World War Two came to America on December 7th, 1941. The focus on America's involvement in the war generally focuses on the European front. What must be remembered is the time and sacrifices made in the Pacific theatre. America's entry into the war on the Pacific was not an immediate success. It took American forces until the summer of 1942 at the Battle of Midway to become properly prepared for the war. The American military learned much from their losses – both through the strengths of the Japanese forces and America's own faults. After these losses were realized, changes were made within the military. These improvements allowed the American forces to turn the war back and begin to have successes in the Pacific.
Pearl Harbour was, of course, a devastating opening blow to America when they entered the war. Significant losses continued for a number of months before the American forces were able to turn the tide. From these losses, the American military was able to learn two forms of helpful information: the Japanese strengths and the American weaknesses. Within this, the strengths and weaknesses took three forms: strategic, tactical and technological.
Japan was clearly prepared to enter the war with America from well before the incident of Pearl Harbour. Strategically, Japan was well prepared. As the aggressor in the war between the two countries, Japan was able to plan assaults on numerous islands in the Pacific to coincide with the attack on Pearl Harbour. These attacks were unexpected and very successful; they were most often air assaults early in the morning1. Due to the unpreparedness of the Americans, it was noted that “opposition was feeble and damage extensive,”2. These preemptive strikes show the Japanese were well coordinated before the war began and were therefore prepared when they initiated war with America.
Another aspect of the Japanese success was powerful and effective tactics. Tactics include the training of the Japanese soldiers and their objectives in battle. Japanese soldiers were trained to die honourable – to fight to the death and never be taken prisoner3. Training the soldiers to fight this way was not only traditionally Japanese, but it inspired them to continue fighting beyond what would be seen as a reasonable time. This sincere dedication to defending their people and Emperor (the cause of this training) allowed the Japanese soldiers to be effective killers even when faced with undeniable defeat4. Beyond their training, the Japanese had other advantages in their battle objectives. The use of radar was essential to the Americans, and so the Japanese were often ordered to target the radar stations on islands before beginning full assaults5. Targeting the radar stations prevented the Americans from properly estimating the Japanese forces or from knowing where they were headed. The final tactical advantage the Japanese had was that their air force consisted of small experienced squads –...