Fighting the Fleet : Operational Art & Modern Fleet Combat

Fighting the Fleet : Operational Art & Modern Fleet Combat

Modern Military
Official U.S. Navy portrait photograph of Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. (1882-1959).

“Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.” -George S. Patton

By the end of the Cold War, the Navy had absorbed the operational level of war lessons learned from WWII – how to maintain a campaign of tactical engagements over a protracted period – in addition modernized the Navy to enable it to pursue the Maritime Strategy published in 1986.

With the end of the Cold War, and peace dividend budget cuts being enacted, the Navy decided to prioritize the construction of new combatants over everything else, including the ability to regenerate combat forces in support of an operational naval campaign. The Navy, I believe unconsciously, decided that a forward-based force overly dependent on foreign bases and facilities could meet the historic mission of the U.S. Navy to fight it’s fights “over there.”

To further understand this argument, and to see what can be done to fix things:
Areas of responsibility for each of the United States Navy fleets. Tenth Fleet serves as the numbered fleet for U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and therefore is not shown.

Fighting the Fleet: Operational Art and Modern Fleet Combat. “Because none of the other fleet functions can persist at the operational level of war without a base force, basing is the most important fleet function.”

A fleet’s operational reserve is in its base, and yet Navy decisions over the past three decades have conspired to weaken the base. Read the book to learn how operational art is used to bring the four fleet functions together at the operational level of war.

“Expeditionary or Forward Based?” An examination of the force structure and expeditionary capabilities of the current Fleet.

Aerial view of Gerald R. Ford alongside USS Harry S. Truman.

“A Timeless U.S. Navy Strategy.” Since the Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, the U.S. Navy no longer has the ability to say how it’s forces will operate – that is the purview of the Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs). However, that doesn’t mean the Navy can’t have a strategy…

“An Expeditionary Navy for an Era of Great Power Competition.” To implement the Navy’s strategy, and provide relevant warfighting forces to the various GCCs, the Navy needs to re-structure itself to return to being a truly expeditionary force. This is that force structure…

In closing, the three authors of Fighting the Fleet, ADM Scott Swift, USN (Ret.), who wrote the Foreword; and co-authors CAPT Jeffrey R. Cares, USN (Ret.) and CAPT Anthony Cowden, USN (Ret.); will be conducting a book signing together in the U.S. Naval Institute booth at WEST 2023 on 14 February 2023.

Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies says of the book:
Navy SEALs at one of the entrances to the Zhawar Kili cave complex

“The authors argue that naval doctrine is not about checklists and things to do but rather about concrete guidance on how to win at the competitive process of naval combat. They argue that more warfighters need to develop their own theory of the fight, which will in turn allow naval commanders and planners to make better plans, reach better decisions, and ultimately prevail in combat at sea and in the littoral when next called upon.”

Read More:

Fighting the Fleet

Buy The Book:

Fighting the Fleet: Operational Art and Modern Fleet Combat: Cares, Jeffrey R., Cowden, Anthony, Swift USN (RET.), ADM Scott: 9781682477274: Books

Fighting the Fleet : Operational Art & Modern Fleet Combat