On August 6, 1945, the first A-bomb was
deployed on Hiroshima followed by a second A-bomb deployed on Nagasaki on
August 9, 1945, causing over 300,000 Japanese casualties.  The decision to use the atomic bomb during the
war with Japan had a major impact in the history of modern warfare, the
decision to use the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with possibility of using
a third bomb was not an easy decision for the US leadership.

 

  The decision to use the A-bomb was not an
easy one by US leadership especially for President Truman who authorized the
use of the bombs to force Japan to surrender. 
The US had over 100,000 US combines casualties, which included death,
wounded and missing, between the campaigns at Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and
Okinawa. 

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  The US could have attempted several
alternatives during WWII to end the war, yet these alternatives may have not been
able to break the Japanese will to fight, nor influence the US decision opposing
the use of the A-bombs.

 

Alternative 1:  Landing in Southern Kyushu, Japan (Operation Olympic)

 

  The campaigns in Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and
Okinawa amounted to over 107,000 US casualties as US forces continue their move
onto the main islands in Japan.  One
alternative to amass US forces onto Japanese territory was the plan to land
forces on Kyushu, Japan, which would establish a beachhead on one of the main
Japanese island and will allow US forces to move closer to Tokyo, Japan. 

 

  Located on the southern end of Japan and one
of the four major islands in Japan, Kyushu would give the US and the allied
forces a closer launch point for future operations against the Japanese
mainland.  Operation Olympic will give the US a closer approach from which to
stage an invasion of the main island, launch bombers and exercise a stronger
defense point for a blockade.

 

  However, one of the most decisive aspects of Operation Olympic the estimated number
of estimated casualties, the US expected to land over 700,000 troops on Kyushu
to face an estimated 350,000 Japanese troops.

 

  The estimated number of casualties was
expected to be between 63,000 to 100,000, however that number could be as high
as 268,000 US casualties.  The estimated
provided by the Joint Chiefs varied in force size and force based making the
percentages of estimated casualties difficult to calculate.  The debate over estimated casualties was one
of the main reasons for a no-go to Operation
Olympic.

 

Alternative 2:  Bombardment and blockade

 

  Blockade and bombing of Japan continued throughout
WWII however, the effectiveness of this strategy was not producing the expected
impact to the Japanese will and appears that another strategy would be
necessary to effectively force a surrender of the Japanese Empire.  The bombing raid on Japanese cities and
blockading of supplies and reinforcements was slowly affecting a seriously
weakened Japanese population, however it was not enough to disrupt the
commitment of the Japanese imperial forces.

 

  The employment of the B-29 bomber during WWII
was an impact of the defeat of Japan but the bombers were also affected by
mechanical problems as they were rushed into service along with damage from enemy
fire and by the very strong 130mph jet stream in the region which made
navigation and precision bombing very difficult.  Bomber raid planners had to keep weather in
mind when planning fuel and load capacities to give bombers launching from
China and the Mariana Islands a chance to successfully complete their mission
and return to their home based.

 

  The
initial strategy of daytime high altitude precision bombing proved difficult
based on weather conditions and opposition, a shift to low level nighttime bombing
using incendiary bombs took place beginning in March 1945 killing nearly
400,000 Japanese civilians and leaving over 15 million more homeless.  The success of the bombing campaigns cost the
allied forces over 400 aircrafts and nearly 3,000 casualties. 

 

Alternative 3:  Economic warfare

 

  Japan entered the war with six million tons
of shipping which grew to 10 million tons. 
A shift of submarine forces to attack shipping vice naval forces help
reduced Japan’s ability keep their economy intact and by 1945 Japan possessed
one million tons of shipping which will eventually force faming among the
population and force the Japanese government to reassess their strategy.

 

  Submarine and air forces moved to reduce the
amount of tonnage moved by the Japanese whose economy was heavily depended on
shipping; the reduction of imports and exports shipping, based on the submarine
threat and mining of the coastal areas, reduced Japan’s ability to maintain continuous
movement of raw materials, food, supplies and forces in the region.  The loss of shipping capabilities forced the
Japanese to change production tactics to increase their capabilities to move
oil as their reserves were severely impacted.

 

The employment
of submarine forces was focused on the German threat on the Atlantic Ocean
using information from ULTRA decoded intercepts in support of the western front
and leaving the Pacific submarine forces to conduct operations dedicated to
reduced Japan’s forward movements. 

 

  The US submarines tactics on the Pacific at
the beginning of the war had not changed far from training, submarine
commanders will only use low periscope depths leading to many missing
opportunities to successfully prosecute merchant shipping.  A shift to the commander’s tactics and
autonomy was needed to ensure successful prosecution of shipping in the area of
operations.

 

  A shift
in tactics came with a change of leadership for each submarine assigned to the Pacific
region where submarine commanders will need to prove their capabilities to
higher command.  These changes in
leadership lead to successful prosecution of shipping and to a reduction of
Japanese merchant tonnage but it did not turn into a strategic goal for the
submarine force. 

 

While the
Pacific’s submarine fleet produced a major impact to the Japanese economy, the
information was not successfully integrated into the US strategic plans.  Data collection on Japanese merchant tonnage
was not strategically used in the Pacific theater until the end of the war,
which reflected the heavy losses the submarine forces had inflicted on Japan
thus crippling their economy which could had influenced the US strategy to end
the war.

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