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Aleutian Campaign

Jun 04, 2018



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    A th esi s pres ente d to the Faculty of t he U.S. ArmyCamnand and General Staff Coll ege in partial

    fulfillment of the requirements for thedegree


    ROBER T L. JOHN SON JR. MAJ USAB.S.. McN ees e Sta te Universi ty. Lake Charles. Lou isia na. 977

    Fort Leavenworth Kans as992

    Approved for public release ; distribution is unlimited.

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    Name of candidate: Major Robert L. Johns on, Jr.

    Title of thesis: Aleutians Campaign, World War 11: Historical Studyand Current Perspective.

    Approv ed by:

    The sls Conunlttee Chalrman

    Mr. Charles W. T i m o n s . M.S.S.M.

    Accepted this 5th day of June 1992 by:

    4n?L , Director, Graduate DegreePhilip 3 Brookes, Ph.D. Pro gra ms

    The opinlo ns and conclusions expressed herein are th ose of the studentauthor and do not necessarily represent the views of the U S ArmyC m a n d and S ta ff Col lege or any o ther governmenta l agency.

    Refere nces to this study sho uld include the foregoing statement.)

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    PERSPECTIVE by MAJ Robert L. Johnson Jr.. USA2 6


    This work is a detalled historlcal study of the Aleutians Campaignconducted by U.S. Armed Forces from June 1942 through 8 August 1943to gain control of the North Pacific and eject the Japanese from Attuand Kiska Islands. The campaign characterized by combined and jointoperations. involved an extended air battle a brutal fight for controlof the waters of the western Aleutians and two major combat amphibiousoperations.

    The Aleutians Campaign of major significance at the time quicklybecame over-shadowed by later naval air and amphibious operationsconducted in the Pacific. Though studied extensively after August 1943

    to apply lessons learned to other operations the Aleutlans Campaignattracted llttle attention by milltary scholars in the years afterWorld War 11. This study detai Is the conduct of the campaign andapplies tactical operational and strategic aspects to the currentU.S. Army model for campaign planning.

    There is significant parallel with current U.S. doctrine for conductinga regional campaign especially in an austere theater with that usedto conduct the Aleutians Campaign n the North Pacific theater ofoperations.

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    am deeply appreciative of the assistance of a great number ofpeople who contributed to this effort. The time and advice freelygiven by the staff of the U.S. Army Combine d Arms Research Lib raryespecially Mrs. Betty Bohannon and Mr. Cra ig Mclean wer e invaluable.Also I am thankful for the suppo rt given by my fe llow offi ces of StaffGroup 15 especially Major David Lewis. Their moral support and advicekept me going s t rong and will never be forgotten.

    My most s incere acknowledgement of outst andin g support must go tomy wife Lawanna and son Mark. The understanding and enthusiasm theyimparted to me su staine d th is effort at every step. Not only did sheassume most of t he family responsibilities during thi s year but shegave birth to our second son Nicholas in February 1992. There isl i t t le more one co uld ask of a spouse. Thank you s o much.

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    Introduction.. Al eu ti an Campaign. Ju ne 1942-August 1943 .............

    Ch ap te r One.. Ja pa ne se Of fe ns iv e in th e Al eu ti an s ...................... 8

    ..............................wo--Stan d-Off in the Ale utia ns 48

    Three.. Pre lude t o an Amp hibious Operat lon.. .................. 2

    Four.. Assault on Attu and Kiska ............................. 126

    Five.. The Al eu ti an s Campalgn: A Curren t Pe rs pe ct iv e ........ 70

    Bibliography ........................................................ 197


    Figure 1 Map of North Pacific ........................................

    2 Chain of Command, Joint Chiefs to North Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    3 Japanese Eas te rn Defensive Per ime t er ....................... 12

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Map D epictin g Battle of Midway 16

    5 Map of Alaska and Aleutians ............................... 37]L 1. . . . . . . .Organizat ion of U.S. North Pa ci fic For ce (TF Eigh t) 50

    ........Organization of Japanese Fifth Fleet. 20 May-9 June 68. . . . . . . . . . . .0rganization of Japanese Fifth Fleet. 9-13 June 69

    ....Organiz ation of Japane se Flf th Fleet. 13 June-15 August 7 0

    1 Organizat ion of Task Force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1

    ......................Organization of Task Force Sixteen 11 -113/. ..-

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Attu Landing Plan . /. 17I ....\ . . . .

    13 ispost ion of Enemy For ce s on Attu ....................... ilq..

    1 Capture of Attu 29

    1 Plan for Klska Landing .................................... 64

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    On the 3rd of June 19 42 aircraft of Japan s Northern Naval F orce

    atta cked the Un ite d States naval stat ion on Unal aska Island in the

    Aleutians. Th is aerial attack on Dutch Harbor Naval Base and Fort

    Mears.the companio n army base, an d the follow-up attack conducted the

    next day, were the opening shot s of a battle for control of th e North

    Paci fic and the Aleutian Islands that woul d continue until the early

    fall of 19 43 (Refer to Figu re 1. Ha p of the North Paci fic. pag e 6 .

    Action in the North Pacific and on the Aleutian Islands during

    World War I1 were small ope rati ons in relation to the combat in Europe.

    and it pales in comparison with the ma Jo r amphibiou s operations yet to

    come in the Pacific. However. a very important conslderatlon made t he

    struggle in the North Pacific unique. Th is wa s the potential for one

    side or the other to achieve a huge strategic payoff in the Aleutians,

    and thi s caused both Japa nese and American planners significant worry.

    Th is stra tegi c potential wa s never realized for either side. By

    the end of the Aleu tia ns Campalgn In August 1943. Americ an plan ners

    Ju dg ed the weather and s ea condi ions of the North Pacl f lc too

    inhospl table from which to launch a maJ or offensiv e through the

    northern app roaches to the Japanese homeland. Though planning for such

    an operat lon, an d f o r the basing-of s trat e .dc bombers, continued

    throughout 1944 succ esse s in both the Southwest and Central Paci fic

    made such an offensive unnecessary.

    Japanese ope rati ons in the North Pacific, after the Japanese fo rces

    on Attu were destroyed by U.S. combat tro ops in May 1943 and t hose on

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    Klska evacuated the Island short ly thereafter, were l lmlted to defenslve

    activ ity in an d aro und their own Kuril Islands. U.S. pla ns for us e of

    the Aleut lans a s a base from which to launch a strategic offensive

    against th e Japan ese homeland, though considered feasible by the Unite d

    Sta tes until the end of the war, wer e never t o be a reallty.

    Llk e the eventual fa1 lure of the A1 led concept plan to attack

    Nazl Germany from the south throu gh Italy, the American plan to attack

    Japan from the north by way of the Aleut ians never fully materialized.

    In fact. a f ter the last Japanese wi thdrew f r m the Aleutlans In August

    1943. U.S. for ces in th e regi on becam e an occupational force inv olved

    in th e completi on of base an d facllity construction.

    Although the actlve campaign in the Aleutlans lasted for fourteen

    months. included over 325,000 U.S. personnel (245,745 troop s t o Alaska

    and Northwest Servi ce Cornand), requl red the comnltment of a large

    volume of sca rce resources, and created much interest (and alarm) in

    the U.S. at the time, there are fe w secondary source s on the NorthPaciflc/Aleutlans Campaign. Additionally, most publlshed wor ks on the

    Aleut lans and Alaska during World War I1 are of th e You wer e there

    variety an d tak e a micro -view of a part lcular operation. These

    pub1 ished ac cou nts contr lbute to our understanding in that they add

    One notable exception s the work by Brian Garfield,and the Aleut m (Garden . .

    City Ne w Yor k: Dou ble day Comp an y, Inc.. 1969). Garfield s wo rk isthe only complete published work on the Aleutlans Campaign. Writt enwith the full cooperation of the U.S. Air Force, uslng avai lab ledecla ssifi ed doc ument s and based on extensl ve lntervlews with U.S.partlclpants. Garfield s account remains the definitive published workon the Wor ld War I1 Aleut ians Campaign. Personnel fi gures from RobertW. C oakl ey and Rich ard M. Le ighton. Globs1 9 4 3 945 Unite d Sta tes Army in World War 11 The War Department(Wash ingto n. D.C: Cen ter of Mlllt ary Hls tor y, 1986). 834.

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    interesting and informative substance to battles that are difficult for

    one to gain an appreciat ion for by the rea din g of only official

    documents. Though cited frequently n historical works , the Aleutian

    Campalgn is usually afforded only a sid e note during analysis of th