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Alfred Thayer Mahan, the preeminent American naval strategist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, explained that naval strategy simply denoted “the proper use of means to attain ends” or the disposition of a nation’s naval resources to attain agreed-on national objectives. For over a century, the primary strategic objective of the U.S. Navy was the protection of American commerce. Only secondarily did the navy conduct blockades or attempt to protect the homeland from invasion. On rare occasions, during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, the navy supported its sister service in amphibious operations. Beginning with the 1898 Spanish-American War, the U.S. Navy, because of its increasing might and the influence of Mahan, sought command or control of the seas. This remained ...

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