The Nimitz Graybook: How the United States Naval War College Influenced the Pacific Campaign During World War II



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The Nimitz Graybook is an eight-volume collection of the command decisions of Fleet Admiral Nimitz. The collection covers the everyday tasking of commanders, communications and every major decision in the United States Naval Pacific Campaign from December 7, 1941 through August 31, 1945. The entire eight volume series was digitized in 2014 but scholarly research on the four-thousand-page collection has been limited to this date.

While it is difficult to accurately link the effect of professional military education to the outcome of real-world battles there are some instances where this can be done. During the years between World War I and World War II the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island had a consistent message that was taught to each class; due to her strong naval abilities Japan was a potential threat to US interests in the Pacific. The U.S. Navy counter strategy must be planned and continually refined. The well-known War Plan Orange benefitted from many of the lessons learned that were discovered during discussions and exercises at the Naval War College. The war gaming exercises and strategies taught at the Naval War College in the interwar years allowed the United States Navy to have an informed and practiced response to the Japanese threat in the Pacific during World War II. The Nimitz Graybook provides a unique perspective on how the theory taught in the classroom of the Naval War college translated into action in the Pacific Campaign.

The research for this project was taken from the many primary source documents available from the Naval War College catalogue along with the digitized copy of the Nimitz Graybook. My thesis provides in depth research on how the Nimitz Graybook demonstrates the influence of the Naval War College’s professional military education on the decision-making process throughout the Pacific Campaign during World War II.



United States Naval War College, World War II, Interwar years, Nimitz Graybook, Pacific campaign.