The traditional pattern has been for this country to emerge from a war with a modern, well-equipped Navy of large proportions. In the case of World War II, it was the largest and most powerful Navy the world has ever known—a Navy much larger, better balanced, and better equipped than that of the runner-up, Great Britain. The end of the conflict, however, parked the beginning of a rapid deterioration of our naval strength.
This decline was in keeping with historical Precedents. The end of every war has signaled a rapid disintegration of our fighting forces. In the case of World War II, it was a demobilization so speedy and complete as to plummet us almost overnight from the World’s foremost military power to a position of. relative impotence. The military establishment which we had labored for years to create and expended billions of dollars of rational wealth to realize, evaporated in a Period of months. The facilities, equipment, and supplies which we had fabricated at great cost and transported at great sacrifice to remote Pacific isles and far corners of the for globe were left without adequate personnel for their proper preservation. Not only did rapid demobilization hamper the proper preservation of our investment in physical assets, but it further bereft the nation of the bargaining power which the undisputed ability to back up our foreign policy would have assured.
A few statistics will serve to illustrate just how far the dissolution of our sea supremacy has progressed. The Navy attained the zenith of its power on September 2, 1945, the day the representatives of Imperial Japan signed the surrender document on a crew’s mess table aboard the Third Fleet’s flagship in Tokyo Bay. Since that eventful day our naval might has waned precipitously. The Navy had 3,391,832 men in uniform on V-J Day. By September, 1947, this figure had shrunk to 467,000. It is still shrinking.
When the war ended, our Navy boasted almost 1,300 combatant ships. Auxiliaries and other noncombatant types such as transports and large landing craft swelled the total to nearly 11,000 vessels, exclusive of small landing craft types. Compare these totals with our strength today. The Navy today can muster no more than 285 combatant ships in full operation, 21 in reduced status, 293 auxiliaries, 55 mine vessels, 74 patrol vessels, and 152 landing craft. In two short years our Navy dropped from a fleet of 11,000 ships of all types to a force of 869 ships.
Statistics on aircraft show a similar decline. From 41,272 planes on V-J Day, the Navy’s air arm has been reduced to 15,000 planes of all types, of which approximately only 2,500 are Fleet combatant aircraft.
The Shore Establishment has likewise been reduced. At the peak of our naval power there were 5,546 naval activities within the established Naval Districts. Today, that number has been cut to approximately 1,852 activities, many of which are in maintenance or caretaker status rather than fully operational.
These statistics starkly portray the rapid decline of our naval puissance. Our naval potency is still declining. What are the reasons for this meteoric devaluation of our maritime might? Why does a nation which prides itself on its business acumen spend billions to build a first-class Fleet and the shore installations necessary to support it, and then let that investment dissipate? Why does a nation such as ours, which controls such a large portion of the world’s natural resources and material wealth, the possession of which is the fundamental basis for all wars, at the end of every conflict deliberately divest itself of a major portion of the armed might necessary for its protection?
Obviously, after any war, our armed forces should be reduced. But the accent on contraction, as we have seen, carries beyond the early months of peace or even the first years of peace. History points up the fact that retrogression of our naval strength is a continuing phenomena throughout the years of peace. Not until another war is unmistakably imminent has the downward trend ever been checked. What are the factors which explain the cyclical nature of our naval potential throughout our history—from a Navy outdated and undermanned at the beginning of a war to one modern and powerful at its conclusion, and then back again to one of relative impotency?
The normal psychological reaction of a democratic people to the ending of hostilities is a revulsion towards war and an apathy towards problems connected with national defense. This natural reaction to years of war-engendered hardships and deprivations is heightened by a feeling of security based on defeat of our enemies, their current impotence, and the fact that the ability of an industrial democracy to overwhelm foes, which at the start of the war possessed superior fighting forces, has again been proven. Preoccupied once again with the engrossing task of accumulating more wealth, the average citizen is inclined to discount the continued need for a large standing Army, Navy, and Air Force. Quite understandably, he commences to grumble at the taxes required to maintain a large Navy.
All these factors play a part in building an indifference to the state of our Navy in times of peace. Perhaps the strongest factor which militates against preparedness, however, is the assumption that the defeat of our most recent antagonists assures an era of prolonged peace; that surely this time, profiting by our past failures, our leaders will find a formula for perpetual peace. No war was ever sold to the American people on the basis of territorial gain or national aggrandizement. The inference has always been that winning the war at hand will insure an infinite period of peace wherein truth and justice will once more reign supreme. The First World War was billed as “The War to End War.” As was the case in the First World War, the sentiment of the American people was very largely that World War II was a holy war, a crusade to preserve our heritage of free institutions for our children. There was in every heart the hope and belief that their sacrifices were being made so that war would be banished forever from the face of the earth. “We must not let this happen again” was on every editorial page and voiced in every barber shop discussion and after-dinner conversation. How many men and women would have given so freely of themselves and their wealth if they believed that the last struggle was merely a numberless war in an infinite series of periodic and inevitable conflicts? The public mind can only accept war on the premise that it is the sole means of removing a cancerous growth, and that after the pain of the operation has subsided, we will live happily ever after. It is not only understandable, therefore, but even logical that subconsciously the feeling should exist that, having emerged victorious from the most recent conflict, the scourge of war has been removed from our lives forever. It is quite natural to assume, without thinking, that peace has been assured—at least during our time. And if peace is assured, of what good is a large Navy? Why pay taxes to support a large Fleet in idleness? The money would better be spent on hospitals and education, or projects which will yield the citizen something in return for his taxes —such as roads or public works.
Moreover, the average American is peaceably inclined. Our national character is far from warlike. Our standard of living breeds contentment. We fail to consider that nations less fortunately endowed with national resources may covet the material wealth of their neighbors. We fail to consider that peoples who must grub and sweat for the necessities of life are easily incited to acts of aggression against those nations whose peoples enjoy the luxuries and comforts of life which capitalism has produced under the aegis of a democratic society. It is characteristic of human beings to impute their own motives to others, whether their motives are laudable or otherwise. Since, as a nation, we do not covet the possessions of others, nor harbor ambitions for national aggrandizement, nor militantly advocate the extension of either our political institutions or economic system, we find it hard to believe that other nations would resort to force to attain such ends. Therefore, the necessity for a sizable Navy is not readily apparent to the average American, and he tends to look with jaundiced eye upon military expenditures.
The foregoing are some of the emotional and psychological reasons why we have always forfeited our naval strength during periods of peace. On the other hand numerous thinking people, sober searchers for a solution to the recurring dilemma of war— and these include responsible government officials and members of Congress—have opposed the maintenance of a large military establishment because they believed that world peace, and therefore national security, are attainable without a strong Navy. Many persons, in fact, argue that a large military establishment is a deterrent to peace. Let us examine the more important propositions on which these viewpoints are based. They can be summarized as Pacifism, Disarmament, and a World Congress of Nations.
Between the two World Wars, Pacifism attained the height of its popularity. The Pacifists emphasized the costs of war and of preparedness for war. They advocated the settlement of international disputes entirely by arbitration. Their aim was total disarmament and their modus operandi was to arouse public opinion. Operating on the sound contention that the overwhelming majority of peoples everywhere desired lasting peace, the Pacifists hoped, through a program of peace propaganda, to vocalize the feelings of the multitudes and thus, through sheer weight of public opinion, to achieve world disarmament and the settlement thereafter of international differences by judicial processes or around a conference table. The various peace organizations put out numerous stirring posters and well written copy in the best advertising agency tradition pointing up the folly of war and the human misery it leaves in its wake. One of the best endowed and most effective of these organizations was the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Andrew Carnegie established the fund in 1910 to promote the cause of peace and to erase, as he so aptly put it, “the foulest blot upon our civilization.”
There are few people in the world indeed who do not subscribe to the basic aim of the Pacifist, namely, universal peace. But the Pacifists’ approach to the problem has proved to be entirely too visionary and impractical. Their propaganda for peace for the most part reached only those persons who were already confirmed believers in the futility and waste of war. Their efforts to bring about world peace have not stopped war any more than the Church has stopped wickedness and sin.
As for the thesis that if we would all disarm, there would be no more wars, history all too clearly gives the lie to this assumption. Men fought with sticks and stones, scythes and pitchforks, when no more effective weapons were at hand. Further, even the nations least prepared for either World War—namely, England and the United States—were both able to convert their peacetime industrial plants into war potential so quickly that they came out the victors in both conflicts. The ploughshare can so quickly be beaten into the sword that mere military disarmament will never be sufficient to insure against future conflict.
We must thus discard the fervent hope of the Twenties and Thirties that mere limitation of armaments would keep the peace. The other great hope for continued world serenity is based on the existence of a World Congress where the representatives of all nations gather together to discuss their differences over the conference table rather than deciding them on the field of battle. The theory is that the strength of all members of the world organization will immediately be mobilized against any would-be aggressor nation, and that the threat of such an overwhelming force will deter any willful nation from launching an attack. It was on this thesis that the League of Nations was established after the First World War.
The history of the League is common knowledge. Aggressor nations used the League to promote their own nationalistic ends. They gave lip service to disarmament because it meant reduction of the military forces of the countries most likely to oppose their expansion. Meanwhile, they continued to build up their own war machines. When the League was of no more value to them, they withdrew. In the first major test of the principles upon which the League was founded, the League failed miserably and ignominiously. Japan had her way with Manchuria and later in China proper. Japan’s administration of the Pacific Islands which she held under a League mandate was in direct contravention of the terms of her trusteeship. The Islands were fortified, closed to traffic, and the required reports on the state of the mandate never submitted.
Some proponents of the League blame its failure in the United States which abstained from membership. On the other hand, although not a member, this country supported those League members which genuinely desired peace and complemented the League’s efforts directed toward world stability. In 1922 this country sponsored the Washington Disarmament Conference. As a result of this treaty the United States scrapped a sizable quantity of combatant ship tonnage, including two modern battleships that were building. Therefore, not only did the United States reduce her total tonnage but she doomed her Fleet to early obsolescence. The other signatories, while accepting limitations on their future building, actually gained in relative strength as regards this country. Because this country had the wealth and industrial capacity to outbuild any of the other parties to the treaty, the net effect of the treaty was to impose limitations on the United States which were advantageous to the other signatories. When Japan moved into Manchuria in 1932, this country took a much stronger stand than the League against this act of open aggression. The United States was largely responsible for the Kellogg Peace Pact to outlaw war. The evidence, therefore, gives little support to the contention that the League of Nations was ineffectual in preserving the peace merely because this country was not a member.
It is still our hope today that world peace will be insured through the United Nations Organization, despite the failure of its predecessor, the League of Nations. While we should spare no effort to make the United Nations work, we must be sufficiently realistic to weigh its chances for success and the conditions which will obtain if it fails. We must take cognizance of the fact that the United Nations is no different in concept from the League of Nations. Therefore, we are placing our trust in a mechanism which has already failed us once. General Eisenhower has summed up the practical man’s appraisal of the situation very succinctly. An article in the Saturday Evening Post quotes the General as expressing the hope that eventually the United Nations will police the world with enough authority to eliminate the need for a large United States force, but insisting that, until the U.N. achieves such stature, prudence requires preparedness for any international eventuality. “Weakness,” General Eisenhower said, “can’t cooperate with anything.”
What hope is there then for a peaceful world or even a world wherein armed conflict becomes less frequent? Is there any way of staving off another cataclysm, with all the horrors and total destruction which scientific advancement promises? If war is inevitable, is there any way in which we can lengthen the periods of peace and shorten the periods of strife? History gives us but one hope. The longest years of peace have always occurred when one nation was so preponderantly strong compared to other nations that no other nation dared wage war because its chances of victory were so obviously non-existent. The days of the Roman Empire are the best illustration of this principle. Historians refer to this period as the Pax Romana. Roman Legions maintained the peace, which was only broken when the number and fighting efficiency of the Legions was allowed to retrogress. The other periods of peace in world history can be ascribed to the existence of a balance of power. When the world’s powers have been allied in such combinations that they almost equally balance each other in power and war-making potential, no individual nation has dared to become an aggressor, because while he could count on the support of his allies, he was also aware that equally strong forces would quickly come to the support of his intended antagonist. The history of the world from ancient times to the present day testifies to the validity of this simple premise. The Balance of Power principle has been accorded recognition by the outstanding students of world history. It is expounded in virtually every standard textbook. These two situations, then—a world dominated by a single nation, or a grouping of opposing nations such that their strength is approximately equal—are the only proven formulas for peace in a world inhabited by a species motivated mainly by self-interest and whose basic character contains a strong urge toward domination of its kind.
Until someone discovers the magic elixir which will change the basic character of human beings, conflict appears inevitable. The best we can hope for is by proper preventatives to lessen the frequency of armed combat-—and when it does break out, to contain it, keep it from spreading, and extinguish it as quickly as possible. We must continue to support the United Nations as providing an open forum for world opinion and a meeting ground where differences can be discussed and the issues clarified if not resolved. On the other hand, we must not forget the lessons of history. Weakness invites attack. It takes a strong nation to keep the peace. History has shown that there is but one proven preventative which will reduce the incidence of the dread disease of war. That simple remedy is an armed force in being of such strength and mobility that, it will be apparent to any would-be transgressor that his first hostile move will result in such a swift and effective counter-attack as to make his contemplated action highly unprofitable.
National Commander of the American Legion James F. O’Neil said: “We owe it to the men who fell at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere on the battlefronts of World War II to prevent repetition of so grievous a mistake as the nation’s unpreparedness.” The possibility of another war, he said, “has been increased in direct ratio to the decline of America’s armed strength.” Historians, in analyzing the causes of World War I, list as the major contributing factor England’s unpreparedness and the belief that the United States would never enter the fight. Even if the United States were not “too proud to fight,” the Kaiser’s war lords reasoned that her unpreparedness would make it impossible for America to bring any appreciable military force to bear before England and France were defeated. The unpreparedness of the same nations two decades later led to a second World War of greater and more terrifying proportions. The second World War was an infinitely more costly venture than the maintenance of sufficient armed might to discourage aggression could ever have been. How cheap such war insurance would have been when the loss of life, the human suffering, and the postwar disruption of our economy is considered!
Why was poison gas not used in the last war? Between the two World Wars, many writers pictured the horrible deaths and mass destruction of whole cities which would take place if another world conflict occurred. The effects of chemical warfare were pictured in much the same terms as the effects of radioactivity released by the atom bomb are currently being described. Enemy agents would infiltrate our cities and poison the water supply. Bombs filled with poisonous gases would wipe out whole cities overnight. Our troops and ships would be subjected to gases which attacked any exposed portion of the body as well as the lungs. Countermeasures would be well nigh hopeless because the gases would ne liquefied and would slowly evaporate for bays, making any gassed area untenable. Yet none of the belligerents resorted to gas in the last war. Why? Because, first of all, it was common knowledge that we had sufficient chemicals on hand to launch a counterattack which would in all probability exceed in effectiveness and coverage any attack made against us. Secondly, it was known that the Allies were equipped and trained to defend themselves against such attack. Gas masks and impregnated clothing were part of every man’s equipment. Our opponents did not use gas because they knew we were prepared to retaliate on a larger scale than any attack they could muster. Applying this principle to the larger problem, we can only conclude that preparedness is the price of peace.
It must further be recognized that our rational security is inextricably interwoven with the problem of world peace. George Washington, in his farewell address to the young nation, admonished his successors to avoid entangling alliances. A policy of isolation was exceedingly sound in the days of fail and horse-drawn coach. In the intervening years, however, our nation has grown and matured. An ocean-crossing has become a matter of hours. The Industrial Revolution has brought about a more interdependent world. Both World Wars have demonstrated that it is impossible for this Nation to remain aloof from turmoil in other parts of the world. Any encroachment on freedom anywhere in the world is a menace to our freedom. Therefore, we must think of our own security in terms of world peace. To guarantee the peace, we and our allies must possess sufficient armed might to discourage aggression in any part of the world.
This country is peculiarly fitted for the role of world policeman. Our country lies in the more populous Northern Hemisphere, astride one of the major continents. Our boundaries border substantial stretches of the two great oceans of the world. We possess the natural resources, the industrial knowhow, and the national income necessary to build and support a fighting force of sufficient size and efficiency to command respect from recalcitrant nations. And just as important, our free institutions, our record of non-imperialism, the charity of our people, our polyglot racial stock, and our known desire for peace should make it apparent to any national government or people not poisoned by propaganda that our motives are unimpeachable. Our nation alone possesses all the requirements: the population, the resources, and the technical knowledge necessary to produce and maintain a force capable of enforcing the peace, as well as the national morality which will insure the use of that force in the interest of the world community.
Just as this country is peculiarly suited amongst the nations of the world for the role of guardian of the peace, so a navy is a particularly effective weapon for carrying out such a responsibility. It has the mobility which allows a concentration of force in any part of the globe, thus reducing the need for fixed installations and large garrison forces. For this reason, it is also a more economical instrument. A naval force possesses a self-sufficiency which is to a large extent lacking in a modern ground or air force. Modern armies can no longer live off the country. An aircraft’s endurance is measured in hours, but a ship’s endurance is measured in weeks. If wars are to be stopped by threat of force rather than use of force, a carrier striking force hovering off the coast of a bellicose nation is a more cogent deterrent than the possibility of bombing by long-range land- based aircraft. A ground force is powerless to threaten until transported to the vicinity where the pressure is to be applied. A tangible, visible force is bound to be more effective than a threat to use an unseen weapon. Further, a naval force possesses flexibility. It combines the speed of the airplane and its ability to penetrate beyond the coastal defenses with the fire-power, accuracy, and staying-power of the surface ship. It provides the least vulnerable of all airfields in the atomic age. While islands may be unsinkable aircraft carriers, they cannot dodge the atomic bomb nor move out of range of the radioactivity which the bomb sets loose. A Fleet on the move is difficult to locate in any event, and its dispersion over a wide stretch of water further reduces its vulnerability.
In the preceding discussion, note has been taken of the characteristic fluctuations of our naval strength which has always risen to a peak at the end of every war only to subside at the return of peace and continue to shrink until another war threatens. The national thinking which leads to such fluctuations has been explored. The conclusion has been reached that maintenance of a strong Navy by the United States is the best guarantee of continued world tranquility. This conclusion inevitably raises certain questions. Must we maintain the nation on a veritable war footing in peacetime? Will such a policy lead to an arms race which will strain the nation’s economy? Will not an industrial mobilization plan, plus universal military training, make a large professional Army, Air Force, and Navy unnecessary? Is the price of peace a staggering burden of taxation from which the nation receives no other return?
At the start of World War I, Germany was superior in military strength to the nations which she attacked. Yet the democracies—Great Britain, France, and the United States—eventually triumphed after a long and costly war. In the last war, despite an even wider margin between the Allies’ unpreparedness and the Japanese and German military machines, the industrial power of the democracies plus Russian manpower once again forged a victory despite a series of crushing defeats in the early phases of the War. A student of history looking backwards might deduce, therefore, that a large standing Army, Navy, and Air Force is not necessary for the successful defense of this country. The historian might conclude that a plan for immediate industrial mobilization and a program of universal military training would suffice. A projection of the pattern of a new war, based on military weapons actually existing at the conclusion of the last conflict, however, makes it patently apparent that such measures, while essential, are inadequate to guarantee our security.
In addition to the fearsome weapons of total destruction which will be available for use by an aggressor in any future armed struggle, a declaration of war is almost certain to be omitted as an outmoded formality which might give the intended victim a chance to launch an airborne counter-offensive. Any sneak attack would undoubtedly have twin objectives—the immobilization of long-range bombers and carrier- striking forces, and the crippling of strategic industrial plants. Without long-range bombers or carrier aircraft, the nation being attacked would be unable to launch a successful counter-attack. With retaliatory weapons neutralized, the aggressor nation could then see about systematically pulverizing the country’s productive facilities, thus destroying the nation’s ability to rearm itself and laying it open to occupation by an invading force. In any future conflict, therefore, the issue may well be decided by the military forces in being at the outset of the conflict.
It is plain that, in the future, war potential in the form of industrial strength, while even more vital to the successful waging of war, will not be able to make up for lack of military preparedness in terms of existing equipment and supplies at the outset of a new war. Universal military training and a mothball fleet will not compensate for the lack of availability of long-range bombers or a carrier-striking force capable of carrying an immediate counter-attack to the enemy. To quote General Spaatz, “the attack of the future may come with little or no warning.
An immediate and paralyzing counter-attack must be the United States’ policy of defense. We cannot depend upon warnings as in previous wars.” In all probability, the course of the next war will be decided by the forces available at the moment hostilities are commenced.
Is the cost of peace, then, too heavy a burden of taxation to bear in order to maintain a large military establishment? The cost of peace is bound to be high, but it will be infinitely less expensive than armed conflict. If it does come to a test of strength, our measure of preparedness will determine our continued existence as a democratic nation. It should also be appreciated that too niggardly an investment in national defense can well be money down the drain. If we resort to half measures, we imperil the entire investment. We must maintain a Navy large enough, modern enough, and sufficiently well-balanced so that, when integrated with our air and ground forces, our military power combined with that of the other peace-loving democracies of the world will be greater than that of any single aggressor nation or combination of aggressor nations.
While the maintenance of a military establishment equal to that of any possible opponent is the only proven guarantee of peace, it may well be questioned whether such a policy would lead to a race for arms supremacy which would have a disastrous effect on the nation’s economic structure. The economic resources of any country fix the size of the military establishment which it can support. As matters stand in the world today, the United States could undoubtedly win any armament race in which it engaged. If we make it clear to the world that we intend to maintain a position of supremacy as regards our military establishment, the futility of entering into an armament race with us should be clear to any expansionist nation. If our intention to maintain supremacy is made unmistakably clear, potential opponents will not try to outbuild us. The trouble in the past has been that we have always been unwilling to believe that other nations were secretly arming or contemplating aggression. It has always been painfully obvious that the United States was unprepared for war. It has further been apparent that we were reluctant to re-arm. Not only must we maintain our defenses, but we must demonstrate that we will increase our military establishment if a possible opponent challenges our supremacy. If this policy is adopted, it is contended that this nation will have little trouble in maintaining its superiority.
While the expenditure for a national military establishment of sufficient size to keep the peace will be large, the attention of the taxpayers should be invited to the fact that their Navy gives them something for their tax dollar besides national security. Taxes paid for the construction, maintenance, and operation of the Navy all find their way back into the pockets of the taxpayers in one form or another. If not directly through sale of supplies and services to the Navy, or through sales of materials which will be fabricated into products needed to build, equip, maintain, and operate the Navy, then as dividends paid to stockholders from profits of concerns serving the Navy. The Navy requires such a diversity of products, goods, and services for its operation that the Rocky Mountain miner, the Kansas farmer, the New Mexico sheepherder, and the factory worker in Oshkosh are just as important to the Navy’s existence as the Norfolk ship chandler. The pay of uniformed personnel and civil service workers is widely dispersed. Through family allowance payments and the allotment system, payments to naval personnel boost the income of families living in the Midwest as well as along the seaboard.
Nor should the value of naval research to civilian firms be discounted. Aids to navigation, improved systems of navigation, weather forecasting, and the like are some of the fields in which our Navy has made contributions. It can hardly be denied that the Navy is not in some measure responsible for the advancement in marine engineering, ship construction, aviation, electronics, and related fields. The Navy pioneered the use of palletized unit loads for speeding up freight handling by rail, ship, and plane as well as reducing the damage to goods in transit. The Navy has also made significant contributions to the development of better containers and packaging. Naval expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic have added to our store of scientific data on those strategic areas in the expanding world.
The taxes paid to support the Navy are not a dead loss to the taxpayer even if the Navy’s services as a fighting machine are never required. There are numerous ways in which the Navy benefits the taxpayers. At times, some of these are unusual, such as the time the carrier Saratoga supplied electric power to the city of Tacoma. But aside from the type of benefits which we have suggested above, there is one everpresent and continuing benefit which accrues to the American people by virtue of the Navy’s existence. That benefit is technical training for thousands of young Americans.
Free public education benefits everyone, not just the individual recipients of such education. The toll on industry would be enormous if industrial concerns, for example, had to teach their employees to read and write, or if a concern was unable to hire an electrician or a machinist but must, instead, hire an untutored youngster and train him in the specific skill required. The Navy has a large program of formal instruction where applicants are sent to schools for the express purpose of learning a specific trade or acquiring facility along certain lines. But aside from schools, the day to day work on shipboard and Navy shore stations is largely concerned with learning a trade. On shipboard, the naval officer’s job is largely that of an instructor. Every man in the Navy is learning some trade or useful skill. As soon as a man has completed recruit training and has been assigned to a ship or station, it is almost incumbent upon him to decide in what field he desires to specialize. He then commences striking for his chosen rate.
Thus we see that the Navy is in reality a huge educational institution. The Navy provides technical training far beyond the scope and possibilities of any civilian training organization because it has the equipment and facilities. Further, the men are not merely studying machinery and equipment in the abstract or operating a dummy set-up, but are actually engaged in day-to-day operation of the equipment, and the employment of the skills which they are endeavoring to master.
The case for a big Navy, then, stems from the fact that, in addition to performing its primary function of national defense, our Navy has a peacetime utility. Tax dollars spent on the Navy do not represent an economic loss any more than does the provision of free public education. The Navy is essentially and educational institution. Like most educational institutions, it also engages in research which benefits business and the and public as well as leading to a more efficient and effective Navy.
While the subsidiary benefits to be derived from a big Navy are such as to justify its existence in peacetime, the requirements of national defense and world peace transcend all other considerations. In the search for peace, disarmament had been tried without success. Such moves only play into the hands of aggressor nations which secretly build up their war potential while the peacefully inclined nations reduce their defenses. A world organization of nations whose charter called for united action against an aggressor was tried. It failed to bring practical results. The present United Nations charter, which gives the veto power to the Big Five, means in effect that only the small nations are subject to disciplining by that organization. Superior force in the hands of peacefully inclined governments, it is reluctantly concluded, is the only guarantee of peace in today’s world.
As secretary of Defense Forrestal stated, “The lessons of the last quarter century have taught us that if future wars are to be avoided, the means of waging successful war must be in the hands of those who hate war.”
A graduate of the University of California in 1935, Commander Peel saw war time service as Supply Officer of the U.S.S. Aldebaran which was engaged in supplying our forces in the South Pacific during the early days of the war. Subsequently he served on the Staffs of ComServPac and CinCPac. His most recent duty has been as Executive Officer of the Navy Inventory Control Office in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Material Division).