For the United States, full involvement in World War II began and ended in the Pacific Ocean. Although the accepted grand strategy of the war was the defeat of Germany first, the sweep of Japanese victory in the weeks and months after Pearl Harbor impelled the United States to move as rapidly as it could to stem the enemy tide of conquest in the Pacific. Shocked as they were by the initial attack, the American people were also united in their determination to defeat Japan, and the Pacific war became peculiarly their own affair. In this great theater it was the United States that ran the war, and had the determining voice in answering questions of strategy and command as they arose. The natural environment made the prosecution of war in the Pacific of necessity an interservice effort, and any real account of it must, as this work does, take into full account the views and actions of the Navy as well as those of the Army and its Air Forces.

These are the factors -- a predominantly American theater of war covering nearly one-third the globe, and a joint conduct of war by land, sea, and air on the largest scale in American history -- that make this volume on the Pacific war of particular significance today. It is the capstone of the eleven volumes published or being published in the Army's World War II series that deal with military operations in the Pacific area, and it is one that should command wide attention from the thoughtful public as well as the military reader in these days of global tension.

Washington, D.C.
5 April 1961
Brigadier General, U.S.A.
Chief of Military History


The Author

Louis Morton, now Professor of History at Dartmouth College, was a member of the Office of the Chief of Military History from 1946 to 1959. During that time, he served as chief of the Pacific Section, responsible for the preparation of the 11-volume subseries on The War in the Pacific, deputy to the Chief Historian, and historical adviser for the post-World War II program. The present volume is the second he has written for the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. The first, The Fall of the Philippines, was published in 1953. In addition, he has contributed substantially to other publications of this office, including Command Decisions, and has published numerous articles in professional military and historical journals.

A graduate of New York University, Mr. Morton received his doctorate from Duke University in 1938 in the field of American colonial history. After a brief teaching career, he joined the Williamsburg Restoration, which published his study, Robert Carter of Nomini Hall, and then in May 1942 volunteered for military service. Most of his Army career was spent in the Pacific on historical assignments, and it was during this period that his interest in military history began. He has served as consultant and lecturer at a number of military and civilian institutions and teaches military history at Dartmouth.



Strategy is a many-sided word, connoting different things to different people. The author of any work on strategy, therefore, owes it to his reader to define at the outset his own conception of this ambiguous term. For it is this conception that underlies the shape of his work and largely determines what belongs to it and what does not, what emphasis will be accorded certain subjects, and how they will be treated.

In the present volume, the author has viewed strategy broadly, including within it not only the art of military command -- the original meaning of the term -- but all those activities associated with the preparation for and the conduct of war in the Pacific. Strictly speaking, this book is not about military operations at all (though it includes operational strategy), for these belong in the realm of tactics and are covered fully in the other volumes of the Pacific subseries. It is focused rather on the exceedingly complicated and difficult, if less dangerous, tasks that are necessary to bring men with all that they need to the chosen field of battle at a given moment of time. These may be less glamorous endeavors than those usually associated with war, but they are as vital and were particularly important and complex in the Pacific, often determining the outcome of battle.

Viewed thus, the arena of Pacific strategy is the council chamber rather than the coral atoll; its weapons are not bombs and guns but the mountains of memoranda, messages, studies, and plans that poured forth from the deliberative bodies entrusted with the conduct of the war; its sound is not the clash of arms but the cool voice of reason or the heated words of debate thousands of miles from the scene of conflict. The setting for this volume, therefore, is the war room; its substance, the plans for war and the statistics of shipping and manpower. It deals with policy and grand strategy on the highest level -- war aims, the choice of allies and theaters of operations, the distribution of forces and supplies, and the organization created to use them. On only a slightly lower level, it deals with more strictly military matters -- with the choice of strategies, with planning and the selection of objectives, with the timing of operations, the movement of forces and, finally, their employment in battle.

Strategy in its larger sense is more than the handmaiden of war, it is an inherent element of statecraft, akin to policy, and encompasses preparations for war as well as the war itself. Thus, this volume treats the prewar period in some detail, not in any sense as introductory to the main theme but as


an integral and important part of the story of Pacific strategy. The great lessons of war, it has been observed, are to be found in the events preceding the outbreak of hostilities. It is then that the great decisions are made and the nature of the war largely determined. Certainly this was the case in World War II, and the years before Pearl Harbor are rich in lessons for our own day.

The original design for the Pacific subseries of the UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II envisaged a single volume on strategy covering the entire period of the war as well as the prewar period. But it subsequently became evident that it would be impossible to tell so large a story in any meaningful way in so brief a span. An additional volume was therefore allocated to Pacific strategy. The terminal date for the present volume, December 1943, was selected partly for reasons of length but also because that date provided a logical dividing point in the story of Pacific strategy for a variety of reasons. Other volumes will deal with the final year and a half of the war, from December 1943 to August 1945.

Even so, it has been necessary to condense much of the story of Pacific strategy and to omit some things that perhaps should have been included. In each instance of this sort, the author has based his decision on the significance of the subject and its relevance to the larger theme of the book. Thus, the author emphasized the organization for planning on the higher levels at the expense of the organization of theater headquarters because it seemed to him that the area of decision deserved the greater attention. Similarly, he avoided a detailed account of theater organization for its own sake, since a pro forma account would shed little light on the major problems of the Pacific war. But when theater organization emerges as a major factor, as it does in the account of joint command or Army-Navy relationships, it receives considerable attention.

The temptation to deal in this book with the larger problems of global strategy became at times almost irresistible. Constantly the author had to remind himself that his subject was the Pacific war and that global strategy was treated in full elsewhere in this series. He attempted, therefore, to include only so much of the larger picture as was necessary to put the Pacific into its proper perspective. The same is true of logistics and of operations. UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II is a large series with volumes on a great many subjects, many of them closely related to one another and to this one. Thus, the author had constantly to skirt a narrow path between those volumes dealing with the higher echelons of the War Department and those dealing with operations in the theater. When he trespassed, he did so because it seemed necessary for an understanding of the story of Pacific strategy; to do otherwise would have been a disservice to the reader.

Every author who sets out to write a book incurs numerous obligations. But none owes more than one whose book is part of a larger series and who works within the framework of an organization in which many people contribute


to the volume in the course of their daily work. This is such a book, and the debts of the author to his colleagues and associates are heavy indeed, even though he alone is responsible for interpretations made and conclusions drawn in this volume as well as for any errors of omission or commission. The list of those whose assistance eased the author's task extends from the Chiefs of Military History and the Chief Historians, past and present, to the typists who deciphered penciled scribblings and the file clerks who saved the author many valuable hours. Included in this long list are editors and cartographers, librarians and archivists, participants in the events described, and observers, supervisors, and subordinates. But the heaviest debts are to my fellow historians in this adventure in co-operative history, and especially to the authors of the other volumes in the Pacific subseries. The references to their work, which appear so often on the pages that follow, are only a partial acknowledgment of their contribution. Full acknowledgment would have to include also the less tangible but equally important benefits derived from close association and frequent conversation. For this aid, the author owes much to his colleagues, civilian and military, but he owes more perhaps to their encouragement and to the support and friendship they gave so freely during the years it took to write this book.

Hanover, New Hampshire
20 September 1960


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