Midway Atoll: A Military Analysis

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Instead of another decisive victory at Midway Atoll, a Carrier Strike Force from the Pacific Fleet intercepted the Combine Fleet. The United States Pacific Fleet, under the command of Admiral Chester Nimitz had gained intelligence of the Japanese June 4th attack. From Pearl Harbor, Nimitz sent the Carrier Strike Force, which included Task Force 17, commanded by commanded by Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher, Task Force 16, commanded by Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance. Since Fletcher was the senior, he also commanded the Carrier Strike Force. Task Force 17 included one carrier, two cruisers, and five destroyers, while Task Force 16 contained two carriers, five cruisers, one light cruiser, and eight destroyers. The defense of Midway Atoll included land-based aircraft from the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Army Air Corps.
In comparison, at Midway, Nimitz had three aircraft carriers to the four of the Combine Fleet and was unquestionably the underdog. However, through tactical surprise and the decisive leadership of the Admirals and pilots of the Carrier Strike Force, the United States Navy was able to inflict grave damage to the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. As Craig Symonds conveys in his
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Due to the Combined Fleet’s “battleship orientation, no Japanese carrier entered the battle equipped with radar.” The rapid implementation and confidence in carrier based air operations for the Pacific Fleet produced a tactical advantage at the battle of Midway because it forced the United States to conform to the ever-changing nature of warfare. As noted by Robert J. Cressman, “It must be remembered that carrier operations in the U.S. Navy were in a state of flux – the air groups learning as they went along, and in the crucible of

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