Hail to the Deep: A Strategy for Submarines

We don’t generally post articles from other blogs or news sources here on The Bridge, but the recent editorial in the National Interest by James Holmes (a Professor of Strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific) felt like a great addition to our recent Personal Theories of Power series.

While we had two great posts on sea power, neither dug into the undersea realm…Dr. Holmes does it for us. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Submarines, then, offer potent capabilities both during and after the fight for sea control. When fitted with systems enabling them to project force onto land, they become truly maritime platforms. “Naval,” explains Corbett, is a subset of “maritime.” Why? Because “men live upon the land and not upon the sea.” Land is where great matters are decided. Accordingly, maritime strategy is the art of determining “the mutual relations of your army and navy in a plan of war.” It’s about dominating the land-sea interface, the natural preserve of sea power.
So maritime strategy isn’t all about navies. To be sure, winning, denying and exploiting command are about stifling enemy commerce and naval operations. But these functions also open avenues into coastal zones through which joint land/sea forces can shape terrestrial events. No longer can navies be partitioned cleanly into a battle fleet, a swarm of cruisers and the flotilla. SSKs fit most closely into the flotilla, SSNs into the battle fleet. But submarines defy easy classification. Their capabilities span all three domains while adding missions of which previous sea-power theorists could never have dreamed.
All this only adds to the need for commanders to use sea-power theory to unlock the full potential of structureless fleets—including their silent services. Imagine what a Lucky Fluckey versed in sea-power theory could accomplish today.

I recommend you go read the rest here.


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