Thursday, October 11, 2007

Myth - The invasion of the Philippines was unnecessary

“Philippine campaign was totally unnecessary campaign undertaken to assuage MacArthur's ego. the capture of Peliliu secured the flank of the real drive, the navy/marine campaign in the central pacific. so that reason usually set forth as an excuse doesn't fly, and it blew the hell out of manila and the rest of the Filipino towns, killed scores of Filipino civilians not to mention closeto 70,000 U.S. casualties. So it should be forgotten. it was wasteful in the extreme and criminally unnecessary.

I am not the world's greatest expert on this, but if I remember the situation, MacArthur and Nimitz briefed President Roosevelt, with MacArthur recommending his return to the Philippines, and Nimitz recommending the island-hopping campaign which would bypass and isolate the Philippines,to be eliminated of the Japanese later.”

This post is a perfect example of why being ill-informed is worse than being uninformed. This post is completely wrong. To whit;

Nimitz never recommended bypassing the PI. Nimitz and every other field commander in the Pacific thought we needed to invade Leyte and establish airfields to cover the Japanese airfields on Luzon before invading either Luzon or Formosa. Only King wanted to bypass the Philippines and go directly to Formosa.

FDR did not decide Pacific war military strategy based on a discussion with MacArthur. Actually strategy was set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). In 1944 that included Arnold, Marshall, King, and Leahy. FDR, from what I’ve read never overruled his JCS after his decision to invade North Africa in July 1942.

In September 1944 the choice was not between invading the Philippines and invading Okinawa and Iwo Jima. No one at the time thought we could move directly from Saipan to Okinawa in the Fall of 1944. There were three options being considered two viable option and one unviable:

1) Viable; To invade Leyte and then invade either Luzon or Formosa; or
2) Viable: bypass the PI and invade Formosa and the China Coast.
3)) Unviable: bypass the PI and Formosa and invade Japan directly or Okinawa.

Option three was never considered viable by either the Army or Navy. Marshall considered it, but quickly dropped the idea when Army planners thought it impossible. The only one in favor of Option 2 was Admiral King.

Bypassing the PI and invading Formosa was supported by King for three reasons:

1) it would support our invasion of the China coast, allowing us to support the Nationalists.
2) occupation of Formosa would cut Japan sea lanes to the south
3) B-29s could use it as a base to Bomb Japan.

Eventually, the JCS (except for King) and Nimitz, MacArthur, and Halsey concluded that we had to invade Leyte and establish airfields to neutralize the airfields on Luzon before either Formosa or Luzon could be invaded.

After the JCS decided to invade Leyte in October 1944 they had to decide between Luzon or Formosa. Marshall and Arnold supported an invasion of Luzon. Also supporting Luzon were the other army field commanders and Admiral Halsey. King never wavered in believing Formosa should be invaded.

However the Key player in the decision was Nimitz. Initially he favored invading Formosa but he came to the conclusion that it would be cheaper in lives and quicker to first invade Luzon and then invade Okinawa; bypassing Formosa. Nimitz’s reasons were as follows;

• Formosa could not be invaded till March 1945 vs. an invasion of Luzon in January 1945. Thereby pushing the invasion of Okinawa until June 1945.
• Formosa was no longer needed as a B-29 airbase.
• A Chinese port was no longer needed to support the Chinese.

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