As a statement loosely attributed to the notebook of an unnamed Soviet junior lieutenant says, “One of the serious problems in planning to fight against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.” While likely apocryphal, it contains more than a kernel of truth about prevalent U.S. Navy attitudes toward doctrine. Today it is considered a vaguely foreign concept, avoided when possible, ignored when not, and best left to the Army or Marine Corps. Captain Wayne Hughes’ assertion that “American naval officers today are . . . wary of doctrine” is right on target.1
In Defense of Doctrine
To stay prepared for future conflicts, the U.S. Navy must once again recognize the importance of arming sailors with a common set of principles and guidance.
By Commander L. Paul James III, U.S. Navy (Retired)