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Building Corbett's Navy: The Principles of Maritime Strategy and the Functions of the Navy in Naval Policy

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Master's thesis

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In order to properly balance the fleet and fulfill its roles in the 21st century, the Navy must apply the principles of maritime strategy laid forth by Sir Julian Corbett and reorganize its policy around the enduring functions of the Navy. The purpose of this paper is to apply Corbetts principles of maritime strategy to establish policy based upon an approach founded on the functions of the Navy. This paper proposes that the Navy must redefine and re-aggregate its strategic concepts of power projection, sea control and forward presence around Corbetts principles of maritime strategy in planning its future fleet. The Navys current approach is rooted within strategic traditions rather than the principles and constants of naval warfare, strategy and policy. To achieve success in the future the Navy must found its naval policy on its functions in consonance with the principles of maritime strategy. This paper compares current naval policy to previous policy against Corbetts principles and the functions of the Navy. It will demonstrate that an efficient and adaptable naval policy must be based on principles and functions rather than the Navys strategic concepts. Since the early 1990s the balance of naval power has been re-directed to land warfare in recognition of an expeditionary security environment, a significant change from the monolithic anti-Soviet naval policy. Change is required due to the absence of the Soviet fleet threat. History and Corbetts principles demand that functions drive naval policy rather than strategic concepts founded upon an obsolete threat. Functions are less susceptible to the radical shifts of politically charged strategic tidal changes of administrations. A functional approach enables prioritization of capabilities and results in choices that minimize risk and allow the Navy to articulate its true requirements to serve the nations interest.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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