Book Review – ‘Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American naval thinking in the post-Cold War era’ by Harold N. Boyer

By Harold N. Boyer, published December 2020


In writing about US naval strategy from 1989 to 2007, Captain Haynes (Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy, US Special Operations Command) has provided an intellectual history from the supposed end of the Cold War in 1989 to October 2007, that saw the adoption of ‘A Cooperative Strategy for 21st-Century Seapower’ by the US.Navy.

The US Department of Defense Dictionary of Military Terms defines strategy differently in two editions. The 1999 edition sees strategy as an ‘art and science’ whereas the updated 2009 edition sees it as ‘a prudent idea or set of ideas’. Captain Haynes would no doubt agree that words are important and his book discusses this paradigm shift in US naval thinking. To do so he poses two critical questions. First, why was no maritime strategy developed and implemented earlier in the post-Cold War era? Second, if that was the case, why did the navy change course eventually during this period and put into place a strategy?

This work is not an operational history of the navy between 1989 and 2007, but readers seeking an intellectual history of navy leadership during this period will profit handsomely from this book. Haynes has provided an accurate chart of the shoals encountered by navy leadership as it navigated a course from a post-war, victorious, forward-deployed navy to a much smaller, leaner navy trying to come to grips with early twenty-first-century threats …

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Filed under: Post WW2 | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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