THE ROYAL NAVY AND THE CAPITAL SHIP IN THE INTERWAR PERIOD
At times like this, when the world seems to be moving into an era in which there are many risks but few out-and-out adversaries and defense budgets are coining under increasing strain, there has been something of a revival of interest in the so-called "interwar period" between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second. This interest is due less to the hope that scholarly investigations of the issues then confronting defense planners will somehow provide 'answers' for their contemporary successors, than that they will help frame the questions that should be asked. This volume, written by someone actively engaged in today's naval business, demonstrates the value of such open-minded enquiry very clearly. Joseph Moretz concentrates his attention on the role and perceived importance of the battleship. This is a subject that has been covered many times before, but what is completely new about this is its focus on the operational level of war. Neither the nitty-gritty tactical business of battleship construction, nor the role of navies at the grand-strategic level — but a business-like concentration on what battleships actually did at this tune and what they were expected to do in war. The author has uncovered a great deal of new information, which demonstrates the extent to which the battleship remained at the heart of naval policy and planning concerns of this period. Thinking about the battleship both helped determine, and in due course reflected, policy on virtually all other aspects of naval policy — naval aviation, the submarine service, control policy, the fleet construction programme and. of course, strategy and tactics. The point is that the battleship needs to be put into context, to be seen more as the most important part of a balanced battle fleet. and less as a weapon system in its own right than has often been the case in previous analyses. The role of the battleship is therefore a huge topic but one which needs to be reviewed as a whole. In so doing. Joseph Moretz addresses one of the great issues in military history — the question of "military conservatism'. He makes a major contribution to an evolving school now reacting against the once near-universal view that military types habitually prepare to re-fight the last war and are institutionally, even congenitally. unable to respond to new technological challenges effectively. And this too is a conclusion with much contemporary relevance...
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