The Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on US forces in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, killing thousands of US troops. This surprise attack played a key factor in the United States entering World War II. Because of the local commanders’ lack of attention and good judgment, the Japanese had the ability to attack the naval base and were successful in doing so. Primarily, the commanders ignored the obvious warnings of an attack from the Japanese and the current political situation between Japan and the United States. On the day of the bombing, the commanders once again ignored the obvious signs of an act. Because of this ignorance and negligence, Japan was successful in bombing Pearl Harbor.
First of all, the local commanders at Pearl Harbor ignored the obvious warnings of an attack from the Japanese ad the current political situation between Japan and the United States. The first obvious sign was the fact that Japan had been attacking southeastern Asia in order to expand its empire and acquire valuable resources. Because of the protective nature of the United States navy, Japan felt the US was a threat. They felt the only way to protect their territory was to eliminate the US navy. On November 24 and 27, 1941, Washington sent a warning to the commanders at Pearl Harbor.
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The local leaders in Pearl Harbor blatantly ignored these warnings, including Admiral H.E. Kimmel and General W.C. Short. They claimed Hawaii was not included in the warning even though the warning was meant for all Pacific commanders. Kimmel and Short felt they required specific instructions and strategies from Washington in order to carry out successful defensive measures. Thus, it can be argued that Washington could have been more specific in its warning. This vagueness can be noted in the Message of November 27, 1941. The message from General Walter Short and the message from Admiral Huband E. Kimmel further exemplifies Washington’s lack of specific information.
Furthermore, the commanders in Pearl Harbor did not pay attention to the obvious signs of conflict on the day of the attack. A primary example of these signs on the morning of the attack on Oahu would be when a Japanese midget submarine was spotted and sunk by a US destroyer just outside of the entrance to the harbour. This should have been considered a dangerous threat and defensive preparation for a full-blown attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, radar operators in Hawaii spotted a large blob on the radar screens. The commanders believed it was a formation of US bombers that were supposed to be due that day and ignored the radar readings. Later on, it became known that this radar blob was nearly one hundred fifty Japanese aircraft on their way to destroy American forces in Pearl Harbor.
The commanders acted lazily and ignorantly by ignoring the signs before and on the day of the attack. A combat air patrol should have been launched as the smallest form of precaution against a potential threat. Furthermore, to be safe, the harbour could have been put on full air raid alert, because of the spot on the radar screens. Japan was quite aware of Hawaii’s lack of readiness, as displayed in the Japanese Intelligence Report from Tokyo. However, this readiness was suggested in Hawaii by some, as noted in the message from Richard Turner.
The ignorance and negligence of the local military commanders at Pearl Harbor were almost entirely responsible for the success of the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, Washington’s vagueness in their “war-warning” plays a minor role in the attack. Despite this vagueness, the fact that local commanders completely ignored the warnings from Washington and obvious military signs on the day of the attack, they allowed Japan to take an easy victory and cause the most devastating military defeat in American history.
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