Military Book Reviews

Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations: Third Edition

Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations (Third Edition) by CAPT Wayne Hughes Jr., USN (RET.) and RADM Robert Girrier, USN (RET.). Naval Institute Press, 2018, 354 pages.

In the third edition, Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations focuses more on analyzing naval tactics rather than weapons capabilities during littoral combat operations. A well-researched and captivating read, CAPT Wayne Hughes Jr. (RET.) and Rear Admiral Robert Girrier (RET.) analyze the strategic environment of naval tactical operations. Examples are given to showcase the evolution of naval operations from battleships under sail to vessels of modern warfare. Their historical accounts are submerged with trends, factors, and similar variables from each era analyzing the tactical evolution of naval sea power.

Retired Navy Captain Wayne Hughes Jr. commanded on many platforms while on active duty. He was appointed Dean Emeritus at the Naval Postgraduate School where he taught and conducted research for many years. He authored Fleet Tactics Theory, and Practice in 1986 and Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat: Second Edition in 1999. There is no doubt he plays a very significant role in how the Navy conducts operations through his published works. Rear Admiral Robert Girrier retired from the Navy after thirty-three years of dedicated service. He served as the Deputy Fleet Commander and established the Navy’s first unmanned warfare systems.


Fleet Tactics addresses a very specific audience including amateur commentators and young readers. Authors Wayne Hughs and Robert Girrier reawaken the interest of American naval officers studying naval tactics and naval operations. In their original book, the first edition focuses on the basics of tactics, logistics, and operations before the end of the Soviet Union. The second edition includes additional discussions on missile warfare and rise of littoral combat. This third edition addresses planning and executing littoral combats and explains changes in naval tactics from information warfare development.

Tactics are constantly changing due to many variables but do not limit the vulnerability and coordination of naval operations. The ability to assess risk management, encounter enemy’s actions effectively, and provide forceful backup brings the team’s expertise to bear. Directing a team member’s actions is also impactful in any situation involving naval tactics. These are a few elements of the Six Cornerstones Fleet Tactics shares throughout many pages covering naval operations.

Wayne Hughes and Robert Girrier also emphasize knowing the enemy and their capabilities as equally important. Mission preparation in training is an effective method improving skill sets and establishing the foundation of littoral naval tactics. Setting goals in peace and war enable war-fighters to react when needed. Through the lens of many significant historical events readers can unfold the root cause of naval tactics.  Exercising the decision-making process along with the responsible leader in a particular situation is a beneficial tool for young leaders reading Fleet Tactics.

Final Thoughts

Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations is an amazing read and welcome addition to anyone interested in naval tactics or history. The deep dive into military history and tactics is overwhelming with all the information in one book. Wayne Hughes and Robert Girrier write brilliantly in turning a discussion about littoral warfare into a masterpiece of future naval tactics. This book is a great reference for naval officers and a must read on anyone’s book list interested in the changing dynamics of naval warfare in the 21st century.

Review contributed by Dong Logan. She is a DODReads book review contributor and  Naval Officer. In her free time, she enjoys reading, walking her Golden Retriever, and spending time with family. For more information on Logan, connect with her on LinkedIn at

Leave a Reply....