Talk:Battle of Leyte Gulf

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 Definition The largest naval battle in history, fought in October 1944 as Japan tried to interfere with U.S. amphibious landings in the Philippines [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories History and Military [Editors asked to check categories]
 Subgroup categories:  Military History, Pacific War and United States Navy
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

Reducing dramatic writing, but perhaps adding context

It is my intention to approach this article from the sometimes conflicting positions of more specificity/less dramatization, and more contextualization. Take, for example, "When Kinkaid finally bothered to check to be sure Halsey was still covering the San Bernardino Strait, he was dumbfounded to be told "no"--Halsey was out chasing carriers." This are Professor Jensen's words; I propose to replace them with the actual tactical message and primary-source interviews of the relevant officers.

Tentatively, I'm going to try to put in sidebar matrices of the successes and errors in command and control. I'm not coming up with the title from memory, but the book is on my shelf somewhere, The Anatomy of Error(?), which has a systematic way of analyzing failures.

Eventually, I hope to get an appropriate level of detail in each of the levels of writing:

  • World War II, Pacific (and perhaps reexamine the title)
    • Battle of Leyte Gulf (a naval campaign on its own, and certainly part of the air-sea-land campaign against the Phillipines)
      • Significant engagements: the four usually accepted naval actions, but also actions in the Palawan Passage, the appearance of kamikazes, and the role of land-based Japanese air.

This will involve moving blocks of text among articles. At present, there is more detail in parts of the mid-level article than in some of the engagement articles. --Howard C. Berkowitz 15:37, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Divided command

Russell, I see you removed the sentence about divided command from the lede. Now, I'm certainly open to rewriting this, but the lack of a common operational concept was significant on both sides. Where and how should this be discussed? Yes, it's in the outcome, and mentioned in the situation on both sides, but I consider it unifying for the article. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:37, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

I removed it because I didn't understand it; the idea wasn't clear. I should have talked about it first before exercising by big red pen. Are you suggesting that the reason for U.S. failure or Japanese failure in the battle was a divided command? Shouldn't ledes be synoptic? Russell D. Jones 16:48, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

Without question, the biggest reason for Japanese failures was the American quantitative superiority. Nevertheless, there were failures and near-failures on both sides due to the lack of a single operational commander on both sides. On the American side, the most glaring is the confusion on who had the responsibility to protect the Leyte landing force from a surface attack through San Bernadino Strait. While the detail is in the Action off Samar article, note Halsey's explosion when Nimitz tried to coordinate -- admittedly with Halsey getting a garbled and apparently insulting message.
On the Japanese side, things were even more chaotic. While the Battle of Surigo Strait may not have ended differently, the reality was that the Nishimura and Shima forces did not mass, and the two commanders disliked one another and needed a referee. Kurita, Fukodome, and others mention in postwar interviews that they became aware, fairly late, of threats detected or actions by other Japanese forces. I'm still thinking of whether the compromise on kamikaze operations, which I have not yet written up, between Fukodome and Ohnishi should have been settled by higher authority. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:27, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
Now that I have Halsey's autobiography in hand, his comment on divided command is temporarily in the lede, along with Takata's observation (which may be less to the point). I do believe the lede should have something on divided command, which was an issue on both sides; the details may go somewhere else.
Also, I'm now questioning what should be in the Action off Samar article versus here (or in both places) about the operational TF34 confusion. The detailed message traffic is in the former article. Suggestions welcome.
It's something of an aside that this may be getting close to approvable. Ideally, I'd like to think of approving it along with the Surigao Strait, Samar, and Cape Engano sub-articles. I still can't really see Sibuyan Sea justifying an article.
Of course, that still leaves us with confusion at the higher level of WWII in the not-Atlantic. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:33, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
Maybe Sibuyan Sea should get an article, although I've expanded it with pictures. I've also moved some of the TF34 material from the Pacific War article to here -- consider that temporary.
Probably because it was a night action, I haven't found any good graphics of Surigao Strait. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:48, 20 June 2010 (UTC)
Your new heading is a good compromise. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:22, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
It seems important enough to warrant its own heading but not so important that it is lede material. But in reading it over again, I see that Ozawa isn't discussing divided command. What was the problem of divided command from the Japanese perspective? Could that be made clearer? Jones 14:38, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Back this afternoon -- briefly, Kurita, Ozawa, Shima, and Nishimura didn't coordinate with each other, at best, it came from Toyoda in Tokyo. Naval and army land-based air did their own things, vaguely under Mizawa, as were the submarines. Fukudome and Ohnishi were in an uneasy alliance. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:13, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Japanese air organization

Perhaps the most complex remaining issue is the Japanese land-based air organization. Remember, this article concentrates on a few days in October; while formal kamikaze operations began in the Philippines campaign, they began at or just after the end of those days. Still, Arima's solo attack and Ohnishi's strategy can't be ignored.

I am, however, still trying to sort out the relationships among the First, Second and Combined Air Fleets; the Base Air Forces; Southwest Area Fleet; and other cats and dogs even before bringing in Army. Primary and secondary sources sometimes conflict but I'm slowly getting coherence. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:21, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Questions about the American Situation

The text this version makes some leaps which leaves questions in my mind. I'd make the changes myself, but I'm not sure of the facts here. Jones 19:41, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

  • The article does not lay out the essential dispute between Nimitz and MacArthur such that when a reader gets to this line "Eventually, President Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened to break the deadlock between King and Nimitz versus MacArthur" a reader would understand just what King/Nimitz and MacArthur were deadlocked over. Sure they had a divided command, but not explained are the consequences of that such that it made such a bru-ha-ha that the President had to step in it.
  • Okay, I moved a couple of sentences from the "Concept of Operations" section dealing which MacArthur's views about the Philippines which seem to point this section in right direction, which is that MacArthur wanted to devote U.S. assets towards the Philippines when Nimitz, King, and the JCS did not see the strategic value in it since it was so far from Japan and could not in any way assist in the unconditional surrender of Japan. Jones 20:00, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
  • "The JCS has decided that the most feasible approach to Formosa, Luzon and China is by way of the Marianas, Luzon and China." This is so tautological that I question whether this is accurately quoted. So the way to Luzon is to go to Luzon? Are the JCS really that stupid or is the quote inaccurate, or is there something that is not explained here? It's so strangely constructed that I can't make sense of it.
    • Additionally, I don't see how "going to Luzon by way of Luzon" is "an obsolete concept."
  • The current text is not clear how Reno V was going to get MacArthur from Luzon and march along a line to Manila without also making landings on Luzon. Shouldn't the phrase "to cover a November invasion of Leyte ..." read "to cover a November invasion of Leyte and southern Luzon ...." Is this what the plan called for? If not, then how did the plan propose getting MacArthur to Manila without landing on Luzon?
  • It sounds like Reno V became the basis for the Leyte landings. If true, a little foreshadowing here would help.
  • What are the "attacks on Bicol ..." etc.? Is this shore bombardment or air strikes? Text here should follow the pattern set by the sentence previous to it, "Air strikes by Third Fleet ...."
That won't work, although it may need more elaboration (including in text) to explain why. "Air strikes by Third Fleet" is at a quite different level of military directives than "advance on a set of objectives." Literally, at the time that set was written, there may have been no decision on how to neutralize the Bicol Peninsula or other objectives. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:00, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Bullet points won't work here and this needs to be written out. Jones 17:05, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Maybe this needs to be a wikilink, and perhaps this objective needs to move out of this article and into Philippines campaign (U.S. Philippines counteroffensive? After all, the Japanese campaigned there in 1941-1942)
We have to be careful about putting too much in this article -- things that are important but belong elsewhere. Yes, we need to give the reader who won't read the other articles just enough information to frame why the Battle of Leyte Gulf took place, but this is not the place for the nuances of WESPAC strategy. Anyway, no one article is large enough for the ego of Douglas MacArthur.
For the record, I equate MacArthur with the Little Girl Who Had A Curl Right In The Middle of Her Forehead. When She Was Good, She Was Very Very Good, And When She Was Bad, She Was Horrid. Sutherland and Willoughby were consistently horrid. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:00, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
HOLY SMOKES, No! Can't you imagine the sorts of debates we'd have with User:Douglas MacArthur? Jones 17:05, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
I am about to collapse for a while, but will recheck the quote. From memory, I think it's accurate if awkward, as it was predicated on using the Marianas to get to Formosa and eastern China, and then back to the Philippines. Japanese Army movement to eastern China obsoleted the concept.
Part of the problem, and I'm open to suggestions, is that this article is really trying to stay with the main Leyte battles in late October. My guess is that a "Philippines Campaign" article may be needed between it and the Leyte Gulf article group. Reno, the JCS-MacArthur-Nimitz war, etc., in large part belongs there with a brief summary in Leyte Gulf.
Today, while waiting at the veterinary teaching hospital, I finally (I think) figured out the Japanese structure for land-based air. This is quite awkward, because while the first organized kamikaze attack was on October 25, it was considered by many after the Action of Samar and not really part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. On the other hand, there was a good deal of planning and reorganizing in September and early October, which also isn't part of the Battle (really should be "Leyte Gulf Campaign", but that's a lost cause).
If the Japanese hadn't been so deadly serious about their organization and planning, I'd swear they knew their communications were compromised and they simply were trying to drive the intelligence analysts insane. Do you know that Ingrid Bergman line in "Notorious", where she says "the only thing that will save you is that the Gestapo will not believe you could have been so stupid."
(Tries, and fails, to imagine a Rolling Stone reporter interviewing Soemu Toyoda). Howard C. Berkowitz 21:27, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

OK, I screwed up the quote but there are remaining issues

These are things that belong variously in (to be renamed) World War II, Pacific and a possible Philippines campaign.

Source: Morison, Vol. XII (Leyte), JCS to MacArthur and Nimitz, 12 March 1944 (citation: Volume VIII of his history, pp. 7 and 9, "summary, not direct quote"

"The JCS have decided that the most feasible approach to Formosa, Luzon and China is by way of the Marianas, the Carolines, Palau, and Mindonoro."

Amplifying comments by Morison:

  1. "At the time (March) the JCS regarded Formosa, Luzon, and some place on the Chinese coast as alternate bases from which the final assault on Japan should be made.
  2. They had not yet resolved the "essential conflict" between the MacArthur and the King-Nimitz concepts
  3. Mac believed in what he called the "New Guinea-Mindanao Axis Approach", liberating the Philippines from south to north before attacking Japan itself
  4. King, and "less emphatically" Nimitz, believed in a two pronged approach from the new bases they were confident in acquiring in the Marianas. The right prong would be B-29 aerial "up the ladder of the Bonins" and the left would capture Formosa and a base on the China coast. MacArthur's role would be to liberate Mindanao and use it to base the Far Eastern Air Force (Kenney) to pound Luzon, after which he would help the Pacific Fleet to capture Formosa.
  5. The Japanese, naturally, did not wait for us to make up our mind
    • By moving a large portion of the Combined Fleet to Lingga Roads/Singapore, for the actual reason of being nearer to fuel, the British interpreted it as a threat to India and nullified their plan to send part of the Royal Navy to reinforce MacArthur (i.e., finessing King's Anglophobia).
    • Starting in May 1944, the Japanese moved south along the railroad to Hanoi, cutting Chiang off from all China east of the railway, making a Chinese coastal base infeasible, and also creating a crisis with Chiang, Stilwell, Chennault, and Chiang

Howard C. Berkowitz 00:25, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

I wasn't suggesting numbered and bullet points in the article; this was to help the discussion here. What if, however, the material is cut down to something along the lines as "There were [[World War II, Pacific#basic strategic conflicts]] between MacArthur on one side, and King and Nimitz on the other, eventually decided by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.", and expanding it in whatever we title the top-level Pacific article? What is the minimum, necessary and sufficient level of detail for the Battle of Leyte Gulf or the (liking this better and better) U.S. counteroffensive in the Philippines? User:Howard C. Berkowitz 13:43, June 25, 2010
Yes, we need a higher level article on U.S. strategy in the Pacific. Yes, an article on the overall U.S. aims regarding the Philippines would help. but absolutely no to renaming this article. This article is about the Battle of the Leyte Gulf which is commonly understood as a battle in World War II. Yes, history is always revisionist, but some things must be accepted as common knowledge (e.g., the name of this and other battles). Jones 21:58, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
You misunderstand -- that article is in addition to Battle of Leyte Gulf.
  • Pacific War
    • Japanese offensive in the Phillipines
      • Clark Field
      • ...stuff
      • Corregidor
    • Guerilla resistance in the Phillipines
    • ...stuff inbetween
    • U.S. counteroffensive in the Phillipines
      • Early air offensive
      • Initial Leyte landings
      • Battle of Leyte Gulf
        • Battle of Surigao Strait
        • Action off Samar
        • Battle of Cape Engano
      • Major kamikaze operations
      • Luzon, Mindanao, etc. landings
      • POW rescue raids in the Phillipines
      • Fight for Manila

Above is meant as an example, but I never intended to rename this article. My concern is this article is picking up backstory that is too detailed for a readable Pacific War. That would go in an intermediate-level article (e.g., Counteroffensive) truly about the campaign. Pacific War is grand strategic-strategic, Campaign is strategic-operational, Battle of Leyte Gulf is operational-tactical, subordinate articles are tactical. Doug's ego is either theological or cosmological. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:30, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Philippines Campaign (conceptual article)

The details of Bicol Peninsula, for example, belong there, not here, since it was outside the key October time period of Leyte Gulf. In military directives, however, it's quite common to see a strategic statement "advance on a line Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia-New York", without the strategic people actually specifying what will be done at each. Consider, for example, that there was always an assumption to reduce Rabaul, which changed from capture to air strike as the details were examined. The JCS statement is in that style. Having read a lot of JCS WWII primary documents, I read it as expressing what the computer companies call a "statement of direction" and not necessarily more than that.

I understand the rhetoric. So what you are saying is that landings on Luzon were contemplated in the order although not expressly stated even though landings on Leyte were. Jones 12:57, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

More and more, I'm seeing the need of revamping WWII Pacific and keeping it on the high military strategy level, campaign articles at the level between strategy and operational art, operational articles such as Leyte Gulf and Philippine Sea, and tactical studies such as Samar and Surigao Strait. As we stand, I don't know if it would be reasonable to think of moving toward Approval for Leyte and subordinate articles -- I still have questions in my mind, for example, of which details should be here/in Samar/both--perhaps at different levels of detail. There's no Sibuyan Sea article, in part because as opposed to the immediate assumptions of both sides, not that much actually happened there -- other than a lot of incorrect decisions made on both sides. I find evidence that both sides were very bad on ship identification, and we know that battle damage assessment from pilots remains a problem.

There are also some related articles deserving cleanup; I started on kamikaze and have a feeling that more needs to be ripped -- a comparison between the kamikaze and Hezbollah makes sense in suicide attack or even tokko, but kamikaze has a quite specific scope in which detail is important. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:34, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

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