The Emergence of American Amphibious Warfare, 1898–1945 by David S. Nasca

The Emergence of American Amphibious Warfare, 1898–1945 by David S. Nasca

Author:David S. Nasca
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Published: 2020-05-14T16:00:00+00:00

Training and Research

The codification of how the U.S. Marine Corps would conduct amphibious warfare in 1934 did not give its senior leadership much time to organize, train, and equip its operating forces for combat because of the looming threat of war in Europe and Asia. The United States was deeply isolationist, and funding was still tight as a result of the government focusing on dealing with the lingering effects of the Great Depression. The rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan brought a sense of urgency to the U.S. Marine Corps. Military observers and intelligence agents were reporting on the training, development, and growth of German and Japanese military power worldwide.88 In addition, they observed both German and Japanese military involvement in China. Marine observers such as Evans Carlson and Victor Krulak reported not only on Japanese operational capabilities in their moves against China, but also on German training and support to the Nationalist Chinese in their war against Mao Zedong’s communist forces.89 Senior leadership in the Marine Corps knew it was only a matter of time before the United States would have to confront Germany and Japan to protect American interests and allies abroad. According to Edwin Hoyt, “There was going to be a war, as every foreigner in Asia [and Europe] knew … all that remained now was for them to pick the time and place.”90

One of the first things the Marine Corps did to prepare itself for its new mission of conducting amphibious operations was to thoroughly reorganize the manner in which it would fight. The Marine Corps recognized that the future landing forces would not be small company- or battalion-sized units, as they had been in the past (two hundred and one thousand Marines, respectively). Instead, these forces would involve at least an entire division (20,000 Marines) backed up with machine guns, tanks, artillery, aircraft, and naval gunfire support from the U.S. Navy, as well as numerous landing craft and support vessels and an extraordinary amount of logistical support.91 As a consequence, amphibious operations were put on a sounder basis after the failure of the Gallipoli landings in 1915. This was mostly a matter of coordinating assaults with supporting fire from sea and air, but it also involved developing new equipment.92

Lieutenant Commander Albert Schrader, who worked and studied with the Marines on amphibious operations on behalf of the U.S. Navy, delivered a lecture on the importance of naval gunfire support during amphibious assaults. He believed the Japanese were well ahead of the Americans based on more than forty years of attacking coastal regions and islands from the ocean. His thorough study and assessment of Japanese amphibious operations during the Russo-Japanese War led him to believe that Japan’s investment in amphibious warfare allowed Japan to dramatically change its geostrategic position in the Asia-Pacific Region. Japan’s ability to decisively defeat the Russians and drive them from Northeast Asia through the careful use of amphibious warfare meant Japan would be a formidable foe if the United States found itself at war with Japan.


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