Strategika Issue 47: The State of U.S. Naval Readiness

Title: The Sinews of Empire
By Seth Cropsey
Originally published on
Modern scholars of politics revel in their complex descriptions of state action. Rather than oversimplifying and reducing the state to a unitary body, they separate its internal components and assess each of their relative strengths. There’s something to this. However, politics are contradictory. Man may create sprawling decision-making bodies, and systems that disperse power at multiple levels. Nevertheless, states are remarkably like people. They feel pride and anger, loyalty and hatred, fear and hope.
States are also structured like people. They have minds, hearts, and amorphous limbs with which to influence the world around them. Moreover, they have sinews, connective links that unite their metaphorical bone and muscle, tie their appendages together, and enable the use of power. Roads and internal thoroughfares are sinews common to every state.
Title: Cornstalks, Calvinball, And The Bridges At Toko Ri: Rightsizing The U.S. Navy
By Admiral James O. Ellis Jr.
Originally published on
The main street of Washington, Georgia, is called Toombs Avenue in honor of the Georgia senator and Civil War general who was born nearby. In promoting the South’s secession as the war approached, Toombs reportedly claimed, “We can beat those Yankees with cornstalks!” After fleeing to Paris after the South’s defeat, Toombs later returned, only to be reminded of his pre-war claim. Unrepentant to the end, Toombs replied, “Well they wouldn’t fight with cornstalks!” This story has been used for years in national security debates by those advocating for ever-advancing technologies, even at the expense of a larger force structure.
Title: A Stretched Navy And A Fiscal Disconnect
By Admiral Gary Roughead
Originally published on
Last year, within two weeks’ time, two deadly collisions of U.S. Navy ships in western Pacific sea-lanes brought home the reality of a Navy in increasing demand yet stretched precariously thin. The captains and those responsible on watch those nights, as they operated in congested Asian waters, were held to account, but it remains the nation that has allowed and accepted the conditions that led to those tragic events and the loss of 17 sailors. As articulated in a review of those incidents that I co-led, it has been a long road to the current level of reduced readiness, and it will not be turned around quickly.


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