4000 DEFENSE PENTAGON
                      WASHINGTON, D.C. 20301-4000

[Stamped: Dec. 15 1995]


SUBJECT: Advancement of Rear Admiral Kimmel and Major General Short

This review was undertaken in response to a commitment that former 
Deputy Secretary Deutch made to Senator Thurmond in April l995. You 
assigned me to conduct it. In essence, you asked me to advise you 
whether actions taken toward General Short and Admiral Kimmel some 50 
years ago were excessively harsh, and if so, whether posthumous 
advancement to three- and four-star rank is the appropriate remedy. 

These issues are immediate and highly emotional to the descendants of 
Admiral Kimmel and General Short. [1] Family members feel that the Pearl 
Harbor commanders were scapegoats for a disaster that they could neither 
prevent nor mitigate, and that others who were blameworthy escaped both 
official censure and public humiliation. They argue that advancement 
(or, as they put it, restoration to highest rank held) is the best way 
to remove the stigma and obloquy.

More is at stake here than the reputations of two officers and the 
feelings of their families. The principle of equity requires that wrongs 
be set right. In addition, we owe it to posterity to ensure that our 
history is told correctly.
With support from a small team of DoD civilians and military officers, I 
studied the performance of the two commanders, the procedures that led 
to their relief and retirement and the reports of the several Pearl 
Harbor investigations. I also tried to understand the basis for the 
families' claim that General Short and Admiral Kimmel were unfairly 
denied restoration to three-star and four-star rank when that action 
became legally possible in 1947. The team reviewed thousands of pages of 
documents, read a number of secondary sources, visited Pearl Harbor and 
interviewed members of the families.
My findings are: 

1. Responsibility for the Pearl Harbor disaster should not fall solely 
on the shoulders of Admiral Kimmel and General Short; it should be 
broadly shared. 

a. The United States and Japan were pursuing policies that were leading 
inexorably to war. Japan had occupied Manchuria, was threatening much of 
Asia and had joined in a tripartite alliance with Italy and Germany. The 
US reaction was to stop selling Japan 

[1] On December 7, 194l Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was Commander in 
Chief, United States Fleet and Commander in Chief, United States Pacific 
Fleet—the Navy's second-highest officer after the Chief of Naval 
Operations. Lieutenant General Walter C. Short was Commander of the 
Army's Hawaiian Department. 

[Certain typographical errors were corrected in this electronic copy of 
the Report after confirmation that changes were appropriate in 
consultation with Capt. S. Smith, USN, senior military adviser to the 
Hon. Edwin Dorn, on 25 January, 1996. LWJ]

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strategically important materials including oil (Japan bought most of 
its oil from the US) and, in the summer of 1941, to freeze Japanese 
assets in the US. Negotiations in the summer and fall of 194l failed to 
break the impasse. By late November 1941, civilian and military leaders 
in the US had concluded that conflict was imminent; the only questions 
were when and where it would occur. 

b. Admiral Kimmel and General Short were both sent "war warning" 
messages on November 27. They were advised that negotiations were 
stalemated and that Japan might take hostile action at any moment. 
Admiral Kimmel was ordered to execute a "defensive deployment" 
consistent with the US war plan in the Pacific; General Short was 
ordered to undertake "reconnaissance and other measures...", but his 
instructions were muddied somewhat by advice to avoid actions that would 
"alarm [Hawaii's] civil population or disclose intent." 

c. Admiral Kimmel and General Short discussed the November 27 war 
warning, but concluded that an attack would occur in the Western 
Pacific, not in Hawaii. Indeed, the November 27 messages had mentioned 
the likelihood that the attack would occur in "the Philippines, Thai or 
Kra Peninsula or .... Borneo." Washington also did not expect Hawaii to 
be attacked. Further, it appears that Admiral Kimmel and General Short 
were depending on timely tactical warning from Washington, should Hawaii 
become a target. Military leaders in Washington, on the other hand, 
appear to have felt that the November 27 war warning would lead Admiral 
Kimmel and General Short to heighten their vigilance, and failed to 
examine closely what they actually were doing. 

d. Officials in Washington did not send Admiral Kimmel and General Short 
other information, derived from the *Magic* project that broke the 
Japanese code, that might have given them a greater sense of urgency and 
caused them to surmise that Hawaii was a likely target. For example, 
Washington did not tell them that Japanese agents in Hawaii had been 
instructed to report on the precise location of ships at Pearl Harbor. 
(The Japanese attacked Hawaii, the Philippines and several other targets 
on the same day.) 

e. Information-sharing and operational cooperation were hampered by 
bureaucratic rivalries. The Army and Navy were separate executive 
departments reporting directly to the President, and only the President 
could ensure that they were working together. Admiral Kimmel and General 
Short had cordial personal relations, but felt it inappropriate to 
inquire into one another's professional domains. This apparently was the 
standard at the time. General Short's mission was to defend the fleet in 
Hawaii; Admiral Kimmel apparently never asked in detail about General 
Short's plans. Admiral Kimmel's mission was to prepare for offensive 
operations against Japan. Early in 1941 the Navy also had assumed from 
the Army responsibility for conducting long-range aerial reconnaissance. 
Even after receiving the war warning, General Short apparently did not 
ask Admiral Kimmel whether the Navy actually was conducting long-range 
air patrols. Nevertheless, General Short assumed that he would receive 
the advance warning needed to launch Army Air Corps fighters, which were 
on four-hour alert, and to ready his antiaircraft guns, whose ammunition 
was stored some distance from the batteries. Just as 

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Washington did not provide the Hawaii commanders with all the 
intelligence that was derived from *Magic*, so it also appears that 
Admiral Kimmel had more intelligence than he chose to share with General 
Short. For example, Admiral Kimmel learned on December 2 that several 
Japanese carriers were "lost" to US intelligence; their radio signals 
had not been detected for more than two weeks. He did not tell General 

f. The run-up to Pearl Harbor was fraught with miscommunication, 
oversights and lack of follow-up. In his November 27 war warning 
message, Army Chief of Staff Marshall directed General Short to 
"undertake such reconnaissance ant other measures as you deem 
necessary..." General Short assumed this order was misworded, because he 
believed General Marshall knew that the Navy had taken over the 
reconnaissance responsibility from the Army. He also assumed that the 
Navy was doing it. General Short's response to General Marshall 
described plans to defend against sabotage, but said nothing about 
reconnaissance. Apparently, no one in the War Department took note of 
the omission. The November 27 war warning from Admiral Stark, the Chief 
of Naval Operations (CNO), instructed Admiral Kimmel to undertake a 
"defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in 
WPL 46; [the war plan]." Exactly what Admiral Stark intended is not 
clear. Admiral Kimmel interpreted the CNO's guidance to mean that he 
(Admiral Kimmel) should continue what he had been doing for several 
weeks -- sending submarines and planes to patrol around Wake and Midway, 
and patrolling outside Pearl Harbor for Japanese submarines. Carrier 
task forces en route to Wake and Midway were doing aerial reconnaissance 
as part of their normal training, thus covering a portion of the Pacific 
west and southwest of Hawaii. "Deployment" also could have meant to 
sortie the fleet from Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kimmel did not do that. 
Instead, he kept his ships in port, but pointed their bows toward the 
entrance so that they could leave quickly if the need arose. Moving 
several dozen warships through Pearl Harbor's narrow channel and into 
fighting posture on the high seas would have taken several hours. No one 
in the Department of Navy took issue with Admiral Kimmel's 
interpretation of the CNO's instructions. 

g. Resources were scarce. Washington didn't have enough cryptologists 
and linguists to decode all the Japanese message traffic, so the 
analysts gave priority to diplomatic traffic over military traffic. The 
Navy in Hawaii was short of planes and crews. The Army in Hawaii was 
short of munitions.

h. Finally, the Japanese attack was brilliantly conceived and flawlessly 
executed. It involved a bold new use of carriers. It required crossing 
four thousand miles of ocean undetected, which meant taking the storm-
tossed northern route where there was little commercial shipping. It 
required new technology—torpedoes that could be used in the shallow, 
narrow confines of Pearl Harbor. And the attack required extraordinarily 
well trained air crews with commanders capable of coordinating more than 
150 planes in each wave of attack. US Naval exercises during the 1930s 
and the British Navy's 1940 raid on the Italian fleet at Taranto had 
demonstrated the feasibility of carrier-based attacks. But the scale and 
complexity of the Japanese attack greatly exceeded anything envisioned 
before. American military experts underestimated Japanese capability. 

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2. To say that responsibility is broadly shared is not to absolve 
Admiral Kimmel and General Short of accountability. 

a. Military command is unique. A commander has plenary responsibility 
for the welfare of the people under his or her command, and is directly 
accountable for everything the unit does or fails to do. When a ship 
runs aground, the captain is accountable whether or not he/she was on 
the bridge at the time. When a unit is attacked, it is the Commander and 
not the intelligence officer or the sentry who is accountable. Command 
at the three- and four-star level involves daunting responsibilities. 
Military officers at that level operate with a great deal of 
independence. They must have extraordinary skill, foresight and 
judgment, and a willingness to be accountable for things about which 
they could not possibly have personal knowledge. Today, for example, the 
senior Commander in Hawaii is responsible for US military operations 
spanning half the world's surface -- from the West coast of the United 
States to the east coast of Asia. His fleets sail the Pacific, the 
Indian Ocean, the China Sea, the Sea of Japan, the Arctic and the 
Antarctic. This, in the understated language of military law, is "a 
position of importance and responsibility." 

b. It was appropriate that Admiral Kimmel and General Short be relieved. 
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, their relief was occasioned by 
the need to restore confidence in the Navy and Army's leadership, 
especially in the Pacific, and to get going with the war. Subsequently, 
investigations concluded that both commanders made errors of judgment. I 
have seen no information that leads me to contradict that conclusion. 

c. The intelligence available to Admiral Kimmel and General Short was 
sufficient to justify a higher level of vigilance than they chose to 
maintain. They knew that war was imminent, they knew that Japanese 
tactics featured surprise attacks, and Admiral Kimmel (though not 
General Short) knew that the US had lost track of Japan's carriers. 
Further, they had the resources to maintain a higher level of vigilance. 
Admiral Kimmel believed that the optimum aerial reconnaissance would 
require covering 360 degrees around Hawaii for a sustained period. The 
Navy clearly did not have enough planes for that. This does not mean, 
however, that Admiral Kimmel had to choose between ideal aerial 
reconnaissance and no aerial reconnaissance. The fleet also had cruisers 
and destroyers that could have been used as pickets to supplement air 
patrols, but were not.

d. Different choices might not have discovered the carrier armada and 
might not have prevented the attack, but different choices -- a 
different allocation of resources -- could have reduced the magnitude of 
the disaster. The Navy and the Army were at a low level of alert against 
aerial attack. Shipboard anti-aircraft guns were firing within five 
minutes. The Army was not able to bring its batteries into play during 
the first wave of the attack and only four Army Air Corps fighters 
managed to get airborne. US losses included 2,403 dead (1,177 of whom 
are entombed in the Arizona), 1,178 wounded, eight battleships, ten 
other vessels and more than 100 aircraft. Japanese losses were 29 
aircraft, one large submarine and five midget submarines. 

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3. The official treatment of Admiral Kimmel and General Short was 
substantively temperate and procedurally proper. 

a. Admiral Kimmel and General Short were the objects of public 
vilification. At least one Member of Congress demanded that they be 
summarily dismissed, stripped of rank and denied retirement benefits. 
They received hate mail and death threats. The public and Congress were 
clamoring for information about Pearl Harbor. The news media went into a 
feeding frenzy, gobbling up tidbits of blame and punishment. Under the 
circumstances, it is not surprising that information very hurtful to 
Admiral Kimmel and General Short -- information implying that they would 
be court martialed, for example -— was given to the press. These things 
happen, often not for the most honorable of reasons. This does not mean, 
however, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were victims of a smear 
campaign orchestrated by government officials.

b. In contrast to their treatment by some of the media, their official 
treatment was substantively temperate. They were relieved, they reverted 
to two-star rank, and under the laws in force at the time, their 
retirements were at the two-star Level. Although there was mention of 
court martial, no charges were brought. Indeed, official statements and 
investigations seemed purposely to avoid wording that would lead to 
court martial. For example, the Roberts Commission used the phrase 
"dereliction of duty" -- a stinging rebuke, but at the time not a court 
martial offense. The Roberts Commission avoided other phrases, such as 
"culpable inefficiency" and neglect of duty", that were court martial 
offenses. Later investigations such as the Joint Congressional Committee 
report eschewed "dereliction" in favor of "errors of judgment." 

c. Admiral Kimmel requested a court martial in order to clear his name, 
but the request was not acted on. There is an allegation that the 
government feared bringing charges because a court martial would have 
put other senior military and civilian leaders in a bad light. This is 
possible. But it is equally possible that there simply were not 
sufficient grounds to sustain a successful prosecution. A court marital 
almost certainly would have revealed the existence of *Magic*, a key US 
intelligence asset. 

d. I do not find major fault with the procedures used in the 
investigations. Family members have complained that Admiral Kimmel and 
General Short were denied "due process"; that is, they were not allowed 
to call their own witnesses or to cross-examine witnesses. But the 
calling and cross-examination of witnesses is characteristic of trials, 
not of investigations. Some of the investigations may have been more 
thorough than others, but I do not see a convincing basis for concluding 
that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were victims of government 
scapegoating or of a government-inspired smear campaign. 

4. History has not been hostile to Admiral Kimmel and General Short.

a. None of the official reports ever held that Admiral Kimmel and 
General Short were solely responsible for the Pearl Harbor disaster, 
although the Roberts Commission came 

Page 6

close. Later reports exchewed [sic] the stinging "dereliction of duty" 
rebuke in favor of "errors of judgment." 

b. Historians who write about Pearl Harbor seem to be divided into three 
camps: those who hold Admiral Kimmel and General Short partly (but not 
solely) responsible; those who believe they were scapegoats; and those 
who lay much of the blame on bureaucratic factors such as the lack of 
coordination between the Army and the Navy. National Park Service guides 
at the Arizona Memorial, for example, focus on the factors that led to 
war and on the tactics used in the attack, not on individual military 
leaders. A 30-minute film produced exclusively for use at the Arizona 
Memorial mentions Admiral Kimmel and General Short only once, and not at 
all disparagingly. Admiral Kimmel and General Short are not discussed 
prominently or disparagingly in history classes at West Point, Annapolis 
and the Air Force Academy. Of eight US history texts in use at the 
service academies today, one is critical of Admiral Kimmel. Thus, while 
their reputations may have been damaged in the years immediately 
following Pearl Harbor, the passage of time has produced balance. 

5. There is not a compelling basis for advancing either officer to a 
higher grade.

a. Their superiors concluded that Admiral Kimmel and General Short did 
not demonstrate the judgment required of people who serve at the three- 
and four-star level. That conclusion may seem harsh, but it is made all 
the time. I have not seen a convincing basis for contradicting it in the 
instant case. It also is important to keep in mind that retirement at 
the two-star grade is not an insult or a stigma. Very few officers rise 
to that level of distinction. 

b. Retirement at three- and four-star level was not a right in 1947 and 
is not today. Officers are nominated for retirement at that level by the 
President at the President's discretion and based on his conclusion that 
they served satisfactorily at the temporary grades. His nomination is 
subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. A nominee's errors and 
indiscretions must be reported to the Senate as adverse information.

In sum, I cannot conclude that Admiral Kimmel and General Short were 
victims of unfair official actions and thus I cannot conclude that the 
official remedy of advancement on the retired list in order. Admiral 
Kimmel and General Short did not have all the resources they felt 
necessary. Had they been provided more intelligence and clearer 
guidance, they might have understood their situation more clearly and 
behaved differently. Thus, responsibility for the magnitude of the Pearl 
Harbor disaster must be shared. But this is not a basis for 
contradicting the conclusion, drawn consistently over several 
investigations, that Admiral Kimmel and General Short committed errors 
of judgment. As commanders, they were accountable. 

Admiral Kimmel and General Short suffered greatly for Pearl Harbor. They 
lost men for whom they were responsible. They felt that too much of the 
blame was placed on them. Their children and grandchildren continue to 
be haunted by it all. For all this, there can be sadness. But there can 
be no official remedy. 

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I recommend that you provide a copy of this memorandum and attachment to 
Senator Thurmond, the families of Admiral Kimmel and General Short, the 
secretaries of Army and Navy and other interested parties.

/S/ Edwin Dorn

Attachment: Staff Report

Page maintained by Larry W. Jewell, lwjewell@omni.cc.purdue.edu. Created: 12/24/96 Updated: 12/24/96