Andrew Jackson Higgins once publicly declared that students attending the U.S. Naval Academy learned “fancy dancing, football, fencing, boxing—things like that,” but that as officers in the Navy, they did not know “a goddamn thing about small boat design.” It does not take a great deal of imagination to guess how this declaration was received by its intended audience, but one might wonder if there was any truth in it. Some compelling evidence can be gleaned from another utterance, made shortly after World War II by former Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower, who said “Andrew Higgins . . . is the man who won the war for us.”
As Allied forces gathered strength in their British bastion, preparing for an eventual return to the European continent, it was clear that the traditional method of invasion—seizing enemy ports—was out of the question. Modern weaponry and heavy fortifications made frontal assaults into the narrow confines of hostile ports suicidal in nearly every instance.