Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Apr 2022 02:54

Lethl215 wrote:Now your [sic] just being sloppy.
My mistake, I apologize.
Lethl215 wrote:Obviously, you didn't rely on Miller for your assessment of RKT
Obviously not. I'm going to disregard the arguments about whether Miller sucks or rules. Irrelevant. He made a point I agree with (Allied strategic incoherence), but I also observed that he contradicted himself in making that point (by saying WPO authors made no serious mistakes). We're all big boys here, we'll need to stand on our own judgments.

I'm generally annoyed by RKT's blaming of the Navy for adverse conditions around Guadalcanal, John Parshall has a particularly pungent take there. I don't like RKT and enjoy calling him a drunk, but his alcoholism or sainthood is irrelevant. Feel free to consider my original statement to be:

"The question is whether one MAN's strategic evaluation reflected a full analytical treatment of all global options."

That gets us to the actual point in dispute:

Did the Allies have a coherent strategy to defend the Malay Barrier (or coherent acceptance of its indefensibility)?

I say they didn't; you say whatever this is supposed to be:
Lethl215 wrote:Now, let's go back to your original post. For those that have WPO, I'll do your job for you; quote #1, p 284; #2, p.317; #3, p277.
Please (1) make a point then (2) support your point with evidence. You've skipped (1) and jumped to (2). I'm not going to guess what your point is.
Lethl215 wrote:Can you show me those 3-1 correlation of forces?
3-1 was offhand and not necessary to the argument.

Do you agree or disagree that Allied navies had enormous superiority over Axis?

How does a coalition with marked naval superiority suffer months of humiliating defeats?

Bad strategy is one explanation: Allied forces weren't in the critical theater (Malay Barrier), were doing strategically defeasible tasks such as defending the West Coast (lol), securing the Atlantic against a couple apparently superhuman German ships, securing the Med (Against what compared to losing all of Southeast Asia?).

Alternatively, perhaps logistics is a valid explanation. I.e. Allies could not have concentrated sufficient forces to defend the Barrier for logistical reasons. As we've already noted, one man who might have been a miserable drunk or an exalted genius put forward this explanation. But hopefully we're not in the business of taking one man's word for it, whatever he is.

Even if logistics is the explanation:

1. Logistics isn't a priori; the Allied coalition didn't create the logistical predicates for successful defense of the Barrier.

2. Even if such predicate-creation were impossible, the Allied coalition remained strategically incoherent about such impossibility and its foreseeable consequences (massive losses to Japan, causing the functional abandonment of Germany First for a year).
Lethl215 wrote:such opinionated arrogance
Again, we're all big boys here. Sorry if your feelings are hurt by arguments. Hopefully you'll recover and maybe we can discuss this in a rational manner.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Apr 2022 05:02

Returning to War Plan Orange, which contains the most detailed description of American planning I've seen, let's look at the abortive Rainbow Two studies:

Image

As you can see, R2 envisioned a "major part of the Blue [American] fleet" sailing to Surabaya soon after the shooting started and operating from there.

Miller's description of the why the plan never made it far:
Rainbow Two’s revival of a Through Ticket cruise to a doomed port in
the Orient was out of touch with reality. The truth was driven home by the
German blitzkrieg of May 1940 that overran Holland and France and
threatened Britain’s survival, nullifying fantasies of all-out Allied efforts in
the Pacific. The plight of the orphaned colonies in Asia undermined the
core assumption of a dependable Allied resistance pending Blue’s arrival.
During the summer the planners, deluged with emergency projects for
defending the Atlantic and South America, shelved the plan.50 In October
Richardson urged the department to scrap it altogether.
Typically of Miller, he doesn't grant himself permission to question the basic wisdom of the grand strategy here (the WPO guys didn't make any serious mistakes, remember...). The world's two largest navies were needed in the Atlantic for what exactly?

I'll concede that there is at least the whiff of a plausible argument for an Atlantic-heavy USN in mid-1940: France has fallen, Italy is belligerent, Spanish entry may open the Atlantic to a combined Regia Marina, Kriegsmarine, and Vichy navy. Soviet Union might join the Axis and UK might fall.

By mid-1941, however, that doomsday scenario is impossible. There appears to have been no basic grand strategic pivot away from the Atlantic, however, and certainly no serious consideration of reviving Rainbow Two.

----------------------------------------------

It is also revealing that the parts of the record highlighted in Miller's discussion raise no insuperable logistical obstacles to basing a large part of the USN in the NEI. There are complaints about suboptimal conditions (underdeveloped facilities, shallow harbor at Surabaya meaning capital ships anchor far away) but no explicit showstoppers.

---------------------------------------------

Note also the assessment of Singapore's likely fall even in this scenario, which didn't include a European war. Allied coalition was, again, strategically incoherent in that the two major partners could not or did not clearly communicate their most fundamental strategic assessments regarding war in the East.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 26 Apr 2022 05:32, edited 2 times in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Apr 2022 05:23

Contrary to some comments here, I haven't yet presented a "What If" - i.e. a firm narrative of what I believe could have gone differently. So far I've limited myself only to describing the strategic incoherence under which the Allies were operating.

I'm not yet firmly committed to such a counterfactual, more research needed (and ongoing). But my weak hypothesis so far is this: The Allies could have and should have been prepared to defend against those uber-scary German raiders and the Japanese invasion of California/Hawaii with minimal forces. They could have assembled up to 12 fleet carriers and attendant escorts around Southeast Asia, at first with the intention of raiding Japanese LoC's over the South China Sea (the "flying column" that Pound proposed to base at Manila but much stronger). This alone would have made a swift conquest of Singapore and the Borneo oil wells extremely difficult, if not impossible. At some point a decisive fleet action/actions would ensue from Allied activity in this area, and that action would overwhelmingly favor the Allies if sufficiently concentrated.

It is a risky strategy but should have been weighed against the risk/inevitability of losing all of Southeast Asia in the absence of an aggressive naval deployment against Japan. The United States, whose high-level analysts/decisionmakers largely recognized the inevitability of this outcome, should also have realized the foreseeable consequences of Japan conquering all Southeast Asia: exactly the diversion of effort from Germany First for whose sake the weak (military) posture against Japan was chosen. Indeed many in the US Navy actually foresaw this foreseeable political outcome, as I quoted in the OP.

The strategic downside is exactly what happened OTL with the "risk averse" strategy: Japan conquers all Southeast Asia with naval attrition disproportionately favoring it. The Allies are no worse off than OTL unless Yamato pulls a Tsushima on the Allies in the South China Sea. Even then, the prospect of Japan getting much farther than OTL (e.g. of conquering Australia, India, or even Hawaii) is ridiculous for logistical and airpower reasons alone.

The upside is that Japan's war is strangled in its crib, never getting an ounce of Southeast resources. The Allies can hold the Malay Barrier with relatively minimal forces after defeating IJN in 1942 and can invade Europe in 1943 or, should the need arise, do perhaps-sacrificial Sledgehammer in 1942. Because of the Asian diversions (and for other reasons), the immensely wealthy and powerful West was reduced in 1942 merely to hoping the Red Army would win the war for it - without being able to give much help.

At base, Allied grand strategy paid an army/navy/AF pound in Asian diversions after Pearl Harbor - seeking to check and/or roll-back Japan - because it was unwilling to pay a naval penny in 1941.

That's the hypothesis so far. Prove me wrong.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
Kingfish
Member
Posts: 3348
Joined: 05 Jun 2003 16:22
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Kingfish » 26 Apr 2022 11:17

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
26 Apr 2022 05:23
I'm not yet firmly committed to such a counterfactual, more research needed (and ongoing). But my weak hypothesis so far is this: The Allies could have and should have been prepared to defend against those uber-scary German raiders and the Japanese invasion of California/Hawaii with minimal forces. They could have assembled up to 12 fleet carriers and attendant escorts around Southeast Asia, at first with the intention of raiding Japanese LoC's over the South China Sea (the "flying column" that Pound proposed to base at Manila but much stronger). This alone would have made a swift conquest of Singapore and the Borneo oil wells extremely difficult, if not impossible. At some point a decisive fleet action/actions would ensue from Allied activity in this area, and that action would overwhelmingly favor the Allies if sufficiently concentrated.
Quick question: what facility (or plural) would support 12 fleet carriers and escorts in SE Asia in '41?
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 6232
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 Apr 2022 13:08

Kingfish wrote:
26 Apr 2022 11:17
Quick question: what facility (or plural) would support 12 fleet carriers and escorts in SE Asia in '41?
Even quicker question. Where the f@#! do the allies get 12 fleet carriers and escorts from in SE Asia in '41?
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 3776
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Takao » 26 Apr 2022 14:04

12 fleet carriers is only a 2 to 1 advantage...TMP specified 3 to 1.

So you mean 18 fleet carriers.

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 3776
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Takao » 26 Apr 2022 14:09

Richard Anderson wrote:
26 Apr 2022 13:08
Kingfish wrote:
26 Apr 2022 11:17
Quick question: what facility (or plural) would support 12 fleet carriers and escorts in SE Asia in '41?
Even quicker question. Where the f@#! do the allies get 12 fleet carriers and escorts from in SE Asia in '41?
Counterfactually, the altruistic Germans & Italians agree to cease and desist all naval activity in all theaters.

Counterfactually, the Germans & Italians ally with Britain & the US to defeat Japan.

OpanaPointer
Financial supporter
Posts: 5595
Joined: 16 May 2010 14:12
Location: United States of America

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by OpanaPointer » 26 Apr 2022 14:31

http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/extra.html

Scroll down to "Allied Pre-War Planning."

The difference between Orange and Rainbow is important.
Come visit our sites:
hyperwarHyperwar
World War II Resources

Bellum se ipsum alet, mostly Doritos.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 6232
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 Apr 2022 14:59

Takao wrote:
26 Apr 2022 14:09
Richard Anderson wrote:
26 Apr 2022 13:08
Kingfish wrote:
26 Apr 2022 11:17
Quick question: what facility (or plural) would support 12 fleet carriers and escorts in SE Asia in '41?
Even quicker question. Where the f@#! do the allies get 12 fleet carriers and escorts from in SE Asia in '41?
Counterfactually, the altruistic Germans & Italians agree to cease and desist all naval activity in all theaters.

Counterfactually, the Germans & Italians ally with Britain & the US to defeat Japan.
I'm sorry, but l have no response for that. Lethl215 covered it with more patience than I.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Lethl215
Member
Posts: 59
Joined: 19 Mar 2019 00:00
Location: Texas

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Lethl215 » 26 Apr 2022 17:05

TMP,
No way 12 Associate Power CV’s can even put to sea worldwide at once. Logistics wouldn’t allow any significant reinforcement so far from CONUS either for the escorts and auxiliaries required. Budgetary neglect and manning shortfalls were manifest prior to the Vinson expansion bills and were still negligent after the 2 Ocean Navy Act. R3 had an Asiatic Reinforcement plan, but it was simply a planning problem as no one believed they’d ever be sent. State was responsible for the USF even being in Hawaii, and CINCUS protestations caused his relief. A lot going on from May 40 to Dec 41 and the near constant changes in the global situation reflected the adoption and abandonment of Orange and the Rainbows in constant fashion.
OpanaPointer wrote:
26 Apr 2022 14:31
http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/extra.html

Scroll down to "Allied Pre-War Planning."

The difference between Orange and Rainbow is important.
Thank you! Almost all the source material required to to make an accurate assessment are in this link. Specifically related to balance of forces, see this one in particular:

http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/forces.html

See ABC-1 for proposed dispositions. This is is what R5 is massaged from.

http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/pt_14/x15-049.html

Probably missed it somewhere, but also see Stark and his staff’s “Plan Dog.” It’s universally acknowledged as one of the most significant pre-war strategic documents:

http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/_resou ... fa0048.pdf

User avatar
Kingfish
Member
Posts: 3348
Joined: 05 Jun 2003 16:22
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Kingfish » 26 Apr 2022 17:26

Takao wrote:
26 Apr 2022 14:09

Even quicker question. Where the f@#! do the allies get 12 fleet carriers and escorts from in SE Asia in '41?
Counterfactually, the altruistic Germans & Italians agree to cease and desist all naval activity in all theaters.

Counterfactually, the Germans & Italians ally with Britain & the US to defeat Japan.
[/quote]

C'mon man, if you're going to reply at least try to keep it within the realm of plausibility.

I suggest teleporting USS Nimitz and Vinson back in time...
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 3776
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by Takao » 26 Apr 2022 18:04

Kingfish wrote:
26 Apr 2022 17:26
C'mon man, if you're going to reply at least try to keep it within the realm of plausibility.
You mean like, historically, the British trying to get the Americans to station their entire Pacific Fleet battle line at Singapore?

Or TMP's vast "What If" 3 to 1 fleet at Trincomlee?

Neither of which are in the realm of plausibility.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Apr 2022 21:35

Lethl215 wrote:R3 had an Asiatic Reinforcement plan, but it was simply a planning problem as no one believed they’d ever be sent.
I don't see how disingenuousness makes a mooted AR a "planning problem" rather than a "US didn't care about Southeast Asia" problem.

Ad Boyd amply documents, US - particularly USN and particularly RKT - saw defending Singapore and the Barrier as the British trying something akin to 1812's impressment of American sailors into Imperial Defense.

While these American suspicions were sometimes warranted later in the war, here the Americans were simply being strategically incoherent as I've described. They effectively conceded Southeast Asia without thinking through the consequences of that concession.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

BobTheBarbarian
Member
Posts: 154
Joined: 18 Nov 2015 02:44
Location: USA

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by BobTheBarbarian » 26 Apr 2022 23:55

Late to the thread, but the US had no realistic ability to stop the Japanese from overrunning SE Asia. Sending the fleet to the Philippines direct from Hawai'i and San Diego would have bee suicidal, which was the conclusion reached by US planners during the interwar period.

(The Japanese assumed for longer than the American did that the USN could theoretically conduct such an operation, with the objectives for both sides in a hypothetical future war being control of the Philippines. The Americans would be whittled down with submarines and long range aircraft before being destroyed Tsushima style in Japan's backyard). This was derided as the "Thruster Plan" in US Naval circles and would have been even more disastrous in 1941 with Japan's superiority in both carriers and land based aviation.
The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist: https://web.archive.org/web/20060831022 ... tents.html

Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/16/23 https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message

OpanaPointer
Financial supporter
Posts: 5595
Joined: 16 May 2010 14:12
Location: United States of America

Re: Allied strategic incoherence in the Pacific, 1941

Post by OpanaPointer » 27 Apr 2022 00:32

Come visit our sites:
hyperwarHyperwar
World War II Resources

Bellum se ipsum alet, mostly Doritos.

Return to “WW2 in the Pacific & Asia”