The Royal Navy, 1930-1990: Innovation and Defence

The Royal Navy, 1930-1990: Innovation and Defence

The Royal Navy, 1930-1990: Innovation and Defence

The Royal Navy, 1930-1990: Innovation and Defence

Synopsis

During this period of sixty years, the Royal Navy went through a series of profound changes, responding to financial constraint in the 1930s, the challenge of World War II, the changing world order & the consequent refocusing of the service, as well as huge technical developments.

Excerpt

Richard Harding, the editor of this collection of essays, reminds us that the concept of military innovation has attracted growing scholarly interest in recent years. To a large extent this has reflected a general societal preoccupation with the nature and management of change, especially technological change. The rate of change at the beginning of the twenty-first century seems quite unprecedented and aspects of it seem unsettling, even threatening, to many people. Of course, it is possible to argue that this has always been the case; that coping with a changing world over which it has imperfect control is an inevitable part of the human condition. Perhaps, but there do seem to be some quite 'objective' criteria that suggest we really are going through an unprecendented (and maybe unending) period of upheaval at the moment. Moore's law, for one example, tells us that computer power now doubles, exponentially, every 18 months. For many people, global warming is also objective evidence of equally unprecedented change.

Military change has been part and parcel of this-to a great extent simply reflecting this change, to some degree being responsible for it. It has become a major focus of scholarly attention partly because, in the nuclear age, of its possible impact on the planet and partly because, more mundanely, it can so influence operational military outcomes. Navies that manage change better, fight better. So we need to know how change-or military innovation-comes about and how is it best managed. This collection of essays on various military projects that affected the Royal Navy in the twentieth century provides a fascinating series of case studies that help us explore these issues. They throw up all sorts of questions. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the extent to which we can hope to generalize about military innovation anyway. If one project provides a list of 'does and don'ts' for military innovators, can these be usefully applied to other projects, for example?

There is another even more fundamental issue too-and this is the very nature of military innovation. Does it apply mainly to the technological area or does it apply across the board, to training and education,

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