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Re: MacArthur [Was: Slow period for list]
In a message dated 12/19/02 10:43:12 PM Pacific Standard Time, ChosinMead@aol.com writes:
Chosin was his greatest failure, his refusal to accept the intelligence given him was responsible for the lives of thousands of men.
I agree with what you say, but I'd say that his greatest failure was to sit on his hands for days after the invasion of the Philippines, paralyzed with doubt and inaction. That happened a few times in his life. One observation of this was in his early months in Australia. Hap Arnold happened to be on a tour of the Pacific when he dropped in on Mac. When he reported his observation about Mac's paralysis in SWPAC, he recommended that Mac be replaced. Marshall ordered his planners work with Arnold's planners to resolve the issue. Not one member of the joint-planning staff recommended keeping him in his position. (One suggestion was made to make him the ambassador to the Soviet Union.) Marshall received their report and decided against their recommendation.
MacArthur treated his Australian Army like second class soldiers, when they in fact were the only ones who had been in combat for over a year, when he took command of SWPAC. The Aussies had been fighting the Germans in N. Africa and securing the peace in the Middle East.
He totally went around his ground force commander, General Blamey, an Australian general who had been fighting the Germans in N. Africa, and created the Alamo Force, aka the 6th Army, composed entirely of American soldiers. The Australian Army was given the privilege of marching through the jungles of New Guinea, while the Alamo Force was busy "hitting them where they ain't" in the amphibious operations along the New Guinea coast. Upon leaving SWPAC the Australians were refused permission to move forward with the Americans. They were left with cleaning up the passed over Japanese garrisons and bases, which were left to die on the vine, unable to affect Allied movements in SWPAC.
MacArthur was given the power to determine the Australian government's actions after he arrived. There were times of great expectations. By the time he left, the Australians were sorry that he had set foot on their soil.
He was quick to chastise any subordinate who dared speak out for the 6th Army or American operations in his area of command. One example of this was the removal of General Eichelberger from command of combat troops, when "Ike" dared to speak to the press about the victory at Buna.
He surrounded himself with a gaggle of sycophants, known as the "Bataan Gang," who continued with him into the occupation of Japan. Some of them were still working for him in the Korean War. One of these was Mac's G-2, Charles Willoughby, with him since the Philippines often erred in his predictions of events to come. But it made little difference to Mac, as he chose what he wanted to believe, ignoring Willoughby when he thought differently. Willoughby, who had many detractors, as the head of Mac's G-2, claimed that he had predicted the entry of the Chinese into the Korean War, but when that contradicted with MacArthur's "Home by Christmas" program, he did a lot of side stepping and shuffling explaining just what was the truth.
Mac had no concept of joint operational command, i.e., using the personnel of the Navy or Marines on his staff. And it was most fortunate that General Kenney was his air commander, during WW II, as the latter's ability to work around problems of attack and logistical support, provided MacArthur with capabilities that he couldn't have addressed.
The Air Force commanders weren't up to that caliber in the Korean War, and so there was the multiple year program of interdiction. It was a failure, and ended up costing many aircraft and lives in that strategy.
As for his love of the Marines, he didn't think enough of the 4th Marines, captured with the other troops in the Philippines. Mac ordered medals for all of the ground units fighting there, but omitted them entirely. When Wainwright questioned this, Mac said that the regiment already had too many medals. Wainwright corrected this unmerited omission before he went into captivity.
MacArthur respected no one. If he had his way there would have been no Europe First national policy, and he would be given the overall command of the Pacific theater of operations. He bemoaned any effort to support the European theater, and most certainly Nimitz' theater in the North, Central, South, and Eastern Pacific.
As his attack on the Bonus Army showed, he had little respect for the wishes of the president. Herbert Hoover had wanted to use less harsh tactics in removing the Bonus marchers. Mac disagreed despite the suggestions of his aide, Dwight Eisenhower to show a less forceful approach.
He did the same thing to FDR when the President visited Pearl Harbor and Mac was summoned to the confab. He cowed FDR into invading the Philippines, which was against the general concept of the Joint Chiefs. He threatened FDR with exposing him as a racist, not even caring for the Asian citizens of the Philippines. Mac had the PR folk and press contacts, as well as the conservative Republicans, to back him up in his threat. FDR obviously didn't feel strong enough in his position to forgo the invasion of the Philippines, especially as he was planning to run for his fourth term presidency, so he caved to Mac on this issue.
During the Korean War, Mac tried the same thing with Truman, once too often, and the rest, as they say, is history.