Lyons, Mark

Asymmetric Warfare

From the time they defeated the Spanish Armada, the British Royal Navy has vast control over the seas up until WWI when the USA became a primary contender. However the American navy has not always been the strongest force to be reckoned with. During the American Revolutionary War the colonies did not have a single ship outfitted to stand up against the vast and powerful British Navy. This unequal distribution of naval power forced the colonist to resort to asymmetric warfare in order to stand a chance. When fighting British ships in American waters the colonists would have to use smaller and faster ships in order to evade the massive British artillery and were still largely ineffective. However, John Paul Jones thought of another strategy, “It has always been clear to me that our infant fleet cannot protect our own coasts & that the only effectual relief it can afford us is to attack the enemies’ defenseless places and thereby oblige them to station more of their ships in their own countries or to keep them employed in following our… either way we are relieved” (1).

This strategy of Asymmetric warfare resembles terrorism, although to a different extent than terror attacks go today. “Jones wanted to panic, even terrorize British civilians, but by destroying their property (1). The captain and his crew accomplished their tasks by sneaking past British blockades in the shadows of other ships rather than facing them head on in order to gain access to British waterways. Once upon their target of Whitehaven Jones had to convince the crew that the unconventional raid to disable enemy cannons and burning property would actually be effective. However, by taking in a small raiding party and causing terror among British citizens by this unheard of suicide mission John Paul Jones was able to redirect some of the overpowering British Royal Navy away from their onslaught against the American Colonies. While this method was viewed as unconventional and even resisted by those who partook, it became necessary due to the asymmetry of the two forces in this American Revolutionary War.

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