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PRINCE OF TIDES. MACHIAVELLI AND THE MODERN NAVAL COMMAND


COLONIAL NAVAL HERO
JOHN PAUL JONES

I was going to respond to a request for papers from a subset of the US Navy when I realized that the question was rigged.


I will approximate it as they wanted you to write up a system for Command Officers to handle their fleets and deal with the current situations facing the service.


Herein, the real issue would be, and has been for a while, not so much provisioning or repairs but rather how to accomplish missions where the overall Command has no idea as to what this accomplishment will be.


As so many of the upper echelon service personnel (you politicians are in there as well) are more worried about how things will look on their record rather than actually going about the job of national defense, I would suggest one look to the one classic that exemplifies our times. That is "the Prince" by Machiavelli.


Using this book and it's examples I feel that a commander will finally be able to identify the true essence of what his/her job is. The overall. task is given. then the mission is prepared, then the assets are allocated and then....well, washington calls and changes things and then... the current activities are not polling well and it is an election year so..... and this goes on until the mission fails, men and materiale are lost and square two goes to square one.


CHESTER NIMITZ

Therefor, it is up to a saavy commander to embrace the entirety of the situation both militarily and politically and scale operations to take into account the fact that the winds of political fate may blow in and toss about the overall meaning of things.


To that end, I have a bit of a list for you.


Approaching this scenario through a Machiavellian lens involves a focus on pragmatism, strategic foresight, and sometimes ruthless self-preservation. Here’s a detailed approach:


1. Protecting Himself:

  • Maintain Favor with the Ruling Administration: The admiral should ensure that he stays in the good graces of those in power. This involves understanding their preferences and objectives, and demonstrating loyalty and competence.

  • Develop Alliances and Loyalties: Cultivate strong alliances within the military and political spheres. Having influential allies ensures a support system when faced with threats or political shifts.

  • Discretion and Secrecy: Keep personal ambitions and controversial actions discreet to avoid attracting unnecessary attention or suspicion from rivals or superiors.

  • Adaptability: Be prepared to quickly adapt to changing political landscapes. If the ruling administration changes, he must be able to demonstrate his continued value and loyalty to the new powers.


2. Protecting His Command:

  • Build Morale and Loyalty: Ensure that his sailors and officers are well-treated, motivated, and loyal. A loyal and contented command is less likely to betray him and more likely to perform effectively.

  • Strength and Readiness: Continuously work on improving the capabilities and readiness of his fleet. A strong and prepared fleet is a deterrent to both external enemies and internal political threats.

  • Clear Communication: Establish clear lines of communication and protocols within the command to ensure cohesion and efficient operation, especially under stress or during unexpected orders.

3. Positioning His Command Favorably:

  • Strategic Flexibility: Maintain a versatile fleet capable of responding to various types of orders and threats. This flexibility makes the fleet valuable under different circumstances.

  • Intelligence and Information: Invest in intelligence-gathering to stay informed about both external threats and internal political dynamics. Knowledge is power, and having accurate information allows for better strategic planning.

  • Independent Capability: Develop the ability to operate semi-independently when necessary. This means having the resources and skills to make tactical decisions aligned with broader objectives, even if specific orders are contradictory or unclear.


Dealing with Contradictory Orders:

  • Assess and Prioritize: When faced with non-affirming or contradictory orders, assess the underlying principles and priorities behind them. Make decisions that align with the ultimate goal of state security and fleet effectiveness.

  • Communicate and Negotiate: Use diplomatic skills to negotiate or clarify orders from the ruling administration. Propose alternative courses of action that may better serve the overall objectives while still respecting the given commands.

  • Decisive Action: If immediate compliance with contradictory orders would endanger the fleet or state security, take decisive action to protect those interests, while preparing to justify these decisions to the administration. Rationalized, effective action, even if initially contradictory, can help in earning respect and justifying actions post hoc.


By balancing loyalty, competence, and strategic self-preservation, the admiral can navigate the complexities of his role in a way that aligns with Machiavellian principles.



LORD NELSON'S  "GO RIGHT AT THEM"
BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR

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