What Is a Navy For?

Strategic purpose is not the same thing as operational necessities.

Speaking to Congress, the Chief of Naval Operations recently argued that the purpose of the U.S. Navy hinged on the timeless missions of sea control and power projection.1 Perhaps so. But to most people, these phrases raise more questions than they answer. Control at what cost, and to what end? Power to do what, exactly? Projected where and how? Such declarations seem unlikely to induce taxpayers to fork over the enormous sums entailed, especially when so many think the money could be better spent fixing pressing domestic problems. But this is nothing new.

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