Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Theater of Operations--Pacific
Document Type
  • Historical Summary
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials
  • NHHC

Guadalcanal Proved Experimentation Works

Trent Hone 

(Note: Reprinted from Naval History with permission; Copyright © (2017) U.S. Naval Institute / The submitted essay was titled, "High Velocity Learning at Guadalcanal.").

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) has called for “high-velocity learning at every level” and stressed its importance to innovation and effective tactics.1 The U.S. Navy’s historical experience demonstrates the value of rapid learning. In the early years of the 20th century, in particular, the Navy had developed a system that allowed continual reassessment, refinement, and evolution of tactical doctrine. This learning system proved its value in late 1942 during the Guadalcanal campaign, when lessons from the fighting were quickly harnessed—and eventually became instrumental to victory in the Pacific during World War II. Seventy-five years ago, the Navy’s ability to learn at high velocity and rapidly evolve tactical doctrine led to operational success. 

The invasion of Guadalcanal in August 1942 triggered a six-month struggle for control of the seas, skies, and jungles surrounding the island. Frequently derided as “Operation Shoestring” because of inadequate preparations and sparse logistical support, the campaign was a significant test of the Navy’s combat doctrine. Admiral Ernest J. King, then serving as both CNO and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet (COMINCH), has been criticized for insisting that the Pacific Fleet take the offensive so quickly, with the Pacific theater a secondary priority to Europe and insufficient resources available to secure victory.

This criticism is misplaced. Admiral King knew his forces could learn rapidly and believed the best way to unleash their potential was to take the offensive immediately. By fighting the Japanese, the Navy’s officers identified flaws in existing doctrine and created new techniques. King was confident they would evolve their approaches faster than their opponents; he was correct. The rapid pace of learning was most apparent in the development of the Navy’s surface warfare doctrine. Lessons from the battles off Guadalcanal led to new techniques that ensured dominance later in the war. The process involved is just as relevant today as it was in 1942.

On a Shoestring

The Battle of Midway in June 1942 generally is considered the turning point of World War II in the Pacific, but the description is too generous. Prior to Midway, the Japanese held the initiative and controlled the operational tempo. The defeat forced them to pause but did not transfer the initiative to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and his Pacific Fleet. The first side to impose its will on the other would control the pace of future operations. 

Admiral King recognized the importance of the opportunity and seized it. In late June, with “astounding” audacity, he ordered Nimitz to prepare to invade Tulagi in the Solomon Islands without approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) or President Franklin Roosevelt.2 King worked out the high-level details after presenting the fait accompli; the JCS ordered the initiation of the operation on 2 July. When aerial reconnaissance revealed the Japanese were building an airfield on the nearby island of Guadalcanal, it became the primary objective. On 7 August, the 1st Marine Division landed; the next day, it seized the airfield and named it Henderson Field.3

The Japanese response was swift. The night of 8 August, they attacked the Allied invasion force with a hastily collected task group at the Battle of Savo Island. Relying on well-developed tactics that emphasized stealth and surprise, Japanese ships penetrated the screening disposition and sank four heavy cruisers. Four other major night actions—Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal I, Guadalcanal II, and Tassafaronga—were fought before the campaign ended in January 1943. These surface battles were the most significant tests of the Navy’s tactical doctrine. Numerous histories have recounted their details, but most have ignored the learning and doctrinal changes they prompted.4

Experimentation began immediately. Rear Admiral Norman Scott, who witnessed the stunning defeat at Savo Island, recognized that established tactics for night combat were inadequate.5 He drilled his ships in a new approach that emphasized concentrated linear formations and the ability to respond to threats from any direction. Scott’s “doubleheader” arrangement placed destroyers at the van and rear of a short line of cruisers.6 It performed well at the Battle of Cape Esperance the night of 11–12 October, when Scott’s Task Force (TF) 64 surprised a Japanese bombardment force, sinking two ships and forcing the rest to withdraw. 

Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan faced a desperate situation when he took Task Group (TG) 67.4 into the Guadalcanal littoral the night of 12–13 November. The climax of the campaign had arrived, and his mission was to stop a vastly superior Japanese bombardment force. He leveraged Scott’s linear formation, to allow him to attack in the van and rear simultaneously, but expected to operate in three separate groups. Callaghan planned to command the large cruisers at the center of his formation himself; they would be the decisive weapon.7

Lacking time to drill and develop clear tactics beforehand, however, TG 67.4 disintegrated when it careened into the Japanese formation. An incredible melee developed. Callaghan acted on his plan; he was killed when his flagship USS San Francisco (CA-38) engaged the battleship Hiei from point-blank range. Although a tactical disaster, Guadalcanal I was an operational victory; Callaghan’s aggressive tactics preserved Henderson Field. 

A single surface action group remained in the theater, Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee’s powerful TF 64, which included the battleships Washington (BB-56) and South Dakota (BB-57). Prewar exercises had demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships in night surface actions, but another Japanese force was on the way, and there were no alternatives. Lee violated established tactical principles and entered the narrow waters of Savo Sound the evening of 14 November. To mitigate the risk to his heavy ships, Lee eschewed the linear formation and operated in two units. He sent his four destroyers ahead to flush out the Japanese. The tactic worked, but Lee’s destroyers were quickly overwhelmed. The South Dakota validated the prewar concerns about night fighting; electrical failures and close-range enemy fire crippled her. Even so, the high standard of gunnery training on Lee’s flagship Washington won the battle. She sank the Japanese flagship Kirishima with a rapid series of accurate salvoes.8

Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid distilled the lessons from these battles and developed a new set of tactics for his TF 67. He instructed his destroyers to close with the enemy and attack with torpedoes; the cruisers, close enough to use their guns but outside of torpedo range, would open fire in concert with the destroyer attack. Kinkaid expected to exploit the proven capabilities of both ship types and overwhelm the enemy with a concentrated pulse of firepower. Unfortunately, he was replaced by Rear Admiral Carleton H. Wright before he could test the concept. At the Battle of Tassafaronga, Wright lacked sufficient familiarity with his subordinates and hesitated at a critical moment. The destroyer attack came too late; the failure to coordinate allowed the Japanese to launch a decisive torpedo salvo and cripple Wright’s cruisers. 

Historians have imposed a narrative on these battles that emphasizes linear formations and the failure to effectively employ destroyer torpedoes, but they have ignored the learning and experimentation that took place.9 Admirals Scott, Callaghan, Lee, and Kinkaid developed specific tactics that reflected the capabilities of their forces and the situations they faced. They tried different methods because the Navy of 1942 leveraged a decentralized approach to doctrinal development. TF and TG commanders created tactics and battle plans that were specific to their forces. Fleet-wide doctrine was limited to a set of tactical guidelines.10 Admirals were expected to experiment; this approach was a core aspect of the Navy’s learning system. It led to the rapid assessment of established techniques and introduction of new tactics off Guadalcanal. 

A System for Learning

The origins of the Navy’s learning system can be traced to the introduction of competitive war games and “problems” at the Naval War College in the late 19th century. When Captain Henry C. Taylor became president of the War College in November 1893, he made these simulations a core part of the curriculum, giving graduates experience with the challenges of “making quick decisions to cope with rapidly changing situations.”11 Taylor also emphasized individual creativity. There was no “staff solution” to the open questions posed by the problems—the value came in the learning they fostered. The same was true of the war games.12

Once the Atlantic Fleet was established in 1907, the Navy began to employ similar methods at sea.13 Officers explored the most effective methods for coordinating ships and men in combat. Learning took place on two main levels. Fleet commanders such Rear Admirals Charles J. Badger and Frank Friday Fletcher developed high-level guidance and instructions based on lessons from operational exercises and tactical drills.14 Less-senior officers experimented with “common doctrines” that exploited the creativity of their subordinates.15

The most effective approach for developing doctrine was introduced by Captain William S. Sims and Lieutenant Commander Dudley W. Knox in the Atlantic Fleet’s Torpedo Flotilla. Sims assumed command of the flotilla in July 1913. Knox introduced Sims to the concept of doctrine at the Naval War College and joined the flotilla as the captain’s aide. Together with Commander William V. Pratt, Sims’s chief of staff, they transformed the flotilla into a laboratory for the development of tactical doctrine. 

Frequent conferences brought the captains of the Torpedo Flotilla together. They modeled various combat situations, developed techniques for problem solving, and created a shared sense of how to act in battle. Sims leveraged the creativity of his subordinates to repeatedly surpass expectations in tactical exercises.16 When he served as Commander of American Naval Forces in Europe during World War I, Sims employed the same approach and validated it in combat.17

During the interwar period, new structures linked these two levels of learning and created synergies between them. CNO Rear Admiral Robert E. Coontz introduced a framework—a planning process—that integrated the development of war plans, fleet exercises, and the work of the Naval War College. The culmination of this cycle was the Fleet Problem, a large operational exercise involving all major fleet units. Fleet Problems encouraged lower level commanders to experiment with new tactical approaches and doctrines, leading to new techniques for coordinating in combat. These were harnessed to create new options at the fleet level, and in 1929, Pratt—as U.S. Fleet COMINCH—introduced a flexible vocabulary for battle plans, allowing “the greatest single advance in fleet tactics” the Navy had yet seen.18

The arc of King’s career mirrored these developments. As a young officer, he commanded destroyers in the Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla and learned Sims’ approach to doctrinal development. Later, when Knox fell ill, King became Sims’ aide. During World War I, King served on the staff of Atlantic Fleet Commander Admiral Henry T. Mayo and became familiar with the challenges of fleet command. In the 1920s, King commanded a submarine division and explored sumarines’ utility in a fleet action. At age 48, in 1926, he accepted an offer to command the submarine tender USS Wright (AV-1) and earned his wings at Pensacola. King became captain of the new carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1930. During the Fleet Problems of 1931 and 1932, he used his new type of ship to demonstrate the effectiveness of independent carrier task forces and introduced the Navy’s first combat air patrol. King became familiar with the Navy’s learning system by participating in it; he recognized its potential for stimulating new ideas and harnessing the creativity of officers. 

In 1932, King left the fleet to attend the Naval War College, where exposure to strategic and operational problems broadened his outlook. He began to realize that the Navy’s emphasis on decentralized decision making had implications beyond the tactical sphere. In battle, independent action by subordinates—if coordinated by doctrine and plans—could seize fleeting opportunities and keep the enemy off balance. There was an operational parallel: The Navy’s decentralized approach to doctrinal development allowed it to experiment with new tactics and methods extremely rapidly. 

In effect, the Navy’s learning system had the potential to be an OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop for doctrinal development.19 King took this knowledge with him as he moved on to command the Atlantic Fleet. In December 1941, he became COMINCH. When the opportunity arose the following June, King pressed for an offensive because he was confident the Pacific Fleet’s learning cycle for doctrinal development would be more rapid than that of the Japanese.

Learning from Guadalcanal 

Admiral King was correct, and Guadalcanal spurred learning on two major levels during the fighting. The first has already been described: Admirals in the theater rapidly adjusted to combat lessons, taking advantage of the Navy’s trust in them to develop the most effective doctrines for their specific circumstances. These approaches did not always work, but in the process, they provided valuable lessons for the second level of learning. And one level up, at Pearl Harbor, Nimitz and his staff reviewed action reports and other accounts of the fighting, identifying weaknesses and potential opportunities. 

The Navy’s tactics off Guadalcanal had two clear limitations. First, commanders lacked the time to adequately prepare their subordinates for combat. They were expected to develop specific plans and tactics, which would be indoctrinated through drill and practice. But the rapid pace of the fighting and the limited number of forces available led to ad-hoc formations gathered on very short notice. Without clear doctrines to guide them, these formations lost cohesion and fought as individual ships. Contemporary documents emphasized the cost: “It is unsound and a waste of material to throw forces together just prior to an action with no opportunity for OTC [officer in tactical command] to issue instructions, doctrine, orders, etc. We are paying heavily for this.”20

The second weakness involved information processing. Even though radar and other sources could have provided a clear picture of the night battles around them, none of the Navy’s commanding officers was able to understand what was really happening in combat. The problem was not a lack of information; the problem was the inability to integrate and process it. Shipboard organizations varied, but they all fundamentally relied on the captain or formation commander to assess the available information, synthesize it, and determine what to do. In these fast-paced actions, captains frequently became overwhelmed and confused. Their cognitive limits were surpassed, and they fought their ships based on what they could sense and see, lacking an actionable picture of the battle around them. 

As they assessed action reports from the combat theater, Nimitz and his staff recognized the problem. He leveraged an established mechanism to foster experimentation within the fleet, issuing Tactical Bulletin 4TB-42 in November 1942. It ordered all ships to establish a combat information center (CIC). The bulletin provided a succinct explanation for this substantial change in organization: “Maximum combat efficiency by individual ships and task organizations can best be attained through full utilization of all available sources of combat intelligence.” The CIC would receive, assimilate, and evaluate information.21 What form this new structure would take, Nimitz and his staff did not say.

The approach was deliberate. By clearly explaining what the CIC would do, but not how it would do it, Nimitz triggered the learning system and fostered a series of parallel experiments within the fleet. Different ships developed their own approaches, sharing their models with each other, and reporting on their successes and failures. This allowed the rapid identification of effective techniques, several of which quickly emerged. 

The last ship in Callaghan’s long line of battle was the destroyer USS Fletcher (DD-445). Her captain, Commander William R. Cole, and executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Wylie, devised an ad-hoc approach to increase situational awareness. Wylie stood at the edge of the radar room and observed the displays. He formed a picture of the developing action and verbally communicated relevant information to Cole and the ship’s weapons officers, coaching them onto targets. 

When Nimitz and his destroyer commander, Rear Admiral Mahlon S. Tisdale, noticed what Wylie had done, they brought him to Pearl Harbor and used his experience to develop more formalized CIC techniques. By late 1943, Wylie was back in the combat zone, heading a school that familiarized captains and their crews with effective methods for making the most of their shipboard information systems. These approaches rapidly began to prove their worth. In November 1943, during the campaign for Bougainville, Rear Admiral A. Stanton Merrill used CICs to coordinate his distributed formation and triumph over the Japanese in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay.

In the meantime, less senior officers in the combat theater had continued to experiment. Captain Arleigh A. Burke held frequent conferences with his captains and developed a coherent doctrine emphasizing the use of destroyer torpedoes, an approach like that devised by Sims 30 years before. Commander Frederick Moosbruger employed Burke’s tactics for the first time in the Battle of Vella Gulf the night of 6 August 1943, resulting in a clear victory. On 25 November, Burke repeated them, sinking three enemy destroyers at the Battle of Cape St. George. CICs increased the effectiveness of Burke’s tactics; he noted in his action report: “CICs performed admirably. At no time was there confusion or lack of knowledge. The battle was conducted better than most drills.”22

The other weakness exposed by Guadalcanal required a different approach. In April 1943, Nimitz convened a board to revise the Pacific Fleet Cruising Instructions. He ordered the board to review current doctrinal publications, examine combat reports, interview officers returning from combat zones, and produce a new manual.23 They exceeded this authority and developed a new doctrinal publication that addressed the challenges inherent in the Navy’s decentralized approach to indoctrination. The resulting manual, Current Tactical Orders and Doctrine, U.S. Pacific Fleet, PAC-10, was issued in June 1943. It introduced a more uniform tactical doctrine that permitted the interchangeability of ships and task units, an emerging requirement for the shift away from a centralized battle fleet and toward the Navy’s first foray into distributed lethality: a mutually supporting collection of dispersed carrier task forces.24

The result was a dramatic increase in flexibility. With PAC-10, ships could move from task force to task force or theater to theater without lengthy instructions from their new commanders. The manual’s introduction clearly illustrated the objective, a direct reaction to the problems exposed by Guadalcanal: “PAC-10 is intended . . . to obviate necessity for . . . special instructions under ordinary circumstances and to minimize them in extraordinary circumstances . . . It must be possible for forces composed of diverse types, and indoctrinated under different task force commanders, to join at sea on short notice for concerted action against the enemy without exchanging a mass of special instructions.”25

PAC-10 provided a common framework and language for tactical plans that increased cohesion without overly restricting the capabilities of commanders. It proved instrumental to the success of the Central Pacific offensive that began in November 1943.26

Implications for Today

PAC-10 and the CIC enhanced the Navy’s ability to coordinate ships in combat and were crucial to victory in the Pacific. They were a direct result of lessons from the Guadalcanal campaign. Without the tactical setbacks of late 1942, the flaws in prewar approaches would not have been exposed. Admiral King’s insistence on taking the offensive harnessed the Navy’s learning system and resulted in the discovery of new techniques. PAC-10 provided new, more resilient methods for developing and disseminating tactical doctrine. The CIC introduced network-centric approaches to information processing. Together, they dramatically increased the capabilities of the fleet.

Admiral King recognized the importance of seizing the initiative from the Japanese at the earliest possible moment. He knew that by taking the offensive, the Pacific Fleet would achieve two objectives. First, it would control the pace of operations and force the Japanese to react. Second, it would leverage the learning system, rapidly absorb lessons from combat, and refine its techniques. Admiral King had confidence that his officers, imbued with the Navy’s emphasis on learning and experimentation, would evolve their doctrine faster than the Japanese. Guadalcanal was a triumph, not only of arms, but also of high-velocity learning. 

The Navy’s experience in 1942 has implications for today. Rapid learning was possible because the Navy’s approach was decentralized. Individual formation commanders—such as Admirals Scott, Callaghan, Lee, and Kinkaid—were expected to develop specific approaches for their situations. This led to variability. Most analyses of Guadalcanal focus on the negative consequence, the Navy’s inconsistent performance. They ignore the positive result. Variability within the fleet allowed the more rapid identification of effective techniques through multiple parallel experiments. Nimitz capitalized on this when he ordered the introduction of the CIC. Burke leveraged it when he invited his captains to explore how they could effectively employ their destroyers.

The investigation of new techniques and methods will be most effective—and learning most rapid—if the process is decentralized. By allowing individual ships and commands to experiment, the Navy of 1942 explored a wide set of alternative solutions, quickly identifying the best and discarding those that were less effective. The same process can be leveraged today, provided sufficient freedom is granted to lower level commands to develop alternatives and experiment with them. Some approaches will be unsuccessful; others will lead to new paradigms. The chances of success will be maximized if the desired outcome is clearly articulated. This is exactly what Nimitz did with the CIC. Today’s officers can leverage the same proven, successful, war-winning strategy. 

1. “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” Version 1.0, January 2016,

2. Thomas B. Buell, Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King (Boston, MA: Little Brown, 1980), 199–200.

3. The field was named after MAJ Lofton Henderson, who died leading VMSB-241 against the Japanese at Midway.

4. CAPT Charles Cook, USN, The Battle of Cape Esperance: Encounter at Guadalcanal (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1968); Eric Hammel, Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13-15, 1942 (New York: Crown Publishers, 1988); CAPT Russel S. Crenshaw Jr., USN, The Battle of Tassafaronga (Baltimore, MD: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1995); James W. Grace, The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1999); CAPT Wayne P. Hughes, Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000); John Prados, Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun (New York: NAL Caliber, 2012).

5. Richard W. Bates, The Battle of Savo Island, August 9th, 1942, Strategical and Tactical Analysis, Part 1 (Naval War College, Newport, RI: Prepared for Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1950).

6. “Report of night action 11–12 October 1942, The Commander South Pacific Area,” 3 November 1942, World War II Action and Operational Reports (Washington, DC: National Archives), Record Group 38, Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Box 19; “Action off Savo Island, Night of 11-12 October; report of., U.S.S. Helena,” 20 October 1942, 2, World War II Action and Operational Reports, Box 1025.

7. Trent Hone, “’Give Them Hell!’: The U.S. Navy’s Night Combat Doctrine and the Campaign for Guadalcanal,” War in History 13, no. 2 (April 2006): 171–99.

8. Lee had been Director of Fleet Training before the war and was a gunnery expert. He knew the most effective techniques for hitting rapidly and consistently at night and impressed them upon the Washington’s crew. See “Action Report, Night of November 14-15, 1942, U.S.S. Washington, 27 November 1942,” 10, World War II Action and Operational Reports, Box 1501.

9. See, for example, Hughes, Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat.

10. Trent Hone, “The Evolution of Fleet Tactical Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1922–1941,” The Journal of Military History 67, no. 4 (October 2003).

11. Ronald Spector, Professors of War: The Naval War College and the Development of the Naval Profession (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1977), 73.

12. Rules for the Conduct of the War Games (Newport, RI: Naval War College, 1905).

13. This had been impossible previously because the Navy’s ships were distributed among distant squadrons. See James C. Rentfrow, Home Squadron: The U.S. Navy on the North Atlantic Station (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014).

14. “Result of Battle Maneuvers, July 1913, U.S. Atlantic Fleet,” Intelligence and Technical Archives (Newport, RI: Naval War College Archives), Record Group 8, Box 93; “Results of Battle Maneuvers, June 1913, U.S. Atlantic Fleet,” Intelligence and Technical Archives, Box 93; “Battle Instructions, United States Atlantic Fleet,” 27 May 1916, General Board Records (Washington, DC: National Archives), Record Group 80, General Records of the Department of the Navy, Box 48.

15. LCDR Dudley W. Knox, USN, “Trained Initiative and Unity of Action: The True Bases of Military Efficiency,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 39, no. 1 (March 1913).

16. “Letters from Flotilla Commander, Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet on Attacks by Flotilla against the Battleship Fleet protected by Double Screen, March 1915,” 1, Intelligence and Technical Archives, Box 42.

17. Doctrine and General Instructions, Force Instructions No. 25, U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, London, England, 16 August 1918, U.S. Navy and Related Operational, Tactical, and Instructional Publications (Washington, DC: National Archives), Record Group 38, Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Entry 337, Box 107.

18. “United States Fleet Problem XI, 1930, Report of the Commander in Chief United States Fleet,” 14 July 1930, 9, 61-62, Records Relating to United States Navy Fleet Problems I to XXIII, 1923-1941 (Washington, DC: National Archives, 1974), Microfilm, Roll 13.

19. The OODA loop is attributed to COL John Boyd, USAF. The Navy of the early 20th century understood the concept but never developed such succinct terminology for it. See Hone, “The Evolution of Fleet Tactical Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1922-1941.”

20. Secret Information Bulletin No. 5, Battle Experience Solomon Islands Actions, December 1942–January 1943, United States Fleet, Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, Manuscript Collection 207 (Newport, RI: Naval War College Archives), Papers of CDR Winston S. Brown, USN, Box 1, 31-6.

21. “Pacific Fleet Tactical Bulletin No. 4TB-42, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet,” 26 November 1942, World War II Command File (Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center Archives), Box 250. Note that the initial draft called for a “Combat Operations Center”; Admiral King changed “operations” to “information.” See Timothy S. Wolters, Information at Sea (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), 206.

22. “Action Report of Night Engagement off Cape St. George on the Night of November 24th–25th, 1943, Commander Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Three,” 26 November 1943, World War II Action and Operational Reports, Box 606.

23. “Revision of Pacific Fleet Cruising Instructions, Pacific Board to Revise Cruising Instructions,” 18 May 1943, 1, World War II Plans, Orders, and Related Documents (Washington, DC: National Archives), Record Group 38, Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Box 22.

24. Trent Hone, “U.S. Navy Surface Battle Doctrine and Victory in the Pacific,” Naval War College Review, 62, no. 1 (Winter 2009). Although the term distributed lethality is new, the concept is not. The transition to a loose collection of carrier task forces allowed the Navy to fight in ways unanticipated by the Japanese.

25. PAC-10, Current Tactical Orders and Doctrine, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, June 1943, v, U.S. Navy and Related Operational, Tactical, and Instructional Publications (Washington, DC: National Archives), Record Group 38, Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Entry 337, Box 61.

26. Hone, “U.S. Navy Surface Battle Doctrine and Victory in the Pacific.”


Mr. Hone is a managing consultant with Excella Consulting in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and speaks about organizational learning, doctrine, and strategy and how the three interrelate. He has been awarded the U.S. Naval War College’s Edward S. Miller Prize and the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Ernest M. Eller Prize. His forthcoming book, Learning War: The Evolution of Fighting Doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898–1945, is expected from the Naval Institute Press next spring.

Published: Tue Apr 23 16:44:53 EDT 2019