Information Warfare: June 19, 2002

Archives

Army and marine drill instructors, who must turn civilians into competent infantry (or, as the marines prefer to put it, "riflemen") are wincing at the latest war movie to hit theaters. "Windtalkers" tells the story of Navaho marines in World War II who used their unique language to encode radio communications during combat in the Pacific. Among the misconceptions the movie portrays are; a marine shooting at three moving Japanese soldiers 20 meters away with a pistol. Three shots, three Japanese drop. Pistols are not that accurate, and thinking they are can get a soldier killed. In another scene, three aircraft come in, drop three bombs on Japanese artillery positions and score three direct hits. That might work today with GPS bombs, but a lot of dumb bombs are still used and you're not going to see that kind of accuracy with dumb bombs. Most of the explosions were unrealistic. Hollywood prefers lots of flames when grenades or artillery shells go off. You only get the flames if you hit a fuel dump with shells. Grenades are pretty low key in the explosion department. And the myth that marines were told to kill Navaho "codetalkers", if the Japanese seemed about to capture one of the Navaho marines alive, is given new life in the movie. There was never any such order, although many of the Navaho marines themselves believed there was. Aside from the practical matter that the Navaho language is so complex that even if the Japanese knew it, they would need months to train their radio intercept people to even understand it, there is also the problem of getting one or two captured Navaho off an island surrounded by the U.S. Navy. The movie promotion also makes a few other errors. This was not the first use of American Indians as codetalkers. Six Choctaws did the same thing in World War I. Moreover, the Navaho language code was not "the only American code the Japanese didn't break." The Japanese broke very few American codes, and generally low level ones at that. 

 


Article Archive

Information Warfare: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
$0
$2500

Don't Let Us Go Up In Smoke!

January, February and March are notoriously low ad revenue months online. And StrategyPage has not been spared. We need to raise $2500 in combined subscriptions and contributions to keep us moving forward.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close