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Thread: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

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    Default Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    With the tide of the war in the Pacific turning in favor of America and putting Japan on the defensive, two different strategies came to the surface. Admiral Nimitz preferred an island hopping strategy. This would combine the Marine amphibious assaults with naval bombardments and close air support. The purpose for this was to construct airfields progressively closer to the Japanese mainland whereby it would be subjected to more and more bombing raids. This was very effective but lead to some of the harshest fighting of the war ( including very heavy casualties ). MacArthur liked a leapfrog approach, after the defeat of the Japanese on New Guinea, MacArthur wanted to invade Luzon then retake Manila. Eventually this would lead to invading Formosa and then on to Mainland China where MacArthur wanted to launch the eventual invasion of Japan. But was MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines necessary or did it siphon off troops and resources from Nimitz? Who was right?

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by garm1and View Post
    With the tide of the war in the Pacific turning in favor of America and putting Japan on the defensive, two different strategies came to the surface. Admiral Nimitz preferred an island hopping strategy. This would combine the Marine amphibious assaults with naval bombardments and close air support. The purpose for this was to construct airfields progressively closer to the Japanese mainland whereby it would be subjected to more and more bombing raids. This was very effective but lead to some of the harshest fighting of the war ( including very heavy casualties ). MacArthur liked a leapfrog approach, after the defeat of the Japanese on New Guinea, MacArthur wanted to invade Luzon then retake Manila. Eventually this would lead to invading Formosa and then on to Mainland China where MacArthur wanted to launch the eventual invasion of Japan. But was MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines necessary or did it siphon off troops and resources from Nimitz? Who was right?
    Neither was. Both were half right, as it turned out. And half wrong. Neither commanderís sole action could have won, or at least concluded the war anywhere near by the time it actually ended.

    Anyway, both are ultimately irrelevant to the question as neither had the power to determine the overall strategy they had to follow, regardless of their personal preferences. That came in America from Admiral King, often keener on pursuing the war against Japan than the American / British ĎGermany Firstí strategy, and General Marshall and the various British, American and to a lesser extent Soviet political and military leaders.

    Contrary to popular belief fostered by MacArthurís shameless and relentless self-promotion through his marvellous personal propaganda machine, he was not the first or sole practitioner of the Ďisland hoppingí or 'leapfrogging' ideas. Nimitz did the same and, IIRC, rather more consistently than MacArthur as I donít think Nimitz ever went backwards to an island of no purpose in such a strategy as MacArthur did for purely political reasons with Borneo and, I vaguely recall, to no strategic purpose somewhere in the Philippines campaign. Again, authorisation for those operations came from above, much as either or both commanders might have liked to present themselves as controlling strategy in their own theatres.

    Nimitz had hopped many islands and taken several, e.g. Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok in his theatre while MacArthur, heavily reliant on the Australians, was pursuing a war of attrition in New Guinea before he could advance to Hollandia, still in New Guinea, around April 1944. While Nimitz had taken several islands, MacArthur hadnít got off the first island he landed troops on, and handled them very poorly in the early phases, consistently with every major phase of his Philippines disaster.

    MacArthurís thrust through New Guinea consumed about 400,000 Japanese troops over the course of the war, and relatively massive shipping and other resources in a war where shipping was the decisive factor in offensive, defensive, and long term strategic operations by both sides.

    Meanwhile Nimitzís forces sunk vastly more Japanese shipping than Japan could replace, leading to Japan having virtually no meaningful shipping in the closing days of the war.

    MacArthurís Philippines invasion consumed significant IJN ships and planes, and drew them away from Nimitzís advance across the central Pacific. And vice versa, starting with the Battle of the Coral Sea , Guadalcanal and Midway which drew critical IJN / IJA / Japanese shipping away from MacArthurís SWPA, most critically during 1942 when MacArthurís primarily Australian forces, and Americaís lines of communication to Australia for a northwards thrust against Japan, were threatened by the Japanese invasion force turned back in the Battle of the Coral Sea and subsequent Japanese assaults in Papua and Guadalcanal.

    The strategic credit for the contributions made by Nimitz and MacArthur is due not to them but to the military and political leaders who devised and authorised those strategies, even if MacArthur conceitedly thought he won the Pacific War pretty much by his own limited brilliance, and could have done even better if given sole control of the war against Japan and unlimited resources from America.

    If it came to a test, Nimitzís central Pacific thrust probably had a much better chance of success by itself than MacArthurís advance through New Guinea to the Philippines on its own, not least because Nimitz could ignore Japanese forces marooned in the SWPA by his depletion of Japanese naval and merchant shipping and get his forces a lot closer to Japan for air attack and air support for land assaults than MacArthur could have done.

    In the end, there weren't two different strategies for the defeat of Japan, nor two theatre commanders capable of devising and pursuing their own strategies, but an overall American and ultimately Allied (in this case primarily American and British but still with Soviet but not much Chinese input) which directed each commander to pursue island hopping or leapfrogging operations in their own theatres.

    It is unfortunate that very few people who have heard of MacArthur (which is a very large number due to the lasting success of his personal propaganda machine) and the many fewer who nowadays have heard of Nimitz would be aware that the strategies they implemented were devised and controlled by the likes of Marshall and Roosevelt in America and Brooke and Churchill in Britain, and the staff officers in various services between the military and political heads who gave effect to the strategies implemented by theatre commanders like Nimitz and MacArthur.
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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Thanks for posting your response Rising Sun, that makes A LOT of sense. BTW, do you think MacArthur's insistance to retake the Philippines was solely to polish his tarnished reputation from when the Japanese chased him out in '42?

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    I thought it was good stratagy to have both thrust in the Pacific as it would mean the Japenese had to keep there forces of the Navy split alot and that way they did not know where we would move next. Once the US got going we could afford to split our forces but it was harder for the Japenese as the war went on. And the US did it on limited forces as so much went into the European conflict that could have been in the Pacific if there had been no war in Europe.

    I know many US comanders wanted to bypass the Philppines and attack Formosa but McArthur fought to go back to the Philippines. I think some was because he promised to return which I would have wanted to myself if I had promised them people that. And some was because he blotched the defense of the Philippines and wanted to save face so I think you are partly right. I do think McArthur had a huge ego. Ron

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by garm1and View Post
    BTW, do you think MacArthur's insistance to retake the Philippines was solely to polish his tarnished reputation from when the Japanese chased him out in '42?
    Short answer: No. There were much higher strategic considerations which, and decision makers above him who, determined that retaking the Philippines was required. Longer answer after next paragraph.

    Before expanding on the last paragraph, in fairness to MacArthur he didn’t deserve the epithet Dugout Doug nor the view by some that he fled the Philippines and left his men in the lurch. He was ordered out by Roosevelt to command the push back from Australia which was threatened with the same fate overtaking the Philippines. He was not pushed out by the Japanese. But for Roosevelt’s order, I don’t doubt he’d have gone into captivity with his men. MacArthur was a conceited, self-aggrandising, self-promoting, media hound arsehole of the highest order who was never slow to take credit for the work of others in his puffed up communiques, but he never lacked personal courage and steadily became a much better commander of increasingly large forces from 1943 onwards than he had been in the Philippines before and during the war and in Australia and Papua in 1942 / early 1943. Which is in inverse proportion to what he was paid by the Philippines to train their pre-war army and run their defence compared with his US Army pay from 1942, although he did manage to get out of the Philippines with a huge amount of money for not being much of a pre-war and brief and inadequate wartime commander.

    No doubt his failure in the Philippines influenced his "I shall return" determination to recapture them, but it would be overly simplistic and most unfair to him to portray him as aiming for the Philippines purely to satisfy that personal desire, for three reasons of much greater importance in defeating Japan, all of which were beyond his control.

    First, MacArthur's drive towards the Philippines reflected higher command strategy commencing in 1942 with MacArthur's Papua / New Guinea campaign. The strategy underwent various amendments, but the aim was always to retake the Philippines through MacArthur's advance along the northern coast of New Guinea to the Philippines to cut off Japan's shipping routes exploiting Japan's gains in the SWPA, which is covered in more detail at http://www.history.army.mil/books/ww...%20V1/ch07.htm

    Second, as over the next couple of years he came nearer to the Philippines in pursuit of that higher command objective, strategic considerations for defeating Japan were decided at levels above him as requiring the recapture of the Philippines, or at least strategically and tactically important parts of them, as described at http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/...Triumph-1.html . That link also illustrates the influence of higher powers on MacArthur's and Nimitiz's operations, and the contests between the China / Formosa / Philippines partisans in the higher command and political levels of strategy decisions as those invasions became possible in the near future.

    Third, and bearing in mind that when Japan conquered the Philippines they were still an American possession not due for independence from the US until 1946, the loss was an American rather than Filipino loss which required correction by America as soon as possible.
    [In July 1944]MacArthur had a more cogent argument, and one that was bound to have some influence upon planning in Washington. The reoccupation of the entire Philippine archipelago as quickly and early as possible was, MacArthur said, a national obligation and political necessity. To bypass any or all the islands, he declared, would destroy American honor and prestige throughout the Far East, if not in the rest of the world as well.
    (see page 9, last link)

    MacArthur quite understandably derived great personal satisfaction from returning to the Philippines as a victor, and it more or less compensated for his earlier failure (and he was almost always going to be defeated in the Philippines in the end, but he could have done a lot better than he did in defending them), but he wasn’t the one who decided on the strategies which, as early as early 1942, set him on that course in pursuit of the overall Allied aim of defeating Japan, nor did he have power to decide to recapture the Philippines in the face of competing alternatives.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 06-27-2014 at 08:44 AM.
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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Good input Rising Sun, many thanks. BTW, you should write a book, if you haven' already.

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Edward Miller's War Plan Orange goes a long way in explaining why the Navy wanted to use a central Pacific campaign. A good read if you can get your hands on it.

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by R Leonard View Post
    Edward Miller's War Plan Orange goes a long way in explaining why the Navy wanted to use a central Pacific campaign. A good read if you can get your hands on it.
    Thanks.

    Just bought it online from USA for $17.15 plus $13.50 shipping to Australia, which was a lot better than the seller who wanted $60 just for shipping.
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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    I have always had difficulties with the common notion that the US strategy in the Pacific war emerged from a sort of office-political boxing match between Nimitz and MacArthur, with their superiors, as "referee", calling a draw and proceeding along both lines in consequence. This was far too important a matter to be determined in such a way. As RS* has pointed out, the decision was taken at higher level (including the political level) and for good reasons. I would add another suggestion. Perhaps I am being simplistic - but it appears to me that proceeding solely along the Nimitz route, or along the MacArthur route, could have run serious risk of, if not defeat, at least of much greater difficulty in achieving victory. Certainly, this approach would have allowed a much greater concentration of force on the "wing" chosen. However, it would also have left the Japanese in the non-targeted wing of the theatre relative freedom to operate, perhaps with relative freedom from harassment of their shipping on that wing. It is, of course, impossible to know how the Japanese might, or might not, have exploited such a situation. One way might have been to place a great concentration of force in the area of US concentration, which could have delayed matters considerably when one allows for the relative freedom of operation which a situation like this would have allowed them overall. Another would have been to use the "free" flank to threaten flanking actions against US/UK/Dominions forces in the other - again, not a desirable situation for the Allies. On reflection, and whatever logistical problems may have been posed by the "two-prong" approach, it seems to me to have made perfect strategic sense. It probably brought about the effective defeat of Japan more quickly than any single-prong approach would have done. Mind you, only a military and economic power of such potency as the US (at the time) could have achieved this. Best regards, JR.

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    On reflection, and whatever logistical problems may have been posed by the "two-prong" approach, it seems to me to have made perfect strategic sense. It probably brought about the effective defeat of Japan more quickly than any single-prong approach would have done.
    Undoubtedly.

    The sum of the whole was much greater than the sum of each of the parts.

    What has to be remembered, and is usually forgotten in popular histories which focus on the more spectacular land and sea battles, is that the crux of the war in the Pacific (and to a fair extent in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, especially in the early years of the war) was a war of shipping: How much tonnage was required to supply the troops and fleets overseas, and how much was required to supply them and civilians at home? This applied to both sides, but not quite equally as island nations such as Japan and Britain were more dependent upon imports for sustenance and war production than was the US with its greater resources.

    By rather foolishly advancing beyond the NEI into the provisional target of Papua New Guinea, and then quite foolishly advancing further east under the influence of the victory disease, Japan greatly over extended its shipping, even allowing for shipping captured in occupied territories.

    Tonnage is a function of total cargo capacity for the cargo fleet by sea miles required to deliver it. Simplistically, one million tons of cargo delivered 100 miles from source is half a million tons delivered 200 miles from same source. But the problems mount the more sea miles are involved, notably coaling / refuelling points and subsidiary issues such as increased maintenance demands with greater distances.

    By their own foolishness in going beyond their necessary strategic target of the NEI the Japanese significantly reduced their own tonnage.

    The result of MacArthur's SWPA Papuan and Nimitz's SPA Guadalcanal operations in 1942/43 was that more and more IJA and IJN resources were drawn in to defend Japan's over extension, which even more significantly reduced Japan's tonnage by forcing it to supply forces much further from the various sources in Japan, Korea, and occupied territories than would have been the case if Japan had stopped in the NEI. Britain faced a similar problem with its inability to supply its North African forces through the western Mediterranean, instead having to go down around the west and up around the east coast of Africa to the eastern Mediterranean. As with the Japanese, the further the ships had to go, the more tonnage was lost, and doubly so if they couldn't be backloaded with anything worthwhile to the war effort.

    Japan's tonnage was steadily reduced in subsequent years by the need to supply forces resisting MacArthur's advance, which in turn exposed them to greater losses by sinking, at a much faster rate than Japan could replace them, from Allied action in the SWPA and Nimitz's POA.

    Japan's tonnage loss would have been vastly less if Japan had had to contend only with the SWPA or POA.

    Meanwhile, Allied cargo ships from the US to Australia proceeded largely unescorted for most of the war, as they generally did across the central Pacific, which relieved the Allies of the burden, which was severe in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in the earlier years of the war, of diverting fighting ships to protect cargo convoys. Japan, on the other hand, had its cargo fleet increasingly subject to attack by the Allies under both Nimitz's and MacArthur's commands.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 07-02-2014 at 09:19 AM.
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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    I have always had difficulties with the common notion that the US strategy in the Pacific war emerged from a sort of office-political boxing match between Nimitz and MacArthur, with their superiors, as "referee", calling a draw and proceeding along both lines in consequence. This was far too important a matter to be determined in such a way. As RS* has pointed out, the decision was taken at higher level (including the political level) and for good reasons.
    Which is in marked contrast to the at times quite vicious contest between the IJA (essentially, hold what we have taken, and there isn't the shipping to support further advances) and IJN (essentially, press on southwards, even including an ill considered two division invasion - maybe raid, maybe lodgement - of Australia through - even allowing for Japan's impressive advances in other difficult country - impossible country) in February - March 1942 which resulted in the fatal compromise decision to allow an advance to Fiji and the Solomons etc, which was very much Japan's major 'bridge too far' in the Pacific. It was busily chasing another one in Burma, which over extended Japan at another end of its short lived new empire, but that almost certainly would not have been the case if the forces pointlessly diverted to the southern over-extension had been available to concentrate force on the Burma / India front.

    Japan made the basic strategic and or tactical mistake of failing to concentrate its forces on the enemy's weakest point, be they in Burma or Australia or China. Much is made of Hitler's retrospectively unwise decision to start a war on two fronts, but from a dispassionate hindsight viewpoint, and a contemporary one, there was much more to justify Hitler's expectation of success than Japan, already bogged down in a grinding war in China, deciding to go east, west, and south and in the process antagonise the most powerful industrial power on the planet and commit an island nation with few natural resources and limited shipping to a contest embracing the whole of the Pacific Ocean and its islands while striking into the Indian Ocean and aiming for India. The marvel is not how badly Japan did, but how brilliantly it achieved what it did with so much against it, although much of its success on land was due to having battle hardened troops from the Chinese conflict against generally green troops in the lands it invaded.

    The Japanese situation reflected the prominence of the military and navy in government, with Tojo (IJA) as Prime Minister and constitutional requirements for a serving IJA general and serving IJN admiral as army and navy cabinet ministers respectively. The practical effect of this constitutional requirement was that a government could not be formed without the relevant IJA and IJN officers agreeing to serve as cabinet ministers, which they would not do if the wider civilian based government was perceived as hostile to either or both services.

    Contrast this with the US and Britain, where civilian cabinet ministers for the respective services were appointed in the same way as other cabinet ministers in each country.

    The end result was that in Japan the military and navy had the ability strongly to influence and even to control cabinet decisions, while in the US and Britain, and in British dominions, the military and navy had their needs and wants filtered through a cabinet process which balanced the services' desires and demands with that of other civilian cabinet ministers' portfolios.

    There were strong contests between the army and navy in the nations of the English speaking Allies but, unlike Japan, those contests were decided by the civilian cabinet in each nation. In Japan, from the invasion of China onwards, it was much more a case of the IJA and IJN pursuing their own aims independently of government and agreeing when necessary to co-operate.

    Which resulted in the IJA getting many advantages from China while the IJN largely missed out, and the IJN in 1942 wanting to press on southwards to its advantage which offered little advantage to the IJA. An oversimplification, but at the core of the factors influencing the disastrous decision to press on to Papua New Guinea, Fiji and, the turning point of the Pacific War, Guadalcanal resulting in defeat there and in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

    Had Japan had a civilian government comparable with that in the US and Britain which determined strategy on a national basis, and assuming that it had national rather than service strategists advising on strategy and politicians acting on that advice, it is unlikely that Japan would have advanced beyond the NEI.

    Indeed, it might have been unlikely that Japan would have gone to war at all.

    Either way, Japan's prospects were better than having the militarists (including those in the IJN) having such great influence on national policy and operations.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 07-02-2014 at 08:11 AM.
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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Nimitz is well-known in these parts because he was born only about 50 miles away in land-locked Fredericksburg, Texas. There's a wonderful Museum of the Pacific War there complete with a B-25 on a simulated Hornet flight deck and a midget submarine of the type used against Pearl Harbor. I'm pretty sure that Nimitz spoke German as a young boy, since everybody in town did.

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    The Philippine invasion was totally political. It should have been bypassed and Formosa attacked as I believe there were more Japanese forces there and it was closer to the ultimate target - the Japanese mainland.

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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Laconia View Post
    The Philippine invasion was totally political. It should have been bypassed and Formosa attacked as I believe there were more Japanese forces there and it was closer to the ultimate target - the Japanese mainland.
    The only 'political' element was American prestige and honour being damaged by bypassing the Philippines to which America believed it had a duty of honour to liberate. The other considerations were strategic and tactical and carefully evaluated by the US chiefs of staff.

    The loss of existing and potential air base sites in eastern China, together with the limitations inherent in Nimitz' plans to occupy only southern Formosa, weighed heavily with Army Air Forces planners. There was no question but that B-29'S could operate more effectively against Japan from northern Formosa than they could from northern Luzon, the Mariana Islands, or western China, but the big bombers could accomplish little more from southern Formosa than they could from the other base areas. Indeed, Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas lay closer to Tokyo than Nimitz' proposed base area in southern Formosa, and the two islands of the Marianas were secure from Japanese air attack. Even northern Luzon, some 200 miles farther from Tokyo than southern Formosa, had some advantages over southern Formosa-it had more room for B-29 fields and as safer from air attack. Finally, assuming that Nimitz could meet the most optimistic target date for the invasion of southern Formosa-1 March 1945-B-29'S could not begin operations from that island until the late spring or early summer. The Army Air Forces was already planing to initiate B-29 operations from the Marianas before the end of 1944. In brief, by mid-September, the Army Air Forces had lost interest in Formosa and had begun to see eye to eye With other Army elements on the disadvantages and drawbacks of the southern Formosa-Amoy scheme.

    An obvious political consideration may have had a bearing on the ultimate decision in the Luzon versus Formosa debate. General Mac-Arthur's argument that it would be disastrous to United States prestige to bypass any part of the Philippines could not be dismissed. Perhaps more important, Admiral Leahy took the same point of view. By virtue of his intimate contact with President Roosevelt, it must be presumed that his colleagues of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave Leahy's opinion careful consideration.

    Decision

    Whatever the political implication involved, the Formosa versus Luzon question was decided primarily upon its military merits. By the end of September 1944 almost all the military considerations-especially the closely interrelated logistical problems concerning troops and timing-had weighted the scales heavily in favor of seizing Luzon, bypassing Formosa, forgetting about a port on the China coast, and jumping on to Okinawa. Admiral King was the only member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if not the only prominent military figure as well, who still maintained a strong stand in favor of bypassing Luzon and executing the southern Formosa-Amoy operation.

    Realizing that the military and political factors had undermined his position, King took a new, negative tack in the debate by raising objections to the Luzon operation per se. He argued that the Luzon campaign as MacArthur had planned it would tie up all the Pacific Fleet's fast carrier task forces for at least six weeks for the purposes of protecting the Luzon beachhead and Luzon-bound convoys and neutralizing Japanese air power on both Luzon and Formosa. To pin down the carriers for so long would be unsound, King averred, and he therefore declared MacArthur's plan unacceptable to the U.S. Navy. [29]

    Alerted by his deputy chief of Staff (Maj. Gen. Richard J. Marshall, then in Washington on official business), General MacArthur was able to provide Army planners with ammunition to counter King's last-ditch arguments. [30] MacArthur informed the Joint Chiefs that his only requirement for carriers after the initial assault on Luzon would be for a small group of escort carriers to remain off the island for a few days to provide support for ground operations until his engineers could ready a field for land-based planes at the invasion beaches. MacArthur continued by pointing out that only the first assault convoys would be routed through dangerous waters north of Luzon and consequently require protection from the fast carrier task forces. Resupply and reinforcement convoys would come through the central Philippines under an umbrella of land-based aircraft from Mindoro Island, south of Luzon, and would require no carrier-based air cover. Thus, MacArthur declared he would have no long-term requirement for the fast carrier task forces, which he could quickly release so that Nimitz could employ them elsewhere. MacArthur concluded with the counterargument that the fast carriers would be tied down to a specific area much longer during the proposed southern Formosa-Amoy operation, especially if Luzon remained in Japanese hands, than would be the case for the Luzon invasion.

    This exchange took much of the wind out of King's sails. Next, Admiral Nimitz withdrew whatever support he was still giving the Formosa plan. He had concluded that sufficient troops could not be made available for him to execute the southern Formosa-Amoy campaign within the foreseeable future. Accordingly, at the end of September, he threw the weight of his opinion behind the Luzon operation, proposing that plans to seize Formosa be at least temporarily dropped. Simultaneously, Nimitz presented for Admiral King's consideration a planned series of operations designed to maintain steady pressure against the Japanese and carry Allied forces speedily on toward Japan: MacArthur's forces would initiate the Luzon campaign on 20 December 1944; Central Pacific forces would move against Iwo Jima, in the Volcano Islands some 650 miles south of Tokyo, late in January 1945; and the Central Pacific would next attack Okinawa, 850 miles southwest of Tokyo, and other targets in the Ryukyu Islands, beginning on 1 March 1945. [32]

    King accepted Nimitz' recommendations, with one last reservation. King felt that the hazards involved in routing the Luzon assault convoys into the waters between Luzon and Formosa were so great that approval for such action should come directly from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He raised similar objections to plans for having the Pacific Fleet's fast carrier task forces operate in the same restricted waters. The other three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, agreed to leave the decision on these problems up to Nimitz and MacArthur, a settlement that King finally accepted. [33]

    After King's eleventh-hour change of position, the Joint Chiefs were able to attain the unanimity that their major strategic decisions required. On 3 October 1944 they directed General MacArthur to launch the invasion of Luzon on or about 20 December and instructed Admiral Nimitz to execute the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations on the dates he had proposed. Nimitz would provide naval cover and support, including fast and escort carriers, for the invasion of Luzon; MacArthur would provide Nimitz with as much air support as he could from Luzon for the attack on Okinawa. The two commanders would co-ordinate their plans with those of B-29 units in the Pacific and India and with the plans of General Stilwell and the Fourteenth Air Force in China. [34]

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff did not formally cancel the Formosa operation. Instead, they left in abeyance a final decision on the seizure of that island, but thereafter the occupation of Formosa as an operation of World War II never came up for serious consideration at the higher levels of Washington planning councils.

    The Joint Chiefs had not reached their decision to take Luzon, bypass Formosa, and, in effect, substitute Okinawa for Formosa, either lightly or easily. From the beginning of the Luzon versus Formosa debate they had believed the seizure of Formosa and a port on the south China coast-bypassing Luzon-to be the best strategy the Allies could follow in the western Pacific. In the end, however, the Joint Chiefs had had to face the fact that the Allies could not assemble the resources required to execute that strategy, at least until after the end of the war in Europe. They could not seriously consider delaying the progress of the war in the Pacific until Germany collapsed. In the last analysis then, logistical considerations alone would have forced the Joint Chiefs to the decision they reached in favor of Luzon, although other military realities, and possibly political factors as well, had some influence upon the outcome of strategic planning for operations in the western Pacific.

    For the Allied forces of the Pacific theaters, the Joint Chiefs' directive of 3 October 1944 ended months of uncertainty. The die was cast. Luzon would be taken; Formosa would be bypassed. United States forces would recapture the entire Philippines Archipelago in a consecutive series of advances, just as General MacArthur had been planning ever since he had left Corregidor in March 1942.

    ROBERT Ross SMITH, Historian with OCMH since 1947. B.A. and M.A. in history, Duke University. Historical Officer, General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area and U.S. Army Forces, Pacific, World War II. Major, Infantry, USAR. Author: The Approach to the Philippines (Washington, 1953), Triumph in the Philippines (in preparation), and Southern France and Alsace (in preparation), UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II.
    http://www.history.army.mil/books/70-7_21.htm See link for footnotes
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    Default Re: Nimitz vs. MacArthur.... who was right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    The only 'political' element was American prestige and honour being damaged by bypassing the Philippines to which America believed it had a duty of honour to liberate. The other considerations were strategic and tactical and carefully evaluated by the US chiefs of staff.
    I can see that because MacArthur had stayed in the Philippines he had a fondness of the country and people(colonial administrators are the same everywhere...) and formulated it into a "duty" and "honour restoration" argument to retake these possessions (!).

    But what I don't get is WHY he and his american policy makers did not think that the same was valid for the Dutch in NEI, or for the british in Malaya or for the french in IndoChina.
    Not a single ounce of US military was to be deployed in liberating these colonies in/around the time of Philippines liberation (1944!) or at least having a foothold such that the respective coloniser administrations can deploy their own troops from there.
    Wrt NEI; at final stages the Australians(!) landed in NE Borneo and Guinea (which is very underpopulated).. but no shot at a bridgehead on Java (most populated...and scene of most brutal resentment campaigns AFTER Jap surrender..beCAUSE there were no occupying forces).
    No bridgehead on Malaya peninsula (which led to surge in Malayan communism cells) ...and no shot in N Vietnam (again...communism ripening because of absent french or western forces).
    Had the US marines been deployed in these three locations, and even only captured and held a foothold, then most of the colonial/independence/communist battles that took place after the war would have been prevented or lessened.

    Which is exactly why the Americans *additionally* had to land in the Philippines where there were ALSO communist sentiments and radical Muslim sentiments that could spark a bloody "revolution".



    I find it puzzling to see /read too often why administrators and military from one colonizer absolutely resent and detest the colonizers from the other country.
    Up and until the situation in the indonesian invasion(!) wars in Dutch New Guinea which were backed by Kennedy. KEnnedy !
    Last edited by Frankly Dude Really; 03-10-2015 at 06:16 AM.

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