Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, May 22, 2006


This is coolbert:

  Movie Review.

"The plan is the base from which all change is made." - - Israeli General.

The movie being reviewed is "The Great Raid".

About the World War Two [WW2] rescue of American prisoners of war [POW] being help by the Japanese in the POW camp at Cabanatuan, Philippines. NOT fiction, based on actual fact.

In contrast to subsequent similar rescue missions in future wars, such as at Son Tay [Vietnam], and Desert One [Iran], the mission to Cabanatuan was very successful. For a minimal loss of life, hundreds of Americans slated for execution by the Japanese were saved.

This sort of thing occurred several times in the retaking of the Philippines during WW2. The Los Banos raiders, the Cabanatuan raiders, the raiders at Santo Tomas and Bilibid all were able to save American captives from a gruesome death that was in store for them.

As for the movie itself, I DO NOT recommend it.

Was done with great attention to fact and detail, and WAS entertaining to a degree, but IS ONLY an average run-of-the-mill war movie. The "Alamo" was also a recent vintage where the desire for historical accuracy was followed. But much more entertaining. "Raid" just does not seem to cut it.

The movie DOES do a very good job in illustrating the "fog of war". The uncertainties that plague mission planners. Uncertainties that do not allow for sound decision making and planning.

What uncertainties am I speaking about here:

* How many prisoners were there in the camp, and what huts were they located in??

* Were the prisoners able to ambulate [walk their way out of the camp] or would transport be required for their evacuation?

* What was the size of the Japanese guard force, and what huts in the camp did they occupy?

* Was a shed within the POW compound used to shelter tanks? If so, in what quantities did the tanks number?

* What reinforcements did the Japanese have in the area that could impede the mission?

The tentative plan for the assault by the ranger unit had to be modified several times during the five day approach to the POW camp. ["the plan is the base from which all change is made"].

Change was made based upon updated intelligence from U.S. Army Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas. These troops monitored the camp and DID answer critical questions vital to mission planners. BOOTS ON THE GROUND AT CABANATUAN WHICH WERE LACKING AT SON TAY, FOR INSTANCE!!

Updated intelligence included:

* Prisoners could NOT ambulate. Transport was needed. [the Filipino guerrillas provided carabao carts that were used for evacuation!!]

* The Japanese guard force first withdraw, leaving the camp unguarded, but the guard force later returned.

* Japanese Army troops had moved into the area in strength. [This required the Filipino guerrillas to set up blocking points to prevent interference to the Ranger unit during the actual raid.]

Without such vital updated intelligence, successful missions are not possible!!

Units such as rangers on missions as what occurred at Cabanatuan must be flexible, resourceful, and responsive. At Cabanatuan, they were!!



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