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The Editor’s musings over submarining as art or science brings to mind one passage in my book, FLEET TACTICS; THEORY AND PRACTICE. “Some people focus on the science of war, others on its art. I would rather approach the study of war from a different perspective, highlighting ‘command mystique•; that is, the quality of spirit that distinguished brave, wise, and inspiring leaders. If this third element is given its due, I doubt that any remaining differences between tactical science and art will seem very important. What will abide is a sharper appreciation of the fact that good practice grows out of good theory, and that both are necessary, but not sufficient for consistent success in battle.”

Combat, unlike policy or strategy, is in the domain of physical activity. The distinction is important. Victory comes from superior behavior, to which scientific and artistic thinking make a small. but vital contribution.

The science and art of combat is much closer to that of coach and quarterback than to the artistic scientific drawings of Leonardo De Vinci. Reading Miyamoto Musashi (A Book of Fiye Rings) is better preparation for combat than reading Mahan.

The debate which is important is the one that divides an officer’s time between study and reflection on one hand and planning and activity on the other. Personally I think the U.S. Navy’s balance is about right. But the time devoted to study could be more productively employed.

Wayne P. Hughes, Jr.


The  article in the October issue on Artificial  Intelligence was typically fine as we have come to expect of anything associated with Jon Boyes. I hope these comments are relevant additions to the thoughts he has expressed.

Running a war campaign is in ~any respects like running a scientific experiment; a set of hypotheses is used to construct a set of tests which confirm or refute some of the hypotheses. In war, intelligence gaps being inevitable, the uncertainties are greatest at the beginning, thus doctrine must be most tentative then. The rate of doctrinal change can be very swift with the technological complexity existing today and with potential high rates of change in technical things and tactics of the enemy.

It appears then, that the part of an artificial intelligence system used to store tactical doctrine should be so designed as to allow rapid change by a Force Commander message as lessons are learned. This has implications in hardware and in software design including the provision for transmission of encrypted and varifiable patches to hard disc memories. The need for crypto security becomes greater than ever.

A rurther implication is that the Fprce Commander will need on his staff, operations experts to work with ‘knowledge engineers’ in the formulation of up-to-date doctrine for patching into the ‘expert’ memories. It will also be vital that on some ships there be a few people sufficiently knowledgeable to recognize the need for doctrine changes.

With the complexity of uncertainties which will exist at the beginning of a campaign, it could well be that convergence on the best doctrine will best be achieved by starting with part of the force using one doctrine and other parts using others. This would require rapid analysis of results and transmission of changes to the force. This is an area where Artificial Intelligence offers a new and unique advantage to the foroe commander and his units.

What is foreseen above is not meant to reduce command discretion, but definitely to inform and bias it. It’s my guess that in the next warcampaign the rate of interaction and change will be a hundred times as fast as anything we’ve seen in the past; Artificial Intelligence, if it meets its promise may arrive just in time. I wish I knew enough about it to be really useful.

Dick Laning

Naval Submarine League

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