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U.S. Maritime Strategy in the Pacific War

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Technical Report,19 Feb 2018,27 Dec 2018

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Naval War College Newport United States

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Two principle concepts for the employment of naval power draw upon the writings of Mahan and Corbett. Mahan focuses on the concept of a decisive, large-scale engagement and the need to be strong a the culminating point of victory. Corbett on the other hand favors local control of Sea Lines of Communication SLOCs, and projection of maritime power onto land. During the Pacific war, the U.S. Navy employed a Corbettian strategy in its campaign across the Pacific to Japan, as evidenced by submarine operations, amphibious warfare and the use of airpower. The U.S. Navy did not seek the decisive engagement, nor was such an engagement necessary to achieve victory over the Imperial Japanese Navy. What was important was control over local SLOCs for the purposes of 1 inserting Marines over the beach and supporting them after landing, 2 preventing Japanese forces from doing the same for their forces, and 3 preventing Japan from using its own SLOCs to move troops and materiel throughout the empire. This essay examines key points to demonstrate why the U.S. strategy was Corbettian and not Mahanian.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Humanities and History

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