The American Doctrine for the Use of Naval Gunfire in Support of Amphibious Landings: Myth vs. Reality in the Central Pacific of World War II.
Description: The United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy developed during the interwar period a doctrine that addressed the problems inherent in the substitution of naval gunfire for artillery support in an amphibious assault. The invasion of Betio Islet, Tarawa Atoll, in November of 1943 was the first test of this doctrine. It has been said many times since the war that the doctrine basically passed this test and that lessons learned at Tarawa increased the efficiency with which the Marine Corps and Navy applied the prewar doctrine during the rest of the war. An analysis of the planning and execution of naval bombardments in the Central Pacific Campaign, after the invasion of the Gilberts, does not support this claim. This analysis leads the researcher to three conclusions. First, the Japanese developed defenses against many of the effects of the gunfire support doctrine that blunted much of the force of American firepower. American planners were slow to recognize the implications of these changes and, consequently, were slow to react to them. Second, many naval commanders responsible for providing naval gunfire support for Central Pacific operations still equated tonnage of ordnance to effectiveness of bombardment, regardless of their frequent references to "the lessons of Tarawa." Finally, strategic concerns and outright ignorance played a large part in determining the use of naval gunfire, the first taking precedence over the "lessons" and the second leading to the ignoring of the "lessons" all together.
Date: December 2006
Creator: Mitchener, Donald Keith