head: IWO JIMA: WAS VICTORY WORTH THE PRICE IN BLOOD 1
Jima: Was Victory Worth the Price in Blood
Somers, Vincent J.
SLC Class # 20-001
Iwo Jima: Was
Victory Worth the Price in Blood
purpose of this paper is to identify the application, utilization, or
availability of intelligence assets in WWII and how they could have
affected the outcome of Iwo Jima. What this paper is going to
illustrate is; if United States Forces (USFOR) used intelligence
assets differently, how the outcome of the battle and campaign would
change. I will support this these by discussing the Battle of Iwo
Jima, intelligence assets, and an alternate outcome of the campaign.
Battle of Iwo Jima
was a battle deemed essential to the success of aerial attacks on the
main island of Japan. This is one of the fiercest and bloodiest
battles of World War Two. There was a plan on each side. One plan was
to defend and the other was a capture of the battle. This U.S forces
assumed they would be in and out of the island and the Japanese knew
they had to delay the allied forces.
States Pre-Battle Preparations
United States went back and forth on the direction toward the main
island of Japan. Prior to the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima,
known as Operation Detachment (Brimelow, 2018), the island is
determined to be vital to naval and air forces of the U.S. refueling
and re-arming of the B-29 Superfortress and small fighter aircraft is
going to be done on the island of Iwo Jima. Due to swells on the
north and northwestern side of the island, the plan was to attack on
the side of Mt. Suribachi. Prior to landfall on 19 February 1945,
U.S. forces bomb the island of Iwo Jima starting 14 June 1944. The
bombardment of the island was thought to eliminate much of the
garrison on Iwo Jima. Unbeknownst to U.S. forces, the Japanese were
building an underground tunnel and cave network since March of 1944.
Japanese forces led by Lieutenant
General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, knew that they would not prevail.
Lieutenant Gen Kuribayashi planned to inflict as many casualties on
the United States forces as possible delaying their advance on the
main island of Japan (Alexander, 2017). The planning for the defense
of Iwo Jima was not that of traditional Japanese defense.
Traditionally, the Japanese would build a beachfront defense that was
overrun many times by the allied forces. Lieutenant General Tadamichi
Kuribayashi determined that if they were to build a proposed
seventeen miles of underground tunnels and caves, they are more
suited to defend the island. By June of 1944, Lieutenant
General Tadamichi Kuribayashi began preparations for the island
of Iwo Jima, originally planning for seventeen miles of said tunnels
and caves. However, only an eleven-mile of the intricate network is
completed. This in addition to hiding artillery positions allowed for
attacks without fear of destruction of artillery and fighting
Landing and the First days
battle is projected to last seventy-two hours and the island would be
under U.S. control. Marine forces land on the beach no later than
0900, which they did, landing the first wave at 0859. The first hour
of the battle pointed to that seventy-two hours, as U.S. forces
stockpile on the beaches of Iwo Jima with equipment and personnel.
Little did U.S. forces know; Japanese forces are not affected by the
bombardment as allied forces hypothesize. The Japanese forces are not
affected, living and moving in the underground tunnel and cave
network they create. Fighting positions are able to be re-manned
using these underground tunnels after they were "cleared" by the
Marines. The black sandy beaches also made it difficult for vehicles
and equipment to advance on the beachhead.
the island, there are three airfields, named Airfield 1, 2, and 3,
which are rendered inoperable by the bombardment prior to the
landing. Marines goal for the first day is the capture of Airfield 1,
which they are able to do and keep a small hold on. Securing these
airfields is the plan from the beginning, however, it takes longer
than anticipated. During the first few days, the Marines found a
different enemy than faced anywhere else in the Pacific theater.
Days of Battle
an operation that is projected to last three days, the Marines have
their work cut out for them. Not knowing about the fortress that is
constructed underground is a detriment to U.S. life and resources.
This battle is approximately a four to one matchup that did know work
as easily as projected. With the fortifications the Japanese had set
up on the island of Iwo Jima, they are able to withstand the
onslaught of United States forces. The Marines, with air support from
the Army Air Corps, made a slow and agonizing push across the island.
Ultimately, Marines capture and hold all three air fields while
rooting out all the Japanese that are dug into the underground
resulting in a costly victory for the Marines.
(INT) Capabilities Available
the Second World War, we were in the infancy of some of the more
modern intelligence assets we now have today, however they were
available. We will discuss some of the disciplines; we will discuss
their use and how they could have been used to greater advantage to
the allied forces.
to the National Security Agency, "SIGINT is intelligence derived
from electronic signals and systems used by foreign targets, such as
communications systems, radars, and weapons systems (NSA,
type of intelligence allows us to know where radar, communication
systems, and weapon systems is located to possibly exploit or
destroy. The radar system was used worldwide since the early 1900s.
Moreover, those were some of the targets on the island of Iwo Jima.
They allowed Iwo Jima to give advance warning to the main land of
Japan when the B-29 Superfortress would do bombing runs (Burrell,
Had we started by destroying the Japanese ability to use early
warning radars, we may have avoided many of the lives lost in the
battle of Iwo Jima.
term 'geospatial intelligence' means the exploitation and
analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess,
and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced
activities on the earth. Geospatial intelligence consists of imagery,
imagery intelligence, and geospatial information (NGA, 2018)."
of the fault lies with the inability of aircraft to safely fly in the
region. If we remove the previous INT from the enemy, it would make
GEOINT more readily available. This could have shown the preparations
the Japanese were making on the island through imagery analysis.
Opening the eyes of commanders as to what might happen.
any event can have unforeseen results which can and will alter any
event after. Whether we were to have the GEOINT assets available or
not, the outcome would remain the same, however the cost of victory
would have been a much lower price in blood.
able to takeout the enemy radar assets using a medium range ballistic
missile, could have the largest impact on the outcome of the battle,
and eventually the pacific campaign. Without the enemy radar, allied
forces could fly aircraft in the region and gather imagery thus
allowing for the analysis of topography. With knowledge of the tunnel
system, this also eludes to the fact that the Japanese were able to
refill the vacated or "cleared" fighting holes. Through that
analysis, the Navy would know where the Japanese were digging
entrances to their tunnels and been able to neutralize them before
they became a problem. As we seal the tunnels, the Japanese are not
be able to attack the Marines, lessening the cost of life during the
twenty-eight-day battle. Ultimately the tactical outcome of the
battle and campaign would remain the same. However, the altered end
state is still achieved at a much lower cost.
on the Pacific Campaign
the battle of Iwo Jima fought at a lesser price and by removing the
early warning assets on the island, the campaign would still have
been won. radar being removed from Iwo Jima and imagery being
provided would have shortened the war by a year or more and saved
thousands of lives in the Pacific. Additional troops would have made
it possible for a ground assault on the main island of Japan and
therefore alleviating the need for the use of nuclear bombs. By not
using the nuclear bombs, the American and Japanese people, all could
be friends and not have the contention between us. When doing this we
build a cohesive team through mutual trust, all having a shared
understanding that we are all people on this earth and therefore
should all get along.
this paper, we laid out the battle of Iwo Jima, the many lives lost,
and the great cost that was paid. We discussed the preparations, the
battle itself, and the possible alternate outcome if we used the
intelligence assets available at that time. Through the alternate
outcome, we see that it could have been done at a lesser cost to life
and possibly in a shorter timeframe. My understanding is that the
Marines fought with honor and distinction, but it could have been
done better as illustrated above.
Alexander, J. (2017,
Febuary 17). The
Battle of Iwo Jima: A 36-day bloody slog on a sulfuric island.
Brimelow, B. (2018,
Febuary 23). 73
years ago a war photographer snapped the most iconic image of World
War II -- here's the story of the battle behind the photo.
Retrieved from Buisness Insider:
Burrell, R. S.
the Cost? Justificaton of the Iwo Jima Invasion.
NGA, N. G. (2018).
INTELLIGENCE (GEOINT) BASIC DOCTRINE.
NSA, N. S. (2019).
we do/Signals Intelligance.
Retrieved from https://www.nsa.gov/what-we-do/signals-intelligence/