This blog aims to contribute to understanding the history of the US Navy during the Cold War and to draw lessons from that and earlier periods for the current era of great power competition. I welcome your comments and follows.
I’m examining and evaluating some of the major components of what might together constitute a 21st century Maritime Strategy. I’m a political scientist who worked at the Center for Naval Analyses (now known as CNA) from 1969 to 1999, with a group that supported and critiqued ONI and OPNAV planners in what was then Op-06. Our main effort was devoted to the analysis of the Soviet military press. We had some success, as described in my “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, Vol 73, No 3 (Summer 2020) pp 1-27. I served as the director of the group from 1974 to 1989. The job mainly involved trying not to get in the way of my talented and dedicated colleagues. With James McConnell, I was co-editor of, and a contributor to, Soviet Naval Diplomacy (Pergamon Press, 1979). I retired as a Captain in the Naval Reserve after service in Naval Intelligence.
While I am much in debt to Peter Swartz and Steve Wills—both currently at CNA—and former CNA-ers Bruce Powers and Tom Anger, the ideas expressed are my own. I offer these think pieces for critique and commentary. Each addresses a strategic mission of the Navy, cast at the level of using the Navy (and USMC) as a whole. The aim is not to win battles but to win wars. Specifically, to support the nation’s peacetime diplomacy and to deter—or, if unavoidable, to fight—a war with Russia or China and to deal with the “post-war” world. I approach these subjects via the logic of the strategic situation as seen from the US point of view. Any references to Russian or Chinese attitudes are drawn entirely from secondary sources. My focus is today. Future forces are rarely addressed. Posts typically open with a statement of purpose, definition of terms, and descriptions of assumptions, followed by outlines of possible actions and assessments of their pros and cons and concluding with a section on war termination.
This blog is actually a family effort. My daughter Kathy provides highly informed editorial and technical assistance—without which there wouldn’t be a Clio.
Stay tuned for more and please follow to be notified when I post updates.
Bradford Dismukes, San Francisco, September 30, 2021