MacArthur’s Strategic Testing
The war in the Pacific during World War Two took place over a widespread field of battle. The Japanese systematically took over Island after Island to expand their sphere of influence and to create a buffer from being attacked. The United States strategy in the South Pacific campaign was to outflank the Japanese Naval advantage by seizing only islands accessible as steppingstones North. Being highly focused on only capturing the Islands of value and to leave the rest to wither on the vine.
Douglas MacArthur spent his childhood as a military brat to Arthur MacArthur Jr. and his mom Mary Pinkney. His father won the Medal of Honor in the Civil War at the Battle of Missionary Ridge and retired as a Lieutenant General. Douglas spent most of his childhood throughout the frontier west learning at a young age how to ride a horse and shoot a gun. Following tradition, he attended the Military Academy at West Point graduating at the top of his class.
Macarthur held several staff assignments early in his career to include being an Aide-de-Camp for his Father. Later seeing combat action during the Occupation of Veracruz right before World War One. MacArthur won his glory during the Champagne Offensive and subsequent Battle of Saint-Mihiel. Making a name for himself entering World War One as a Major and leaving as a highly decorated Brigadier General.
After the Great War, MacArthur served a tour as the Superintendent of West Point before returning to the Philippines. He had spent significant time during his childhood there as it was a United States Territory at the time. He had numerous friendships within the Philippine government that eventually led to MacArthur being names the Field Marshall of the Philippine Army.
During that same time, the Japanese military was slowly inching over the Pacific. Then quickly Japan struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 declaring war on the United States. In coordination three days later, Japan invaded the Philippines and seized Guam on December 10th. By February, MacArthur was ordered by President Roosevelt to evacuate the Philippines to Australia.
Japan’s World War Two goal was to create a buffer around their mainland to prevent a home invasion. The world also held an oil embargo against Japan, and they were running out of resources to conduct their numerous military operations. They chose to attack the Dutch East Indies Islands for their massive oil fields. However, the Philippines were in the way and in control of shipping throughout the Pacific. By the end of 1942, Japan controlled most of the Pacific Theater.
The United States needed to strike back at Japan but did not have the capabilities to do so. While they were able to launch a one-time strike against the Japanese homeland during the Doolittle Raid, it was not a sustainable approach. Their main bomber aircraft the, B-29, only had a range of 1,500 miles, meaning they had to be at least 750 miles away to perform a bombing run and return to base.
Following the Battle of the Coral Sea and Midway, MacArthur plotted the route to Japan hopping from one Island to another. With each Island victory they would methodically move closer to being able to reach Japan with the hopes that they would be able to bomb them into surrender.
Fighting first on Guadalcanal to take over the airfield, then Tarawa, and the Marshall Islands. As they moved farther North, they bypassed several Japanese controlled islands and strongholds. Wanting to maximize their resources, the United States realized that they didn’t have to sacrifice to take all the Islands but could simply cut off their supply lines rendering these stronghold Islands useless.
Starting with the Battle of Iwo Jima, the taking back of the Philippines, and ending with the Battle of Okinawa. MacArthur had led his forces to cut off the Japanese from their oil and decreasing their air and sea forces. They were now close enough to hit the Japanese mainland with their B-29’s. Tokyo experienced severe firebombing burning most of the city, yet the Japanese did not acquiesce until the atomic bombs sent from Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands effectively end of the war.
The Battle for the Pacific exemplifies a strategic laser focus on the overall path to victory. The Pacific Ocean is enormous with Islands littering it. Having limited resources, the United States needed to execute the most efficient battle plan to not only maneuver closer but to cut off the overextended Japanese.
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MacArthur’s Strategic Testing
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