Over the past two decades, U.S. global naval superiority has been progressively eroded by Russian and Chinese technological advancements in speed, range, stealth, and sheer tonnage. As devastating as hypersonic and antiship ballistic missiles, ultra-quiet submarines, and massive shipyards can be, they distract from another peril of unlimited range, speed-of-light velocity, and invisibility to the most advanced sensors—a threat already responsible for the most significant attacks against Western maritime interests this century.
With the last major fleet engagement 76 years astern, growing evidence points to the pivotal engagements of the 21st century looking very different from the naval battles of the 1900s. Mahanian principles appear to have finally been overtaken by technological advancement. His theories have remained relevant through past revolutions in military affairs brought about by radars and radios, submarines and aircraft carriers, but his emphasis on the “great thoroughfares of the world’s traffic” has taken on a new perspective. 1
1. Alfred Thayer Mahan The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (New York: Little, Brown, 1890), 32.