Navy Strategic Culture: Why the Navy Thinks Differently

By Lauterbach, Toby | Air & Space Power Journal, March/April 2013 | Go to article overview

Navy Strategic Culture: Why the Navy Thinks Differently


Lauterbach, Toby, Air & Space Power Journal


Navy Strategic Culture: Why the Navy Thinks Differently by Roger W. Barnett. Naval Institute Press (http://www.usni.org/store /books), 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 2009, 256 pages, $28.95 (hardcover), ISBN 1591140242.

In Navy Strategic Culture, Roger Barnett argues that the Navy has a superior strategic mind-set that comes from a unique strategic culture. This culture includes an appreciation of technology as a force multiplier and the intense male bonding produced by the isolation of naval service in the uniquely hostile oceanic environment. This combination produces an aggressive Navy that establishes sea control and power projection through a focus on expeditionary operations (pp. 59-73).

In addition to establishing a clear and provocative thesis, Barnett does a good job of presenting the Navy's operational philosophy toward warfare. He provides a concise, comprehensive, and informative outline of the legal, political, social, economic, and environmental context in which the Navy operates. The best part of his work addresses the unique relationship between the Sailor and the open seas; he paints a vivid picture of how the precarious and isolated nature of naval service is essential to the Navy's cultural makeup (pp. 13-17).

Ultimately, however, the author fans to make the case that the Navy's strategic culture is unique to the service or that it creates an organization with a broader, more nuanced strategic mind-set than any other group in the United States. In fact, the Navy's solitary, insular operations stand as an obstacle to broad strategic thought- far more so than the operations of any other service. Strategy requires a holistic appreciation of the larger geopolitical context- an understanding of the relationship between achieving the higher political object with the means at one's disposal. It is hard to see how Barnett's hermit-like Navy could develop a finer appreciation for the broader social, political, and economic contexts that frame the conditions under which military force must be hammered into an instrument that can realize specific geopolitical goals. Naval strategic culture appears predisposed to nourish a narrow parochial perspective. That is precisely the book Barnett gives us. His emphasis on the distinctive role of technology in naval culture is also suspect. The Navy's technical focus is not a specific cultural virtue of that service but a value that comes from American society and extends to the entire military.

At one point the author asserts that, given the Navy's self-sufficiency, it is perfectly acceptable for that service to take a lax attitude toward jointness. Indeed, he believes that apathy may actually be a good thing if jointness leads to the homogenization of naval strategic culture (pp. 107-8). In reality, knowing the requirements for winning the war and attaining political objectives is of primary importance. Since the Persian Gulf War, the Navy has had the principal role of serving as a facilitator of other services that bear the brunt of actual fighting. In light of the fact that Marines have conducted sustained operations inland and Air Force aircraft have flown the overwhelming majority of combat missions since 1991, winning demands a level of jointness transcending parochialism.

When Barnett observes that the Navy is best attuned to understanding the Iraqi insurgency because its nonlinear nature reflects "the migration over land of many of the characteristics of contemporary naval warfare" (p.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Navy Strategic Culture: Why the Navy Thinks Differently
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.