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.
this could have been done only by putting out of commission certain smaller vessels, such as cruisers and gunboats; and the battleships would have had to be put into commission very hurriedly, filled up with men fresh from other ships, and no more ready to fight in the fleet against an enemy (whose ships were fully manned with well-trained officers and men, accustomed to the details of their respective ships, and acquainted with each other) than the Chesapeake was ready to fight the Shannon.

3.  In case our system is not so good as that of—­say Germany—­or of any other country having a system equally excellent, we shall never be able to contend successfully against that navy, under equal strategic conditions, unless we have an excess over her in numbers of personnel and material sufficient to counteract our inferiority in efficiency.

The efficiency of a navy or an army is exactly what the strategic system makes it.  Eleven thousand Greeks under Miltiades, highly efficient and thoroughly trained, defeated 100,000 Persians at Marathon.  A Greek fleet under Themistocies defeated and almost destroyed a much larger Persian fleet at Salamis.  With an army of less than 35,000 men, but highly trained by Philip of Macedon, his father, Alexander, in only twelve years conquered ten of the most wealthy and populous countries of the world.  Caesar, Alaric, Attila, Charlemagne, and all the great military men from the greatest antiquity down to the present moment have trained and organized bodies of soldiers and sailors, under systems suited to the times, and then waged successful war on peoples less militarily efficient.  Cortez conquered Mexico, and Pizarro conquered Peru; the British, French, and Spanish subdued the Indians of North America, and during the latter half of the nineteenth century nearly all the land in the world that was “unoccupied” by Europeans or their descendants was taken in possession by European Powers.  Great Britain is now mistress of about one-quarter of the land and the population of the globe.  Russia, France, Germany, and the United States govern most of the remainder.

These results were brought about almost solely by the exercise of military force:—­and of this force, physical courage was not a determining element, because it was just as evident in the conquered as in the conquerors.  The determining element was strategy that (under the behest of policy) prepared the military and naval forces in material and personnel before they were used, and directed their operations, while they were being used.

Of all the single factors that have actually and directly made the history of the world, the most important factor has been strategy.



The most important element connected with a navy is the strategy which directs it, in accordance with which all its plans are laid—­plans for preparation before war and plans for operations during war.  Strategy is to a navy what mind is to a man.  It determines its character, its composition, its aims; and so far as external conditions will permit, the results which it accomplishes.

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The Navy as a Fighting Machine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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