There will never be another war fought in the way the Pacific War was fought again. Technology rules it out, and the the geopolitical landscape of today makes it unlikely another major naval war is in the offing. And yet all wars of every age have been fought just like the Pacific War in one vital way. The harnessing of people and their talents.
If one were to look at carrier battles, you’d get the impression the naval war took a nap between Guadalcanal and the Philippine Sea. It did not, surface actions abounded. Guadalcanal saw five major surface actions and two of those had battleships at the heart of the task forces. Numerous small ship actions took place across the central and southwest pacific taking a terrible toll on the IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) weakening it and paving the way for even greater advances by the USN (United States Navy). In the early stages of the surface war the IJN had a huge advantage against it’s enemy in night actions as well as in tactics, weapons and training. And these advantages came because the Japanese Navy used the talents of it’s personnel to the best advantage. The IJN had poor radar so they gave the men with the best night vision the best optics then available, allowing the Japanese to often spot enemy ships first and gain the precious advantage of firing first. Tireless training in gunnery and torpedo attacks meant the IJN had a huge advantage in night surface action. So much so the Japanese spent the war attempting meet the USN in night surface action when possible. Going so far as to postpone a battle until night could cover their ships. The USN had A LOT of catching up to do, and America responded like, well, Americans! Partly with technology: radar, and the indispensable Combat Intelligence Center (CIC) aboard ships, TBS radio, the ECM Mk II ciphering machine, and ever better radios. But while later day Americans talk endlessly about these leaps in technology and how they changed forever fleet combat, we forget that America fought smart, and by fighting smart won the war. Navajo code talkers spoke a language no Japanese listing post could ever decipher. American reconnaissance units flew thousands and thousands of useless missions over non-target Japanese assets making the empire expend men across the face of the pacific weakening the garrisons of real targets. The full employment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry; even after their shameful treatment by a Government that desperately needed every loyal man, women and talent they could bring; were used not just to understand the enemy but to tailor make our propaganda to the average citizen of Japan, and to shape the post war policy of occupation by American forces.
If the pacific war has given us lessons in how superior technology can shape and change a war or warfare in general, it has also taught the lesson that a nation can possesses the industrial, technological even the numerical advantage, but victory comes only with the full employment of every talent that every citizen can bring to produce victory.