Imperial Japanese Navy Concept of Interceptive Operations. Jan 27, 2016 14:14:46 GMT -5
Post by oldpop2000 on Jan 27, 2016 14:14:46 GMT -5
Concept of Interceptive Operations
The primary Naval strategy for the Imperial Japanese Navy for about thirty years was the concept of Interceptive Operations. This brief piece is about where it came from, why and what kind of actions were involved.
This concept of operations begins with Akiyama Kaneyuki, considered the father of modern Japanese naval strategy and a disciple of Alfred Thayer Mahan. He had been a senior staff officer on Admiral Togo's Combined Fleet when it had won the Battle of Tsushima Straits. It was considered an ambush naval strategy.
Akiyama while he was a devotee of Mahan felt that Mahan's strategy was vague and not applicable to the Pacific and the Japanese hypothetical opponent; the United States. He did not feel that annihilation of the opponent fleet was necessary and probably not practical against such a powerful opponent. He believed that Sun Tsu had said victory could be achieved by "breaking the enemy's will to fight and forcing it quit. This was the starting point- the ambush operation at Tsushima. Akiyama and his colleagues devised a prototype of "interceptive operations". It was refined over its thirty year history and involved lying in wait for the US Fleet, attacking with submarines on its trip across the Pacific, then in the area of the decisive battle, attack at night with cruisers and destroyers.
The Concept of Interceptive Operations became, in era after the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, Japans answer to the deadlock that it faced with the 10:10:6 ratio that they had agreed on. Based on the idea that if you square the ratio, then that is the combat ratio that you are facing. In this case, 10:6 become 100:36. That is almost 3:1 which in military circles, means almost certain defeat. So, the IJN had to develop a strategy to reduce that combat ratio. The eventual attack on Pearl Harbor was designed to do just that by sinking four battleships.
The submarine operations designed to scout the US Fleet and attack it and the decisive battle which was to be fought near the Bonin Islands about 580 miles SE of Japan. The larger submarines were to be sent to the west coast or Hawaii to ambush ships leaving the ports and attacking ahead of the cruising course of the US Fleet. The Japanese did not have confidence that submarines alone could sufficiently reduce the US Fleet through the use of submarines, so they decided to launch large scale night attacks prior to the decisive battle. These would be conducted by destroyers and cruisers.
The Japanese began to train intensively for night attacks. Night attacks were not new to the Imperial Japanese Navy, In both the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars, they used night operations were used extensively, so it wasn't something they had not trained for or did not have attack procedures for. Japanese surface ships were designed around the requirements of Interceptive Operations. They were fast, heavily armed with torpedoes, modest range but with poor habitability. The ships were designed for maximum firepower. The designs were not well balanced with dual purpose heavy guns, ASW sensors and weapons and consequently suffered heavy losses at the beginning of the war. The Guadalcanal operation in 1942 alone saw the loss of eleven destroyers, losses that could never be made up.
To summarize this first entry, the Concept of Interceptive Operations was developed because of the Japanese Navy's realization that they would be facing a different geographical situation than they had in the past and an entirely different and stronger enemy. After the Naval Treaties, she considered herself behind the eight ball with a 10:10:6 ratio so she developed or expanded the ambush tactics used in previous naval combat. However, over the interwar period, the US Navy moved away from the War Plan Orange and was not planning to move across the Pacific for about 1 to 2 years. The CinC of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Yamamoto realized that the Interceptive Operation was not a workable plan and developed the Pearl Harbor Attack Plan in its place. We can explore in later pieces how the naval ship development was affected by the doctrine of interceptive operations and why the whole concept was probably not workable as they developed. We can explore the effects of the designs for that doctrine in the actual War in the Pacific. We might also explore the usefulness of this concept in games.