Latest Lecture Examines the Naval War College After WWII

---John Kennedy, Director of Museum Education and Public Outreach

Dr. Hal M. Friedman gave a presentation discussing his latest book Digesting History: The U.S. Naval War College, the Lessons of World War Two, and Future Naval Warfare, 1945-1947. The book brings into focus the presidency of Admiral Raymond Spruance, what he inherited and the changes he brought, during the critical years prior to the formulation of the U.S. policy of containment, a transition from a "hot" war to the new "cold" war.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into the Second World War, the command structure changed in the Pacific. Admiral William Pye had been the Battleship commander at the time of the attack and he was the temporary replacement to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and served until the arrival of Admiral Nimitz on 31 December 1941. Over the next ten months, Pye served as the commander of Task Force One, made up of the remaining battleships of the fleet, patrolling between Hawaii and the California coast.

NWC Press Managing Editor Pel Boyer (l.) and Hal Friedman
In October 1942, he was relieved and came to Newport to be the President of the Naval War College and Commander, Naval Operating Base, Newport, Rhode Island. Pye and others realized that there was a need to re-vamp the curriculum used; but, there was a war going on and it was not deemed a high priority as the College trained officers for burgeoning staff needs.

Spruance’s arrival saw a shift in the curriculum and a re-focusing that was more in line with the Joint Chiefs of Staff war plans. Spruance did not see war in the Pacific changing and had expectations of keeping the fleet at sea and a need to refine afloat logistics training. The advent of new technologies, specifically nuclear and jet propulsion, and how such would affect planning were topics for research and bases for future war gaming.

Dr. Friedman originally envisioned this book as a finite study of Spruance’s time at the Naval War College. As such, it was published as the Naval War College Historical Monograph Series 17. Now, however, as this work has been completed, Friedman has made this work the foundation of a trilogy looking at post-World War II and the change in doctrine that transpired as we sought to fight a limited war of containment. The book is available for sale by the Government Printing Office’s online bookstore, at


Popular Posts