Criminal Justice: Military History: The influence of the Cold War and the Vietnam War on the UN Navy

Military History: The influence of the Cold War and the Vietnam War on the UN Navy


The US Military history, in particular, the US Navy history is divided into two primary eras; namely, the ‘Old Navy’ spanning from 1775 to 1882 and the ‘New Navy’ spanning 1882 to present date. Nonetheless, as explained by Wilson (2013), the greatest changes in the Navy have been witnessed during the ‘New Navy’ ear. In particular, the Cold War and the Vietnam War are the two international conflicts that are responsible for the greatest changes in the US Navy. The Cold War, as well as the Vietnam War, stand as the result of conflicts concerning the ideologies between the super powers at the time; the USA and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was an avid supporter of communist leadership and showed its support through the support of North Vietnam in the Vietnam War. In contrast, the US opposed communist ideologists consequently supporting the South Vietnam regime. The consequence of these two wars saw the US Navy augment its weaponry power through advances in technology from a variety of fields of military sciences.  This article offers an in-depth comprehension of the changes in the US Navy as a result of both the Cold War and Vietnam War.

Origins of the cold war and Vietnamese war

For a long time, the perceived history between the USA and the Soviet Union has indicated significant hostility. The said history of the two countries is only partially true. By the end of World War 1 the US and Britain allied with the Soviet Union for seven months leading to the defeat of Germany.  However, even at this particular time, the Soviet Union used the communist leadership while the USA used the socialist approach. These ideologies later saw the Soviet Union withdraw from World War 1 as well as cause the Bolshevik Revolution that cost Russia greatly. According to Pillar (2016), Vladimir Lenin at some point suggested that the Soviet Union had earlier associated themselves with “hostile capitalist encirclement”. Such suspicions led to the Cold War, which as presented by Jones, et al. (2002) was a political or an ideological conflict between the USA and Russia that caused significant military tension and economic rivalry. The war also resulted in the nuclear arms race between two power nations.

From the presented information, it is clear that the Cold war is a proxy war of propaganda, coalitions, as well as espionage inherited from the First World War through to World War 2. In a similar fashion, the Vietnam War is perceived to be an effect of the Cold War. In essence, it is a conflict inherited from the Second World War, which led to many proxy wars, coalitions, propaganda, and espionage. The Cold War was based on a growing sense of fear and distrust, holding the former allies to a confrontation that neither could afford. At the same time, however, neither of the two countries could avoid the war. Bew, (2017) states that the Vietnam War was first fought between the communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA) alongside the Viet Cong (VC) fought against South Vietnam’s Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The US involvement started mildly as it supported the AVRN. Nonetheless, in the mid-1950s, they played a direct role in the fight where they expected to use their military superiority to employ ‘their firepower to overwhelm the enemy’s will power’ (Burr, 2009). The NVA and VC, on the other hand, claimed that they had superior tactical powers and were capable of fighting an extended war, which would eventually guarantee them a win against the US.  According to Cooper (2002), during the Vietnam War, the US had the best-equipped troops, their weaponry was significantly sophisticated technology wise, as well as the fact that it had a powerful Navy that saw them ferry numerous amounts of resources to the War Zone.  

The Influence of the Vietnam War and the Cold War to the US Military

According to Jones et al. (2002), the Cold War might have been a conflict of a variety of aspects; however, it was mainly a show of military superiority in particular nuclear armament. Cooper (2002) stated that as of 1945, prior to the Cold War, the Soviets had a stronger conventional ground-based military then the US. The reason for the weaker US ground-based army was due to the fact the US withdrew most of its troops from continental Europe after the end of World War 2, unlike the Soviets who maintained their military influence; consequently, having a numerical advantage. Nonetheless, even during this time the US boasted of a better Navy that dominated both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans without contest.

During the Cold War, the status between the two nations military influence remained unchanged though technology saw the US become more of a threat as the country had developed nuclear Submarines while the Soviets had invested heavily on conventional submersible vessels. Additionally, despite the two nations’ stalemate in terms of their air force, the Navy with the use of the ‘F-4 Phantom 2, had the capacity to host a fast and nimble plane on their carrier battleships (Burgess, 2016). The Soviets Tupolev Tu-95D was never a match in ‘Dog fights’ against the US Navy equivalent.

As earlier indicated the Cold War is remembered for its Nuclear threats; however, as stated by Burgess (2016), the early nuclear weapons affected the balance of the war in a variety of ways; consequently, affecting ear tactics on both ends. During the Cold War, the US developed a number of defensive nuclear weapons that included area air defense that worked in a strategy to block the Soviets movement against the ‘Fulda Gap’. According to Wilson (2013) the Cold War warranted the US to develop mid-range missiles, ground to air A-10 planes as well as attack helicopters to counteract any soviet attacks though the Fulda Gap.  

Coming to the beginning of the Vietnam War, the US had well equipped military in terms of weapons. Bew (2017) indicates that during the Vietnam War the US employed three tactics of security, enclave plus search and destroy due to their superiority. However, the juggles of Vietnam played against their troops. The weapons though sophisticated could not deal well with the conditions at Vietnam making the US less of a super power. In addition to this, the Soviet supported NVA and VC were equipped with the famous AK-47 which best performed beyond the US M16. This force the US army change in weaponry most times using the soviet AK-47 which was later replaced by the US version of the refile.   

Influence of the Cold War and the Vietnam War on the US Navy

 As earlier mentioned in this article, the two Wars influenced the US military in terms of weapons and strategy at a significant rate; however, as a stated by Burgess (2016), the US Navy witnessed the most change in terms of technology influence. According to Jones et al., (2002) throughout the history of the US Navy there have been three major submarine wars namely the first battle of the Atlantic, the second battle of the Atlantic, and the US Navy’s (USN) ware against the Japanese. Nevertheless, Pillar, (2016) states that there greatest of all US Navy Wars never went hot as it was witnessed during the Cold War. The US employed the full potential of military science in developing the first fleet of ballistic nuclear submarines (SSBNs) bomber that the ability to launch nuclear missiles while submerged from the enemy. Additionally, here was the introduction of the ‘Hunting Submarines known as the SSNs set to destroy Soviet submarines. Finally, the Cold War saw the US develop ‘Special operation’ submarines that were used by the Navy Seals who needed to be deployed deep into enemy territory.

The Navy also saw the use of large Cruisers such as the USS Long Beach and the USS Virginal, which were new vessels in the Navy fleet.  During the Vietnam War, the Long Cruiser ships were used to both hold a significant defense on ground troop defense. Additionally they were used to ferry supplies to the troops.


The US has been embroiled in a number of wars throughout the nation’s history that have seen the country change its weapons as well as tactics. However, the greatest use of science in the battlefield was witnessed during the Cold War and the War in Vietnam War. The paper presented highlights the origins of both wars, the military status of the USA before and during the wars, how the conflicts altered they weapon and tactic of war and in particular their effects on the US Navy


Bew, J. (2017). Rehearsing for war. New Statesman, 146 (5363), 22.

Burgess, R. R. (2016). Books Highlight Naval Aviation, Post-Cold War Strategy.Sea Power,        59(2), 60-61.

Burr, W. (2009). “Casting a Shadow” Over Trade: The Problem of Private Claims and Blocked Assets in U. S. -China Relations, 1972–1975. Diplomatic History, 33 (2), 315-349.

Cooper, I. (2002). The Cuban Missile Crisis/The Vietnam War/The End of the Cold War…            (Book).Booklist, 99(6), 599

Jones, T. E., Toth, L., Charnizon, M., Grabarek, D., Larkins, J., & Mueller, M. (2002). The End    of the Cold War/The Causes of the Cold War (Book). School Library Journal, 48(5), 172.

Pillar, P. R. (2016). Generation War. National Interest, (144), 41.

Wilson, J. R. (2013). The challenge of a secure military cloud. Military & Aerospace          Electronics, 24(11), 20.