By Robert Jackson
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Additional resources for Cassell Military Classics: Before the Storm: The Story of Bomber Command 1939-42
It was here that the Japanese had constructed an airfield and had concentrated their major defenses. It was here that the first major amphibious assault by American forces in the Central Pacific would take place. Betio itself is surrounded on all sides by reefs. Along the south shore the reef extends to a uniform distance of about 600 yards from the high-water line. On the narrow west shore it varies from 800 to 1,200 yards at the extreme southwest point of the island where strong rip currents occur.
The Marshalls operation would require two reinforced amphibious divisions, four heavy bombardment and two fighter groups of land-based planes, and aircraft from four standard and four auxiliary aircraft carriers, in addition to four battleships, three more auxiliary carriers, twelve cruisers, sixty-three destroyers, twenty-four attack transports, forty-four tank landing ships (LST's), plus landing craft. Garrison forces would include one reinforced division, 10 defense battalions, 545 planes, and 18 motor torpedo boats.
United States forces, it by a large, sustained air offensive against was decided, were to advance westward the home islands was regarded as the best from Pearl Harbor through the Central method. The possibility of employing air Pacific, and through the South and Southbases in the Kuril Islands, Formosa, and west Pacific Areas to open a line of comSiberia to mount the offensive was dis- munications to the Celebes Sea, recapture cussed, but it was agreed that China the Philippine Islands, secure control of offered the best sites.