By Geoffrey Till
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Additional resources for Maritime Strategy and the Nuclear Age
There was, thought the author of what was probably the first rigorous study of naval tactics, an evident need for 'an art of naval evolutions'. Without it, he thought, a fleet resembles a force of scavengers who do without order all that caprice inspires or chance suggests. Without it an Admiral can make only imperfect use of his fleet, whether it be to oppose the enemy in the proper way, or to cut his line, double on him, avoid him, bring him to action, or chase him; for all of these things require that the Admiral should be the moving spirit of his fleet, as the mind is of the various members of the body.
In this less sympathetic atmosphere some of the difficulties in the philosophy of the Jeune Ecole became more readily apparent. Their technical assumptions about the demise of the battleship and their claims about the effectiveness oftheguerre de course seemed increasingly suspect. Was it not also true, asked one ex-Minister of Marine, J. L. de Lanessan, that a successful war on commerce required at least a degree of command of the sea, and so needed the ships and doctrines best suited to contesting it.
The navy must learn to use its wide range of capabilities to bring pressures to bear on the enemy which would assist the work of the army and further the political objectives for which the war was being fought. In this context he stressed the importance of combined operations as being the most effective way for Britain to use her sea power in a European war. There is no evidence that Corbett's views on these matters had any practical effect on British naval policy. The bulk of influential opinion remained obsessed with the centrality of the decisive fleet action.
Maritime Strategy and the Nuclear Age by Geoffrey Till