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The Navy Department, as has been the practice in recent years, assembled at the Naval War College on June 1, 1905, a conference of officers, a majority of whom were of high rank and long experience, to occupy four months in the discussion of the battle tactics and strategy of the fleet, and of those unsettled questions of international law which at times have seemed to threaten universal war.
The topics considered in this volume are of vital interest, and it is desirable to make clear the manner in which the work was performed. They were formulated before the opening of the conference by the lecturer, Mr. George Grafton Wilson, professor in Brown University, in consultation with the president and staff of the War College. The officers were divided into committees when the conference assembled, and at stated intervals the committees submitted reports upon the several topics; the reports were then fully and freely discussed in a general conference participated in by the lecturer, the president and staff of the college, and all the officers in attendance. The conclusions published are those accepted in the general conference and may be fairly held to be without bias, since it is evident that in the future the United States may be affected either as neutral or as belligerent, and since the topics do not relate to questions pending.
The field is wide and the time limited, but the work is justified, if besides increasing our knowledge it has contributed in any degree to the formulation of agreements tending to avert or ameliorate war.
C. S. SPERRY,
Captain, U. S. Nary, President. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE, Newport, R. I., February 23, 1906.