So, Who’s Your Favorite Admiral?

Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice by Capt. Wayne P. Hughes, Jr., (USN, ret.)

Over at Tom Ricks’ Best Defense blog at Foreign Policy, Captain Wayne Hughes (U.S. Navy, ret.) has written an entertaining and informative series of posts about four of his favorite U.S. Navy admirals and why he finds them notable.

Hughes is a familiar figure to TDI; he was a colleague and contemporary of Trevor Dupuy and a long-time member of The Military Conflict Institute (TMCI). Currently a Professor of Practice in the Operations Research Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, Hughes is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate with 30 years of active duty service. He is perhaps best known for authoring the seminal volume Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice (1986), Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (2000), and Military Modeling for Decision Making (1989). In 1997, he co-authored A Concise Theory of Combat with Edmund Dubois and Lawrence Low for TMCI.

Hughes selected some familiar names, World War II stalwarts Raymond Spruance and Chester Nimitz; another, lesser-known figure from World War II who had a greater impact on the post-war Navy, Arleigh Burke; and an obscure individual who had an outsized influence on the Navy’s transition from steam to iron, Bradley Fiske. The common thread Hughes identifies that links these admirals was a grounding in a technological understanding of ships and how that related to naval warfare. Hughes credits that deep knowledge of naval technology and warfare as the basis for strategic and operational brilliance, as well as successful political and bureaucratic management of periods of great change in sea power. The pieces are insightful and a delight to read. I well recommend them.


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Shawn Woodford
Shawn Woodford

Shawn Robert Woodford, Ph.D., is a military historian with nearly two decades of research, writing, and analytical experience on operations, strategy, and national security policy. His work has focused on special operations, unconventional and paramilitary warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, naval history, quantitative historical analysis, nineteenth and twentieth century military history, and the history of nuclear weapon development. He has a strong research interest in the relationship between politics and strategy in warfare and the epistemology of wargaming and combat modeling.

All views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of any other private or public organization or entity.

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