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The Navy as a Fighting Machine eBook

Bradley Fiske
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 308 pages of information about The Navy as a Fighting Machine.

Third Scheme.—­The third kind of game is that in which the fleet is divided into two parts, fairly equal in each of the various elements, battleships, battle cruisers, destroyers, submarines, aircraft, etc.  This scheme gives opportunity for more realistic situations than the other two, since each side operates and sees vessels and formations similar to those that it would operate and see in war; and it gives opportunity for games which combine both strategical and tactical operations and situations to a greater degree than do the other two schemes.  Its only weakness is the fact that the entire fleet is not operated as a unit; not even a large fraction, but only about one-half.  Like each of the other two schemes, however, it has its distinctive field of usefulness.

Its main advantage is its realism—­the fact that two powerful naval forces, each composed of all the elements of a naval force, seek each other out; or else one evades and the other seeks; and then finally they fight a fairly realistic battle; or else one successfully evades the other; or else minor actions occur between detachments, and no major result occurs; just as happens in war.

Strategically, this scheme is less valuable than the other two; tactically, more so.  For the experience and the records of the staff this scheme is less valuable than the other two, but for the training of the fleet it is more so.

Of course, the division of games for staff and fleet training into three general schemes is arbitrary, and not wholly correct; for no such division really exists, and in practice it would not be observed.  The thought of the writer is merely to point out that, in a general way, the schemes may be divided into three classes, and to show the convenience of doing so—­or at least of recognizing that there are three general kinds of games, and that each kind has its advantages and likewise its disadvantages.

In our navy, only three strategic problems or maneuvers, devised at the department, have been worked out at sea—­one in May, and one in October, 1915, and one in August, 1916:  all belonged in the second category.  They were devised by the General Board and the War College, as we had no staff.  The solving of the problems by the commander-in-chief aroused the greatest interest not only in the fleet, but in the Navy Department, in fact, throughout the entire navy, and to a surprising degree throughout the country, especially among the people on the Atlantic coast.  Discussions of the utmost value were aroused and carried on, and a degree of co-operation between the department, the War College, and the fleet, never attained before, was realized.  If a routine could be devised whereby such problems could be solved by practical games, say once a month, and the results analyzed and recorded in moving-picture form by the staff in Washington, we could see our way in a few years’ time to a degree of efficiency in strategy which now we cannot even picture.  It would automatically indoctrinate the navy and produce a sympathetic understanding and a common aim, which would permeate the personnel and make the navy a veritable organism.  It would attain the utmost attainable by any method now known.

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