Content

Sebastian Bruns, Sarandis Papadopoulos, Conclusion in:

Sebastian Bruns, Sarandis Papadopoulos (Ed.)

Conceptualizing Maritime & Naval Strategy, page 345 - 348

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, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845299150-345

Series: ISPK Seapower Series, vol. 3

Bibliographic information
Conclusion Sebastian Bruns & Sarandis Papadopoulos This edited volume brings together eminent and emerging scholars and practitioners on naval and maritime strategy from Asia, the United States, and Europe. When the idea of a dedicated Festschrift first came to our mind, we hoped on contracting half a dozen, perhaps up to eight authors and about 60,000 words in total. The significantly larger number of chapters here, spanning the world’s oceans, and their intellectual depth, are a testament to Peter Swartz’ enduring and wide-ranging influence on maritime and naval experts around the globe. Hence, this compilation is not just a celebration of Peter’s life-long achievements. It also meant as a lasting source and bibliography for naval planners, scholars, policy-makers, and strategists alike. A popular saying has it that strategy is both an art and a science. Historians and political scientists are often overly focused on the actual strategic documents, for they provide one of the few tangible statements of intent regarding the three-legged stool of ways, ends, and means. Instead, strategies can be manifold. Some are top-down plans driven by interests and goals, other can be bottom-up ideas fueled by the existing level of military capabilities. They can be scenario-based using situation and context, threatbased using the meeting of a challenger or opponent (or enemy) as an approach. A functional approach would delineate a certain set of strategic missions; to minimize or offset a risk, hedging strategies could be applied. Finally, strategies can also be based on superior capabilities and technology, trading them for lower human costs, or be fiscal-driven – or in any combination of the above.1 It has well been established that there is a correlation between six key variables. These are the national interests and objectives, the derived security (or “purely” military) strategy, the means and instruments in use, the risk of failure, the broader security environment, and the available re- 1 Sebastian Bruns, “U.S. Navy Strategy & American Sea Power from ‘The Maritime Strategy’ (1982-1986) to ‘A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower’” (2007): Politics, Capstone Documents, and Major Naval Operations 1981-2011,” doctoral dissertation (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, 2014), 57. 345 sources, when it comes to force planning.2 This rather useful, scientific approach ends at the moment where any given strategy is exposed to the realworld dynamics of domestic and global policy. In the words of heavyweight boxing great Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” So much for the science part. What about the art portion, conscious that any work of art is in the eye of the beholder, or the critic? The essays in this volume have underlined that processes must not be overlooked. These can be messy, chaotic, and often impossible to trace and clarify. They may be classified or be subject to wide-ranging public and oppositional interpretation. Processes change continuously, too. Finally, to arrive at a strategy, or a set of strategies, means exposing them to the real world. Operationalizing strategic documents is an art in itself, not least because the strategist must be conscious of what works, and what does not work. Institutions have interests, and these sometimes collide. In democratic regimes, there is also the notion that events (from elections to international crises, from technology, or to what media chooses to report, etc.) drive politics and governments unlike any other force. A further complication is the preference for solving operational problems, or shorter-term budgetary issues, rather than writing more abstract strategy, at least in Western navies. As the essays of Larissa Forster and Jeremy Stöhs highlight, these can draw attention from questions of why and when naval force is to be used, to answering how it is best employed instead. Unsurprisingly, military professionals like what they know best, and most naval officers are adept operators of their vessels and aircraft. The problem comes when they attempt to write strategy without enough history or at least using context. In the American case, at least, the tradition of trying to operationalize national strategy arguably extends back in time to Emory Upton of the nineteenth century. In light of these considerations, real strategists can at best give advice to their masters. This is what Peter Swartz did, essentially throughout the entire course of his lengthy career. During the 1960s, he was an advisor to the South Vietnamese Navy. Subsequently, he served as an advisor to a whole host of U.S. Navy admirals in the 1980s, and to Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. Towards the end of the decade, he became an advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. In the 1990s, his advisory role turned from military rank to civilian job, when he joined 2 Henry Bartlett, Paul Holman and Timothy Somes, “The Art of Strategy and Force Planning,” in Naval War College Review vol. 48, no. 1 (1995), 114-126. Sebastian Bruns & Sarandis Papadopoulos 346 the Center for Naval Analyses, then in Alexandria, Virginia. Thereafter, he advised his colleagues at CNA about what the Navy required, and in turn offered the Navy staff advice on what it needed to know, translating what each side needed from the other. Not every piece of advice he could and did bestow was considered properly, and certainly his work for the South Vietnamese Navy was challenged by grander US foreign policy decisions at the time. Political success was quite beyond his pay grade as a lieutenant in 1970. (He did, however, meet his wife Thuy in country, and their long marriage is likely the warmest strategic outcome of his time in South-East Asia.) Nowhere does Peter’s advice stand out more brightly than in his strategy-writing role during his second career, and this was where most contributors to this volume came to owe their debts to him. Through research and writing, then saving and sharing that work, he enabled all of us to exceed the limits of what we already knew, or could find in books and archives. A reference call to Peter, on a subject of seeming obscurity, would result in a rapid-fire listing of the people to whom to talk, followed up by a series of e-mailed sources which threatened to overwhelm an email inbox. His provision of sources became the means employed by dozens, possibly more than a hundred researchers, to achieve their own individual ends. Whether those recipients’ ends meant studying naval history for a doctoral dissertation, crafting a strategic theory’s analysis, grasping at understanding an internal decision process, or trying to reconstruct U.S. Navy budget choices after the fact really didn’t matter. Peter’s most recent advisees, international graduate student researchers, Federal historians struggling to understand hazy, half-concealed decisions, analytical colleagues at CNA, and the Navy and Marine Corps officers closest to his métier, are the beneficiaries of his measure as a true colleague. It is our collective hope that we have shown here some of what we have learned because of him. Earlier in this book, Geoffrey Till linked the process of making strategy to an old-fashioned pinball machine, where the little ball of strategy bounces around between the pins in a random, even contingent, but generally downward direction until it drops out of the bottom with some kind of accumulated value. In this sense, Peter Swartz is a real “Pinball Wizard.”3 More seriously, to paraphrase the writer Adam Gopnick, all significant scholarly discoveries perform two functions. On one level, they advance 3 Peter Townshend, “The Who,” Decca Records, London 1969. Conclusion 347 what that author calls “the narrow field of fact,” what humans collectively understand and share with one another.4 What the authors in this volume hope is that we have shown how Peter Swartz widened the general understanding of what sea power has meant and continues to mean. That credit is important enough on its own. But the second purpose of all literary exploration is “to extend the imaginative field of wonder,” showing us what ideas can do. As an inspiration, our friend has shown us both the art of the possible in creating maritime strategy, and more importantly the science needed to write and explain what such strategy means. We need more of the latter to permit the former to flourish. Works Cited Bartlett, Henry, Paul Holman and Timothy Somes, “The Art of Strategy and Force Planning,” in Naval War College Review vol. 48, no. 1 (1995), 114-126. Bruns, Sebastian, “U.S. Navy Strategy & American Sea Power from ‘The Maritime Strategy’ (1982-1986) to ‘A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower’” (2007): Politics, Capstone Documents, and Major Naval Operations 1981-2011,” doctoral dissertation (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, 2014). Gopnick, Adam, “Storytelling Across the Ages,” The New Yorker, 29 December 2019, published in the print edition of 6 January 2020 with the headline “Good Old Days,” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/06/storytelling-acros s-the-ages. 4 Adam Gopnick, “Storytelling Across the Ages,” The New Yorker, 29 December 2019, published in the print edition of 6 January 2020 with the headline “Good Old Days,” 14, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/06/storytelling-acro ss-the-ages . Sebastian Bruns & Sarandis Papadopoulos 348

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Abstract

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.

Zusammenfassung

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.