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(15 pages) Evolution of Marine Corps Amphibious Doctrine; an Essay, by Brian Scace ARMY VERSUS MARINE CORPS, DOCTRINAL DEBATES; *********************************************

Evolution of Marine Corps Amphibious Doctrine; an Essay, by Brian Scace email: OVERVIEW Where the Army's prosecution of the war in the ETO followed a highly developed and tested doctrine already in place by the time of the United States' entry into the war, the Naval services only had the benefit of school environment development to establish the new amphibious strategies. Tactical development was based almost solely on the review of such utter failures as the Galipoli disaster of WW I, and some very limited experiences gained in the Caribbean interventions during the 1920s. The island campaigns of the Pacific Theater, therefore, were tactically an "innovate, adapt, and overcome" type learning experience as we shall see. This also should now make it obvious why you, as a historian, find it easy to gather material about the use of the equipment that you collect having to do with the ETO. Field manuals and battle accounts describing the tactical use of your gear abound. Because of the ongoing development of a radically new doctrine in the Naval Services, this type of information is not available to the student of the Pacific Campaigns. There were no FMs because no one knew what to expect, let alone what to teach others to expect. There are Fleet Marine Force Manuals (FMFM), written after the war, which explain amphibious doctrine. These are useful, however it should be realized that they only reflect the state of the art as of 1945 with postwar modification for use as training material. The development of the doctrine is not reflected in the FMF Manuals, nor is postwar development segregated from 1945 experience for our convenience. Our purpose is to, hopefully, fill some of this historical void, and allow you to more fully understand the use and significance of the items in your collection pertaining to the Pacific War. Our emphasis is on the Marine Corps, so reference to such pivotal events as Midway and the New Guinea campaigns will be minimal. One should, however, realize that the influence on the Corps by both the Navy (TBX, TBY for example) and the Army (EE8, BC1000) is very important to the understanding of your collection. Prior to 1930, the Marine Corps mission was primarily to provide the Navy with forces on board ship and the State Department with embassy personnel. The use of Marines as a large ground force was limited to, for example, the Mexican War Campaigns of the 1840s (the "halls of Montezuma"), Lejeune's Marines as part of the 2nd Division of the AEF in World War 1, and the "China Marines" of the first third of the 20th century. Where the latter was a logical development of the embassy element of the core mission, the former two events were regarded as bad experiences in the hands of the Army, who was placed in overall charge of these forces, and good reasonw for limiting the Corps operations to those within the core mission. As the 1920s became the 1930s, however, it became increasingly apparent that a war with Japan was a possibility. Officers of the Army were studying various war-game scenarios at the War College at Fort Leavenworth, as were officers of the Navy and Marine Corps at the Naval college at Newport. Indeed, both schools exchanged students ("Bull" Halsey went to the War College at Leavenworth, for example) and both schools studied and played the same scenarios. These were the so-called Rainbow Plans. Each scenario, or plan, was known by a particular color. The Orange Plan is the one most important to our discussion. The Orange plan recognized the growing threat of Japan and her "Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere". The Japanese had assumed control of the Pacific island groups formerly under German rule (the Marshalls, Marianas, and the Carolines) after WW I as a reward for Japan's support of the Allied cause in that war. It was recognized that the Japanese were probably secretly fortifying these islands in violation of treaty and that, should hostilities begin, these islands would become jump-off points for attacks on adjacent American held islands such as Guam and Wake, stores-rich localities such as the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies, and the Commonwealth Nations of Australia and New Zealand. The successful prosecution of the Orange Plan in the school environment made obvious to the participants several strategic concepts. First, given worst case (the plan was often played at Leavenworth from 1934 on as part of a larger two-ocean scenario against a "Nazi Confederation" consisting of Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia and the Pacific), the Pacific was a Navy problem. Second, the only way of successfully prosecuting the scenario was with select amphibious invasions of key islands in the theater. Third, this unenviable task would be the purview of the Marine Corps. Admiral Chester Nimitz said at the conclusion of the war that nothing that strategically unfolded in the Pacific was a surprise to the Navy after Pearl Harbor because the Orange plan had been played to successful conclusion so many times by so many officers of the Naval Services. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps was engaged in several small actions in the Caribbean and in Central America. The experiences gained in Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Nicaragua gave the Corps a strong small unit doctrine and valuable jungle experience. This, coupled with an aversion to large operations brought on by the late experiences with the Army, gave junior officers and the NCO corps good experience to draw on, for they would be the field grade officers and senior NCOs who would create the tactics that would be typical of the Pacific campaign. As we can see, the school scenarios, combined with the Caribbean experience, resulted in a new core mission element for the Corps as specified by the Chief of Naval Operations in 1920. Amphibious assault was added to the shipboard and embassy elements. As early as 1921, Major John Ellis began work on the basic concepts of Marine amphibious assault, resulting in several drafts of "Advanced Base Force Operations in Micronesia", which laid out the basic doctrine to be followed 20 years later. Annual exercises commenced in Hawaii and in the Caribbean in 1922, but were curtailed for budgetary reasons four years later. The Corps did not abandon the further development of the concept, however. Two significant publications appeared, describing the new mission element. First, in 1933-34, was the "Tentative Doctrine" which was played against the Orange plan, then revised to "The Manual for Naval Operations Overseas" in 1938. Meanwhile, by 1934, amphibious training recommenced off North and South Carolina. By the beginning of 1942, the Naval Amphibious Warfare Center on (prophetically) Solomon's Island in the Chesapeake Bay was established. There, wartime training began in earnest. What does all this have to do with your collection? You'll probably notice that there is little in the way of decent man-portable radio gear available. Unlike the Army, whose doctrine was one of large mechanized formations penetrating great distances at speed to a strategic objective on a continental scale, the Corps was concerned with small chunks of ground, geographicly limited by water, taken by non-mechanized small formations. The resulting difference lead the Army down the communications path emphasizing the development of some of the finest tactical radio gear in existence, such as the BC 1000. They felt that speed of the advance required maintenance of communication not possible with wire for the forward elements. Radio was the logical choice. The Marine Corps had no such ambitions. They realized that wire was more dependable, more secure, and more readily maintained by the average individual than radios. Further, because speed of the advance was not a tactical issue in the Corps amphibious doctrine, the advantage of not having to string wire for radio was not felt to be worth the disadvantages. Throughout the war, the Marine Corps was served well by this decision. Although the BC-1000 was adopted by 1945, the battalion's switchboard, wire, and field phones remained the basic means of command and control for the vast majority of combat situations encountered by the Corps during the war. The most significant development of radio communication in the Corps, by far, was in the field of fire support. Fire support consists, for the purpose of our discussion, of both off-shore Naval gunnery and close air support. Early on, back in the "Tentative Doctrine" days, it was realized that off shore fire support was an important part in the pre-landing and landing phases of an amphibious operation. No-one knew at the time how hard it would be to apply effectively, however. Although it was then thought that this fire could be effective shot "blind", it was proven that spotted fire was the only effective method during the war. As wire does not lend itself to offshore use very well, some AM manportables such as TBX and TBY were introduced for the purpose. The use of close air support as a tactical asset was developed from practically nothing to its arguably most effective state during the war by the Naval services. Again, wire does not lend itself to this use. Both of these assets became available, not only because of the new amphibious mission, but because of the most radical shift in Naval doctrine since oars. The aircraft carrier became the Capital Ship. Naval battles were no longer decided in the Jutland fashion by battleships and cruisers. The fleets didn't even need to see each other to fight a decisive engagement with the airplane. This did not mean that the battleship and the cruiser were obsolete, however. On the contrary, they had a home in the Amphibious Doctrine waiting for them as floating artillery. Where small unit (up to battalion) command and control stayed deeply rooted in wire in the Corps, Naval fire and close air support liaison activities grew from absolutely nothing even by the Solomons campaign of 1942 to the incredibly huge Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO) by Iwo Jima. JASCO was a division level support company, staffed by both Naval and Marine personnel, numbering over 400 by the TO. It is the direct ancestor to the smaller (thankfully) Air/Naval Gunnery Liaison Company (ANGLICO) of the Korea and Vietnam era. To more fully understand the development of the command and control, tactical communication, and liaison doctrine of the Corps, a review of each of the major campaigns in the Pacific along with an assessment of the lessons learned should be undertaken. THE SOLOMONS To more fully understand the phenomenal growth of JASCO, compared with the tenacity with which the Corps stuck with wire for internal command and control, a review of the major campaigns of the Pacific War and the resulting lessons learned is useful. Although first blood was drawn by and on the Corps at Pearl Harbor and during the heroic defense of Wake Island during the latter part of 1941 and early 1942, for our purposes the first campaign in our purview is the assault by the 1st Marine Division in the Solomons. The primary objective of this campaign was the islands of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The seizure of these islands marked the beginning of Operation Watchtower, the occupation of the Solomons chain. Watchtower was the first step in what would become MacArthur's (and the Army's) drive through the Solomons and New Guinea to the Philippines. On 07 AUG 1942, Marines of the 1st Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Archer Vandegrift landed on Tulagi and Guadalcanal. At the time, there were fewer than 1,000 Japanese combat troops in opposition. Those troops withdrew to await re-enforcements and the Marines landed essentially unopposed. By the second day they had occupied the unfinished airfield on Guadalcanal, which was re-named Henderson Field, and work commenced to complete it. Tulagi was also quickly secured. On 09 AUG the operation went sour when an element of 5 cruisers moved to head off a Japanese fleet strike moving in on the invasion force down "the Slot", a channel down the Solomons Chain. In the resulting engagement, the Japanese fleet soundly defeated the Allied element, sinking four of the five cruisers engaged. This loss of defensive capability compelled the Naval commander, Rear Admiral Kelly Turner, to order the withdrawal of the entire invasion fleet as undefendable. This action denied the 1st Marine Division its re-enforcements and supplies still afloat. Although this was probably the only option open to Turner, the lack of communications with the Marines ashore caused them to assume they had been abandoned by the Navy, a view held by many of the "Old Corps" to this day. The Japanese then landed 6000 additional troops to retake Guadalcanal, forcing Vandegrift on the tactical defensive. The resulting skirmishes resulted in a see-saw affair with the Americans in the defense with marginal air superiority from the "Cactus Air Force" off Henderson field and the Japanese on the offense with marginal sea superiority. The contest finally escalated to the point where the Japanese had committed over 30,000 troops on Guadalcanal by October. By November, a steadily resupplied Vandegrift went over to the offense. In December, the badly depleted 1st Division turned over the secure and operational Henderson Field and the remainder of the operation to the Army's Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch and the reenforced Americal Division. In Vandegrift's after action report, it was stated over again that the use of wire for command and control was sound. The only dissenter from that position was Col. Lewis (Chesty) Puller, who stated that wire was too slow and that manpack radio was the way to go. Puller did not take into account the security issues mentioned by both Vandegrift and Col. Edson (of Raider fame). Edson mentioned in detail that the Japanese were consistently in any radio net he established and that the use of "nicknames" was the only way that they could be sure that any transmission was authentic. Corps doctrine for the use of wire was proven viable, however more effort was made from then on to speed up the laying and establishment of command and control wire nets. This was the Corps first experience with radio security problems and they reacted by taking Edson's advice regarding rotating code encryption of radio traffic. Where the command and control doctrine remained relatively intact, the liaison issues from Guadalcanal were in serious need of reevaluation. First, of course, was the breakdown in communication between the Navy and Marine Corps after the 09 AUG disaster. The solution proposed was to investigate the use of manportables at the division level to maintain contact with the assets offshore. The prep fire from the Navy was considered adequate for the landing, not requiring control other than the timetable established in the text of the invasion order. The fact that the landings were essentially unopposed was not taken into account in this assessment. Air support was also considered under control, although tactical targets were only defined through the established command and control nets and relayed to air assets before takeoff. Both of these conclusions were to be re-evaluated after the near disaster at the Corps' next stop: Tarawa. TARAWA On 20 NOV, 1943, the 2nd Marine Division assaulted Betio, the principle island in the Tarawa Atoll. Tarawa, part of the Gilbert Chain, was assumed to be lightly defended, however, Rear Admiral Keiji Shibasaka knew that an amphibious assault was doomed to failure if stopped on the beach and prepared accordingly. The pre-invasion and invasion preparatory fires were conducted as they had been on Guadalcanal, although the period of fire was increased to four hours before the first wave was to hit the beach. As was doctrine at the time, the fire was laid "blind" and advanced inland by the timetable set forth in the fire support annex of the invasion order. Unfortunately, the timetable was upset by the lack of accounting for low tide exposing a barrier reef off the beach. Equipment on landing craft had to be off-loaded into LVTs (Landing Vehicle, Tracked or "Amptracs") for the run to the beach and the troops had to wade in on foot. Once on the beach, the Marines had an unexpected surprise handed them from a non-obliging Adm. Shibasaka. This was not to be the unopposed landing that the 1st Marine Division saw on Guadalcanal. Of 5,000 Marines participating, 1500 were casualties by nightfall. After three more days of brutal combat marked with spider holes, bayonets, flamethrowers, and nighttime banzai charges, the island was declared secure with a final count of over 1,000 dead and 2,000 wounded Marines. Fewer than 20 of the best of the Japanese Naval Infantry survived. This made Tarawa proportionately the bloodiest battle of World War II, and created a fury of opposition at home for further operations of its type unless sweeping changes in tactical doctrine were made. Again, the use of wire for command and control worked well, while the use of various man portable radios fell further into disfavor because of reliability problems. Salt water and the brutal combat conditions made radio so notoriously unreliable at Tarawa that its use for command and control was largely discontinued until the Corps finally, and with great caution, adopted the Army's BC-1000 in 1945. Even then, primary reliance on wire for command and control in the Corps persisted until well into the Post-Vietnam era. Tarawa also proved that the then current doctrines for fire support and close air support were woefully inadequate against a determined foe. The pre-landing fires were completely ineffective, both because of the mistaken notion that enough could be laid in the four hours allotted, and because it was only fired on preplotted targets assumed to be significant by the scanty intelligence available rather than actively directed by observation. Further, the application of the landing phase fire by timetable proved worse than useless as long as the Navy was unaware of schedule deviation from the original invasion order caused by stiffer than expected resistance. Tarawa was a very expensive lesson, one that caused the Corps to go out of the invasion business until a complete rewrite of communication, off-shore fire support, and close air support doctrine was completed. The pre-war assumption that amphibious assault placed a prohibitive advantage with the defender was proven in four bloody days. However, this was not a lesson lost on the Corps or the Navy, as was proved in January of the following year in the Marshalls. THE MARSHALLS The key to the Marshalls was the atoll of Kwajalein. This, the worlds largest coral atoll, consisted of some 18 islands with Roi and Namur to the north, and Kwajalein Island at the south end. This also represented the first pre-war Japanese holding to be assaulted by the Americans in the Pacific. The operation began on 31 JAN 1944 with the sequential assault on the communications and logistics centers on Roi and Namur, then Kwajalein Island by the 4th Marine Division and the Army's 7th Division. The operation concluded by 04 FEB with much more acceptable casualty figures than the Tarawa campaign. Where the American forces numbered over 41,000 committed, 372 of that number were listed as dead or missing. Once again resistance was fierce with the Japanese losing all but 35 captured after intense close quarter combat, again hallmarked by deep entrenchment and fortification in depth. The Marshalls campaign marked the introduction of many new innovations on the part of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy's pre-landing preparation by carrier based aircraft lasted for several days. During the landing and post-landing phase, Marine and Navy officers rode the back seat of several aircraft, constantly in contact with air assets aloft and Naval gunnery offshore. This marked the first use of aircraft to control Naval fires during an amphibious operation. Further, the fire support was no longer based on timetable, but was controlled during the operation based on "phase lines". As the ground forces achieved each sub-objective, they reported in to the Divisional command and control element. Then, orders were given to fire those targets having to do with the next sub-objective in the operation by radio to air assets already aloft or warships standing by. These fires could also be readily redirected based on new intelligence from the Marine and Navy airborne observers or new developments reported from the forward ground elements. The Divisional command remained off shore in another new development, the command and control ship. For the first time, command ships outfitted with specialized communications equipment controlled the battle. Overall command and control of the entire operation, Navy, Army and Marine, was finally centralized. The Joint Assault Signal Company was introduced in this operation. The official Marine Corps history of the Marshals Campaign describes their duties thus: "The primary mission of this unit was do coordinate all supporting fires available to the Marine Division during an amphibious operation. In order to carry out this function, the company was divided into Shore and Beach Party Communications Teams, Air Liaison Parties, and Shore Fire Control Parties. During training the various teams were attached to the regiments and battalions of the division. Thus, each assault battalion could become familiar with its shore and beach party, air liaison, and fire control teams." Because of the vastly increased use of voice radio inherent in these new developments, another unique twist was added. Navajo Indians were employed as radio operators. Their unique language sped communication by not requiring messages to be rotationally encrypted as in previous voice practice, while still denying the enemy the information contained in the transmissions. Finally, the massive and thorough pre-landing preparation by Naval air and gunnery assets (the so-called "Spruance Haircut") proved their worth. The prolonged pre-landing phase denied the enemy the use of any of their air assets in the Marshalls. No Japanese aircraft rose to oppose the operation. On 17 FEB, the final phase of the Marshalls campaign, the assault on Eniwetok commenced. The 22nd Marine regiment and the Army's 106th Infantry Regiment landed on what was again to be an artfully defended objective. The new formula was proven viable as most of the 3,500 man Japanese 1st Amphibious Brigade was annihilated by the pre-landing bombardment, post-landing artillery fire, and the use of flame throwing tanks. The atoll was secured on 23 FEB with an American loss of 348 killed or missing. THE MARIANAS The next major campaign in the Central Pacific was the move on the Marianas. Located about 1,000 miles east of Eniwetok, their seizure would allow the new B29 to more easily operate over the Japanese home islands. >From their introduction until the seizure of the Marianas, the B29 had been operating out of bases in the China-Burma-India Theater. The flight from China to Japan was grueling and only the southern portion of Japan was within range. Results were indifferent and attrition was high. So it was that Gen. Holland M. Smith's Marines, re-enforced by Army National Guard troops was assigned the task of taking these strategically vital islands. The keys to the Marianas were the three islands of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian. Saipan was the first invaded on 15 JUN. Again, as at Guadalcanal, the Japanese challenged the landings with Naval forces although in much greater quantity. This time, they were soundly defeated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Marines on Saipan were unaffected. However, it was discovered that the Japanese had also learned much from the Tarawa and Kwajalien assaults. The defense in depth on Saipan was so carefully crafted that three brutal weeks were required to finally take the island. U.S. losses, again, were uncomfortably high. Some 15,000 soldiers and Marines were killed, wounded, or missing. The Japanese lost some 42,000 killed. Guam, also, was well defended in depth. Three weeks were required to take that island starting on 21 JUL. Losses were high, almost 7,000 soldiers and Marines compared to about 20,000 Japanese. The Tinian assault began on 24 JUL and was secured in a week. Another 2,000 Marines were added to the overall cost for the Marianas. Another 15,000 Japanese defenders died. The Marianas were very expensive for several reasons. The sizes of the defending garrisons were huge, so large that almost every square yard had a spider hole in it. The disposition of these forces was such that the preparatory fires had little effect on them. Further, it forced the attackers into operation in squad and sub-squad elements for extended periods. This exposed a weakness in the Marines' almost complete reliance in wire for battalion command and control. Wire C and C nets of the period at the battalion level were structured along the lines of the battalion's Tables of Organization. The Marine Corps was organized similar to the Army's then current "Triangular Division". Very basically, this entailed an organization breaking down into three subordinate units. Hence, an infantry division had three regiments, not including support elements. A regiment had three rifle companies, plus a heavy weapons company and a headquarters company. A company had three rifle platoons plus a weapons platoon and a headquarters element. The battalion CP, therefore, had a six circuit BD71 switchboard and phones. It was the responsibility of the battalion wire section to place wire to each of the subordinate elements. The switchboards of the period were in multiples of six circuits (six with the BD71 and twelve with the BD72) allowing for one circuit each to the three rifle companies, one for the weapons company, one for the headquarters company, and the remaining one strung to the next higher headquarters, in this case to the regimental command post. As long as each rifle company was operating in a relatively cohesive manner, the company commander could keep control of his platoon leaders with this system. In the Marianas, the squads making up the platoon were operating on their own for long periods because of the type of defense encountered. Platoon leaders were, therefore, having to deal with the problem of control any way they could. Company commanders were often completely in the dark as to the current situation with their platoons and communications therefore were often completely severed at the bottom of the chain of command for extended intervals. The problem was further aggravated because the defense encountered required calls for support elements such as artillery, off-shore fire, and air strikes to prosecute squad level engagements. The JASCO only broke down to the battalion level so that they were swamped with individual pleas for assistance from some sixteen to twenty simultaneous engagements being prosecuted by elements of the battalion at any given time. The solutions proposed as a result of these lessons learned included the increase in size of the battalion level JASCO element and quick adoption of squad level "walkie-talkies" and platoon level tactical radios. Fortunately for the Corps, the equipment already existed in the excellent Army Signal Corps designs and was available in quantity. Unfortunately, the timing of MacArthur's South Pacific campaign resulted in the decision to assault the Palau Islands before the JASCO organizational changes could be implemented and the company elements could fully integrate their new communication assets. PELELIU As a result of the conclusion of the New Guinea campaign by the Army, General MacArthur pushed for the seizure of the Japanese base on Peleliu in the Palau Islands as a necessary clearing of his flanks and a resulting staging area for the return of U.S. forces to the Philippines. The 1st Marine Division, with the 81st Army Division landed on 15 SEP, barely a month after the conclusion of the Marianas campaign. There was, of course, no time to apply any of the lessons learned from the Marianas to the planning of the Peleliu assault, and the results were predictable. What was to be a two day assault became a two month grind, again hallmarked with squad level offensive action against a determined defense in depth. The campaign lasted until the end of November, when the remaining 300 defenders capitulated. The cost was high, some 2,000 American lives. The real tragedy was in the fact that MacArthur changed his strategic timetable and was fully established in the Philippines by the conclusion of the Peleliu assault, rendering it unnecessary. This did little to further Army-Marine relationships. IWO JIMA In the central Pacific, the remainder of 1944 saw B29 operations against Japan shifted from the CBI Theater to the new airstrips in the Marianas. This placed the entire of the Japanese home islands easily within strategic bombing range. One thing that became immediately clear during operations, however, was the need for a base within the operational range of escort fighters such as the P51. Further, it was desirable for such a field to recover damaged B29s that could not make their bases in the Marianas. Meanwhile, the Japanese were preparing their last lines of defense under the name of Operation Ten-Ichi-Go. Unfortunately, the island chosen by Nimitz as a fighter escort base, Iwo Jima, was also a key element of the Japanese defensive plan. Iwo Jima was only 750 miles south of Tokyo, and part of the same volcanic range that comprises the Japanese islands themselves. On 19 FEB 1945, three Marine divisions landed on Iwo Jima. The defense encountered was what you could expect from a desperate foe. Caves had been dug in the volcanic rock such that the three day bombardment did not materially affect them. There were 21,000 defenders there to greet the Corps. Again, the Japanese had been adapting as fast as the Americans. Artillery, encased in bedrock, blasted the LVTs as they lay on the beach. They were unable to move in the loose volcanic ash. The geographic highpoint, Mt. Suribachi, was taken on 23 FEB and Iwo itself by 16 MAR. U.S. casualties numbered over 25,000 with almost 7000 of them KIA. Gen. Howland Smith found himself defending his conduct of the battle during the ensuing public outcry over the casualty figures. He maintained that the Navy had not followed his recommendations, especially in light of the lessons of the previous fall's campaigns. Smith said that the pre-landing fires should have lasted ten days, not three. The Marianas, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima had exposed a basic weakness in the amphibious doctrine of the Naval Services. The capacity for off-shore Naval fires had reached their practical limit. In conventional landbased warfare such as was fought in the ETO, logistics for the resupply of artillery are primarily only limited by production and transportation capacity. Naval gunfire is inherently limited by the capacity of the firing vessel's magazines. Once exhausted, the ship must leave station and be resupplied from the "trains" of the task force. As one can well imagine, this is very time intensive for the warship and tonnage intensive for the task force trains. Further, the warship must retain some of its limited ammunition stores in case an emergency change of situation requires it to intercept an enemy fleet or react to air attack. Aircraft carriers are, of course, subject to the same logistical constraints. Hence, Smith's assertion that the fires were not adequate were quite probably valid, but the Navy could not do much about what was a fleet capacity issue. These campaigns illustrated with uncomfortable clarity what would be in store for Allied forces in an invasion of the Japanese homeland. OKINAWA Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan, was slated to commence on 01 NOV 1945. Prior to the start of Olympic, appropriate staging areas were required, so attention was turned to Okinawa and Operation Iceberg. Okinawa, the largest of the Japanese Ryukyu islands, was only some 350 miles from Kyushu and boasted both port facilities and airfields. Landings by a newly formed 10th Army, numbering 290,000 troops began on 01 APR. The 10th Army consisted of the Marine Amphibious Corps and the Army's XXIV corps, supported by an approximately 1600 ship fleet. The landings and first few days went well with surprisingly little resistance. This was a welcome change from previous experience, where the beachheads were hotly contested. It was when the attackers reached the outposts of the "Shuri" line that the bloodbath began. The situation quickly deteriorated to the same squad level offensive operations against an excellently deployed and well fortified defense in depth as in previous experience. The 82 days spent in conquering Okinawa cost the ground forces 7,613 dead, over 30,000 wounded; the fleet suffered 4,900 dead or missing and 5,000 wounded. The Japanese lost 127,000 killed or missing along with approximately 100,000 civilian dead. There was little to add to the tactical doctrine. Marine squad, platoon and company communications functioned as well as could be expected with pretty much the same equipment as the Army. Wire was still the staple of battalion command and control nets. The division JASCO topped off at over 400 people in an attempt to handle all the calls for air and fire support. The forces afloat were taxed to the limit in ammunition capacity and cycled ships out of the line, to the trains, and back again in formations, rather than individually. The Japanese had upped the ante by attacking the fleet with suicide boats and some 6,000 kamikaze planes. The fleet lost some 263 ships sunk or damaged by the desperate attackers. This development required a shift on the ratio of ammunition types in the shipboard magazines in favor of the anti-aircraft gunnery. There was now even less room for large caliber ammunition aboard those ships firing missions in support of the troops ashore. These factors, along with the fanatical defense ashore, spoke of a dismal, bloody, grind ahead for the Marines, Navy, and Army who were to invade Japan. Prospects for new developments in amphibious doctrine were few. Expectations for Olympic were understandably not optimistic. Meanwhile, 900,000 Japanese troops were waiting on Kyushu. In August, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese agreed to surrender on 15AUG 1945. ASSESSMENT The Naval Services entered the Pacific war with a well thought out strategy based on the school prosecution of the "Orange" Plan. The amphibious doctrine used to execute this strategy was in place and trained for by the Marine Corps as it existed between the wars. This yielded the Naval Services a small core command structure and non-commissioned officer pool well versed in amphibious warfare and strategic employment of amphibious forces. At the beginning of hostilities, this nucleus was quickly employed training the rapidly expanding Naval Services for the actual prosecution of the "Orange" Plan. Where the speed of the advance in the mechanized warfare more typical of the European Theater required the Army to quickly adopt voice radio for primary command and control, the Marine Corps stuck with wire communication for command and control throughout the war. The speed of the advance in the island campaigns was slow to the extreme against the defenses encountered. The advantages of wire over radio are security, reliability, and repairability. Modifications to that doctrine were few, other than the removal of the division level command and control elements offshore to command ships after Tarawa. Tactical communications within the company structure changed radically. Where it was originally thought that the company commander could control his platoon leaders face-to-face or, at worst, with runners, the defenses encountered required extended independent operations by platoon and squad size elements. The Corps tried various Naval Services radio designs, primarily TBX and TBY, before settling on the excellent Army Signal Corps FM designs for company level and lower tactical nets. The Army and Naval Services continued to use common designs of tactical manpack voice radios (AN/PRC-10, 25, 77 etc.) in the Cold War era. Although it was realized from the onset that assaulting a beach against a prepared defense was an expensive undertaking in both men and material, too much confidence was initially placed in undirected off-shore Naval fires as a mitigation to the inherent advantage vested in the defender. Each campaign taught both attacker and defender new lessons. The developments in the employment of preparatory fires in the Naval services included aerial spotting in the pre-landing and landing phases, the use of the Joint Assault Signal Company solely to coordinate fires in support of the forward elements during the landing and post landing phase, and the dedication of Naval off shore and aviation assets solely to the task of fire support of the amphibious force. The size of the JASCO reached and actually surpassed its practical limit by the end of the war. After the conclusion of hostilities, JASCO was re-examined and the size reduced to more manageable levels, resulting in the Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) of the Cold War era. Practical limits were also reached in the ammunition capacity of the Fleet. This served to limit the duration of preparatory fires in the pre-landing and landing phases. Further, the number of ships dedicated to fire support during the post landing phase incrementaly increased with the size and depth of the defense, placing a strain on the logistics required for support of each successive operation. When "Kamikaze" was pressed in great numbers, such as at Okinawa, shipboard magazine space dedicated to antiaircraft ammunition increased at the expense of space dedicated to large caliber ammunition suitable for the fire support mission. This required that ships return to the fleet trains more often for large caliber resupply than in previous operations. We can conclude that off-shore fire support capacity reached and probably exceeded its practical limit in the final operations of the war. Further, the situation would probably have further degraded during an amphibious invasion of Japan. *********************************

ARMY VERSUS MARINE CORPS, DOCTRINAL DEBATES; >I've read in the past that the difference in pace between the Army and >Marines was due to doctrinal differences; the Army slower with more >artillery, bombing, etc., while the Marines were faster, more ' >aggressive'. I remember reading that some Army folks criticized the >Marines for their attitude towards the Army's doctrine. Question is: > >Was this mostly a doctrinal difference or were there real issues >that the Army failed to execute its own doctrine? There are considerable doctrinal differences...I can't comment on Saipan specifically, but the Army was better geared to longer duration, greater distance campaigns...they tended to want to soften, smash and exploit/pursue ....there is no exploitation/pursuit on an Island the size of Saipan. THe Army's view of Marine tactics is "3 yards in a Cloud of Blood" ...a not totally accurate description either. There is no way to out maneuver an enemy dug in on a small island has to be done frontally at great cost...speed does help, if you can get things crumbling before you , as it demoralizes the enemy and may prevent him from getting local reinforcements in place. The Armies idea of maneuvering units out of position and "saving lives" worked in Europe...might have worked in China, but was useless and wasteful of time in the islands campaign. Incidently, as part of my C&GSC course (during more current times), I compared loss rates [Using Offical US Army Planning Tables] for a "Soviet style Breakthrough Attack" and a US Style Attack to breakthrough enemy lines...both over about 5 days. The US [Army] style sufferes fewer casualties on the first day or so, but over the period, it suffers more ! The Soviet style suffers 10-15% fewer casualties over the 5 days...but they are all front loaded, with lead battalions wiped out [ =84 70% casualties] and follow up units walking through... there is a similar relationship with Marine vs Army tactics on the Islands, where the Army methods actually cost more casualties if a quick end to the fighting was not reached. (Jim O'Neil) ----------------------------------------------------

The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis. from a post-war debriefing of a German General ----------------------------------------------------

Dennis: I tend to think that the difference of opinion between Smith and Smith had little to do with "doctrine differences". While the Saipan campaign was going on, there was also a like campaign going on on Guam. The forces on Guam also were a mix of USMC and an Army division. In this case, the Army performed well within the satisfaction of the overall Marine command, including "Howlin' Mad" Smith. Previous joint operations had also gone satisfactorily for all concerned. Remember that the tactical aspects of the Marine Amphibious Doctrine was being "perfected" at the same time as for the Army. I believe, therefore, that one cannot cite a Service doctrine difference as responsible for the rift between Smith and Smith. One also cannot really say that the Army's ETO performance based on mechanized warfare would have much of an affect on the pace of the Army's overall tactical doctrine in the Pacifac, which was based on Light Infantry, just as the Marine Corps doctrine was. The "overall differences" in tactics between the Corps and the Army in the Pacifac just aren't there. Where the problem was, seems to have been a personal difference in how to proceed. Smith (USMC) was audacious to the extreme and as intolerant to any perceived caution as he was to any difference of opinion. He was also given to assigning blame to others for any critisism of an operation under his command. We see this again at Iwo when he blamed the high cost on the Navy's perceived lack of adequate fire support. Smith (USA) was inexperienced and cautious. He also had a calm, studied, and deliberate command style which was the exact opposite of Smith (USMC). Sounds to me like a simple conclusion can be drawn here, and that people are trying to read way too much into what was a classic personality clash. Brian Scace -------------------------------------------------

ed) I tend to agree with Brians assessment. For further information on the subject, see; Military Collector Group Post, Dec.20/97 Evolution of Marine Corps Amphibious Doctrine; an Essay, by Brian Scace ***********************************************

(The preceding was a product of the"Military Collector Group Post", an international email magazine dedicated to the preservation of history and the equipment that made it. Unlimited circulation of this material is authorized so long as the proper credits to the original authors, and publisher or this group are included. For more information conserning this group contact Dennis Starks at,


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