Fighting the Fleet

Operational Art and Modern Fleet Combat

  • Subject: Professional Reading for the Military
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    3 b/w tables and 22 figures
  • Published:
    December 15, 2021
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    8.25 × 5.5 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    12 oz
Hardcover $26.95
Member Price $21.56 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


Fighting the Fleet recognizes that fleets conduct four distinct but interlocking tasks at the operational level of war—striking, screening, scouting, and basing—and that successful operational art is achieved when they are brought to bear in a cohesive, competitive scheme. In explaining these elements and how they are conjoined for advantage, a central theme emerges: despite the utility and importance of jointness among the armed forces, the effective employment of naval power requires a specialized language and understanding of naval concepts that is often diluted or completely lost when too much jointness is introduced. 

Woven into the fabric of the book are the fundamental principles of three of the most important naval theorists of the twentieth century: Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske, Rear Admiral J.C. Wylie, and Captain Wayne Hughes. While Cares and Cowden advocate the reinvigoration of combat theory and the appropriate use of operations research, they avoid over-theorizing and have produced a practical guide that empowers fleet planners to wield naval power appropriately and effectively in meeting today’s operational and tactical challenges.  

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“This is simply the best work of its kind on the fusion of operational art in the maritime domain. It is accessible, grounded in operations analysis, and is underpinned by historical example. It should be required reading for our naval warriors so we might win when next called upon.” —Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley, USN (Ret.)
Fighting the Fleet provides new (and old) insights for naval leaders on the fundamentals of modern naval warfare. It should also be compulsory reading for all joint commanders and their staffs. It begins the intellectual process necessary to evolve the limited, hitherto land-centric, mid-twentieth century warfighting construct that underlies so much joint thinking to meet the new strategic challenges we face.” —Rear Adm. James Goldrick, RAN (Ret.), fellow at Australian Sea Power Centre
“Cowden and Cares have produced a compelling work that represents one of the missing links in the education of a naval officer—the study of combat theory. By bridging the gap between the operational art and four functions of the Fleet in the 20th Century to the future of hybrid warfare distributed across all domains in the 21st century, they remind us that while platforms have changed, combat theory remains timeless.” —Adm. James G. Foggo, USN (Ret.)
“As the U.S. Navy returns to great power competition amid rapid change in maritime technology, Captains Cares and Cowden provide an important reset to the theory behind Fleet employment. This book drives home the enduring truth that even with tremendous technological advances, navies still fight like navies. A must-read for every naval strategist.” —Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.), author of The Sailor's Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea
“In a new era of warfare where the electron may have become the ultimate weapon, Cares and Cowden demonstrate that non-traditional thought and hard lessons learned can co-exist in the modern context of Naval Warfare. They are efficacious in their endeavor to define a New Golden Age of naval strategy.” —Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter, DoD/IC Consultant
“Captains Cares and Cowden build on the computational understanding of past professionals to move operational concepts of Naval Warfare well beyond current thinking. Their chapter on OPART in future combat shows how a truly distributed fleet should fight. A remarkable effort and highly relevant book.” —Adm. Jim Hogg, USN (Ret.)
“There is much to learn in Fighting the Fleet. Recommended.” —The Naval Review
"...I commend this timely, compelling and highly relevant new work to you. I venture that [readers] will be professionally and intellectually challenged, enriched and empowered by this insightful and practical guide for naval commanders and their staffs."—Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies

"Fighting the Fleet is a concise summary of the key and essential elements of naval-combat theory. . . . All naval leaders need to understand the fundamentals presented in Fighting the Fleet."—Naval War College Review
"Indeed, the book offers more than just a valuable primer for staff officers and fleet commanders. The clear, concise, and lucid flow of the authors’ ideas make Fighting the Fleet an ideal way for any historian with an interest in understanding the basic problems faced in modern naval command." — The Strategy Bridge