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Economic strangulation was always the plan
Economic strangulation of the Japanese Islands through destruction of their merchant marine and industrial capabilities was typical Mahan. In order to do that you had to destroy the Japanese Fleet protecting it. The submarine became a strategic weapon only because of unrestricted submarine warfare.
In future non-nuclear war the SSN will be heavily relied on tactical weapon but not strategic weapon if the enemy merchant marine is not considered a target. The enemy may lose it’s battle line to SSNs but may not care if it’s merchant fleet openly sails the seas. You inhibited the their naval warfare capabilities but only won a “draw” rather than victory in my opinion. Because of it nuclear power I would say it has strategic mobility but may not have the strategic impact the US subs had on the Japanese empire.
In the Falkland war both sides feared submarines and viewed them as a threat to their fleets. I seem to remember reading about a Brit clandestine operation to neutralize the Argentine submarines.
Nimitz was a submarine admiral. He closely managed the unrestricted submarine warfare campaign against Japan and may well have won the the war that way. Submarines were the decisive strategic weapon, like they were at the Falklands in 1982.
Even before it was crippled thought was the grand battle of battleships slugging it out would come much later in the war. Much influenced that thought mainly the battleship building holiday raising the existing battleship as too prized to lose early in the war. The General Board then shifted focus to renovating those battleships they had and building what they were allowed under the Washington Treaty mainly cruisers, submarines and aircraft carriers. These were to bring the fleet across the Pacific in and island hopping campaign and the erecting of mobile fleet bases so battleships could follow for that grand battle. Unfortunately lack of funding did not allow the Navy to come up to its treaty limits until FDR took office.
But nothing really changed with the crippling of the battle line. I think Nimitz could be given credit in that he lacked logistical resources due to the Europe first policy, had to somewhat manage King, and drove home early the pre-war intellectual thought the carrier would be the strategic weapon winning the Pacific (Battle of Coral Sea and Midway) and not the battleship. The grand battle(s) that both sides expected took place at Midway and Philippine Sea in which victory was measured in hulls and aviators lost but neither side acknowledged it as such still awaiting the battleship clash.
1. War plans are statements of general aims and objectives. The details of how to achieve those objectives are up to the commanders in the field.
2. War Plan Orange went into the waste basket with Pear Harbor. Orange 5 assumed that the Pacific fleet was intact. With Pearl Harbor, there was no Pacific fleet. A new plan was needed.
Were they great admirals or just following a blueprint in the Pacific that the contributors to War Plan Orange and The General Board gave them?
Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet That Defeated the Japanese Navy by John T Kuehn
I had no idea the role The General Board played until I read the book. How The Board recommended ship design and Navy priorities due to the Washington Naval Treaty’s non-fortification clause. A clause specifically aimed at keeping the US Fleet out of the Western Pacific in time of war. All done during a time when the Navy had little money to work with. It blew apart the thought that the General Board was place for elderly admirals to go to await retirement. They shaped what is our Navy today.
The other great book is Warship Builders : An industrial history of US Naval Shipbuilding, 1922-1945 by Thomas Heinrich. This book is another eye opener and page turner. How fleets were built, yard capabilities, costs of ships and their intended national missions. Excellent!
I have read of the US industrial mobilization beginning 1938-1940 only to have these two books explode a lot misconceptions about it. Planning of the massive US fleet that would fight on two oceans began way before 1938.
If you are USNI member they are half the price of Amazon or request them at your library.
Next War Plan Orange by Edward S Miller
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