I was fascinated by this article. Having been born in Germany in the early 1960s, I will always be grateful for what the United States did for Europe after World War II. Where I grew up, we would certainly have been blown to bits had the Cold War ever boiled hot. We who live in freedom must never take that for granted. The U.S. Navy has guaranteed freedom through its grip on the seas. I pray it never loses it. Right now, as we face tangible challenges to world freedom from the Far East as well as from Eastern Europe, we must be aware of all that these sailors do for us. Containing totalitarian aggression by showing that freedom is willing, prepared, and able to defend itself will safekeep not only the way we live, but also the way our children and theirs will live. The public should be well aware that politicians, modes of travel, and tastes in food may change, but our defender, the reason we have all these choices, has not changed: the U.S. Navy.
—Rico Ritter, Life Member since 1987
Corbett’s Maritime Strategy
Corbett understood technology can change warfare, which changes naval strategy. He did not see weapons as the only altering aspect of naval warfare, but also naval organization. No organization can remain static and expect success. As Tim Rexrode noted in Building Corbett’s Navy, the best fleet constitution “represents complexity of function . . . balanced across various means best tailored for local command of the sea and exercise of command.” To accomplish these missions requires diverse types of ships with distinct functions and capabilities.
Corbett’s three basic principles—command of the sea, meaning control of commercial and military communications; subordination of the military to governmental policy; and an overarching objective based on capabilities—are related to the four operational principles of command and communication, concentration, commerce prevention, and fleet composition. For Corbett, the sea was a medium of communication and an important part of a nation’s well-being.
Overarching concentration, which involves cohesion as well as flexibility, includes concentrations of theater, movement, communication, actions to support land operations, and those to bring the enemy fleet to battle. The challenge is to balance concentration and dispersal so the fleet can support several lines of communication according to the need.
A navy’s fundamental objective during war is commerce prevention, the control of military and private property on the oceans. This is achieved by defeating the enemy’s fleet, thereby allowing his commerce to be taken at will; and blockading, which forces the enemy’s fleet to remain in harbor and prevents his maritime commerce.
Because naval warfare requires the fleet to execute national policy in support of land forces, Corbett still has a place in developing sound naval strategy.
—Edward J. Romar, PhD
Bring Back the Merchant Marine and Shipyards
From 1954 to 2016, I moved ships professionally. I have watched the decline of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the shipyards that built it. Through all this I’ve tried to convince captains and admirals that they have forgotten they can rely on merchant ships to deliver needed goods in timely fashion. I feel sorry for those in uniform after the first 24 hours of combat, with VLS chambers empty, CIWSs out of ammo, and resupply nonexistent. The shipyards have become condo sites and U.S. shipbuilders too few. I wish I saw some relief on the horizon.
—CAPT Earl B Walker, KP 58