ruined. These people had to be weeded out. There is some suspicion that there was not enough time for this, either.
Few commanders ever feel that they have sufficient troops and equipment on hand for the tasks they have been given. These officers were no exception. Preparations were so hasty and the forces available so scanty that some officers called this expedition Operation "SHOESTRING."
What concerned the Allies most--assuming the absence of enemy aircraft carriers--was the major land-plane base complex which the Japanese had established at Rabaul, 675 miles from Guadalcanal, and the new air bases which they were building at Kieta only about 300 miles from Guadalcanal, and on Guadalcanal itself. The thought of an Allied expeditionary force being exposed to attack by large numbers of land-based fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes kept the staffs awake at night. The enemy had the initiative and was on the offensive. Japan's lines of communication and supply were interior. Three of its major bases--Rabaul, Truk, and Kwajalein--were within 1,200 miles of the target area; the United State's own nearest base--Pearl Harbor-- was 3,000 miles away. Yet the presence of land-based aircraft only 555 miles from Espiritu Santo was a threat the United States had to parry at once, and did so.