Naval War College
TRUE OR FALSE:
“THE ABILITY OF AMPHIBIOUS FORCE TO INFLICT GRAVE INJURY UPON THE FOE IS USUALLY IMMENSE. THE CAPABILITY OF PURELY NAVAL FORCE TO CAUSE THE ADVERSARY DAMAGE IS OFTEN VERY LIMITED.”
A paper submitted to the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College in partial satisfaction of the Department of Strategy & Policy.
The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy.
4 March, 2005 To suggest the ability of amphibious force to inflict “grave” injury on
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(Although Japan’s invasion of the Liaotung Peninsula & MacArthur’s invasion at Inchon were both successful tactical invasions with strategic consequences, they did not actually open new strategic fronts). In these cases, new fronts were opened that had significant (although arguably not “grave” with the exception of Normandy) negative strategic implications for the enemy. By the same token, Athens’ invasion of Sicily is an example where an amphibious invasion opened a new front with disastrous strategic consequences for the invader and relatively little damage to the enemy. The invasion drained Athenian manpower and war making ability to the point that it became vulnerable to Sparta’s coalition forces. In this case, any damage caused to the enemy was certainly not “grave” and the strategic implications were disastrous. Even the Allied invasion of North Africa which opened a new front was initially criticized as a drain from the main effort to defeat Germany at her center of gravity – NW Europe. (As events unfolded, it became evident that the decision to postpone invasion of NW Europe was wise, but it was debatable at the time.) Based on the above observations, I would suggest that the “gravity” of damage to the enemy caused by amphibious invasion is relative to the value for both parties of the front being invaded,