Endgame in the Pacific: Complexity, Strategy and the B-29
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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War is the outward expression of competition between complex adaptive political and military systems. In war, competing systems introduce new technological means to gain comparative advantage over other systems and the environment. Greater technological complexity, however, creates greater uncertainty. This uncertainty is the result not only of technical problems associated with new military machines, but also of unintended consequences of technology within the chaotic environment of war. To cope with this increased uncertainty, military strategy should be adaptive in applying new means to achieve desired ends in war. Increased uncertainty demands technological and operational adaptation to achieve desired military objectives. The United States laced a complex strategic problem in the last years of the war against Japan in the Pacific. The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the U.S. Army Air Forces technological solution to crossing the vast expanse of ocean to compel the unconditional surrender of Japan with a minimum of American casualties. The B-29s pressurized cockpit, longer range, more accurate bombing systems, and mechanically controlled defensive systems represented a vast improvement over earlier strategic bombardment technology. Army Air Force planners envisioned a high altitude, precision strategic bombardment campaign that would compel the Japanese to surrender unconditionally. The application of the B-29 in the Pacific, however, was not as mechanistically simple as planners had hoped. Under the inevitable stress of war, there were innumerable uncertainties and unintended consequences involved in its employment. To overcome these uncertainties, planners and operators necessarily had to be adaptive in their application of the B-29 as a technological instrument.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics