The United States did not want to enter WWII due to the military force being weak after fighting in WWI, general opinion wanted neutrality, and the government did not want to enter unless directly threatened or attacked (Why, 2017). However, on December 7, 1941, Japan forced the hand of the United States by attacking Pearl Harbor at Oahu, Hawaii. President Roosevelt appealed to Congress to declare war on Japan, stating that December 7, 1941 would be a date which will live in infamy (Chan, 2016, para.
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4). The attack on Pearl Harbor provides many lessons that through the analysis of weather and terrain, the antagonists, the opposing force, events and outcomes of this attack will better prepare the Armed Forces for future battles.
The weather could not have been more conducive for Japan forces to carry out their attack. The skies were clear with some clouds, but overall, the pilots of the torpedo and bomber planes had the advantage of clear visibility. The terrain was the open water of the Pacific Ocean. Scouting planes dispatched from Pearl Harbor patrolled the vast ocean expanse around the island chain but had not detected the Japanese fleet heading for the Hawaiian Islands (United States, n.d., para. 16). Without a doubt, Japan was the major antagonist and opposing force in the attack of Pearl Harbor; however, Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku was considered the mastermind of the attack. There were talks of peace between Japan and the United States, but tensions were rising, and negotiations were at a standstill. Tokyo and Washington negotiated for months leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack, without success. While the United States hoped embargoes on oil and other key goods would lead Japan would halt its expansionism, the sanctions and other penalties actually convinced Japan to stand its ground, and stirred up the anger of its people against continued Western interference in Asian affairs (Pruitt, 2018, para. 7). The Japanese wanted to gain control of its adversaries across the South Pacific.
Admiral Isoroku knew the only way Japan could accomplish this goal was through a surprise attack. This surprise attack would cripple the United States forces and open the Pacific if it happened at Pearl Harbor. The American forces did not believe that Japan would initiate a first strike due to the distance between the two lands and Pearl Harbor, on that Sunday, was left highly unprotected from attack. Admiral Isoroku planned this attack months in advance (Pruitt, 2018). Looking at the events proceeding the attack on Pearl Harbor, gives the U.S. Armed Forces great insight into intelligence and strategical issues. First, there were the sanctions and trade embargos placed on Japan by the United States in 1940 as retaliation for Japan taking a colony in Indochina. Also, during this year, the movement of the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor begins. By January of 1941, Admiral Isoroku is consulting with Japanese officers about the possibility of attacking Pearl Harbor. On Jan. 27, Joseph Grew, U.S. ambassador to Japan, cables Washington that he’s heard rumors that Japan is planning a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Washington disagrees, believing the Japanese will attack the Philippines first if war starts (Petras, 2016, para. 26). The military intelligence discounted a credible threat.
More embargos and asset freezes are made against Japan by the United States due to Japan occupying more of Indochina during this same year. Nine months after the rumors of war with Japan are dismissed, Japan launches a carrier strike force headed towards Pearl Harbor and Japanese submarines are to join en route. Another attempt for a peace appeal is made by President Roosevelt the day before the attack; however, no response from Japan is received (Petras, 2016). The infamous. day of December 7, 1941 has arrived. Two Japanese attack plane waves were launched at 0605 hours HST, 220 miles off the shore of Oahu, Hawaii. While these waves were spotted, the threat was once again dismissed due to the misbelief that these planes were friendlies coming from California (Petras, 2016). The damage was done: 2403 killed in the attack, 2335 military deaths, 1178 wounded, 3 U.S. Navy ships destroyed, 18 U.S. Navy ships damaged, 169 U.S. aircraft destroyed, and 158 U.S. aircraft damaged (Petras, 2016, para. 38-45). This was a devasting blow to the United States but also a crucial mistake for the Japanese forces. The very next day after the attack, war was declared on Japan. Japan failed to take out repair docks and fuel storage tanks, the ships that were damaged were repaired and fought against Japan. Also, not a single U.S. aircraft carrier was present at Pearl Harbor (Why Did, 2018, para. 14). Therefore, the attack was not a real success for Japan. Japan eventually surrendered after two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in AugU.S.t of 1945, thus. ending WWII. In conclusion, what lessons and insights was the United States Armed Forces able to take away from the attack on Pearl Harbor. First and foremost, this attack makes the realization that the unimaginable can and will likely happen. Military intelligence and strategists need to account for every possibility and prepare for such events. Second, the use of resources is meant to provide safety for the country. Revision to intelligence measures and utilization have better prepared the United States forces for future attacks. However, complacency has no place in the ranks, and the United States military officials will need to consistently raise their standards (What, 2017). Finally, a nation divided cannot win. The government bodies wanting to remain neutral in the war and public opinion agreed. However, President Roosevelt, and others thought it best to join the war prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor but conceded in order to keep public support. The attack on Pearl Harbor brought the country together and Allies were made in order to make the success of WWII and the fall of Japan possible (What, 2017).
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