One of the four key missions assigned the Naval War College has long been the education of future leaders. In 2007, the College of Operational and Strategic Leadership (COSL) was established as a component of the College to sharpen the focus of its educational activities in direct support of the fleet. In our feature, Rear Admiral James Kelly, USN (Ret.), the current dean of COSL, provides an account of what may prove to be the most important initiative undertaken in recent years to review, align, and strengthen the policies and processes by which the Navy develops its leaders at all levels. (Rear Admiral Ted Carter, President of the Naval War College, addresses this topic in his “President’s Forum.”) Further reflections on military leadership today are offered later in this issue by retired Navy captain Chris Johnson, as well as by the distinguished military historian Williamson Murray in his extended essay on Tom Ricks’s widely discussed recent book The Generals.
The Naval War College’s War Gaming Department is located in McCarty Little Hall, a state-of-the-art gaming and decision-support facility on the College’s Newport campus. As Hank J. Brightman and Melissa K. Dewey remind us in “Trends in Modern War Gaming: The Art of Conversation,” Lieutenant William McCarty Little, the founder of war gaming in the U.S. Navy, was a true innovator and visionary who devised an approach to war gaming that remains highly relevant today. Rather than seeking to use gaming tools to reduce complex interactions into artificially simplified terms, McCarty Little understood clearly that warfare is a holistic experience that is at its heart a dialogue or conversation among comrades and adversaries alike. As the coauthors show, this understanding persists today in the way the department structures its games in such challenging contemporary areas as irregular warfare. A complementary discussion of contemporary gaming is provided by Stephen Downes-Martin in “Your Boss, Players, and Sponsor: The Three Witches of War Gaming.” Professor Downes-Martin too focuses on the personal-interaction factor in gaming, but from a different point of view. For the unwary, it is too easy to overlook or underestimate the corrosive effects on the integrity of the gaming process of bureaucratic and personal imperatives on the part not only of the sponsoring organization but of the chain of command of the executing organization, and even the players themselves. Hank Brightman and Stephen Downes-Martin have had long experience as professor-practitioners in the War Gaming Department of the Naval War College.
Along with war gaming, the study of naval and maritime history has been a central component of a Naval War College education from its beginning more than a hundred and twenty-five years ago. The history of the Royal Navy remains today one of the richest stores of naval experience on a global scale over a number of centuries. John B. Hattendorf, in “The Idea of a ‘Fleet in Being’ in Historical Perspective,” traces the elusive and widely misunderstood concept of a “fleet in being” from its apparent origins in an Anglo-French naval encounter of 1690 through the American Revolution to the arguments surrounding it in the writings of British (and American) naval theorists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He makes the case that while a proper understanding of the concept can be a useful guide to action for an inferior fleet under certain circumstances, it would be unwise to elevate it to the status of a viable and attractive strategic option. John Hattendorf is the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History and chairman of the Maritime History Department, Naval War College.
The question of the options available to inferior fleets is taken up from quite a different angle by Maksim Tokarev, in “Kamikaze: The Soviet Legacy.” Improbably, yet persuasively, Tokarev finds in the Japanese kamikaze attacks of the last period of the Pacific War a model for understanding how the Soviet Union sought to solve the problem posed by American carrier strike groups over the course of the Cold War. His analysis of the bureaucratically orphaned Soviet naval aviation community is of particular interest in understanding the ever-present challenges of joint and combined-arms warfare at sea. Maksim Tokarev served as an officer in the Soviet Navy and later in the Russian Coast Guard.
World War II, needless to say, also remains a rich source of naval operational experience. In “‘Winning’ the Pacific War: The Masterful Operational Design of Minoru Genda,” Angelo N. Caravaggio revisits the well-known story of Japanese planning for the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Using a neglected trove of oral interviews from the early 1950s, he makes the case that of all Japanese naval planners, Commander Minoru Genda had the clearest grasp of the strategic and operational situations in the Pacific at this juncture and devised a plan to achieve what in retrospect appears to have been the only real chance for a decisive Japanese victory over the United States—a determined effort to eliminate Hawaii as a forward base for American military forces in the Pacific. Fortunately, Genda’s ideas were too bold and unorthodox for a Japanese military leadership fatally handicapped by interservice rivalry and an inability to prioritize strategic options realistically. Additional commentary on Japanese competence in the Pacific War is provided by James P. Levy in his brief review of the literature on the battle of Midway of June 1942. Levy’s thesis in brief is that contrary to much of this literature, the battle was not so much lost by the Imperial Japanese Navy as won by the U.S. Navy.
Lieutenant Jimmy Drennan, USN, in “Strength in Numbers: The Potential of (Really) Small Combatants,” sets out to use statistical analysis to test the argument put forward by Jeffrey Kline and Wayne Hughes, in the Autumn 2012 issue of the Review, concerning the merits of a “flotilla” concept for the U.S. Navy in the face of the challenge it confronts in the western Pacific by the rising naval power of the People’s Republic of China. His conclusion is that a large number of even modestly effective small warships (smaller and cheaper than the Littoral Combat Ship) operating independently of each other has better odds of defeating a major enemy combatant than does a single very capable combatant of one’s own. This certainly flies in the face of much conventional thinking not only about the cost-effectiveness of carriers and other large surface warships but also about the merits of net-centric warfare. (The essay itself represents a mode that we hope to revisit—see the item below.)
MAKING THE MOST OF THE ONLINE REALM, IN PRINT
In publishing the essay “Strength in Numbers,” by Jimmy Drennan, in this issue’s “Research & Debate” department (briefly introduced above), we think we may have found, with Lieutenant Drennan’s kind cooperation, a model for a useful synthesis of the strengths of online and print publication. His original “post” took advantage of the web’s ability to put a specialized piece of work efficiently before the eyes of a large, specialized audience of fellow “practitioners” and to collect their immediate responses. What appears in this issue capitalizes, in turn, on what a print quarterly can do—putting a fully thought-out synthesis before an even broader audience, including readers who don’t routinely enter the online world but are engaged with or interested in the issues. We’d like to keep up the momentum. Have you posted online a piece of this kind that has attracted such valuable responses, from which you might produce such a synthesis in essay form? We’d be delighted to consider it.
NEW FROM THE NAVAL WAR COLLEGE PRESS
The twenty-first in our Historical Monograph series—Blue versus Orange: The U.S. Naval War College, Japan, and the Old Enemy in the Pacific, 1945–1946, by Hal M. Friedman—is now available for online sale by the Government Printing Office. The new book (a companion to the author’s 2010 Digesting History: The U.S. Naval War College, the Lessons of World War Two, and Future Naval Warfare, 1945–1947) closely analyzes war gaming at the Naval War College in the academic year 1945–46, as both a reflection and source of the U.S. Navy’s doctrinal and strategic responses to the experience of World War II—responses that would help the Navy shape its approach to the Cold War. Blue versus Orange also describes in fascinating detail the practice of war gaming at the Naval War College in that era.
IF YOU VISIT US
Our editorial offices are now located in Sims Hall, in the Naval War College Coasters Harbor Island complex, on the third floor, west wing (rooms W334, 335, 309). For building-security reasons, it would be necessary to meet you at the main entrance and escort you to our suite—give us a call ahead of time (841-2236).