Success in the Art of War


By GENERAL DOUGLAS MacARTHUR, Supreme Commander Allied Pacific Forces

Broadcast from Tokyo, Japan, October 16, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XII, pp. 38-39.

TODAY the Japanese armed forces throughout Japan completed their demobilization and ceased to exist as such. These forces are now completely abolished. I know of no demobilization in history either in war or peace by our own or by any other country that has been accomplished so rapidly or so frictionlessly. Everything military, naval or air is forbidden to Japan. This ends its military might and its military influence in international affairs. It no longer reckons as a world power either large or small. Its path in the future, if it is to survive must be confined to the ways of peace. Approximately 7,000,000 armed men, including those in the outlying theatres, have laid down their weapons.

In the accomplishment of the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous surrender in Japan, unique in the annals of history, not a shot was necessary, not a drop of Allied blood was shed.

The vindication of the great decision of Potsdam is complete. Nothing could exceed the abjectness, the humiliation and the finality of this surrender. It is not only physically thorough, but has been equally destructive on Japanese spirit. From swaggering arrogance, the former Japanese military have passed to servility and fear. They are thoroughly beaten and cowed, and tremble before the terrible retribution the surrender terms impose upon their country in punishment for its great sins.

Again I wish to pay tribute to the magnificent conduct of our troops. With a few exceptions, they could well be taken as a model for all time, as a conquering army. No historian in later years when passions cool can arraign their conduct. They could so easily and understandably have emulated the ruthlessness which their enemy freely practiced when conditions were reversed. But their perfect balance between implacable firmness of duty on the one hand and resolute restraint from cruelness and brutalities on the other has' taught a lesson to the Japanese civil population that is startling in its impact.

Nothing has so tended to impress Japanese thought, not even the catastrophic fact of military defeat itself. They have for the first time seen the free man's way of life in actual action and it has stunned them into new thought and new ideas. A revolution—or more properly speaking, the evolution—which will restore the dignity and freedom of the common man, has begun. It will take much time, and require great patience, but if world public opinion will permit of these two essential factors, mankind will be repaid* Herein lies the way to true and final peace.

The Japanese Army, contrary to some concepts that have been advanced, was thoroughly defeated before the surrender, The strategic maneuvering of the Allies so scattered and divided them; their thrusts had so immobilized, disintegrated and split its units; its supply and transportation lines were so utterly destroyed; its equipment was so exhausted, its morale so shattered, that its early surrender became inevitable.

Bastion after bastion, considered by it as impregnable in barring our way, had been by-passed and rendered impotent and useless, while our tactical penetrations and envelopments resulted in piecemeal destruction of many isolated fragments. It was weak everywhere, forced to fight where it stood, unable to render mutual support between its parts and presented a picture of collapse that was complete and absolute.

The basic cause of the surrender is not to be attributed to an arbitrary decision of authority. It was inevitable because of the strategic and tactical circumstances forced upon it. The situation had become hopeless. It was merely a question of when, with our troops poised for final invasion. This invasion would have been annihilating, but might well have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.

The victory was a triumph for the concept of the complete integration of the three dimensions of war—ground, sea and air. By a thorough use of each arm in conjunction with the corresponding utilization of the other two, the enemy was reduced to a condition of helplessness. By largely avoiding methods involving the separate use of the services and by avoiding methods of frontal assault as far as possible, our combined power forced the surrender with relative life loss probably unparalleled in any campaigns in history.

This latter fact indeed was the most inspiring and significant feature: the unprecedented saving in American life. It is lor this we have to say truly, "Thank God." Never was there a more intensive application of the principle of the strategic and tactical employment of limited forces as compared with the accumulation of overwhelming forces.

Illustrating this concept, General Yamashita recently stated in an interview in Manila, explaining reasons for his defeat, that the diversity of Japanese command resulted in the complete lack of cooperation and coordination between the services. He complained that he was not in supreme command, that the air forces were run by Field Marshal Teraushi at Saigon and the fleet run directly from Tokyo, that he only knew of the intended naval strike at Leyte Gulf five days before it got under way and professed ignorance of its details.

The great lesson for the future is that success in the art of war depends upon a complete integration of the services. In unity will lie military strength. We cannot win with only backs and ends. And no line, however strong can go alone. Victory will rest with the team.