Testing American Sea Power
U.S. Navy Strategic Exercises, 1923–1940
Military History - World War II
6 x 9, 208 pp.
12 b&w photos. Table. Appendix. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 03/28/2013
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  paper
Price:        $24.95 s

978-1-60344-989-2

Published by Texas A&M University Press
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2007 Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize- Honorable Mention, presented by The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute

Testing American Sea Power

U.S. Navy Strategic Exercises, 1923–1940

By Craig C. Felker

The Pacific Theater in World War II depended on American sea power. This power was refined between 1923 and 1940, when the U.S. Navy held twenty-one major fleet exercises designed to develop strategy and allow officers to enact plans in an operational setting.

Prior to 1923, naval officers relied heavily on the theories of Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, who argued that sea control was vital to military victory, best attained through use of the battleship. Fleet exercises, however, allowed valuable practice with other military resources and theories.

As a direct result of these exercises, the navy incorporated different technologies and updated its own outdated strategies. Although World War II brought unforeseen challenges and the disadvantages of simulation exercises quickly became apparent, fleet "problems" may have opened the door to different ideas that allowed the U.S Navy ultimately to succeed.

Testing American Sea Power challenges the conventional wisdom that Mahanian theory held the American Navy in a steel grip. Felker's research and analysis, the first to concentrate on the navy's interwar exercises, will make a valuable contribution to naval history for historians, military professionals, and naval instructors.

CRAIG C. FELKER is a commander in the United States Navy and recently served as a contributor for the History Channel's Deep Sea Detectives. He resides in Annapolis, Maryland.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Felker's detailed and insightful analysis of inter-war strategic exercises demonstrates that the popular sterotype of a monolithic and hidebound officer corps cannot be sustained."--World War II Quarterly

". . . offers a revealing look at the interwar Navy."--Journal of America's Military Past

". . . naval officer and historian Craig Felker provides a valuable examination of the US Navy's efforts to integrate the airplane and the submarine into warfare at sea. . . an important book. . . brings vitality to an area ripe for further archival-based analyses of naval personnel, their machines, and the administrative, financial, and industrial systems that supported them.  By studying the interwar navy's operational practices, Felker deftly illuminates a dynamic period in American military and technological history."--Technology & Culture

"This stimulating book will be welcomed by students and others with an interest in the US Navy in the interwar years. . ."--International Journal of Maritime History

“Felker’s detailed and insightful analysis of inter-war strategic exercises demonstrates that the popular stereotype of a monolithic and hidebound officer corps cannot be sustained. . . At the strategic level, fleet exercises may have contributed little to the nation’s preparations for war with Germany, but Felker shows that they were critical in helping the Navy test and refine its plans for conflict in the Pacific. This book is essential to understanding both the successes and the failures of the inter-war United States Navy.”--World War II Quarterly

“Offers a revealing look at the interwar Navy. It effectively challenges the general notion of an institution mindlessly devoted to the cult of Mahan and blind to the impact of new technologies. The Navy was Mahanian in outlook, but not slavishly so. It experimented and adapted new technologies, although not always dispassionately or successfully. Testing American Sea Power will be of interest to students of both military innovation and the U.S. Navy.”--The Journal of America’s Military Past

“Most sailors would agree that fleet exercises are not much fun—much to do and many discomforts with the underlying knowledge that 'this isn’t real' make them less than popular at the deck plate level. But Felker proves that these are necessary evils. Through a detailed study of the strategic exercises conducted in the years leading up to World War II, he makes it clear that fighting the greatest sea war in history would have been far more difficult and costly had these exercises not been carried out.”--Proceedings

“A good read, packed full of ideas, and following a consistent theme . . . excellent for the naval historian, student, or officer interested in the evolution of the United States Navy and Marine Corps prior to World War II, and helps to fill out the scholarship surrounding the navy’s transition to a global super power.”---Nautical Research Journal

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