Geoffrey Till, The Accidental Dialectic: The Real World and the Making of Maritime Strategy Since 1945 in:

Sebastian Bruns, Sarandis Papadopoulos (Ed.)

Conceptualizing Maritime & Naval Strategy, page 13 - 32

Festschrift for Captain Peter M. Swartz, United States Navy (ret.)

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-8487-5753-4, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-9915-0,

Series: ISPK Seapower Series, vol. 3

Bibliographic information
The Accidental Dialectic: The Real World and the Making of Maritime Strategy Since 1945 Geoffrey Till Navies both reflect and determine their international and domestic context. The context does much to set their objectives and, through the delivery of human and material resources, shapes the way in which they perform those tasks. At the same time, their activities help determine the context; if they did not, why bother investing in them? As such and as the world has changed, naval ideas and activities are responses to a process of continuing collisions between competing notions of what navies are for and what their operational priorities should be. The evolution of maritime strategic thinking since the Second World War is a dialectic because there is a discernible direction of travel through a process of often painful reactions to competing imperatives and ‘accidental’ because there is nothing, and no-one, in overall charge of this process, other than the blind forces released by domestic and international and development. This portrayal of the strategy making process likens it to an old-fashioned pinball machine where the little ball of strategy bounces around between the pins in a random but generally downward direction until it drops out of the bottom with some kind of accumulated value. Such a presentation of the process of strategy-making is quite different from the one usually assumed by the great maritime strategic thinkers such as Alfred Thayer Mahan or Julian Corbett for whom strategy-making is presented as a calmly reflective, rational and linear process of identifying national objectives at the highest level and then setting the ways and possibly the means by which those objectives might best be attained. Strategy-making becomes a contingent rather than purely academic exercise. Traditional strategists do, of course, accept that adopting a rational approach doesn’t preclude their coming to false conclusions, especially when these are based on false information. Carl von Clausewitz, for one, with his famous trinity of forces, was perfectly aware of the way in which popular passions could distort the principles that ideally framed the conduct of military operations.1 In this, though, he generally accepted that the intru- 1 Beatrice Heuser, Reading Clausewitz (London: Pimlico, 2002), 24-43, 92-96. 13 sion of random and irrational forces appeared less in the initial phase of deciding the principles of strategy than in the later one of implementing them. In either case though, what constitutes rationality can be ‘relative’ rather than ‘absolute,’ in that to a greater or lesser extent it may well be affected by circumstances such as one’s service or institutional allegiance. To what extent does where you stand depend on where you sit? There is a huge literature on this issue, well beyond the capacity of a short chapter to incorporate, but clearly the greater the influence of such factors, the more the notion of being “differently rational” will cloud the distinctions between the ideal concept of strategy making and the much more prosaic pinball version. So, this chapter will look at the evolution of maritime strategy since 1945 and will argue that the pinball model better describes the process of strategy making in this period. More importantly perhaps, it will then move on to consider the lessons that strategy-makers, and those interested in their ways, should draw from this. Identifying the Pins At the top of the strategy-making pinball machine, there are four pins representing major background influences, or ‘drivers’ of strategy. In this period, they were all closely connected, sometimes working in conjunction with one another, sometimes in direct opposition. Below them there were perhaps three more pins, that illustrate the actual strategy-making process: above the navy, alongside it, and within it. Finally, towards the bottom of the machine another indeterminate set of pins represent a stage in the strategy-making process often forgotten, those who interpret and implement it. Level 1: Broad Influences Perceptions of Threat The first and most obvious of these pins concern the strategy-makers’ perceptions of the threat and what needs to be done about them. From these perceptions, nations and navies could draw their policy objectives, what political and strategic effect they needed to deliver, and what ways and means were required to do so. Geoffrey Till 14 After 1945, western navies faced a bewildering and constantly changing range of strategic challenges. In the first few years after the end of the Second World War it became clear that despite the relatively high hopes and noble aspirations inherent in Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill’s Atlantic Charter, the world was unlikely to see the end of serious interstate competition and possible conflict. Almost immediately a Cold War followed a hot one. Most Western navies faced the prospect of rapid demobilisation,2 while almost immediately having to confront the military and most specifically naval threat posed by the Soviet Union and its allies. As Soviet power at sea grew and developed both its reach into the open ocean and the quality of its forces, the West duly responded. This issue, though, was always more complicated than it sounds as there were varying interpretations both of Soviet strategic intentions and capabilities. For many years Western observers, perhaps reflecting their own experience in the Second World War, which emphasized the strategic value of the reinforcements and resupplies coming across the Atlantic, were apt to assign more attention to the prospect of a Soviet attack on NATO’s sea lines of communication than was warranted. There were also major differences of interpretation between theoretical analysts like James McConnell at the Center for Naval Analyses in Washington who pored over the texts of Soviet pronouncements and the practitioners who observed what they thought was going on at sea and whose conclusions were mediated by the Office of Naval Intelligence.3 But for some years after the war, the threat of the Soviet Navy was thought limited and that raised unsettling thoughts about what a navy was to do when it already had sea control and it faced no real challenges on the open ocean. This was the background for the famous article of 19544 by a young Samuel Huntington who argued that in such a case there was a very real need for the U.S. Navy to think seriously about maritime power pro- 2 The availability of naval hand-me-downs made available from the draw-down of the major naval powers meant revival and expansion for a surprising number of Western navies, not least for that of Belgium which went from nothing to 60 units theoretically available in a few years. 3 John B. Hattendorf, “The Evolution of the US Navy’s Maritime Strategy 1977-1986,” Naval War College Newport Papers 19 (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 2004), 29. For the McConnell approach, see James McConnell, “The Interacting Evolution of Soviet and American Military Doctrines,” Center for Naval Analyses Professional Paper 412 (September 1980). Broadly the practitioners thought the Soviets would threaten NATO SLOCs, but McConnell, correctly, thought not. 4 Samuel Huntington, “National Policy and The Transoceanic Navy,” in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings vol. 80/5/615 (May 1954). The Accidental Dialectic 15 jection, rather than continue to be mesmerised by the possibilities of another Midway or the hum-drum requirements of delivering NATO reinforcements across the Atlantic. This latter concern was a reflection of a deeper unease that the kind of Soviet threat that seemed to matter most was in fact a continental one based on the Central Front that was likely to relegate the U.S. and other navies into a kind of glorified escorted taxi service for the people who would do the real fighting and therefore attract the biggest share of the budget. Rather than preparing for a hot war with the Soviet Union, moreover, the most pressing requirement was how best to respond to Soviet pressure in a peace that seemed ever more contested. Because it called for responses that were rather more political and rather less operational, the requirement towed many senior naval officers a little out of their comfort zone, and through sheer familiarity with the narrower more military-technical aspects of their profession,5 many were inclined to be more kinetic in their analysis than was helpful. Such, for example, lay at the bottom of the dispute between Admiral George Anderson and Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara over the conduct of the naval quarantine of Cuba in 1962. Regardless, a messy world in the twilight between war and peace was something that strategy-makers had to get used to. For the navies of Europe this was a much more familiar problem because this messiness was a characteristic of their immediate if not most dangerous preoccupation, namely the painful and demanding challenges of a long period of decolonisation. The Dutch, French, Belgian, Portuguese, and British navies had to cope with the consequences of revolt and in many cases a fighting withdrawal from disputed areas all round the world where the appropriate responses were much more like the limited but painful wars of the 19th Century, and the writings of the likes of Charles Callwell, than those of high intensity warfare at sea against a peer competitor on the open ocean. The same applied to the possibly related consequences of emerging instabilities particularly around the Mediterranean, which called for external mediation if not intervention. These all had to be prepared for, and thought about. The tendency to conclude that strategy-making is just about preparing to deal with one’s adversaries can sometimes blind observers to the fact that the capacity to influence one’s friends can be equally productive 5 Although dealing with a later period, this is also the substance of Peter D. Haynes, Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era (Annapolis, MD: The Naval Institute Press, 2015). Geoffrey Till 16 strategically especially when one’s friend was a superpower. All the European allies, but the British in particular, also sought to maintain the political bridge across the Atlantic that secured the American guarantee of their survival against an apparently implacable Soviet Union. Under Churchill, the British had been assiduous in this regard, partly because of their sense of an absolute strategic need, and partly because of a sense that the Americans could do with helpful guidance. How this was to be achieved required very different kinds of strategic thinking. For the British and most of the other NATO European powers, securing the guarantee played a substantial role in defining the strategic responses that an uncertain present and future seemed to demand of their strategymakers. For them, this was a particularly vexing issue when deciding their response to the United States becoming embroiled in its own post-Colonial war in Vietnam from 1964-73. In this painful time, all manner of novel littoral capabilities had to be developed, alongside a re-casting of traditional ones such as maritime power projection operations. What to do about the Ho Chi Minh trail and enemy riverine actions had become wholly unfamiliar challenges for American strategists to think about. Since these responses had to be balanced against the more classical demands posed by an ever more capable Soviet Navy, it was a confusing and demoralising time. Admiral Stansfield Turner’s Missions of the US Navy of 1974 was a praiseworthy attempt to make sense of it all.6 From then on things slowly began to return to normal as the Soviet naval challenge grew, as Soviet warships interposed themselves in NATO exercises and as British, American, and Russian submarines began to play their dangerous games under the Arctic ice.7 Although the technology seemed very different, all this was more familiar territory; eventually within the overall framework of NATO’s strategy-making and the replacement of “Massive Retaliation” by “Flexible response,” and after much deliberation, involving some very innovative naval thinking by the likes of Peter Swartz, The Maritime Strategy (TMS) of the 1980s appeared.8 This was a strategy that was Mahanian in its emphasis on forward operations against the seat of Soviet naval power (including most importantly its much-val- 6 Stansfield Turner, “Missions of the U.S. Navy,” in Naval War College Review vol. 27, no. 2 (March-April 1974), Article 2. 7 Peter Hennessy and James Jinks, The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 (London: Penguin, 2015). 8 James Watkins, “The Maritime Strategy,” Supplement, The Maritime Strategy” to U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings vol. 112/1/995 (January 1986). The Accidental Dialectic 17 ued sea-borne deterrent force)9 and Corbettian in its celebration of the strategic benefits of manoueuvre from the sea by outflanking the Red Army on the Central front while presenting the Soviet homeland with the prospect of deadly air and cruise missile attack. It seemed to offer the ultimate triumph of the whale over the elephant, sea power over land power, and the maritime over the continental.10 To its advocates, TMS exemplified competitive strategy-making that started with an analysis of the basic assumptions of the Soviet General Staff about the shape of a future intra-bloc war and systematically dismantled them. Where the General Staff wanted any such war to be quick, localised and reliably non-nuclear, the response was to use naval power to make it sustained, global and dangerously escalatory. TMS was a naval rather than a national strategy, and it had its critics, but it was welcomed by NATO, merging satisfactorily with CONMAROPS, and was found useful to allies such as the British and the Norwegians because it seemed amply to justify their own naval efforts. Certainly, when combined with other aspects of U.S. strategy, it had a depressing effect on Soviet attitudes and by wresting the strategic initiative away from an increasingly embattled Soviet Union played a significant part in concluding the Cold War. That success, however, opened an entirely new and uncertain era in which there seemed to be no major power adversary against which to plan. The absence of a rival for sea control and the expectation of a peace dividend after 40 years of effort became the latest challenges for Western navies. Through the course of the 1990s, they reverted, as Huntington had recommended back in the 1950s, to a set of ideas about how the ability of basically unchallenged navies could defend stability by projecting power ashore. … From the Sea (FTS) and Forward From the Sea (FFTS) followed,11 both encapsulating some of the lessons of Desert Shield/Storm and preparing the way for operations in the Adriatic.12 The West’s navies all became 9 George W. Baer, One Hundred Years of Sea Power: The U. S. Navy, 1890-1990 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), 428-444. 10 John Lehman, Oceans Ventured: Winning the Cold War at Sea (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2018). 11 H. J. Dalton, J. M. Boorda and C. E. Mundy, “Forward … From the Sea,” in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings vol. 120/12/1,102 (October 1994), 46-49; also Sean C. O’Keefe, Frank B. Kelso and C. E. Mundy, “From the Sea: A New Direction for the Naval Services,” in Marine Corps Gazette 76, no. 11 (November 1992), 18-22. 12 Sebastian Bruns, US Naval Strategy and National Security: The Evolution of American Maritime Power (London, New York: Routledge, 2018), provides an admirable guide to this complex period. Geoffrey Till 18 much more expeditionary and, as fast as their creaking acquisition systems would allow, invested in platforms and weapons suitable for littoral operations very likely to take place “out-of-area.” At the same time, there were those who saw a much more radical shift occurring in the international scene, and one which would demand a quite substantial change in naval attitudes away from dominating preoccupations with high-intensity war fighting. Starting around 1999 with Richard Danzig’s A Maritime Strategy,13 voices within the U.S. naval staff and elsewhere began to speculate on the consequences of globalization. Some harked back to a nearly forgotten aspect of Mahan’s writing when the great man had warned: This, with the vast increase in rapidity of communication, has multiplied and strengthened the bonds knitting together the interests of nations to one another, till the whole now forms an articulated system not only of prodigious size and activity, but of excessive sensitiveness, unequalled in former ages.14 Such thoughts eventually resulted in A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower, (CS21) a radically different approach to thinking about maritime operations which gave prominence to the notion of navies not competing but cooperating with one another to defend an international seabased trading system on which everyone’s peace and prosperity ultimately depended.15 Here the adversaries were faceless transnational criminals of various sorts, instability ashore, natural and human disasters and a few rogue nations. It required a new approach to traditional war-fighting skills. As Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chief of Naval Operations, concluded, Where the old maritime strategy focused on sea control, the new one must recognise that the economic tide of all nations rises not when the seas are controlled by one but rather when they are made safe and free for all. 16 13 Haynes, though makes the point that this early flowering of the concept did not last (Haynes 2015, 137). 14 Alfred Thayer Mahan, Retrospect and Prospect (London: Sampson, Low and Marston & Co Ltd, 1902), 144. The recovery of these neglected aspects of Mahan’s work owes much to Jon Tetsuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). 15 Bruns (2018), 194-207. 16 Quoted in Stephen Trimble, “USN Seeks Wider Seapower Definition,” in Jane’s Navy International, July-August 2006, 11. The Accidental Dialectic 19 Partly for this reason, the strategy attracted a good deal of opposition in its making and in its consequence, especially from those who thought that the world had not actually changed that much. To them, that great power competition was still the scenario against which great navies and smaller ones too should continue to define their efforts. In Europe such feelings revived with the increasing truculence of a revanchist Russia under President Vladimir Putin especially after his conflict with Georgia in 2008 and the invasion of the Crimea in 2014. In the U.S., the swing back to the concept of great power competition was further reinforced by increasingly alarming perceptions of Chinese aspirations. The result of this was a ‘refreshed’ and much more muscular edition of the strategy in 2015 (CS21R), in which the absolute requirement for ‘all domain access’ was given considerable prominence.17 Strategy-making was shaped probably more by changing perceptions of threat than by anything else but each of those sometimes quite startling shifts in preoccupation were individually controversial both in how stakeholders interpreted their substance and in their likely consequences for the setting of national and naval objectives, tasks and force design. For this reason the resultant strategy making processes were all accompanied by much discord and discontent and all proved as impermanent as the strategic environment itself. Moreover, oscillations towards and away from great power competition underlines the point that strategy-making is not a teleological process always heading in one direction. The ball in the machine can bounce backwards, at least for a while, if circumstances require it. Budgetary Preoccupations As a second broad influence or driver, resource limitation is an abiding concern of those who would make strategy because it sets constraints on what platforms, weapons and sensors navies can expect to be given for the performance of their notionally allocated tasks. It can easily lead to conclusions that some tasks are simply beyond the capacity of individual navies to deliver and that advocating them or even thinking about them is there- 17 James T. Conway, Gary Roughead and Thad W. Allen, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (Washington: Department of Defense, 2007), pdf; Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Jonathan W. Greenert, and Paul F. Zukunft, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready (Washington D.C.: Department of Defense, 2015); Bruns (2018) 232-236. Geoffrey Till 20 fore a waste of time and effort, however strategically justified they might seem to be. Because of this, there is always the fear that budgetary considerations might drive strategy-making rather than merely discipline it. For Western navies this certainly seemed true of the deliberations conducted in the shadow of the great recession of 2008-200918 ; in similar vein the navies of Southeast Asia had to face severe cut-backs in their programmes and their strategic aspirations after the economic crisis of 1996-7. These fears were reinforced by the apparently inexorable rise in costs of military equipment which far exceeded the rise in inflation, especially at a time when all governments, but accountable Western ones in particular, were faced with the rising demands for, and cost of, the other public services they were required to deliver to their electorates. Sometimes, though, the desire to secure budgetary increases was often a driver of a strategy project or at least something that helped shape the discussion and conclusions. It was more than a coincidence that after their successful contributions to FTS and FFTS in the 1990s, the budget of the U.S. Marine Corps rose significantly when compared to that of the Navy.19 Relative to the number of personnel in the U.S. Navy, today’s Marine Corps is the largest in American history and the same is true of Royal Marines as a proportion of the Royal Navy. Alongside the troughs, conversely, were some peaks when the threat seemed high and the national economy sufficiently strong to sustain efforts to contain it, as in the 1980s for example. When perennial budgetary preoccupations coincided with major shifts in the strategic environment which made it seem either suddenly much less, or much more, threatening, their shaping of strategy-making could be profound. After the Second World War and the Cold War, navies found that the rewards of success were severe budgetary reductions; the desire to show that they were still needed in changed circumstances provided an incentive for a process of radical rethinking, but this thought took some years to deliver. The rapid rise of a clear Soviet threat to which Western navies had to respond provided a rationale for naval spending, but its later disappearance in 1989 posed real problems for naval thinkers. FTS and FFTS were steps toward a solution but arguably the intellectual answer only came with CS21 in 2007.20 18 This was widely held to be blindingly obvious in the controversial case of the U.K.’s Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010, for example. 19 Haynes (2015), 99. 20 Essentially this is the argument in Haynes (2015). The Accidental Dialectic 21 Technological Change At times the influence of technological change on the making of strategy was so strong that it too could become a driver, and occasionally even something of a substitute for it. There were fears this might happen when what Soviet Admiral Sergei Gorshkov called the ‘atomic shock’ of the late 1940s and the 1950s caused his service and many others really to wonder what their function was and whether their hard-won experience in conventional naval operations had been rendered irrelevant. The initial response initially in the U.S. and most other major navies of the time was to seek technological, rather than strategic, solutions to the problem - deploying new aspects of war-fighting, by developing submarines, aircraft, and missiles that could carry nuclear weapons. For the time being, reflections on the detailed use of such weaponry and of their possible implications for the conduct of conventional naval operations were left on one side. In due course, though, they became just a critical part of naval operations; defensively the rest of the fleet assumed the task of sanitising their exits, or, as in TMS, a means of attacking the enemy’s ballistic missile firing submarines. It turned out in the end that the introduction of this new technology was not as deterministic as some had anticipated. In the words of Soviet thinkers, nuclear weapons seemed to “negate themselves” leaving many aspects of the naval business to go on as before. All the same, nuclear technology became and remains a major cause of reflection. Another wave of technological development which for some observers seems also to threaten a major shift in traditional thinking is the current promise of the weaponry of sea denial – or to give it its modern name, Anti-Access, Area Denial (A2/AD). Naval mines, land-based aircraft, coastal artillery, and missile batteries plus stealthy diesel submarines, small craft and above all the prospect of “carrier-killing” ballistic missiles seem to threaten even a strong navy’s capacity to maintain the forward presence that they considered necessary. Again, the proposed “answers” currently being considered take a strongly technological form although their deployment or use may well require strategic realignments. It is in this context that the strategies of “archipelagic defence” are currently being debated in Washington as a riposte to the Chinese “anti-intervention” methods in the Western Pacific.21 In producing the emphasis on “All Domain Access” that 21 For example Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., “How to Deter China: The Case for an Archipelagic Defense,” in Foreign Affairs vol. 94, No. 2 (March/April 2015), 78-86. Geoffrey Till 22 was one of the chief differences between the first and second versions of CS21, such issues clearly had a major and immediate impact on U.S. naval strategy making at the time. More subtly, the inclination to focus particularly on the effects of military technology was sometimes associated with a particular view of what strategy making actually was. Happier with the downwards link towards tactics than the upward link towards policy, people of this persuasion tended to downplay the political objectives of strategy and were more concerned about the accumulation of technical means and the way they should be used. Hew Strachan reminds us of that older understanding of strategy as the use of battle for the purposes of war rather than the use of war for the purposes of policy. Technological preoccupations tended to reinforce this line of thinking, as they did with the focus on network centric warfare under Admiral Art Cebrowski when the ability to put ordnance on target so dominated strategy making that the political aims of the exercise, and every other aspect of the campaign to achieve them, hardly seemed hardly to matter. The ‘Third Offset Strategy’ announced in November 201422 likewise limited the scope of strategy-makings in the wider sense. Such is the preoccupation of many with the ‘military-technical’ dimension of strategy through a focus on the implications of artificial intelligence, big data, cyber operations and so forth that their operational implications for a war of ‘battle-networks’ can be rather lost sight of. Strategic Culture and Expectations Strategy-making is also influenced by a country’s historical experience, strategic assumptions, expectations, and ways of doing things. Because each country’s experience is unique (if only because of its geographic setting) its outlook is also likely to be singular, partly, or wholly. In the Second World War, Britain’s sensitivity to its manpower limitations led its Army to adopt a reliance on innovative technology as a way of reducing the prospects of loss. At the time this was much less apparent in U.S. forces, as was clear from a comparison of their respective landing operations in Normandy in 1944. Since then, however, the U.S. is commonly 22 Hew Strachan, “Strategy in theory; strategy in practice,” in Journal of Strategic Studies vol. 42, no. 2 (April 2019), 172-173, 186; James Hasik, “Beyond the Third Offset: Matching Plans for Innovation to a Theory of Victory,” in Joint Force Quarterly 91 (4th Quarter, October 2018), 14-21. The Accidental Dialectic 23 held to have adopted a technology-heavy, high-intensity war-fighting culture markedly different from that of many of its allies. In Canada by contrast, there were publicly endorsed assumptions that the natural focus of the Canadian Navy was in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR) and maritime interdiction, despite its long focus on the protection of shipping from the start of the Second World War and onwards. This softer focus was considered “truly reflective of Canadian attitudes and policies”23 to a public much less conscious of a direct threat to itself. In the U.S. on the other hand a war-fighting culture has contributed to an institutional reluctance to shift to other softer missions. This attitude perhaps influences American perceptions of threat and certainly has occasionally made it less interested in the conduct of crisis and peacetime operations, and indeed in underlying political considerations than strategy-makers like Peter Swartz thought it should be.24 Level 2 : the Strategy Makers The next level of pins in the machine is that of the strategy makers themselves, above, alongside, and within the navy. Above The Navy Often navies make strategy in response to very broad outlines of national policy objectives handed down from the highest level of government, whether that be the President and White House Staff, the Secretary of Defense and Congress in the U.S., or Prime Minister and Cabinet and to an extent parliamentary defence committees in European countries. In many cases, but not all, the generalised statement of objectives, together with an indication of the resources allowed for their achievement, will already have been constructed after some consultation with naval realities and the naval viewpoint. Those handed-down directives were often very vague, leaving the navy with considerable leeway in how best to react. In others, such as 23 Matthew Gillis, “The Canadian Missions: How the Navy Maintains its Purpose,” in Canadian Naval Review vol. 4, no. 1 (Spring 2008), 4-8; Michael L. Hadley, “The Popular Image of the Canadian Navy,” in A Nation’s Navy: In Quest of Canadian Naval Identity, ed. by Michael L. Hadley, Rob Huebert and Fred W. Crickard (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 35-56. 24 Hattendorf (2004), 79. Geoffrey Till 24 the UK Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) process of 2010 and 2015 the navy can be left with very little room for manoeuvre, which is presumably why no publicly available maritime strategy emerged in either case. In the U.S., the Secretary of Defense and/or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have often played a pivotal role in setting particular strategy-making phases in motion and then closely monitoring their development. This was certainly the intent behind the radical changes in the strategy-making process brought about by General Colin Powell.25 Alongside the Navy The general trend towards more and more ‘jointness’ has meant that naval strategy-making has been both enriched and limited by the growing influence of the other services and the “purple centre.” This is the case in the extent to which the strategy of the Royal Navy is now made not as an independent dark-blue endeavour as it used to be into the 1990s but from a cell within the joint Development, Concepts, and Doctrine Centre at Shrivenham. The result, some would warn, is the production of a kind of strategy characterised by bland homogeneity that offers little guidance and even less stimulation. One of the reasons for this drift into a purple centre, which is common in Europe, was a widespread view that the tensions that arose between the three services when they were making their own strategy generated more heat than light. The push towards a purple approach to strategy-making was, in short, a conscious effort to reduce the power of the dialectical effect in the making of strategy. By contrast, strategy-making in the U.S. remains much more service centred. This, though, could lead to the U.S. Navy focussing so much on what it considered its core sea control tasks that it neglected, and was caught out by sudden unexpected requirements such as to participate in the land war in Vietnam or the air campaign in Desert Storm.26 The practical utility of particular instances of navycentred strategy outputs could also be lessened by the hostile and/or indifferent responses of the other services as arguably happened with FTS and FFTS, and perhaps with CS21 too.27 In these circumstances the uncertain status of these formulations as service rather than joint and national strategies was an undoubted weakness. 25 See Haynes (2015), 36-37. 26 See Baer (1994), 392-393. 27 See Bruns (2018),129-136; Haynes (2015), 100. The Accidental Dialectic 25 On the other hand, the processed doctrinal claims of the other services can often stimulate productive responses. The AirLand Battle concept generated by the U.S. Army and Air Force in the 1970s not only made effective use of the then current notion of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) but also helped stimulate the Navy into responding with TMS. Nor does the more single-service focus of American strategy-making mean that the ideas and perhaps institutional interests of the other services cannot be catered to in the production of maritime rather than simply naval strategy. Hence the ability of the U.S. Navy to incorporate the U.S. Marine Corps interest in FTS and FTS in the 1990s, the U.S. Coast Guard in CS21 in 2007, and in 2015, the Army and Air Force in CS21R through the comprehensive “All Domain Access” concept it featured. Civilian strategists could play a useful mediating role in this as well. The role of Washington’s Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA) in producing the Air/Sea Battle concept which in turn helped pave the way for the All Domain Access section of CS21R is well known. A similar process may be underway with the delivery of Maritime Pressure in 2019.28 Within the Navy At times, there could certainly be plenty of dialectical tensions within the Navy itself, between different institutions, between the different naval aviation, surface, and submarine communities and most especially between the oceanic war fighters, those more concerned with the land effect of naval operations, and those interested in the softer disciplines characteristic of crisis control, peace support, and maritime security operations. The exchanges between these different communities could often be heated29 and the inability to agree could either lead to the virtual disappearance of some strategy projects or bland outcomes that neither offended nor helped anyone. Given the possibility of such internal contention, the role of senior figures was all-important in acting as “champions” driving the strategy-making process through and enthusing the chosen few to deliver what they thought the navy needed. 28 Thomas G. Mahnken, Travis Sharp, Billy Fabian and Peter Kouretsos, Tightening the Chain: Implementing a Strategy of Maritime Pressure in the Western Pacific (Washington D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2019). 29 Haynes provides a good example of this (Haynes 2015, 74). Geoffrey Till 26 American examples of this tension include Admiral Elmo Zumwalt with his Project 2000 aimed at deducing what kind of navy the future demanded, Admiral Thomas Hayward whose desire to “let a hundred flowers bloom” led to TMS or Admirals Mullen and John Morgan who drove through the original CS21. While none of these key documents survived for long (indeed it is not clear that Project 2000 ever appeared in unclassified form) they all at least enriched and, importantly, widened the debate away from technological aspiration on the one hand or battle fleet programmatics on the other. What such leaders wanted was a kind of directed dialectic in which all opinions were canvassed so that truth would prevail. Other key figures, though, took a distinctly jaundiced view of such metaphysical and probably short-lived speculation, preferring to focus on a nearer term “strategy of means,” that was much more closely related to the delivery of the physical capabilities needed.30 30 According to Haynes this would apply to Admirals William Crowe and Vernon Clark (op cit, 26, 144). The Accidental Dialectic 27 How strategy is actually made, Till 2020. Level 3 : The Strategy Implementers Too little attention is paid to those who interpret, implement, distort, or simply ignore the processed strategy that comes down to them. They are the last set of pins in the pinball machine. For this reason, there is much to be said for strategy makers attaching a specific action plan to their product, lest its finer points, or indeed its whole substance, gets lost in translation. Although it took a depressingly long time to produce and still more to implement, the European Union did exactly this, and for just this reason, Geoffrey Till 28 with its European Union Maritime Security Strategy31- a strategy followed by a specific action plan. In the case of the U.S. Navy, of course, the resulting action plans tend quickly to become classified and so disappear from outside gaze. This is a concern though, an institutional failure to link strategic output with force design has probably been the biggest single cause for expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S. naval strategy making process. Conclusions One attraction of the Pinball Machine analogy for the making of strategy is that this also seems all too often to be the way the world actually works, especially perhaps now as there is much less of a global directing agency than usual and far more influences and points of view often in violent contention, delivering uncertainty and unpredictable outcomes. To cope with this, strategy-makers need to be much more than merely kinetic in their approach, paying more attention to the social, economic and political aspects of their trade. U.S. experience suggests that institutions dedicated, and people educated, specifically for the demanding and important task of thinking strategically, for staying on course in the face of adversity and for providing heuristic and practical guidance for military technologists, force designers and operators at sea, are becoming increasingly indispensable. In order to meet the frequently made criticism that the US Navy, like so many other navies, lacked the kind of people who had been educated so that they could ‘do strategy,’ the new 2300 sub-speciality code was created in 2015.32 Hitherto, budding strategists had no accepted career path and were people in other designated career specializations (such as Aviator, Submariner or Surface Warfare Officer) who were informally recognized as being interested in and good at ‘that kind of thing.’ This initiative, it was hoped, would create a self-aware band of officers with otherwise varied backgrounds who would confer ‘war-fighting advantage’ on the US Navy by helping it adapt quickly and efficiently to changing strategic circumstances. Variations in educational and career background and the consequent cognitive diversity this brought were thought advantageous in producing competing points of view in which ‘one hundred flowers would 31 This is available at en. 32 This followed a letter by Randy Forbes to the then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Greenert in 2014. The Accidental Dialectic 29 bloom’ and higher truths emerge. But there needed to be commonalities too. Several pathways were designed to introduce budding strategists to this specialisation including courses at the Naval War College, Newport and the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey and a number of University fellowships and courses and those involved were encouraged to think of themselves as a distinctive cadre. Initially the branch came under N5 tasked with the provision of advice on joint operations and the development of joint strategies, plans, programmers and policies but in 2019 shifted over to a new part of the OPNAV organization to be known as N7 that was tasked to focus on education, training and warfare development. This can be seen as part of a broader bid to ‘prioritize learning as a strategic advantage.’33 However delivered, such a band of strategic brothers needs not only the broad interests and the intellectual agility to cope with a bewildering range of substantive possibilities in the unfolding of world events but also an acute institutional sense of realism about what is worthwhile and achievable, the ability to get all relevant stakeholders on board, or at least to consult their interests, and perhaps above all else to construct a post-strategy implementation plan that translates theory into practice. Without such an approach there is every danger that the results of such strategic reflection, however brilliant and insightful, will have little practical effect in the randomised world of strategy-making and merely gather dust in some forgotten archive of things that should have made a difference, but didn’t. Works Cited Baer, George W., One Hundred Years of Sea Power: The U. S. Navy, 1890-1990 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994). Bruns, Sebastian, US Naval Strategy and National Security: The Evolution of American Maritime Power (London, New York: Routledge, 2018). Conway, James T., Roughead, Gary, and Allen, Thad W., “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower” (Washington: Department of Defense, 2007), https:/ / eStrategy.pdf. 33 Spencer, Richard V., “SecNav Strategic Guidance, Time to Update Our Strategic Vision and Goals,” 7 November 2019, e-to-update-our-strategic-vision-and-goals/. Geoffrey Till 30 Dalton, H. J., Boorda, J. M., and Mundy, C. E.,“Forward … From the Sea,” in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings vol. 120/12/1,102 (October 1994), 46-49. Dunford, Jr., Joseph F., Greenert, Jonathan W., and Zukunft, Paul F., “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready” (Washington D.C.: Department of Defense, 2015), e/150227-CS21R-Final.pdf. Gillis, Matthew, “The Canadian Missions: How the Navy Maintains its Purpose,” in Canadian Naval Review vol. 4, no. 1 (Spring 2008), 4-8, http://www.navalrevie Hadley, Michael L., “The Popular Image of the Canadian Navy,” in Nation’s Navy: In Quest of Canadian Naval Identity, ed. by Michael L. Hadley, Rob Huebert and Fred W. Crickard (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 35-56. Hasik, James, “Beyond the Third Offset: Matching Plans for Innovation to a Theory of Victory,” in Joint Forces Quarterly 91 (4th Quarter, October 2018), 14-21, https: // Hattendorf, John B., The Evolution of the US Navy’s Maritime Strategy 1977-1986, Naval War College Newport Papers 19 (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 2004), ntext=newport-papers. Haynes, Peter D., Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era (Annapolis, MD: The Naval Institute Press, 2015). Hennessy, Peter, and Jinks, James, The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 (London: Penguin, 2015). Heuser, Beatrice, Reading Clausewitz (London: Pimlico, 2002). Huntington, Samuel, “National Policy and The Transoceanic Navy,” in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings vol. 80/5/615 (May 1954), 483-493. Lehman, John, Oceans Ventured: Winning the Cold War at Sea (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2018). Krepinevich, Jr., Andrew F., “How to Deter China: The Case for an Archipelagic Defense,” in Foreign Affairs vol. 94, no. 2 (March/April 2015), 7-119. Mahan, Alfred Thayer, Retrospect and Prospect (London: Sampson, Low and Marston & Co Ltd, 1902). Mahnken, Thomas G., Sharp, Travis, Fabian, Billy, and Kouretsos, Peter, Tightening the Chain: Implementing a Strategy of Maritime Pressure in the Western Pacific (Washington D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2019). McConnell, James, “The Interacting Evolution of Soviet and American Military Doctrines,” Center for Naval Analyses Professional Paper 412 (September 1980), O’Keefe, Sean C., Kelso, Frank B., and Mundy, C. E., “From the Sea: A New Direction for the Naval Services,” in Marine Corps Gazette 76, no. 11 (November 1992), 18-22. Spencer, Richard V., ”SecNav Strategic Guidance: Time to Update Our Strategic Vision and Goals,” 7 November 2019, me-to-update-our-strategic-vision-and-goals/. The Accidental Dialectic 31 Strachan, Hew, “Strategy in theory; strategy in practice,” in Journal of Strategic Studies vol. 42, no. 2 (April 2019), 171-190. Sumida, Jon Tetsuro, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). Trimble, Stephen, “USN Seeks Wider Seapower Definition,” in Jane’s Navy International, July-August 2006,[NA]. Turner, Stansfield, “Missions of the U.S. Navy,” in Naval War College Review vol. 27, no. 2 (March-April 1974), Article 2. Watkins, James, “The Maritime Strategy,” Supplement to U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings vol. 112/1/995 (January 1986), ngs/1986/january-supplement. Geoffrey Till 32

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The 21st century is witnessing renewed tension as conflicts between major powers, serious concerns about future security alliances and global, even generational, security policy challenges arise. In the light of this, naval forces and maritime security, and understanding their underlying strategic rationale, are gaining momentum and importance. What are the roles and missions of naval forces, and how have states and the institutions themselves sought to frame their goals and methods? This book brings together experts from the United States, Europe, and Asia to reflect on how maritime and naval strategy is conceptualised and how it has been used. It celebrates the life and work of Peter M. Swartz, Captain (US Navy) ret., who since contributing to ‘The Maritime Strategy’ of the 1980s as a young Pentagon officer, has been a mentor, friend, intellectual beacon and the foremost purveyor of maritime expertise to the global naval community. With contributions by James Bergeron, Sebastian Bruns, Seth Cropsey, Larissa Forster, Michael Haas, John Hattendorf, Peter Haynes, Andrzej Makowski, Amund Lundesgaard, Narushige Michishita, Martin Murphy, Sarandis Papadopoulos, Nilanthi Samaranayake, Jeremy Stöhs, Eric Thompson, Geoffrey Till, Sarah Vogler, Steve Wills.


Großmachtkonflikte, die Zukunft von sicherheitspolitischen Institutionen sowie transnationalen Generationenherausforderungen bergen eine neue globale Unsicherheit. Vor diesem Hintergrund bekommen maritime Sicherheit und Seestreitkräfte sowie deren Einordnung im außenpolitischen Werkzeugkasten eine zunehmende Bedeutung. Was sind die Rollen und Einsatzaufgaben von Seemacht, und wie haben Staaten und ihre Institutionen maritime Ziele, Mittel und Wege konzeptualisiert? Dieser Sammelband bringt ausgewiesene Experten aus den USA, Europa und Asien zusammen, die ihre Perspektive auf maritime Strategie teilen. Das Buch dient gleichzeitig die Festschrift für Peter M. Swartz, Kapitän zur See a.D. der US-Marine, der seit seiner Arbeit als einer der Autoren der „Maritime Strategy“ (1980er) als Mentor, Freund, intellektueller Leuchtturm und vor allen Dingen als Spiritus Rektor wesentlich zur Schärfung des Verständnisses von Seestrategie in den globalen Beziehungen beigetragen hat. Mit Beiträgen von James Bergeron, Sebastian Bruns, Seth Cropsey, Larissa Forster, Michael Haas, John Hattendorf, Peter Haynes, Andrzej Makowski, Amund Lundesgaard, Narushige Michishita, Martin Murphy, Sarandis Papadopoulos, Nilanthi Samaranayake, Jeremy Stöhs, Eric Thompson, Geoffrey Till, Sarah Vogler, Steve Wills.