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Operations





The operations of the landed expedition corps on the whole can be
conducted according to the principles set down by the commanders of
the troops, but these principles must take into account the particular
conditions under which the forces operate. The well-known marine
writer, Mahan, emphasizes the fact that a landing operation must be
offensive to succeed. Military history shows that after boldly carried
out landings at Abukir and Cape Breton, for example, the success of
the extensive operations was impaired, almost lost, because of lack of
energy and rapidity of execution of offensive movements. The assembled
strength must be thrown forward on the line of least resistance.
Defensive strategy should be used only when a delay is necessary to
receive expected reenforcements. The primary aim of the operations is
to dispose of hostile forces, within the shortest possible time and
with the least loss to ourselves.

During the progress of the operations the country through which the
troops pass can be drawn upon to supplement equipment and supplies,
but the speed of the advance and the efficiency of the troops must not
be decreased through extended raids. While the distance to the
objective of the invasion is generally not great, it should be our
endeavor to be independent of our base of supplies. Much progress has
been made in the methods of making condensed foods, for man and horse,
which will help to solve the problem of provisions. The army of
invasion can also take an important site in the hostile country and
utilize it as a base of operations. Continuous communication with the
home country is therefore not absolutely necessary. In a densely
populated and rich country it is easy to secure provisions and
supplies. The maintenance of long lines of communications is hazardous
in that it requires excessive guard duty. When the battle fleet has
gained command of the sea it will be in a position to protect
continuously the base on the coast, and would also make it possible
for the corps of invasion to select new bases. Sherman's march to
Savannah in the Civil War has shown the practicability of this plan.
After one objective has been attained, it should be possible for the
expedition to reembark to land at some other point on the coast for
further operations.

Against the enemy's defenses we must throw our full strength and avoid
enterprises that involve a delay or a weakening of our forces. Dearly
purchased victories will in the end defeat our own aims.

If the operations of the troops are carried on along the coast, or if
the objective of the operations is a harbor or a coast fortification,
the battle fleet should act in unison with the land forces.
Battleships are superior to the field artillery, as they can be moved
at will and so are hard to put out of action. Continuous bombardment
from the battleships would prove effective aid for the troops.

It is important, then, that the command of land and naval forces be
joined in a commander-in-chief who would direct the field forces as
well as the naval forces. Small coast defenses of seaport cities could
not for any length of time withstand such a combined attack. It is
certain also that present-day coast defenses could not withstand an
energetic attack from the land side. They are more vulnerable than
inland fortresses because they are open to attack simultaneously from
land and water. However, if the battle fleet cannot gain the command
of the sea, and must retreat before the opposing forces, the
operations of the landed troops must be conducted wholly as a war on
land.





Next: Reembarkation

Previous: Landing



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