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Research Paper FPXIII

Research Paper FPXIII

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Published by: dylan_herts on Nov 17, 2010
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Fleet Problem XIII & Grand Joint Exercise No. 4:Reconsidering Aircraft Carrier Doctrine
By Dylan Herts November 15, 2010Ideas and American Foreign PolicyProf. Andrew J. Bacevich
 
 Introduction
On November 14, 1910 a civilian pilot from Iowa named Eugene Ely executed the firsttake off in naval aviation.
1
For some time, research and development focused on surface-launched seaplanes, and it was not until 1919 that the United States Navy commissioned its firstconverted aircraft carrier, CV 1
 Langley.
2
 
Yet in both annual interwar exercises and internalconsiderations of naval strategy, the role of aircraft appeared limited to scouting and air defense.Strategy struggled to integrate carriers alongside cruisers, and doctrine maintained that battleships, dreadnoughts of the type seen at Jutland, formed the supportive framework of thefleet.Fleet doctrine persisted even as carriers began to feature prominently in the series of full-scale, peacetime naval exercises conducted from 1923-1940, known as Fleet Problems.Successful carrier operations proved to naval strategists only that a variety of support carriersought to be considered as assistance to battleships. Fleet Problem XIII and Grand Joint Exercise No. 4, however, significantly affected the doctrinal role of carriers and the predicted need for their construction. Operations during the exercises saw the significant use of naval air wings,yielding high offensive scores for the carriers involved, and emphasized the importance of fielding multiple carriers. As a result, Fleet Problem XIII and Grand Joint Exercise No. 4challenged the central fleet role of the traditional battleship, illustrated the need for rapidconstruction of large carriers, and further demonstrated the effectiveness of carrier-launched air assaults against targets on both land and sea.
1
Roy A. Grossnick,
United States Naval Aviation 1910-1995
(Washington: Naval HistoricalCenter, 1997), 3
2
 
Ibid 
, 40
2
 
 Early Skepticism: Fleet Problems & Conclusions 1923-1930
The Fleet Problems began in 1923 as an attempt to simulate free, full-scale wartime navalmaneuvers for training purposes. From 1889 until the United States entered World War I, thenavy had engaged in regular fleet maneuvers of steadily growing size and complexity. Two yearsafter the armistice, the Atlantic and Pacific fleets participated in joint maneuvers off the coast of Panama; a year later the fleet was reorganized under one command, and the Fleet Problems wereconceived to continue large, joint exercises. The phrase “Fleet Problem” conveyed the idea thatthese simulations were not merely rehearsed maneuvers, but instead actual “problems,” given toopposing fleet commanders by command staff and the Naval War College, in the form of a“statement of the problem” which contained the mission tasks. Given their assignments, fleetcommanders then assumed control of their opposing forces and began the exercise. Uponsimulated engagement, neutral “umpires” trained by the Naval War College judged the resultsusing standard metrics for calculating damage done, and noted the outcome for transmission andrecords.
3
 Prior to 1929, the use of naval aviation in the Fleet Problems had been limited tounimpressive involvement by the
 Langley
. In Fleet Problem I, the
 Langley
was relegated tomerely observing the exercise while two battleships, the
Oklahoma
and
 New York 
stood in assimulated aircraft carriers.
4
Beginning with Fleet Problem III, the
 Langley
was given forceassignments but with a small complement of 30 planes and a maximum speed of 16 knots,
3
Albert A. Nofi,
To Train The Fleet For War: The U.S. Navy Fleet Problems 1923-1940
(Washington: Dept. of the Navy, 2010), 1,18,26.
4
Ryan David Wadle,
United States Navy Fleet Problems And The Development of Carrier  Aviation, 1929-1933,
 Texas A&M University Repositoryhttp://repository.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/2658/etd-tamu-2005B-HIST-Wadle.pdf (August 2005) [Accessed November, 2010), 30.
3

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