Naval strategy. Mahan of the XXI century

Naval strategy. Mahan of the XXI century
Naval strategy. Mahan of the XXI century

The system of planning and directing maritime, including naval, activities in the United States is fundamentally different from the domestic one.

The role of the US Congress is incomparably great in this

It is to Congress that the Secretary of the Navy and the Commander-in-Chief (CNO) are proving the validity of their proposals. In the committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, there are several personalities known to us who greatly influence decision-making, primarily related to the financing of the Navy, its shipbuilding programs and projects.

Elaine Luria (Elain Luria) is definitely one of them, although not the most authoritative in the field of nautical strategies.


The rest of the characters are also famous and therefore predictable.

A few days ago, VO published an article by Luria in translation and with comments by Alexander Timokhin.

The article is of interest, first of all, because it reflects the views of parliamentarians about the strategic ideas of using the US Navy in the future.

Moreover, the summary of our colleague says.

… No assessment of these ideas can negate the fact that Americans have no other ideas. There is no strategy of wars and non-wars of the future that has been formalized.

For better or not, what the deputies of the House of Representatives Luria and a number of other figures write, ultimately boils down to repeating the success of the Cold War - to win without engaging in large-scale hostilities.

And to do this by creating forces that were originally intended specifically for containment, and not for war.

This is not entirely true, although it is partially true.

The previous interview posted by colleague Timokhin is not so categorical.

But this is natural. The competence of the Minister of the Navy is, by definition, higher than that of Commander Luria.

The American military and political leadership is in the process of the most profound rethinking of how to deal with future conflicts. But rethinking is not a crisis

America's defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific is indeed far from desired. In essence, this is a conflict caused by a mismatch between Washington's strategic goals and the means at its disposal.

Faced with an increasingly contested regional security situation and limited defense resources, the US military is no longer confident in its ability to single-handedly maintain a favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. But their efforts to mobilize allies in the region are palpable and are already yielding results. And this is also a consequence of a well-thought-out and formulated within the existing resources of the maritime strategy.

The US is currently conducting two "large-scale" military exercises

The first is a joint Indo-Pacific military exercise led by the Indo-Pacific Command of the United States with the participation of Japan, Australia and the UK. Other - Global Integrated Naval Exercise LSE 2021 (Large Scale Exercise 2021)conducted by the US Navy around the world, the largest naval exercise since 1981.

An American military scientist told the media that they are intended to demonstrate to China and Russia that the US naval forces can simultaneously solve the problems of the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, the South China and East China Seas.

There are also more unusual ideas.

Privateers against China

Naval strategists are struggling to find ways to counter China's burgeoning navy.

The easiest and most convenient course is to ask for more ships and aircraft, but with a defense budget that may have peaked, this may not be a viable strategy.

Capering, authorized by letters of marque, could offer an inexpensive tool for strengthening deterrence in peacetime and gaining an advantage in wartime. It will be able to attack the asymmetric vulnerability of China, which has a much larger merchant fleet than the United States. Indeed, an attack on China's global trade will undermine China's entire economy and threaten the stability of the regime.

Most importantly, despite common myths to the contrary, privateering in the United States is not prohibited by US or international law.

What are letters of marque?

Privateering is not piracy. There are rules and commissions, called letters of marque, which governments issue to civilians, allowing them to seize or destroy enemy ships (that is, in modern terms, this is such a "naval PMC").


The US Constitution expressly grants Congress the power to create them (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11).

Captured ships and goods are called prizes, and the law for prizes is set out in the United States Code. In the United States, claims for prizes are handled by US District Courts, with proceeds traditionally paid to privateers (“privateer” may refer to the crew of a privateer ship or the vessel itself, which may also be referred to as a letter of marque).

Congress is likely to set policies - for example, specifying the objectives, procedures, and qualifications of privateers - and then empower the president to control the privateers' regime. Congress can also exempt privateers from certain obligations and limit the possibility of abuse and violations of international law through warranties and updated rules of conduct.

During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, privateers outnumbered ships in the Navy, with one American official calling privateers "our cheapest and best fleet." Although many were lost, thousands sailed and disrupted British trade. British officials complained that they could not guarantee the safety of civilian commerce.

Privateering is once a common but now completely unconventional way of using the private sector in war.

The notion of privateering causes discomfort to naval strategists. There is no modern experience with their use, and there are legitimate concerns about the legal framework and international opinion. But strategists cannot give up thinking outside the box to face China's growing challenges just because thinking outside the box makes them uncomfortable.

Because the strategic situation is new and the mindset must be new. In wartime, privateers could flood the oceans and destroy the maritime industry on which China's economy and the stability of its regime depend. The mere threat of such a campaign can increase deterrence and thereby prevent war altogether.

In strategy, everything old must be new again


At this time, China, within the framework of its military and naval strategy, thanks to the provision of resources for the implementation of military-political decisions and large-scale investments in advanced military systems, is becoming increasingly capable of challenging the regional and even global order.

We will postpone this topic until the next article.

Thinking first about conceptual things, armed with American primary sources

It should not be forgotten that, in addition to Congress, there is the naval community (most interested in an adequate naval strategy, represented by current and retired admirals and officers, scientific organizations of the Navy and contracted organizations that have created and maintain a fairly effective system of strategic planning naval activities of the United States).

It is now by far the best system of its kind in the world

And the author will prove it. Not for the sake of promoting the superiority of American naval science, but solely for comprehending this experience in the interests of effective planning of naval activities, including the construction and combat use of the Russian Navy.

Parity time

The system was no less effective in the USSR. Thanks to this, we reached in the mid-70s and maintained strategic maritime parity with the United States for more than 10 years, surpassing their capabilities in many respects. Opportunities not only to sink an individual enemy ship or submarine, even SSBN, but, if necessary, in wartime, disrupt enemy communications, block most of the world's main straits and thus force the enemy to peace.

And, given the achievements of Soviet intelligence, the espionage achievements of the Walker family, Michael Souter and, possibly, other not yet named heroes of the invisible front, victory at sea, at least in the Atlantic, would have been guaranteed for us.


The era of Admiral Gorshkov

Naval strategy. Mahan of the XXI century

This unique book is the last, but far from the only one, summarizes and analyzes a series of articles entitled "Naval Forces in War and Peace", written by the Commander-in-Chief of the USSR Navy, Admiral of the Fleet Sergei Gorshkov, USSR during the Cold War.

The analysis, by three American analysts of the Soviet navy, covers several aspects of Gorshkov's articles: they reveal, among other things, “intimate” internal debates about Soviet naval missions and budgets, and assess their experiences and implications for the future course of the Soviet / Russian military. marine construction. This is a useful non-politicized analysis, in contrast to even the very conscientious Soviet and Russian followers who rewrite them, who did not have the opportunity to go beyond the ideological constraints of those years.

American Naval Science and Naval Strategy

There are incomparably more books on American strategy, not only on history, but also on conceptual issues of global confrontation in the oceans and with the use of the US Navy.

As an example, one of the latter.


This book examines US naval strategy and the role of the US Navy over three decades, from the late 20th century to the early 21st century. This study uses the concept of naval power as a framework to explain the military and political uses of naval power and naval forces in the United States of America. It concerns the environment in which the strategy and, in particular, the US naval strategy, as well as its naval power, and how it was designed and created in the context of international and national security, develops.

The book explains what was the driving force and what limited the US naval strategy, and also examines individual cases where US naval power was directed to support US defense and security policy, and whether this could be related to what this strategy.

The paper draws on key naval documents within the broader maritime conceptual and geopolitical mindset and discusses whether these documents have had a lasting impact on strategic thinking, force structure, and other areas of American naval power.

Overall, this work provides a deeper understanding of the development of US naval strategy since the last decade of the Cold War, its contextual and practical structure and its application.

To this end, the work bridges the gap between the thinking of American naval officers and planners, on the one hand, and academic analysis of naval strategy, on the other.

It also presents trends in the use of naval forces for foreign policy and strategy development in the context of American politics.

What congressmen read

Congresswoman Luria has definitely not read this book.

She read the papers of another author, who is also well known because he prepares most of the papers for congressmen on all matters related to the Navy.

His name is Ronald O. Rourke


He cannot be fully considered a strategist. But one of the world's leading experts, of course.

On the pages of VO, his reports for the Congress were repeatedly cited without attribution.


On occasion, we will apologize and do him justice too.

Since 1984 he has been a Naval Analyst for the Library of Congress Research Service (CRS). He has written numerous reports and articles on naval affairs.

His essay, Naval Strategy and the Next Decade, published in Proceedings, April 1988, was the winner of the 1988 Arleigh Burke annual essay competition.


Despite the victory in the essay competition, the strategic potential of O. Rourke cannot be considered essential. He certainly did not rise to these heights.

But Luria's last performance was inspired by this work of 30 years ago.

Are there modern strategists in our Fatherland?

Criticism of Russian strategists

The author has read a dozen open Russian dissertations of the last twenty years on issues related to naval strategies and doctrines of the 20th and 21st centuries.

I thought that I would find there new ideas of the authors or, at least, references to the ideas of others, set forth in a significant number of works of contemporary foreign authors. It was expected that there could be problems with this. But there are no problems and no ideas. No, because in all these dissertations there are identical retellings of several authors far from the fleet, moreover, more than thirty years ago.

The main problem is the underestimation of the dynamics of changes in both the malware and the accompanying economic, technological and military factors. This, according to the author, is a scientific and methodological imperative, underestimated and not implemented in the Russian Navy.

The world is already different, as are the theory and practice of war and the role of the Navy in them

Refining the state of naval science in terms of strategic goal-setting from one highly graduated military scientist, I received a comment that boils down to the following.

“We have naval strategy and doctrine (for confirmation - quotes from the encyclopedic dictionary).

I myself wrote these doctrines, but they were not in demand."

A very good commentary, to the very depths revealing not only the problem, but a complete lack of understanding of its essence.

American naval science was in the same conceptual confusion at the beginning of the last century, but over the past century it has recovered both mentally and organizationally.

(This is mainly, and not any other reasons, due to the current global dominance of the US Navy).

Any serious thinking about strategy must take into account the impact that the use of one's own powers has on the adversary. Moreover, how the enemy uses its forces is a critical factor in any strategic assessment.

Thus, when thinking about how one can use one's own strength to achieve broad goals in the future in war, it is also necessary to assess the likelihood of how the enemy may act or react, as well as investigate everything that the enemy can do, and how this can significantly affect on your own course of action.

The eventual adversary is now studying and analyzing the activities of Russia and China and in the management of naval activities. Surely this analytical work is involved in the form of secret reports to management.

But it is accompanied by scientific research and interpretations in the open press, in those certificates and documents that are being prepared for the Congress and government agencies.

It is an illusion that even a person or a team in charge of adjusting the naval strategy, without access to the results of scientific and public discussion of issues related to the practice and design of the use of the Navy, the state and development of forces, can propose an adequate strategy.

Risk factors

And even if the strategy is adequate at some point, there are many objective and subjective factors that change priorities.

For example, the human factor.

The president is changing, and where is your strategy?

And it's not just about replacing American presidents.Remember Gorbachev, with his "new thinking", in which all the "sea power of the state", created thanks to Admiral Gorshkov, was lost.

This is also confirmed by the confidence of the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union S.G. Gorshkov that the state policy, taking into account the need for the country of its sea power, is the most important factor determining the nature of the construction of the fleet, contributing to the mobilization of its capabilities for this purpose, and an indispensable condition for the development of sea power. …

At the same time, one can never ignore the personal relations of S.G. Gorshkov with the leaders of the Communist Party, the Soviet state and industry of that great time: L.I.Brezhnev, A.N. Kosygin, A.A. Grechko, D.F. Ustinov, BE Butoma, MV Egorov, IS Belousov and others, in whose hands were the levers of building the ocean-going nuclear missile fleet of the USSR and whom we must call the true creators of the Soviet Navy. Apparently, it was not in vain that S.G. Gorshkov gave names to aircraft carriers and cruisers in honor of these statesmen, and to the Naval Academy - the name of A.A.Grechko.

Other sources

In addition to the above book, on Amazon there are several dozen more works by world-recognized authorities and those who create naval strategies and doctrines now, those who will determine the strategy and tactics of a future war. In general, there are hundreds of similar books.

For confirmation, we turn to the sources of modern naval thought.


There is not a single book of this kind in the Russian libraries available to me. Naturally, the scientific capital contained in them is not in the heads and works of Russian researchers.

When, in a previous article, I advised you to contact Scopus and the patent fund, one of the commenters remarked:

So this is the same, if the author does not know, only for money.

The author knows

Yes. Mostly for money, but very little, and still mostly in English scientific language … But the fact is that investing $ 100, with the right understanding of what has been received, can save you from wasting billions.

Gentlemen are comrades. Especially executives who have such an opportunity, let's buy at least a dozen of these books on a centralized basis.

At least for the Naval Library, the library of the General Staff of the Navy and for the Naval Academy (the author naturally knows the full modern name of this institution, but he does not raise his hand to knock out this meaningless set of letters invented during the reign of the previous Ministry of Defense by its creative protégés).

Strategy and war

The geopolitical situation at the beginning of the 21st century led to a change in the strategic concepts and naval forces of the world's navies.

The main postulate of the US national strategy for the 21st century:

“Whoever dominates the oceans dominates world trade; who dominates world trade is the richest in the world; who is the richest in the world, he dominates in space; who dominates in space is the richest in the world."

Strategy has traditionally been associated with war, preparing for war, and waging war. As war, modern societies and politics have become more complex, the necessary strategy requires increasing attention to non-military issues: economic, political, psychological and sociological.

Thus, strategy has become more than just a military concept and has a tendency towards coordinated execution of state administration.

But rational geopolitical calculations are often influenced by economic realities, departmental interests, bureaucratic aspirations, and conflicts among decision-makers.

In addition, the daunting task of war planning requires simplifying and streamlining strategic concepts and doctrines into a system through which Department of Defense and Navy (Navy) leaders can create guidelines for standard action and analysis and train capable officers.

Bias and self-deception

The absence of such a system of concepts can create bias at all levels. This can lead to the fact that the strategist (and even more so the ruler) will begin to ignore issues that do not fit into his existing ideas.In this case, reports and proposals transposed by experts to the level of military-political leadership will not only be useless, but harmful and dangerous.

The case is widely known when last year the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the RF Armed Forces, President Vladimir Putin, at one of the meetings with the participation of the leadership of the Armed Forces, the Navy and the chief shipbuilder asked the question:


Can someone explain why we need aircraft carriers?

There was no answer

But let's not talk about sad things.

These are common problems caused by human nature itself and the prevailing system of state administration and management of maritime activities, in particular.

The current deficit of the Navy's strategy has deep historical roots, and this is typical for many countries and, strange as it may seem, for the United States.

Since we are discussing the problem at a conceptual level, to understand it, it will be enough to consider the American experience.

Therefore, based on the experience of the United States, we will analyze

The American strategic planning system is pluralistic and contains four levels at which strategy statements are made:

• The highest policy set at the level of the president and amended or supported by Congress.

• Planning of military operations, development of general conceptual plans of war is carried out by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• Program planning, a coordinated weapons procurement system accompanied by strategic statements justifying the appropriate weapons, is carried out by each branch of the military and coordinated by the Minister of Defense.

• Operational planning, the development of plans for specific wartime operations, is carried out by various commanders of the combined and homogeneous forces.

In theory, the four levels of strategy development should complement each other.

Logic and hierarchy of strategic thought

Higher policy formulates goals and objectives for programmatic and military planning, which, in turn, are reflected in operational planning, and are supported by budgetary allocations.

Many believe that this rarely, if ever, happens in practice. It is fair, but this is not a reason to abandon this practice, because there is simply no other productive approach.

Each level of strategy development has its own needs and constraints created by the system itself, which leads to the possibility of contradictions and gaps.

Each person making a decision at each of the levels can deviate from the strictly rational calculations of the strategy. This is due to both the practical need to simplify complex problems with a high level of uncertainty, and motivated bias created by the interaction of bureaucratic interests.

These factors, which exist in almost any state machine, require constant reevaluation and adjustment of the direction of efforts for the rational application of the strategy. In addition, these rational calculations are constantly changing as political events and technical innovations change the situation on a global scale.

Thus, strategy development is an ongoing process of asking questions, applying and revising.

A few notes

At firstAll truly great and successful strategies were essentially (if not exclusively) maritime.

Secondly, no country has acquired world power faster and more complete development than the United States.

Thirdly, America's growth had to reflect one or more maritime strategies, therefore, the United States must be able to implement a grand strategy.Of course, we can introduce many complexities about the definitions, parameters, and operational characteristics of a grand strategy, not to mention how coherent, codified, or even how conscious the grand strategy should be.

Features of American naval strategy

It cannot be absolutized, but rational approaches can be discussed.

The American penchant for naval strategy is in fact predetermined.

The geographic location, vastness, topography and resources of North America make it a true island of the world and, thus, are best suited for the development of naval superiority. Indeed, the United States ranks first or close to it on all six of Mahan's naval power pillars.

But the fact that the United States is the largest and most successful thalassocracy in history (which means "to rule the sea" in Greek) is due to cultural characteristics inherited from Britain, as well as innate material and spatial abilities.

A public policy most conducive to maritime supremacy is more conducive to independent, liberal, curious, diverse, cosmopolitan and creative people and institutions in its development than rigidly hierarchical mining empires of the land.

Naval forces are expensive and time-consuming to build, but can quickly collapse or get lost, so they tend to be conservative.

America's true policy, as articulated by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, was to preserve the incomparable blessing of isolation from Europe's dangers through a foreign policy of neutrality and a naval strategy of coastal and commercial defense.

As long as Americans do not lose sight of their geographic advantages, their natural growth, born of freedom and prosperity, will undoubtedly, over time, make them a continental empire greater than any other in history.

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. It grants Congress the authority to "raise and maintain armies, but no allocation of money for this use should exceed two years," and the authority to "provide and maintain the navy" for a period of no limit.

This very conscious distinction stems from the fact that the Navy is capable of not only defending the United States, but also projection of power in the distant regions of the world, which determines its geopolitical, military and economic role in the national interests of the United States.


Developed in the late 19th century by US naval officer and naval theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840–1914), the doctrine of "naval power" is one of the most famous concepts on the "naval" side of world history.

The main content of this doctrine was that one of the decisive factors in world history was named "sea power" (consisting of strong naval forces, merchant ships and overseas territories).


In The Impact of Maritime Power on History, Mahan lays out six elements of what makes a nation a maritime power, none of which explicitly involve combat. On the contrary, they are the factors that force a nation to become a maritime power.

His initial discussion is as political as it is military. In later works, he continued to develop his thoughts on the position of the sea power in world affairs. We all know Clausewitz's truism that war is politics in other ways.

However, Mahan went further and stated that political / diplomatic, economic / commercial, and military / combat considerations are all one complex issue, and that naval power is part of the connective tissue between the three in a globalized world.

Control over ocean communications was proclaimed by Mahan as the main goal of the naval war.Supremacy at sea was won by routing the enemy fleet in a decisive naval battle. According to Mahan, the main force of the fleet was and continues to be the ships of the line, concentrated in powerful formations.

He based his positions on the history of naval wars of the 17th – 19th centuries and argued that the main provisions of naval strategy remained unchanged, despite changes in science and technology.

Similar ideas about the influence of the fleet on world politics existed, of course, before, but the serious scientific and technical changes that took place in the navies in the middle of the 19th century pushed strategy into the background.

In addition, Mahan's writings were imbued with the idea of ​​expansion as a necessary condition for the existence of the state. He synthesized naval history with political issues that were relevant to his contemporary period.

He openly stated that his goal was to draw American attention to overseas expansion and naval development.

Russian intelligence against Mahan

Mahan's ideas came in handy. The turn of the 19th and 20th centuries is traditionally considered the peak of imperialist rivalry among the world's leading powers. It was a time of numerous armed conflicts around the world and preparations for a world war.

From the experience of the wars of the late 19th - early 20th centuries, it became clear that the sea would be one of the main theaters of military operations in the future conflict. In addition, the fleet at that time was the most technically advanced type of armed forces, a kind of symbol of the military power of the state.

Russia, through its naval agents, received reports that contained information about A. T. Mahan, his activities as a naval theorist and the adaptation of his doctrine in the American navy. In addition to naval agents, other Russian naval officers who visited the United States also reported on Mahan.

These documents not only provide the researcher with new data on the life and work of Mahan, but also make it possible to analyze the attitude of Russian naval officers to the doctrine of "naval power".

Recently published sources note the documents of the American Congress, which shed light on some episodes of the influence of Mahan's ideas on the construction of the United States Navy. Publications of speeches by US presidents help research American naval policy in the late 19th century.

Mahan and Roosevelt

Among the published sources, first of all, it should be noted collections of letters and memoirs of naval and political figures of the period under review, many of whom were personally acquainted with AT Mahan.

Of great value are, for example, the letters of US President Theodore Roosevelt, who was not only a contemporary of Mahan, but also his friend and supporter of his ideas.

T. Roosevelt's letters not only allow us to fill certain gaps in Mahan's biography, but also help to study the influence of the doctrine of "sea power" in the United States.

Mahan of the XXI century

Mahan of the XXI century is Peter Schwartz.


The title is just a captain (captain of the 1st rank), already retired.

Peter Schwartz is an expert in navy strategy, politics and operations, as well as military history, organization, and culture.

His work examines navy strategy, the organizational history of the navy and OPNAV, the international relations of the US navy, and US interagency relations, politics, and doctrine.

He analyzed alternative models of fleet deployment on a global scale, lessons learned from past fleet operations in the areas of national defense, anti-piracy and irregular hostilities; the role of the fleet in a single command plan; and the relationship between CPA strategy, programming and budgeting.

Prior to joining CNA (Center for Naval Analysis), Schwartz spent 26 years as a naval officer, mainly in the field of strategy, planning and policy. During the Vietnam War, he served as an advisor to the Navy of the Republic of Vietnam and on the staff of Vice Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. US policy.

Schwartz played a leading role in the development of the concept and creation of the naval strategy of the Navy. In the 1980s, he served on the headquarters of successive Chiefs of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy John Lehman.

At the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was Director of Defense Operations for the US Mission in NATO and served as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell during the First Gulf War.


All doctrinal documents of the US Navy for the last 40 years were created with his direct participation, that is, he wrote their first working versions with his pens.

For the past 20 years, he has worked at the Center for Naval Analysis of the US Navy, but continues to have a defining influence on US naval science and naval policy, including the writing of modern and forward-looking naval strategy papers.


The doctrines and doctrinal documents themselves are available, although some of them are classified. But what underlies them, including the polemics of representatives of the Navy, Army, Defense Ministry, Congress, the Presidential Administration, representatives of the naval community and industry, remains behind the scenes. This does not allow us to understand the mechanism and trends that determine the role and place of the Navy in the national and defense policy of the United States and to predict their actions in peacetime and wartime.

Schwartz's works, even open ones, answer these questions.

Their meaning is twofold

At first, they give an idea of ​​the "intimate" life and plans of the US Navy.

Secondly, are an example of a scientific and methodological basis for the formation of Russia's naval and naval policy.

For all the undoubted usefulness of the Fundamentals of Russia's Naval Policy and the forthcoming Russian Naval Doctrine, their scientific basis (in the author's opinion) in the analytical part is inferior to the analytics of Peter Schwartz, who "directs" the US naval policy.

This is not a figure of speech. This is a reality recognized even by American commanders and congressmen.


Further reasoning and thoughts of the author will be based mainly on the content of Peter Schwartz, who has written over 50 books and countless open and secret documents for the Defense Ministry, the Navy and various US government agencies.

People who are far from naval strategy may not realize that naval strategy goes through cycles of boom, crisis, and reform. But this is a historical fact, without which it is impossible to look into the future.

In the memory of the author, almost a full cycle has passed in the Soviet / Russian fleet: takeoff, a decade of naval parity, a crisis, a very strong crisis turning into stagnation, timid and ineffective reforms, a declaration of ambition, a manifestation of political will, the formulation and implementation of construction plans and application fleet in new conditions.

Taking into account the format of the article, this will be discussed concisely, but these are necessary seeds for further understanding of the American system of strategic concepts and projections

Four cycles

While the division of the history of the US Navy's strategy into periods is somewhat arbitrary, four broad periods of stagnation, crisis, and reform can be distinguished that highlight a pattern in naval strategy development and the institution's response to technological, operational, or political change.

First cycle occurred between 1812 and 1880, a period that often manifests itself as a dark age following the rise of the navy in the Civil War and the soaring popularity of Alfred Thayer Mahan and his works.

Second cycle, from 1919 to 1941, begins with the controversial role of the new US combat fleet in World War I across the disarmament and interwar navy borders and ends with the beginning of mobilization that took place before Pearl Harbor.

Third cycle, from 1946 to 1960, is characterized by interservice battles for the place of nuclear weapons in national defense and for the role the Navy will play in deterring nuclear war.

The fourth cycle, which took place between 1970 and 1980, illustrates the crisis in naval affairs that led to the Reagan-Lehman Navy's 600-ship program, which once again linked the Navy to a common response to Soviet global ambitions.

The United States is now experiencing the fifth cycle. And it is important not only what phase it is in, but what is its amplitude now and in the near future, primarily in comparison with the Russian and Chinese fleets.


In the post-war period, one of the characteristics of the US naval bureaucracy was also the isolation of thinking within individual communities, which prevented the exchange of opinions necessary to create a common point of view.

The work of naval theorists and practitioners in the US Navy has taken a fundamentally different approach since the early 1970s. Research has focused on the use of the navy in wartime, but it has also focused on political considerations in peacetime and the relationship between naval strategy and broader issues of naval and national power.

Despite the fact that there were no dedicated officers in the Navy at that time responsible for developing naval strategy, both senior officers in Washington and the scattered groups of intellectually inclined naval officers in the headquarters of the fleets dealt with these problems and ideas.

Initially, between these teams under the general leadership of Admirals Zumwalt and Hayward, and after the formation of the strategic research group and the US Naval Research Center, an exchange of strategic ideas began between the entire scientific community of the Navy, both within the fleet and beyond.

During this process, a common point of view and a unified approach were developed at the highest levels of the leadership of the Navy, which created a solid conceptual basis for further changes and evolutionary development of the fleet.

This allowed the Americans to realize the importance of correctly taking into account the capabilities and views of the enemy, evaluate and implement methods of forming a strategy, see ways to link strategic issues with the problems of budgeting and the purchase of weapons, as well as assess the obstacles that arise and ways to overcome them.

This served as the basis for a change in views on all aspects of combat at sea and, as a result, on the organizational structure of the Navy. And, no less important, it made it possible to include in the discussion the top military-political leadership of the United States, Congress and the civil scientific community dealing with issues of geopolitics, maritime activities and shipbuilding.

From an organizational and analytical point of view, this work was the process by which the existing US defense department developed and began to apply its naval strategy.

Each level of strategy development has its own needs and constraints created by the system itself, which leads to the possibility of contradictions and gaps. And this is normal from the point of view of a systems approach.

These factors need to be continually reassessed and the direction of efforts must be adjusted to effectively implement the strategy.In addition, these rational calculations are constantly changing as political events and technical innovations change the situation on a global scale.

Thus, strategy development is an ongoing process of asking questions, applying and revising.

Evaluating the American experience, it becomes obvious that nongovernmental and governmental organizations of various levels have worked and are working on the development of a naval strategy. Moreover, initially this work was initiated by only a few admirals and officers who have not only the proper competencies, but also a deep understanding of the role and place of the navy in the modern world. The process of education in strategy and the development of interest among the officers of the Navy in them went in parallel with the development and application of strategic concepts.

In contrast to the thoughts from the essay by O. Rourke, which inspired Congressman Luria, I will quote from another author, also the winner of the naval essay competition, but in 1915.

The Role of Doctrine in Naval Warfare

By Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox, U.S. Navy

The task of creating a concept of naval warfare necessarily includes a deep and comprehensive study and analysis of naval campaigns, followed by carefully reasoned constructive work.

In the absence of genius, this can only be done properly by a reflective group of officers qualified from naval experience and vocational training, as well as through systematic training and instruction in the methods of warfare that can be acquired at our Naval War College.

Once the complex inductive reasoning needed to create a concept of war has been made, the reflexive body can proceed to the easier deductive processes of the evolution of doctrines from their basic concept.

In the latter work, it is necessary to use real naval experience and involve the most capable naval officers in order to avoid the undesirable academic smell of doctrine.

The reflective staff of officers must cooperate with the commander-in-chief of the active fleet in planning maneuvers, must be in the fleet during their advance, and must carefully observe, record and subsequently analyze them. The results obtained in this way should be used in the formulation of new or modifications of old doctrines, the nature of which is to a certain extent indicative and requires its gradual acquisition.


Political cynicism is always at the heart of geopolitics and the doctrinal documents that express it.

It is a great art to translate it into a national military doctrine so that it complies with international legal norms and at the same time mobilizes and inspires the armed forces and their individual representatives, especially leaders.

This does not always work, and therefore politicians, as a rule, think one thing, plan the second, and do the third (or the fourth at once).

As a result, the navy does not always have time to understand which latest version of the naval doctrine to be guided by, and as a consequence, how to provide it with material and financial resources?

It is natural. Therefore, claims to naval strategies, strangers and our own, have always been and will always be.

In other words, the formation of a strategy and the creation of a naval doctrine and its operational modification are creativity, pushing the evolution of military thought and being inspired by it.

It would be useful for modern strategists to take into account that the inability to connect the structure of forces with the emerging political, economic and military events (or at least to record this current understanding, perhaps in a secret form for the military-political elite), was the cause of all crises and defeats.

Changes in the diplomatic, political, economic environment, not even speaking about the level of scientific and technological innovations, always outstrip the ability to be aware of them, and for the fleet - to adequately adapt to them. But this ability and speed of adaptation are decisive for maintaining the fleet in high readiness, and even more so - in readiness for new challenges.

Admittedly, changes in force structure followed each of the crises and / or defeats, but they were only effective when, in the first place, the leaders of the Navy, with the help of their experts, were able to find a way to align the strategy of the Navy with national preferences and goals.

There are successes in each of these cycles. These successes were created by visionaries with a broad geopolitical mindset, while having access to the circuit of influence on the formation of maritime policy, who advocated new technologies and operations at the expense of the organizational culture and preferences of the Navy.

The main task for Russian strategists of the Navy today is to anticipate our place in the changing geopolitical and strategic landscape so that naval strategy and the more slowly changing structure and composition of the naval forces can keep pace with emerging threats to national security.

And it is equally important to be able to convey this information to the political-military decision-makers in a form that is understandable for them, with persuasiveness and patriotic fervor, which will be competitive in comparison with the arguments of less convincing opponents.

Maham succeeded in this.

After 50 years, Sergei Georgievich Gorshkov was able to do this

But it is naive to attribute this only to his merit.

This is always a state policy, initiated by the leader of the nation inspired by the ideas and arguments of a strategist and supported by the people who do not really like defeat in general, and the sea in particular.

And another quote from the same 1915 essay:

The main difficulty faced in the execution of command is that, as a result of a critical situation that subordinates subordinate commanders, the need to decide for themselves what actions should be taken and carry out their decision before it can be invoked to a higher authority. …

It is clear that subordinates cannot depend on understanding the wishes of the commander-in-chief in relation to the situations they face, unless they have to be guided in their decisions by something much better than the instructions issued before the event, and, therefore, not necessarily needing completeness. and applicability.

Other measures are also needed, the main of which is the correct training of the minds of officers.

Most ideas become clearer when they are "concentrated to the point of absurdity."

Armed with the aforementioned military-political cynicism, imagine a commander of an SSBN in a threatened period or during a war, having lost contact with the command.

If he possesses strategic thinking, backed by guidelines, he will act in accordance with them.

And if, as such, he is guided only by the metaphorical statements of our Supreme Commander-in-Chief?

The aggressor must know that retribution is inevitable, that he will be destroyed. We, the victims of aggression, will go to heaven as martyrs, but they will simply die, because they will not even have time to repent.

Vladimir Putin's Speeches at the Valdai Discussion Forum

And further

… if someone decides to destroy Russia, then we have a legal right to respond.

Yes, for humanity it will be a global catastrophe, for the world there will be a global catastrophe.

But all the same, as a citizen of Russia and the head of the Russian state, then I want to ask the question: "Why do we need such a world if there is no Russia there?"

V.V. Putin. Film "World Order 2018"

Not every officer and even an admiral has the ability to decipher metaphorically.

Written strategy is a more understandable and familiar form for people in uniform. But it matures as an expression of a certain national idea, as a product of collective aspiration, in the process of discussion and reflection. Including outside the fleet itself and all the armed forces.

The Russian people have not delegated authority to anyone to determine for them when and to what paradise they move. And there are still almost eight billion earthlings who cannot count on paradise?

Reflections and discussions, both in the scientific and military communities and in society as a whole, form a consensus, including international, on the goals, objectives, areas and boundaries of the use of armed forces, including the Navy and weapons.

The Military Review Platform makes its own contribution to this. And this is done not only by professionals, but also by sympathizers who express the voice of the people …

With this mission in mind, continue!

The approach used by the author is deliberately specific, that is, he tries to represent the birth process and the actual application of strategic concepts, and not just state and discuss the concepts themselves or their history.

Due to the inexhaustibility of this topic, to be continued …

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