Armchair General: Iwo Jima

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JustinR
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Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by JustinR » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:47 pm

I just got done reading the book Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor by Bill D. Ross. It describes in detail the horrific conditions faced by the Marines in trying to assault the entrenched Japanese in their network of tunnels. The Marine leadership never got the length of naval bombardment they wanted pre-invasion, but it seems clear that with how well fortified the Japanese defenses were, it still wouldn't have made much of a difference. Thousands of underground pillboxes, sniper hides, mortar nests, artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, land mines, and tanks buried up to their turrets cover the eight square mile island.

You have been made overall commander of the invasion and been told you have ANY military resources available to you (in 1945) to take the volcanic island with the least amount of American casualties. Unlike in 1945, the strength of the defender's fortifications is known.

How do you go about attacking 20,000+ Japanese soldiers buried underground on a volcanic island? I'll save my thoughts until some other people have chimed in.
"The armory was even better. Above the door was a sign: You dream, we build." -Mark Owen, No Easy Day

"My assault weapon won't be 'illegal,' it will be 'undocumented.'" -KL

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Vonz90
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by Vonz90 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:00 pm

JustinR wrote:I just got done reading the book Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor by Bill D. Ross. It describes in detail the horrific conditions faced by the Marines in trying to assault the entrenched Japanese in their network of tunnels. The Marine leadership never got the length of naval bombardment they wanted pre-invasion, but it seems clear that with how well fortified the Japanese defenses were, it still wouldn't have made much of a difference. Thousands of underground pillboxes, sniper hides, mortar nests, artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, land mines, and tanks buried up to their turrets cover the eight square mile island.

You have been made overall commander of the invasion and been told you have ANY military resources available to you (in 1945) to take the volcanic island with the least amount of American casualties. Unlike in 1945, the strength of the defender's fortifications is known.

How do you go about attacking 20,000+ Japanese soldiers buried underground on a volcanic island? I'll save my thoughts until some other people have chimed in.
Bombard and bypass. They had no offensive capability away from the island. We did it to provide a drop off base for damaged B-29's coming back from the Japan. Very much not worth is as we lost more lives taking it than we gained from having the airfield.

MarkD
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by MarkD » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:08 pm

Napalm, lots and lots of napalm. After they've all suffocated in their holes, start landing the B29s there.

MarkD
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by MarkD » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:25 pm

Vonz90 wrote:
JustinR wrote:I just got done reading the book Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor by Bill D. Ross. It describes in detail the horrific conditions faced by the Marines in trying to assault the entrenched Japanese in their network of tunnels. The Marine leadership never got the length of naval bombardment they wanted pre-invasion, but it seems clear that with how well fortified the Japanese defenses were, it still wouldn't have made much of a difference. Thousands of underground pillboxes, sniper hides, mortar nests, artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, land mines, and tanks buried up to their turrets cover the eight square mile island.

You have been made overall commander of the invasion and been told you have ANY military resources available to you (in 1945) to take the volcanic island with the least amount of American casualties. Unlike in 1945, the strength of the defender's fortifications is known.

How do you go about attacking 20,000+ Japanese soldiers buried underground on a volcanic island? I'll save my thoughts until some other people have chimed in.
Bombard and bypass. They had no offensive capability away from the island. We did it to provide a drop off base for damaged B-29's coming back from the Japan. Very much not worth is as we lost more lives taking it than we gained from having the airfield.
I'm not so sure Iwo wasn't worth taking. Not in terms of lives spent vs lives saved by having a place to land damaged B29s, but:

1) Instead of seeing the dug-in defense-in-depth the Marines saw on Iwo Jima, the US wouldn't have encountered it to that extent until Okinawa. Much bigger operation, and without the experience on Iwo that would have led to higher American casualties on Okinawa.

2) Don't underestimate the morale hit the Japanese took from having a one of their home islands taken. Yeah, a miserable little fly-turd of an island, but still part of the Emperor's domain. Maybe having the Emperor on your side DIDN'T assure victory?

3) The flag, and resultant picture, were a morale boost at home. The American people were sick of the war by then, and were about ready to (a) stop buying war bonds and (b) insist that we allow a conditional surrender (which would have meant World War III around the time I was in High School in the late 70's).

While we could argue the strategic value of Iwo Jima as a place to land bombers that were damaged over Japan, I doubt the rest of the war, or the post-war situation in the Pacific, would've looked the same had it not gone the way it did. With a conditional surrender, and Japanese [strike]bullshito[/strike] Bushido still in effect, without an American occupation force there AND without ever having opened two cans of sunshine on them, what might they have gotten up to? And with the US busy in Europe with the Russians after the war, how much attention would we have paid to what Japan was doing until Pearl Harbor 2.0?

Langenator
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by Langenator » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:52 pm

Anyone for chemical warfare?
Fortuna Fortis Paratus

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PawPaw
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by PawPaw » Mon Feb 01, 2016 6:24 pm

Langenator wrote:Anyone for chemical warfare?
Negative. Chemical warfare is abhorrent, irregardless of the legality, it is morally repugnant.
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randy
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by randy » Mon Feb 01, 2016 6:56 pm

PawPaw wrote:
Langenator wrote:Anyone for chemical warfare?
Negative. Chemical warfare is abhorrent, irregardless of the legality, it is morally repugnant.
What he said. And from the pragmatic side, it's never been a particularly effective weapon. It's primary affect is to make simple operations a pain in the ass for both sides (i.e. see the after action reports of it's usage in WWI). If it had been effective, do you think either the Germans, Japanese or the Soviets would have hesitated to use them in WWII?
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".

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JustinR
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by JustinR » Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:27 pm

MarkD wrote:Napalm, lots and lots of napalm. After they've all suffocated in their holes, start landing the B29s there.
That was what I was thinking too. Re-task the B-29 fleet to do a low level saturation bombing with only napalm, hopefully creating such a firestorm that it sucks the oxygen out of the cave systems and asphyxiates the defenders. It might take two to three days to completely saturate the island in sections, but that seems like the best way to go about it.
"The armory was even better. Above the door was a sign: You dream, we build." -Mark Owen, No Easy Day

"My assault weapon won't be 'illegal,' it will be 'undocumented.'" -KL

MarkD
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by MarkD » Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:30 pm

PawPaw wrote:
Langenator wrote:Anyone for chemical warfare?
Negative. Chemical warfare is abhorrent, irregardless of the legality, it is morally repugnant.
Personally, given the way the Japanese conducted their side of the war, I wouldn't worry overly much about stretching the definition of what's acceptable in warfare. My main concern would be about how effective it was, and on an island in the middle of nowhere the answer would likely be "not very".

Which brings me back to my suggestion of napalm.

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Vonz90
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Re: Armchair General: Iwo Jima

Post by Vonz90 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:25 pm

All a waste of time, effort, lives and money. Better off skipping it and going straight into Okinawa, although even that was marginally important at best

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