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Topic: Thoughts on Kimmel & Short, ADM Kimmel & GEN Short< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2003,9:43  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Since practically everyone was so mystified, misled, and surprised by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, from President Roosevelt on down to the last U.S. soldier and civilian, can it not be argued, despite their mistakes and how it happened "on their watch", that Admiral Kimmel and General Short are just in the same boat as everyone else?  
Yes, their errors of judgment made it easy for the Imperial Japanese Navy to score their great victory over us upon that Sunday morning long ago, but what can be gained by keeping theim handcuffed in the pages of history to the ball-and-chain labeled "guilty", especially since, no matter what we did that day, short of lying in wait to ambush the strike force with as many carriers as they had, the Imperial Fleet would have still scored a victory over the Pacific Fleet, even if it was one of lesser severity due to the fleet being on the alert?
Japan beat the United States that day, fair and square, something I personally find no shame in admitting loud and clear, for I know that great nations suffer defeats and disasters, even ours.
In closing this brief rumination of mine, I would like toi say that I feel time has not been kind to the Admiral and the General, and may never will be.

Richard
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2003,12:54 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There have been efforts by family and friends to clear their names, but the fact remains, they were the ones who were ultimately responsible for what happened. Were they demonized for political reasons? Yes. Was Kimmel responsible for keeping the fleet on such a regular schedule that the Japanese were able to launch six of their eight carriers with reasonable assurance that they would not find an empty harbor?

Yes.

Kimmel was a good officer; he would not have achieved his position otherwise. But like everyone else, he was human. One of the responsibilities of command is the safety of the forces below you. He paid for his mistakes.

One last thing; you say that Japan beat the US that day. Be wary of focusing on individual battles and not the overall war. Japan did more damage to the US than the US did in return that day, but if you look at one it cost them in the long run, did they really achieve any vicotry?

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2003,1:20 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just as an additional expansion...
If you read Prange's "At Dawn We Slept" there is a fiar bit about the struggle Admiral Yamamoto went through to secure six carriers for the Kido Butai (special attack force). The Kido Butai's attack on Hawaii was in support of Japanese expansion to the South of Japan. These large-scale landings and invasions needed air support, so there was a big struggle over how many carriers could be spared to attack Hawaii. (Both Pearl Harbor and Lahaina Roads). Many members of the imperial navy thought the attack on Hawaii was a bad idea in general. Part of the reason Yamamoto got the extra two carriers was the regular schedule the Pacific fleet had and the high probability of catching the carriers and battleships in port. Had Kimmel moved the fleet to a less regular schedule, it's possible that the Kido Butai would have only had four carriers, if they even sailed at all.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2003,3:41 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi Tracy, you commented in one of your replies:

"One last thing; you say that Japan beat the US that day. Be wary of focusing on individual battles and not the overall war. Japan did more damage to the US than the US did in return that day, but if you look at one it cost them in the long run, did they really achieve any vicotry?"

No, Japan achieved ultimate defeat, not victory, at Pearl Harbor, for despite their tactical genuis, it was a political disaster for the Japanese.  Angering and uniting the United States and instilling a powerful defiance that bore us through the six dark months before the glorious victory at Midway and beyond.
Yes, I have read in Prange's masterful work how Yammamoto fought hard for six carriers for the attack force.  I'll conceed running the fleet as regular as the crack passenger trains on a railway was a major help to the attack planners, and that an irregular plan might have made things different.
I also conceed that Kimmel and Short bear reposiblity for their mistakes which componded the defeat at Pearl.  As the commanders in charge, that automatically came into their hands.
I still don't feel like treating them harshly or anything though, more like forgiving them their errors instead of beating them over the head with a verbal cudgel like many people did after the attack, for when it comes to the core reason we were defeated at Pearl Harbor, I think the Imperial Japanese Navy had something to do with it (to paraphrase Confederate General George E. Pickett).
So Kimmel and Short may be guilty, but I hope they will be forgiven some day anyway.  They were only human, after all, not lordly, flawless gods.

Richard

P.S.  I am not being argumentive or anything here, I just simply enjoy a good debate! :-)  
Also, thank you very much for the link to that USS Arizona group you posted for me in the "Arizona-Vestal" section in reply to a post of mine there.  R.
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2003,9:41 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Quote
P.S.  I am not being argumentive or anything here, I just simply enjoy a good debate! :-)  


And you debate well =)

I agree with your points; like I said, they didn't deserve what they got. We should remember them as humans who made mistakes. Many mistakes were made that day and the days leading up to the attack. The attack was not their fault. Some of the Japanese successes were partially due to weaknesses in their planning, but they did not deserve the railroading and badmouthing they got after the fact.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 05 2003,12:48 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A lot of the criticism of Kimmel comes from hindsight.  He  had no access to magic and was inadequately advised by Washington. Although as CIC, Kimmel must be assigned some blame,  Stark and Marshall were far more at fault.

Kimmel would have liked to keep two of the three task forces at sea, but lacked the fuel to do so.  He also had problems with Admiral Bloch about maintaining irregular schedules for the fleet.  

General Short, an unimaginative training officer with no understanding of air power, was much more at fault for not  nderstanding his mission and leaving the base unprotected.  Kimmel had no command authority over Short.

Also, I would question the wisdom of Bloch and Short being given preretirement posts in such a critical area.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 05 2003,2:50 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My opinion is that both men, Kimmel and Short, made errors that should have been punished.  Of that I have no doubt.

My opinion is also that there were many in Washington in both the Army and Navy that also made serious errors.  Those men just happened to have been better tap dancers so they got away without too much blame.

I suppose as a retired Navy guy my opinion is that the guy in charge gets the big bucks not to make errors, so as much as I feel for both Kimmel and Short, and as much as I believe that 65% of the blame lies in DC, they do deserve what they got - retirement without court martial, reduction in grade, or any other punitive action.  

Before anyone points out that Kimmel and Short both apparently "lost" stars when they were removed from their posts, remember that they never actually had those stars in the first place.  The extra stars they wore on their shoulders went with the POSITION, not the individual.

I also firmly believe that both Kimmel and Short were victims of unusual circumstance, and no administrative or legal action will change people's perceptions.

What I would like to see would be an administrative action to publicly recognize the blame of other individuals - men like Kelly Turner and George Marshall (for example).

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 14 2005,12:04 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Reviving this topic...
Sometimes scholars DO go a bit too far in their critical assessments of at least Admiral Kimmel, if not Kimmel and General Short.
As proof, I hereby offer the following from an article that appeared in the January 2003 isssue of "World War II" magazine entitled "The Trap That Never Snapped" by Gregory J.W. Irwin:

"When Kimmel dispatched Enterprise and Lexington to the far reaches of the Hawaiian Naval Costal Frontier, he immobilized the Pacific Fleet by depriving it of carrier planes to fly anti-submarine patrols over its operating areas. To shield his battleships from submarine attacks, Kimmel canceled their training exercises and kept them moored at Pearl Harbor. There they would remain as veritable sitting ducks until Japanese carrier planes swooped down on them that fateful first Sunday in December."

Taking Irwin's words as gospel, one would conclude that Admiral Kimmel thus ought to have split the Pacific Battle Line into two groups, one to go with the Lexington battle group, the other with the Enterprise group and thus avoided the Imperial Navy altogether.
However, on November 27th, 1941, at the time Kimmel ordered out the two carrier groups...

'Halsey remained with Kimmel untill 1800, with only a break for lunch.  "Do you want to take the battleships with you?" asked Kimmel.
"H*** no!" Halsey retorted.    "If I have to run I don't want anything to interfere with my running!" ' [Empthathis added].  "At Dawn We Slept", Chapter 49, "That Was The Monkey Wrench", page 401.

Moral: Irwin did not mention why Kimmel left the battleships behind at Pearl!  Why I shall withold any jugment on, for it was Irwin's article, not mine.
However, the fact remains that Kimmel was no idiot.  He knew that the battle line's ships were too slow to keep pace with the faster flat tops.  Hence they remained in the islands.
Also, Irwin is on shaky ground by stating Kimmel cancelled all battle line practice, for it is a matter of record that on December 5th, 1941, the Arizona, Nevada, and Oklahoma pulled into Pearl after a week at sea on a training exercise.  Irwin perhaps forgot this fact.

Regarding General Short and his sabotage prevention obsession, he might have had more than just a notion regarding the Japanese population in the islands.
I offer the following tidbit from "World War II Presents: 1941.
A Year In Review".  A commemorative issue that came out in December, 2001.
The article is "Attack On Pearl Harbor: Japan's Fatal Error", by Rod Paschall:

'Ninety-two percent of Japanese born in Hawaii who were 17 years or older had chosen to retain their Japanese citizenship.  And there were thousands of Japanese citizens in Hawaii who were ineneligible for U.S. citizenship. Then, too, Japanese Hawaiians were buying Japanese-language newspapers produced in Hawaii, some of which were unreservedly pro-Fascist, pro-Nazi, and enthisisastically supportive of Tokyo's efforts to conquer China.
Meanwhile, Tokyo was sending Japanese military figures to the islands to deliver stirring lectures about the war in China and show propaganda films.  This effort was yeilding tangible results for Tokyo.  Japanese war bonds were bought in Hawaii on a larger per capita basis than in Japan itself.
[Emp. added.]  A report from one U.S. State Department special agent a few weeks before the Japanese attack stated that "if the Japanese fleet arrived, doubtless great numbers of them [Hawaiian Japanese] would then forget their American loyalties and shout a 'Banzai' from the shore."  
Regardless of the actual subsequent events, Washington's belief that there might be sabotage or insurrection during a Japanese attack on Hawaii had a reasonable basis.' [Emp. added.]

The above gives one a healthy idea of the fog of war that beclouded General Short's vision during his tenure in the islands, and that his "sabotage physcosis", as Gordon W. Prange put it, was not merely like "a man fearing drowning in the Sahara".  With reports doubtless on his desk detailing such stunts as Japanese military officials hyping their war aims to the local populace, it is little wonder that Short grouped the planes together and instituted other anti-subversive measures.  The tragedy was that not only this did not turn out to be the case, but that Short never flatly described all the above hijinx regarding Japan and the local Hawaiin-Japanese to the courts of inquiry.  It does much to help one understand why he was concerned about sabotage and insurrection in the event of war.
I hereby rest my agrument.  Rebuttals are welcome. :-)

Richard
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 14 2005,9:12 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There is an interesting quote in Kimmel's statement before the Roberts Commission on 27 December 1941.

"It is a common tendency, emphasized in this case by the magnitude and effects of later developments, to judge events in the past by the actualities of the future, thus discounting the assumptions upon which the past actions were based."

Some great portion of Kimmel's assumptions focused upon the area in the Pacific from which America's best intelligence people indicated that threats to American interests would most likely materialize, specifically the Japanese Mandates.  Kimmel was extremely concerned that there was the possibility of a carrier, or carriers, operating thereabouts.  With the collapse of the Japanese government in mid-October, this concern intensified greatly.  To his credit, Kimmel was a vigorous advocate of reinforcing the outlying bases at Midway and Wake.  Even before the Japanese cabinet crisis, movement of PBYs to those bases had commenced.

I believe that Kimmel did what he felt would best meet the outbreak of Japanese aggression against American interests in the Central Pacific.  Almost everyone in a position to know believed that area to be the Mandates.

It was also the common assumption that the first strike against America might come against the Philippine Islands.  General Short and the Hawaiian Department (through Frederick Martin and the Hawaiian Air Force) were engaged in unprecedented efforts to facilitate reinforcement of MacArthur's air forces in the Far East, all done in the best effort (as seen at the time) to meet the threats as they were interpreted by our best people.

It is illuminating, to say the least, to read through the correspondence files for CinCPac, the Hawaiian Department, and the Hawaiian Air Force.  I can tell you that the perceived threats as outlined above were an ever-present cloud hanging over Short and Kimmel.  Implementation of measures required to meet those threats were a constant source of worry and concern, and discussions of same permeated their correspondence files, literally, on a daily basis.  It may well be that preoccupation with the Mandates and Philippines caused a "reverse myopia" of sorts, causing the commanders in Hawaii to lose sight of the possibility of an attack on Hawaii proper.  Indeed, both Kimmel and Short touched upon this during their stints before Congress and various boards.

There exists among many historians and enthusiasts a infectious fascination with the tactical picture in Hawaii on 7 December.  Everyone (myself included) stands, eager and ready, to devour anything of an operational nature.

However, there is comparatively little interest concerning what the commanders in Hawaii and elsewhere were doing and thinking at the time.  Knowledge of such will never be gained from message boards, secondary sources, or sifting through "At Dawn We Slept".  It can only be gleaned from extended back-breaking primary research though the pertinent message traffic and correspondence files, almost all of which exist in some form, but that which no one seems to be using.

The volume of this material is simply staggering- its locations and its condition being such as to discourage comprehensive sifting.  But it is all there… and there will be no understanding of Pearl Harbor, and particularly of Kimmel and Short's respective roles without a detailed, comprehensive study of this material.

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Mike Wenger
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 15 2005,9:14 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

The shift in American strategy to reinforce and hold the Phillippines may have, as John Costello said, placed  Hawaii "outside the stockade" as far as the Kimmel and Short were concerned.
However, Short was primarily an unimaginative training officer who should not have been given this kind of command. Also, the lack of unity of command in Hawaii prevented proper coordination between the army and navy.
Regarding Short's frame of mind, his predecessor, General Herron had no such paranoia.  Herron was very critical of Short, and disdainful of him as an officer, as can be seen from Herron's testimony during  the hearinngs. He said Short was given a summary of Herron's assessment of the situation which he did not bother to read on  voyage to Hawaii. Short was also very lacking  in good judgemnt on selecting his staff.
Prange mentions in his book, by the way, that Edward P. Morgan of the Congressional hearings staff mentions how superior Kimmel was as an officer compared to short.
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