Thesis Title

The Recent Evolution of American Naval Power

Date of Graduation

Spring 1998


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


To reverse the negative trend in its relative strength versus the Soviet Navy, in the early 1980s the Navy adopted a program of robust fleet modernization and an aggressive strategy intended to increase the strategic leverage of U.S. naval power. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the subsequent deep reductions in American military spending, the Navy and Marine Corps have developed a strategy that emphasizes deterrence, crisis response, and power projection in the world's littoral regions. The Navy's and Marine Corps' ability to confer their combat power upon these areas is challenged by asymmetrical military threats that are enhanced by the spread of advanced weaponry. To overcome these obstacles and modernize their respective force structures, the Navy and Marine Corps have many shipbuilding and aircraft programs underway, but fiscal austerity has slowed their efforts. Furthermore, the adoption of a regional littoral strategy is altering the functions and roles of different components of U.S. naval power. Although current U.S. naval policy is well-suited to the current international environment, one long-term effect has been a degradation of the Navy's ability to maintain American supremacy in the open ocean, which could have a profound detrimental effect upon future American security.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Gregory Todd Whisler