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NWDC Guest Speaker Series: Getting Back on Top: How the Navy Rebuilt after the Vietnam War

by Ian Delossantos NWDC Visual Information Specialist
24 October 2022

Naval expert on strategy, policy, operations and military history, and organization and culture discusses how the Navy rebuilt after the Vietnam war.

Mr. Peter Swartz,  is a retired Navy Captain and a Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) analyst and one of Secretary Lehman’s staff officers during the 1980s, elaborated on the Secretary’s thinking  during NWDC's Guest Speaker Series held at the Navy Warfare Development Center on October 13, 2022.

“The 1980s are often cited as a “golden age” of US Navy thoughtful strategic thinking and bold at-sea exercises. John F. Lehman, Jr. was the Secretary of the Navy (and a naval reserve officer bombardier-navigator flying in A-6s)  during most of that decade, and was a driving force for US maritime superiority during the late Cold War. Looking back 40 years, he reflected in a January 2022 US Naval Institute Proceedings article on “Getting Back on Top: How the Navy Rebuilt After the Vietnam War.” In his article, Secretary Lehman identified  key elements and lessons learned from that time that might prove applicable in meeting the challenges facing the Navy today.   

"Peter Swartz’s discussion regarding the development of the Maritime Strategy of the 1980’s provided many thoughtful considerations for our current geopolitical situation," said Mr. Thomas Negus, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and NWDC's senior writer, "I found his discussion extremely insightful and he directly helped shape my thinking on a number of topics I am currently wrestling with in writing operational level doctrine. He brought the stories of strategy development to life with his first-hand accounts, and he was able to draw many parallels to today’s challenges."

Mr. Swartz noted that his presentation was just following in the footsteps of a widely-disseminated video of Vice Admiral Henry C. Mustin, famed  former Second Fleet commander, addressing  the officers, enlisted and civilians of NWDC back in 2013 in a riveting  presentation on the 1980s Maritime Strategy at sea. He noted that it would now be very timely to resurrect and re-disseminate that important video”.
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