In the United States, the American Revolution often is seen as the beginning of navies as partners. In his 1931 Proceedings article, “The Strategy of the Yorktown Campaign, 1781,” Navy Commander John Shafroth wrote:
The entry of France into the war had an immediate effect upon the situation in the colonies, for the French Navy threatened England’s control of the sea. Philadelphia at that time was in the possession of the English. . . . Lying far up the Delaware, it was dependent for its support upon sea communications. A threat against those communications was a threat against the city. [French Admiral Charles Henri Hector] d’Estaing sailed from Toulon on April 13, 1778, with twelve ships of the line and five frigates. About three weeks after his departure, orders were issued to the English forces to evacuate Philadelphia.
Four years later, in “D’Estaing’s Fleet Revealed,” retired Navy Captain Dudley Knox added:
The mere probability of the coming of D’Estaing’s fleet, like some invisible gigantic hand, had pulled the greatly superior British Army out of the perfect security of Philadelphia, and sent it scurrying on forced marches across New Jersey, in retreat before much smaller numbers of American troops. . . .
Throughout the remaining three years of the war [Washington] thought only in terms of joint military-naval operations, and the sum and substance of his military strategy was to hold his army in readiness to co-operate with a superior French fleet, the coming of which he never ceased to hope, plead, and plan for.
Throughout the 19th century, the Navy was on the high seas defending U.S. merchantmen and overseas commerce, involved in conflicts, and engaged in international diplomacy, but formal alliances and partnerships were not the order of the day. In his 1927 Proceedings article, “Experiences during the Boxer Rebellion,” Navy Captain J. K. Taussig would document a change. Looking back 26 years to when he had been a midshipman on the cruiser USS Newark (C-1), when the Boxers undertook to expel all foreigners from China, he recalled:
It is probable that never again will history repeat the story of eight nations combining their naval forces in land operations against a common enemy. These nations were the American, Austrian, British, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian. This combined force became know as “The Seymour Relief Expedition,” taking its name from Vice Admiral Sir Edward Seymour of the British Navy, who, by virtue of his seniority, became the commander of the expedition; and from the fact that its mission was the relief of the besieged legations at Pekin.
Wounded during the expedition, Taussig was borne by stretcher to the Haiku arsenal. There he met Royal Navy Captain John Jellicoe, also wounded, and the two struck up a friendship. When Captain Taussig later led the first Navy destroyer squadron to Ireland to join the Royal Navy in World War I, he would be welcomed in a letter from Jellicoe, now the British First Sea Lord:
My experience in China makes me feel perfectly convinced that the two nations will work in the closest cooperation. . . . There is no navy in the world that can possibly give us more valuable assistance.
The U.S. destroyers escorting convoys and operating against German submarines eventually would number 37. The Americans found their British liaison officer, Commander E. R. G. R. Evans, invaluable. In a letter to Captain Taussig, reprinted in part 1 of the captain’s 1922–23 Proceedings article, “Destroyer Experiences During the Great War,” Rear Admiral William S. Sims called attention to Evans’ action against German destroyers while in command of HMS Broke and the advice he could provide:
Get the gang all together and make him tell you all about it, for the account contains a great deal of practical information as to the best methods of handling guns and torpedoes, in case you encounter enemy destroyers. . . .
Evans will explain the use of the “depth charges,” the most effective weapon against the subs, and from his explanation and the nature and use of the weapon you will recognize the absolute necessity of practically instant action in carrying out a pre-arranged plan of attack.
Sims further counseled:
Also give attention to bringing about friendly relations between our enlisted men and the British. This is very important. . . . Let us set a record among the Allies for co-operation and show what can be done in a common cause.
Taussig continued describing his destroyer experiences in part 4, “Operating From the Base at Brest,” including allies’ visits to the USS Little (DD-79).
There were social visits from the officers of the allied services, and frequently when in port, would they break bread with us. . . .
But the greatest honor we had was the visit of [French] President [Raymond] Poincaré, who . . . spent three quarters of an hour on board the Little.
During World War I, Coast Guard cutters were assigned as ocean escorts for freight convoys between ports in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. In the May 1929 Proceedings, Coast Guard Captain William J. Wheeler wrote his “Reminiscences of World War Convoy Work”:
Naturally, many of the inherent difficulties could never be overcome, but the degree of adaptability soon shown, and the proficiency developed under extreme difficulties, constitute a tribute to the personnel of the British merchant marine which made up the greater part of these convoys. In this connection, I would observe that many of the commodores of convoys were of the Royal Naval Reserves. . . . Surely, I have never met a higher class of officers and gentlemen, nor finer seagoing men.
A little more than two decades later, global tensions once again were rising. In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, and France and Britain declared war on Germany, beginning World War II. By summer 1940, the German military had occupied France and turned its sights on Britain. Winston Churchill, the new prime minister, appealed to the United States for aid.
“Argentia was chosen as the meeting place for President Roosevelt and Mr. Winston Churchill on 10–15 August 1941,” Samuel Elliot Morison wrote in The Battle of the Atlantic. “If Mr. Churchill expected to commit the United States to war, he was unsuccessful. But Mr. Roosevelt succeeded in committing the Prime Minister to a policy which would commend itself to American ways of thinking, satisfy the doubters of British sincerity, and quiet those who were asking, ‘What are we going to fight for?’”
In the early months of an ever larger and more violent World War II, the new allies moved into action. Retired Navy Admiral H. Kent Hewitt recalled “The Landing in Morocco, November 1942,” in the November 1952 Proceedings:
Operation Torch, the Allied Landing in North Africa . . . consisted of two major sections, one inside the Mediterranean for the occupation of Algiers and Oran, and the other on the northwest coast of Morocco for the seizure of the port of Casablanca . . . and the airfields and sea-plane base from which the approaches to the Strait of Gibraltar could be controlled.
The Mediterranean operation, in which U.S. naval participation was minor (primarily one transport Division), was under British naval command. The ground forces consisted of both U.S. and British troops. Air support was pro-vided from Gibraltar by the R.A.F. and by British carriers. The expedition sailed from the British Isles.
Future Coast Guard Commandant Commander Merlin O’Neill had command of the Navy transport USS Leonard Wood (AP-25).
About 15 of our ships departed for Africa from Norfolk. Other ships met us out at sea. By the time the entire convoy was assembled it looked like the whole ocean was full of ships—transports, cargo ships, escorts, screens, and flagships. When we reached the African coast off Morocco, we were at a small place called Fedhala, between Casablanca and Rabat.
Unfortunately, there was heavy surf, and in the landing most of the transports lost their small boats. The boats dropped their ramps, and the troops waded ashore. But before the boats could back off, the surf would throw them back up onto the beach.
In the South and Southwest Pacific, allied coastwatchers played a critical role in U.S. victories, as retired Royal Australian Navy Commander E. A. Feldt notes in his September 1961 article, “Coastwatching in World War II”:
Coastwatchers warned of enemy bombing raids, reported on enemy air and surface movements, reconnoitered beaches, evacuated civilians and prisoners of war, and rescued downed airmen and shipwrecked sailors. Many of these services were particularly useful to U.S. military forces who could not have performed such work themselves.
In 1945, the construct of alliances and partnerships added a new dimension, as Robert McClintock describes in his June 1947 article, “The United States and Naval Power.”
The Charter of the United Nations was forged within a citadel of naval power, in San Francisco, in the closing months of the greatest sea war in history. . . . The hard-won peace by force of arms was almost at hand; its preservation and protection, also by force of arms, was the aim and architecture of the fifty Governments whose representatives met at San Francisco.
The prime peace-keeping power lay with the Security Council, and the Security Council, to keep the peace, was endowed with military, air, and naval power. . . .
If measures falling short of the application of armed force fail to keep the peace, the Council under Article 42 of the Charter “may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”
In “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization” in the December 1951 Proceedings, Vice Admiral Jerauld Wright continued to track the evolution of partnerships and alliances. Early in U.S. history, one idea guided foreign policy: no entangling alliances; however, time and circumstances altered that basic principle:
When World War II broke out in Europe, we allied ourselves closely to England and France. . . . Finally, we entered the conflict and succeeded, with the assistance of our allies. . . .
Thus with the termination of hostilities in 1945, we found ourselves linked closely to the rest of the free world by the tightest bonds of friendship and mutual trust. We considered all the nations which had aided us in this gigantic task to be our true and trusted friends. Accordingly, . . . we proceeded at breakneck speed to demobilize the bulk of our military organization.
Then things began to happen:
Our biggest and strongest ally in the war just ended not only failed to demobilize any of her armed forces but rather continued their development in size, equipment, and proficiency.
The iron curtain surrounding the Soviet Union was tightened. . . .[and] a cold war of international
vilification was launched against the democratic world. . . .
We realized that our national security was at stake. We realized also that national security depended not alone on the military strength of the United States but rather on the sum of all the military, political, economic, and financial strength of all free nations. . . .
Accordingly, in 1949 we banded together with eleven other nations of the Atlantic Community and signed a treaty of mutual support and self-defense. By signing the North Atlantic Treaty we scrapped and scuttled for all time our heretofore basic policy of “No Entangling Alliances” and entered upon an international alliance which is perhaps as tight and as binding as any other in modern times.
On 25 June 1950, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning North Korea’s attack on South Korea. The United Nations Command was created, led by General Douglas MacArthur. Some 20 nations would participate, but the United States would provide almost all the sea, ground, and air power in combat until the armistice was signed in 1953.
Marine Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Hittle provided some insights in “Korea—Back to the Facts of Life.”
The preparation for only a war involving the final clash of the titans overlooks the possibility of a nation attempting to achieve her aims by the devious but often effective device of war by proxy. . . . It demands that the nation subjected to such an attack must be capable of reacting quickly, in fire-brigade fashion, able to bring decisive power to bear against the aggressor country. That calls for mobility of a high order, a kind of mobility that can move air, surface, and amphibious striking power to distant corners of the world. It is a job tailor-made for U.S. balanced fleets. This, incidentally, points up how perfectly suited our balanced fleet, with its own ships, planes, and marine amphibious troops, is for functioning as part of a United Nations military force in the event such an agency comes into being.
“The days of colonialism in Asia are definitely over,” Commander John V. Noel Jr. wrote in his 1955 Proceedings article, “Showing the Flag in Southeast Asia.”
[These countries] have seen a glimpse of power and plenty; they want it for themselves and in their own name. The west can help them or fight them; it will perhaps make little difference in the flow of history, but it is a vital factor in the struggle of the United States against Communism. For survival in an unfriendly world our country needs friends and allies, and these we have and can keep by understanding the forces that motivate the people whose culture and state of political development is so far different from ours.
In September 1954, Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States formed the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization for collective defense in Southeast Asia. “This multilateral defense alliance was the first to link East and West since the defeat of the World War II Axis powers,” noted August C. Miller Jr. in his February 1960 article, “SEATO—Segment of Collective Security”:
The Manila Pact, as the alliance is popularly known, was an attempt to erect a new levee against the Red flood in Asia. . . . The ratification of the Pact . . . opened up a new chapter in the struggle for the world. It served notice upon Moscow and Peiping [Beijing] that the signatory nations would resist any new Communist aggression in the Asian-Pacific area in order to prevent future Koreas or Indochinas.
In April 1959, Proceedings included a tenth-anniversary status report on NATO by Admiral W. F. Boone.
Progress in NATO is meaningful only as it is measured against the constantly increasing military capability of the Soviet Bloc. Military posture is purely a relative thing. The threat which brought NATO into being still exists.
Nevertheless, NATO may review its first ten years with a sense of solid accomplishment and may enter the second decade with renewed confidence. NATO is working. It is working so well that the dissolution of the Alliance has become a prime political objective of the Kremlin. What better proof is needed that NATO is a success?
An important agreement entered the evolving Asia-Pacific mix on 19 January 1960 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Japan’s Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi signed the U.S.-Japanese Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security. August C. Miller Jr. again offered detailed coverage in his Proceedings article “The New Japanese-American Treaty.” Of particular significance, Article VI granted the United States “the use by its land, air, and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan.” At the time, the Navy had major bases at Yokosuka and Sasebo and a naval air station at Atsugi. Miller concluded:
In a very specific sense, the Treaty puts the relationship of Japan and the United States on a new basis by recognizing Japan’s independence, sovereignty, and equality. In respect to defense matters, the two countries will be free and equal partners. And so this Treaty, which joins in common purpose the industrial colossus of the Western world and the industrial leader of Asia, opens up a new chapter in free-world security in the Pacific.
In April 1967, George Fielding Eliot looked at events in Asia in the context of “Alliance Diplomacy in Limited War.”
We have already seen in Vietnam the value of a few allies even to the world’s greatest military power. In that part of the world, we could hardly have a more valuable ally than Australia, for one example; and we might remember that Australia and New Zealand came valiantly to the assistance of Britain in suppressing the Communist-supported “war of national liberation” in Malaya, and later in dealing with Sukarno’s attempt to wreck the Federation of Malaysia.
Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic Admiral Harry Train II took to Proceedings in January 1981 to speak directly on the importance of “Preserving the Atlantic Alliance.” He recalled former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird saying NATO was an alliance strung together by ships.
That is certainly true. This is a reflection of the total dependence of the alliance upon the reinforcement/supply effort. It is the Atlantic that gives NATO its character. The ocean which connects the members of the NATO alliance was exploited very successfully by a different alliance in the course of World War II. It was the basis for the longest, most bitterly fought, painful campaign of that war—the Battle of the Atlantic.
In the 1990s, the Navy and the Marine Corps would be fully involved in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm
in the Persian Gulf and the conflicts in the Balkans.
Proceedings provided intensive coverage of Desert Shield/Desert Storm both at the time and in retrospect. In the March 1991 issue, retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn offered some of the “Early Gulf War Lessons”:
Seldom before has such a varied Coali-tion been cobbled together to face a common enemy. Despite differences in nationalities, cultures, languages, communications systems, weapons, and ways of doing things, the Coalition ar-mies, navies, and air forces are working well together for one purpose: to curb and eliminate the aggressor. Joint and combined operations work in large measure because in peacetime the Navy has practiced with the Air Force, the Army, and most of the Coalition allies. These peacetime operations have laid the foun-dation for cooperation in war. It’s well that they have, because everyone is needed.
Following the deadly 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, NATO invoked Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty—collective defense—for the first time in the history of the alliance. NATO troops were with the United States in Afghanistan in the battle against al Qaeda and the hunt for Osama bin Laden before the end of the year.
From 2003 to 2006, former Marine Commandant General James L. Jones served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe. In a 2008 Proceedings interview he took stock of the NATO partners’ contributions.
We, of course, need more NATO forces—perhaps four more maneuver battalions as well as more helicopters and air lifters. But until we can make progress in the war on drugs and countering corruption and crime, Afghanistan risks becoming a narco-state. That means reform of the justice system and building up of
the police as well as establishing real job alternatives. . . .
The appointment of a high commissioner is a step in the right direction. But if neither the U.N. nor the European Union is prepared to accept these responsibilities, then NATO has no choice except to fill that gap. If NATO does not, more than Afghanistan is at stake. The future viability of NATO is at risk.
Fundamental to the Navy’s role in alliances and partnerships is its work with other navies of the world. In the early 1980s, Proceedings broadened its outreach with an annual issue on international navies. “The Commanders Respond” asks naval commanders-in-chief around the world to address the year’s question.
In the March 1992 Proceedings, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and emergence of the Russian Federation, 22 senior foreign flags responded to the question: “How do changes in the superpower relationship affect the future of your navy?” Among the replies:
Admiral Dick Borjesson, Royal Swedish Navy:
Despite the lessening of tensions between the superpowers, we will have a sizable military capability in and around the Baltic region, and the area is still of great strategic importance.
Vice Admiral I. D. G. MacDougall, Royal Australian Navy:
The short answer to the question is: very little. For many years, Australia’s defense policy has been governed by the regional strategic environment rather than by superpower status.
The superpower rivalry has mainly played out in Europe and the Pacific largely confined to North Asia. While the U.S. Pacific Fleet may face reductions, it is clear that the United States will remain a major Pacific power and its fleet the major naval force in the region.
Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, Indian Navy:
As the dramatic changes taking place in Europe, the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf region create a reduction in tensions between the two superpowers, they also provide an opportunity to reduce tensions in the Indian Ocean region. The steadily increasing population of the planet will put greater demands on the resources of the seas. One can easily see that the next century will emerge as the Century of the Seas.
In 2016, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson offered the French Navy a chance to train with a U.S. aircraft carrier and its air wing. “This generous offer confirmed that since the times of Lafayette, de Grasse, and Rochambeau both navies and nations have been bound by unwavering links,” noted French Navy Commander Christophe Charpentier in his March 2019 article, “Plug and Fight.” A dozen French Rafale fighters and several E-2C Hawkeyes arrived in Virginia in early April 2018.
Among the numerous Chesapeake mission takeaways, the most profound is the . . . willingness and ability for two nuclear-powered aircraft carrier–equipped nations to “plug and fight” despite technical and cultural gaps. By enhancing mutual knowledge, improving skills, and developing interoperability across a range of operations, this unprecedented endeavor set new standards for future combined naval operations. . . . strengthening power-projection capabilities and securing a long-lasting alliance will undoubtedly
become increasingly important for years ahead.
In the May 2022 Proceedings, responses from the international commanders again flowed in, addressing the multipart question, “How is your nation’s maritime security environment changing? Have new regional threats, climate change, or the COVID-19 pandemic caused you to alter your fundamental assumptions? How is the changing environment impacting operations, budget, and personnel policies for your Navy and/or Coast Guard?”
Admiral Alberto Alcalá Luna, Commander-in-Chief, Peruvian Navy:
During recent years, Peru . . . has faced several challenges that have been influenced by many factors. Increased maritime transportation has caused greater economic movement and, with it, illicit maritime activities have intensified, such as smuggling, narcotics, and human trafficking, illegal fishing, and water pollution. These threats know no borders and affect countries across the world.
Admiral Hiroshi Yamamura, Chief of Maritime Staff Office, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force:
In addition to regular cooperation in surveillance and intelligence gathering with our ally the United States, on 3 October, supported by the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy, we successfully verified the landing and take-off capability of the F-35Bs on board the destroyer Izumo. The strong relationship between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has strengthened the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance and become a driving force for freedom of the use of the sea and the resolution of various issues.
Admiral Ben Key, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, United Kingdom:
Recent events in Ukraine remind us how quickly and fundamentally the global security environment can alter. This has led many to reflect on both the changes and constants within national security strategies.
For the United Kingdom, 2021’s Integrated Review described a changing strategic context foreseeing increased instability and growing state-on-state competition but also the need to increase commitment to alliances and partnerships.
Since its beginnings, the U.S. Navy has sailed and fought with allies and partners. The pages of Proceedings have detailed the results of those alliances at sea.