The German Navy: from world power to alliance power
McCarty, Benjamin I.
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This paper is a case study of the German Navy. The analysis centers on the role of naval institutions within state and society, the interplay between naval strategy and statecraft, and the factors affecting civil-military relations. The progression from first a young empire driven by Weltpolitik and navalism, to ultimately a compact and multilaterally focused naval institution operating within alliance collective security systems, demonstrates the limits and potentials of naval strategy under widely disparate statecraft. Unlike the long-established maritime democracies, such as Britain, France, or the United States, Germanys naval experience is rife with discontinuities and in many ways can be viewed as infant in its contemporary form. To the professional naval officer serving in a democracy, the failures and successes of the various iterations of the German Navy provide myriad universal, timeless lessons that can be applied toward the effective conduct of ones duties. More then a handy reference of narrowly focused operational naval tales, this paper offers the aspiring naval officer an understanding of the imponderable aspects of navies: The importance of melding strategic purpose with long range construction planning, the role of tradition in fostering a healthy naval cadre, or the importance of respecting geostrategic and economic realities.
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