This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to investigate how the Chief of Naval Operations—the service's senior uniformed leader—and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) operated within the increasingly centralized postwar security structure to influence U.S. defense policy during the first postwar decade. Two major events shaped the responses of the Navy's senior officers during this period: the fight over service unification that culminated in the passage of the National Security Act and the subsequent controversy over the roles and missions of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The outcomes of these events taught Navy senior flag officers and service planners the importance of being thoroughly prepared to contest each issue in whatever forum was necessary and to recognize that the fight over service prerogatives was not a short-term battle but instead an ongoing struggle. This study attempts to explain how the Chief of Naval Operations, as assisted by OPNAV, was able to maneuver effectively within this structure in order to promote and defend Navy viewpoints on strategy and policy.
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