Dawning of the Cold War
Soon after helping defeat Fascist tyranny in World War II, American Sailors faced a new global threat to the United States and the values for which their nation had long been a standard bearer; democracy, basic human rights, and freedom. The USSR, under a murderous dictator, Joseph Stalin, acted to solidify the wartime conquests of the Soviet Red Army and advance the cause worldwide of Marxism Leninism, an ideology that subverted the very ideals most Americans then held sacred.
Working with local Communist leaders and movements in the years after the war, Stalin eliminated the political and economic independence of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other nations in Eastern Europe. He put diplomatic and military pressure on Turkey and Iran in the Middle East and supplied war material to Communists fighting to overthrow the government of Greece. In 1948, the Soviets sparked a confrontation with the United States and its European allies over control of Berlin, the occupied and divided capital of the defeated German nation.
In the Far East, regional Communist movements took the lead, but received military assistance from Moscow in efforts to eliminate opposing movements and governments. Ho Chi Minh led Vietnamese Communists and other nationalists against the French colonial government in Indochina. Kim Il Sung and his Korean Communist supporters engaged in a vicious struggle for political control of the Korean people with Syngman Rhee and his anti-Communist adherents. In 1949, Mao Tse-tung and his Chinese Communist armies pushed the forces of the Chiang Kai-shek government off the mainland of Asia and established the People's Republic of China.
The United States, under the leadership of President Harry S. Truman, had already taken economic, political, and military steps to deal with the new threat posed by the Soviet Union and its allies. American taxpayers provided billions of dollars to restore the war-ravaged economies of Western Europe, under the Marshall Plan, and the similarly devastated Japanese economy. The U.S. government strengthened political ties with many like-minded anti-Communist governments around the globe. Finally, the Truman administration adopted a broad "Containment Strategy," in simplest terms a major effort to build a wall around the Communist world that would be defended by the armed might of the United States and its allies. The United States Navy, its warships and aircraft--and above all its Sailors-- guarded the ramparts of the containment wall from the beginning of the so-called "Cold War" to its victorious end.
Extracted from "The U.S. Navy in the Cold War Era, 1945-1991," by Edward J. Marolda
The U.S. Navy in the Cold War Era, 1945-1991, by Edward J. Marolda, Senior Historian, Naval Historical Center
Stalin's Cold War Military Machine: A New Evaluation (Colloquium on Contemporary History No. 6, 18 December 1991)
Conflict and Cooperation: The U.S. and Soviet Navies in the Cold War (Colloquium on Contemporary History No. 10, 12 June 1996)
H-Gram 029-3: A Brief History of U.S. Navy Cold War Aviation Incidents (Excluding Korea and Vietnam)
Forward Presence in the Modern Navy: From the Cold War to a Future Tailored Force, by Thomas G. Mahnken
Operation Crossroads (overview by Kati Engel, NHHC Communication and Outreach Division)
Operation Crossroads (Navy Library documents)
Strategic Deterrence (collection of essays, articles, and other resources covering the Navy's role in this important Cold War planning concept)
A Brief History of U.S. Navy Fleet Ballistic Missiles and Submarines (photo essay by Randall Fortson, NHHC Histories and Archives Division)
Strategic Deterrence and the Undersea Long Range Missile System, later called Trident (31 March 1971)
Cold War Operations
Cuban Missile Crisis