October 31, 1942
All of Japan's pre-war objectives have been achieved. Namely, we have seized the Southern Resource Area with Oil production 90% intact, established a robust defensive perimeter in the Pacific, isolated China and reduced Chinese controlled territory to an island around Chungking that does not produce enough supply to re-build and support the KMT's defeated armies.
The Battle of the Torres Islands has further shifted the strategic balance in Japan's favor. Three enemy fleet carriers are sunk and one damaged for some months without appreciable damage to Kido Butai in return. This means that the Empire suddenly finds the date of the Allied counteroffensive shifted from "any day now" to, in all probability, the Summer of 1943.
This is a huge boon. What, if anything, do we do with it?
Enemy Situation and Intentions
Cribtop Intel has long assumed a two pronged Allied offensive was in the making. The dominant move would be handled by the Americans in SWPAC, with the anticipated target being the Solomons. A secondary offensive out of Burma by the Commonwealth was also expected.
The Torres Islands result frankly messes this up. Even if he assembles every flat top he has, CF will be outnumbered 2:1 until July '43 or so. Thus, an offensive that requires control of the surrounding seas, even for a short period, is now unachievable without the assumption of enormous risk that KB will show up and ruin the party.
Even though CF is a conservative player, Cribtop Intel doubts he will stand pat for 10 months. He has been on the defensive since December 7 and the sheer boredom must be getting to him. We thus assume that the enemy will be tempted to try an offensive along an avenue of approach that can be supported by LBA.
Intentions and Execution
We are now marching down a well worn path that many JFBs have trod. The common response is to muster forces for one last grand offensive, but it is our opinion this would be folly. Many times the IJN simply puts its head in a noose in early '43 through a combination of increasing capability of the Allied forces and the selection of a target that is not strategically decisive. For example, suppose we risk a lot and seize Fiji or New Caledonia? It's a cool pelt for the trophy wall, but what does this really do for Japan? Nothing, in my opinion. Truly cutting the SLoC to Oz would mean taking Tahiti. Capturing Noumea just moves the SLoC further south and invites overextension.
One target of possible interest is the Line Islands. As PzB and others have shown, taking these bases can result in an unhealthy USN fixation on a single target, with the potential to force further degradation of the enemy's fleet on a battleground of Japan's choosing. However, it is Cribtop Intel's estimate that CF would have secured these islands well by now. We will recon with Glens but probably pass.
What then is left to do? We believe the enemy's options are reduced to those AOs where he can move ahead on the ground or under LBA cover, namely Burma, NW Oz, the Papuan Peninsula (Port Moresby area), the lower Solomons, or NOPAC.
NOPAC will be closed until March, but we will use the Winter to build up supplies, facilities and troop levels. As long as we don't ignore it completely this AO is a sideshow.
NW Oz is deceptively difficult for the Allies. The overland route is hard to supply, while an amphibious campaign via Port Hedland will run into strong IJA defenses and the Imperial Navy.
Thus, we believe some combination of Burma and Operation Cartwheel to be the most likely enemy moves. We will counter as follows.
Burma. Here we will prioritize the deployment of Tojos and try to maintain a favorable air superiority ratio while piling in troops, starting with adding 38th Division and 1st Armored Division to the three plus divisions in theater. We will reinforce Sabang and be ready for raids against Palembang and Singers by increasing air defenses. This is probably all CF can do with his carriers at the moment.
SWPAC. We will build up Lae into a nasty interceptor Base as we expect 4Es to start pounding PM and Milne Bay. In addition, a division or two will begin prep for Ndeni. Capturing Ndeni would impose further delay on the Americans in the lower Solomons and perhaps even force a favorable naval engagement if CF gets impatient.
China. Finally, we will look to continue to starve China and will study an offensive against Kweiyang.
This is perhaps not the most glorious response to the Torres Islands victory, but IMHO it is the correct move. Japan's offensive capabilities are declining vis a vis the Allies, and throwing away the gift of 10 months' delay would be a grave error. If CF can't really get rolling until mid '43, we may keep him at bay for quite some time hence.
4 or five divs in burma
Not nearly enough
If he makes it his main thrust, you need at least ten or eleven
I had 5 there, and robert lee rolled straight over the top of me late 42...........