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

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


This is coolbert: The Japanese.

"Our men can't beat Japs??!!" - - Australian cabinet minister upon being told of the fall of the British garrison at Singapore.


During the first six months of World War Two [WW2] in the Pacific theatre, the Japanese did have unqualified success.

To the allied forces this came as a decided and almost overwhelming shock.

This was not expected or anticipated. The Japanese would have been recognized by allied planners [American, British, Dutch] as being good soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but NOT THAT good.

The constant victories and conquests of Japan during that first six months of the war [December 1941 - - June 1942] WERE impressive.

Victories and conquests to include:

* Pearl Harbor.

* Hong Kong.

* Malaya and Singapore. [the worst defeats in the history of the British military.]

* Philippines.

* Dutch East Indies.

* Thailand.

* Burma.

* Wake Island, Guam, and the Andaman Islands.

Allied forces could not ONLY NOT defeat the Japanese anywhere, they could NOT EVEN stop further advance. The situation during that first six months was precarious for the allied forces.

The Japanese even launched surprise attacks into the Indian Ocean as far afield as Colombo, Ceylon [carrier attack] and Madagascar [midget submarines].

To what can we attribute these Japanese military successes?

A combination of factors to include:

* Much more prior combat experience. The Japanese had been fighting a full scale war in China for four years prior to Pearl Harbor. The Japanese KNEW their business.

* The Japanese were offensive minded. The allies were defensive minded. Static defense of the allied forces did not match up against Japanese infiltration [Hutier tactics??] and "herringbone" infantry tactics mastered in China.

"When you defend everything, you defend nothing" - - Frederick the Great.

* The Japanese were fighting a coalition [Americans, British, Dutch]. A coalition that DID NOT have a coordinated plan. Coalitions traditionally do not fight well. Napoleon could credit a lot of his successes to this fact.

* The Japanese employed combined arms in a manner the allies could not. A concerted attack from land-sea-air that could not be matched by allied forces. With the destruction of the allied fleet at Pearl Harbor and the sinkings of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, reinforcement and support was impossible for the embattled allied garrisons.

* The Japanese Zero in particular was an outstanding aircraft piloted by superior pilots that outperformed ANY allied aircraft in the theatre. When you achieve air superiority and consequently air supremacy, you were more or less guaranteed victory on the WW2 battlefield.

"Air superiority is the dominance in the air power of one side's air forces over the other side's during a military campaign."

"Air supremacy is the most favorable state of control of the air . . . that degree of air superiority wherein the opposing air force is incapable of effective interference."

"In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success."

- Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Japanese Navy (1940)

Until Midway, absolutely true!!




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