Naval Doctrine and Strategy

Editor: The following are comments to the article “D – All of The Above: Connecting 21st Century Naval Doctrine to Strategy” ( as cited1.

Language is always evolving and as difficult as Air-Sea-Battle is to explain [and the Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC) is even worse], I don’t think that referencing Mahan et al is particularly helpful.  Notwithstanding that, I totally agree with Cdr Armstrong that what “ASB/JAM-GC doctrinal documents are really talking about, in the terms used by classical naval theory, is command of the sea”.  Quibbling about that term and introducing sub-terms such as control of the sea, etc., is really about distinctions without a difference.

As a graduate of the US Naval War College, I’m accustomed to the regard in which Mahan is held by USN officers but I’ve personally found his writings to be laborious to read and lacking any particular insight.  Whether he is truly the thought leader behind the modern USN or should the credit be granted more to Theodore Roosevelt and Admiral Sims is a topic best discussed in the wardroom!  In my view, Till, Holmes, and Corbett are much more accessible writers.

On a related note, what I find super interesting is the debate between Mahan’s Battle Force Sea Control Paradigm and its primary challenger of a sea-denial strategy (Aube’s guerre de course).  I think we see elements of that debate playing out in the ASB/JAM-GC documents.

Note 1. Armstrong, Benjamin, “D – All of The Above: Connecting 21st Century Naval Doctrine to Strategy,” Infinity Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, summer 2015, pages 13-17.

Photo: Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Calgary, Whitehorse and Nanaimo during Exercise TRIDENT FURY 2020. Credit: Combat Camera

RUSI(NS) Staff

Editorial Staff at RUSI (NS). This work is the sole opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Department of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Royal United Services Institute of Nova Scotia.