Kuehn examines the influence of the General Board of the U.S. Navy as an agent of innovation in the years between the world wars. A formal body established by the Secretary of the Navy, the General Board served as the organizational nexus for the interaction between fleet design and the naval limitations imposed on the Navy by treaty. Particularly important, Kuehn argues, was the Board's role in implementing the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited naval armaments after 1922. Kuehn explains that the leadership of the Navy at large and the General Board in particular felt themselves especially constrained by Article XIX of the Washington Naval Treaty, which implemented a status quo on naval fortifications in the western Pacific. Yet despite these limitations, the author reminds us, this so-called "treaty fleet" managed to fight the Japanese to a standstill in 1942.
John T. Kuehn is a former naval aviator who retired as a commander from the U.S. Navy in 2004. He holds a PhD in military history from Kansas State University and teaches at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS.