Initiative Saving Initiative at Leyte Gulf: US Command and Control at the Largest Naval Battle in History
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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The victory at the Battle of Leyte Gulf was tactically and strategically decisive. Japanese losses 33 warships. Never again did the Japanese Navy seriously contest an American amphibious landing. American losses 6 warships. The United States Navy commissioned more ships that week than were lost to combat. As the largest naval battle in history, it was the culmination and proving ground for naval command and control doctrine. Yet because of the fateful and nearly catastrophic decisions made by American leaders, critics have since argued the merits of a centralized system for controlling forces at sea. Evidence refutes these critics. Tracing the intertwined early-20th century history between doctrine and control methods, and then examining the individual actions by those commanders at the battle yield one overarching conclusion the naval doctrine, known as initiative of the subordinate, was the critical element of command and control that secured a decisive American victory at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.