By Carla M. McCarthy, Naval War College Press
Newport RI April 7, 2015 - A new U.S. Naval War College (NWC) book offers students, historians, and interested readers, fresh perspectives of several key World War II naval operations. Announced by the NWC Press on April 3, “Major Fleet-versus-Fleet Operations in the Pacific War, 1941-1945” explores the battles of Coral Sea, Midway-Aleutians, and the Philippine Sea.
Authored by NWC Professor Milan Vego, the book provides an operational-art perspective to stimulate interest in the study of the theory and practice of major naval operations through case studies.
Studying naval warfare history is an integral part of the NWC educational curriculum. The chapter on the 1942 Battle of Midway is required reading for this trimester’s Joint Maritime Operations course offered by the Joint Military Operations (JMO) Department.
While many students arrive at NWC well versed and experienced with tactical knowledge and expertise, the JMO course expands their intellectual aperture and examines higher levels of war, in this case, the operational level of war.
U.S. military officers from all services, along with international naval officers and students from other U.S. government agencies, are using the book’s Midway case study as part of seminars exploring the concept of sea control and designing major naval and joint operations. For example, they are analyzing and critiquing the Japanese operational design for Midway to highlight those aspects of the operational art unique to operational warfare in a maritime context.
The theoretical framework of operational art allows students and military planners to examine the entire spectrum of conflict at the upper tactical and operational levels of war. As defined by U.S. joint doctrine, operational art is “the creative thinking used to design strategies, campaigns, and major operations and to organize and employ military force.”
“Detailed studies of these three major naval battles provide ample background on the geographic and strategic context of the operations, as well as an account of the unfolding of the action,” said Professor Carnes Lord, NWC Press director. “Professor Vego used primary sources found in American and Japanese archives extensively, which makes this book all the more valuable to the study of naval history.”
Vego devoted a majority of each case study to describing and analyzing Japanese plans and how they were executed.
“Even more important, the proposed lessons learned demonstrate a distinct appreciation and understanding of naval operational art that are of more than merely historical interest for today’s U.S. Navy,” said Lord.
“Major Fleet-versus-Fleet Operations in the Pacific War, 1941-1945” is the twenty-second book in the NWC Historical Monograph Series and available through the U.S. Government Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/008-046-00283-5.
The book is a sequel to the author's “Major Naval Operations,” also published by the NWC Press as Newport Paper 32.