On 28 May 1942, in advance of the Battle of Midway, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz wrote to his strike force commander, “You will be governed by the principle of calculated risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without prospect of inflicting, as a result of such exposure, greater damage to the enemy.”1 Nimitz was referring to the tactical and operational risk of encountering a superior enemy force without an opportunity to damage the enemy significantly. At the strategic level, this concept guided Nimitz’s decision to commit his three-carrier force to defending Midway Island. Nimitz was weighing the risk to the fleet as a whole in committing three carriers to battle against a potentially superior force.
Would Nimitz Win a Midway Today?
By Captain James McGrath, U.S. Navy