their own fleet.
And even if we had a navy more powerful than that of our enemy, it alone could give us no adequate protection; for the enemy would be sure to select a point of attack where our navy was not at the time, and which it could not reach until too late.
Indispensable as a navy is to this country, it cannot act any very important part in the defense of so extended a sea-coast unless it is many times more powerful than any fleet which an enemy may send to attack us. The enemy being free to choose his point of attack, we would require at or near every one of the exposed points a fleet at least as large as his, or in the aggregate at least five times as large.
No one, it is presumed, contemplates the creation of any such navy as that in this country.
Indeed, it would be the height of folly to require the navy to take part in the defense.
In a country having the situation of the United States
, the navy is the aggressive
arm of the national military power.
Its function is to punish an enemy until he is willing to submit to the national demands.
For this purpose entire freedom of action is essential; also secure depots whence supplies may be drawn and where necessary repairs may be made, and harbors where cruisers or other vessels may seek safety if temporarily overpowered.
Hence arises one of the most important functions of the land defense: to give the aggressive arm secure bases of operation at all the great seaports where navy-yards or depots are located.
It may be that in special cases military forces may be needed to act in support of naval operations, or to hold for a time important points in a foreign country; but such service must be only auxiliary, not a primary object.
Foreign conquest and permanent occupation are not a part of the policy of this country.
There is no division of opinion among standard naval and military authorities on this great subject; such standard authors as Rear-Admiral Walker
and Captain Mahan
have clearly set