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"Nimitz vs MacArthur" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian09 Nov 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

Which commander did the best job in WWII in the Pacific?

23rdFusilier Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 4:28 p.m. PST

Nimitz, hands down.

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 4:31 p.m. PST

agreed, Nimitz.

KniazSuvorov09 Nov 2017 4:50 p.m. PST

Well, MacArthur first failed to follow the war plan to defend the Philippines. Then he compounded the error by wasting vast amounts of men, resources, and time retaking the Philippines later in the war, at a point when the country was no longer strategically important, and could have been bypassed. Big mistake.

And I write this as a half-Filipino, someone whose family certainly appreciates the sacrifices made by MacArthur's men in order to liberate the islands. Nevertheless, a great general shouldn't be making decisions based on pride, or honour, or sentimentality.

Another vote for Nimitz.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 4:53 p.m. PST

Nimitz although I am far from an expert.

Tgunner Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 5:07 p.m. PST

Cold logic supports K, but to me the Second Philippines was worth it to save the survivors of Corregador and Bataan
Those guys were left out to dry and it was the right thing to do: sacrifice to save them.

Also, MacArthur sort of started the island hopping idea with his ops on New Guinea and skipping strong positions.

princeman Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 5:20 p.m. PST


Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 6:06 p.m. PST

Nimitz. Not even close.

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 6:09 p.m. PST

Nimitz -- but MacArthur had far better PR.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 6:17 p.m. PST

Question on this. I'am not A Mac Arthur fan but his New Guinea campaign and later in the Philippines were masterful.

Nimitz lead from behind and there were some poorly handled invasions under his leadership.

Sundance09 Nov 2017 7:06 p.m. PST

Agreed. Nimitz.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 7:45 p.m. PST


Lee49409 Nov 2017 8:55 p.m. PST

Is there really any question here? The responses would seem to support my position. Let's Try This. How about Spruance vs Halsey?

langobard Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 1:48 a.m. PST

Nimitz for the original question.

Spruance for Lee's question.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 2:33 a.m. PST


Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 5:49 a.m. PST


Legion 410 Nov 2017 5:57 a.m. PST

Also, MacArthur sort of started the island hopping idea with his ops on New Guinea and skipping strong positions.
Mac Arthur fan but his New Guinea campaign and later in the Philippines were masterful.
If for no other reasons than those … Mac gets my vote … But again … I was not there … so …

Lucius10 Nov 2017 6:02 a.m. PST

Nimitz. MacArthur should have been relieved of command on Dec. 9, 1941, for allowing Clark Field to be surprised NINE HOURS after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Halsey could win battles. Spruance won a war.

paulgenna Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 9:58 a.m. PST

Nimitz and agree with Lucius, MacArthur should have been relieved of command.

Raynman Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 2:24 p.m. PST

Agree with paulgenna. Nimitz and MacArthur relieved of command.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 3:24 p.m. PST

Nimitz profited from having excellent subordinates
who could act with initiative, decisiveness and
bold leadership. The USN generally had an officer
corps (pre-war) which prized those attributes and
attempted to mold the huge mass of reserve officers
in those traits. The Navy was not known for its
political leanings among its professionals.

The Army, OTOH, was pretty hide-bound as a political
organization in and of itself. Certainly there were
professional officers who shared sterling qualities
with their Navy comrades, but fewer, as a percentage
of the total.

MacArthur had to keep an eye out for the political
aspects of command (Marshall and he were NOT friends,
or even on good terms) and Roosevelt's concern over
MacArthur's political aspirations (non-existant, for
the most part) and the National Guard attitude versus
the Professional soldier attitude which followed him
to Korea in the person of Harry Truman (one of my
favorites, BTW).

As far as Clark Field goes, yes, it happened on
MacArthur's watch – and the USS Indianapolis tragedy
on Nimitz' watch. How many men did we lose blasting
our way across the Central Pacific (Nimitz' strategy)
rather than adopting a different approach.

MacArthur agreed with Nimitz on the Solomons Campaign,
absolutely. He had originally advocated an attack on
Rabaul, but agreed with the decision to isolate and
allow its garrison to starve. He supported the Solomons
Campaign in a number of ways, using the long-range air
assets which Nimitz didn't have save for the PBY/PBM
fleet, hardly offensive weapons.

It might be illuminating, as well as opinion changing,
to compare the assaults launched by MacArthur on
Japanese held territory with those launched by Nimitz
(their subordinates, of course). There were many more
amphibious assaults by MacArthur's forces than by
Nimitz's, with (as a percentage of forces engaged)
fewer casualties.

In my view, which doesn't mean a heck of a lot at this
remoteness, we needed EACH of them to prevail, because
we fought TWO DIFFERENT WARS in the Pacific.

Lion in the Stars10 Nov 2017 5:18 p.m. PST

A gentleman I knew had a very short sentence to say about MacArthur: That sumbitch who left us to die!

Old Jess was on Bataan. Didn't hate the Japanese for the Death March. Hated MacArthur for abandoning all the troops and taking all the equipment.

Probably pissed on MacArthur's grave, too, on general principles.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 5:38 p.m. PST

I'am always amazed how the FDR Administration was able to pass blame off on area commanders. When they Screwed up. It was FDR Who turned the Tiger Convoy from heading to the Philippines to Australia. It was General Spaatz who pulled all the remaining b-17 out.

It was the Air force commander who failed at Clark Field and not Mac Arthur. It was Eisenhower's plan that had the Army defend the Whole islands instead of the earlier plan to hold up in Bataan. But he was a Marshal man, So he got a Pass.

Mac Arthur was ordered out and would have stayed as a Private. This was never revealed to the men left behind.
FDR was a ETO 1st from the get go, So the Philippines were always going to lay down a bunt.

dragon610 Nov 2017 8:56 p.m. PST

Ask the Australians about MacArthur's "masterful" New Guinea campaign

panzerCDR11 Nov 2017 5:36 p.m. PST

Both Nimitz and MacArthur had their strengths and weaknesses; neither was perfect. If I had to pick one to be the overall theater commander in the Pacific I would have picked Nimitz, though I realize that was probably not possible in 1942 when they set up the boundaries in the theater. The problems in the Central Pacific were a lot different than the Southwest Pacific areas, and MacArthur was an economy of force effort in an economy of force theater. He did pretty well with the bare minimum he received. And he wasn't shy about telling you either.

As for fleet commanders, Spruance over Halsey, though Halsey's aggressiveness and willingness to fight at Guadalcanal in October/November 1942 despite losing a lot of ships is very commendable.

Legion 412 Nov 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

Some good points Wackmole and panzerCDR. Mac may of had a tougher time than the USN Cdrs. But the fact that he generally avoided bloody assault landing like other US Cdrs let me give him the nod over all the others.

IIRC, he lost less assets, i.e. troops, etc., than the other Cdrs in the PTO.

He was ordered to leave the PI, by the POTUS. You can't really disobey an order from that office, AFAIK.

Could the PI campaign have been handled better? Yes, absolutely, but so could have many other Cdrs' ops in the PTO. E.g. the US Gov't wouldn't show the film footage of Tarawa for a year or so later. From what I can tell … Much too often assets in the PTO like troops, etc., were thrown at islands/objectives e.g. like in a meatgrinder. Ala WWI …

IMO, there were a lot of unneeded loses. By attacking the enemy where they were strongest and dug in, etc. As apposed to by passing, out flanking, etc. Now I get that sometimes options like that were not always possible. For a variety of reasons. But again bottom line … I was not there … so I could be wrong …

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

Nimitz gets my vote. And Wackmole9, I have to disagree with you. The US Army Historical Series ("The Green Books") volume on the Fall of the Philippines shows in detail what MacArthur did and failed to do and despite being written while MacArthur was still around, shows that the blame for the disaster falls squarely on MacArthur's shoulders.

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