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Principles Of Operations Over The Sea

Since steamers have supplanted sailing ships for commercial

intercourse it is possible to transport our large troop forces in

them; but fixed plans should be formulated with the view of making use

of these strong and numerous vessels in over-seas operations. The main

difficulty arises in the fact that all sea and land fighting forces

must be combined. However, any consequent friction can easily be

avoided if the army a
d fleet, in time of peace, become familiar with

their mutual dependence and with the need of individual cooperation.

It is plain, therefore, that operations over the sea should be planned

for in advance. There is no prospect of success unless the parts of

the complicated mechanism are individually prepared.

The selection of a favorable time and situation for operations is an

important factor in its success. If an unexpected landing could be

made the opponents would not succeed in making a strong defense, nor

would they be able to concentrate sufficient forces to oppose the

invasion. Hence the preparation of the land operations must be so

thoroughly advanced that in case of war the rapidity of mobilizing and

transporting would assure an advantageous surprise. How difficult and

costly this task is has been demonstrated by the United States in its

expedition to Cuba and by England in transporting its first troops to

South Africa.

The object of the operation must by all means be concealed and the

preliminary preparations should be planned so as to delude the

opponents. Napoleon's expedition against Egypt and the manner in

which it was undertaken even to-day remains a standard example.

A landing operation on an enemy's shore is generally possible only

where one is superior in naval strength to that which the enemy can

muster at a critical time. After a landing a victory at sea by our

opponents would not be of benefit to them, in case they have not

provided sufficient land fighting forces successfully to combat the

invasion. Therefore, it is imperative at least to strengthen our

German battle fleet so greatly that it would assure the troops a safe

passage, and also defeat or hold in check that portion of the enemy's

naval forces which they could readily employ.

If the transports sail ahead of the fleet there is the possibility

that with a reverse at sea the landing operations could not be carried

through. The rule to be followed is to employ for operations over the

sea all available battleships, part in the regular fleet and part as

an escort for the protection of the transports. In no case should the

land forces be transported on battleships, for they would restrict the

fighting value of the ships. So, for example, the French admiral

Gauthaunce--1801--in spite of his superior battle fleet was compelled

to withdraw to Toulon before the English fleet because his ships had

suffered in fighting value through the presence of land troops.

Only the largest steamships are to be considered for transports

because they have a greater field for action, can carry more troops

and require a smaller escort of battleships, thereby giving a small

battle fleet like ours more available strength, which is, of course,

of great value.

Naturally, the ships should be loaded to a capacity in proportion to

the length of the voyage. In cases where the distance is not great the

transport ships can make the trip twice, but it is important that the

principal part of the expedition go in the first transports so as not

to land an inefficient force on the enemy's coast. The whole purpose

of the enterprise might be defeated through lack of aggressive

strength of the landing troops. The number of troops to be landed must

be greater than the estimated number of the enemy. As they must be

able to assume the offensive, it is desirable that the militia be

debarred and only well drilled forces, under experienced officers, be

sent over. Such a combination gives the required fighting value.

In spite of the difficulty experienced in transporting horses, the

cavalry is an extremely valuable adjunct in operations of invasion,

playing a great part in offensive movements and in assisting the

field and heavy artillery. The cavalry will also be able to prevent an

attack on the infantry, which might otherwise inflict damage hard to

retrieve. In the Crimean War Marshal St. Arnault was hindered in the

pursuit of the routed Russians because of the deficiency in the

cavalry and artillery in the French army. He had only one hundred

troopers at his disposal, and his guns, drawn by only four horses,

were greatly hampered in their movements.

The difficulties in transporting large cavalry and artillery divisions

can be overcome through modern methods. The extent of our merchant

marine makes it possible to forward the necessary number of troops,

but it must be remembered that on account of our present political

position we can send only as strong a force as we can afford to

dispense with at home, without endangering the country.

The management of the complete operation over the sea as a rule can be

better executed by an army officer than by a naval officer, for the

success of the enterprise depends principally on the land operations.

This leadership would usually fall to the commanding officer of the

transport fleet and escorting squadron. It is out of the question to

change commands at such a critical period as disembarking. With us the

commander-in-chief of the transport troops is lower in rank than the

commander of the escorting squadron, a designation which the

vicissitudes of war have found very disadvantageous. More than one

well-planned operation has been restrained by the commanding admiral

because he sacrificed favorable conditions from the standpoint of land

operations to gain a slight advantage from a naval standpoint. On the

other hand, Napoleon I, against the advice of his admirals,

disembarked his troops in Egypt, and thereby kept them from sharing

the fate of the fleet.

After successful landings it may be necessary to place the transport

fleet and its escort in command of the chief of the land troops. Even

the battle fleet should be under his direction when a change of base

is necessary or when the land and sea forces are in joint action. For

technical naval questions the chief command would be assigned to an

officer of the Admiral Staff. In a joint attack on a coast city the

advantage of harmony and cooperation is readily seen. In the battle on

the Alma this fact was demonstrated, the striking of the fleet on the

flank was not ordered by the commander of the land forces and was not

brought about in unison with the land attack.