Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Bruce Garver


The defense establishment of the United States underwent many changes after its magnifent victory in World War II. Budget cuts and a rapid demobilization that President Truman descrived as "disintegration" shruck the Armed Forces to less that a quarter of their wartime strength in less than two year, just as the world's geopolitical landscape was hardening into the bi-polar relationship of the Cold War. Adding to the resulting confusion was Truman's successful effort to unify the three services in an overarching National Military Establishment which eventually became the Department of Defense... This thesis attempts to show that Admiral Denfeld's Congressional testimony was only a symptom of the real cause of his firing. His inability to communicate effectively with his civilian bosses and to unify his subordinates in support of the administration led to an intolerable situation in the Navy. Matthews never publicly explained his rationale for removing his subordinate, but the Admiral's testimony was not the only cause of the Secretary of the Navy's decision. Both Matthews and Denfeld have been neglected by historians, generally being dismissed as the Navy's leaders in an embarrassing "family feud" Nevertheless, they were both patriotic Americans and deserve a better legacy. Their principal shortcoming was their inability to work effectively together.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of History and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1995, David Bruce Dittmer

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