Fog of War: Analyzing the Battle of Midway

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How well did Admirals Nimitz and Yamamoto manage the fog, friction, uncertainty and chaos of war? Did one of them mange these elements more adeptly? Introduction The complete devastation of Pearl Harbor at the hands of the Japanese on December 7, 1941 left the United States Navy with nothing more than “some heavy cruisers, a few dozen submarines, and four carriers” (Baer, 1993, p. 206). The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor set the stage for the decisive battle at Midway, which would require Admiral Nimitz and Admiral Yamamoto to execute a flawless plan amidst the uncertainty and chaos of war. Of these two great opposing admirals, Admiral Nimitz managed to cut through the fog of war more adeptly than Admiral Yamamoto. Sufficient evidence proves that Admiral Nimitz’s achievements were managed more adeptly, due to three defining factors: (1) Admiral Nimitz’s deployment of forces was more successful; (2) Admiral Nimitz’s superior ability to discern military advantages (coup d’oeil) enabled him to make knowledgeable decisions; and (3) Admiral Yamamoto’s complacency and overconfidence during the planning phase contributed to Admiral Nimitz’s overall success. Prelude to Battle Before analyzing each of these factors, it’s important to comprehend the significant events and noteworthy developments leading up to the Battle of Midway. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the international naval strategy of the day centered on the battleship. Having lost her Pacific battleships at the outset, the US Navy (USN) had to rely on new strategies to hold and protect its remaining Pacific interests. Out of necessity, the USN formed its remaining carriers into strike forces to conduct raids on the Japanese’s outlying areas. One such significant raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea, showed the significance of carriers being used in a doctrinally different, yet effective, way.

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