I wasn't sure about how the Japanese pilot training program changed as the war progressed and fuel became scarce. I think there's testimony from USN senior carrier officers and pilots that the quality of IJN pilots in the Battle of the Philippine Sea was substandard. In his memoir a Japanese ace, Saburo Sakai, if I remember correctly, observed that late in the war that many of the pilots reaching the front-line units were inferior by comparison with many of those from Sakai's prewar training class who "washed out." Same was undoubtedly true for the Luftwaffe.
While at West Point my instructor for "The History of Sea Power" was Cdr Thomas Buell who wrote the biography of Spruance, "The Quiet Warrior." A few things which I remember from reading it a long time ago - Spruance's later contributions as President of the Naval War College (and influence on naval strategy and education) and Ambassador to the Philippines. He absolutely shunned publicity and even refused to debate critics so basically undercut his own reputation and chances for his own fifth star.
Ralph Hitchens writes that "those veteran [IJN] pilots had been killed off and replaced by poorly-trained amateurs." But I have read that the IJN kept to its astonishingly high training standards to nearly the end of the war. As we know, it was just the opposite in the ETO. Flight reports of the Tuskegee Airmen show the declining quality of their opponents. As an example, a flight of Red Tails came upon a ragged formation of Luftwaffe fighters late in the war which just wagged its wings (and was shot down anyway.) No one thought this was unusual.,
Excellent post using a broad brush. Yes, Spruance deserved a fifth star more so than Halsey, but I wonder if he was too much of an intellectual, perhaps? A quiet man who may have seemed, to many, to be a bit of an odd duck. And, of course, the brown shoe (aviator) admirals somehow viewed the Battle of the Philippine Sea as something less than a complete victory, despite the "Mariana's Turkey Shoot."
With these most interesting historical and analytic comments, their cogent for making another point, actually unrelated to Pacific WW II but experienced in Europe as part of war there. Rotating staffs due to overuse, an American experience, saw something quite different in Europe.
To which, reference is here including the previous postings on WW I; there, one of conditions imposed upon Germany by Versailles Treaty handed down by the Allies, included disbanding the German General Staff and its forbidden practice after 1918 and defeat.
I wholly endorse recommendations to look into the books by Richard Franks and Wilson Miscamble. My belief is that from the outset there was no doubt in the minds of American military decision-makers from the President on down, that when the weapon became available it would be used against whichever Axis power posed the greatest threat. When it was weaponized on the heels of the Okinawa campaign, which generated devastating loss of life on both sides, the decision to use it against Japan was inevitable.
All, someone asked me offline about the rotating staff/commands under Admirals Spruance and Halsey pursuant to thinking about defense reform today. As most of this audience knows, there was only one fleet of ships that Spruance and Halsey "shared." Here is what I wrote in response.
Thank you for reminding me to add Churchill to my list of works to consult.