Attention is respectfully invited to the fact that at the present time naval strategy is mainly an art; that it will probably continue so for many years; that whether a science of naval strategy will ever be formulated need not now concern us deeply, and that the art of naval strategy, like every other art, needs practice for its successful use. Naval strategy is so vague a term that most of us have got to looking on it as some mystic art, requiring a peculiar and unusual quality of mind to master; but there are many things to indicate that a high degree of skill in it can be attained by the same means as can a high degree of skill in playing—say golf: by hard work; and not only by hard work, but by doing the same thing—or similar things—repeatedly. Now most of us realize that any largely manual art, such as the technic of the piano, needs frequent repetition of muscular actions, in order to train the muscles; but few of us realize how fully this is true of mental arts, such as working arithmetical or strategical problems, though we know how easy it is to “get rusty” in navigation. Our mental muscles and whatever nerves co-ordinate them with our minds seem to need fully as much practice for their skilful use as do our physical muscles; and so to attain skill in strategy, we must practise at it. This means that all hands must practise at it—not only the staff in their secret sanctuary, not only the commander-in-chief, not only the division commanders, but, in their respective parts, the captains, the lieutenants, the ensigns, the warrant officers, the petty officers, and the youngest recruits. To get this practice, the department, through the staff, must furnish the ideas, and the commander-in-chief the tools. Then, day after day, month after month, and year after year, in port and at sea, by night and by day, the ideas assisted by the tools will be supplying a continuous stimulus to the minds of all. This stimulus, properly directed through the appropriate channels and devoted to wise purposes, will reach the mess attendant, the coal-passer, and the recruit, as well as those in positions more responsible (though not more honorable); and as the harmony of operation of the whole increases, as skill in each task increases, and as a perception of the strategic why for the performance of each task increases, the knowledge will be borne in on all that in useful occupation is to be found the truest happiness; that only uninterested work at any task is drudgery; that interest in work brings skill, that skill brings pleasure in exerting it; and that the greater the number of men engaged together, and the more wise the system under which they work, the greater will be the happiness of each man, and the higher the efficiency of the whole.
RESERVES AND SHORE STATIONS
In the preceding chapter it was pointed out that the work of preparing the naval machine for use could be divided into two parts: preparing the existing fleet and preparing the rest of the navy.