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IJA unit deployment choices

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  • IJA unit deployment choices

    So I'm working my way through the official histories of the US Army in the PTO, and right now I'm finishing up the isolation of Rabual.

    One thing I have noticed: The IJA obviously had to send detachments here and there due to limited shipping and many commitments, but their choices seem very odd. When US or Aussie forces split off task forces they were built around core units, a regiment combat team, etc.

    But the IJA split units up in a seemingly helter-skelter manner. Just one of many examples: they dispatched a two-battalion force, drawn from the same division. Instead of sending two battalions and a HQ from the same regiment, they sent a battalion each from two different regiments (from two different brigades) a commander drawn from the staff, and support weapons from Division.

    Nor is this isolated; they continually fragment units, even when mounting attacks.

    Is there some doctrinal philosophy behind this?
    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

  • #2
    Possibly a shell game to deceive us from their actual strength.
    My worst jump story:
    My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
    As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
    No lie.

    ~
    "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
    -2 Commando Jumpmaster

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    • #3
      Sounds like the old pre WW1 British system of two battalion regiments with the battalions alternating between home and overseas service. In those days that is exactly how a two battalion task force would be made up.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        The reason they'd do it the way they did was to preserve the division, not the detachment coherence. By pulling a battalion each from two regiments leaves the regiments more or less intact as regiments. Pulling division staff for the command means they didn't remove the commanders familiar with their units in the division. The support weapons pretty much had to come from division level where there were frequently attached battalions and companies of these versus a usual shortage in the actual regiments.

        The other common occurrence was to pull odd bits lying around that were separate units and send them.

        As for how they conducted operations, the IJA usually acted like the IJN with complex plans involving deception, a main force, a covering force, etc., each tailored to the mission and without much regard for unit cohesion. IJA officers pretty much expected the troops (who they saw as fully expendable, and often regarded as "cattle" … that is, dull of wit and obedient) to perform perfectly regardless of who was commanding them or how they were tossed together. When such operations failed, the fallback position was to simply mount a frontal assault and expect élan and bravery to carry the day.

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        • #5
          Good points on both posts. I hadn't considered the low regard for enlisted men, but it makes sense. If you view them as expendable, you don't need to consider unit coherence.
          Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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          • #6
            The IJA formed Divisions on a regional basis. The worst soldiers came from a region in metro Tokyo where the artisans had been settled. Early in the war several divisions were sent home from China and demobilized. They were replaced by a new draft of conscripts from the same area. As the war went on the IJA formed new divisions and Mixed Brigades. As stated they would detach units from larger formations for duty elsewheres. This kept the core units together and they were still bound by being from the same area. The new formations did not have the same sense of neighbor ties.

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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            • #7
              Dedication to duty, devotion to the Emperor, self-sacrifice, sheer bravery and blind obedience counted more than having enough rice, or enough bullets, or enough howitzers, in the minds of the Japanese officers. So surely they also counted more than unit cohesion.

              So why not send two battalions from the same regiment anyway? Apart from the consideration made by T.A. Gardner, above, I wonder if a similar factor to the one at play with very similar choices made by the Italian staff wasn't at play in Japan too. In Italy, divisions that were considered for deployment were those that had the highest readiness - which never, ever meant they were at 100% readiness. Commanders were ordered to pool their insufficient assets, so as to have at least a subunit or two as ready and fully equipped as possible.

              Then emergencies came, staff officers looked for anything that could be shipped away right now - and snatched a battalion here, a regiment there.
              Michele

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              • #8
                More often the unit(s) chosen were in the right place at the right time, and not particularly engaged in direct combat. The Ichiki detachment and Kawaguichi brigade are good examples. The former was a unit formed for the Midway invasion. When that operation failed, the detachment was sent immediately to Guadalcanal as it wasn't doing anything and was available.
                The brigade was formed from units on New Britain at Rabaul and in the Philippines. That made them available as they were on occupation duty.

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                • #9
                  Well... yet another reason they lost, I guess.

                  I would think that the sensible thing to so would be pull two battalions from the same Regt., Give them the bulk of the support AND have the Regt. Commander lead them off... and have the Battalion left behind serve as a sort of Depot Reserve for the higher formation.

                  Why over-complicate things?
                  "Why is the Rum gone?"

                  -Captain Jack

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
                    Well... yet another reason they lost, I guess.

                    I would think that the sensible thing to so would be pull two battalions from the same Regt., Give them the bulk of the support AND have the Regt. Commander lead them off... and have the Battalion left behind serve as a sort of Depot Reserve for the higher formation.

                    Why over-complicate things?
                    Because the huge area over which the Japanese were operating could mean that no battalions from the same regiment were anywhere close enough to allow them to form a combined force.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                      Because the huge area over which the Japanese were operating could mean that no battalions from the same regiment were anywhere close enough to allow them to form a combined force.
                      It was more usually a case of the IJA looking around for particular types of units to combine for an operation and taking them from all over. So, you might have infantry coming from China, the support heavy weapons like antitank guns and mortars from Japan, the artillery from the Philippines, and some service troops off an island in the Pacific.

                      One other penchant the Japanese had was to turn all of the support troops not manning actual heavy weapons into infantry. When they needed engineers to build something they usually sent Korean laborers instead of Japanese troops to do the work. To not be a combat troop put you in a lower status than if you were.

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