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Hunters and Killers.

Hunters and Killers, by Norman Polmar and Edward Whitman. Vol. 2, Anti-submarine Warfare from 1943. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016. 272 pages. $49.95.

Anti-submarine Warfare from 1943 is the second volume in a comprehensive history of the impact of the submarine on maritime warfare. Engaging their significant expertise in the history of naval warfare and military technology research and development, authors Norman Polmar and Edward Whitman chronicle the development and employment of the submarine as a weapon of war at sea and the resulting response by navies to counter the effectiveness of the submarine through antisubmarine warfare (ASW). This book examines submarine and antisubmarine technology, tactics, and doctrine chronologically, commencing with World War II submarine operations in the Atlantic and Pacific and culminating with twenty-first-century ASW concepts and contemporary issues.

This history captures the asymmetry between the submarine and antisubmarine warfare as these two forms of maritime warfare competed for tactical and operational superiority. The book discusses contributions the science and technology community made to ASW, as well as the actions of operational and tactical innovators. The scientists and innovators collectively developed ASW capabilities that reignited further competition between the submarine and the ASW operator. The book's chronological approach studies the pace and trajectory of evolutionary and revolutionary changes in submarine operations and antisubmarine warfare by explaining the tactical and operational challenges facing submarines and ASW forces. The authors then describe and assess the subsequent reactions of navies to mitigate or eliminate each advantage. The book stimulates the reader to assess retrospectively the inflection points at which the hunters became the hunted.

Of particular value is the authors' examination of antisubmarine warfare across the broad spectrum of ASW methods, technology, doctrine, and tactics. Anti-submarine Warfare from 1943 includes study of the contributions to antisubmarine warfare made by ships, submarines, and aircraft, but also the maturing science and technologies that enabled other forms of ASW. For example, the book explains the development and employment of acoustic systems by describing the development and use of active and passive shipborne, air, and fixed sonar systems. In addition, the authors examine the impact on ASW of nonacoustic methods, illuminating the important contributions made by espionage, cryptographic systems and communication intercepts, electromagnetic effects, infrared and laser systems, and subsurface wake detection.

In the first four chapters of Antisubmarine Warfare from 1943, the authors evaluate submarine warfare and antisubmarine warfare during World War II in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Numerous engagements are detailed describing the tactical contributions of World War II ASW ships, aircraft, and submarines to U.S. and Allied efforts to wrest the advantage away from the Axis submarine force. The book captures the multidomain approach to the periods ASW operations.

Not surprisingly in a study of antisubmarine warfare after World War II, five chapters of the book identify and analyze Cold War influences on submarine operations and antisubmarine warfare. This history captures the nature and intensity of the U.S.-USSR Cold War ASW competition. That competition is placed in the context of national military strategies, technological developments, operational doctrines, and tactics. These chapters reflect on submarine and antisubmarine warfare during a long period of not-quite-war, but definitely not peace, in the security environment.

Anti-submarine Warfare from 1943 is a holistic study of antisubmarine warfare that provides an opportunity to think critically about history's most impactful developments in submarine warfare and ASW operations. Readers might expect the authors to engage their expert knowledge of ASW history to assess which events or developments in antisubmarine warfare were most impactful in the competitive and dynamic relationship between the submarine and ASW forces, but the authors allow readers to develop their own assessments and judge the short-term and enduring significance of ASW technological and tactical initiatives and developments over the history of antisubmarine warfare.

Anti-submarine Warfare from 1943 will be of great interest to readers with tactical and technical ASW experience. For an ASW expert, the book offers the opportunity to reflect on previously obtained knowledge and experience and holistically reflect on antisubmarine warfare and submarine operations across the broad spectrum of ASW concepts. For the ASW novice, this book provides historical perspective on and context for decades of ASW developments. An appealing feature of this book is that the authors eliminate the incredibly detailed technical parameters that can dominate any discussion or assessment of ASW operations. For the reader seeking that type of detail, the books extensive footnotes and bibliography are valuable sources for research on several types of technical information, tactics, and historical events.

Anti-submarine Warfare from 1943 stimulates the reader to think critically about the trends and inflection points in the lethal relationship between the submarine and ASW operations.

Sean Sullivan is an associate professor at the Naval War College and a retired U.S. naval officer who served for more than a decade at sea in surface combatants, destroyer and amphibious squadrons, and the Third Fleet, participating in the planning and execution of U.S., allied, and coalition antisubmarine warfare operations, exercises, and training events.
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Author:Sullivan, Sean
Publication:Naval War College Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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