG-49).
Knox proposes that a commonly held doctrine is a way to counteract the effects of friction in war. He distinguishes between indoctrination (education) in the art of war and training in the conduct of war. The U.S. Navy was then and is today long on training, but short on indoctrination. He also distinguishes between doctrine and fighting instructions given by a commander before an operation. Instructions, he says, are intended to govern situations that can be anticipated, but because the potential turns of war are so numerous and complex, they will not cover all possible situations. The Vincennes found herself in one of those unanticipated situations. If, on the other hand, the instructions attempt to cover all possibilities, they “become so comprehensive and voluminous as to be confusing and difficult to remember” and “under the stress of hostilities they are frequently forgotten or misinterpreted.”15 This point also has a modern-day corollary in the plethora of operational tasks (OpTasks)—group, fleet, and Navywide—that comprise the fighting instructions under which our forces operate. Knox quotes Commander Schofield:
In a military service, where many intellects must cooperate towards a single aim and where stress of events forbid the actual interchange of ideas, when the need is most felt, there must be a governing idea to which every situation may be referred and from which there may be derived a sound course of action. It is only thus that the full driving power of an organization can be felt. . . . Such a change is a matter of long and patient educational effort that eventually centers around a doctrine of military conduct to which every act either of preparation or of execution is automatically referred.16
Knox refers to the “principal foreign military organizations” of his day that recognized the need for and function of doctrine and says the U.S. Navy should follow their lead. In our time, it is not foreign militaries, but rather the other branches of the U.S. armed forces that we follow.
Knox’s call might have established an early tradition of doctrine in the Navy were it not for the fact that at the time, the Navy operated under the shadow of one of the
greatest military theorists of all time—Alfred Thayer Mahan. Mahan’s principles provided the overall strategic framework in which the Navy has operated throuszh- out this century. Although certain aspects—the importance of geography, the nature of reliance on foreign bases, the idea that sea power is the decisive factor in a nation’s greatness—have decreased in relevance because of technological change, much of Mahan’s teachings remained true throughout the 20th century. The war
In the last few years, this reliance has proven to be insufficient for the Navy’s new mission. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave rise to the National Military Strategy of 1992, which focuses on regional contingencies and specifies forward presence and crisis response as two of the “key foundations” of U.S. strategy.21 In response to this new environment, the Navy and Marine Corps published the white paper . . From the Sea,” describing the sea services’ intent to operate in the littoral in support of regional
in the Pacific in World War II supported his idea that the enemy’s fleet is the enemy’s center of gravity, and both the United States and Japan targeted the other’s fleet in decisive naval battles more than once. This aspect of Mahan surfaced again in the Maritime Strategy of the 1980s with its emphasis on forward engagement of the Soviet fleet on all fronts. But neither the Maritime Strategy nor the teachings of Mahan are a doctrine: they are strategic in nature.
Rear Admiral J.C. Wylie, a former staff member at the Naval War College, believed that the Navy’s inclination toward strategic thought results from the nature of war at sea
and the differences between naval and land warfare. Strategy has a different meaning for the sailor (and airman) than the soldier, said Admiral Wylie:
contingencies. In briefing his “Bottom-Up Review,” Secretary of Defense Les Aspin said the United States would maintain the ability to respond j to two major regional con-( tingencies almost simultaneously.22 Here, in the littoral the sailor’s and soldier’s views of war must coincide. Operation Desert Storm highlighted the problems that can be encountered when a naval force, not indoctrinated (i.e„ educated) in joint or littoral operations, wants to play by its own rules. The struggle ovef whether the joint forces air component commander would task naval air as part of the overall operational design mostly was a result of Navy parochialism and ignorance of joint doctrine and procedures. One result was th« less-than-optimum use of sea power in Desert Storm. Yet “. . . From the Sea” says that joint operations in the lit-1 toral are the operating environment of the future. The strategic outlook of Mahan and the Maritime Strategy no longef
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S. ARMY. U.S. AIR FORCE. U S. MARINE CORPS
Where the sailor or airman thinks in terms of an entire world, the soldier at work thinks in terms of theaters, in terms of campaigns, or in terms of battles.
. . .Where the sailor and the airman are almost forced, by the nature of the sea and the air, to think in terms of a total world or, at the least, to look outside the physical limits of their immediate concerns, the soldier is almost literally hemmed in by his terrain.17
will suffice. The time for a true naval doctrine has arrived
There is a conceptual difference between the way a sailor perceives strategy and the way a soldier does. On land, battles are parts of larger campaigns in pursuit of larger operational and strategic objectives, but at sea, battles are more likely to be isolated engagements at the tactical level, with everything else perceived as strategic.18 The nature of the objective even is different on land from at sea: On land, objectives are oriented to possession of terrain; at sea, the objective is often to ensure freedom or denial of use for a finite time.19 Consequently, “Given these conceptual differences, the Navy has dealt little with doctrine at the service level. Instead, it has relied on the fundamental naval principles of Mahan and Corbett and, since the early 1980s, on . . . the Maritime Strategy.”20
The sailor’s view of war has much to do with the suspicion and misunderstanding of doctrine that have prevailed over the years in the Navy. Actions at the tactical level are immediate and under the control of the commander on scene. In the sailor’s view, if everything else is strategic, then it is someone else’s worry—the problei" of civilians and a few four-stars at the Pentagon. Like freedom of movement, freedom of action on the high seas ha-' been an unwritten tenet of the naval officer’s code sin^ the days of sail. A captain is the master of his world' and in the past he was restrained more by moral inhibitions than by actual legal constraints. The Somers affair in which a midshipmen and two sailors were illegally executed at sea and yet no punitive action was take11 against the captain, is an example in which that moral restraint broke down. Yet the Navy was unwilling to compromise the freedom of its captains through disciplinary action against the captain of the Somers.23 This is an extreme but representative example of one of the longest"
Proceedings / April 1IT,J
standing traditions of the Navy. That the commander on scene has that freedom at the tactical level is unquestioned, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William Crowe recently defended that freedom when he exonerated, or at least absolved, the commanding officer of the Vincennes. The common fear is that a doctrine could curtail that long-cherished freedom.
Much of the suspicion comes from a confusion of doctrine and dogma and a misunderstanding of the role of doctrine in the modern military. What previous officers have said about doctrine is instructive. Knox said “the object of military doctrine is to furnish a basis for prompt and harmonious conduct by the subordinate commanders of a large military force” and is “intended to be general guides to the application of mutually accepted principles.”24 General Curtis Lemay said, “At the heart of warfare lies doctrine. It represents the central beliefs for waging war. Doctrine is of the mind, a network of faith and knowledge reinforced by experience, which lays the pattern for the utilization of men, equipment and tactics.”25 And the great theorist of air power, General Giulio Douhet, puts doctrine in context: “doctrine of war must simply correspond to the realities of war obtaining at the time and to the peculiar characteristics of the nation it refers to.”26 Thus, doctrine should be commonly believed and understood, based on experience and study, and be kept current. A recent definition says that doctrine is, simply, “how to fight.”27
ikei1 ioral :oni' naO i e*' jest'
None of these definitions alludes to dogma or implies a cookbook that will prescribe or prohibit action. In fact, they imply quite the opposite. All three of our sister services’ doctrines reinforce this concept: FMFM-1 says doctrine requires “judgment in application” and is “authoritative . . . not prescriptive.”28 The Air Force’s capstone doctrine “is a guide for the exercise of professional judgment rather than a set of rules to be followed blindly.”29 Army Field Manual 100-5 stresses the requirement for flexible doctrine “definitive enough to guide specific op- £rations, yet . . . adaptable enough to address diverse and varied situations worldwide. Doctrine must be able to accommodate . . . [the] wider variety of threats” in the 'vorld today.30 In fact, Joint Publication 1-02 says “doctrine is authoritative, but requires judgment in applica- tion.”31 In none of this is there a threat to the Navy’s cher- ’shed independence.
Doctrine is not a prescription for action. No set of rules can predict the outcome of war or ensure victory for the cotnmander. Rather, doctrine is the compilation of observation—the voice of experience—on what works and 'vhat doesn’t. From these observations is synthesized, as
succinctly as possible, the way warriors should think about war. Doctrine, thus, is common ground, an agreed upon way of thinking. Bertrand Russell said, “It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority.”32 The naval officer must become like Russell’s man of science, distinguished not by what he believes about war, but how and why he believes it. A thorough, modem naval doctrine, accompanied by professional education and dialogue, will help accomplish this.
In the very near future, Naval Doctrine Publication 1 will be on the street. Here is what the Navy should do with it:
> Issue a copy to every officer and every midshipman in the Navy and ensure widest dissemination among enlisted ranks and commands.
>• Immediately integrate it into all Navy schools except those that are strictly non-warfighting (such as engineering or technical schools). This includes boot camps and officer training programs and all communities, both line and staff. NDP-1 should become the foundation for all naval education.
> Ensure that as many of the capstone publications as possible are unclassified. NDP-1 in particular should be unclassified. If it is not, an unclassified version should be made available immediately and become the center of professional dialogue conducted in forums such as Proceedings. The Navy benefited greatly from the wide dissemination and discussion of the unclassified version of the Maritime Strategy.
> Set as an immediate goal the publication of a major revision to NDP-1 in 1996, based on the response of the fleet. This revision will incorporate the collective wisdom of the professionals at sea—officer and enlisted—and make the Navy’s first capstone doctrine a true expression of the way we think about war. A collateral benefit will be that
the Naval Doctrine Command will establish a tradition of timeliness and currency for NDP-1 that will prevent it from becoming like the NWPs—locked up and out of date. ► Initiate an ongoing debate about the new topics this doctrine must address, such as:
• The Navy’s role in joint operations
• The meaning of the “operational level of war” in naval warfare (a term the Navy has never recognized, but that is important in all sister service and joint doctrine)
• The Navy’s role in peacekeeping or peacemaking missions, especially those under U.N. or international operational control
• The Navy’s role in low-intensity conflicts and operations other than war
• The principles of war for naval warfare
• The way to adapt the composite warfare commander concept to joint and offensive operations
• The best way to achieve presence
The 1986 version of Army Field Manual 100-5 reads like a how-to primer for Operation Desert Storm. Much of the success of that operation can be attributed to its being grounded in sound operational doctrine that was fully understood by all the major players. The debate in Proceedings regarding General Frederick Franks’s employment of VII Corps has focused as much on doctrine as on Franks’s actions. The results of the Gulf War are a strong endorsement for the value of effective doctrine.
The Navy needs to build a tradition of doctrine based on the successful and proved strategy, tactics, and operations developed over the years. General George Patton said, “Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.”31 The Navy must shed its history of antipathy toward doctrine and develop a naval doctrine that truly rises from the minds and hearts of its officers and men—a doctrine that will take the “untutored courage” that the men and women of the Navy possess in such an abundant degree and match it with a full magazine of the “educated bullets” that will prevail in the wars of the future.
"See Col. Harry G. Summers, Jr., USA (Ret.), On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (New York: Dell Publishing, 1984) or On Strategy II: A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War (New York: Dell Publishing, 1992).
?RAdm. Frederick L. Lewis, USN, “The Naval Doctrine Command Starts Work,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 1993, p. 95; or see Lewis, “Naval Doctrine Command,” Joint Force Quarterly, Autumn 1993, p. 114; Department of the Navy, Fleet Marine Field Manual 1: Warfighting (Washington, DC: Headquarters United States Marine Corps, 6 March 1989), foreword.
6FMFM 1, foreword.
’Department of the Air Force, Air Force Manual 1-1: Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force I (Washington, DC: Headquarters United States Air Force, March 1992), p. v.
8AFM 1-1 I, p. v.
’Lewis, pp. 96-97.
,0LCdr. Dudley W. Knox, USN, “The Role of Doctrine in Naval Warfare,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, March-April 1915, p. 324.
"Lewis, p. 95.
"Lewis, p. 95.
"Lewis, p. 95. l4Knox, p. 324.
"Knox, p. 329.
"Ibid., p. 332.
"RAdm. J.C. Wylie, USN (Ret.), Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1967), p. 49. Quoted in Stephen D. Schmidt, “A Call for an Official Naval Doctrine,” Naval War College Review, Winter 1993, p. 47.
l8Lt. Stephen D. Schmidt, USN, “A Call for an Official Naval Doctrine,” Naval War College Review, Winter 1993, pp. 47- 49.
’’Colin S. Gray and Roger W. Barnett, eds., Seapower and Strategy (Annapolis. MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989), p. 11. Quoted in Schmidt, p. 47.
“Schmidt, p. 48.
:i Department of Defense, The National Military Strategy of the United States (Washington, DC: Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 1992), pp. 6-7.
::Les Aspin, Department of Defense Bottom Up Review, A Defense Department Brief by Les Aspin, Secretary, Department of Defense, and General Colin Powell, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (Washington, DC: Federal News Service, 1 September 1993), p. 6.
2’Capt. Edward L. Beech, USN (Ret.), The United States Navy: 200 Years (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1986), pp. 177-195.
“Knox, p. 334.
"Gen. Curtis E. Lemay, USAF (Ret.), quoted in AFM 1-1: Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force (Washington, DC: Headquarters, United States Air Force, 16 March 1984), Introduction. See also Summers, “Military Doctrine: Blueprint for Force Planning,” p. 9.
“Giulio Douhet, The Command of the Air (Amo Press, 1972), pp. 18-19. Quoted in Ted Schroeder, “The Misunderstood Basics,” Military Review (Ft. Leavenworth. KS: USACGSC, January 1979), p. 12.
-’’Schmidt, p. 45.
"FMFM-l, p. 44.
“AFM 1-1 I, p. vii.
’°FM 100-5, 1-1.
"Quoted in AFM 1-1 II, p. 282.
’-'Bertrand Russell, The Art of Science, p. 32. Quoted in Schroeder, p. 12.
’’Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., USA, quoted in FMFM-1, p. 40.
'This same title was first used by Bill Herman, “Is There a Doctrine in the House?” Data 13, October 1968, pp. 26-27.
-'Department of the Army, Field Manual 100-5: Operations, (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 14 June 1993), p. vi.
’Col. Harry G. Summers, Jr., USA (Ret.), “Military Doctrine: Blueprint for Force Planning,” Strategic Review, Spring 1992, p. 20.
Commander Hastings is a surface warrior who has served on board the Chosin (CG-65), the Gary (FFG-51) and the New Jersey (BB-62). H* currently is assigned as a student at the U.S. Army Command an^ General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
0 \ N IE
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, “the Quiet Warrior,” was the most modest of men. In the middle of the battle for Saipan, I received a copy of the 26 June 1944 issue of Time, with Spruance on the cover—only about a week after publication (my editors had made a special effort to get it to me). I hitched a ride out to Spru- ance’s flagship, the cruiser Indianapolis, now returned from the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Spruance wasn’t there, so I gave the magazine to his Chief of Staff, Captain Charles (Carl) Moore.
A week later, I saw the Chief of Staff again, and asked him what Admiral Spruance had thought of the cover story.
“I don’t know,” said Moore. “He stuck it under his mattress and never mentioned it.”