With an initial force of 1,000 men to the enemy's 4,300, the 1st Cavalry Division had overwhelmed the enemy and, with the arrival of its full complement, had exacted a vastly disproportionate number of casualties from the defenders. Although the official count of their dead did not include those removed for burial by the enemy, the total was 3,280 Japanese killed and 75 captured, which almost equaled the original G-2 estimate of the garrison's size. American losses were 326 killed, 1,189 wounded, and 4 missing. The 10-to-1 ratio between Japanese and American dead does credit to the cavalrymen fighting their first engagement against seasoned troops in fortified jungle positions.
General Krueger partially explained the heavy enemy losses in the Admiralties operation by his claim that, "Our troops were gaining superiority on the ground against an enemy whose tactical knowledge envisioned only the offensive." Allied tactics of guaranteeing naval, air, and artillery superiority to our troops in each operation were making the heavy proportion of Japanese casualties an expected result in the Pacific. In the Admiralties invasion, fire from destroyers kept the enemy under cover during the landing and our artillery gave the troopers an enormous advantage against an enemy who possessed only two 75-mm mountain guns and one 70-mm howitzer. Bad weather had greatly restricted air operations during the first week after the invasion, and the weather probably accounted in part for the weakness of enemy air defense throughout the campaign; but the constant pounding of Japanese air bases within range of the Admiralties was a more important factor.
General MacArthur's decision to send a limited number of men and ships to take an enemy stronghold far in advance of Allied-held territory, and within striking distance of enemy planes, had proved worth the risks involved. At small cost our forces had placed themselves squarely across the enemy supply lines to the Bismarcks from the west. The difficult ground assault on Kavieng was now unnecessary, and both Rabaul and Kavieng, almost ringed by our air bases, could be neutralized and then kept in a condition of helpless checkmate. From the new base in the Admiralties, Allied air and naval forces could now launch surprise attacks on the Dutch New Guinea coast and could threaten essential enemy sea lanes within a 1,500-mile radius including the Marianas, the east coast of Mindanao, and the southern limits of the Celebes Sea. Finally, with the neutralization of enemy positions flanking the Admiralties, these islands could become the largest staging area for the Philippines invasion.
page created 28 June 2001
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