Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944
[DISCLAIMER: The following text and illustrations are taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Technical Manual. As with all wartime manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the original technical manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
Chapter VII: Tactics of the Japanese Army
Part I: General Tactical Doctrine
Section I: General
1. GENERAL. The part on the General Tactical Doctrine of the Japanese Army is based on actual observation of their field maneuvers, and map problems, their operations against Russia and China, and a study of their field manuals. It is believed that their tactical principles, taught and studied for years, will not change materially. The tactical methods described here are primarily those which the Japanese consider appropriate for fighting in open country such as North Asia. They have had ample opportunity to test their tactics and to observe those employed by other Armies. Any study of their teachings must be approached with the knowledge that the Japanese are quick to copy and may even improve on the tactics of their enemies. Technique, or application of tactical principles, will vary, and is limited only by the imagination and initiative of individual commanders.
Section II: Offensive
1. DOCTRINE. Japanese tactical doctrine insists vigorously on the inherent superiority of the offense, and Field Service Regulations state that the offensive should be resolutely taken. The object of all maneuver is to close quickly with the enemy so that the assumed Japanese superiority in close combat can be realized to the utmost. Even when the enemy strength is markedly superior, or when the Japanese commander has been placed temporarily on the defensive, he is supposed to use every effort to regain the offensive and take the initiative. The Japanese seem to feel that there is some mystic virtue in the attack and defensive combat is looked upon as a negative form of action to be adopted only when confronted with a markedly superior enemy. Even in defense, the offensive principle is strongly emphasized. Both as a result of this training and because of faith in the offensive doctrine, Japanese officers often reach attack decisions where, by all orthodox tactics, the situation patently requires some form of defensive action. Their teachings have been found to place very little emphasis on time and space factors, with the result that concentration of effort and the cooperation of all arms are frequently neglected. The division used for illustrative purposes in this section is the Japanese triangular division. It should be borne in mind, however, that while all Japanese divisions are not identically organized, tactics will not materially differ, although there will be differences in composition of columns and grouping of units.
2. FORMS OF ATTACK. a. Envelopment. (1) The Japanese consider the envelopment as the preferred offensive maneuver. Envelopment will be accompanied by a determined frontal pressure, while the main force attacks a flank. In ascending order of effectiveness, the envelopment may be single, double, or a complete encirclement (kanzen hoi). Contrary to generally accepted tactical principles, the Japanese are willing to try a double envelopment without any considerable numerical superiority and regard it as possible, sometimes, even by an inferior force which relies on surprise and deception. The Japanese commander may seek to obtain envelopment in one of several ways.
(a) The force advances in two or more parallel columns, with one or more columns directed toward the enemy flank and rear during the advance to contact.
(b) The force advances with certain units in the rear which can later be deployed to execute a flank envelopment.
(c) After the force has encountered the enemy and partially deployed, some units may be moved laterally for envelopment if natural cover, darkness, fog, or smoke are available.
(2) The procedure of (1) (a) above is considered the normal one for units of the size of a division; (1) (b) is especially applicable to small units, but (1) (c) is considered feasible only under most favorable conditions. Those units of a division executing the frontal holding attack often will make a close-in envelopment in performing their mission. Units of this force, such as squads and platoons, seek to obtain the effect of flanking fire (shageki hōi).
(3) The question of which flank to envelop is decided by weighing normal factors such as terrain, location of hostile reserves and heavy weapons, etc.
(4) To increase the effectiveness of the envelopment the Japanese often send a small force around to attack the enemy rear. When such a movement (ukai) is employed, the force sent around by a division in attack is relatively weak, comprising about a battalion reinforced by light artillery and a squad of engineers. The mission of such a turning force is often similar to that of a pursuit detachment: in fact this force may become a pursuit detachment if the main attack succeeds.
b. Frontal attack. (1) Japanese regulations contain the usual admonitions against a frontal attack. Situations which may give rise to a frontal attack are those to which Allied armies are accustomed. In observed practice, however, the time element, or the fear of allowing the enemy leisure to improve his position, often is allowed to justify a questionable decision to make a frontal attack.
(2) The main effort of a frontal attack is made against a "soft spot" in the line leading in a decisive direction into the enemy rear areas. Effort will be made to penetrate deeply and swiftly at the first attempt by keeping narrow the battle fronts of units in the area of the main attack, making dispositions in depth, and coordinating employment of artillery. Tanks, if available, may participate. In general the Japanese are weak in artillery support and depend heavily on extensive employment of their infantry guns and infiltration practices.
c. Comments. The impressions gained from a study of Japanese teachings on the forms of attack and their application in practice show that:
(1) The Japanese will attack in many cases where the orthodox decision would call for less positive action. The attack may be rash and costly but will never lack vigor and determination.
(2) The frontal attack, often with inadequate supporting arms, is not uncommon.
3. MEETING ENGAGEMENT (ENCOUNTER). a. Doctrine. The meeting engagement is the foundation of Japanese combat training, with official regulations giving more space to it than to any other form of combat. Japanese military writings define the meeting engagement as the collision of two hostile forces in motion, or the meeting of a force in motion with one which has halted but has not had time to organize a detailed position. Training strongly emphasizes this form of combat as allowing the optimum development of the alleged Japanese aptitude for swift and decisive offensive action.
b. Artillery seems to be assigned missions in excess of its capabilities. Aircraft are expected to conduct constant reconnaissance of the situation of enemy and friendly troops as well as to cooperate with the artillery. Tanks may be used independently or in direct support of the infantry; when they are sent on distant raids, other mobile units, if available, may accompany them.
c. The rules governing the Japanese in the meeting engagement may be summarized as follows:
(1) The seizure and retention of the initiative.
(2) Bold, independent action by subordinate commanders.
(3) Prompt occupation of important terrain features.
(4) Energetic leadership during combat.
d. In the words of a Japanese writer, "The Imperial Army seeks to wage a short war to a quick and decisive conclusion. The meeting engagement conforms to this spirit and is to be sought whenever possible."
4. ADVANCE. a. General. The formations in the advance in day or night movements are similar to those used by other Armies and are governed by the same considerations. Parallel columns, each self-contained, are usual, unless precluded by the road net. When the enemy is strong in aviation and mechanized units, long columns are broken up into short serials containing antiaircraft and antitank weapons. Each main column is preceded by an advance guard, while the division cavalry, if present, usually acts as a reconnaissance screen in front of the advance guards. When the division is to advance at night, the division commander often sends forward in daylight a reconnaissance detachment and motorized infantry to seize important terrain features and to cover the night movement. As a meeting engagement becomes likely, the division commander modifies the formation, as needed, to facilitate the entry of the division into action with a view to enveloping one or both flanks of the enemy.
b. Advance in two columns. (1) A study of Japanese tactical problems illustrates the division advancing in one, two, and three columns, with the two-column formation being the most favored. In the two-column formation the essential components of the division are disposed as follows:
(2) The composition of the march column illustrated above is covered in the division field order. It is noteworthy that an advance guard is designated by the division commander for the right column only; the left column merely receives an indication of the units composing it. This march formation is the result of the curious system of command which the Japanese employ. The division commander concurrently commands the division and the right column. In the latter capacity, he prescribes the detailed organization of the right column. The detailed organization of the left column falls to the senior commander of that column who designates an advance guard for its protection. Thus the advance guard of the left column is not an instrumentality for the protection of the division as a whole and is not directly under the control of the division commander. Therefore, as a meeting engagement becomes imminent, the immediate subordinates to whom the division commander issues orders directly are the colonel of the 1st Cavalry Regiment (commanding the reconnaissance detachment), advance guard commander (right column), commanders of the major components of the right column, and the commander of the left column. It is not clear how the division commander plans to coordinate the action of his right column advance guard with that of the left column. The term "advance guard" as subsequently used applies only to that which is controlled directly by the division commander.
(3) In the above formation, the infantry strength in the advance guards of the 2 columns is about one-third of the division's infantry. When there is a greater number of columns employed, the combined infantry strength of the advance guards sometimes reaches half that of the division. Strong advance guards are characteristic of the Japanese Army in approaching a meeting engagement.
c. Advance in other than two columns. An advance in one column is avoided because of the delay incident to developing the division for an attack. Therefore whenever that formation is adopted it is imposed by limitations of the road net. An advance in 3 columns was undertaken by a Japanese infantry division at Rangoon in March 1942, as follows:
The whereabouts of the remainder of the division is not known. The above illustration is taken from a British source which states that the initial advance of the division was made by 2 regiments, i.e., 6 battalions, spread over a frontage of 40 miles. The 3 columns were divided with approximately a 20-mile space between each. In this case the left column hardly could be considered as self contained. Use was made of roads, trails, and waterways wherever possible. In advance in 3 columns, the division commander remains the commander of the strongest column. More than 3 columns may be found, but such employment will be exceptional.
d. Transport and trains. The division transport and trains normally follow the main columns of the division under division control in the following order: advance section transport regiment, unit trains, and the remainder of the transport regiment. Distances between these units are normally from 1 to 2.5 miles. The massed trains are under a commander, who is designated by the division commander. The advance section of the transport regiment consists of an infantry ammunition section, 2 artillery ammunition sections, and a veterinary section. Two field hospitals may be attached to the advance section of the transport regiment.
e. Attachments. Units of light and medium artillery, antiaircraft artillery, observation aviation, antitank units and other supports frequently are attached to a division in the advance.
f. Antiaircraft protection on march. For the advance, each front-line division may have attached an antiaircraft organization. This unit, often motorized, moves by leapfrogging from critical point to critical point along the axis of the division's advance. The guns go into position during the noonday halt, while passing defiles, while in bivouac, etc. If possible, antiaircraft units move forward by roads not used by the other elements of the division. The effective radius of action of one company of 75-mm antiaircraft artillery is considered to be 6,800 yards.
g. Antitank protection on the march. In areas where there is a threat of enemy tank action against a column, the Japanese usually hold some tanks in readiness for employment against hostile tank forces. Active reconnaissance by both air and cavalry units warns the division commander of impending hostile tank action. Antiaircraft artillery may at times be employed to supplement normal antitank protection measures.
h. Advance detachments. (1) There is a notable tendency for the division commander to send forward a mobile detachment in advance of the division for one of the following purposes:
(a) To cover a night march to the probable battlefield where the division expects to be committed to action shortly after daylight.
(b) To secure a vital terrain feature on the front of the division.
(c) To execute demolitions of the road net and hamper the movement of the enemy.
(d) To execute surprise attacks while the enemy is in march formation.
(2) These detachments generally consist of the division cavalry, some infantry and engineers in trucks, and a company of light artillery. The infantry strength ordinarily will not exceed a regiment, except where the division plans an active defense. In this latter case, as much as half of the division may be pushed forward by forced marches to occupy a defensive position, while the remainder of the division follows more slowly with the intention of launching a counteroffensive against an enemy flank.
5. ACTIONS OF THE DIVISION COMMANDER IN APPROACHING A MEETING ENGAGEMENT. a. Reconnaissance. The formation of the advancing division contains in it the germ of the maneuver which the division commander expects to adopt if he encounters the enemy on the march. When the hostile force is reported approaching from a considerable distance, the division commander estimates where the battle will occur and communicates to his subordinates the general plan of maneuver which he expects to adopt, taking into consideration the use of terrain which the enemy considers generally impassable. He indicates time and place for the delivery of reports and designates a message dropping ground for the air service. His artillery and engineer commanders receive technical information from their own patrols marching with the advance guard and reconnaissance detachment. As contact becomes imminent the division commander, hitherto marching at the head of the main body of the principal column, moves forward on personal reconnaissance accompanied by appropriate staff officers. An advance message center may be designated behind the advance guard, one of the important functions of which is to facilitate collection and dissemination of enemy information.
b. Orders. From his personal reconnaissance and the reports of his reconnaissance agencies, the division commander determines the area in which the division will make its decisive effort, the plan of maneuver, and the location of the division command post. He then issues fragmentary operational orders to initiate deployment of the division. Japanese Combat Regulations warn against waiting for overdetailed information before reaching a decision, and this injunction seems to authorize a very short reconnaissance phase at this point.
6. DEPLOYMENT OF DIVISION. a. Advance guard. (1) (a) The advance guard in the meeting engagement performs the following functions: it secures enemy and terrain information needed to form the basis of the decision of the division commander; it protects the deployment of the main body; and secures important terrain features to facilitate the subsequent attack.
(b) The advance guard commander, bearing in mind these general functions, is expected to exercise initiative and boldness of action in specific cases. He obtains the necessary information by vigorous patrolling and, if necessary, by a small-scale attack. He protects the deployment of the division, either by offensive or defensive methods, and attacks when necessary to obtain important geographical points. Left to his own devices, however, the advance-guard commander usually elects to drive headlong into the advancing enemy, unless specifically restrained by division order.
(2) As the advance guard closes to contact, its artillery prepares to furnish continuous support by leapfrogging from position to position in rear of the infantry. Normal artillery missions are to interdict (harass) the movement of enemy columns, to support the action of the advance guard infantry, and to perform limited counter-battery missions. Extreme ranges for interdiction by the 75's are 7,500 to 9,000 yards, but in practice missions are seldom fired at over 5,500 yards. Positions are chosen with a view to supporting the attack of the main body without change of position. The advance-guard artillery reverts to the control of the artillery commander at the time of the attack of the main body.
(3) It must be borne in mind that the advance guard discussed is that of the column directly commanded by the division commander. The security detachments in advance of other columns are for their local protection only.
b. Main body. (1) Deployment (a) In his basic decision for the deployment of his division, the division commander determines whether it will be coordinated or piecemeal. The basis for this decision is found in the Japanese Combat Regulations, a translation of which reads:
"The division commander, in order to profit by or to extend an advantage won by the advance guard, may have to commit to combat each march column and each element of the main body successively upon arrival. However, if the situation permits, the division commander should seek the coordinated entry into action of his units, in which case he orders the deployment of each unit, establishes close cooperation between infantry and artillery, and coordinates the time of the infantry attack."
(b) The question of whether to make a piecemeal attack thus appears to be decided largely by the success of the advance guard action. In map problems studied, the piecemeal engagement of all or part of a force often is justified by the necessity of seizing some prominent terrain feature or by the desire to get out of a defile. The object of the piecemeal attack is to take advantage of a sudden opportunity, while the coordinated attack aims at securing effective use of the combined arms at the expense of time.
(2) Coordinated deployment. (a) As indicated above, the Japanese prefer a coordinated development "if the situation permits." The measures taken by the division commander to secure this coordination are: the assignment of a line of departure (tenkaisen) behind which the major units of his command are to deploy for the attack; detailed arrangements to assure coordination between the artillery and the infantry; and announcement of an hour of crossing the line of departure. The line of departure is usually an extension of the line held by the advance guard. If the enemy has secured the advantage of priority in deployment, the main body of the division may endeavor to escape a threatened envelopment or premature engagement with superior numbers by deployment along a line behind the advance guard or to the flank and rear thereof. In the event the deployment is to the flank and rear, the advance guard supported by all the division artillery covers the deployment and delays the advance of the enemy.
(b) If the enemy, in anticipation of a collision with the Japanese troops, assumes the defensive, the deployment is modified to resemble the relatively cautious procedure of the attack of a position. In this case also the division commander tries to develop and attack in the same day to avoid giving the enemy time to improve his position.
(c) The phase of the passage from march column to complete deployment is indicated by the following nomenclature used in Japanese regulations: (It must be realized that the following definitions are the translation of the Japanese and do not necessarily bear the same connotations in the Allied terminology.)
1. Bunshin. Breaking from march column into small ones out of hostile artillery range at the beginning of the approach march.
2. Tenkai. Deployment along a line of departure (tenkaisen) with a view to performing an assigned combat mission.
3. Sokai. Advance from the tenkaisen in small (squad or section) columns.
4. Sankai. Final deployment of front-line units to permit firing during the last few hundred yards of the assault.
These phases are shown diagrammatically in figure 82.
(d) It is important to note that the coordinated attack from the Japanese point of view does not imply passing into assembly areas. However, this passage into assembly areas, called "kaishin" usually is observed in the attack of a position. If a coordinated attack follows the meeting engagement, columns deploy directly behind the line of departure (tenkaisen) without halting prior to arriving on it. No special time is allotted for ammunition issue and final reconnaissance.
(3) Piecemeal attack. (a) In the piecemeal attack the troops are committed to action in order of their arrival on the field. The division commander, decentralizing control to his column commanders, limits himself to a designation of routes of advance with a view to subsequent attack in the desired directions. No division "tenkaisen," no common hour of attack, and no detailed plans for coordination between the various arms are stipulated.
(b) Despite the lip service rendered in regulations to the coordinated deployment and attack, the piecemeal method is very common on the map, on the maneuver ground, and in observed operations. Often this is the result of the precipitate action of the advance guard commander who gets himself seriously engaged on his own initiative. In such a case, a sort of hybrid deployment sometimes is executed, with a part of the main body going in piecemeal to help the advance guard, while the remainder makes an orderly deployment. Occasionally, a column commander has been known to stage a piecemeal attack all of his own in a situation where the prompt seizure of a terrain feature on his front seemed essential to the subsequent success of the division. Such action was taken without waiting for orders or authorization from the division commander.
(c) The rate of march of the infantry as it enters the zone of effective hostile artillery fire is reduced. In this zone the artillery moves forward by bounds of battalions while furnishing continuous support to the infantry. The theoretical rate of movement forward for this artillery is 2.5 miles per hour, although this may be increased to about 5 miles per hour if a battalion is allotted a road for its exclusive use. As the range limit is reached the battalion prepares to move forward.
(d) Unit trains. When contact becomes imminent the transport regiment and the unit trains are halted in a sheltered location. The advance section of the transport regiment will often be as close as 2.5 miles to the anticipated contact, while the trains are normally about 5 to 6 miles in the rear of this line. The remainder of the transport regiment will be behind the trains.
7. DIVISION ATTACK ORDER. a. Deployment. The division deployment order gives a combat mission to the advance guard and march directions to the several columns with a view to executing a preconceived maneuver. While the elements of his command are carrying out these orders, the division commander watches the development of the advance-guard action and, with a minimum of delay, issues a verbal attack order to his principal subordinates.
b. Attack order. The division attack order generally is issued in fragmentary form to the commanders concerned.
c. Orders to infantry. In the organization of the infantry for combat, the advance-guard infantry becomes one wing and executes the holding attack. The second regiment executes the main attack, and it may deploy as the other wing along a line of departure (tenkaisen), generally in prolongation of the advance guard position. About one regiment of infantry is held in division reserve. This attack order is issued when the enemy is fixed in a given area where contact is expected, but often prior to making actual contact and before the advance guard has developed the situation. The order assigns to the infantry wing(s) specific objectives or a very general attack mission, depending upon the degree of clarity of the situation. Specific objectives would be such as "to attack the hostile forces on X ridge and seize the X position," while a general attack mission might be something like "to advance in the direction of Y and locate and attack the enemy's right flank." This latter type of objective is appropriate in an obscure situation when the plan of maneuver is predicated largely on a study of the terrain. In this case the attack direction given is one which is certain to take in flank any formation or position which the enemy may reasonably assume. A study of Japanese attack orders reveals that in an extreme case an order was issued 7.4 miles from the expected point of contact of the advance guards.
d. Orders to artillery. (1) The artillery order indicates the location of the positions in general terms, and detailed reconnaissance is made by artillery commanders to determine the exact locations. Attachment of artillery to infantry is considered to be justified when:
(a) The front of attack is very wide.
(b) Liaison with the infantry is difficult.
(c) Combat begins unexpectedly.
(d) The terrain is broken and wooded.
(2) In the normal case the division retains control of the artillery and coordinates its action. Typical missions during the successive phases of the combat are as follows:
(a) Phase I. During the approach march and deployment.
1. Objectives (targets) in order of importance. Hostile artillery and machine guns firing at extreme ranges.
2. Purpose. To cover the deployment of the infantry.
(b) Phase II. During the attack.
1. Objectives (targets) in order of importance. Hostile infantry, artillery, and reserves.
2. Purpose. Close support of infantry.
(c) Phase III. During final assault.
1. Objectives (targets) in order of importance. The area of the decisive attack; the enemy reserves.
2. Purpose. Neutralization and interdiction (harassing) of movement of reinforcements.
e. Orders for piecemeal attack. The division attack order described in the foregoing applies to the coordinated attack. In the piecemeal engagement columns are organized into wings and receive attack directions and the attachment of the proper auxiliary arms. There is no coordinated deployment of any unit larger than a battalion. The artillery, less detachments, is kept under division control. The maneuver takes the form of a frontal collision without any effort to coordinate direction of the various columns to obtain the effect of envelopment.
8. FRONTAGES AND DISTANCES. a. Frontages. The following frontages are averages derived from studies of several problems:
b. Distances. Distances from the line of departure.
c. Assault. Attacking units do not try to retain alignment, and where the going is easy they press ahead. When gassed areas may be encountered the leading wave includes decontamination squads. A gassed area is avoided when possible; if it must be traversed, the local gas squads use their light decontaminating equipment to neutralize it. When such equipment is insufficient or absent, the troops are taught to cross the gassed area resolutely at an increased gait. The artillery advances by bounds close behind the infantry, while its forward observers advance with the infantry. As the attacking infantry approach the enemy positions, infantry and artillery fire is increased, and reserve units are brought up. The cavalry closes in on the enemy flank and rear, and victory is won by closing with the bayonet. The division reserve is used to extend and exploit an advantage gained, to meet a counterattack, or to extend the flank of the enveloping forces. If darkness interrupts the attack, it will be continued at night or renewed at dawn.
9. COMMENTS. a. Meeting engagement. In the Japanese meeting engagement all elements of the division show boldness and vigor. Speed in decision and execution is stressed in regulations and carried out in application. A commander encountering a Japanese division may expect to receive a quick and energetic attack, and. unless his covering forces are solidly deployed on their position, the Japanese attack is likely to upset his own plans for a coordinated attack.
b. Piecemeal action. In practice the Japanese have shown an excessive willingness to engage in piecemeal action; Allied combat regulations, on the other hand, strongly favor the coordinated attack. Generally, according to Allied doctrine, the piecemeal attack is considered justifiable only if time is pressing, if there is a limited objective, and if combat superiority is on the attacker's side. If these criteria are applied to the situations in which the Japanese commander has decided to make a piecemeal attack, it will be found that time is pressing, and there is usually a limited objective, but not necessarily superiority. In fact, in the problems studied, the enemy was always superior, and in at least an equal state of readiness for combat. (In one map problem, the Japanese division was marching in one column while the enemy was in two). The only combat superiority was in the mind of the Japanese commander. Such a doctrine tends to make wasteful, piecemeal action the rule rather than the exception and develops a dangerous over-confidence, unjustified when faced by first-class troops.
c. March formation. The march formation in which the division commander is also a column commander is awkward, for it needlessly burdens the division commander with the details of organizing and commanding a column. It complicates the handling of the advance guards which are usually not coordinated under division control. In fact, the advance guards of columns adjacent to the one commanded by the division commander generally are ignored in the division plan of maneuver. As a result the division does not appear to develop behind solidly organized covering forces which can assure an uninterrupted deployment through coordinated defensive action, even though the numerical infantry strength of the advance guards is usually large, averaging from a third to a half of the infantry of the division.
d. Faults. The frequent use of the advance guard reinforced to make a holding attack and generally deployed on a wide front, renders control difficult and the organization of an effective attack even more difficult. The close-in envelopment so often chosen arises from a desire to get the attack off quickly and from the weakness of the organic artillery of the division. The Japanese teachings are to keep the artillery in a central location so that fire can be maneuvered over most of the front of both holding and enveloping attacks. If done this would restrict the scope of the possible attack directions.
e. Reconnaissance. Map problems and terrain exercises which have been studied show that an insufficient time is allocated for reconnaissance and organization of the attack. In one map problem only 1 1/2 hours elapsed between the decision of the division commander and the jump-off of the so-called coordinated attack. While this is an extreme case, the impression of insufficiency of time for preparation is general.
f. Summary. In summary, the characteristics of the Japanese division in the meeting engagement are:
(1) Rapid, aggressive offensive action by all elements.
(2) A tendency to uncoordinated piecemeal action.
(3) Development behind weakly linked covering forces.
(4) Frontal attack or restricted close-in envelopments.
(5) Inadequate artillery support.
(6) Sacrifice of proper reconnaissance and organization to obtain speed in attack.
(7) Attack through terrain generally considered to be impossible.
10. ATTACK OF POSITION. a. General. When the enemy has had time to occupy and organize a position, the Japanese commander endeavors to fight the decisive action outside of the organized area by turning the position. This is often attempted by an approach over terrain said to be impassible or under adverse weather conditions. The intention in both cases is to achieve surprise in the direction and time of attack. However, the presence of other Japanese units on the flanks often may limit the possible maneuver area. The technique of such an attack resembles that of the coordinated meeting engagement in the use of the approach march and the development of the situation by the advance elements; it differs in the amount of time necessary for reconnaissance and attack preparations. However, the need for carefully executed attack preparations, according to the Japanese, must not be made the excuse for allowing the enemy undue time to improve his position. As shown in map problems, when a commander encounters a position which has been strengthened during a period of several days, he ordinarily drives in the covering forces and reconnoiters during all or part of one day and launches his main attack the following morning. He appears quite capable of attempting all of this in one day if time is pressing.
b. Development. (1) The hostile position normally will be covered by outposts which will vary in strength from patrols to a relatively strong force supported by artillery and deployed as an outpost line of resistance. As the Japanese advance guards approach contact with the covering forces, and before the main body comes under long-range artillery fire, the division commander usually orders his column into assembly areas.
(2) It should be noted that going into assembly areas is a phase of the attack of a position not ordinarily present in the meeting engagement. In problems studied these areas are from 2,200 to 4,400 yards from a hostile outpost line and thus 4,000 to 6,000 yards from the hostile artillery. In the typical case of the division advancing in two columns three assembly areas are designated, one for the main attack force, one for the force making the secondary effort, and one for the division reserve. The assembly is covered from positions about 1,100 to 1,600 yards in advance.
11. DRIVING IN COVERING FORCES. a. Procedure. In order to obtain adequate information about the main defensive position, the Japanese division ordinarily first drives in the hostile covering forces and then executes the necessary reconnaissance for the main attack. If these covering forces are weak and do not form a continuous front, the advance guard commander drives them in on his own initiative: otherwise, the division commander organizes the operation under cover of strong artillery support. In the typical case, this attack takes place in the afternoon of one day, and is followed by attack of the main position at daylight the next day or shortly thereafter. When the opposing forces occupy positions very close together, two nights may be necessary to get the attacking forces and materiel into position.
b. Continuous attack. This procedure of successive attacks, while designated as orthodox in Japanese Combat Regulations, often is replaced in practice by a continuous attack on both outpost and main position. It is not clear when this variation is considered justified, but apparently the deciding factors are whether the artillery can support the attack through both positions without displacement (moving) and whether the time element is pressing. When the continuous attack is made, that on the outpost line becomes a phase of the main attack, and the attacking infantry usually pauses briefly on the captured position, and then continues the assault. In about half of the map problems studied the continuous method was adopted, although there was no apparent need for especial haste in launching the attack.
12. ATTACK ORDER. While the infantry is deploying in assembly area (kaishin haichi) and the advance guard is driving in the covering forces, the division commander, after completion of his plan of attack based on reconnaissance reports, issues his order for the final deployment of the division and the subsequent attack. The order includes familiar elements, except that the infantry in the assault is divided into right and left wings (occasionally into a right wing, left wing, and center) in accordance with the scheme of maneuver.
13. TECHNIQUE OF ATTACK. a. Infantry. (1) The typical disposition of the units in the assault is into wings, with the preponderance of strength in one wing assigned to make the main effort, while the other wing makes the secondary attack. The infantry units, in accordance with the plan of deployment, advance from the assembly areas to their assigned positions along the line of departure, where they make final attack preparations. When the attack is to jump-off about dawn (first light), the advance to the line of departure is made under cover of darkness; if made in daylight, all means are utilized to conceal and protect this movement. In problems, the lines of departure vary from 550 to 2,000 yards from the enemy main position, and the line is chosen so as to be protected from effective small-arms fire. When the attack on the main line of resistance and the outpost line of resistance is continuous, a pause and a realignment may take place along the rear edge of the outpost position which then becomes a phase line in the course of the attack. Attack objectives (terrain features) or attack directions are given the frontline infantry units according to the known details of the enemy position. Normally, the line to be reached by the attack is deep in the zone of the hostile artillery. The hour of attack is usually about 1 or 2 hours after dawn, as the Japanese have little confidence in the ability of their artillery to adjust and fire a preparation at night. In case of an attack entirely in daylight, a minimum of 4 hours is allowed between the time of the attack order and the assault to provide for distribution of the order and for artillery preparation.
(2) In the decisive effort the average frontages of attack are:
Frontages are 20 to 25 per cent greater for units making the secondary attack.
(3) The division reserve is assembled under cover in the zone of the main effort approximately 1 1/2 to 2 miles from the line of departure.
b. Tanks. When available, tanks are brought up with great secrecy to assault positions. Here they are attached to front-line battalions and jump off at the same time as the front-line infantry. The infantry is warned not to stop if the tanks are destroyed but to continue the advance. Tank missions are the breaching of enemy wire and destruction or neutralization of hostile elements.
c. Artillery. (1) The division artillery frequently is reinforced with light and medium battalions. Its combat organization usually provides for a direct support group of from one to two battalions for each wing without any artillery being held in general support. If a fourth battalion is attached it may be employed as a counter-battery group in a relation similar to general support. Fire missions are varied according to the phases of the proposed action, a typical assignment where there is no reinforcing artillery being the following:
(a) Phase I. Attack of the outpost position. Missions: counter battery by one battalion, direct support fire by two battalions, with special attention given to the troops of the main effort.
(b) Phase II. From the occupation of the outpost line of resistance to the opening of the artillery preparation. Missions: counter battery, harassing, and interdiction fires.
(c) Phase III. The artillery preparation.
1. Duration one to two hours.
2. Subdivisions (approximate).
1/2 hour of fire for adjustment (ranging) in daylight.
1/2 hour for wire-cutting accompanied by slight counterbattery.
1/2 hour of fire on infantry position.
(d) Phase IV. The attack. Mission: direct support fires with particular attention to the main effort.
(2) All the division artillery deploys for the attack of the outpost line of resistance. The artillery positions are pushed forward to within 500 to 800 yards of the infantry line of departure so as to be able to support the attack of the main position without moving. At the time of the attack on the main position, 1 or 2 artillery companies often are attached to the main effort as accompanying artillery.
(3) The ammunition allowance for the light artillery in an attack of a position is usually 3 to 3 1/2 days of fire (1 day of fire 75-mm equals 300 rounds).
(4) Two to three airplanes normally are attached to the artillery for observation and command purposes.
(5) Implied gunnery methods seem to be elementary, with main reliance on axial ground observation and with observation posts generally close to the guns. The Japanese Combat Regulations imply, however, that the artillery is capable of registering at night and of opening fire promptly at dawn.
d. Antiaircraft artillery. The usual attachment of antiaircraft artillery to a division appears to be a battalion, consisting of three gun companies (and sometimes a searchlight company). Such machine guns as are in this battalion are for its own local defense. In the attack of a position, the gun companies are placed in the zone of the main effort, in initial positions about 2,700 to 3,300 yards from the line of departure of the infantry.
e. Cavalry or reconnaissance. About one platoon is normally attached to each wing for duty as messengers and orderlies. The remainder is divided for flank protection with the bulk on the decisive flank. As the strength of the division cavalry regiment is light, the combat value is not as great as might be expected.
f. Engineers. Engineer missions in the typical case are: maintenance of communications; assistance to the artillery and tanks; wire cutting; and the removal of obstacles.
g. Command posts. The average distances of command posts from the line of departure for the attack of the main positions are:
h. Destruction of obstacles. The Japanese normally assume there is some wire in front of the hostile position. An attack order therefore includes provisions for cutting the wire in one of the following ways:
(1) By detailed destruction fires by the artillery.
(2) By artillery fire in the most important places, supplemented elsewhere by hand cutting by infantry, tanks, and engineers.
(3) By the artillery cutting the wire imperfectly at all points, with the cutting to be completed in detail by infantry, tanks, and engineers. Where there are several bands of wire, it is normal to make the destruction of the first band the exclusive duty of the infantry and engineers.
i. Medical troops. About one-third of the medical troops are assigned to support each wing; the remainder are in reserve. These detachments set up and operate division collecting (dressing) stations located behind the regimental dressing stations. Locations are from 1,600 to 2,200 yards behind the line of departure. Two field hospitals are set up about 2,500 to 4,000 yards from the line of departure; the division is capable of setting up one additional hospital held initially in reserve.
j. Ammunition supply. The advance section of the transport regiment (senshin shicho) ordinarily opens an infantry ammunition distributing point in rear of each wing as well as one artillery distributing point.
14. ASSAULT. There is little in tactical problems which bears specifically on the conduct of the assault. While the infantry pushes ahead boldly without regard to alignment, and with bayonets fixed, the division commander influences the action by the fire of his artillery and by the division reserve. This reserve may be used to meet a counterattack, to exploit a success, or to cover the flank of a penetrating unit. The division reaches its objective prepared to pass to the pursuit in accordance with plans previously made by the division commander.
15. COMMENTS. a. Characteristics. In their concept of the attack of a position the Japanese show complete disregard of casualties in pressing it to a successful conclusion. Their campaigns initially met with a great measure of success in tropical countries because they had trained extensively in jungle terrain and adapted their technique to capitalize on what their enemies considered hindrances and handicaps. The following characteristics were common to their campaigns:
(1) Careful, meticulous staff work in the detailed planning of the operation, training and equipping of the forces to be used, and in coordinating and carrying out the action.
(2) Great boldnesses, both in the conception of the operation and in execution of its details.
(3) Fearlessness of the enemy and the ground weapons he had at his disposal.
(4) Disregard of casualties in attaining an objective.
(5) Use of surprise and deception.
(6) Refrainment from advancing to the attack before interdiction of all nearby enemy airfields and attainment of air superiority in the area of the attack.
(7) Great speed in infiltration, envelopment, and pursuit.
(8) Willingness to attack through terrain normally considered impassable and in adverse weather conditions.
b. Criticisms. (1) The willingness with which the Japanese commander will order an attack on an outpost simultaneously with the attack on the main position has already been mentioned; this is done in spite of the prescription in Combat Regulations which indicates that effective reconnaissance can only be obtained after the outposts have been driven in. His shortening of the time allowed for reconnaissance and preparation has in many cases reduced the already slender chances of reaching the final objective.
(2) The deployment of the division is generally along orthodox lines, excepting that the assembly areas are invariably within effective enemy light artillery range.
(3) The plan of maneuver offers nothing of special advantage for the direction of the attack, as it usually culminates in a parallel, frontal, or semi-frontal push executed by the two wings of the division, with one wing—the decisive one—somewhat stronger in infantry and artillery. However, if this form of maneuver is accepted, there is still a weakness in the absence of a decisive massing of force on a decisive point.
(4) Japanese use of artillery is subject to much criticism. The fundamental fault is that there is generally not enough of it. This weakness in artillery may be the result of a lack of appreciation of the need for adequate fire support, or of a feeling that past experience has not demonstrated the need for stronger artillery. The period of daylight fire for adjustment prior to the fire for effect reduces tactical surprise and diminishes the moral effect of the preparation. This unwillingness to fire the preparation unobserved at night would suggest low gunnery efficiency. Also the absence of general support artillery reduces the flexibility of the artillery fires and limits the ability of the division commander to intervene promptly in the action by the use of his artillery. From the picture drawn in the tactical problems, one can feel reasonably sure that the Japanese infantry will jump off, even though their extensive preparations have neither destroyed hostile wire nor neutralized the enemy artillery and machine guns. The detailed workings of the direct support fires are not described in the problems studied; hence, no estimate of their effectiveness can be made other than that implied by the absence of detailed plans for infantry-artillery liaison.
(5) While the detailed administrative plan of the attack does not appear in the problems studied, such establishments as are located on the situation maps are considerably closer to the front line than is considered standard. Lack of depth is characteristic of both the tactical and administrative dispositions of the Japanese division and has its origin in their lack of appreciation of the effect of modern fire power, particularly that of the hostile artillery. A period of contact with a well-equipped enemy may furnish correctives for this tendency.
(6) In general, although the adverse criticisms are numerous, it is not to be assumed that the Japanese will persist long in these errors, if errors they prove to be on the battlefield. The Japanese gifts for adaptation and improvisation can be counted upon to remedy quickly many of the faults in their doctrine.
17b. PURSUIT. a. General. Japanese regulations and tactical doctrines place the normal emphasis on the need for pursuit to reap the full fruits of victory. They also recognize the existence of many deterring elements, such as fatigue of the troops, disorganization, and depletion of supplies. In spite of these, the Japanese commander is urged to pursue relentlessly to avoid the need for another battle against a reorganized and possibly reinforced enemy.
b. Preparation for pursuit. The Japanese commander throughout an engagement plans constantly for the pursuit. The enemy is observed carefully, especially at night, for signs of an intention to withdraw. To determine this intention, the Japanese use ground reconnaissance patrols and spies, and they may use observation aviation if it is available. When these means are inadequate, the commander is urged unhesitatingly to stage a local attack to gain the required information. While he is pushing this reconnaissance, he makes preparation for a possible pursuit. These preparations take the form of alerting certain units for immediate pursuit, of assembling sufficient ammunition for the operation, and of outlining a tentative administrative plan.
c. Types of pursuit. While the quick destruction of the defeated enemy is the object of all pursuit, this cannot always be effected immediately by a single simple maneuver. In seeking to destroy his opponent, the pursuer usually will try to fix him by direct pressure while enveloping or turning one or both flanks. If this maneuver fails, he may try to push the retiring enemy off his line of retreat or into a disadvantageous position where he can be attacked more effectively. In recognition of these differing situations, Japanese writers treat the operation under two types: Type 1, where the enemy is destroyed near the field of battle where he sustained his initial defeat; and Type 2, where the enemy has partially succeeded in extricating himself, and the pursuer must take distant objectives deep in the enemy's rear after resuming semimarch dispositions. In both types, the destruction of the enemy is accomplished by fixing him with direct pressure, while mobile pursuit detachments, moving around the flanks, occupy the critical points along his line of retreat and fall upon his rear.
d. Technique of pursuit. (1) (a) Type (1). This form of pursuit finds its type example in the case of the daylight withdrawal of a hardpressed enemy. The withdrawal is observed by the attacker, who immediately redoubles the frontal pressure, while available reserves are quickly formed into pursuit detachments which turn the enemy's flank and fall upon his rear. Boundaries between front-line units are readjusted as needed. The destruction of the enemy thus is accomplished in or near the original field of battle. The detailed action of the separate arms is essentially the same as in type (2), except that distant marches, with a reforming of march columns by the frontal pressure force of the infantry, are not required.
(b) Type (2). This form of pursuit is regarded as the usual one by the Japanese. Most problems studied were of this type, wherein the enemy succeeds wholly or partially in disengaging himself and beginning a withdrawal. The initial withdrawal usually is accomplished under cover of darkness and may not be discovered at once. When the Japanese front line unit commanders find out what is occurring, they renew the attack individually and upon their own initiative in an effort to push through or around the hostile covering forces. As these Japanese units push through the enemy position, reserve units, formed into pursuit detachments, are started around the flanks with objectives deep in the enemy rear. When the Japanese front line infantry units have passed through the zone of resistance of the covering forces, the division commander halts them, organizes and sends forward additional pursuit detachments, and causes the remainder to form march columns to follow in the trace of the pursuit detachments. As this form of pursuit is considered to be usual, the subsequent remarks on the missions of the various arms apply specifically to this type, although they are also applicable with slight modification to Type (1).
(2) Front-line infantry. All units are individually responsible for discovering the hostile intention to withdraw. After such discovery, they drive into the enemy covering forces on their own initiative. In order to get through the enemy covering forces the Japanese prefer to turn the organized localities by maneuver or by infiltration through the gaps. When neither is possible, a quickly organized attack on a narrow front is indicated. As the action of front-line units is decentralized, most of the division artillery is attached to front-line infantry regiments. Tanks are sent in to block the enemy's retreat and to attack his artillery and command posts. To avoid a serious loss of control, the division commander usually indicates a line in rear of the probable enemy covering positions where the troops halt and reform for further pursuit. A part of the frontline infantry is then organized with previously formed pursuit detachments. The bulk of the division reforms into march columns and follows after the pursuit detachments.
(3) Artillery. When the enemy is discovered to be withdrawing, the artillery endeavors to disrupt the enemy's retreat by interdicting (harassing) the important defiles and bottlenecks in the road net. As the front-line infantry penetrates into the covering position, the artillery, attached to infantry units, follows by bounds close behind the advancing troops and concentrates its fire on the resisting enemy infantry. Some artillery is attached to pursuit detachments.
e. Comments. The Japanese pursuit in theory offers little variation from standard practice. Japanese regulations urge the utilization of all available transport, but, in the absence of especially attached motor transport, the division has been incapable of giving the required mobility to the pursuit detachments. The well-known marching power of the Japanese infantry can be counted upon to compensate in a measure for this deficiency in motor transport. The pursuit is a form of operation thoroughly in line with the offensive spirit of the Japanese Army, and the war in China has shown that the Japanese pursue just as vigorously and unhesitatingly as their regulations prescribe. The North China campaign was particularly rich in examples of rapid pursuit. In the advance down the Pinghan and Tsinpu Railways, the Japanese put their pursuit detachments on freight cars and sent them far into Chinese territory, while the main body of the divisions followed partly by rail and partly by marching. Where rail transportation was not available, the Japanese organized special motorized units (kaisoku butai) to give rapidity to their pursuit.
17. RIVER CROSSING. a. General. (1) Japanese river crossing methods are essentially those of other Armies. Success is sought through surprising the defense by concealment of preparations and rapidity of action after the crossing starts. Normal attachments to a division contemplating a river crossing include units of antiaircraft, observation aviation, engineers, artillery, and armored cars.
(2) The advance to the river is made on a broad front and is preceded by advance detachments to drive back enemy patrols from the near bank and to seize existing bridges, bridging materials, and boats. The aviation reconnoiters both banks of the river, while the Engineers conduct a detailed reconnaissance for possible ferry and bridge sites, and for local engineer supplies.
b. Comments. The river crossing methods described are in general so orthodox as to occasion little comment. However, the pooling of all the Engineers into a unit in general support of the crossing is a deviation from the usual method of attaching Engineers to the crossing commanders. The weakness of the division artillery makes extremely difficult the support of an operation on a wide front such as a river crossing. It becomes difficult to allot any artillery to the distant feint, without which there cannot be much deception. The use of the reserve to create false activity, and the strict measures taken to control spies among the civilian population, are further examples of the emphasis placed on secrecy and deception in all Japanese operations.
18. NIGHT ATTACK. a. General. The Japanese Army has a strong partiality for the night attack. This form of combat favors the bayonet fighting stressed in infantry training and tends to cover the weaknesses in artillery and cooperation of the combined arms which have characterized the Japanese Army. The Japanese are further encouraged in their faith in night attacks by successful experiences in the Russo-Japanese War and subsequent operations in China and during the early part of the present war. The night attack sometimes is referred to as "a specialty of the Japanese Army" and as "a traditional Japanese method."
b. Advantages and disadvantages. The advantages attributed to the night attack are avoidance of losses, concealment of movement, and rapidity in closing with the enemy. Disadvantages conceded are loss of cooperation between units, loss of unified direction, a greater chance of mistakes, and confusion. The Japanese believe trained troops can overcome these disadvantages and succeed even when opposed by superior numbers. Thus, in justifying a night attack, there is a tendency to reason, "The enemy is too strongly organized or too numerous for us to hope to defeat him in daylight; only by a night attack have we any possible chance to defeat him and accomplish our mission."
c. Occasions for night attacks. (1) Night attacks are considered appropriate for units varying in size from company to division. Orthodox situations calling for night attacks are the following:
(a) A large unit (division) wishing to extend or complete a success during a daylight engagement may continue the attack at night.
(b) Large units (divisions) may use a part of their force to seize by surprise points needed to assist the attack of the following day.
(c) Local night attacks may be used to distract or mislead the enemy and to conceal Japanese activity elsewhere (for example, a night withdrawal).
(2) These three occasions mentioned above are referred to as orthodox since they are the ones described in Japanese Combat Regulations. In practice the night attack has been used in the following additional situations:
(a) By a large unit to prevent a hostile night withdrawal or to complete the defeat of the enemy before he could be reinforced.
(b) When superior fire power of the enemy prevented the reaching of attack objective in daylight.
d. Hour of attack. Combat Regulations indicate that the period just after dark and just before daylight are desirable hours of attack. In 4 peacetime exercises the hours were dusk, 2400, 0030, and 0200. The considerations involved in choosing these hours were that the engineers need at least 2 hours to cut paths in the hostile wire prior to the attack and that the objectives should be reached shortly before dawn to allow a coordinated renewal of the attack from the new line of departure a little after daylight.
e. Reconnaissance. Regulations insist on the importance of a thorough knowledge of the terrain on the part of all commanders involved in night attacks. Japanese commentators stress the need of detailed information as to the location of enemy strong points, machine guns, obstacles, searchlights, etc. In observed peacetime practice, however, the time allotted for reconnaissance was usually quite short. Concrete examples noted were:
(1) A regimental commander, hard pressed in a meeting engagement, decided at 1530 on a night attack at dusk, less than 4 hours later.
(2) In two separate map situations, two brigade commanders decided at 1600 and 1700, respectively, while in the course of attacking a prepared position, to make a night attack shortly after dusk of the same day. These decisions are believed to have been made at such time and under such conditions as would preclude much real reconnaissance.
f. Objectives. (1) "The objectives of a night attack are limited and are shallow in comparison to those of daylight attacks." (Japanese Combat Regulations.) Each subordinate unit receives terrain objectives as clearly defined as possible. Villages are avoided, since they are difficult to attack at night.
(2) Objectives assigned are often ambitious. The boundaries of tactical localities assigned frequently are not clearly defined features which guarantee against errors in the dark. The final objective is usually the rear edge of a position about 1,100 yards deep. Apparently about half of this is believed enough for the first bound. It will be seen in the discussion of attack dispositions that this depth of objective requires a night passage of lines on the first objective. Advance infiltration units usually precede the main attack to neutralize the enemy.
g. Conduct of attack. (1) Infantry. (a) The infantry of a night attack usually is disposed in two assault echelons and a reserve. If the objective is shallow, one assault echelon may suffice. In the normal situation, however, a first wave rushes forward and seizes the line which constitutes the first objective; the second wave passes through the first and moves on to the second objective. This second wave also has the missions of repulsing counterattacks and destroying enemy searchlights. The relative strengths of the first and second waves depend on the relative strengths of the first and second positions. In general, a force of from one or two platoons, commanded by an officer, is given the mission of attacking and occupying a definite enemy strongpoint. A battalion generally attacks in a 450 to 550 yard sector, with 2 rifle companies in the first wave, 2 companies less a platoon in the second wave, and a platoon in battalion reserve. The battalion is expected to reach and occupy 2 objectives, the more distant being some 1,100 yards from the jump-off line. Where the rear objective is more distant than this, or the going is more difficult, 2 battalions may attack in column, the rear battalion being responsible for the taking of the second objective. The following is a schematic representation of a typical attack formation.
(b) In the foregoing dispositions, companies 1 and 2 are in a line of platoons, each platoon being in a line of squad columns; companies 3 and 4 are about 100 yards behind the leading companies in a line of platoons, each platoon in a column of squads. Exact intervals between platoons are not known, but the frontage of a company is relatively narrow, about 100 to 175 yards. The battalion reserve follows the preceding company at about 50 yards. While the Japanese recognize that this dense formation is highly vulnerable to fire, they consider it justified by ease of control and effectiveness of shock action.
(c) The infantry assault is with the bayonet without firing. Battalion guns may be used against searchlights and obstacles, and machine guns will participate in protective fires.
(2) Wire-cutting, gas, and smoke. Engineers are attached to the assault battalions for cutting lanes through the enemy wire. This cutting starts secretly after dark, about 1 1/2 to 3 hours before the attack. About 3 lanes per battalion apparently are considered sufficient. If gassed areas are to be encountered decontaminating detachments precede the assault; chemical detachments for laying smoke screens also may be pushed forward if the enemy searchlights are troublesome.
(3) Artillery. (a) Night attacks are classified as "kishu" and "kyoshu." The first is translated as "attack by surprise" and the second "attack by force." Attack by surprise (kishu) is characterized by an infantry rush with bayonet, but without a preparation or accompanying fires by the artillery or infantry weapons. Attack by force (kyoshu) implies coordinated accompanying fires and possibly a preparation. The attack of the first objective is an attack by surprise (kishu), unless the enemy is thought to be expecting a night attack; the attack of the second objective is an attack by force (kyoshu).
(b) A battalion of artillery normally supports an infantry regiment. The artillery commander, after conference with the commanding officer of the infantry, prepares fires to be available on call during the attack. The usual method of call is by rocket. In preparing fires, special consideration is given to possible enemy counterattacks. The artillery may be required to cut wire, but this is costly in ammunition.
(4) Maintenance of direction. Maintenance of direction at night, being difficult, requires special measures. Devices used are—
(a) Compass bearing.
(b) Road markers, such as white stakes, strips of paper, lines of chalk or flour, and ropes.
(e) Shells fired for direction of artillery.
(f) Rear lights giving direction by alignment.
(g) Company commanders wearing two crossed strips of white cloth on their backs; lieutenants, a single strip.
(5) Comments. (1) An enemy facing the Japanese Army may expect to receive frequent attacks at night, at least until this form of combat proves definitely unprofitable. Factors favoring the success of such attacks are:
(a) Detailed training in night marches, maneuvers, and attack.
(b) Special emphasis placed on use of the bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting.
(c) Emphasis placed on the element of surprise in the execution of night attacks.
(d) Constant use of infiltration, outflanking movements, and attacks from the rear in country where cover is dense.
(2) It is believed that the following defects will militate against the success of the Japanese night attacks in the face of an alert enemy:
(a) An overreadiness to attack at night in the hope of retrieving a check received in daylight fighting.
(b) Insufficiency of time allowed for reconnaissance, planning, and distribution of orders.
(c) Over-ambitious objectives.
(d) Mass attack formations highly vulnerable to enemy fire.
(e) Reserve units following on the heels of assault waves where they would soon be lost to control of the commander.
(f) Inadequacy of artillery support to neutralize enemy automatic weapons and to cover the operation with protective fires.
(g) An attempt to execute a night passage of lines in the course of an attack.
(3) Against an enemy who has not been determined to hold at all cost, the night attack has had and may be expected to have many successful applications. However, against a vigilant enemy, strong in automatic weapons, it has proved costly to the Japanese.
|LONE SENTRY | Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Search | Contact Us|