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Military Channel Show: "Battleplan", Episode: "Blockade"; They Missed a Bit!

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Author Topic: Military Channel Show: "Battleplan", Episode: "Blockade"; They Missed a Bit!  (Read 394 times)
Bad Penny
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« on: June 05, 2011, 04:42:57 am »

Although I found the Military Channel's "Battleplan" episode entitled: "Blockade" to have been thoroughly educational and largely correct, I have identified several points with which the program might have dealt better.

My first observation is that this episode gave, not excessive credit to the US Navy's submarine service (whose role was truly decisive), but, rather, exclusive credit to that service, which is simply not justifiable in the light of the historical record.   The Japanese, although clearly negligent in the study and practice of offensive anti-submarine warfare, found an effective counter to US submarine tactics by limiting their cargo shipments to shallow-draft littoral motorized barges, which remained close inshore by day (in shallow waters then beyond the reach of US submarines, and which would, today, be hidden from radar in the ground-clutter) while daring crossings over open ocean from island to island only by night.  This is the period during which US motor torpedo boats (famous as the "PT-Boats") came into their own, operating from forward bases to move close inshore to Japanese-held islands to attack the barges in waters which the submarine fleet couldn't reach. This tactical shift in the use of PT Boats is reflected in the mounting of 40mm Bofors guns and light air-launchable torpedoes at the expense of their original armament of 4x21" torpedoes.

Secondly, the episode failed to indicate the efficacy, during the Battle of the Atlantic, of Headquarters Tenth United States Fleet, which served effectively as a think-tank in response to certain British observations resulting from their practice of statistical "Operational Analysis", in support of US offensive anti-submarine warfare.  Specifically, the British analysis pointed out the fact that each Allied anti-submarine unit (i.e., individual ship or aircraft) would likely have only one contact with a German submarine during its service life.  This indicated the importance of disseminating updated tactical doctrine as rapidly as possible to every unit under Tenth Fleet's command, on the basis of the most recent after-action reports received from units which had actually contacted German submarines.  This activity on the part of Headquarters, Tenth Fleet greatly steepened the learning curve of each unit within the fleet by institutionalizing the benefit of the experience of each unit which had actually made contact with the enemy, thus maximizing the effectiveness of all US Navy antisubmarine units to the point of eliminating the margin of error available to German submarine commanders.

Thirdly, the episode took the term commonly used during the Cold War Soviet siege of Berlin (the "Berlin Blockade") literally to imply identity between a siege upon land and a naval blockade: nothing could be further from the truth, as a landward siege (which I personally experienced during the ghetto rebellion in Milwaukee in 1967, when the Wisconsin State Patrol and Wisconsin Army National Guard sealed the city off from the outside world as they sealed the African-American neighborhood off from the rest of the city, thus demonstrating the essential siege warfare concepts of circumvallation and countervalation, respectively (seriously: as my family returned from an outing on a nearby lake, they forced us off the main road onto a local access road).

Successful maritime blockade in the future will be greatly aided by the current concentration of transoceanic shipping in a relatively few super-huge cargo ships, as compared to the large British fleet of relatively small ships which were almost nullified by a relatively small number of German submarines.  Littoral warfare will increase in importance as soon as a few nuclear attack subs on both sides have taken out each other's blue water merchant fleets, thus my admiration for my favorite navy in the world: the Royal Swedish Navy.

Here's a video:

(OK, so I hate Sweden's current NATO cooperation, as well as her de facto NATO membership throughout the Cold War (with Prime Minister Palme's opposition to the US role in Vietnam serving as a cover for such membership against both the Soviets and the Swedish people).  But her navy, should she find a means of operating independent of US logistical support, points the way to the future for maritime-oriented small nations in the 21st Century.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2011, 05:37:38 am by Bad Penny » Report Spam   Logged

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