The Naval Battle for Guadalcanal; The Second Act, 13-15 November 1942

Washington

As the decimated US Navy force limped away from Ironbottom Sound after dawn on 13 November 1942, the prospects for protecting the Marines on Guadalcanal and preventing the counter-landing of powerful Japanese reinforcements seemed distinctly unpromising.   Four US destroyers, Laffey, Barton, Cushing, and Monssen, had been sunk, Barton with heavy loss of life.   Light cruisers Atlanta and Juneau were badly damaged, both in danger of sinking, heavy cruiser San Francisco was a shambles.  As was previously noted, the fight to save Atlanta was lost, and Juneau would fall victim to a Japanese submarine.

But the Americans did hit back.  During the daylight hours of 13 November, aircraft from Henderson Field, Espiritu Santo, and Enterprise finished off the crippled battleship Hiei, and sank the smoking hulks of destroyers Akitsuki and Yudachi.

On 13 November, Yamamoto ordered Admiral Kondo to reconstitute a bombardment force, marrying 8th Cruiser Squadron under Admiral Mikawa with the remaining ships from Abe’s force, including battleship Kirishima.  8th Cruiser Squadron consisted of four powerful heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and four destroyers.  The force slipped into the waters off Henderson Field unchallenged in the waning hours of 13 November and commenced a bombardment of the airfield.  The intent was to neutralize the airfield in order that the eleven transports, carrying supplies for Hyukatake’s starving ground forces and reinforcements from the 38th Division, could be unloaded.  The results of the bombardment were ineffectual.  The Japanese fired approximately 1,000 rounds in little more than half an hour, and damaged some aircraft, but the airfield and most of its planes remained fully operational.

Not long after dawn, the Cactus Air Force, as well as aircraft from Enterprise and Espiritu Santo, pounced on the Japanese ships.  They fell first upon the bombardment fleet, inflicting heavy damage to cruisers Chokai, Isuzu, Maya, and Kinugasa, the latter eventually sinking.

Next were Tanaka’s transports.  A series of attacks, including high-level B-17 sorties, sank seven of the eleven transports.  While most of the Japanese troops were saved, all the weapons and equipment, food, fuel, and ammunition were lost.  Instead of welcome reinforcements, those survivors became liabilities to an already badly broken supply system.

Earlier in the day on 13 November, Vice Admiral Willis A. “Ching” Lee, with new radar-equipped fast battleships Washington and South Dakota and four destroyers, was ordered east to defend Guadalcanal.  Named Task Force 64, Lee’s cobbled-together force entered Ironbottom Sound north and west of Cape Esperance, and picked up the Japanese ships on radar just before 2300 on 14 November.  Shortly after, the Japanese force under Kondo spotted the Americans.  However, Kondo believed he was facing cruisers rather than battleships, and he believed they would not be a match for Kirishima or his remaining heavy cruisers.

Kondo split his force, around either side of Savo Island.  Lee briefly engaged Sendai and several Japanese destroyers with radar-guided fire.  The Japanese cruiser bid a hasty withdrawal.  The cruiser Nagara and four destroyers actually sighted Lee’s force before they were reacquired by American radar.  Nagara and her accompanying destroyers, plus Ayanami, engaged the four American destroyers with guns and torpedoes.  Much like the results of the previous evening, the US destroyers lost heavily.  In a very short time, Benham, Preston, and Walke were mortally wounded, Gwin heavily damaged.

It was at this juncture that Kondo’s mistaken identity of the two US fast battleships spelled doom.  Washington and South Dakota steamed on, closing with Kirishima, two heavy cruisers, and two destroyers.  South Dakota, closest to the Japanese force, suffered a massive power failure which blinded her radars and knocked out her gun mounts.  She was set upon by the Japanese destroyers and cruisers as she passed, impotent, within 5,000 yards of the enemy.  As she had turned to avoid the burning American destroyers, she had been silhouetted against the flames, and became a target for every Japanese gun.  The battleship was hit repeatedly topside, damaging her gunfire control systems, knocking out communications, and causing almost 100 casualties.

However, unseen and unmolested by Japanese fire, Washington loomed in the darkness.  Her secondary (5-inch/38) batteries pounded the destroyer Ayanami to a burning wreck within a few minutes.  She had refrained from firing her main battery at her radar contact, because she had been unable to communicate with South Dakota to confirm her location.  When South Dakota was engaged by Japanese guns, Washington had no doubt of her target.  What followed was the first encounter between battleships in the Pacific War.  It was a one-sided affair.  At a range of just 8,900 yards, Washington commenced a radar-targeted engagement of Kirishima with her 16-inch main battery.  In just over six minutes, Washington fired 75 16-inch projectiles, striking Kirishima between ten and twenty times, and plastering her with 5-inch fire.  Kirishima was finished.  Her topside was a wreck of twisted metal, her steering destroyed, and she had been holed below the waterline.  Kirishima capsized and sank in the early hours of 15 November.  Ayanami was abandoned and scuttled.

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The surviving Japanese transports reached Tassafaronga, but as soon as daylight broke, the four ships were taken under fire by aircraft from Henderson Field, the 5-inch guns of the 3rd Marine Defense Battalion, and an Army Coastal Artillery battery (155mm Long Toms).  As with their sunken sisters, most of the Japanese soldiers managed to get ashore, but almost all of the supplies, food, ammunition, and equipment were lost.

The naval actions in the skies and waters of Guadalcanal between 12 and 15 November 1942 were costly to both sides.  The action was fierce, confused, and deadly.  Losses of men and ships were nearly even.  However, these battles were the turning point in the Solomons.  Control of the waters around the island of Guadalcanal passed permanently to the United States Navy.  There would be more bloody fights in those waters, and even stunning setbacks (Tassafaronga), but US naval and air power in the Solomons would continue to grow, while that of Japan would continue to wane.  The Japanese would continue to attempt supply of its garrison ashore, to diminishing effects, but would never again send reinforcements down “the Slot” to wrest the island from the Marines.  The First and Second Naval Battles for Guadalcanal represent the last running of the Tokyo Express.

F-35B FCLP

Landing aboard a carrier is much different than a conventional landing ashore, so carrier aviators spend a lot of time practicing. But before they go to sea, they practice ashore, mimicking as closely as possible the carrier environment, in a routine known as Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP), or “bouncing.”

Similarly, the AV-8B and F-35B use a unique approach to landing aboard the Navy’s big deck amphibious warfare ships of the LHD and LHA classes.  The normal routine is to make an approach from astern of the ship, but offset to parallel the port side.  When alongside the desired landing spot, the jet then slides sideways to starboard until it is over the landing spot. Only then does it descend vertically, and then simply taxies out of the way for the next jet.

In order to train for this, MCAS Yuma, AZ actually has an auxiliary field that is shaped and marked like the deck of an LHD, and pilots routinely practice there.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtBeR0FmaHo]

Say what you will about the pros and cons of the program, but it certainly is interesting to watch.

Somewhere, Red Mike Edson is Smiling

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From Marine Corps Times:

An official flagging ceremony to rename Marine special operations battalions in honor of their World War II predecessors is set to take place June 19, MARSOC officials confirmed. The ceremony comes 10 months after the command first announced its plan to change the names of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s component units to reflect their history.

The formal renaming was held up while Headquarters Marine Corps approved a bulletin announcing the upcoming change, said Capt. Barry Morris, a MARSOC spokesman. He said MARSOC’s headquarters in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, also had to coordinate with its major subordinate elements to determine a date for the ceremony.

The Corps does a lot of goofy sh*t sometimes, but we do cherish our traditions.  Love the skull patch, too.  It will remind people that the job of the Raiders, and the USMC writ large, is to kill.  Destroy the enemy.

Semper Fi, Raiders!

A Scathing Indictment of the Wounded Warrior Project

Over on the porch.  Well worth the read.

I haven’t liked that organization for quite some time, mostly because of the way they portray wounded Veterans as being objects of pity.  Salamander puts it better than I have been able to.

an organization that uses the same visuals, tone and background music for those who fight our wars, that are are also used for starving African children … and at the same time squash local organizations using a huge legal budget.

Touché.

Here is some perspective, without minimizing the sacrifice.  The total US combat wounded in 13 years in Iraq and Afghanistan numbers around 52,000, with the vast majority being minor wounds with RTD (return to duty), such as mine were.  (Of the approximately 1,400 wounded suffered by 1st Marine Division in Anbar from February-September 2004, about 1,200 were RTD.  If those percentages hold for the larger number of 52,000, the total number with wounds serious enough to prevent a return to duty numbers around 7,500.)  We know that the number of traumatic amputations is fewer than 1,600.  This means, with just the last three years of donations, WWP has received enough money for almost $100,000 for each of the 7,500 seriously wounded Vets, or $457,000 for each traumatic amputee.  This is on top of the medical care and equipment provided by the VA for these Veterans.

With a CEO salary of almost half a million a year, the selling of donor lists, and this sort of reprehensible behavior:

According to a number of smaller groups, the Wounded Warrior Project…  has been spending a good deal of time and money suing other veteran-serving nonprofits on the basis that their names or logos constitute infringement on their brand.

I agree with Salamander, not a dime to WWP from me.  I will give to a smaller charity in a heartbeat.  One that does not make helping our wounded Veterans a “common business practice”, and one that does not intentionally harm others trying to give back to those who gave so much.

UPDATE:  XBradTC here. C0ncur all and endorse original message. There are many fine organizations to donate to, and it’s your money. But I would like to mention one that does have a sterling reputation, Fisher House.

$150,000 in VA Cash for Strippers and Prostitutes?

We should be thankful that it wasn’t money wasted, I spose.  The Detroit News has the story:

Bates, who was released on $10,000 unsecured bond Tuesday, told investigators he spent some of the cash on a stripper named “Ashley” at an Ohio strip club, according to court records. He said he often spent $500 a night on lap dances — and more.

“After visiting the club numerous times, Glenn Alan Bates convinced Ashley to come to his hotel room for sex, for which he paid her,” VA Special Agent Frederick Lane wrote in a court filing.

The hotel trysts were frequent and non-exclusive. Bates said he also met with other strippers and prostitutes, according to court records.

After all the stories of fraud and waste in the VA system these days, perhaps Mr. Bates should be recognized for streamlining the gummint purchasing process and getting at least some value for the tax dollars spent.

“Glenn Alan Bates stated he became addicted to the sexual encounters and he stole cash from the canteen to pay for this addiction,” Lane wrote.

No word on whether treatment for his addiction is gonna be covered by the VA or by Obamacare.

H/T

Brian P

One For the Body Snatchers

Er, I mean “Recruiters”.  Of which our gracious host was one.  Pushing clay-heads at Parris Island, I got an interesting perspective on the recruiting process.  And having known a few personally, the stories I heard were likely mostly true.

In the process of interviewing EVERY LAST damned recruit to go through a training cycle, I would save the better recruits for last.  Then, I could ask some off-script questions.  Like “If you could be alone with someone for fifteen minutes, who would it be?”  The answers were almost universally “My girlfriend!” or “Jennifer Anniston”, you get the idea…

Except this one recruit.  I asked him the question, but he didn’t answer for prolly thirty seconds.  Then, when he did, he answered “My f*ckin’ Recruiter, Sir!”

Senior Enlisted Marine at Parris Island Resigns

A former Marine Drill Instructor was protesting outside the gate of MCRD Parris Island. Unhappy with the Bergdahl swap for five senior Taliban detainees, Ethan Arguello, wearing his old campaign hat, the longtime symbol of Drill Instructors, was off post during the protest.

Sergeant Major Paul Archie, the senior Noncommissioned Officer on the depot, verbally confronted Arguello. That in itself was, in my opinion, poor judgment. Worse still, Sergeant Major Archie allowed the verbal confrontation to escalate to the point where he made physical contact with Arguello’s campaign hat, knocking it from Arguello’s head. As it fell, Sergeant Major Archie snatched the hat, climbed into his vehicle, and proceeded onto the depot.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHJWfkpyIYw

Sergeant Major Archie later voluntarily surrendered to the local police to face charges of assault and battery.

As a result of this incident, Sergeant Major Archie has tendered his resignation as the senior NCO, and apparently requested retirement. It is a sad end to what surely has been a distinguished career spanning decades.

And it is absolutely the right outcome.

It’s sometimes said the Air Force is a job, the Navy and the Army are services, and the Marine Corps is a religion. There’s no small amount of truth in that. I can sympathize with Sergeant Major Archie being upset that a civilian is using a symbol rich with meaning to make a political protest.

But the Sergeant Major apparently forgot, if only momentarily, that the first loyalty of a servicemember, any servicemember, is to the Constitution, not the Corps. Mr. Aguello, whatever you may think of him, was engaging in constitutionally protected p0litical speech. You can agree with him, disagree with him, criticize his tactics, but you cannot argue that he should have been stopped by a member of the military that exists to protect that very right to freedom of speech.

Sergeant Major Archie still has to face the civilian justice system. One hopes such a minor incident will not have extensive consequences for him.

As for his career in the Marine Corps, such a lapse in judgment certainly calls for his removal as the senior enlisted advisor to the Commanding General. Sadly, at the echelon of service, there are few other places Sergeant Major Archie could continue to serve in any meaningful way. That leaves retirement as virtually the only option. And one hopes that the Sergeant Major’s chain of command will not feel a need to further pursue the matter via Non-Judicial Punishment or other adverse actions.

First Four Female Marines complete Marine Infantry training.

Stars and Stripes brings us the news that four female Marines will graduate from The Infantry School.

For the first time, four female Marines have successfully completed the service’s enlisted infantry training and will graduate from the program, the Marine Corps Times is reporting.

The four were among a group of 15 enlisted women who were the first to participate in a Marine Corps study to determine which ground combat jobs should be open to women.

The Marines’ enlisted infantry training includes a grueling 20-kilometer hike wearing more than 80 pounds of gear. Seven women began the Oct. 28 hike. Three women and 26 of 246 men did not finish it, the Marines said.

Throughout the infantry training, the women were held to the same standards as men, including performing full pull-ups instead of a flexed-arm hang during the physical fitness test, the Marine Corps Times said.

A 74% attrition rate actually tells us it is folly to send women to TIS. It costs time, money, and training resources to send people to school. TIS isn’t a “weedout” course like Special Forces. The majority of attendees are expected to successfully complete the course.
So again, the diversity zampolits are sacrificing the good of the service for the optics of equality.
This isn’t to knock the accomplishments of the four Marines, just to note that just because something CAN be done doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done.

Via: TAH

Happy 238th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps

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The Marine Corps first recruits joined at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia on November 10, 1775. The first recruit found himself before

the bar manager, Robert Mullan. He signed the enlistment, and was instructed to go into Tun Alley and await further orders.
A few minutes pass, when another young enlistee joins him. Sitting on the curb, the second fellow asks the first, “So, what kind of chickenshit outfit do you think this is gonna be?”

Says the first Marine, “Boot, let me tell you how it was in the Old Corps…”

Should the US merge its ground combat forces?

Of course not. But Jeong Lee, writing at the USNI Blog argues that they should be.

Speaking at the Association of the United States Army on the 12th, Admiral James Winnefeld, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the audience that in future ground wars the tempo will be “shorter, faster-paced and much harder” because America’s adversaries will work to create a “fog of war.” Thus, the Admiral suggested that the Army “place more emphasis on the growth industry…of protecting American citizens abroad”  in order to adapt to the fluid geostrategic environment.

Indeed, since the sequestration went into effect in March, many defense experts have been debating what the future may hold for the Army, the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Whatever their respective views may be on the utility of landpower in future wars, all seem to agree on one thing: that in the sequestration era, the ground components must fight leaner and smarter. (Hyperlinks in original-XBrad)

Many defense experts may be debating what the future holds, but damn few think merging the Army, Marines and the SOF community is the way to go.

The argument that ground components must fight leaner and smarter certainly hails back to the Rumseldian Revolution in Military Affairs and the Transformationalists. How’d that work out for us?

Not to knock the Marines in any way, but the fact that they have been serving as a second army in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan strikes me as silly. Sure, some units being blooded is probably a good thing, but the main mission of the Marines should be to serve as  a rapid reaction and forced entry force, not a reserve of manpower for a leaner, smarter Army.

And since Mr. Lee brings up consolidation of duplicative forces, why not give the Air Force all the Navy’s aircraft?*

And here’s the thing about leaner landpower. It’s a strategic risk.  While I’d argue that the average Army Brigade Combat Team is more than a match for a comparable enemy force, the ideal is to have overwhelming combat power, both to quickly achieve objectives, and minimize losses to our force. The more closely matched in combat power, the more likely heavy losses will occur. Further, don’t fall into the amateur’s trap of thinking strictly in terms of a single component. The US great strength in warfare has long been its ability to fight combined arms and services. We can find dozens, hundreds of examples where we did so poorly, but the fact is, we’re head and shoulders above anyone else at it.  The CoComs, the Unified Combatant Commanders, were designed specifically to be in such a position that their parochial attachments to the service the grew up in is mitigated by understanding the need to effectively synergize the efforts of all the service components under their command.  It’s imperfect, but again, it’s better than anyone else’s system.

What are you thoughts on why this is a bad idea. Conversely, what (realistically) can we do to streamline the duplication of effort? What changes can and should we make?

*no, not really. I’d rather see the Navy take over the air mission, but I’m trying to make a point here…