I’m a political scientist who worked at the Center for Naval Analyses (now known as CNA) 1969-99 with a group that supported and critiqued ONI and OPNAV planners and analyzed the Soviet military press. I directed the group 1974-89. I retired as a Captain in the Naval Reserve after service in Naval Intelligence. This blog aims to contribute to an understanding of the history of the US Navy in the Cold War, to draw lessons from that and earlier periods for the current era, and to conjecture about possible future developments for which history may provide no guide.
For a number of years after I retired I did not closely follow the literature relating to the Navy’s strategic thinking. I only returned to it in 2017 when preparing a talk about CNA’s work on the Soviet navy as part CNA’s 75th anniversary. I was frankly appalled to find that ideas about SLOC protection and strategic ASW had marched zombie-like out of the Cold War and were being taken seriously in what was dubbed a new era of great power competition. A critique is provided in my article “The Return of Great Power Competition: Cold War Lessons about Strategic Anti-Submarine Warfare and Defense of Sea Lines of Communication” Naval War College Review, Summer 2020.
I felt a professional and personal obligation to re-enter the public discussion of these matters. CNA’s analysis from the early 1970s had shown that the Soviet navy had zero intent to attack Western SLOCs, and CNA had been close to the center of the thinking that gave rise to strategic ASW. Today, Russia has even less interest in threatening Western SLOCs on the high seas than did the Soviets. Today, strategic ASW is such a stunningly bad idea that by speaking out I hope to help banish it from polite strategic discussion.
I recognize that I am stepping into the midst of a fast-moving debate that has produced a substantial body of literature that continues to grow. I hope to contribute to it if I can.