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By Jr. I. B. Holley


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58 Even before the sinking of the Ostfriesland, the admirals of whom Mitchell was so contemptuous had shown that they were by no means blind to the implications of airpower. The General Board had put itself on record on this point: There is no doubt that the future employment of aircraft in connection with naval operations will introduce new problems . . of far-reaching importance. . The unlikely may happen and the protective measures and devices needed for the survival of the capital ship may outweigh and overshadow the value of such ships as primary weapons.

Moltke understood that staffs have to be perfected by repeated trials. He conducted test mobilizations, which revealed imperfections in the plans and less than gratifying performance by inexperienced officers. Despite royal reprimands and other such pressures, some officers made the same mistakes in the practice maneuvers two years in a row. Moltke’s genius lay in applying 31 TECHNOLOGY AND MILITARY DOCTRINE Scharnhorst’s emphasis on a careful recording of experience, which he then analyzed with utter objectivity to produce viable doctrine.

What Fuller described was much akin to what the Germans had already accomplished. ”39 He retired in 1933 at the relatively young age of 54. Thereafter, though he continued to publish voluminously, he was an outsider and his views had little discernable influence on official doctrine. Ironically, if his British contemporaries largely ignored him, he was heeded abroad, especially in Germany, where his ideas were absorbed, even if often indirectly through the writings of his most important disciple, Liddell Hart.

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