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Talk:World War Two in the Pacific

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 Definition The part of World War II (1937-45) fought in Asia and the Pacific Ocean between Japan and the U.S., China, Britain, Australia, and other Allies. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories History and Military [Categories OK]
 Subgroup category:  Pacific War
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I added much more detail and used better sources, esp Halsey's memoir and Woodward's summary of interviews with Kurita.Richard Jensen 20:59, 18 June 2008 (CDT)

It is correct Halsey became enraged and changed his action due to a perceived insult from Nimitz, but Nimitz's actual message was a simple request for information. The series of errors by both the sending and receiving cryptographic errors caused the message given to Halsey to read quite differently than what Nimitz had written.
I cited Kahn as reasonably available, but you'll find the actual message, complete with handling errors, on numerous texts available through Google Books. It's a well-known example of how military communications procedures can fail; I watched my one-time boss, a former director of NSA, wince whenever I used it in a class for the Defense Information Systems Agency. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:06, 18 June 2008 (CDT)
I used the version in Halsey's memoir because it was the impact on Halsey that really mattered (Kahn gets its info fourth-hand). This is the kind of colorful and revealing detail that we can shift to the Halsey bio when it gets written. The point is that Halsey still did not realize he had been fooled by the Japanese decoys! That's what made him so angry: he says he was ordered away from his lifelong dream of a super victory when in fact he had been tricked.Richard Jensen 23:27, 18 June 2008 (CDT)
Well, I'm not writing purely for historical personalities and style alone, but also for military significance. The TF34 message problem is constantly emphasized in the study of military communications problems, and is as much a general lesson as an insight into Halsey's personality. That personality also led him to let dreams take over from strategic sense. Ozawa's force sinking -- which it did -- would have made no difference to the progress of the war, unless Kurita had broken through and devastated the invasion force. Halsey lost sight of what was actually important -- the invasion. From my perspective, it's far less significant that he didn't fulfill his dream than that he let the landing force be jeopardized -- that he didn't make sure San Bernadino Strait was guarded before chasing carriers, which he knew had no effective air wings. While I'm aware of the politics involved, this is one reason I find it tragic that the colorful Halsey got a fifth star, rather than the reliable Spruance.
I'm not sure what you mean by Kahn getting his material fourth-hand. I've personally seen official copies of the message traffic, although I can't remember if I saw it first at the National Cryptologic Museum or the Naval Operational Archives -- probably the latter, as I worked across the street from it in the Naval Command Systems Support Activity, where we had, for some odd reason, a great deal of interest in what could go wrong with naval communications. That, incidentally, was in 1970 or so, well before Kahn wrote about it, but I'd want a citation for the Operational Archives. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:07, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
well I agree--the main issue was Halsey's falling for the trick and pursuing a decoy. He fell for the trick in part (he says himself) because of that boyhood dream. The communications issue of importance was NOT Nimitz's message (that message was very clear, albeit insulting the way it came across). The main communications issue was the belief by everyone else (esp 7th fleet) that TF34 existed and was protecting the strait. That was a terrible misunderstanding, and the main reason is divided command. Note that Japanese communication problems were even worse: Kurita had a major victory but did not know the decoys had worked (the Japanese Army new but did not tell him). The #1 mistake was Kurita disobeyed clear orders to attack. This section was from Wikipedia and its full of useless detail, I will rerwrite it. We have out own CZ article that I think is better.Richard Jensen 08:42, 19 June 2008 (CDT)

Very nice rewrite of the U.S. command problems at Leyte; it sometimes seems the Pacific War was three-sided with the Allies, the Japanese, and Douglas MacArthur. :-)

Were you planning on any commentary about the Japanese fixation both on the "decisive battle" and their overcomplex plans that were unrealistic, tactically and technically, to expect to synchronize? I can certainly write something here if you like; C3I is one of my specialties. (If you haven't, take a look at my writeup, from a particular C3I paradigm, of Swarming (military)#Battle of Surigao Strait: Decisive swarming victory. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:12, 19 June 2008 (CDT)

thanks. re Japanese overcomplex plans that couldn't work. I was infiltrating it piecemeal into articles. It certainly appears at Midway, Philippine Sea and Leyte--but was that just a coincidence? Maybe it did not appear at Pearl Harbor, Singapore, Philippines, Guadalcanal, Iwo or Okinawa. My own strong preference it to avoid speculation in encyclopedia articles and save it for journal articles or books.Richard Jensen 13:46, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
Let's put it this way -- it's not considered coincidence in any historical background that I've either seen presented, or presented myself, in C3I seminars and monographs. The overcomplexity seemed a disease of the Navy, although the Army's tradition of Gekokoju took it off in different bad strategic decisions. In several cases you cite, there definitely was a piecemeal approach and, where it was a multiservice operation, conflict between the Army and Navy. In the invasion of Singapore, there was an excellent commander on the Japanese side facing poor British planning. Yamashita seemed especially good at asserting unity of command.
In the Phillippines, however, Homma certainly did not have unity of command (well, before his relief). Had he shot Tsuji, he might have done a bit better. Guadalcanal was an absolute fiasco of random reinforcements (e.g., the Ichiki detachment) and purposeless, uncoordinated attacks (I'm thinking of the Tenaru; neither side had a clear air campaign). Iwo and Okinawa, the latter even considering the kikusui raids, was an Army operation. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:58, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
I think we're in agreement. In Guadalcanal the Japanese did NOT have a complex overall real plan at all. The IJN was strongly committed to Mahan's Big Battle, as were Halsey and King. Spruance, by contrast, was an incrementalist and also cared about the lives of his sailors. Unlike the Germans, IJN did not want subordinate officers making decisions, and that was a deep flaw, perhaps, leading to a) overplanning with very complex plans; b) little planning and the subordinates unable to think of what to do. (There's a great scene in "Letters from Iwo Jima" in which the 2nd in command, who has been separated, makes an independent decision and the top general is furious.) Richard Jensen 15:04, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
I'm not sure whether these should be in the main article, subpages of it, or separate articles, but there are several motivational points -- to some extent for both sides -- that are not often covered, and should be. For want of a better term, I'll tentatively call them institutional/cultural attitudes about human resources, and for that matter, as you mention with the Germans, directive versus mission orders.
Let me take your point about Japanese subordinates making decisions -- they often did not, but they did take responsibility at just the wrong time, such as Yamaguchi at Midway. Oh, I doubt the IJN could have done something as radical as was done in making the junior Arleigh Burke CNO, but Yamaguchi was not a commander to lose, even if he didn't replace Yamamoto. Speculation, of course. Ozawa, for that matter, would have been better than Koga.
Enough with the speculation, and on to at least one specific: pilot rotation and training. The early Japanese aviators extensively trained at the Misty Lagoon were superb, but the Japanese threw their experience away, as opposed to using them as trainers and leaders as did the USN. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:25, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
yes the honor was to die for your country. American aviators who wanted to stay in battle were allowed an extra tour (in Europe) then ordered home to be come trainers. All this I believe should go into an article on the Japanese Navy (this article should be event-oriented, I think.) I coedited a book a few year ago that looked at the Japanese military, among other topics, and found their logistics system was a disaster because they never got the word that privates talk about battles and generals talk about logistics. I have a lot on style in the new article on the American Expeditionary Forces. Richard Jensen 15:40, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
I agree that there is much to be said that is specific to the IJN, but, for that matter, what do you think of an overarching article that states the issues, and the choices nations made (e.g., pilot rotation rather than burnout)? One could look at British cases such as Guy Gibson--the British being the inspiration for some of the Japanese traditions.
Patton's great, if not family-friendly, quote about what won wars would never have been said by a Japanese. Alas, some of my Army Staff friends tell me the current Pentagon version is that wars are not won by PowerPoint presentations; wars are won by getting the other side dependent on PowerPoint. There's a repeating rumor that some very nice laptops and video projectors are being airdropped over the FATA of Pakistan. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 16:27, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
I recommend separate articles on the major armies/navies. A comparative article is premature (we know ABCDEF about the USA, ABC about the Japanese, ZGPQPT about the Russians, ABCDEFGHIJK about the Germans, Q about the Chinese, etc. and it's hard to pull all that together.) I just did that with the AEF and looked at a lot of these issues. I also had a lot of that in the WW2 air war article. The most famous PPT warrior was USAF's John Boyd (he used 35mm slides, but pretty much the same thing.) Richard Jensen 16:39, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
"Forty-second" Boyd, however, had the credibility to go with the PowerPoint. As far as I know, no one ever stopped him, in a simulated dogfight with him starting in a disadvantaged position, to be on his opponent's tail within forty seconds. In any event, his PowerPoints were more entertaining than John Warden III, who tended to fail "plays nicely with others, especially when they wear stars and you wear eagles."
From a learning standpoint, understanding really comes once one can compare, so I wouldn't dismiss a comparison. One of the hardest things to teach an intelligence analyst is to ask all the right questions about different opponents, yet not "mirror image" your context on the other side. Establishing culturally-independent comparative structures is one of the best ways to teach analysis.
It's not easy. Dave Grossman has done some thought-provoking things about cross-cultural combat traditions, which dovetail nicely with some of Edward T. Hall's work on proxemics and other cultural assumptions. During Vietnam, I spent part of my time working at the Center for Research in Social Systems at American University (CRESS then, but the SORO of Camelot days). Learning to look at patterns on the other side was one of the attributes of the more successful Special Forces people we supported. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:06, 19 June 2008 (CDT)
I was rather surprised in places like Russia and Japan the people are not very good at role playing (in the sense of taking another person's stance.) Comparative studies are rather difficult so I suggest looking first at each country's military heritage, keeping comparative issues in mind of course.Richard Jensen 17:17, 19 June 2008 (CDT)

split off CBI article?

This article covers a very large and complex topic. Perhaps we should split off China-Burma-India into a CBI article. That follows the usual practice of the official histories. (We are now following Wikipedia.) This will allow a fuller treatment of CBI, which only slightly interacted with Pacific operations.Richard Jensen 00:35, 20 June 2008 (CDT)

I would definitely support that, always having felt a distance from it other than at the operational/tactical level with some of the special operations units like Merill's Marauders, the Chindits, or OSS Detachment 101. In the small world department, however, I talked with Anna Chennault a few times.
It's hard enough to reconcile SWPA and CINCPAC/CINCPOA. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:40, 20 June 2008 (CDT)
OK, I'll get to work on it in a few days (I have to reread the standard histories on CBI again.) Richard Jensen 00:47, 20 June 2008 (CDT)


Ideally, I'd like to see him as more than a footnote, given his truly uncanny insight. You might want to look at the comments I've made about him on the still-evolving amphibious warfare article, and we could decide where the detail should go. Perhaps he deserves his own article, or at least a Unit of Amphibious Insight,with the complementary Unit of Amphihious Incompetence being the Hamilton or the Stopford.

We all have historical figures that fascinate us; I sense some of that from you about Halsey, who was certainly colorful enough. Indeed, there are a few WWII Japanese whom I regret did not survive the war. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:36, 20 June 2008 (CDT)

Ellis deserves his own article. After all he died two decades before ww2. Whether any Navy people read him is unclear to me. (The admirals in those days did not listen to Marine majors for advice on naval strategy.) "Despite rumors, no evidence exists of Japanese involvement in his death, which was instead consistent with Ellis's accelerating alcoholism." (says The Oxford Companion to American Military History.) Richard Jensen 00:47, 20 June 2008 (CDT)
Somewhere, it should be observed that flag officers are, at least, listening to colonels/naval captains. The Marines do this best -- it's quite acceptable for a junior enlisted Marine to send a doctrinal idea, by email, to the Commandant. There are also a few articles by junior enlisted people in the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. Things are somewhat different, even in broader ways -- the best Byzantine historian I know just was promoted to staff sergeant, and is on his third deployment, as an Engineer, in Iraq.
Did you want to start CBI while I start Ellis, both in a few days? Howard C. Berkowitz 08:08, 20 June 2008 (CDT)
agreed on starting CBI, Ellis soon. Ellis I think was a student at Naval War College around 1912 (before he had his great ideas). Of course Leyte was an ARMY landing, and the Army loved, admired and listened to the Marines only slightly. :) Richard Jensen 08:57, 20 June 2008 (CDT)

Strategic bombing in the Pacific

The way it now reads, there could be an implication that LeMay went through CINCPAC (or SWPAC), rather than directly to the JCS, in order to avoid the really major god-emperor in the Pacific. Oh, not Hirohito. Douglas. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:13, 25 June 2008 (CDT)

OK I fixed it. (Spaatz had the command not LeMay). Richard Jensen 13:08, 25 June 2008 (CDT)

Beginning major cleanup

I'm starting some serious revision here, turning this into a top-level article focused more on politics and motivations, and even then moving things into subarticles. While the Pacific War was more US-centric than the war in Europe, it's still too US-centric as it reads, and there are some very substantial oversimplifications of major battles and campaigns. I plan to move these into subarticles, which I just started with Battle of Midway. When I reference things, I do intend to avoid EBSCO and JSTOR, and use principally online resources and reasonably available books.

If anyone is interested in collaborating here, please let me know. I would also appreciate feedback about the importance of my working on this, rather than (or at least the balance with) more contemporary themes such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, and related asymmetrical and non-national issues. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:24, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Better title

Any suggestions? Pacific Theater of Operations only covers Nimitz's command and is US-centric. The Japanese called it the Pacific War, which, if one ignores the etymology of "Pacific", isn't bad but isn't as familiar. Is there a way to get away from the comma format? Howard C. Berkowitz 17:06, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Well I tend to lump MacArthur's command under Nimitz's monicker anyway. (Seriously, are we to believe that the SW Pacific Theater was as important as the PTO? It's mostly Mac's politicizing that gets in the way. If he hadn't been such a pain in the ass, he wouldn't have been sent to the Philippines in the first place.) So, overall, I teach three theaters in WW2: The European theater which covers also Africa and the Atlantic and Artic Oceans; The Pacific Theater which covers both Nimitz and MacArthur and the Aleutians; and CBI. So, How about World War Two in the Pacific and World War Two in Europe. In any case, the comma in World War II, Pacific has got to go. I know also that since CBI deals with (mostly) the same belligerents that it is easy to place it in the Pacific War. Do you have a suggestion? Russell D. Jones 18:46, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Southwest Pacific Area, sir, dominant over the colonialism of the CBI and...the great deal of water attended to by Nimitz. C. Willoughby's ghost channeling the undead MacArthur
I can live with WWII in the Pacific. It's a tossup about CBI, mostly due to the "BI" because that was British-led while the rest was US-dominated. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:50, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the Pacific was divided into four areas. So what was your point about the PTO only covering the Central Pacific Area (i.e., Nimitz's command)? If the PTO was divided into four "areas" what's wrong with the Pacific Theater of Operations in World War II besides it is long. The other concern should be what helps authors writing? That is the point in getting rid of the commas: because we don't write that way. So, I'm for a name that jives with how authors write it in other articles. So Pacific Theater of Operations, Pacific Theater (which would have to redirect), World War II in the Pacific, Pacific War, War in the Pacific are all acceptable to me.
I'm all for leaving CBI as a separate theater/article. You're right, BI was a British-Japanese conflict while the Pacific was mostly an American-Japanese conflict (with a Dutch, Austrailian, New Zealand, British presence). And China, well that separate yet again. This discussion would be better at Talk:World War II#Organization. Russell D. Jones 23:43, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

I've always hated the commas in the titles of articles like this one. If I remember, this was Richard Jenson's style and most people couldn't be bothered to fight over it. Chris Day 23:49, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

See this: History pages with inconsistent naming.
Exactly, I'm game to zap them all. Chris Day 00:02, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
Me too. But that's not even half of them. This is a list Roger came up with a while back. I really have no idea how many there are, but as I come across one I put it on the list. I zapped Canada, railways over the weekend, and others have been corrected too. But it seems like a case of one step forward two steps backwards. Russell D. Jones 00:06, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

<Back to the Issue>
See Talk:World War II#Organization. I've started an over-arching outline for the whole of WW2. Each entry should be an article name. Russell D. Jones 00:16, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Howard, Please move this page to World War Two in the Pacific, thank you. User:Russell D. Jones 19:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Agreement, Name Change of Some Sort. Could you live with Pacific War? That is the Japanese term, and it's not unprecedented in the literature. I like its shortness, although I recognize it's not as obvious to readers as your suggestion. Hopefully, moving it won't break all that much, since the existing article needs much flow editing and many subarticles will be spawned. Jensen and I had a running argument, in which he liked large self-contained articles and insisted people would not link. (Link, not used?)
If strong Yoda so force in is, words why not in right order put he can? Howard C. Berkowitz 21:37, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Howard, I thought you wrote above that you're okay with World War Two in the Pacific? See June 2. "Pacific War" not okay with me; this is not a Japanese project. Russell D. Jones 21:46, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Online reference

I removed the online version of the first reference as it doesn't seem to load - it looks like it is linking directly to someones ip and I have not seen that with any other references used. A google search for the title of the paper referenced doesn't help, it only links to this article and it's twin hosted on Conservapedia (where you can see that Citizendiums loss was their gain - the author of this article jumped ship). If anyone else has more luck viewing the online portion please revert me. David Finn 08:10, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

To continue the naval reference, the author may have been a mutineer, or merely been an admiral-historian who changed allegiance. :-) Nevertheless, he had certain idiosyncracies in his citations and other writing styles that aren't necessarily useful for the future.
As someone with very substantial academic involvement, he had access to "Deep Web" resources available to very few others here. There was also the problem, as in the citation you mention, of there being more than one source listed, but no way to tell what part of what book was being used to support the CZ text.
My practice, and I think that of others, is rarely if ever to put more than one source in a single citation. The closest I come is when the primary source is more accessibly present in a reliable secondary quote of it, and, even then, I tend to use, "John Doe (details) quoted by Richard Roe (details)."
I also avoid having consecutive citations separated by text. In some cases, especially from news outlet, they are simple duplications of the same original story. In other cases, if they have different things to say, then their differences should be reflected in the CZ article.
Thanks for the improvements! I can certainly continue to help, but, at the moment, I'm especially focused on Japanese militarism -- a title I dislike but a very fascinating topic with possible relevance to other countries. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:27, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
David, The document is found in this list:, you'll have to navigate through the "Marshall Papers", "Browse Contents", "volume 2" and then scroll down to document 2-602. Document number 2-602 is located here: It is a memorandum written by Robert L. Sherrod to David W. Hubbard about a Marshall news conference on November 15, 1941. Russell D. Jones 01:02, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
The biggest problem with this source is this: Sherrod, when he quotes Marshall directly, uses quotation marks. The quotation used in our article is not quoted in the Sherrod memorandum, thus it appears that it is not a direct quotation from Marshall but most likely paraphrased. Thus, I do not believe we should identify it as a direct quote from Marshall. Sherrod is hardly a good source for U.S. pre-war strategy, even if he attended a press conference at which he may have heard Marshall say something similar to what he wrote in the memo. Russell D. Jones 01:15, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the replies, and the link to the Marshall Papers! David Finn 21:44, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

U.S. and China

I know that Richard Jensen felt that the U.S. was deeply committed to China, and that was one of the drivers of the war, certainly U.S. involvement in it. I'm less sure, although I'm no expert on Sino-US relations in the thirties. My impression was that China was a general colonial proxy and the US interest was one among Western powers.

Comments? Howard C. Berkowitz 11:01, 8 September 2010 (UTC)