Archive for March 30th, 2008

The early part of 1942 had been particularly kind to Japan’s military.  Not only had it scored a staggering victory at Pearl Harbor, it had added insult to injury by taking the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Malay Peninsula, the Dutch East Indies, and islands in the Aleutians.  For the American military, the task of battling an enemy with a 5,000-mile front was, at the very least, daunting.

But U.S. forces were also faced with another dilemma.  Who would be in charge of the Pacific campaign?  The fight would be long, it would cover a vast area, and it would require both the Army and the Navy.  The Navy was the logical choice to lead, but the Army refused to be subordinate to the Navy.  And, of course, the Navy wouldn’t play second fiddle to the Army.

Fortunately, a compromise was reached.  On March 30, 1942, the Pacific was divided by the Joint Chiefs into two theaters.  The Pacific Ocean Areas would be under the watchful eye of Navy Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, shown on the right.  The Southwest Pacific Area would be led by Army General Douglas MacArthur, pictured on the left.

There would be bickering between the services and hard feelings over decisions about resource allocation throughout the war, but the Army and Navy could fight a coordinated campaign separately, and that was probably just fine with both.

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