Besides the genius of “Tiger of Malaya”, what’s most interesting in the course of my research that prepared my lecture on Malayan Campaign to the officer cadets back then, was the handy tactical pamphlet issued to each soldier, Read This Alone - And The War Can be Won.
What’s so interesting about this pamphlet is to start with the background in the run-up to December 1941. War in China back then bogged down; it’s akin to a python attempting to swallow an elephant instead of a deer. Imperial Japan needed resources to fuel this war effort. 1/
The imperial GHQ was generally split into two camps: go north vs go south. Go north camp advocated exploiting the sizeable IJA presence on Korean Peninsula and Manchuria to stage a knock out blow at Stalin’s USSR in the Far East to reach Siberia’s resource riches. 2/
IJA’s elite fighting formation, the Kwantung Army, was well poised for the Go North plan. It’s well trained, ably led (if also by fanatical and aggressive senior officers), well equipped and had a proud combat history. To the GHQ, the Soviets would be a cake walk. 3/
Some historians would argue that the Battle of Nomonhan between Imperial Japan and USSR, in the arid and desolated plains of the Manchuria border, was strategically decisive. The campaign turned out to be a colossal disaster for the IJA, thereby dashing Go North camp’s hopes. 4/
With Siberia’s resource riches out of reach, Go South camp in GHQ prevailed in the debate, and so plans were afoot for a campaign in Southeast Asia, to seize Malaya and Singapore, and Dutch East Indies. But problem is IJA wasn’t optimised for tropical warfare. 5/
GHQ set forth with an elaborate blueprint to prepare IJA for combat in the tropics, literally from scratch. Intel operatives in the region took painstaking efforts to scout and map out the invasion routes in Malaya, using guises to mask their intent. 6/
These initial field recce and survey work churned out invaluable data for GHQ planners. Taiwan, then under Imperial Japan’s colonial rule, was a key base to research on surviving and operating under tropical conditions, including research on tropical diseases. 7/
The long preparation paid off for GHQ; the IJA eventually produced from scratch its own operating manuals for combat under tropical conditions. Thus Read This Alone - And The War Can be Won, was born. It’s a simple pamphlet that guides the individual IJA soldier. 8/
Read This Alone was designed to be easy to read and follow by any rank and file soldier in IJA touching on the basics of tropical jungle fieldcraft, fire and maneuver, etc. Formations that Yamashita led in 1941 were also adequately structured and equipped for the tropics. 9/
This pamphlet prepared Yamashita’s soldiers better for the Malaya Campaign than his counterpart under Percival’s command. What stood out was how the British Army applied a completely unsuitable fighting concept - positional warfare which would be useful in desert not jungle. 10/
By contrast, the IJA applied more superior fire and maneuver fighting concept suited for the jungle terrain, allowing the troops to quickly outmaneuver, bypass and isolate, literally overrun Percival’s defenders in a campaign that lasted much shorter than expected. 11/
On top of that, of course, is to mention that Percival’s troops were not suitably equipped for jungle warfare; many of them only entered the theatre shortly before hostilities broke out, and they had little preparation for combat in the tropics. 12/
So while not over exaggerating the factor of this humble pamphlet, it’s not presumptuous to assess that Read This Alone had been instrumental in preparing IJA troops better for the campaign. It contrasts sheer determination combined with meticulous planning against hubris. END

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More from @CollinSLKoh

15 May
MINI-THREAD: Yesterday (15/5) at Zhoushan, the PLA Eastern Theater Command Navy dispatched the 38th Escort Task Force for counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. Notably, destroyer Nanjing debuts for such mission. My updated table below.…
My first observation is that from 2019, the composition of a typical ETF has stabilized to 1 destroyer, 1 frigate and 1 replenishment oiler. Prior to that, shortfalls in destroyers would mean either 2 frigates were deployed, or that there'll be LPDs filling the slot sometimes. 1/
Second observation is the PLA Navy's increased fleet capacity accords the luxury of dispatching different ships each time, unlike in the past (up until the end of 2017) when the same ship would be deployed again. 2/
Read 10 tweets
9 Apr
THREAD: following reports of PLA Navy Type-022 Houbei catamaran missile fast attack craft harassing a motorboat chartered by ABS-CBN journalists in the Spratlys, Beijing's pretense about just using "white hulls" to promote SCS peace and stability is well over. Context is impt.
In recent years, especially after the disparate PRC maritime law enforcement agencies were unified under a single China Coast Guard, there has been internal debate within the agency about the challenges they face when carrying out maritime sovereignty and rights protection. 1/
One of the complaints within CCG is that, while PRC has been trying to "foster stability" by using "white hulls" to spearhead maritime sovereignty and rights protection duties, they often encounter navies of the SCS rivals, putting them at disadvantage, or so they claimed. 2/
Read 24 tweets
16 Feb
That's a load of crap, if you bother to dig out the list of transgressions which took place since late 2016. Crying victim and blame-push in order to justify asking Americans to pay to keep VFA? Want to have your cake and eat it, I suppose.…
Exhibit 1: “It is not enough that China now gives the impression that it is giving ‘permission’ to our fisherfolk to fish in the waters around the shoal… giving permission is an act of ownership, it should not stop our claim of ownership over the shoal.”…
Exhibit 2: "He told us we should not be overly celebrating, because we might offend China," Lorenzana.…
Read 8 tweets
24 Jan
@fravel Thank you Professor Taylor. Under Ch3, clause 20, the CCG is authorized to order foreign organizations or individuals to cease such unlawful activities or to dismantle/remove the structures, floating or fixed, within waters and on islands and reefs under national jurisdiction...
@fravel And the subsequent mention is that if the foreign organizations or individuals fail to heed those orders, CCG is authorized to stop those activities (i.e. construction of those structures) or forcibly dismantle/remove them...
@fravel This clause gives "stability-inducing cover" to CCG, because it first mandates CCG to order the other party to desist from constructing/emplacing those structures, and failing which, escalate the action to stop such activities or forcibly dismantling/removing those structures...
Read 11 tweets
22 Jan
THREAD: The 25th Standing Committee session of PRC's 13th National People's Congress passed the Coast Guard Law, which has been under deliberation and opened to "public consultation" for the past few months since last year. Some key takes below.…
1. There has been much reported in the press focusing on the authorization of CCG to open fire at foreign vessels. The first that came to my mind is that beyond how it could impact regional maritime flashpoints e.g. SCS disputes, it's a common practice worldwide anyway. 1/
2. Authorizing MLE agencies to open fire in the course of their law enforcement and sovereignty assertion duties is nothing new, since coastal states have had domestic laws governing such provisions. In 2018, Vietnam passed its new coast guard law that outlines the same. 2/
Read 32 tweets
14 Jan
THREAD: Since there's no background context provided here, I shall chip in to dispel the notion that the SCS arbitration brought forth by then Aquino Administration against Beijing in 2013 is "destabilizing" as claimed here.
Scarborough Shoal falls within Philippine EEZ. Due to its capacity shortfalls in enforcing fishery protection, Manila's enforcement in the shoal against foreign fishermen operating there had at best been intermittent throughout the decades. 1/
If one bothers to catalogue the instances of maritime activities in Scarborough Shoal, it's possible to uncover instances where PH maritime forces managed to apprehend PRC fishermen in the shoal. Beijing would protest but nothing more than that. 2/
Read 19 tweets

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