tv Lessons Learned at Guadalcanal CSPAN March 10, 2019 1:49pm-2:41pm EDT
anybody that came in from espiritu santo would fly in with them. if you didn't drop on a target on your mission it went out the next day. bombs were precious. >> this is probably a good time to give steve another round of applause. we will have any more questions of the roundtable. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer 1: next on "american , thery tv", trent hone evolution of a fighting doctor. he analyzes how u.s. naval strategies and battle tactics developed during the six-month long battle of guadalcanal. he said these to the limits helped the united states when the pacific war. this 45 minute talk as part of a daylong symposium on the battle
of guadalcanal hosted by the national world war ii museum in new orleans. let me call back into session our symposium on guadalcanal. i have brought you under the auspices of the study of war and democracy. our next speaker i am pleased to introduce to you, trent hone is one of the leading authorities on navy tactics and doctrine. he is the winner of awards from the u.s. naval war college and naval history at heritage command. his latest book which i have read recently and was impressed by, learning war, the evolution of fighting doctrine in the u.s. navy. it reminds us of something important. what happens today is often dependent on things that happened yesterday or happened over the course of many yesterdays. they are used to formulate doctrine and ideas for
generations. reviewed in the new york times review of books by tom ricks. book is hero of hone's not an individual but a large complex organization, the american navy, that grew from second-rate status to become the premier maritime force. here to tell us that story and parse the lessons learned, trent hone. [applause] trent: thank you for that excellent introduction and thank you, jeremy, and all of our hosts for being here today. i am pleased to give you some of the insights from the book, learning more, and to help place
-- learning war, and the help place guadalcanal in context. i want to place it in context in terms of what happens next, where does the navy go based on lessons of doubt there's from the fighting and -- lessons it gathers from the fighting? that is what i will be trying to do here. i have titled this effort -- adaptation and evolution. the navy does a good job at gathering lessons. there are a number of challenges that are faced at guadalcanal, and i'm going to help you understand how those lead to better outcomes in the future. one of the most important things is the idea guadalcanal is a crucial opportunity which frank told us how it is in terms of
the world stage in august 1942. the axis powers have had a series of victories, and it is important admiral king recognizes the importance of trying to figure out how to put the japanese on their heels. the victory at midway created opportunity. the initiative in the pacific hangs in the balance. decisivelyhich acts will seize that and the pace of the fighting going forward. recognizes something else. he has been immersed in the navy's approach to fighting for decades. he started off as a service officer, worked under william sims in the atlantic fleet world war i, moved on to command submarines and became an aviator. he had experience in all the
ways in which the navy can fight. navy can learn and adapt lessons and has confidence it can do it faster than the japanese. the second opportunity is not just to seize the initiative but come to grips with the enemy, learn how they fight and put into practice the ability of american naval officers to learn more rapidly. he has confidence in they can do because of a deliberate learning system created in decades prior, the decades 1919 toworld wars, 1939. united states navy created a learning mechanism. it was constructed and comes from the mind of the second chief of naval operations, admiral robert ernst.
he put into place what he called a planning cycle. this was an annual regimen, a war planning with the chief office and now at the naval war college and exercises in the fleet. you have heard about the largest and most famous of these. what is generally done when we think about fleet problems is we think of exercises and how they went on. this is part of a network, a system of learning. the navy was going through these not just for practice or develop routines but to better understand how a naval war in the pacific might be fought and explore the challenges they faced. frank highlighted the fact that steaming directly across the pacific and confronting the japanese early in the pacific war was discarded by 1933.
it is one of the things that comes out of these exercises and the learning system many other things come out as well. if you have read the analysis of fleet problems, you understand they foment and become a hotbed for learning how to operate carriers. naval aviation is born in the fleet problems and develops a high level of expertise over that time, not matching what the japanese achieved, but not far behind. ignored or not paid as much attention to is the fact that the u.s. navy's surface tactics and doctrine were also getting better through this time. one of the things that is core to it is the fact subordinate commanders are asked to devise new approaches and mechanisms. there is a lack of a
standardized, universal approach. about josephier it become muched more effective, turned it from an experiment to an actual operational weapon. those lessons were factored in to the operations of lexington and saratoga and later on the carriers yorktown and enterprise which spent so much time fighting in early 1942. heuristicsfic emerged. that is a bit of a public word. it means a pattern of decision-making. it is an approach you have taken before you are practiced in and do it without really thinking about it. subconsciously this is how you go about these routines.
three formed the core of the navy's approach to fighting in the run-up of world war ii. the first is to act aggressively. there wasn't yet the observed, orient,omicide heart -- decide, act. you could create new opportunities. this was something that tried to do. the regular part of how they approached fighting. way was to attack first. attacking effectively first, a term from wayne hughes . the navy at the time didn't use this term but they would have understood it well. there was a question after the wow presentation. why did they scout with sbd's, a
relatively slow plane? it can carry a bomb load. it was the idea of having a scout bomber. you could attack immediately because at that time in carrier warfare if you get in the first hit, you were going to win. this manifested in a series of other ways when it came to surface combats. the united states navy thought about a fire control solution, very specific computer called a ford range that would track the motions of the target, project when the shell woodland. it fired delivery -- deliberately using salvo fire. at night if you can't see something -- if you could see something it was within range.
so the pattern for night battle practice was to open fire immediately at an estimated range based on how far your eyes could see that night. fire controlw solution to be determined afterwards when you saw the shop. shock. we have had questions about radar. that is a new dimension because the assumption was at night you would have to spot. you would have to keep your eye on the target. you would have to move the shells onto it. radar gives you a range. those officers who were familiar with fire control radar, those used off guadalcanal, thought we don't need to spot anymore. we will get the radar range and shoot. we won't have to shoot salvos anymore.
so there are partial salvos. what they used on guadalcanal wasn't partial salvos, it is a continuous fire. put as many shells in the air as it can, hit the target as rapidly as you can. we have got a ship like the gunsa the has 15 six inch with firing cycle between six and 10 seconds, you really are firing continuously. all of the splashes from those shells are on the radar scope and secure the target. ,his is why in later battles further up the solomons chain, which the first japanese ship that presents a large radar target gets overwhelmed, and then the united states navy mrs. everything else -- navy misses everything else.
the idea of decision-making, there is recognition that there will be fleeting opportunities. we need woman terri chances to try to put the enemy off balance or act aggressively. take advantage of those opportunities, we have to decentralize control. we must seize opportunities. it is not just about how officers to brave -- behave in battle but how we are fighting. if you go through and look at the published trial manuals that exist before world war ii, you will see a lot of information. if you are looking for specifics about how we will fight and approach cruisers and destroyers, you will be disappointed. a lot of detail is generic. it provides general guidance.
individual squadron and division commanders were expected to come up with their on plans based on circumstances at the moment and unique capabilities of their command. before the war they did this. it was good. they had but -- they developed new approaches but there was a lot of variability. different divisions and squadrons came up with using ships together, different ways of approaching battle, different plans and doctrines, tactics. in some circumstances this can work well but when your forces are no longer cohesive, when your squadrons get broken up, it can become problematic. there was a lot of variability in terms of how navy ships, particularly for small actions, were going to approach the fighting. the created the impression
united states navy didn't have a battle doctrine particularly for small detached actions with cruisers and destroyers. if you look at it from a high level, was there a printed manual that instructed everybody to go -- you are right, there wasn't. there was an assumption they would work it out and provide it to their supporters. that difference created misunderstanding which i have tried to correct. of whichhis a backdrop , thehis doctrine develops war will culminate in a decisive fleet action. we need to prepare for that. a great deal of tactical exercises are oriented in that way. you will notice i talked about aggressive action, i didn't talk about torpedoes. there is a reason.
most of the destroyer torpedo practices assumed destroyers are going to be making an attack if they are attacking at night on screened anomie disposition -- enemy disposition. that means protected by cruisers and destroyers. they are instructed to use torpedoes on heavy ships, carriers, battleships. to get there, you have to fight your way through. torpedoes are valuable to waste on enemy cruisers or destroyers, so you use guns. this creates certain assumptions in the minds of destroyer and cruiser captains and also leads to the fact that on american destroyers of this time, when you fire the torpedoes, the impulse that launches them
creates a spark. it eliminates. -- it illuminates. so they are not a weapon of stealth. they decide to use guns. this is the situation. admiral king decides the heuristic of acting aggressively needs to be employed at the operational level. we need to seize the initiative, take the offensive and sees the anchorage in the airfield and island of guadalcanal. expected comes back very quickly. the battle of savo island. the key lessons learned in the moment in the battle of savo things reinforced by prewar experience and also
observations. the primary challenge is survives -- is surprise. the other is we were afraid of opening fire for fear of hitting our own ships. friendly fire was real danger. athad been a danger not just savo island but every nocturnal exercise the navy employed and that i have come across. there was a risk of ships shooting at each other when they tried to rejoin operations at night. so he creates a very compact linear formation. a number of researchers said it is logically derivative from the work they did prewar. it is a linear battle formation in microcosm. i disagree. what he is trying to do is address these challenges, surprise and friendly fire, concentrate the force. that will prevent friendly fire.
he makes it a linear formation because he wants to prevent surprise. he wants to attack in either direction right away immediately. he calls it a doubleheader formation to reflect that. .e wins that victory it doesn't prevent friendly fire. the destroyers farenthold and duncan were hit by u.s. cruisers. it works well enough. november, wein have been given a powerful description of the challenges the rear admiral faced. he noted it was difficult for callahan to keep track of what was going on. this is true but if you go through and reconstruct information callahan has and look at the various orders the issues. it is clear that is one thing
overarching in his mind. that is that he has to act aggressively. he has to get close. as soon as we get that she gets information from helena about the bearing of the japanese formation, he goes towards it. he does this a couple of times. and then before the shooting starts he orders the van destroyers and rear destroyers to course through the japanese formation and after the shooting the sane maneuvers francisco to bring her as close as possible to the japanese flagship in order to disrupt the cohesion of the japanese ormation and dachshund in these actions you can see a clear demonstration of the heuristics the japanese navy developed before the war. rear admiral lee puts all of them together. he experiments with the new formation. it is an ad hoc formation.
the destroyers he has are the ones that happen to have enough fuel. he pushes them ahead. he uses them deliberately as a screen to ensure the japanese might forces can be kept at -- light forces can be kept at a distance. he uses guns to prevent japanese from just force against him. he uses them to keep them off balance. when the searchlights comes on, he becomes certain the target that his fire control group has been tracking is not the south dakota and instead a japanese ship, he allows his control team to open fire with some of the most accurate fire ever seen in combat. the japanese ship is wrapped in wreckedort minutes -- in a few short minutes. lee continues to act aggressively. we learned how the dauntlesses spent time destroying transports.
one of the reasons that had as much time as they did is because one of them,nking ghost north west he knows japanese transports are coming from that direction. he wants to force them to turn around and does this with the battleship washington. the transports slow their progress. the aviators have more time. the decisive moment that guadalcanal turn on the key heuristics the u.s. navy developed before the war. there is a lot of learning that goes on in theater between scott, callahan and their peers that informs the battles. navy bynext one, the that time has abandoned the idea of starting with a linear formation that is concentrated. now they are sent forth. the cruisers are intended to
hang back and use gunfire so there can be simultaneous torpedo and cruiser gunfire attack. that is the way admiral kincaid planned it. admiral right does not execute it that way. it doesn't work well, but it serves as a model for future battles as the united states navy advances up the slot. to the learning in the theater, there is learning at a higher level in the pacific fleet. there are key problems that come out of the fighting of guadalcanal. that shipof these is captains and formation to make sense of the information available. there is information from radars, there is the tbs radio and all of this information coming in. it is difficult to understand, analyze and act on all of it in a timely manner.
captains are overwhelmed. the other problem is prewar approach assumed and relied on the idea these squadrons and divisions would be cohesive. you would train with the other destroyers in your company and develop tactics that suited your cube abilities and take those into battle. -- your capabilities and take those into battle. destroyers are thrown into combat in a very ad hoc way. there is no time to develop cohesion and no time to put an effective doctrine or plan in place. admiral chester nimitz at pearl harbor, commander of the pacific fleet, is aware of these challenges. 1942, when the climactic battles are being
action on thees fact there is an inability of these officers to make sense of the available information. the issues a directive -- he issues a directive. there will be a combat information center. that is the clearing house for all of the information that is available from radar, whether they be searched, sonars, lookouts. that new organization will synthesize all of that information and provide it to the person in an actionable format. one of the things that is very interesting about this war nimitz issues is he says what we ought to do, hasn't said anything about how. the variability that existed, the individual that existed in the fleet, nimitz triggers it and says, all you subordinate
ships, start experiment in with different approaches and i will identify the best, and we will replicate that when it proves successful. report from the fletcher, the last ship in callahan flying, comes back and nimitz and his staff recognize what wiley has done to help keep that ship undamaged through the whole battle, they bring him back to pearl harbor to help him whatout procedures because wiley did is he stood between the bridge and radar room and ppi an eye on the sg planned indicator display you see on the left. he had headphones in the various ships' weapons systems. he gave the commanding officer of the ship the sense of where this was relative to other ships
in battle. while he was in essence the navy's first destroyer combat information center in his own action himself. he helped develop sophisticated procedures to make this effective throughout the fleet. is theseens in 1943 procedures begin to work out. they become more routine and effective. as the navy is changing its approach to blend effective destroyer attacks timed to work with cruiser gunfire, the cic begins to influence how that happens. the japanese are changing at the same time. they have shifted their approach. we have heard a lot about actions sending cruisers and ships down guadalcanal to bombard american positions. they said wesley destroyers. maybe there is a light cruiser at the head of the column.
these ships don't fire their guns. they fire very powerful torpedoes. an extreme range powered by and thedoesn't burn air united states navy doesn't fully understand the capabilities of these tornadoes just repeat is into 1983. 1943 the battles of bay are george and the clear victories. they transform the approach, they have revolutionized it and the japanese are outpaced. the other challenge, the lack of cohesive formation, this is a bigger issue. the navy needs and ability to interchange's ships and task forces to respond to the needs of the moment. board tontains a
understand how to approach this. they were authorized to rewrite the cruising instructions that they exceed that. there is a number of surface warfare officers part of that group and an aviator, captain apollo sioux check. problem and the they decided they are going to extend a playbook that had been developed for major actions, big decisive fleet battles. they extend that to actions. what they create is a playbook that any of the ships in the pacific fleet can use to understand how to cooperate and fight together in a battle that .ust sort of years -- appears the ability to deal with ad hoc formations has been addressed. this supports a fundamental change in how the fleet organizes to fight for the
offensive. they had a challenge they have never worked out how to deal with. the japanese have dominion over the mandated islands in the central pacific. the marshals, the carolines, the .arianas, guam they have spent years figuring out how to create a defensive network, a web in these islands. we get a taste of what it might have been like to attack them directly at guadalcanal because the japanese are good at tottling airplanes around trick the u.s. navy and fight very actively. it would have been much worse than the marianas because they were close to their bases. very distant from guadalcanal. how can this pacific fleet enter a fleett effectively based around battle fleets which had real problems with this and
going into the teeth of the japanese plans? they must reconfigure and we, network of carrier task forces. instead of moving into a single area and occupying one objective at a time, it can move into an entire island group policy decisive point -- sees decisive points, prevent reinforcements from coming in and leave when the locations had been secured. the pattern that is employed in the gilbert islands 1943 and in the marshals february 1944, so on. the japanese are at a loss because they expect their network will hold the fleet down long enough to force the decisive battle they want to fight. in desperation they fight the battle of the philippine sea,
airfare is diminished and they try again at the battle of their servicehere fleet is diminished and there is no longer an effective fighting force. want you to take from this presentation is that the learning system the navy established before the war, which is why vulnerability is very visible at guadalcanal. it helps us understand better how the fighting turned out, particularly surface actions, but it feeds learning at multiple levels. commanders in the theater share ideas and rapidly disseminate weapons amongst themselves. the pacific fleet is gathering this information, adapting to the circumstances of the fighting. without the learning mechanisms, the victory in the pacific in
world war ii would have been much more challenging and complex and would have come later, further beyond august 1945. there are a number of other things about this that we can weave in, logistics, there are questions about that, and i will finish now and allow you to ask some questions. [applause] >> thank you, trent. if there is questions, please raise. we will start on the ground floor near the back here. >> another brilliant, articulate conversation. i don't have a question. i have a comment that in researching a book that i have just completed, i came across the army's, the united states publication, fighting
on guadalcanal published by united states war office 1943. i will read this opening paragraph. states the united published a restricted document entitled fighting on guadalcanal with the forward signed by marshall, chief of staff. the purpose was to do the gallantry of the men in the solomon islands against the fanatical japanese fighting force. from major generals to platoon sergeants, the perspective of the contributors was consistent in its urging to revamp official prewar by the book training to reflect the harsh wars of jungle fighting to reduce casualties. i feel like i can comment. one of the things that indicates
is a difference in how the united states navy and how the army approached some of these things. andhe navy there is a clear deliver it sense of leaving room for the emergence and adaptation of new approaches and new techniques. thes clear from records of time that they feel the united the have the same mindset and it had to hit home for the united states army through its fighting growth in north pacific and africa where assumptions about prewar approaches proved to be flawed. doesn't mean the approaches didn't prove to be, but there was a deliberate sense we need to allow room to learn. we will not get it right the first time. >> on the ground floor to the back, your left. thatere is an old saying
goes something like a nation prepares for the next war by preparing to fight the last war or something. it sounds like you don't think that applies to world -- to what the navy did in world war ii. trent: that is a great question. --allows me to talk about which i am sure you know is a massive naval battle fought in the first world war. there has been a good deal of that saying they were trying to refight jutland. if you look at what an american -- they use itho as an example of in certain circumstances what not to do particularly when it comes to fostering the initiative of subordinate commanders. there is a clear threat at the naval war college by other
was not ast jutland successful as it could have been because they handcuffed junior commanders with instructions that were too rigid. that was something they sought not to do. we will create an environment where people can take the initiative and act on the things they can say. the other piece is it often dovetails with the emphasis the united states navy placed on battleships, the movement of the battle fleet. there is room to be critical there. the thing that is important to recognize is well into the war, the battleship is seen as a decisive instrument. the plans for the gilbert and the marshals, they all contain an appendix that illustrates what the navy will do if the japanese come out to flight --
fight. we will have to consolidate, bring battleships together and duke it out. >> we will stay on the ground floor in the center here. you -- doctor? mister? led to ask by your presentation is the effect for the interplay -- or the interplay between formation of doctrine and naval intelligence. what intelligence were we collecting about the way the japanese intended to fight? how if at all did the interplay with the creation of
interwar doctrine -- because it seems to me if you read a book like -- ok, you are familiar with that. it would have let somebody if we knew the japanese doctrine to spend time worrying about what what happen at night, and -- was naval intelligence unit aware of this? -- even aware of this? seems like you need to [indiscernible] not the one you guessed is going to be out there or your image. trent: there is a lot to unpack here. it reminds me of a question asked earlier about what intelligence was there related to japanese fighting to the abilities. -- fighting capability. u.s.f the answers is the navy assumed the japanese would try to fight at night, not a decisive fleet action but the
navy would be subject to attacks that night. they attacked this expected cruisers and destroyers -- they expected cruisers and destroyers. they are trying to get american cruisers and destroyers better at fighting at night, better at stating information, not -- staying information -- in formation. there is a sense that they will do it, we will do it. let's make sure we are better at it. what is missed from the intelligence standpoint and it thismarkable no one sauces out, the japanese have been restricted by the size of their battle fleet by treaty and the cruiser force. they will have fewer ships. what will that lead them to do? make ships that are higher quality somehow.
massive torpedo batteries that are on the sides of the cruisers we can see? they knew they were equipped with massive torpedo batteries. there is a realization that that is a 24 inch torpedo with a massive that gets lost. you mentioned, mirror imaging or you alluded to it, if you didn't say it. there's a lot of that that happens. the japanese will fight more or less how we fight. we've been together at this for 20 years. have at it. to your right on the ground floor. thank you for an excellent presentation. we have already that in the american air force, after a ,ertain number of missions
pilots were rotated back to the united states, to teach the latest tactics to younger pilots. tot happened in this regard navy captains and commanders? similar--notis a always necessarily being rotated there is a deliberate choice to take naval officers, oftentimes aviators, back to impart lessons. this happens with service ships and carrier officers as well. rotating them to different positions. example, he becomes the to the commander of the task force in the 38th. there's a delivered ability t to rotate the knowledge -- to rotate thelity
knowledge around, to create a web of networked information with any force that is doing the fighting. >> the far right. probably on the same lines. i really appreciate the new thoughts and processes and policies, particularly in the cic. given the opportunity to do let -- develop their own way, eventually they had to get into standard operating procedure. how is that turned around, disseminated, the fleet is around the pacific and atlantic. maybe some of the officers are going back and forth. how is it could -- disseminated to gettinghesion, the groups and squadrons together? trent: with regard to the cic, what happens is, more specific
-- proceduresided are developed over 1943. there are courses that are established at pearl harbor. ships, when they come in for a refit or when they're coming out from the coast to join the fleet, a lot of the cic cruise 0 crews--they started with the idea of training the officers there and they will bring it back to the ships and be a trainer. it is not successful. it doesn't lead to the standardization that you are highlighting that will be essential in dealing with a series of, cause these. -- kamikazes. what they do, is bring the shipment, we will get the cic crew and, and we will train them as a unit. and be more out capable and effective. one of the thing that happens
45, there is more investment and how to standardize these approaches and training. side effect is that there is now less experimentation. there is less exploration of new opportunities. it does notwar, but position the plate as well post war to continue this approach. >> we have time for one more question. the first question from the ou.el will be from jim to yi [laughter] >> was the concept of the task force not possible until the advent of the essex class carrier? trent: i assume you mean the cap -- the large carrier task force. there are task forces for the war -- before it starts. they are similar to some of the
organizational parameters that have already existed. the battle for scum of the scouting force, and other elements of it. you can create a task force. -- the modernrier carrier task force was made with a set of carriers, either too large and a light, or some reconfiguration of that. it doesn't become possible until there are enough carriers to do that. the other thing against it is, 1942, there is some question about what the best configuration for carriers is. the prewar concept of carrier warfare, you have to hit the bag i first area and you -- that guy first. once you do that, you win. there are two ways to win or to prevent yourself from being damaged. one is to hit the other guy first, and the others to not be found. on,e's a lot of emphasis even when you carriers together, as at coral sea and midway, making sure that the carers are significantly distant, so if
they strike, it can only get one of them. that mitigates against it. what you need is the ability to not have just enough carriers to make it work, but you need to have the sense of how well we have a combat air patrol that is effective and can shoot down incoming strikes? throughins to develop combat experience over the course of 1943 in preparation for the pacific central offensive. >> thank you, trent. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] anderson airfield on
guadalcanal is the most hotly contested strip of land in the south pacific. ways built by american soldiers would capture japanese equipment, they are inspected by the marine commander. covers, fighter planes are constantly on patrol. haveive months, the japs tried to win back this vital outpost, but there outpost wrecked on the sun on the solomon islands. ♪ >> general vandergrift and general vogel was forward into
the jungle, directing the campaign that is killed nearly 7000 japs on guadalcanal alone. they call it death island. ♪ >> supporting the infantry, the marines and big tech bring supplies over heavy road or through no roads at all. offshore, and american freighter battles and oil fire, just as she was prepared to make her cargo. the marines fight the flames. all supplies are saved and the ships will sail again. ♪ >> you can watch archival films on public affairs in their entirety on a weekly series "reel america."
saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern, here on "american history tv." monday night, on the communicators, former fcc chair tom wheeler talks about his new book " from gutenberg to google." >> it's never the primary network that is transformative. it's the secondary effects of that that work. it's how, for instance, the printing press not only enabled -- allowst i knows the renaissance to come out of northern italy. it is how the first high-speed created the railroad, industrial revolutions. and how the first electronic a lotk, the telegraph, for the creation of a national
news media. a national financial system. >> watch "the communicators," monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. >> up next on american history tv, former spy martha peterson ? talks about the book "the widow spy: my cia journey through the lands of laos." she explains why she joined the cia after her husband died. the bob center for public service at the university of florida hosted this event. it's about an hour and 15 minutes. >> my name is david colburn, i'm director of the bob graham center. we are pleased to have with us