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United States Naval War College, 1919-1941: An Institutional Response to Naval Preparedness

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Advanced research paper

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Established in 1884, the Naval War College operated until 1917 when, upon the United States entry into the World War, it was deactivated. This early operational period was characterized by a struggle to maintain existence and to develop a distinct institutional identify while contributing to the development of American naval professionalism. The College reopened in June, 1919, under the direction of Admiral William S. Sims, USN. He and his successors worked during the interwar period to develop a naval educational institution responsive to American naval needs arising from the experience of the First World War, developments in naval strategy and tactics as well as in science and technology, and worldwide political, economic and social forces. To fulfill an evolving College mission of training for higher command, Sims devised an institutional structure that endured without major permanent change throughout the interwar. During this period successive College administrators worked to assure that the Colleges role in naval preparedness would not be downgraded or minimized. This effort was complicated in the 1920s by arms limitation programs, public apathy and antipathy, and political and economic instability. In the 1930s administrative difficulties were further intensified by rising world-wide nationalism and militarism. By 1940 several aspects of the College program had stagnated. However, its graduates permeated the Navy command structure. Therefore, when the Colleges continued existence was threatened, a solution was devised--based primarily on a program of shorter, more specialized courses.

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  • Humanities and History

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