The present discussion, however, contemplates the amphibious withdrawal, those "operations conducted to extract forces by sea in ships or craft from a hostile or potentially hostile shore." (5) The capability to plan and execute amphibious withdrawals, no less than their more glamorous and practiced assault siblings, remains a practical essential in the military repertoire.
In every one, however, the amphibious withdrawal permitted the commander to retrieve forces otherwise doomed to destruction or captivity and subsequently to reinsert them into combat.
Dunkirk and Hungnam represent the antipodes of the twentieth-century amphibious withdrawal. Dunkirk in May 1940 amounted to a hurried evacuation, executed under great pressure from the Luftwaffe, by a hasty assemblage of British and French naval vessels, augmented by myriad civilian ships and small craft.
More important, the amphibious withdrawal, generally speaking, has never worked its way into U.S.
Joint Publication (JP) 3-02, Joint Doctrine for Amphibious Operations (its current edition was issued in August 2009), recognizes and defines amphibious withdrawal but devotes only two pages, out of more than two hundred, to it.
Perhaps a certain misplaced optimism now makes it difficult to imagine a future situation in which an amphibious withdrawal might be appropriate.
Doyle understood that effectively addressing the problem of amphibious withdrawal also required that he be afforded by his own superiors considerable leeway in the exercise of command.
Today, joint doctrine, although entirely consistent with the lessons of Hungnam, provides only minimal guidance for structuring the problem of the amphibious withdrawal. Naval commanders and staffs not already well practiced in the amphibious assault will find only a very rough outline for approaching the problem of the amphibious withdrawal.