Naval War College Review


Jan van Tol


Sir James Cable is a noted writer on naval affairs. His Gunboat Diplomacy, 1919–1991 is a well regarded classic on the role of naval force. His latest work is a historical survey of the political purposes for which gov- ernments have made use of naval force. Cable defines “naval force” as that “ex- ercised by fighting ships manned by disciplined sailors at the direction of a central command responsible to the political leadership.” His definition is necessary to distinguish naval force as we understand it today from the force exercised by pirates, privateers, adven- turers, and users of “landing craft” (such as those that brought Roman sol- diers to Britain in 55 A.D.) or galleys, which served merely as conveyances to bring soldiers together for seaborne hand-to-hand combat.