Accession Number:



Naval Classical Thinkers and Operational Art

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Technical Report

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Naval War College Newport United States

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Modern operational warfare at sea emerged during the Crimean War 18531856, the American Civil War 18611865, the SpanishAmerican War of 1898, and the RussoJapanese War of 19041905. However, the development of the theory of operational warfare at sea lagged behind practice. It was not until the early 1920s and in the 1930s that naval theoreticians in the West and in the former Soviet Union started with serious and systematic efforts to develop theories of various aspects of operational warfare at sea.In the late nineteenth and until the mid-twentieth century, the most influential naval theoreticians were primarily concerned with the study of sea power as a whole and naval strategy in particular. None of them formally recognized the existence of that intermediate field of study and practice between strategy and tacticstoday called operational art or operational warfare. Yet, some of their theories actually dealt with many important aspects of operational warfare at sea. For better or worse, the theories of naval classical theoreticians shaped the service culture and doctrine of many navies. These theoreticians need to be critically studied and understood otherwise, one cannot really hope to fully understand the theory and practice of operational warfare today or in the future.

Subject Categories:

  • Naval Surface Warfare
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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