Tactical Defeat of US marines at Iwo Jima?

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
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Gen_Del_Pilar
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Post by Gen_Del_Pilar » 23 Feb 2007 18:01

Eugen Pinak wrote:So what? You are absolutely correctly pointed out themselve all the differenses between boxing fight (winning by points - how silly! :) ) and war battle.
Well, "silly" or not, that's a large part of what the term "tactical victory" means. How else do you think that so many well-informed sources arrive at the conclusion that Coral Sea was a Japanese tactical victory?

There are two points that you consistently seem to overlook in this debate:

1. Whether or not a battle counts as a tactical victory for one side has little or nothing to do with strategic factors.

2. It's possible for a single battle to be a tactical victory for one side but a strategic victory for the other. E.g. Coral Sea: Japanese tactical victory, American strategic victory, overall American victory.

So again, your citing of countless operational/strategic successes for the Americans at Iwo Jima is basically irrelevant when debating whether or not the Japanese scored a tactical victory there. If the title of this topic was "Defeat of the US marines at Iwo Jima" (or "Strategic Defeat of the US marines at Iwo Jima") then yours would be compelling points disproving this hypothesis - but this of course isn't the title nor the original proposition.
Eugen Pinak wrote:BTW, you've forgot one more important point: while Japanese learned no lessons form Coral Sea battle, while USN managed to learn a few things - like importance of damage control ("Lady Lex" could've survived, if not faults in damage control), importance of proper recon and trust in US COMINT.
Indeed, and there are probably several other strategic benefits of the battle to the Americans that I didn't mention. But by coming up with further American strategic successes at Coral Sea you're only further proving my point that the concept of a tactical victory is independent of these. I'd be willing to wager that the sources I listed have a more comprehensive knowledge of the battle than you or I do, and that they'd be able to cite even more American strategic successes than you or I have thought of so far - yet they still count Coral Sea as a Japanese tactical victory.

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LWD
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Post by LWD » 23 Feb 2007 19:04

Then there is no question that the Japanese suffered a tactical defeat on Iwo Jima. They didnd't even try for a tactical victory.

As for the Coral Sea some list it as a US tactical victory some as a Japanese. On the whole I would come down on the side of it at the very least not being a Japanese tactical victory. Both sides were more or less compeled to leave the battle field but the Japanese abandoned their push south that was part of the mission of the Japanese ships. Those who claim it as a tacitcal victory usually do so saying that as far as ships lost the US was behind. On the otherhand in ships damage or rendered non-ooperational the Japanese CV force suffered at least as great and argueabley greater loss.

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Gen_Del_Pilar
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Post by Gen_Del_Pilar » 25 Feb 2007 02:53

LWD wrote:Then there is no question that the Japanese suffered a tactical defeat on Iwo Jima. They didnd't even try for a tactical victory.
I fail to see how the Japanese didn't "try" to achieve a tactical victory.

Best case scenario: the US landing forces suffer higher losses than they did in actuality, to the extent that the first invasion attempt fails. No further attempts are made to take the island, and the US win the war in August 1945 anyway. Needless to say, this would be a 100% tactical, strategic, and overall victory for Japan at least as far as the Battle of Iwo Jima is concerned.

The Japanese goal was to inflict as high a loss as possible on the Americans - a key pre-requisite for the above outcome. Just because they realized that (particularly due to strategic factors) such a completely favorable outcome was very unlikely doesn't mean that they had no chance of a more limited form of tactical victory/success, nor of course that they didn't try to achieve this.
LWD wrote:As for the Coral Sea some list it as a US tactical victory some as a Japanese. On the whole I would come down on the side of it at the very least not being a Japanese tactical victory. Both sides were more or less compeled to leave the battle field but the Japanese abandoned their push south that was part of the mission of the Japanese ships. Those who claim it as a tacitcal victory usually do so saying that as far as ships lost the US was behind. On the otherhand in ships damage or rendered non-ooperational the Japanese CV force suffered at least as great and argueabley greater loss.
Well, although no doubt there are sources that may rate it as a US tactical victory, the firm impression I get from further searching is that a significant majority of neutral English-language sources claim a Japanese tactical victory.

That said, more doesn't necessarily make right, and yes the points you list are very good ones for challenging what appears to be the prevailing/traditional view. I can see some parallels with the consideration of Iwo Jima, namely:

Sea Battle
- main measure of tactical performance: ship loss ratio
- Coral Sea: Japanese suffered less damage/loss to ships -> tactical victory
- major caveat: Japanese suffered considerably more casualties

Land Battle
- main measure of tactical performance: personnel loss ratio
- Iwo Jima: Japanese inflicted more casualties than they suffered -> tactical victory
- major caveat: Japanese suffered more KIA than their opponents

Ultimately, as I've said before I'd probably also stop short of calling Iwo Jima an outright US tactical defeat. However, as you yourself said in a previous discussion (pertaining to a comparison of the RM and IJN), I feel it's at the very least "close enough to make it interesting" - certainly closer than many people realize or wish to admit.

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Post by LWD » 26 Feb 2007 01:31

Gen_Del_Pilar wrote:
LWD wrote:Then there is no question that the Japanese suffered a tactical defeat on Iwo Jima. They didnd't even try for a tactical victory.
I fail to see how the Japanese didn't "try" to achieve a tactical victory.

Best case scenario: the US landing forces suffer higher losses than they did in actuality, to the extent that the first invasion attempt fails. No further attempts are made to take the island, and the US win the war in August 1945 anyway. Needless to say, this would be a 100% tactical, strategic, and overall victory for Japan at least as far as the Battle of Iwo Jima is concerned.
But that wasn't the plan. They knew they were going to loose. So they planned to get as much out of it strategically as they could. Given that they weren't going to be allowed to abandon the island then the best hope was that they gain some strategic advantage out of a tactical loss.
The Japanese goal was to inflict as high a loss as possible on the Americans - a key pre-requisite for the above outcome.
Agreed but they had no hope or plan for a tactical victory. They were just going to inflict as many losses as possible before they died.

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Post by Eugen Pinak » 26 Feb 2007 22:46

Gen_Del_Pilar wrote:
Eugen Pinak wrote:So what? You are absolutely correctly pointed out themselve all the differenses between boxing fight (winning by points - how silly! :) ) and war battle.
Well, "silly" or not, that's a large part of what the term "tactical victory" means. How else do you think that so many well-informed sources arrive at the conclusion that Coral Sea was a Japanese tactical victory?
:D And "so many well-informed sources" still tells us about "five fatal minutes at Midway" even after Parshall's and Tully's "Shattered Sword" dispelled this myth as a Fuchida's fiction. "Common" knowledge is not always the correct one.

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Post by stulev » 27 Feb 2007 14:19

I don't think the Imperial Army would have surrendered with out Hirohito's order -- they planed for 100 million(almost the entire population of Japan) to die for Japan defending the home islands - but I don't think most thought they could win even them -- at best a truce.

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Post by JonS » 02 Mar 2007 04:34

Tom Houlihan wrote:Not having references handy, although a large number of Marines were killed on that island, I believe an equal if not greater number of USAAF air crews were saved by being able to land on Iwo Jima. That should be factored in as well.
I too don't have references handy, but ... that is a justification often made, however IIRC the logic and calcs are a little shaky, and don't stand up to much scrutiny.

Relevant discussion on another forum (lots of referencing, not just noobs shooting the breeze):
http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ ... 9;t=016891

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 02 Mar 2007 05:08

JonS wrote:
Tom Houlihan wrote:Not having references handy, although a large number of Marines were killed on that island, I believe an equal if not greater number of USAAF air crews were saved by being able to land on Iwo Jima. That should be factored in as well.
I too don't have references handy, but ... that is a justification often made, however IIRC the logic and calcs are a little shaky, and don't stand up to much scrutiny.

Relevant discussion on another forum (lots of referencing, not just noobs shooting the breeze):
http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ ... 9;t=016891
It has been done here on the forum, twice I think. I did it once using figures/info from the book, Point of No Return, and the figure was that we would have lost slightly less aircrew than we lost in personnel taking Iwo. 100 or 200 less, not much. However that figure could not be refined to include any possible casualties in B-29 crews lost due to fighters launched from Iwo if it had not been taken, since there was little data to make a judgement on that factor based on a time period before the ivasion. So in the end Iwo is about a coin flip on this justification. Another factor not considered is if Iwo had not been taken, is that more US subs may have been put on pilot rescue missions which would have reduced the number of deaths in B-29 ditches at sea. Another figure that can't be quantified.


Chris Noob

Whatever a Noob is? 8-)

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harry palmer
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Post by harry palmer » 24 Mar 2007 12:15

Some excellent links on this subject, mostly original US Operational Documents

http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cdm4/results.ph ... SOROOT=all



NB Extremely reliable source!

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Post by Musashi » 24 Mar 2007 13:43

ChristopherPerrien wrote: Chris Noob

Whatever a Noob is? 8-)
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=noob

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Post by stulev » 24 Mar 2007 14:09

I am new to this thread - but I will put my 2 cent worth in concerning who won what.

1 US strategic victory due to capture of the island.

2 Japanese tactical victory as their tactic was to delay the Allies so preparation could be made to defend the mainland islands the same tactic was used on Okinawa -- on Okinawa after the transfer of the 9th division all they could do was fight a defensive battle they knew they would loose sooner or later --- the defensive tactic held up the Allies for more the two months here.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 24 Mar 2007 18:19

Musashi wrote:
ChristopherPerrien wrote: Chris Noob

Whatever a Noob is? 8-)
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=noob
It has come this, mispelled slang.

Thanks,
Chris

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Post by mikel » 01 Apr 2007 20:26

I have no issues with the Japanese people, but their "revisionests" deny any misdeeds against ocuupied peoples whatsoever.
They also would have us believe Godzilla was effective in defeating the American aggressors.

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Post by LWD » 02 Apr 2007 17:57

stulev wrote:....
2 Japanese tactical victory as their tactic was to delay the Allies so preparation could be made to defend the mainland islands the same tactic was used on Okinawa -- on Okinawa after the transfer of the 9th division all they could do was fight a defensive battle they knew they would loose sooner or later --- the defensive tactic held up the Allies for more the two months here.
The fact that a tactic was used even if it is used effectivly and/or works does not mean that a tactical victory was won. The Japanese may have made taking the islands more costly and time consuming than it otherwise might have been but this hardly constitures a victory unless it can be showed that it had a beneficial impact on their war aims or plans. About the only beneficial impacts that I can see in these campaigns for the US were pretty minor aside from encouraging the use of the Atomic bomb which was clearly not their intent.

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Post by stulev » 03 Apr 2007 14:28

I agree - but the Japanese had a different mind set -- They were willing to allow 100,000,000 Japanese die protecting the home islands so the 2 and a half months delay in taking Okinawa them time to prepare --- IJGHQ already knew the could not win ---- they sent the battleship Yamato out with loss of 2500 on a mission they knew she would not reach Okinawa but i guess they did HOPE she would make it.

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