Pacific War: McArthur vs Nimitz: Who Was Right?

Good point. It was almost a comedy of errors. But what I was trying to highlight with that little snippet was the knife’s edge that was walked with regards to that part of the campaign. We can guess all we want as to how any alternative battles may have gone down.

I don’t believe anyone had a great plan, which I pointed out in post 7. But, I stand by my opinion that Nimitz hada better overall grasp of the entire theatre.

I think you’re right there, NCB. But in part that’s because the Navy was able to consider the logistics situation that the Japanese faced, where the Army couldn’t.

One more BTW, it is possible that there would have been no Soviet support for an invasion of the Japanese home islands. Certainly in the time from May to August there had been damned little by way of support or even troop movement by Soviet forces to move toward the Pacific theatre. I honestly believe that had the US invaded it would have been alone, or with the dregs of the ANZAC forces, and certainly not with the support of the USSR.

I worked a guy in Tokyo that was interesting as hell. Japanese raised in the US until 16, then back to Japan and became a member of the Emporer’s elite imperial guards military unit. He witnessed Dolittle’s raid. Anyhoo, he spent years in Burma. Described a battle against the British that went on for days, the British finally gave up and retreated, and there were only 3 survivors on the Japanese side. My colleague looted the bodies and still wore an Omega watch he took off of a British officer.

He and his unit walked from Burma to Thailand to surrender at the end of the war. He was the last Japanese out of Burma repatriated back to japan because of his English skills he was kept in Thailand to translate.

He was such a dapper gentleman speaking an archaic formal American English. A helluva survivor…those of his unit that survived were still around and kicking 10 years ago. When my father visited, we all had lunch together. My father the WW2 pacific theater (Philipines) and Korea war combat vet and a man proud to have served the emperor sat down and had a great lunch together. Unfortunately, I’ve lost track of Ito-san and haven’t seen him since my wedding.

Not really pertinent but thought I’d share.

Let’s be clear: Nimitz, the carrier’s, the submarines and the Marines won the war in the Pacific.
McArthur was a side show of no relevance Only served to get good men killed and waste war materiel.

Overall I have to agree with this post. MacArthur overall slowed down the efforts to defeat the Japanese. It is stronger than I would’ve gone but pretty accurate.

And support a total blockade.

Not quite. As wiki sez: In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status with Manuel Quezon as president and Sergio Osmeña as vice president.[1

That put the Phillipines in a protectorate status, not longer actual US territory.

That is not true. Unrestricted submarine warfare as practiced by the Germans sank Neutral ships (such as American ones) in the zone. By that time, there were no neutrals shipping stuff to Japan, the USN sank only Japanese ships.

The Navy wanted to “starve the Japs out” and there were a few problems with that- one, being as our POWs would have died, and two that the Japanese civil casualties would have been worse the with the Bomb. Three- would they ever surrender?

So was my Dad! He had Philippines Defense, Independence and Liberation Medals. He was in Mac’s HQ.

Oh no, the New Guinea campaign, pretty much all Army, was critical.

Not to mention the Battle of Guadalcanal, and others.

Many of those airfields that were so critical for the Bombing offense were taken by the Army.

AFAIK, US fleet submarines were long ranged enough that they were based in Pearl Harbor or Fremantle, Australia. So there wasn’t really a need to capture closer bases for enacting the submarine blockade vs. Japan.

Strategic bombing on the other hand, required much closer bases- Tinian, Saipan & Guam were some of the biggest ones.

But ultimately, when you strip it all down, the US could have defeated Japan strictly through air and sea power. There wasn’t really any need to capture Japanese held islands and territories, except insofar as they supported the air/sea fighting efforts.

That said, I suppose there’s some merit to the idea that by engaging in ground fighting, we drew out and destroyed the Japanese fleet as they tried to support/defend those locations. In concept, this is sort of similar to how the US 8th AF destroyed the Luftwaffe by staging bomber raids designed to force the Luftwaffe to engage, so the US fighters could destroy them.

Except you are condemning all the Allied POWs on Japan to a horrible death.

Not to imaging the huge number of Japanese civilian deaths by starvation.

And a war lasting until 1950.

Pretty sure nobody in the US gave half a shit about your second point in the war.

As for the first one, I’d bet the math on that is pretty close- it’s likely that the casualty totals in the Pacific would have been considerably smaller if we’d stuck to only taking places useful for bombers, fighters and naval bases, and gone into a blockade and strategic bombing offensive. I’m not sure that in the calculus of war to sacrifice 30,000 men to rescue 30,000 men is a good trade.

And really… the war would have ended in 1945, although it might have taken a couple more nuclear weapons and run into September.

Ah, but that aint the American way.

Oh, you are assuming we use the Bomb.

The Navy wanted simply to starve them out and not use the Bomb.

Can you cite that? I’m not sure that is true. I believe they made plans for effectively starving them out and conventional bombing. But mainly as the planners weren’t even aware of the atomic bombs availability.

I think most accepted estimates assumed the US would lose 300,000 in the invasion and have to kill millions.

Oh, no, what I meant is that the Navy’s plan was to starve them out. Period. They likely didnt even know about the bomb, that might have changed their plans, just like the Army’s plan was to Invade. The Bomb changed all that, of course.

But yeah, and that is deaths, they planned on 1.2 Million casualties.

The Marines did much of the fighting on Guadalcanal.
Nimitz cut the Japanese line in two and the subs sunk their supply ships, the Marines took those islands necessary for airstrips and the carriers reduced Japan’s navy to nothing, while devastating their airforce and pounding isolated islands, such as Rubul, into nothing but a starving mass of defeated men.

On the other hand, McArthur marched on the bonus soldiers before the war, did absolutely nothing during WWII except hide and retreat and later was fired by a president.

The fact is, Nimitz, the navy and the marines won the war in the pacific and nothing McArthur did contributed to their efforts. None of the airstrips captured by McArthur were used to bomb Japan. McArthur did not even begin until 1944 at which time the Navy was well on its way to cutting the Japanese in two.

Did some good that came from McArthur’s efforts? Very little, but it did allow the NAVY to engage and destroy the Japanese navy and Air Force. Again, none of which McArthur had anything to do with other than the navy was there to protect him from sea and air attacks. So that was something good that came from McArthur’s war, not at all due to him.


Much, yes, but in fact, Army forces on the island actually outnumbered Marine forces.

And my cite above disproves your thesis as several Army taken air bases were critical.

Of course there were army forces on the canal, that has never been in dispute

.State your case. You make statements without any facts. Make your argument.

My chief argument is to look at the map. Japan could not be reached from any of McArthur’s positions. Once the Navy took Saipan, Japan was within striking distance by air. Our submarine force devastated Japanese shipping, The flattops destroyed ships, planes and island garrisons. When air strips were needed Nimitz put together a force to capture the necessary islands. Of course the army helped out too. The marines could not have taken Okinawa without army help. And to be sure the army was involved in many of the island invasions under Nimitz. The basic plan of the Navy cut the Japanese line in two, quickly and efficiently.

The map will demonstrate that the Philippines were largely out of the way and did not serve to cut enemy supply lines as effectively as possible. Even if they did, by the time McArthur was in the fight, 1944, the Nimitz had basic control of air, land and sea for most of the Pacific theater.

Now if your point is political, then perhaps an argument can be made on behalf of McArthur. It was good to liberate those cities. However, from a tactical standpoint, the Philippines were of little military value as compared to the island hopping of Nimitz. Nimitz simply cut the Japanese off at their knees. To be fair, he did have the Navy at his disposal.

From my cite:

Australian forces were able to use the airfield for their own operations the very next day, and it was grown into a major air base that supported Australian operations for the rest of the war…This Japanese withdrawal opened a northern route to attack towards the Japanese home islands, forcing Japan to send some forces north, away from where soldiers and Marines were killing them on other fronts…These island assaults also tied up Japanese naval assets, reducing the pressure on Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz’s forces until Japan decided to protect the Marianas at all costs, withdrawing their fleet from fighting Army units ashore and sending it North to the Mariana Islands where the Navy achieved one of its greatest victories at the Battle of the Philippine Sea…The Army’s efforts were mostly aimed at retaking the Philippines, but it was hoped that, as the Army put pressure on Imperial Japanese land forces, it would force the Japanese Navy into another decisive engagement which Nimitz would, hopefully, win.

I am not saying that the USN didnt do the heavy lifting, and were the most critical, but the Army was important too. Not to mention the fact that the Army was used in many placed allowed the Marines to cap many small island airbases.

I did not see a link? In any case American submarines, the mighty Aircraft Carrier fleets, and the United States Marines, won the war in the Pacific, with a little help from the army here and there but nothing from McArthur.

Some even say it was the submarines that won the war. There is a very strong argument to be made for this concept. Of course others would say it was the U.S. carriers who simply had their way anywhere they went in the Pacific, won the war… But we still need the marines to take those vital islands and airstrips.

Again, not one airstrip in McArthur’s theater was ever used to bomb Japan.

By the way McArthur did not return to the Philippines until October of 44. By this time Nimitz had already taken Saipan.

Well, we are limiting to just Mac?

I mean Okinawa was taken by a joint Army/Marine force, more Army than Marines. Same with the Mariana Islands. Those were the two primary places planse bombed the Main islands from.

Note that my dad was just a Noncom but he despised Mac. He never considered himself part of the Bataan gang.

That is great for your father. I can not imagine what suffering he must have endured. My father never spoke much about his military service during the war. He was in Europe.

I have already acknowledged that the army participated in many campaigns across the Pacific with the navy. They were in fact under navy and marine command. We can debate their contribution another day. The subject at hand is who has the best strategy for winning the war in the Pacific. And clearly that was Nimitz.