Sat, 30 Dec 2000
Do you think Admiral Kimmel and General Short were scapegoats for the Pearl Harbor attack?
Yes and No.
I do think FDR and his administration consciously provoked war with Japan to get the USA into a war that 80% of the American population opposed. There is some circumstantial evidence that FDR and his advisors may have known in advance of a specific Pearl Harbor attack. This evidence is primarily in the form of missing, still classified and altered archives and diaries. But on general principles both Kimmel and Short could have been prepared if they'd been doing their jobs.
A. Admiral Kimmel.
1. A series of Army and Navy staff studies in the 1930s conclusively determined that any potential Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor could only come from carrier aircraft, submarines, or both. One Pacific Fleet study in the late 1930s even predicted the precise course, transmit times, and best H-hours for a hypothetical Japanese carrier attack force. The 1st Air Fleet subsequently precisely followed that predicted course and schedule.
Admiral Kimmel himself was very well informed of the tactical organization of the Japanese Fleet as shown by this intelligence report he issued on November 27, 1941: http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/45-41.html
One interesting historical fact is that the USA was considering a possible Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor long before the Japanese themselves seriously considered it. So far as is known, the Japanese didn't consider or plan such a carrier attack until after the British example at Taranto in 1940.
2. It's true that Kimmel and Short were denied the ULTRA and MAGIC decodes intelligence. But they did have sufficient intelligence assets of their own to have increased their guard at appropriate times without running down their forces with the "continuous 100% alert" they later claimed would have been necessary to guard against a surprise attack. The Pacific Fleet's own intelligence organization at that time included a strong signals intelligence organization.
Signals Intelligence, now called SIGINT, comes in many forms. The very best is decoding the actual transmissions as with ULTRA and MAGIC. But short of this perfect state radio direction finding, call sign analysis, and traffic volume counts are all valuable parts of SIGINT gleaned from intercepts. By these means the Pacific Fleet was maintaining its own daily watch on the locations and activities of the various Imperial Fleet organizations. It was a highly accurate watch. Up until November 28-30 the Pacific Fleet intelligence officer had the Japanese carrier forces firmly located in the Home Islands and the submarine forces in the Gilberts. O/A November 28 the Pacific Fleet intelligence officer lost positive contact with the location and activity of both the 1st Air Fleet and the submarine squadrons.
3. Based on the well analyzed and known dangers in #1 those two organizations were clearly the Pacific Fleet's prime intelligence targets. The loss of contact with those most dangerous tactical forces and the general war warning of November 28 from Washington should have caused Kimmel and his staff organization to start drawing a daily series of increasing map arcs around Japan and the Marshalls. These expanding arcs would have shown the maximum possible movement of the now unlocated most dangerous Japanese forces. By December 4 at the very latest the general situation and the convergence of these arcs in Hawaiian attack stations should have caused Admiral Kimmel to go to a very high alert status for his main force and more importantly his patrol and scouting forces. Priority for these patrol forces should have been the previously identified dangerous avenues of approach. In this instance these were the northern and northwestern sectors of the Hawaiian waters.
On the basis on key intelligence indicators POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE Admiral Kimmel, had he been paying attention, should have been ready. This kind of foresight is routinely expected of high commanders and especially theatre level commanders-in-chief. One supremely dangerous intelligence indicator, which Kimmel received every day for at a week before the attack, was a then apparent (in reality actual) radio silence by the Japanese First Air Fleet. It was the most elementary deduction that an approaching force attempting a surprise attack would maintain radio silence during its approach. Here's a series the Pacific Fleet Communications Intelligence Summaries of early December:
December 2, 1941:
Carriers. – Almost a complete blank of information on the Carriers today. Lack of identifications has somewhat promoted this lack of information – however, since over two hundred service calls have been partially identified since the change on the first of December and not one carrier call has been recovered, it is evident that carrier traffic is at a low ebb.
December 3: No information on submarines or Carriers.
No mention of carriers at all in this summary.
General. – Traffic volume heavy. All circuits overloaded with Tokyo broadcast going over full 24 hours. Tokyo-Mandates circuit in duplex operation... No traffic from the Commander Carriers or Submarine Force has been seen either.
At this point it's appropriate to review what Kimmel knew on December 5, 1941:
— Threat analysis extending back a decade had revealed carrier or submarine attack to be the only feasible forms of Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor.
— Admiral Kimmel had already received a general war warning from Admiral King along with an advisory of the deteriorating diplomatic situation.
— Now Admiral Kimmel's own intelligence officers tell him that Japanese military communications are now on a war footing while the two targets tactical threats to him are in unknown locations and apparently under radio silence for a week. We also have to note that Kimmel's own radio intelligence staff are paying particular attention to the Japanese carriers and submarines in tandem. This special treatment appears a number of times in the communications intelligence summaries.
This intelligence disappearance of the First Air Fleet, combined with the reports from southeast Asia of massive Japanese troop convoys and surface naval forces should have set off alarm bells and flashing red lights in Kimmel's brain. The thought process no later than December 5 should have been something like this: "War warning from Washington ... massive Japanese troop convoys and surface forces at sea ... no positive location fix for First Air Fleet or 6th Submarine Fleet for at least 5 days ... BATTLE STATIONS!" At the very minimum this should have caused him to press his intelligence staff to microscopically reanalyze all its recent intelligence for the First Air Fleet and to implement air reconnaissance.
Kimmel's subsequent claims that he didn't have sufficient PBY Catalina patrol aircraft to maintain a 24 hour 360 degree surveillance at all times is bogus. He had over 50 Catalinas, none of which were in the air and many of which were destroyed on the ground. No commander anywhere has ever had sufficient patrol forces to keep such a watch. It's the combination of intelligent threat analysis, which had already been done, and the exercise of prudent command judgment that's the basis for decision making. When a commander is short of forces, as he very often is, it's his responsibility to assess the risks and guard against the worst ones while accepting lesser ones. That is the concept of 'calculated risk'. This is not what Kimmel did. He did nothing and later claimed this was justified because he couldn't do everything. Is there any reason to suppose Kimmel would have done better with 100 Catalinas when he did nothing with 50?
That the Japanese were likely to make a surprise attack was long expected from their historical behavior in their previous wars with China and Russia. This also had been assumed for over a decade prior to December 7th.
It's also the duty of a senior commander to probe the basis for the information his intelligence staff presents him. His responsibility goes past blindly accepting as gospel whatever junior officers tell him. To say as was later said that the First Air Fleet was assessed as still in port because they hadn't been heard from is absurd. Kimmel's own intelligence reports highlighted the fact that the last positive fix was in late November.
What more could any commander want? Was Admiral Kimmel expecting a call like this: "Admiral, this is President Roosevelt. At 7:55 am tomorrow Japanese carrier planes will try to bomb you at Pearl Harbor. Make sure all your sailors are at their guns and they're all loaded and ready to shoot. Tell General Short to have his anti-aircraft guns ready to fire and all his fighters ready to fight. Good luck, Admiral and may God be with us."
Admiral Kimmel's subsequent claims that the Pacific Fleet had previously lost touch with the First Air Fleet are also no defense. He cited this in claiming that such an indicator couldn't be used as a reason for deploying his patrol and scouting elements aggressively. This also was a bogus claim. He had never lost contact for so long earlier in 1941, and he was also in possession of a 'war warning' when he lost contact again. No one could reasonably expect the Japanese carriers to sail from Japan to Honolulu in even 5 days, although they could be expected to be approaching Midway by then. The distance from Yokohama to Honolulu is 3,700 nautical miles. Using an assumed speed of 20 knots the transit time is 7.3 days.
This is the reason I mentioned the daily arcs once firm contact was lost. One to three days is not imminently dangerous. On the fourth day we start deploying submarines and cruisers to start screening dangerous avenues of approach northwest and southwest of Midway. On the fifth day we go into a high airborne patrol alert. On that same day General Short brings the Harbor Defenses of Pearl Harbor, both coast and anti-aircraft artillery, to full battle stations. He moves the Hawaiian Air Force and the Observer Corps to full 24 hour alert also, using several thousand soldiers from his two infantry divisions to guard dispersed aircraft if necessary. On the 6th day the fleet goes to full battle stations awaiting imminent attack. Every Army and Marine machinegun is set up in field positions for anti-aircraft defense and the fighters are dispersed to multiple airfields. This is the minimum posture the Hawaiian forces should have been in on December 7 based on information then available to those commanders. Even in attaining full surprise the Japanese lost 55 aircraft. Had the commanders at Pearl Harbor been doing their jobs it's reasonable to expect these losses would have quadrupled at a minimum.
Had Kimmel and Short been truly gifted commanders they would have fought the Battle of Midway six months early on vastly better terms. If Kimmel had decided to await an attack in Pearl Harbor cargo ships could have been brought alongside Battleship Row. Every antiaircraft gun in the fleet would have been fully manned to shoot into the assigned areas of coverage they already had in the harbor defense plan. The Army P-40s would have been on 'scramble' status with pilots at their fully fueled and armed aircraft and the Observer Corps on alert at its distant posts. The Harbor Defenses would have been on full alert. Even if the Japanese approach was missed by the air-sea patrols the air defense observers would have detected it in time for thousands of anti-aircraft guns to open fire and fighters to scramble. US losses would have been nowhere what they were while Japanese would probably have lost 60% or more of their first wave. The return track of the survivors of the first wave would point the general location of the Japanese carriers. At that point patrol aircraft or General Short's A-20 light bombers would have made an initial fix. Next the U.S. Army Air Corps makes an initial strike with its 18 assigned B-17s. Following this Admiral Kimmel launches his Hawaii based carrier and Marine Corps aircraft to simulate a carrier attack from the south/southwest.
All this time Admiral Halsey, with two carriers is waiting in the same relative Midway position but northeast of Oahu instead of Midway. He is under radio silence, has only a local fighter patrol overhead and prepared strike forces on his decks. He does not reveal his presence with air scouts since he'll receive his target information from Pearl Harbor. His first move is a full strike after the Japanese fighter cover has been depleted. Meanwhile the submarines of the scouting force, already deployed on the northwest approaches, are converging on the Japanese escape route.
Alternatively Kimmel could have set sail sometime between the 4th and 6th and gone east. It was already known the Battle Force was too slow to catch Japanese carriers and modernized Japanese battleships. This would have left the Army to fight the battle with its forces, which were not negligible. B. General Short.
The local air, seacoast and ground defense of Pearl Harbor was the responsibility of the U.S. Army and the Department of Hawaii commander, LTG Walter Short. General Short had three groups of forces to carry out that responsibility. These were the Harbor Defenses of Pearl Harbor comprising numerous batteries of seacoast artillery, over 200 anti-aircraft guns, the Hawaiian Air Force with over 100 late model P-40 interceptors plus earlier P-36s, and two infantry divisions. There were additional Marine forces available also. Since General Short did not have long range patrol aircraft, he and Admiral Kimmel had previously agreed that the Pacific Fleet would be responsible for long range patrol and distant early warning.
1. The Harbor Defenses of Pearl Harbor didn't open fire until the Japanese second wave. This shows the low level of alert prevailing. It took those batteries over an hour to come into action. The troops were all in their barracks. The fighter aircraft were densely packed on Hickam Field and the pilots asleep or on pass. General Short later claimed this was to guard against sabotage, but that's only half an answer. They packed the aircraft together to make them easy to guard with a minimum of troops. The alternative method of keeping them dispersed and deploying some of his six infantry regiments as anti-sabotage guards was not taken. The air warning center and observers were not fully deployed. They were maintaining a regular dawn alert but this too was only for a few hours each morning. 2. Much has been made of the Greek tragedy of the new warning radars. General Short had six sets of these. Here again the real significance is missed. I notice this radar WAS deployed precisely between Pearl Harbor and the expected direction of attack. This further shows the general awareness of the danger by General Short as well as Admiral Kimmel. The failure was not at the radar but the lack of alert by the higher headquarters.
General Short was equally culpable, both in terms of assigned responsibility (air and coast defense was an Army mission) and his signed agreements for cooperation with Admiral Kimmel.
From top to bottom, starting with the strategic radio intelligence, continuing through the failure to make any use of the scouting/patrol forces, to the low level of command preparation at the scene, it was a systemic failure.
In fairness to these two I will note that Admiral Halsey and other senior officers serving at Pearl Harbor thought they were made scapegoats. I agree with this but only in the sense that General Marshall and FDR himself escaped temporal justice. Just because FDR is a criminal is no reason to exonerate incompetence or dereliction of duty in our high military commands.
Didn't Roosevelt know about the attack in advance?
C. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I think FDR committed treason as defined by the Constitution by inciting the Japanese Empire to attack the USA. He was also "adhering" to an avowed US enemy in the form of his cooperation with the USSR. His responsibility is at the ultimate level of diplomacy and state policy. It's unnecessary to go hunting more occult conspiracies. FDR's biggest crimes are "hiding in plain sight". They haven't been covered up. They've been historically spin-cycled by his apologists.
He may or may not have known some days in advance of the specific Japanese movement to attack Pearl Harbor. If he did know we have to ask ourselves what was his source of that knowledge. His principle sources of Japanese naval intelligence were the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the British. If the knowledge arose from US Pacific Fleet intelligence it was by way of superior interpretation of the same data Kimmel ignored. If there was any specific communiqué from the British it has been hidden or destroyed.
I don't think radio decodes revealed the plan because the Japanese had no need to broadcast those plans over the radio. MAGIC at that time was breaking the Japanese diplomatic codes. The Japanese military plans were not being distributed to the Japanese ambassadors. The probability is that MAGIC had nothing to decode on that aspect. The Japanese forces departed Japan under radio silence with well prepared plans. FDR certainly anticipated some kind of Japanese action since his Pacific commanders were specifically told in the 'war warning' the President desired the Japanese to commit the first overt act. He'd already committed plenty of covert acts.
Other than the ULTRA and MAGIC decodes, the U.S. Government's principal intelligence source for the Japanese Navy was the U.S. Pacific Fleet. I don't think FDR bargained on such a vast disaster, nor did he need it. When Congress declared war on December 8 it knew Pearl Harbor and the Philippines had been attacked by aircraft and some ships hit. It was months before the full scale of the disaster was revealed. Consequently the real scale of the attack was irrelevant to the political reaction FDR wanted and obtained. I think Roosevelt was trolling for a 'Remember the Maine' event and got more than he bargained for. To say that he planned a disaster of the size that occurred implies that Kimmel was probably a co-conspirator. This is very implausible.
I think the reason Roosevelt moved the Pacific Fleet forward to Hawaii was to try to keep Japan from attacking Russia. Roosevelt's entire Japanese policy became very aggressive in July, 1941 immediately after Hitler attacked Russia. When the exact sequence of events is mapped chronologically it's clear that this is why Roosevelt took the path to war. This fits in with all his other collaborations before and after with the Communists going back to 1933.
The subsequent investigations and hearings featured a lot of play-acting by all sides. On one side was FDR's administration and the Democratic Party playing innocent peaceful victim. Kimmel and Short went along with this play act to a degree since it helped hide their own massive responsibility for being taken by surprise by the previously analyzed only possible Japanese attack. The Republican Party tended to support Kimmel and Short as a way of attacking the Democrats. As often happens in adversarial trials, evidence reflecting poorly on both sides is hidden by mutual silent agreement. All the subsequent investigations tip-toed around a number of the facts cited above. They reflect poorly on Admiral Kimmel but also equally poorly on Admiral King and President Roosevelt as Commander-In-Chief. From this standpoint Admiral Halsey is correct. From the standpoint of public service all three were culpable. The investigations therefore presented an approximation rather than the full story to the American public.
Roosevelt made other even more provocative moves which have never gotten serious attention. For instance, there was the decision to send B-17 strategic bombers to the Philippines where they'd be astride Japan's sea routes to China and Southeast Asia. I find it interesting that MacArthur was given heavy strategic bombers rather than tactical bombers more appropriate to defending the Philippines. This buildup was taking place from July-December 1941.
Wasn't the US Navy was already expecting a carrier war?
Yes. Admiral King and President Roosevelt certainly were based on their naval procurement and building schedules. Talk is cheap and printed manuals are almost as cheap. Ships are not cheap. The best evidence for military thinking is always what the military is actually buying and building with its money at the time. The last American battleship ever completed, the USS Wisconsin, was laid down in January 1941. The US Navy didn't start another battleship until March, 1942. The last two authorized battleships of the Iowa class, the Illinois and Kentucky, were only laid down after Pearl Harbor in 1942. That appears to have been done as replacements for the two known total losses, the Arizona and the Idaho. The other 5 Pearl Harbor casualties had been surveyed by then and deemed repairable.
The five battleships of the Montana class were ordered in July 1940 but construction never actually started.
During the calendar year 1941 and prior to Pearl Harbor, the US Navy laid down 5 Essex class fleet carriers, 3 Independence class light carriers and 18 escort carriers. Judging by its construction activity, the US Navy had clearly shifted its emphasis away from battleships to aircraft carriers almost a year before Pearl Harbor.
Of the Navy's then 7 active aircraft carriers, 4 (Yorktown, Hornet, Wasp & Ranger) were in the Atlantic and three (Enterprise, Lexington and Saratoga) were in the Pacific. The Saratoga was at San Diego for refit and the Lexington and Enterprise were delivering aircraft to Wake and Midway Islands.
The IHR (Institute of Historical Review) crew has mostly missed the
real areas where FDR and Marshall are most vulnerable. They, along
with everyone else, focus on a tiny slice of the picture at Pearl Harbor.
They ignore the entire run-up to December 7 and, worse, the first 6 months
of 1942. FDR's liability is at the highest levels of grand strategy
and diplomacy. What was the state policy, how were the forces
allocated and what missions were assigned to the theatre commanders?
The original U.S. war planning for a Japanese war in the 1930s was very good and very accurate. "White People Invent And Forget." The attack against Pearl Harbor was precisely predicted long before the Japs ever considered it. The first large physical example was in 1932 during a fleet exercise. The aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga surprised Pearl Harbor with a dawn raid of 152 aircraft. Kimmel and Short subsequently engaged in a lot of conscious forgetting and so did everyone else in Washington and the Navy.
The Japanese were instead inspired by the 1940 British carrier attack against the Italian Navy at Taranto. "Yellow people copy and remember." In the case of the Japanese they also product improve on the original design. The 1930s WAR PLAN ORANGE for the Philippines was 100% on target too. A pity MacArthur deviated from it initially. The U.S. Army in the 1930s institutionally had no faith in Filipino troops aside from its own Filipino Scouts. Why would it? The old timers had defeated these same Filipinos in guerilla war and knew their fighting quality. It distrusted completely the new Philippines Army MacArthur was creating for Quezon.
The original 1930s plan called for instant withdrawal into Bataan with huge food stockpiles. MacArthur instead tried to defeat the Japs with combined multi-racial US-Filipino forces, lost in the north Luzon plain and then reverted to ORANGE. But he lost an irreplaceable month of stockpiling time. His forces promptly began starving in Bataan. His change of war plans in late 1941 was a pity. Under the original plan the US Army Air Corps was to withdraw to airfields in Leyte and Mindanao where they could support Bataan while staying out of range of the Japanese Air Force in Taiwan. With this form of defense the US forces were to await relief which was expected to take 6-8 months. With MacArthur's change of plan they stayed up north at Clark Field to support the Army and were promptly destroyed on the ground.
MacArthur's later Pacific campaigns were a model of manpower economy and maneuver. In those campaigns he was fighting with white American and Australian troops, not Filipino ones.
This website by Herr Doktor Leo Niehorster is probably the most comprehensive WWII order of battle website that's ever been compiled or ever will be. This guy has even done the Dutch colonial forces in the East Indies, the British at Hong Kong, all of Europe, etc. etc. etc. True meticulousness.
When you study all that, plus the actual US production rates in the various factories at that moment, a realization sets in. FDR sucker-punched the Japs. Out front he ran a big diplomatic mouth and waved a water lily. Behind his back he was holding an expanding crowbar. VAST forces were already accumulating in the USA, were they were held in place. He dribbled tiny reinforcements into the Philippines and the Pacific to provoke the Japs without stopping them. FDR continued to hold these expanding forces in the USA while letting the Japs have Indonesia and oil by default. The entire point was to draw them away from the Commies in Siberia and into destroying the white colonial empires in SE Asia. The US Asiatic Fleet was left to fight it out from December to March, 1942. It was neither reinforced or withdrawn. The Dutch and Admiral Hart were STILL slugging it out with Jap forces in Indonesia come March, 1942. That was over three months after Pearl Harbor and a long time.
It was an ICEBREAKER II against the white European empires in Asia. The question that occurs to me is what previous collusion existed between FDR, Stalin and The City on this question in the late 1930s?
The campaign of late 1942-43 in New Guinea and the Solomons should and could have been fought in Indonesia. By late 1943 at the latest the Japanese would have been out of oil because of blockage and destruction of the oil ports, refineries and tankers.
Oil. Having let the Japs have Batavia and other Indonesian oil ports, the Allies never attempted to molest them with either bombers from N.W. Australia or subs until they wanted to bring the war to an end. Look at a map, then measure the aircraft ranges.
WWII was all about oil, drugs, killing white people, and disorganizing white society, just like WWI. Whenever the Powers wanted to shift the course of the war, they'd reach for the oil valve, then let the war run on more to kill more whites, then turn the oil valve again.
I hope to write all this up some day as a coordinated essay.