Breaking the Cycle of Iwo Jima Mythology: A Strategic Study of Operation Detachment

The American struggle to capture the Pacific Island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese in 1945 proved to be the bloodiest fight in Marine Corps history. Yet, ironically, the justifications for seizing the island have undergone little critical analysis. A detailed look into the planning for Iwo Jima demonstrates that the service rivalry resulting from the competing agendas of the Navy, Army and Army Air Forces in the Pacific negatively influenced the decision to initiate Operation Detachment. The Marine Corps, which paid the heaviest price, remained completely excluded from the decision making process. When fighter escort operations from Iwo Jima, the original reason given for seizing the island, failed to produce the anticipated results, the military sought additional reasons to justify the costly battle. Historians, unfortunately, have perpetuated these illusions.