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"Japanese Impressions of U.S. Warfare" from Intelligence Bulletin, March 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following translated Japanese documents concerning U.S. tactics in WWII was originally published in the Intelligence Bulletin, March 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



This section is based on several Japanese documents, of various types. Some of them were written prior to our capture of Guadalcanal and other islands nearby. This fact probably accounts for contradictory statements in some of the documents. Remember that this information comes from enemy sources, and therefore is not necessarily true. The individual documents are separated by dashes. Reference should be made to Intelligence Bulletin No. 5, for January, 1943, Section I (Japan), "Jap Estimate of U.S. Land Tactics," page 29.


The U.S. Army's usual fighting is in accordance with the bulletin, "American Army Combat Information, Guadalcanal Island," distributed November 24, 1942. (The Australian Army fights according to Nos. 1 and 2 of the "Special Intelligence Reports.") However, some supplementary information on their usual methods of fighting is as follows:

a. The enemy (U.S.) fires at a slow rate, but is skillful in covering jungle roads and precipices.

b. He is fond of using hand grenades, and fires and throws them at close range.

c. The enemy's fighting spirit is unexpectedly intense. He does not retreat in single-firing combat. However, when charged, he will flee.

d. At a point about 1 kilometer (roughly 5/8 mile) to the front are scouts who, when attacked, usually flee immediately.

e. Enemy foot patrols usually operate 200 to 300 yards to the left and right, forward and rear of their positions.


The following is our estimate of American strength and capabilities:

a. They stress cooperative firing, and never fight without artillery.

b. When assaulting they fire their pistols.

c. Their tactics are formal, and they lack initiative ability. They do no more than they are told.

d. In defense, they never counterattack and never carry out an offensive.

e. Their supply facilities are extravagant.

f. They know nothing of assault. We should assault whenever possible. Fifty yards is often the best distance for assault.

g. The Americans are untrained for night fighting, and they fire their guns all night long.

h. Their command is untrained for retreat combat. If they begin retreating, pursue them quickly.

i. Their tanks fight separately. However, they are very good at movement.

j. If the Americans are hit on the flanks or in the rear, their command becomes confused and they are unable to fight.

The following are notes on the enemy's (U.S.) methods of combat:

a. The Americans choose high places or curves in roads for their positions, and snipe from a short distance (30 to 50 yards).

b. They are skilled in the use of hand grenades.

c. Their will to resist is comparatively strong, and, although we attack them, they still resist.

d. The enemy usually posts an observation party at a point approximately 1,000 yards in front of his position.

e. His observation to the flanks and rear is very good. He always tries to attack our rear and flank.

f. The enemy pays considerable attention to fire support.


The enemy's weak points:

a. The enemy does not pay much attention to hand-to-hand fighting.

b. His front-line defense is easily penetrated. There are many gaps in his position.


Things to watch for in combat:

a. The enemy lays piano wire (small, smooth, and made of high-grade steel) in front of his positions.

b. He has good fire protection on his flanks.

c. He outflanks by using heavy firearms.

d. He uses diversion tactics in attack. (Do not pay much attention to enemy decoy tactics.)

e. He constructs many false positions.

f. It is easy to be deceived by the enemy's decoy tactics in the forest. Send a sentry forward. Don't choose a good position.

g. The enemy always shoots from the side of roads or from the edge of high ground.

h. The enemy usually places observation posts about 1,000 yards in front of his position. Watch closely for electric wire and microphones.

i. The enemy always prepares for close combat.


Their (U.S.) impressions of the Japanese Army:

a. The Japanese Army is very strong--always winning.

b. They don't take a serious view of fire power.

c. They are skillful in movement at night.

d. They have a strong esprit de corps.

e. They make minute plans for operations.

f. They charge without any thought of sacrifice.

g. They generally throw their reserves into battle immediately after it starts.

h. Their officers are skillful and industrious.

i. Assaults are skillfully executed.

j. Artillery is skillfully used.


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