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"Japanese Plan to Counter Superior Fire Power" from Intelligence Bulletin, April 1944

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following report on Japanese tactics to counter the superior fire power of U.S. and Australian forces was originally printed in the April 1944 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin.

[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.]



In several areas of the South Pacific, the Japanese have made reference to the "superior fire power" of the United States and Australian forces. At least one large enemy unit has devised a written plan "to counter hostile forces equipped with superior fire power." The salient points of this plan are presented below.


a. Preparations

When faced with superior fire power, it is essential that we [the Japanese] select the terrain for combat, as well as the time for launching the attack, and take the hostile forces by surprise. We should select terrain that provides good concealment, such as wooded areas.

We must make a thorough reconnaissance of the dispositions and intentions of the hostile forces, and we must thoroughly familiarize ourselves with the terrain selected for combat. Furthermore, we should study the habitual strategy of the hostile forces, and prepare ourselves to take advantage of their weak points.

Our plans must be kept secret, including our reconnaissances, and we must attack at an unexpected time and at unexpected places. We seldom will be able to gain surprise by attacking the opposing forces on terrain which permits a fairly easy approach. Stormy or foggy nights afford good opportunities to attack with surprise. The attack must be made with as much mobility as possible.

To minimize damage from superior fire power, we must use camouflage effectively and prevent our forces from bunching. And when the fighting becomes static, we must utilize well-constructed positions, the natural protection afforded by the terrain, and dummy positions. We can deceive the hostile forces by using dummy soldiers, dummy observation towers, and so forth. The positions for automatic weapons must be changed frequently, and positions for heavy weapons must be well concealed.

b. Use of Weapons

In the employment of our weapons, we must carefully select targets, and then concentrate on them to gain local fire superiority. For example, three riflemen should constitute a group to concentrate on one particular target. Likewise, two light machine guns may profitably be concentrated on one target. Be sure to take every advantage of the mobility of these weapons.

As for grenade dischargers, we should attack suddenly with them toward the most important target. Do not deliver ranging fire, but fire for effect immediately after going into position.

When on the defensive under normal conditions, the company commander and, if possible, the platoon or squad leaders will concentrate their fire power on the main objective. After annihilating the latter, they should move on to a new objective.

Before launching an assault, the commander of a rifle company should organize an assault platoon. He should coach his men on the need for concentrating fire power, and the necessity for carefully utilizing it during the assault.

With regard to the machine-gun company and the infantry battalion gun company, each commander should order individual squads to fire rapidly in short bursts. Forward movements should be made by advancing in echelon or by moving from position to position in line or abreast.


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