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"MacArthur on WWII Pacific Strategy" Topic

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06 Jun 2018 12:39 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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621 hits since 10 Nov 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian10 Nov 2017 2:52 p.m. PST

As he recalled in his book Reminiscences, MacArthur was opposed to the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa:

I argued against the naval concept of frontal assault against the strongly held island positions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In my argument, I stressed that our losses would be far too heavy to justify the benefits to be gained by seizing these outposts. They were not essential to the enemy's defeat, and by cutting them off from supplies, they could be easily reduced and their effectiveness completely neutralized with negligible loss to ourselves. They were not in themselves possessed of sufficient resources to act as main bases in our advance.

Was he right?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

The first question is "did he actually say that at the time?" Lots of generals are farsighted in memoirs.

That said, haven't studied Iwo enough to have a worthwhile opinion. But as I recall, they wanted Okinawa as part of the air offensive, and a very substantial number of aircraft damaged over Japan landed there. If the atomic bomb program hadn't paid off in time, there would have been a lot more during the invasion.

If you'll tell me how a war is going to end, I can generally pick out the useless battles and campaigns. Sadly, the Joint Chiefs rarely have that advantage.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 3:43 p.m. PST

Iwo was needed both for damaged heavy bombers as a
landing site and from which P-51 aircraft could sortie as
escorts for the B-29's over the Home Islands.

Not so sure about Okinawa. It could have been left
(much as Rabaul was) to wither on the vine, so to speak.
It would have been difficult for the Japanese to supply
to any extent the 130,000 plus garrison.

It is possible that the JCS looked at Okinawa as a very
significant staging base for the Operation Olympic phase
of Downfall (the scheduled invasion(s) of the Home

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 4:46 p.m. PST

You're right, Ed. Too many years and I flipped something. At least that's my excuse.

saltflats192910 Nov 2017 8:20 p.m. PST

He was also arguing against those campaigns since they were siphoning resources off his strategy of attacking through the Philippines.

gamershs Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:31 p.m. PST

If Japan was to be invaded then Okinawa would be essential. It would allow shorter range bombers and fighters to operate over Japan and to interdict trade routes to Japan and it's remaining Asian holdings. The Philippines may have cut into resources from Java and South East Asia but Okinawa cut into resources from China and even Korea.

It would also make a good staging base for operation Olympic and a forward safe harbor for damaged Allied ships.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 7:22 a.m. PST

Excellent discussion here on Iwo Jima to include a better choice:

panzerCDR11 Nov 2017 6:28 p.m. PST

I think you really needed to take Okinawa for basing for the invasion of Japan as well as cut off the last sea lines of communication to Japan. Iwo is a tougher nut. There MAY have been a better choice, or not take it at all. In the hindsight on many decades and merciless historians, Iwo looks less attractive today than in 1945. Spruance and Nimitz thought it was important so I am willing to give them some benefit of the doubt.

I don't think MacArthur liked any operation he wasn't in charge of . . .

Mick the Metalsmith Inactive Member15 Nov 2017 10:44 a.m. PST

Okinawa had symbolic value for the Japanese, who perceived it has Homeland. Iwo was similar Losing themwas a psychological blow that bore fruit beyond the usual strategic value to the US as bases.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 9:35 p.m. PST

Well that is interesting, considering he was planning a frontal assault at Kyushu and Honshu. Despite the misgivings of Admiral King, Hap Arnold and George Marshall.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 9:36 p.m. PST

He certainly was going to use Okinawa as a base of operation for the invasion of Japan. You had to take Okinawa in order to support the landings on Kyushu. He knew that. Being within range of land based air support was deemed necessary for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 9:48 p.m. PST

Intelligence reports in June 1945 showed a massive increase in Japanese forces in Kyushu. What was once three to one odds in favor of the Allies had become one to one by June. Marshall was so concerned that he cabled Mac requesting him to consider other targets further North.

Mac was never one to let intelligence get in the way of one his plans told Marshall that, intelligence reports always over estimate the numbers of enemy troops and that he had full confidence in the plan as written.

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