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Thread: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

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    Default MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    ... Roosevelt made no secret of his disappointment with the general. In March [1942], he told Admiral Thomas Hart that MacArthur had assured Washington that he could easily repulse a Japanese attack on the Philippines anytime after December 1, 1941. "If I had known the true situation," Roosevelt mused, "I could have babied the Japanese along quite a while longer."
    Michael Schaller, Douglas MacArthur - The Far Eastern General, Oxford University Press, New York, 1989, p.63

    This may be Roosevelt's equivalent of Churchill's postwar statement that Churchill didn't realise how bad the situation was in Malaya / Singapore before the Japanese attacked (which may be true, but he'd had plenty of sound military advice about it at the time which he chose to disregard with his usual arrogance that he knew better than his professional military advisers), but if it accurately reflects Roosevelt's reliance on MacArthur's florid and hopelessly inflated advice about the capacity of the US and Filipino forces to defend the Philippines then MacArthur made a major contribution to the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as his own uniquely incompetent defence of the Philippines.

    Then again, in the same month as the quoted comment Roosevelt approved the award to MacArthur of probably the least ever deserved Congressional Medal of Honor, for political purposes.

    As is so often the case with MacArthur, public conduct and his public reputation cannot be reconciled with his actions and incactions.
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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    Just for boundless irony and laughter, here is the citation for MacArthur's CMH:

    For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.
    Every bit of it is utter bullshit, like almost all of MacArthur's carefullly managed press releases from the Philippines and after his escape.
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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    I think of an excellent contribution he could have made to Pearl Harbour. As an anchor.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    I for one have always been impressed by the dichotomy of opinion about MacArthur. My main interest is the European War, and for certain types of weaponry, so I confess I have never undertaken a study of the pros and cons of the man. Yet these comments seem to have such vitriol. The man did reach the general's rank -- and since this was a period after the American Civil War, doesn't that suggest he had SOME capability and/or competence at SOMETHING?

    I suspect part of what I see above is in reaction to what may be perceived as the overblown reputation of MacArthur. Or do you really hold that there is nothing good to be said for the man? A debate team, for instance, would be expected to argue either side of a question -- even take and argue a position with which the team members earnestly disagreed. Out of curiosity, if called upon, what might the posters above say in favor of the man?

    One of the nuggets of information I have is that among the first places the Garand rifle was issued was in the Philippines -- e.g., I believe the "Philippine Scouts" formation had Garands almost immediately. (I suspect that might be even more impressive a fact if US racial attitudes had Filipinos as inferiors?) I have no idea what, if any, role MacArthur may have played in that, but I do know the rationale was that the Philippines would be one the places most likely to see ground action if war broke out. Somebody somewhere had at least that much sense.

    Even if all detraction is true, perhaps MacArthur was a good peace time general, assuring supplies were laid in, weapons at hand? Good at logistics? Some have claimed he was good a politics (here I refer only to dealing with the "the locals," not national US politics, an area into which I won't venture here). As I said, I am little exposed to all his "pros and cons," but do you really see the man as wholly negative, with no redeeming qualities?
    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    I think part of it is that nowadays people's expectations of a general officer have changed, to more closely match Slim's attitude in Burma.

    Officers are there to lead. I tell you, therefore, as officers, that you will neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor smoke, nor even sit down until you have personally seen that your men have done those things. If you will do this for them, they will follow you to the end of the world. And, if you do not, I will break you.

    MacArthur's style of leadership was much older, akin to a Prince or even a Roman Emperor (he certainly started acting like one later in Japan and Korea). This change of attitudes isn't unusual - see for instance how Scott and Shackleton were regarded in their lifetimes, and how they are regarded nowadays.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    The man did reach the general's rank -- and since this was a period after the American Civil War, doesn't that suggest he had SOME capability and/or competence at SOMETHING?
    Compared with British, French and Australian officers who served on the Western Front in WWI and reached general's rank then or subsequently, MacArthur had very little battle command experience and was a comparative lightweight.

    There is no guarantee that any officer at any rank is competent, let alone brilliant as MacArthur presented himself.

    His pre-WWII organisation of the defence of the Philippines in his various capacities as head of the Philippines forces and then as a serving American officer leading up to the war was abysmal, although his reports to Washington proclaimed that he had vast and well trained forces which did not exist.

    His conduct of the defence of the Philippines from his inert funk on Day 1 which saw him lose half of his very modern bomber force on the ground to his poor logistical preparations which saw him supply the by then badly undersupplied advancing Japanese with food dumps placed in their path and not destroyed by his forces, along with a series of other logistical and tactical blunders, was pathetic. Not that the American public knew it as they thought he was heroically holding out against the Japanese, although the sole source of the public belief was misleading and glowing reports issued by MacArthur which were even more fictitious than his pre-war reports on the adequacy of his defences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    I suspect part of what I see above is in reaction to what may be perceived as the overblown reputation of MacArthur.
    His reputation is certainly overblown. That is attributable purely to his careful management of the press. Read up on his bullshit about the Papuan campaign in the second half of 1942 where he presented himself as leading the American troops who won the campaign, when in fact it was Australian troops who did the fighting that mattered while MacArthur never visited the front and had no idea of the atrocious conditions facing the Australians and the American division which had stalled at Buna.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Or do you really hold that there is nothing good to be said for the man? A debate team, for instance, would be expected to argue either side of a question -- even take and argue a position with which the team members earnestly disagreed. Out of curiosity, if called upon, what might the posters above say in favor of the man?
    I’ve posted plenty in favour of MacArthur in the past, but I’ve read a lot more about him since which encourages me to the view that a balanced view of the man forces an objective observer to the conclusion that whatever positive features he possessed were outweighed by the glaring facts that he was a self-seeking, arrogant, manipulative, unprincipled, hysterical, somewhat paronoid, politically ambitious general of limited military competence as a commander with demonstrated vast incompetence as a commander in the Philippines which should have resulted in him being subjected to far greater criticism and ignominy than Kimmel etc in Hawaii.

    And that’s without going into his scandalous acceptance probably contrary to military regulations of a ‘gift’ of a huge amount of money via a US bank from Philippines President Quezon while MacArthur was on Corregidor while his troops were starving on Bataan, which he visited only once during his supposedly heroic defence (I think Eisenhower rejected the offer of a similar gift from the same source); his ‘fight to the death’ orders to Wainwright after MacArthur had left the Philippines and was safely in Australia; his retention of field command over Wainwright after MacArthur had left the Philippines; his opposition to the award to Wainwright of a Congressional Medal of Honor to which Wainwright had a better claim than MacArthur did to his; his obsequious fawning on politicians and others 1942 – 44 in pursuit of his Presidential ambitions; his disgraceful award to Lyndon Johnson, the future US President, of a completely undeserved Silver Star; and about another fifty pages I could add of disgraceful and appalling behaviour as a military officer in the service of Douglas MacArthur, with occasional diversions into the service of his nation and the Philippines.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Even if all detraction is true, perhaps MacArthur was a good peace time general, assuring supplies were laid in, weapons at hand? Good at logistics?
    Only if one equates placing food dumps etc in the path of an advancing enemy and then failing to destroy them before the enemy got them or, worse, failing to move them to the redoubt on Bataan so that the troops there wouldn’t starve as soon as they did.

    And only if one equates lying about the forces under his command and their capabilities as being a good peace time general.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Some have claimed he was good a politics (here I refer only to dealing with the "the locals,"].
    No, he managed to stuff that up, too, to the extent that Quezon had frozen him out and wouldn’t communicate with him directly leading up to the war.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    As I said, I am little exposed to all his "pros and cons," but do you really see the man as wholly negative, with no redeeming qualities?
    Nobody is wholly negative. Even Hitler could be nice to children and liked dogs. That doesn’t outweigh the evil he did.

    As for MacArthur, at times he displayed personal courage to inspire his troops (which might not have been needed if he hadn’t earned the title ‘Dugout Doug’ during his conspicuous absence from the front in the Bataan / Corregidor period and his subsequent abandonment of them), but his obsession with regaining the Philippines and his demands for resources to aid that aim may be seen as causing an unnecessary diversion of resources from the task of defeating Japan as this could more readily have been achieved by a thrust across the central Pacific. As indeed it pretty much was, but that thrust was aided greatly by the very large land, air and naval forces deployed by Japan to respond to MacArthur’s thrust and destroyed by the Allies (i.e. largely Americans by that stage) in late 1944-45.

    MacArthur surrounded himself with a very effective group of ‘yes men’ from Sutherland down after he arrived in Australia in March 1942 and from then on he and they continued his personal propaganda campaign by tightly controlling press releases which made MacArthur into something very much greater than he was. As was indeed recognised by, I think, Clare Booth Luce who wrote a laudatory article about him for ?Time? before the war but who privately said something along the lines that he was a man with many deficiencies but that they had to be ignored for the good of the nation in putting him forward as a competent commander.

    The book I quoted from in the first post in this thread presents a carefully researched account of the man’s military and related history. He does not emerge from it well.

    Percival, who lost Singapore, was on his worst day a hundred times better as a strategist and commander than MacArthur, yet MacArthur is seen as some sort of genius for his ‘island hopping campaign’ (which wasn’t his original idea and which was employed more effectively in the central Pacific thrust) while poor old Percival is seen as a failure. The main difference is that MacArthur controlled his press image and sucked up to the rich and powerful conservative elements opposed to Roosevelt, notably the press barons who happily promoted him as their ideal general.
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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    I think of an excellent contribution he could have made to Pearl Harbour. As an anchor.
    He lacked enough substance for that.

    As to Roosevelt's opening quote, it's debatable whether Roosevelt could have strung the Japanese along for any useful delay.

    Japan had decided in mid-1941 that it was going to strike south if it couldn't get acceptable terms from the West. It was probably more a case of Japan stringing the West along in the negotiations.

    The pressure on Japanese oil supplies caused by the West's embargo was the most critical tangible factor impelling Japan to war. The winter and weather sea conditions which allowed the IJN to go north and come towards Hawaii undetected would be absent if negotiations continued for another couple of months.

    Without major concessions by the West, notably resuming oil supplies to Japan, it seems unlikely that Japan would have resiled from its mid-1941 decision to go to war.

    Then again, I don't know when Roosevelt decided to rely upon MacArthur's assurance, so perhaps if it was a month or months before Pearl Harbor then Roosevelt might have been able to extend the discussions with Japan.

    Against that are the other aspects affecting the discussions with Japan, especially the China issue, which weren't influenced by the defence of the Philippines and which would make MacArthur's assurances largely irrelevant.

    On the other hand there is the issue of prestige, power and ownership which made the Philippines symbolically important to the US and worth fighting over, in much the same way that some inconsequential islands in the Falklands impelled the British to fight Argentina some decades later.

    On the third and fourth hands (this is a goddess Kali type issue) there was the military opinion in the US which until shortly before war began was in favour of letting the Philippines fall, against which was War Plan Orange which looked to defend them and which was supported by beefing up the air power with some precious bombers.

    These were all factors influencing Roosevelt's and his Administration's conduct. I doubt that MacArthur's assurances about defending the Philippines were the sole or major issue which determined the response to Japan, but I can understand Roosevelt being severely pissed off as it became apparent that the Philippines had no hope of withstanding the Japanese assault.
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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    He lacked enough substance for that.
    I'm sure you could ballast him with sufficient lead to function acceptably. Perhaps after the example set by Marcus Licinius Crassus would be acceptable?
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    Thanks for the detailed response. You provided things I'd never heard of before -- such as the failure to destroy supply depots (which is not too surprising, since I haven't read much on the campaign). I infer from your comments that this was a failure of command in not ordering the destruction, or even ordering their non-destruction, etc, rather than a local failure/panic, etc.

    I will confess the main impression I have of a MacArthur success comes not from WWII, but from Korea -- specifically, the high-risk affair at Inchon. And whatever favorable opinion that may or may not generate was certainly canceled by what I understand his attitudes were about risking an atomic war with China. As a somewhat well-read individual, I can not help but be aware of such paeans as American Caesar, etc., and certainly I am aware of his own fondness for himself and publicity. Certainly, the debacle at Clark was familiar, and leaves a unpleasant aftertaste. Perhaps the main benefit of this post is the encouragement it provides me to read about subjects I have neglected -- move things from the "someday" pile to something a little closer to hand.

    There is no guarantee that any officer at any rank is competent, let alone brilliant as MacArthur presented himself.
    Certainly, the Peter Principle is (and was) alive and well in all organizations, the military not the least. But what I was trying to express was that he must have had *some* type of skill to rise so far in the "modern" US Army, as opposed to being merely rich enough to afford raising a regiment (my Civil War reference). My logic was that even if a terrible general, he must at least have been an average colonel or major, and have some of the basic skills, as opposed to relying purely upon family connections and/or wealth. Putting more thought into it now, I can see how that logic might be, um, faulty, especially as I reflect on a peacetime army in an isolationist government after the war to end all wars.

    ...demonstrated vast incompetence as a commander in the Philippines which should have resulted in him being subjected to far greater criticism and ignominy than Kimmel etc in Hawaii.
    Yes, Kimmel and Short were scapegoated. And unfortunately, that may have only increased the need for a hero...perhaps you should also be asking about Pearl's contribution to MacArthur?
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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army is also worth reading to see how MacArthur got to the top in the peacetime army...
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Thanks, pdf. I confess I missed your earlier response to my initial comment -- I must have hit the "last post" button to get to the page or something. There is a certain irony in my reference to American Caesar, given your comment about a Roman Emperor leadership style. I have no knowledge of how MacArthur conducted himself as a junior officer in WWI, but suspect he might not have been so comparable to the Roman model of front-line guts and glory (though he may have compensated with more thought than most Roman centurions!)

    ...the award to MacArthur of probably the least ever deserved Congressional Medal of Honor, for political purposes.
    Just to nitpick -- my recollection is that the Medal of Honor was initiated by Abe Lincoln during the Civil War, and that it was given out in such truly prodigious numbers that getting the medal meant nothing or next to it -- in some cases, you might have gotten the medal just for enlisting or re-enlisting, IIRC. I believe the medal was discontinued for that reason, before being resurrected in its current more rarefied form? Or maybe there was some distinction that eludes me now -- a Presidential version as opposed to the Congressional? If either of you know that bit of history, I'd appreciate the refresher. Certainly the Wikki page doesn't go into this, any place I saw....
    "...we have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo (Walt Kelly)

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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Thanks for the detailed response. You provided things I'd never heard of before -- such as the failure to destroy supply depots (which is not too surprising, since I haven't read much on the campaign). I infer from your comments that this was a failure of command in not ordering the destruction, or even ordering their non-destruction, etc, rather than a local failure/panic, etc.
    This is one of the many issues I’d like to research in detail. Various aspects of it are covered in passing by various writers, but without sufficient detail to identify all relevant aspects. As far as I can work out, MacArthur arranged for several major supply dumps to be placed in areas of benefit to the Filipino / US troops facing an anticipated Japanese advance, but the speed of the Japanese advance resulted in the Filipino / US troops being unable to benefit from the dumps. The Japanese fell on them with joy as they were outrunning their lines of communication at the time and the looming hunger threatened to slow or stall their advance. Basic military sense would have been to destroy the dumps to deny them to the Japanese, but this was not done. Whether that is entirely a failure of command or a combination of ‘fog of war’ factors is unclear. But it is certainly an order MacArthur should have given, which he appears not to have done. In contrast, the Australians retreating on the Kokoda Track later in 1942 fouled their food dumps so that the advancing Japanese, who were outrunning their lines of communication and facing hunger and disease on a worse scale than in the Philippines, became ill from eating the fouled supplies and so were reduced in their fighting capacity.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Certainly, the Peter Principle is (and was) alive and well in all organizations, the military not the least. But what I was trying to express was that he must have had *some* type of skill to rise so far in the "modern" US Army, as opposed to being merely rich enough to afford raising a regiment (my Civil War reference). My logic was that even if a terrible general, he must at least have been an average colonel or major, and have some of the basic skills, as opposed to relying purely upon family connections and/or wealth.
    MacArthur was a skilled and brave leader as a colonel and the youngest brigadier general in in the AEF in WWI. He got into the trenches and combat a lot more than officers of similar rank in other Allied armies. But leading a brigade in combat operations which were planned by higher authority is a very different thing to planning and organising the defence of a nation composed of thousands of islands, being the Philippines. By the time MacArthur did that he had served in various posts, including as Chief of Staff of the US Army, which undoubtedly involved training and experience at a high level in the skills necessary for major defensive and offensive operations. The problem is, when it came to the test his preparations and execution were found wanting in almost every respect.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ardee View Post
    Yes, Kimmel and Short were scapegoated. And unfortunately, that may have only increased the need for a hero …
    Exactly. The US press and public opinion in the early part of 1942 were hysterically favourable to MacArthur, primarily because his was the only large American force fighting the Japanese, which made him the only military leader to which to attach hopes of success against Japan. Nobody outside rarefied government and military circles was interested in or aware of the deficiencies of his defence.

    MacArthur’s overstated communiqués from Corregidor fuelled the public belief that he was a magnificent leader fighting valiantly against the Japanese. And after the fall of Singapore in mid February 1942, his was the only substantial Allied land force engaged in major and sustained combat with the Japanese and not retreating (it couldn’t, because it had nowhere to go, unlike retreating British Commonwealth and Dutch forces filtering through the Netherlands East Indies to Australia), which further increased the public and press focus on him.

    In the absence of a victory over the Japanese, the Americans had to settle for a heroic defence by a besieged MacArthur as a morale booster. His communiqués made sure that this is what the press and public got, so each fed off the other and created the myth of MacArthur as the great defender of the Philippines instead of the incompetent commander who lost them. So, when he arrived in Australia in March 1942 he was hailed by the government and people as a great commander who would defend Australia from the Japanese, instead of being seen as a potential liability.

    MacArthur’s greatest contribution from March 1942 onwards was similar to Churchill’s during the war. They were both inclined to make bad strategic decisions with calamitous results, but both also exuded a confidence and determination which inspired public confidence in the eventual result, as in “I came through and I shall return” being shortened to the mantra “I shall return’, even though senior military commanders were often alarmed by their respective decisions. And that unbounded belief in oneself regardless of one’s blunders, which the rest of us would see as misplaced conceit, is very often a requisite characteristic in great leaders. It's also a character trait in sociopaths.

    As a leader MacArthur was valuable and, like Churchill, he walked onto the stage at the psychological moment and undoubtedly had a very positive effect on the subsequent conduct of the war by inspiring confidence and overcoming defeatists in government and the populace in Australia at a critical point in early 1942. But as a military commander he left a lot to be desired before, during and after the Philippines.

    MacArthur should have been court martialled for his inept defence of the Philippines. His failure was far, far worse than the Pearl Harbor commanders because it was understood by him and everyone in relevant US government and military circles that the Japanese would probably attack the Philippines. Hardly anyone expected an attack on Pearl, let alone one on the scale which actually occurred. Worse, MacArthur went into a funk on the first day which has never been satisfactorily explained, although one plausible theory is that he was hoping for some sort of accommodation with Japan and did not want to prejudice it by fighting back. I’ve seen that put forward in a couple of places, but without any evidence to support it.

    Whatever the reason, he failed to carry out his Plan Orange duty to use his bombers to bomb Formosa and he failed to give Brereton (his air force commander) orders to do anything despite repeated requests from Brereton, with the result that Brereton acted on his own initiative to get his planes into the air and was unlucky enough to have some on the ground when the Japanese air forces arrived. For practical purposes, MacArthur abandoned his post on the first day of the war and should have been sacked immediately, then court martialled. As it was, he went on to greater things and rewarded Brereton for saving half his air force by sending him out of the theatre, quite probably because he did not want Brereton around as an embarrassing reminder of his profound failure as a commander when the balloon went up.
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    Default Re: MacArthur's contribution to Pearl Harbor

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    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    I'm sure you could ballast him with sufficient lead to function acceptably. Perhaps after the example set by Marcus Licinius Crassus would be acceptable?
    There was a great degree of crassness in MacArthur's acceptance of Quezon's payment, even if MacArthur didn't quite have his mouth filled with gold.

    IIRC, MacArthur arranged for the payment to be transferred to his bank account in the US from the Philippines' account, while MacArthur was still heroically and selflessly defending the Philippines from his bastion on Corregidor.

    I suppose even a mighty commander like MacArthur holding off the Japanese hordes was entitled to some personal administration time to attend to the minor matter of transferring half a million US dollars in 1942 money (a bit over US $7 million in today's money http://stats.areppim.com/calc/calc_usdlrxdeflxcpi.php) to his personal accounts.

    This may be seen as the action of a man determined to provide for his wife and child or just for himself. Given that he and his wife and child were all trapped on Corregidor, it may also be seen as the actions of a man who expected to get out to spend the money.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    This is one of the many issues I’d like to research in detail. Various aspects of it are covered in passing by various writers, but without sufficient detail to identify all relevant aspects. As far as I can work out, MacArthur arranged for several major supply dumps to be placed in areas of benefit to the Filipino / US troops facing an anticipated Japanese advance, but the speed of the Japanese advance resulted in the Filipino / US troops being unable to benefit from the dumps. The Japanese fell on them with joy as they were outrunning their lines of communication at the time and the looming hunger threatened to slow or stall their advance. Basic military sense would have been to destroy the dumps to deny them to the Japanese, but this was not done. Whether that is entirely a failure of command or a combination of ‘fog of war’ factors is unclear. But it is certainly an order MacArthur should have given, which he appears not to have done. In contrast, the Australians retreating on the Kokoda Track later in 1942 fouled their food dumps so that the advancing Japanese, who were outrunning their lines of communication and facing hunger and disease on a worse scale than in the Philippines, became ill from eating the fouled supplies and so were reduced in their fighting capacity.




    MacArthur was a skilled and brave leader as a colonel and the youngest brigadier general in in the AEF in WWI. He got into the trenches and combat a lot more than officers of similar rank in other Allied armies. But leading a brigade in combat operations which were planned by higher authority is a very different thing to planning and organising the defence of a nation composed of thousands of islands, being the Philippines. By the time MacArthur did that he had served in various posts, including as Chief of Staff of the US Army, which undoubtedly involved training and experience at a high level in the skills necessary for major defensive and offensive operations. The problem is, when it came to the test his preparations and execution were found wanting in almost every respect.





    Exactly. The US press and public opinion in the early part of 1942 were hysterically favourable to MacArthur, primarily because his was the only large American force fighting the Japanese, which made him the only military leader to which to attach hopes of success against Japan. Nobody outside rarefied government and military circles was interested in or aware of the deficiencies of his defence.

    MacArthur’s overstated communiqués from Corregidor fuelled the public belief that he was a magnificent leader fighting valiantly against the Japanese. And after the fall of Singapore in mid February 1942, his was the only substantial Allied land force engaged in major and sustained combat with the Japanese and not retreating (it couldn’t, because it had nowhere to go, unlike retreating British Commonwealth and Dutch forces filtering through the Netherlands East Indies to Australia), which further increased the public and press focus on him.
    ...

    MacArthur should have been court martialled for his inept defence of the Philippines. His failure was far, far worse than the Pearl Harbor commanders because it was understood by him and everyone in relevant US government and military circles that the Japanese would probably attack the Philippines. Hardly anyone expected an attack on Pearl, let alone one on the scale which actually occurred. Worse, MacArthur went into a funk on the first day which has never been satisfactorily explained, although one plausible theory is that he was hoping for some sort of accommodation with Japan and did not want to prejudice it by fighting back. I’ve seen that put forward in a couple of places, but without any evidence to support it.

    Whatever the reason, he failed to carry out his Plan Orange duty to use his bombers to bomb Formosa and he failed to give Brereton (his air force commander) orders to do anything despite repeated requests from Brereton, with the result that Brereton acted on his own initiative to get his planes into the air and was unlucky enough to have some on the ground when the Japanese air forces arrived. For practical purposes, MacArthur abandoned his post on the first day of the war and should have been sacked immediately, then court martialled. As it was, he went on to greater things and rewarded Brereton for saving half his air force by sending him out of the theatre, quite probably because he did not want Brereton around as an embarrassing reminder of his profound failure as a commander when the balloon went up.

    Good to see you here posting in full fury, JR*...

    As far as Mac's botched defense of the Philippines, I've also read that MacArthur's fundamental abandonment of the War Plan Orange meant he essentially had sworn off what was essentially the "national redoubt" strategy in which Filipino troops anchored by U.S. soldiers and marines would wait for the relief force from Pearl Harbor in a defensible area. Of course, a relief force was no longer plausible after Pearl (which is beside the point). But his delayed, yet ad hoc retreat not only gave the Japanese precious supplies, but also allowed numbers of Filipino refugees to swarm the Bataan Peninsula and thus made the Allied supply system break down far faster than it should have or was originally foreseen in planning. Am I correct in this?

    I'll have some contributions to this thread regarding Korea after rereading a bit of Max Hastings' seminal work on the war...

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