As we move further into the 21st century, the Cold War, a conflict that colored world affairs for almost half the last century, is due for a recollective renaissance. Best-selling books, blockbuster movies, and celebrated miniseries are proof of World War II's longevity. But the titanic military, economic, and ideological struggle between the United States (democracy) and the Soviet Union (communism) often seems to be taken for granted, ignored, or forgotten.
With this issue, we're taking a step toward rehabilitating the Cold War by highlighting various naval aspects of the multifaceted conflict. And what better to start with than the Korean War, which erupted 60 years ago and was the Cold War's first major armed conflict. Paul Stillwell sets the prewar scene in "Looking Back," pointing out that it was a time of fierce competition among the United States' military services. Overseeing it all and wielding "his budgetary meat-ax" was controversial, tactless Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson.
Beginning less than five years after World War II ended, the Korean conflict posed a different set of challenges for U.S. armed forces. In "The Cold War's First Conflict," Edward J. Marolda, former senior historian at the Naval Historical Center, examines how the Navy prosecuted the nuclear age's first "limited war" in ways ranging from the conventional-such as gunfire support missions-to the unorthodox-Operation Fishnet. Charles P. Neimeyer, director of Marine Corps History, follows with "Leathernecks in Korea," in which he reviews the Marines' up-and-down experience in the war. Retired Navy Captain Robert Peniston meanwhile looks back on his acquaintanceship with a Korean War commander-in-chief, in "Recollections of President Truman's Navigator."
Throughout the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union engaged in heated military and technological competition on land, at sea, in the air, and in outer space. The Soviets won the first round of the Space Race in 1957 with the successful launch of Sputnik 1. While America's initial attempts to respond in kind didn't make it off the launch pad, the U.S. Navy surged ahead in the undersea race. In his article "Incredible Voyage," Carl LaVO describes the first submerged circumnavigation of the earth-the touch-and-go shakedown cruise of the USS Triton (SSRN-586) 50 years ago.
The superpowers also waged a relentless espionage war. The clandestine conflict repeatedly made U.S. headlines in 1985, the "Year of the Spy," when a series of Americans were arrested for passing classified information to foreign governments. One of the year's biggest cases centered on former chief warrant officer John Walker, who sold Navy secrets to the Soviets for 18 years. John Prados concludes our Cold War coverage by recounting the tale of Walker and his ring of naval spies in "The Navy's Biggest Betrayal."
On a final note, change is often bittersweet. For the past five years, Senior Editor James Caiella has served as my right hand-editing articles, reviewing manuscripts, checking facts, and generally performing the work of at least several people. As he now moves on to face new challenges, I wish him well. Fortunately, Jim will continue as part of the Naval History team, albeit in a reduced role. While this issue marks his last as a full-time editor, it's the first Associate Editor Eric Mills has toiled over from beginning to end. A former acquisitions editor at the Naval Institute Press, Eric is a welcome addition to the team.