LAGUERRE KLEIMAN, Michel, 2017, U.S. Naval War College & Escuela Superior de Guerra Naval del Perú. An historical partnership in maritime security studies, Lima, Escuela Superior de Guerra Naval del Perú and U.S. Naval War College. 127 pp.

In this second book, Second Lieutenant Michel Laguerre Kleiman continues his analysis of the historical relationship between the navies of Peru and the United States, a task that he began in his work El Oncenio y el desarrollo de la Armada Peruana (1919-1930) (2015). In this new book, the author analyzes the historical link between the Escuela Superior de Guerra Naval del Perú (ESGN) and the U.S. Naval War College (NWC). Since it was founded in 1884, the NWC has been responsible for educating the leaders of the U.S. Navy. Laguerre notes that its creation was influenced by a series of events that occurred primarily in the 1870s and led the U.S. Navy to consider the need to create a professional training institution. In this book, Laguerre explores the decisive influence of the NWC in the creation and development of the ESGN, examining the role played in this process by a group of U.S. officials who graduated from the NWC.

The book, a bilingual co-publication by the ESGN and the NWC, is divided into two parts. In the first, the author examines the background of the Peruvian naval school as well as its trajectory from its founding in 1930 through to its closure in 1933. In the second part, Laguerre focuses on the development of the ESGN after it was reopened in 1944 until 2015 and its relationship with the U.S. Navy, especially the NWC.

The author traces the earliest antecedent to the ESGN to a series of articles written by Peruvian officers at the beginning of the 20th century, which appeared in the Revista de Marina. First published in 1907, this journal was a space that represented “the intellectual spirit of the post-Pacific War generation” (p. 78), who expressed their concerns about the future of the Peruvian Navy. The first Peruvian officer to explicitly write about the need to create a staff college was Second Lieutenant Enrique Labarthe Durand. Between 1917 and 1918, Labarthe published two articles proposing the creation of a professional training institution and the hiring of a foreign naval mission to guide the Peruvian Navy. In addition, in 1918, Second Lieutenant Manuel F. Jiménez Saldías wrote an article analyzing various naval battles during WWI. Laguerre notes that “he went ahead to carry out actions of the future Peruvian Naval War College” (p. 76). Two years later, Second Lieutenant Roque Saldías Maninat translated an article written by Lieutenant Commander Holloway H. Frost about the Battle of Jutland.

It is interesting that the author identifies the knowledge of English as a common denominator among the naval officers concerned about the professionalization of the officers of the Peruvian Navy. In addition, his own education is linked, directly or indirectly, to the NWC.

Laguerre goes on to examine the second antecedent to the creation of the ESGN: the hiring of a U.S. naval mission in 1920. This action was part of President Augusto B. Leguía’s modernization project, which involved the abandonment of Europe as a model and a pragmatic shift to the clear winner of WWI: the United States.

Another important factor was the hiring of two U.S. naval officers by the Peruvian Navy: William Satterlee Pye and William O. Spears, both with the rank of commodore. The author notes that Pye, a graduate of the NWC, was part of its staff between 1912 and 1915, while Spears was the director of the ESGN until March 13, 1932, when he returned to the United States.

The fall of Leguía in August 1930 left the members of the U.S. mission in a predicament, in that they were unsure what their role was to be in the new political scenario – especially since those who had overthrown the president considered the members to be associated with him. Pye, the head of the mission, did not want the work of the men from the United States to be seen as opposed to the government of Luis M. Sánchez Cerro, and therefore “decided to reinforce […] the work for which the mission was recognized: to improve the naval education system” (p. 85). Thus, the focus became the creation of a staff college, which was established on September 17, 1930.

From the author’s analysis of the first years of the ESGN, it is clear that officers from the United States played a fundamental role at the new institution, both in administration and teaching. Nevertheless, on March 3, 1933, President Óscar R. Benavides “declared the school in recess” (p. 91). Unfortunately, the author does not identify the political and/or economic reasons for this closure.

After eleven years, on March 10, 1944, the then Minister of the Navy, Federico Días Dulanto, reestablished the ESGN. Laguerre describes how “all this was done in an international context in which Peru’s foreign policy was oriented to collaborate with ‘peoples opposed to totalitarian aggression’” (p. 96). In this second phase, the participation of U.S. officers was important from the very beginning. The school opened on June 4, 1944, with a deputy director from the U.S., Ship Captain George M. Baum.

In the second part of his book, Laguerre examines the link between the ESGN and the NWC, and hence also with the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The Mutual Defense Agreement (which entered in force on April 26, 1952) and the creation that same year of the Naval College Command, an international NWC program, stand out during this period. Both allowed Peruvian officers to travel to the United States for professional training.

One matter deserves comment. According to Laguerre, in 1972, Ship Captain Daniel Masías Abadía (a NWC graduate) gave a speech in Newport (where the NWC is located) entitled “Width of the Territorial Sea. Arguments of the Peruvian position” (p. 106). Three years later, the Minister of the Navy, Vice Admiral Guillermo S. Faura Gaig, gave a speech at the beginning of the ESGN academic year on the subject of “...200 mile maritime sovereignty” (p. 107) and proposed that international law recognize as necessary to “adapt the norms to the changing conditions of each era” (p. 107). This leads me to ask how the 200 mile conflict affected relations between the two navies; the author does not deal with this matter since it is beyond the scope of his book, but it deserves an answer nonetheless.

I cannot but conclude that this book is a valuable contribution to the study of both the history of the Peruvian Navy and of Peruvian-U.S. relations, given that Laguerre very clearly identifies the links between both navies through the close relationship that existed between the two schools.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Universidad del Pacífico, Lima


ISSN: 0252-1865 eISSN: 2223-1757
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21678/0252-1865
Email: apuntes_editor@up.edu.pe