Naval Ground Strategy

. Naval Ground Strategy Introduction Alfred Thayer Mahan recognized an intimate relationship between war and politics in every era-which political institutions and military must work in harmony. In this regard, he pointed out that economic bases, state policy, and geographical position were among the most important factors to consider for securing a large and expanding system of international trade.1 However, means of determining the mode of strategy to use and various ways of accommodating these strategic actions need to go in line with particular times and needs. In line with his argument, the security of a large and expanding system of international trade in the 20th century would depend on the creation of a transnational consortium of naval power (i.e., the U.S. and Britain).2

Mahan advocated for application of sea power through a big navy which according to him was significant in commerce and economic warfare. He believed that the nation or a group of nations that commanded the sea could be in a good position to draw trade, wealth, and economic resources of the world and was most likely to win wars3.

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During the civil war, naval weaknesses of the southern states led to seaborne assault. In the course of the four years of conflict, the territorial integrity and economic vivacity of the south were compromised by the union army and navy.4 In this regard, Mahan’s view of navy power could be seen as accounts of truth that were to happen. On the case of Britain, Mahan believed that in late 18th and 19th centuries, Britain had been better placed because parliament had been dominated by men with close ties to maritime commerce. In his view of naval supremacy in the 20th century, he believed that not a single democratized nation would be capable of commanding such supremacy and that this would only be exercised by a transnational group of navies.5 However, he insisted that the basis of such an arrangement would not be formal agreement but absence of political conflict. In his view, he believed that Britain and the United States would constitute such cooperation.

However, in quest for superpower supremacy, the US has predominantly set its programs and doctrines to enable it attain this dream. In September 2002, the bush administration issued its national security strategy, which advocated for use of force to get rid of any apparent challenge to US global hegemony.6 This could be analyzed as grand strategy by the US to maintain its world dominance. However, in many situations, the US mission can be termed as a failed one. In fact, due to its dominance in world order, many nations view the US a threat to world security with many anti-US nations and terror organizations fight back. The 9-11 US attack, the world has indeed developed hatred of American arrogance and militarism. To some extent, the world viewed the US and especially ‘Bush’ as greater threat than Saddam was.

In the contemporary world, the historic strategy that emphasized on the ‘rule of force’ has already been surpassed by the rule of law. In this case, the US military must be able to act unilaterally to defeat or even contain the hostile powers of China and Russia- an Islamic world.7


Although the American pursuit of naval power from 1880s to 1922 and 1946 to the end of the cold war has deep root in the political culture of the industrial America, the current world politics would pose a threat to such dominance.


Pelham, G. and Wood, R. Strategic Transformation and Naval Power in the 21st Century. Newport, R. I: DIANE Publishing, 2000.

Vego, M. Naval strategy and operations in narrow seas. New York. Frank cass publishers

Jon Tetsuro Sumida. Inventing grand strategy and teaching command: the classic works of Alfred Thayer Mahan.

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