Guest Contributor – TomD – 23FEB2022 – Thoughts on the Battle of Midway

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TomD

I’ve spent a great deal of time throughout my life reading about WWII in general. I was born a few years after the end of the war and grew up in a society in which virtually everyone’s father took part in one way or another. My father was a 1943 West Point grad who was a company commander with the 101st Airborne when the Germans shot him up very badly at the Battle of the Bulge, crippling him physically for life, but not mentally as he later got a MS Degree in Chemical Engineering.

But for some reason, I’ve always been most fascinated with the Pacific war, and especially with Midway. I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve read on the battle and can specifically recommend Shattered Sword, a history taken from the Japanese viewpoint.

Midway, the battle turned on the purest of luck and very easily could have gone the other way had 3 or 4 isolated throws of the dice gone otherwise. The US would have eventually won the war anyway but it would have been a longer and harder version of the already desperate and bloody struggle that it was.

Below, a photo of interest, it is the last actual aircraft still in existence to have taken part in the battle. This SBD Dauntless was based on Midway Island and wasn’t one of the 3 squadrons of SBDs from Enterprise (I think) that luckily found the Japanese fleet as all their fighter defenses were down at wave top height finishing off a squadron of torpedo bombers. The next 5 minutes proved decisive as those SBDs sank 3 of the 4 Japanese carriers.

The plane in the photo made it’s attack earlier but none of the Midway Island aircraft made any hits. After the battle, this plane was flown to the point of decrepitude and sent back to the US for use in training new pilots. Some US Navy Ensign pilot candidate managed to put this aircraft in the drink while trying to land on a training carrier in one of the great lakes where it remained until salvaged 50 years later. The wreck was taken to NAS Pensacola where it was restored and is currently on display at the US Naval Air Museum.

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Guest Contributor – War Pig – Comments on American Military Capability

Proposition: The United States has technological and tactical superiority but it must maintain these if it wants to avoid the consequences of being a super power in decline.

True. When you fight the United States, you are not fighting our Army, or our Navy, or Air Force or Marines, you are fighting them all at once, along with their technological superiority. Your Sukhoi fighters may be close to our F-35 in capability, your submarines sneaky, you may even have an aircraft carrier, although I hesitate to call what China and Russia have aircraft carriers. Your army may number in millions and you may have as many or more tanks. But to fight the USA you are fighting an interlocked and integrated system. You have to get past the eyes and ears of our satellites, AWACS and Hawkeye aircraft. You have to prevent our electronic snoop aircraft from hearing you. In the weeks before the actual confrontation, when posturing is the mode, our Rivet Joint aircraft in conjunction with other reconnaissance will have compiled a complete electronic order of battle on you. We did it to Saddam, which is why we were able to target his command and control structure so precisely. We are constantly updating the electronic order of battle on both China and Russia. Especially China.

 

Even though our forces are interlocked, if you manage to blind one source they can act independently. No communist or former communist government will trust its military to take initiative, as motivated and initiative-taking officers could threaten the political structure back home. Commies and other dictators always fear a coup more than the enemy. In training the Saudis to be an effective fighting force, we had to overcome the basic totalitarian structure which feared its best leaders. Trying to train troops at platoon level to overcome, improvise and adapt is hard when for years they have been trained by rote and varying from the rigid structure one degree was not tolerated.

 

The ability to take initiative when an opportunity arises is one reason why Israel has kicked Arab ass from day one. Even outnumbered several to one, with nations attacking from all sides the Israelis manage to seize tactical opportunities their opponents dare not try for fear of reprisal from their superiors.

 

Some nations can out range us (for now) with tube artillery, and they may have more artillery but nobody, and I mean nobody, ally or foe, can mass and control artillery fire like we can. Add in that with the possible exception of the Israelis, nobody does close air support and long range strategic air strikes the way we do, either. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have only made us better at conventional war; (other than Israel), what military right now is more experienced and blooded?