General MacArthur

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by chipm, Jul 27, 2021.

  1. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    I am much more familiar, even with Germans, Generals in Africa and Europe than i am in "The Pacific".

    When i do Hear/Read something about MacArthur, it is usually in reference to his ego or political ambitions, or that his staff were a bunch of sycophants.
    No doubt he did have a large ego. I am sure he was not the easiest guy to deal with.

    But again, in The Pacific, i Hear/Read about ...pardon these spellings if wrong... Halsey, Spruance, Mitcher, Nimitz and others.
    I have never Heard/Reade much about MacArthur as a commander. He must have been retained for Some Reasons of Ability/Success.
    What was MacArthur good at.....what were some of his strong suits in helping to win the war in The Pacific.?
    Thank You
  2. MacArthur graduated number one in his class at the US Military Academy with , quite obviously , a degree in Engineering. His first assignment was to the Philippines where his father , a Major General and MoH recipient , was based. That's the easy part.

    MacArthur learned to utilize General Casey to build airfields that General Kenny used to isolate Japanese bases and advance the offensive with the support of land based airpower. On the strategic level , and as I am sure you know , MacArthur's goal was to liberate Luzon and , if necessary , the entire Philippines. Admiral King and General Arnold and most of the US war effort in the Pacific targeted the Mariana Islands. It was the next move that was tricky.

    The USN brass , fully driven by Admiral King , insisted that Luzon be bypassed and that Formosa was the most logical approach. In an effort to support this strategy (which had not been approved) , and in fear of an IJN Airforce that simply did not exist , the USN launched the invasion of Peleliu.

    The greatest contribution that MacArthur made to help the US win the war , in my opinion of course , was his influence and irrefutable argument that Formosa made absolutely no sense and would have dangerous post war consequences. His administration of Japan is hailed as absolutely unique in history.
    Dave55 and chipm like this.
  3. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I have only read one biography of McArthur now long ago by William Manchester 'American Caesar', a well-written account, although now twenty years later only a small part is remembered, notably his magnanimous rule of Japan after the surrender.The book is still available.

    The only gap was the account of his defeat in the Philippines; an impossible task I would suggest.
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    MacArthur was a highly controversial character in his own time and is still so today. He is one of those historical figures who produces extreme reactions in the historians who write about him. I suppose Montgomery would be the nearest equivalent among British generals. Like Monty, Mac was not helped by his personality, and it is consequently very difficult to judge him fairly.

    As a commander, MacArthur was like the little girl with the curl; when he was good he was very good and when he was bad he was awful. There seems to have been no in between with him. He had a habit of making a picture of a situation and then bending his plans to his picture rather than to the realities. Throughout his career in WWII and Korea MacArthur employed a chief of intelligence (Willoughby) who encouraged this fault. Prior to Dec. 7th MacArthur had a far too optimistic picture of the Philippine situation and consequently made an unrealistic plan to defend the Lingayen beaches. In Korea, he had a similarly overoptimistic picture in November 1950, and so he left his forces badly exposed to the Chinese offensive. MacArthur also had a weakness for attacking prestige objectives. He battered away at Buna when a more patient approach might have worked better, and he diverted two corps to take Manila instead of focusing on cutting off and destroying Yamashita's main forces.

    These failures, plus MacArthur's well-known vanity and right wing views, have made him a favorite whipping boy. Max Hastings cannot write about MacArthur without flying off into a foaming rant. But there was more to MacArthur as both a man and a soldier. His series of operations along the New Guinea coast in 1944 constituted one of the swiftest and most successful amphibious campaigns in history. Indeed, after Buna MacArthur's forces racked up a practically unbroken series of successes against the Japanese, consistently inflicting more casualties than they suffered. For all his difficulties with King, MacArthur learned to work very smoothly with the US Navy and especially with Halsey and Dan Barbey. Airman George Kenney quickly became a MacArthur favorite and under MacArthur air, ground, and navy all worked together as a team. It is true that MacArthur's staff contained a number of sycophants and deadheads (Willoughby, Sutherland, Courtney Whitney, Ned Almond in Korea), but MacArthur could and did give opportunity and a receptive ear to talented subordinates, some of whom had been given up on by others. Walter Krueger was regarded by many as too old for field command and Bonner Fellers had blotted his copybook in Egypt, but MacArthur took them on and both did well under him. Joseph Stilwell was nobody's sycophant and after getting fired from his Chinese job he was a hot potato, but MacArthur wanted him for Tenth Army and got him. MacArthur was also fortunate to have a good operations officer, Chamberlin, who could take Mac's sudden inspirations and transform them into operational reality, often at very short notice. MacArthur may not have been a genius and you certainly had to watch him closely, but on the whole he was an asset to the Allied cause.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2021
  5. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    A great critique, Than You
    And a point well taken......we ALL have opinions. You have to be careful, when judging a person "You do not like"
  6. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Podcast - 59mins - Posted Aug 15, 2016

    Attached content description...
    "MacArthur is one of those personalities that war throws up which I find hard to pin down. They have a big personalities and seemingly a huge confidence within themselves that overrides everything else (another two examples for me would be Monty and Patton).
    The media generated about them at the time seems to put them on a pedestal, its hard to see through that hype to figure out how good they actually were.
    Since I started the podcast MacArthur was in my top ten of topics to cover, so I was thrilled to see a new book on him “MacArthur at War: WWII in the Pacific” by Walter Borneman. I highly recommend you give it a read, its a balanced look which at times has you disbelieving he was allowed to continue in command, at other times you see his ability shine through. He undoubtedly was a very complex man."
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  7. "Prior to Dec. 7th MacArthur had a far too optimistic picture of the Philippine situation and consequently made an unrealistic plan to defend the Lingayen beaches."

    MacArthur had no delusions about successfully defending Lingayen Gulf with 3 absolutely green and ill-equipped Philippine 'divisions' and some better trained and more effective Philippine Scouts. The had no tanks , effective artillery or air support to slow what amounted to an invasion force of about 43,000 combat experienced Japanese troops (including logistical and other support units). Admiral Hart's 29 submarines (assuming a portion of them were deployed in a position to intervene) had no impact off Lingayen Gulf due to heavy destroyer escort , shallow waters and defective torpedoes. Two days after the initial Japanese move at Lingayen Gulf , 7000 IJA soldiers landed at Lamon Bay , completing a pincer threat on Manila. The fact is that MacArthur conducted a successful twin retrograde maneuver against a far superior force that enjoyed air supremacy.

    Prior to December 8th , Filipino time , and when it became obvious that if Imperial Japan concluded that war with the US was the only option , the IJN would target the anchorage at Manila bay and the IJA was fully capable of seizing this objective. This is why the entirely defensive strategy employed by the US was to deny this for as long as possible. The final version of War Plan Orange (5) presumed that by April of 1942 force levels would be sufficient to fortify and retreat to Bataan , and possibly hold their position for four to six months. MacArthur never agreed with the defensive posture of any version of WPO regarding the Philippines , but he was painfully aware that the US was in no position to commit the resources necessary to defend Luzon.
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  8. "These failures, plus MacArthur's well-known vanity and right wing views, have made him a favorite whipping boy."

    You have absolutely no idea what sort of political views MacArthur had , you are talking about historians that claim that he was positioning himself to challenge FDR. That is nonsense and MacArthur issued a release pointing out very carefully that his career will end on the battle fields against Imperial Japan , not the White House. He was forced to do so because the 'right wing' was clutching for straws looking to find anyone that could defeat FDR in 1944. They tried and failed to recruit him. It frustrates me when weak minded historians staple such meaningless and tired phrases as 'right wing views' to the legacy of Douglas MacArthur. As far as 'favorite whipping boy' is concerned , with few exceptions undereducated and biased historians dare to use that phrase. I am amused by your comment about MacArthur's 'well known vanity' and I could not possibly care less about your references to Max Hastings or Monty.
  9. An interesting factoid just occurred to me , FDR Churchill and MacArthur were related as distant cousins.

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