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From the start of the United States’ violent, forced participation in World War II until the present day, the culture of the US Navy transformed significantly several times. All of these “cultural revolutions” – if we may call them that – influenced how the Navy fought after World War II, in both hot wars and cold. The enduring context of the post–World War II environment was the absence of any overt, large-scale warfare on the seas between the US Navy and the navies of those nations it engaged in limited war (e.g., North Korea, North Vietnam, and Iran), as well as the Cold War with the Soviet Red Banner Fleet. This made assessing the impact of culture on war-fighting effectiveness difficult. It employs the analytical methods of Edgar Schein in looking at the components and dynamics of organizational culture. However, the impact of these cultural changes on the combat effectiveness of the Navy remains opaque given an entire generation has passed since the 1990s. More research remains to be done on how events since the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 changed the US Navy.
Dissatisfaction with the Royal Navy’s World War I performance led a generation of officers to analyze the fleet’s wartime record. This analysis revealed three problems: over-centralization of authority, a reluctance to fight night actions, and an overly defensive use of destroyers. In an effort to correct these issues, the Royal Navy made changes to its doctrine, training, and professional military education that improved the Navy’s World War II performance, especially in surface warfare. Reforms flowed from a variety of sources, including First Sea Lord Adm. David Beatty, contributors to the Naval Review, and Mediterranean Fleet exercise. The interwar reforms reflected an organizational culture that pursued improvement and learning in response to the perception that in World War I, the Navy failed to live up to historical standards of success.
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