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Research from the Defence Studies Department, King's College London

There is a good chance that many will see these observations as pedantic. But this discussion is not offered up to exclude efforts to define the present or look to the future.

Development and understanding of modern challenges requires us to think in new ways. Some readers might ask: When should we look to history for a guide? Perhaps those questions should be turned on their heads. It is clear that history does not repeat itself. It does not, and cannot, provide a chart or checklist for success in the present or future. If others have asked similar questions in the past and we ignore what they learned, we are less likely to find the right questions today.

And without good questions we will never get to good answers. The future will surely have differences from the past. They provide vital foundations. He has served as a search and rescue and naval special warfare helicopter pilot, the Officer-in-Charge of an amphibious helicopter gunship detachment, and in the Pentagon as a strategic analyst and staff officer.

This article represents his own opinions, which are not necessarily those of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or U. This book focuses on the theory and practice of maritime strategy and operations by the weaker powers at sea. Similar ebooks. Book Navy and Marine Corps were already engaged in similarly perilous missions: raiding pirate camps, attacking enemy ships in the dark of night, and striking enemy facilities and resources on shore.

Even John Paul Jones, father of the American navy, saw such irregular operations as critical to naval warfare. This book, the first historical study of its kind, makes a compelling case for raiding and irregular naval warfare as key elements in the story of American sea power.

21st-Century Education of a Naval Officer

According to Farley, most officers saw little use in the U. Historians can read the essay to help understand the U. In , after serving as Commander of U. He had realized during his time as a student in that, despite twenty years in uniform and already having commanded a battleship, he actually knew very little about the strategy and operations which should be guiding his service. After the year as a student, he remained aboard the War College as an Instructor, and continued to develop his appreciation for the centrality of naval education. But reflecting back on his experience from , he pointed out that there was no way for him to learn everything he needed to know in simply a year of study, or even in an additional year or two as an instructor.

Instead, he came to the realization that for twenty years he should have been pursuing his own course of self-study and personal education.

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There is simply too much to learn. But Sims also recognized that individual and personal self-study could be a real slog, and this was particularly true if one had little background in military history or international affairs.

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Just knowing where to start was a challenge. He related to his students in Newport a sentiment that Will Hunting would express a century later, as a junior officer he read a lot of books but he picked the wrong books.

21st Century Mahan : Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era -

He had not been reading military history or about foreign policy and decision making. To help alleviate this issue, in Sims published his reflections in a Proceedings article and he included a suggested reading list of six books for junior officers to begin their self-study program a list including Wilkinson , Clausewitz , Mahan , and Corbett which still stands up well today! He also developed a wider explanation of the professional responsibility of personal education which included the admonition that:.

In setting out these suggestions, Sims made the case that if officers simply waited to be sent to a school before they started considering their own naval education, it would be too late, and they would diminish the effectiveness of the U. But in overcoming the slog and challenge of getting started in self-education, Sims also recognized that we are not alone.

In particular, he insisted that the graduates of the program in Newport must return to their ships and take up a role as teachers themselves, bringing their newfound knowledge and understanding to their shipmates in the fleet. In the aftermath of the Great War, just as today, there simply were too many officers in the U.

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Navy to expect to be able to send all of them to the yearlong course at Newport. But to Sims, naval education was far more than a matter of collecting degrees and certifications, or completing courses, it was a career-long effort and it was both an individual responsibility and a group effort.

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  6. Commanders and leaders had a responsibility to oversee not only the training of their wardrooms, but also to begin laying the foundations of the education of their juniors. His prolific body of work seems poorly suited to addressing the complex array of issues that confront our 21 st century world.


    Military historian Benjamin F. Armstrong enthusiastically challenges these preconceptions in his recent book, 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era. Armstrong, a notable young scholar and active duty naval officer who writes on military innovation and naval strategy, delivers fresh perspectives on the enduring vision of a past master.

    Moreover, the implications of rising Asian powers and an imperative to revamp U.

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    2. Research from the Defence Studies Department, King's College London.
    3. 21st-Century Education of a Naval Officer.
    4. Armstrong organizes the book into five chapters, each featuring an essay by Mahan specifically chosen to address modern themes and issues. Armstrong delivers this package in a concise pages. Each chapter averages about 30 pages, a length that allows a busy reader to cover its contents in a single sitting. Chapter One discusses the balance of bureaucratic and operational priorities necessary to facilitate effective naval administration.

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