James Butler, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, recently wrote an article in Joint Force Quarterly in which he posits a though experiment that supposes the Japanese had Godzilla as an ally in World War II.
Godzilla, as all the world knows, was the subject of a 1954 movie in which the 300 foot reptile, a mutant created by nuclear bomb testing, trashed Tokyo, Japan and killed a lot of people. He has been featured on innumerable movies since, sometimes as an enemy of humankind, sometimes as a defender against other, worst monsters. A reimaging of Godzilla is due to be released on May 16, 2014.
Butler’s scenario has Godzilla defending a Japanese held island like Guadalcanal or Iowa Jima. The question arises, what part of the allied force arrayed against the island should Godzilla, an all but unstoppable weapon, attack first?
Butler’s point is that there is a concept called the “center of gravity” which constitutes that part of an enemy force without which it cannot achieve its objective. The objective of the allies is to take and hold the island as part of a campaign to deploy forces and bases as close of Japan as possible in preparation of an invasion of the home islands.
Going through a number of forces, including submarines and aircraft carriers that Godzilla could be ordered to attack, Butler hits upon the allied amphibious forces as the center of gravity. Without the amphibious forces, the allies cannot take the island away from the Japanese garrison holding it.
To illustrate the principle further, one can examine the potential conflict between Japan and China over certain islands in the East China Sea that sit on top of a great deal of oil, fish, and mineral wealth. What if the modern Japanese Self Defense Forces have Godzilla as an ally? What part of China’s forces does he attack to prevent that country from seizing control of the islands?
Clearly, as with the World War II scenario, whatever amphibious forces China possesses would have to be taken out to prevent it from seizing the islands. But China also can interdict the islands to prevent Japan from making use of them. So it seems that China has more than one “center of gravity” depending on its objectives. Godzilla would also have to sink China’s navy and down its air force before Japan can feel secure in the East China Sea.