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16 November 2012



Analysis and review on Sun Tzu’s teaching in this book has direct context with the historical events of sea wars during this 20th century, namely the Pacific War (1941-1945) and Falklands War (1982). 

In  Pacific War, it was proven that Sun Tzu strategy was effective at the sea battle at the Pacific Ocean, while in 1980s it was also effective as the biggest British maritime campaign since the World War II. Those two sea battles have the principles and operations as taught by Sun Tzu for the field operation at the sea. In this book, five topics of sea war strategies are selected and used as the headings, commencing from Chapter-2 until Chapter-6 from the script, namely: surprise attack, choosing and determining the battle field, avoiding the strong side, attacking the weak one, maneuver and speed, as well as moral and battle instinct. Each topic discusses the Sun Tzu’s teaching when it is encountered to the historical facts in those two sea wars, namely the Pacific and Falklands Wars.

Surprise Attack is a war strategy taught by Sun Tzu, having various benefits, outputs and impacts either to our own troop or to the enemy. It was proven that during the Pacific War and Falklands War, the surprise attack was the war method mostly applied, and its outputs determined the success in winning the war.

Choosing and determining the battle field becomes important factor that may not be neglected. Besides giving great influence to the combating moral of the troop, the accuracy in choosing and determining the battle field at the sea can give many profits, either from the tactical or strategic aspects.
Avoiding the strong sides, attacking the weak ones becomes the ground of war principles. Many teachings of Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of this matter. It became part of the strategy and maneuver of both parties in war, either in Pacific War or in Falklands War.

Maneuver and speed
constituting one of the basic principles of the sea power or the battle ships. This is in line with the Sun Tzu’s teaching about principle of maneuver and speed, constituting the main factor determining the victory in war, also in sea operation.

Moral and battle instinct
, no doubt about these, since in the end the success in war is mostly determined by the moral of the troop, in addition to the factor of superiority in weaponry. Sun Tzu’s teaching about Moral Law becomes so interesting, because its unique and complex application at the sea operation makes it a distinguished strategy, determining us to be the winner or the looser. This has already been proven in many battles, including the Pacific War and the Falklands War.
When moving, you shall come just like a roaring thunder! 
This poetical sentence fits exactly to illustrate a surprise attack. And that was what happened in the Pacific War and in Falklands War,in which during the battles, the surprise attacks conducted by both parties in hostile, constituted the war method and strategy mostly played. Surprise attack will cause destruction and paralysis in part of the opponent’s power, or at least, will make the enemy be in a hurry in preparing the war.

Such a surprise attack can be accomplished properly if its plan is tightly closed, namely pursuant to the plan in darkness and impermeable, just like a dark night. Meanwhile, in order to make the attack plan in darkness and impermeable, a deception action is required that can be executed in all levels of command and control, either in tactical, operational or strategic levels. Even the deception may occur in higher level, a grand strategy whose scope covers politics and diplomacy.

The surprise attacks conducted by British at the beginning of Falklands re-seizing was a decision deemed very daring and classified as too compelling. Moreover, it was because British executed a military operation from a very far distant operation, about 8000 mile from its country, and with a high degree of self dependency. Such a decision value is in line with the Sun Tzu’s teaching.

         In a critical time, a troop leader shall act just like a man climbing a certain peak by using a ladder, and then kicking his ladder backward down.

      When available at the heart  of the enemy’s territory, they will show the rigid spirit. When there is no help, they will combat in a battle vehemently.

The condition of  the Allies Fleet was in contradictory. They had been so tired and their combating spirit had been steeply dropped. In addition, they were united into a battle fleet in a comparatively short time, and had not mutually understood their respective communication codes and signs, so that a compacted team work had not yet been established.

The result was so fatal. At the battle occurring for approximately seven hours, from 16.30 till 23.30, five Allies battle ships (De Ruyter, Java, Jupiter, Elektra and Kortenaer) were badly damaged and got sunk together with their Commander-in-Chief, Karel Doorman. The other ships were able to run away, but chased by the Japanese Fleet, and several days afterwards Exeter, Houston, Perth and 4 other destroyers were sunken. 12 out of 16 battle ships were destroyed and sunken and only 4 ships succeeded in running away to Australia.

In Japan side, none of its 17 ships underwent severe damage and only 1 ship suffered from light damage.

Not all sea war tactics of the Japanese Fleet were properly successful. After its success to control Java Island, some ships of the Japanese Fleet were moved North East, and involved at the battle in Coral Sea against the US Fleet. The battle in Coral Sea occurring on May 7-8, 1942  was a very specific sea war, because for the first time in history of sea war, a task force of carrier ships confronted with another task force of carrier ships.

      Do not repeat the same tactic that has given you a victory in a certain battle, but let your ways develop into unlimited amount of various environmental versions.

Luckily, Admiral Nimitz, the American Fleet Commander in Pacific, and Rear Admiral Fltecher, the American Fleet Commander in charge for defending Midway had already understood well about the Japanese tactics and strategies in war. In addition, the movement of Yamamoto and his strong fleet leading to Midway had actually leaked to the American hand.

Then, the war law applied in Midway --- a tactic was responded by a tactic, speed was replied by speed, and the surprise attack action was preceded by a surprise attack
       If you know your enemy and you know yourself, no reason for you to be afraid of the results of 100 battles.

There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army: (1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.

(2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom,  being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army . This causes restlessness in the soldier's minds.

(3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.

Second Edition 2014, 124 pages

Full bibliographic data for Sun Tzu and Naval Strategy

Title    Sun Tzu and Naval Strategy

Authors and contributors   By (author)  Gatot Soedarto

Physical properties
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 115
Width: 152 mm
Height: 229 mm
Thickness: 6 mm
Weight: 204 g

Audience  College/higher education

Language  English 

ISBN   ISBN 13: 9781481059855
            ISBN 10: 1481059858


LC classification :  JA

BISAC category code :  POL 000000

Publisher Createspace Independent Pub

Imprint name  Createspace Independent Pub

Publication date  26 November 2012

Book Depository.Com )


Author together with RNSETT Director,
HMS.Nelson, Portsmouth, 1993


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