College of Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)
Christopher J. Smith
Naval history, United States, Great Britain, Strategy
Robbins, Bryan Keith, "Thinking on a Higher Plane: The Evolution of a Strategic Mindset in the Navies of America and Great Britain at the Turn of the Twentieth Century" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4449.
This dissertation examines how the American and British schools of naval thought matured in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. Specifically, this is an ideological and institutional comparison of the two navies through the development of higher education for senior officers focused on strategic thinking. These programs helped define the role of naval forces as an element of power projection and influenced the ideology within each navy from a perspective emphasizing command of the sea in support of national interests and objectives. Principal elements discussed are the impact forums like the U. S. Naval Institute and the Royal United Services Institute, the establishment and institutionalization of senior naval colleges, and the publication of important works from theorists like Mahan, Julian Corbett, and others had on the ideological transformation of both navies in this dramatic period of change for the world as a whole. Research questions focusing the exploration and analysis of evidence surrounding this topic include the following and apply to both navies, British and American, unless otherwise stated. How did the development of senior officer education influence the development of naval strategic thought? What were the influences of the physical transformation of naval forces in this period on the development of naval strategic thought? What was the relationship between American and British naval intellectuals and how did that influence the development of naval strategic thought in both navies? How did changes in national interests influence the development of naval strategic thought? All of the questions seek to examine and discover answers surrounding a central point. The development of the naval war colleges in America and Great Britain enabled the intellectual transformation of their naval strategic thought at the turn of the twentieth century and helped define the role of naval forces as an element of power projection in support of national interests and objectives.