Naval War College Review


Throughout history, smoke has been used in various forms to obscure naval forces at sea. During prominent naval battles in the twentieth century, from Jutland in World War I to the U.S. Navy’s clash with imperial Japanese forces off Leyte in 1944, smoke literally contributed to “the fog of war” and added to the complexity and confusion of battle.1 But is there a role for smoke or other obscurants at sea in the radar-saturated, cyber-linked maritime environment of the twenty-first century? And what, if any, are the strategic implications of obscurants? This article will explore the latter question, leaving the tactical and operational opportunities of “making smoke” for separate inquiry.