Soundings Papers: What is a Maritime Strategy?

Soundings No. 1
Soundings No. 1

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John B Hattendorf

This discussion articulates the complexity of developing a maritime strategy. Navies are an important aspect of the strategic maritime environment but they remain only one element of a nation’s strategy in the maritime domain. The article begins by briefly tracing the history of maritime strategy, which sheds light on its evolving characteristics. Following is a discourse on contemporary naval strategy. Emanating from the ‘Anglo-American’ and ‘Young’ schools of thought the debate encompassed the ideas of military strategists such as Clausewitz and Jomini. This not only laid the foundation for modern maritime strategy but also led to the identification of sea control as a priority military task within a nation’s maritime strategy. Control must be established before it can be exploited, and a nation’s military capacity will dictate the navy’s ability to exert force not just during wartime, but also its ability to deploy influence in peacetime.