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This thesis studies the successful Japanese Centrifugal Offensive of 1941-42. The Japanese lacked realistic strategic objectives for the offensive, and the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), which was trained and equipped to fight the Soviet Army on the plains of Manchuria, had neither sufficient logistics structure nor appropriate equipment for a dispersed jungle campaign. Despite these severe strategic and operational failings, IJA tactical units achieved all of their objectives within six months. This study uses government documents, untranslated Japanese sources, and secondary works to examine the conscription system, training methods, equipment, and tactical doctrine that the IJA employed during the Centrifugal Offensive.
The study concludes that the IJA’s aggressive training methods produced a skilled army that easily adapted to the unfamiliar jungle terrain of the Southwest Pacific. While the IJA’s equipment was usually ill suited for battle against the Soviets, Japanese emphasis on light weight unintentionally made the IJA’s standard issue items eminently suitable for jungle operations. Likewise, the IJA’s doctrine was ideal for a short, offensive jungle campaign. The Centrifugal Offensive provides evidence to the modern military leader that well-trained soldiers will adapt to unfamiliar situations without special training, and that junior leaders can learn initiative through instruction and conditioning.