Book Review – ‘US Naval Strategy and National Security: The Evolution of American Maritime Power’ by Eric Grove
Dr Sebastian Bruns is head of the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel. Together with the American Center for Naval Analyses he founded the annual Kiel International Seapower Symposium and associated workshop during Kiel Week in June and was co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Naval Strategy and Security published in 2016. His dissertation was on ‘US Navy Strategy and American Sea Power from “The Maritime Strategy” (1982–1986) to “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power” (2007): Politics, capstone documents and major naval operations 1981–2011’ completed in 2014. He has revised and expanded the thesis into this book that takes the story through to the revised version of the Cooperative Strategy in 2015 and the end of the Obama administration.
Bruns is agnostic as to his strategic verdict on President Obama’s recent administration. President Trump only gets one brief mention with reference to his attitude to NATO allies. It is a pity perhaps there is not more on the frankly disappointing actual level of US Navy deployment in 2016–17, something that has continued to today, despite the announcement of ambitious expansion plans. Nevertheless, this does not seriously detract from the quality of a book that, despite some occasional problems of expression, consistency and repetition, is highly recommended as an analytical survey of the important subject of US Navy thinking and posture in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Its comprehensive and accessible nature makes it an excellent starting point for those interested in the subject, as well as a useful aide memoire and gap filler for more expert readers. Given its very high price, readers might prefer the much cheaper Kindle version. A paperback would be welcome.