General Kuribayashi’s Application of Mission Command
Capt Emma Frowine, USMC
ECCC 3-12, Team Charlie
28 June 2012
The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945) was a pivotal conflict during World War II characterized by some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific Campaign. For Japan, Iwo Jima served as their last line of defense protecting their homeland from the Allied advancements. Japan knew the strategic significance of the island for both Allied and Axis powers and was equally certain that the U. S. would seek to secure it. Resolved that America would pay a huge price for every inch of ground gained, The Battle of Iwo Jima become the bloodiest battle of World War II and remains the most costly of battles in Marine Corps history. Three Marine Divisions conducted an amphibious landing and assault to destroy one heavily defended Japanese Division on the 7.5 square mile island of Iwo Jima. The 36-day assault claimed 6,766 U.S. lives and nearly 20,000 wounded. For the Japanese, the loss was even more staggering with only 1,083 survivors of the original 21,060 defenders. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, the commander for Japanese forces, “proved to be Japan’s greatest wartime general and…the most redoubtable adversary” for the United States. Kuribayashi displayed brilliant leadership and tactical application of strategic objectives, as he skillfully employed the art and science of mission command in his epic defense of Iwo Jima.
The commencement of World War II in 1939 was largely the result of a decades-long Japanese pursuit for dominance in China and the Pacific. The United States officially entered the war on 8 December 1941, the day after the Imperial Japanese Navy conducted a surprise attack against the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii crippling the U.S Pacific Fleet. Ironically, an attack intended to prevent the United States and their superior Navy, from interfering with Japan’s military objectives in the
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