Taking a look into Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” parallels can be drawn from it that reflect some ideas , techniques, and tactics that we are taught here at the Naval Academy. The overarching philosophy that Sun Tzu introduces, is the importance of strategy for the good of the state and the chances of success for a military. Looking deeper into the ideals we are taught here at the Academy, the very first thing they teach us, is where our loyalties should lie.
“Ship, Shipmate, Self.”is one of the most important sayings the Navy has as a whole, and one of the first ideals instilled in those who decide to serve for the United States Navy. This relates in many ways to Sun Tzu’s philosophy of making calculated decisions for an overall outcome of military success. Before we make any decisions here at the academy, we are taught to consider the pyramid of loyalty, and must keep in mind our motivation should always be for the good of those we serve with, and the mission we are striving to accomplish.
The most effective of these two similar principles however, is the Academy’s approach to the mission, which is to make smart decisions based off a simple philosophy to follow, where as Sun Tzu, while going into detail, may have gone too much into detail, making it hard to follow. Especially when the goal is to inspire militaries to follow the doctrine/philosophy, having something simple, and easy to remember is the most effective way to go.
“Ship, Shipmate, Self,” is also most effective, because it brings motivation, and purpose with in a military. It motivates us at the Academy, to do things for others, and to think of ourselves at the very end. The very first thing, “Ship,” is the mission we are loyal to, and buying into the mission, whatever that may be. Then, “Shipmate,” if there are conflicts that arise while trying to achieve the mission, how does it affect the person right beside you? If there’s anything you can do to fix these conflicts, even at the expense of yourself, then it must and should be done.
So, while Sun Tzu did have revolutionary ideas on making calculated decisions, its overall effectiveness has been shadowed by the ideals that the Academy, and “Big Navy,” instill in its midshipmen.