The Battle Of Midway: Lessons Learned

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The Battle of Midway: Lessons Learned

In the months following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Empire of Japan, the United States found itself embroiled in conflict in two theaters of war; in Europe, North Africa, and the Atlantic as well as in the Pacific. Through the preceding years, the United States cautiously escalated its support for the Allied countries in the European theater with Anglo-American partnership programs such as the Lend-Lease Act and Destroyers for Bases until war was declared on Germany and Italy in order maintain a measure of neutrality. In contrast, the deliberate attack on Pearl Harbor surprised the nation and ignited an unanimous fervor for the destruction of the Japanese war machine.
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The United States decisive victory at the battle of Midway “reversed the seemingly irresistible momentum toward Japanese victory and started the long comeback of American forces from the disasters of Pearl Harbor.” As Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet recalled, “With Midway things were just getting started…the march across the Pacific had not begun. After Midway there was no feeling that we had won the war. No doubt it was the all-important turning point, but we still had a tenacious enemy to deal with and a difficult job to do.” The battle of Midway was a pivotal moment in the Pacific theater in which the United States was able to capitalize on the momentum gained at the battle of Coral Sea and the application of decisive leadership and the use of timely intelligence in order to dispel the aura of invincibility held by the Imperial Japanese Navy. While the discussion of the battle of Midway has been evaluated and dissected many times over— to the level of detail that has spawned many volumes of books—this paper is intended to merely identify the lessons learned and how they may be used in their root form …show more content…
Strategically, the United States government had adopted a ‘Germany-First’ strategy even before the war, in which much of the United States war effort would be focused on the European theater to defeat Germany and Italy on the European continent before recovering Japanese occupied territory in the Pacific, thus limiting decisive offensive action against major elements of the Japanese fleet in the Pacific. There were many who opposed the prioritizing the European theater; instead, calling for a ‘Pacific-First’ strategy to respond to the deliberate attack by the Empire of Japan on Pearl Harbor. As Mark Stoler writes, “In mid-1942, however, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) formally suggested a reversal of this strategy so that the United States could launch an immediate, all-out offensive against Japan.” While the United States did not reverse its strategy to focus primarily on the Pacific theater, the decisive outcome of the battle of Midway satisfied the desire for retribution and focused the attention of the American public on the fighting in the Pacific as well as the operations in the European and North African theaters. For the Japanese, the Midway Atoll had strategic significance as a forward operating base for future operations against Hawaii as well as to

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