Senior leaders study past to shape future

| May 21, 2010 | 0 Comments

Lt. Col. Cynthia Teramae
U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs

(Courtesy Photo)FORT SHAFTER — U.S. Army-Pacific leaders are taking advantage of a yearlong program designed to study war in the Pacific, with the added benefit of visiting former battlefields and talking to veterans who were there.

Lessons learned from past battles will shape how we choose to fight and win future wars.

June 2010 marks the Battle of Midway 68-year anniversary. This fight with Japan is referred to as the most-decisive naval victory of World War II, which turned the tide of the war and, ultimately, led to a U.S. military victory.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander, USARPAC, initiated a senior leader’s development program to provide officers, noncommissioned officers and civilians an opportunity to get up close and personal with the military history of the Pacific.

In this third iteration of USARPAC’s SLDP, leaders studied the Battle of Midway with guest Alan Lloyd, National Director Emeritus, Honolulu Council of the U.S. Navy League, who shared his thoughts on the strategic battle and provided insights into its lessons learned.

Lloyd was 12 years old at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. Like many others who were on Oahu that infamous day, Lloyd’s life was forever changed by the circumstances of the war.

(Courtesy Photo)Lloyd, who worked for Maui Electric and the Hawaiian Electric Company for more than 30 years and retired as an executive engineer, is also a USS Missouri Memorial Association historian and lecturer on the Battle of Midway.

In the briefing to USARPAC leaders, Lloyd said, “Midway was a victory of intelligence, and the Japanese were overconfident due to six months of successes early in the war. Midway changed the course of World War II.”

Lloyd said that although U.S forces had inferior torpedoes and aircraft, through sheer will, courage, intelligence and, perhaps, some old-fashioned good luck, the U.S. military won the Battle of Midway, enabling President Franklin Roosevelt to continue to pursue the grand strategy of Europe.

Winning the Battle of Midway allowed the U.S. military to turn its attention back to the European theater and storm the beaches of Normandy. 

“Not too many people understand the significance of this battle and how it shaped the outcome of World War II,” Lloyd said.

The battle of Midway was also somewhat of a precursor to information operations, as David Hilkert, USARPAC command historian pointed out. “Navy Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort devised a plan where he sent out a cleared message stating that troops where short on water at Midway, although they were not,” Hilkert explained.

“The Japanese intercepted this message and then sent their own message in code using the same exact code letters that Rochefort thought the Japanese Army were using for Midway,” Hilkert said.

“This enabled Rochefort to crack the Japanese code and get a breakout of all the ships that were planning to attack Midway, ultimately resulting in the U.S. having the upper hand and a win for the U.S. military and a turning point in the Pacific War,” Hilkert said.

As the primary SLDP planner, Hilkert looks forward to additional programs including the study of the China-Burma-India Campaign, and a staff ride to Kwajalein Atoll and Roi-Namur battlefields. Also, a closing ceremony and reception are scheduled for December aboard the USS Missouri.

“The Battle of Midway was the turning point of the war,” said Hilkert. “Not only did we win the battle, but I think in the eyes of the American people, sinking four of the six aircraft carriers that launched the attack on our fleet in Pearl Harbor boosted American morale and, ultimately, led to our winning the war in the Pacific.”

Hilkert said that as a baby boomer, he’s excited to study military history because he grew up listening to stories from veterans who served in the war.  

“I think there is a lot to be learned from military history and there are a lot of lessons to be learned that can be applied today,” said Hilkert. 

“I’m hopeful that all our leaders will better understand the lessons learned and realize they are important still today, and also understand the role our command had in the war,” Hilkert said.

For more information on SLDP, call Hilkert at 438-3291.

Category: News

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