Chapter XXIV
Organizing for the Offensive

Whereas the Success of this Expedition will very much depend upon an entire Good Understanding between Our Land and Sea Officers, We do hereby strictly enjoin and require you, on your part, to maintain and cultivate such a good Understanding and Agreement ... as the Commander-in-Chief of our Squadron is instructed, on his part, to entertain and cultivate the same good Understanding and Agreement.

Royal Instruction to General Wolfe, 1759

The decision to open the Central Pacific offensive initiated in the Hawaiian area, where the major theater Army and Navy commands were located, a a burst of activity that had not been seen since before the Battle of Midway. Up to now, the mission of the Central Pacific Area had been largely defensive. Operations in the southern Solomons and in the Aleutians, it is true, were nominally under Admiral Nimitz' command, but the staff officers of the Central Pacific had played little or no part in the planning and conduct of these operations. They had no sooner begun to plan for active operations, therefore, than they ran into the familiar organizational and logistical problems that had beset the South Pacific staff during the Guadalcanal Campaign. Some had been anticipated and an effort made to solve them in advance. Others developed during the planning period and had to be resolved by the Army commander on the spot as best he could, or referred to higher headquarters for arbitration. Often the solutions represented compromises that no one thought entirely satisfactory; the Army had one way of doing things, the Navy another. But at no time did the commanders permit their differences to delay or hazard the success of the offensive. On one thing all were agreed. The main job was to meet the enemy and defeat him with the least possible loss of life. Under the acid test of combat, most differences could be quickly resolved.

The Problem

Foremost among the problems facing Admiral Nimitz in preparing for the coming offensive was the organization of his forces. Nimitz' role as commander of the Pacific Ocean Areas was clear, but his additional positions as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Commander of the Central Pacific Area created some confusion. Moreover, he used virtually the same staff while acting in all three capacities, and Army ground and air


officers justifiably felt that their point of view could not be adequately represented on a staff consisting almost entirely of naval officers and functioning largely as a fleet staff.

The customary naval task force organization created further difficulties, for by placing ground and air units under task force or group commanders, usually naval officers, it obfuscated the lines of authority in areas where the Army normally retained control. These and other problems consumed much of Admiral Nimitz' time, but their importance fully warranted the effort. On their successful solution, he knew, depended the relationship between Army and Navy commanders in the area and the effective utilization of his forces in the operations to come.

The problems that now faced Admiral Nimitz had long plagued his superiors in Washington. So long as the Central Pacific theater remained quiescent, discussion of these problems could be deferred. But by the summer of 1943, as plans for the offensive began to take shape, the Army planners in Washington had apparently become convinced that the time had come to clarify Admiral Nimitz' status and to create a truly joint theater staff in which the Army would have representation commensurate with its responsibilities and the size of its forces in the area.

Two efforts had been made earlier in the year to meet some of the problems raised by joint operations of the Army and Navy in the Pacific. The first of these was the Basic Logistical Plan of March 1943, designed "to insure coordinated logistical effort and procedure in each command area ... involving joint Army-Navy operations in which unity of command and responsibility had been established...."1 Developed largely in response to conditions in the South Pacific, the plan had as its objective the most effective and economic utilization of trans-Pacific shipping and of the supply and service elements of each of the services in the theater. The joint commander, it stipulated, would determine the requirements of his theater for personnel and supplies and prepare a consolidated list, indicating shipping priorities. Presumably he would take into account the wishes of the major service commanders in his area, but the final decision would be his. The organization for supply in his theater was clearly the responsibility of the joint commander also, but under the Basic Logistical Plan he was to establish a unified system either through a joint logistical staff or through joint planning by separate staffs.

Though the plan was generally sound, its execution left much to be desired. In both the South and Central Pacific Areas, where its provisions were most directly applicable, few changes were made immediately. Neither Nimitz nor Halsey established a unified logistical system, electing instead to set up joint logistical boards. Because of the urgency of operational requirements, considerable progress was made toward coordination of supply activities in the South Pacific. But in the Central Pacific, where the services had long maintained separate supply systems, very little had been accomplished in development of an effective


and unified logistical system by the summer of 1943.

Even more important than the Basic Logistical Plan was the effort in April 1943 to define the principles of unified command in joint operations and to lay down the rules under which such command would be exercised.2 The only existing guide was the Joint Action of the Army and Navy, published in 1935, supplemented by the separate directives issued to theater commanders on their appointment. This system had obvious shortcomings and as early as the fall of 1942 the Army planners had begun to study the problem. By the beginning of 1943, after the experience of operations in the South and Southwest Pacific and the prospect of additional operations in both areas and in the Central Pacific as well, it was apparent that unless some guide rules were established the conduct of joint Army-Navy forces in future operations might be adversely affected.3

Agreement on a set of rules for command of joint operations was not easily obtained. There were fundamental differences between the Army and Navy in doctrine and training. The nature of the forces each utilized and the way in which the Army and Navy organized and employed these forces differed also. It was natural, therefore, that each service should have its own concept of joint operations. Despite these differences, agreement was reached on 20 April 1943 and embodied in a Joint Chiefs of Staff directive entitled Unified Command for U.S. Joint Operations.4 It was a brief document about a page in length, which, in clear concise language, defined unified command, fixed the limits of the commander's authority and responsibility, told him what he could and could not do in general terms, and specified how he would organize his forces and exercise his command.

As defined in the JCS directive, a unified command was one "in which a force composed of units of the Army and Navy operates as a single command unit under an officer specifically assigned by higher authority." In choosing the commander, the Joint Chiefs indicated they would be guided by the nature of the projected operations -- air, ground, or surface -- and the objectives sought. Whatever his service, the officer selected would be responsible to the Joint Chiefs alone and would exercise his command of Army and Navy forces assigned to his area through the commanders of these forces. In operations, this authority would ordinarily be limited to the assignment of missions to these forces, tactics and techniques being the province of the force commanders. Administrative matters the joint commander was to leave as far as possible to others, keeping his own participation to a minimum and exercising discipline through the commanders of the separate services.

Perhaps the most significant provisions of the JCS directive on unified command were those relating to organization. A joint commander, it specified, was not to assume command of any component of his force "unless so directed by the Joint


Chiefs." To this prohibition against acting in a dual capacity was linked the injunction to establish a joint staff consisting of representatives of the component parts of his force "in such a manner as to insure an understanding of their several capabilities, needs, and limitations, together with the knowledge essential to maximum efficiency in integration of their efforts."5

The directive for unified command in joint operations met its first real test late in June 1943 when Admiral King proposed to General Marshall that Army troops replace marines on garrison duty in rear areas of the Pacific. Marshall refused. The assignment of troops in the Pacific, he told King, was but one phase of the broader problem of coordination within the theater. The Joint Chiefs had given Nimitz authority and the means to carry out his mission; it should not, he declared, tell him where to assign his forces as well. What Nimitz did need, Marshall claimed, was "an adequate joint operational staff, as provided in the directive for unified command," to advise him as to the most effective use of his forces. The existing staff he characterized as "an excrescency" superimposed on the Pacific Fleet staff.6

As General Marshall saw it, the creation of a truly joint staff with adequate Army representation was only a partial remedy for the "lack of coordination and consequent inefficient use of all available means in the Pacific Area." The basic difficulty, he thought, stemmed from Nimitz' position as theater, area, and fleet commander. These jobs, Marshall felt, should be divorced and Nimitz, like MacArthur, should function only as commander of the theater.

General MacArthur, it will be recalled, had been specifically enjoined when he assumed command of the Southwest Pacific Area from commanding directly any component of his force, but Nimitz had not been so restricted. At that time -- April 1942 -- it had been assumed that operations in the Central Pacific would be primarily naval. Combining of the area and the fleet, therefore, had seemed both logical and natural.7 It was logical also that the staff serving Nimitz while he was wearing his naval cap should also serve him when he donned his other hat. Thus had developed an organization which had served well for over a year but which the Army now thought inadequate for the operations ahead and inconsistent with the concept and practice of joint command.

Admiral King did not agree. He had hoped, he said, that his proposal to release the marines could be considered by itself "to help get on with the war in the Pacific," and he regretted the necessity for a review of the command arrangements in that area. But now that the problem had been raised he met it head on. He acknowledged readily that the projected offensive would impose greater demands on Nimitz' headquarters but stoutly denied any lack of coordination or inefficiency in the theater. "Without doubt," he told the Army Chief of Staff, "we are in accord as to the objectives to be attained and as to the general principles of command."8 He was glad, he said, to have Marshall's views, but


pointed out that he himself had only recently taken steps to increase both the Army and Navy membership on Nimitz' joint staff.9 And at present, he added, he was "exploring the practical aspects of making changes in the Pacific that will produce the best results, not only in the immediate but in the more distant future...." Marshall, he promised, would be kept informed "of these explorations" as they progressed.

On the matter of Nimitz' multiple command, King made no concessions whatever. Though he admitted that it might become necessary at a later date to relieve Admiral Nimitz from his duties as Pacific Fleet commander, he asserted that the present arrangement had worked well for the past 18 months and had "utilized our talents to the best advantage." But the possibility that King would turn over fleet command to one of Nimitz' subordinates was most unlikely in view of his statement that in the future "more or less the entire Navy will become incorporated in the Pacific Fleet."10

That the Navy would enter into discussions with the Army on so important a post in the naval hierarchy as the Pacific Fleet command, or assign to that command any but its senior representative in the theater, seemed most doubtful. As Army planners noted at the time, after discussion with their naval colleagues, the Navy would be most reluctant to make the Pacific Fleet "a unit under a Theater Commander" for this would in effect remove it from the direct control of Admiral King in his capacity as Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. Rather than limit Nimitz' operational control as fleet commander, the Navy Department, the Army planners believed, would seek to extend his -- and thereby King's -- authority to include the surface elements in MacArthur's area, on the ground that it was essential for the "maximum mobility" of the fleet.11

It did not seem to Admiral King, either, that Nimitz' multiple command violated the current doctrines on joint command, as Marshall had charged. Underlining the final clauses of the passage cited by Marshall -- "unless so directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff" -- he argued that since the Joint Chiefs had established the Pacific Ocean Areas "with full cognizance" that Admiral Nimitz was already the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, it followed that the Chiefs had in effect given their consent to this arrangement.12

Whatever the merits of King's argument, it was evident to the Army planners that if Admiral Nimitz was divested of his fleet command his relationship to Admiral King would be significantly altered. Functioning solely as the commander of an active theater of operations under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he would no longer be responsible directly to King through naval channels for the operations and administration of the Pacific Fleet. In these circumstances, King's relationship to Nimitz would be limited to King's position as a member of the


Joint Chiefs of Staff. And as executive agent for that body, King would have no authority other than that granted by it to direct Nimitz on the employment of the fleet, which would become a subordinate force under the control of the theater commander. Thus, the authority King exercised over the Pacific Fleet and over Admiral Nimitz as its commander by virtue of his position as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet would in large measure be lost if the Army's proposal to separate the theater and fleet commands was adopted.13

In one respect, General Marshall's criticism of Nimitz had been unjustified. Marshall had declared that the matter of shifting troops from one base to another should be left to Admiral Nimitz as theater commander exercising unity of command. His failure to do so had seemed to Marshall to indicate a lack of coordination in the theater stemming from the absence of an adequate joint staff. What Marshall and his advisors seem to have overlooked was that in May 1942 the Joint Chiefs of Staff had prohibited commanders vested with unity of command from permanently transferring units of a service to which they did not belong from one station to another without approval from the appropriate department in Washington.14 Admiral Nimitz, therefore, did not have the authority to transfer Army units in his area, and it was for this reason, King pointed out to Marshall, that he, King, had requested Marshall's consent to the replacement of Marine garrisons by Army units in the first place.

Admiral Nimitz' authority as theater commander was limited in other ways. Under the original directive establishing the Pacific Ocean Areas, Nimitz was required to exercise command of the South Pacific Area through a designated representative -- first Admiral Ghormley and then Admiral Halsey -- who functioned virtually as a theater commander. Thus, in the South Pacific, Nimitz did not have full command responsibility, and, as a matter of fact, did not wish to exercise such responsibility.15

The situation in the North Pacific Area was different. There, no real unified command had been established. The commander of the area, a naval officer, acted under directives from both Admiral Nimitz and the Commanding General, Western Defense Command, and his relations with the air and ground commanders were governed by the principle of mutual cooperation. This arrangement had worked so well that King believed "a change would be a mistake."16

Command arrangements in the Central Pacific were unlike those established for the other two areas of Nimitz' Pacific Ocean Areas. There was in the Central Pacific no designated commander and no separate area headquarters. Nimitz himself acted as Central Pacific commander when necessary, using the same staff that served him in his other capacities. Army forces in the area were under the old prewar Hawaiian Department whose commander served also as Military Governor


of Hawaii. Though under Nimitz in most matters, this officer functioned also as independent commander in certain specific fields, including military government, a situation that did nothing to ease the difficulties of unified command.17 Even in operational matters, Nimitz did not exercise full control over Army forces. Under a Joint Chiefs directive of April 1942, when a situation calling for a "fleet-opposed invasion" arose, the Navy would exercise unity of command. But when a state of "Armyopposed invasion" was declared, unity of command was to be exercised by the Army commander. As interpreted by the Army planners, this meant that in an "Army-opposed invasion" of Hawaii, responsibility for the defense of the islands would rest with the commander of the Hawaiian Department, regardless of the disposition or movement of the Pacific Fleet.18

These restrictions on Nimitz' authority greatly complicated the problem of command in the Pacific Ocean Areas. Clearly, it would be no simple matter to relieve him of his command of the Pacific Fleet, as Marshall had suggested, and make him a theater commander with full responsibility for all three areas of his jurisdiction. General Marshall quickly realized this and did not press the matter further. He was willing, he told King, to send Army troops to relieve the marines on garrison duty. He was also willing to revoke the May 1942 directive so far as it applied to the South and Central Pacific, but only "coincident with assumption by CINCPAC of the role of Theater Commander" with full responsibility for the two areas. The larger questions, he thought, should await the outcome of King's own investigations and of a joint study then in progress on the roles of the Army and Navy.19

Curiously enough, the question of a supreme commander for the entire Pacific was not raised at this time by either the Army or Navy. Heretofore in almost every debate over command, one side or the other had proposed this solution to the problem at hand. The advantages of a single command were conceded by both sides, but it was impossible to reach agreement on a commander. Clearly, the Navy would not agree to a solution that placed Nimitz under General MacArthur. And just as clearly, the Army would not accept a solution which made MacArthur subordinate to the Pacific Fleet commander. Various compromise candidates had been proposed -- Arnold, McNair, McNarney -- but none of these apparently had sufficient stature to overcome the Navy's claim to supreme command.20

In none of the discussions over command had the Army put forward the one candidate who might conceivably have been acceptable to the Navy as supreme commander in the Pacific. That man was George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, and in the fall of 1943 the possibility of his assignment to the Pacific was considered for the first time. The occasion was provided by a study of the more important problem of command


in Europe for the projected invasion of the Continent. General Marshall was the obvious choice for this assignment, and the task before the planners was to present an organization that would meet the political and military requirements of the situation and at the same time ensure the fullest utilization of General Marshall's services in the Allied war effort.21

This problem was studied with the greatest care in the War Department during September, 1943 and on 5 October General Handy submitted to Marshall the views of the Army planners on command in Europe. On the assumption that Marshall would exercise this command -- he had already been tentatively selected -- Handy argued that the arrangements made at the forthcoming Cairo Conference should provide for Marshall's continued membership on the Combined Chiefs of Staff, at least in regard to matters relating to Europe. It was also desirable, Handy pointed out, to leave in abeyance the problem of a supreme commander in the Pacific. His reason, he stated frankly, was that "at some time in the future, when the European war is rapidly drawing to a successful conclusion, the availability of General Marshall might offer a solution, which would not be highly controversial, for an over-all Pacific commander."22

What Handy was saying, of course, was that command in Europe and command in the Pacific were intimately related and that a solution in one area might well affect the situation in the other. And so long as General Marshall was the most likely candidate for the European command, his staff wished to defer decision in the Pacific until the shape of the war against Germany became clear. What would be Marshall's position, for example, if Germany surrendered shortly after the Chief of Staff's relief and reassignment, leaving him "with the form and not the substance of command?" Would the President call him back to Washington to replace a newly appointed Chief of Staff? Would he be available for duty in the Pacific? These and other questions lay behind the staff's desire to move slowly in the matter of Pacific command while keeping the arrangements for command in Europe as flexible as possible.

Further discussion threw no additional light on this subject. Thus, as the Cairo Conference drew near, the Army recommended that the question of a supreme commander for the Pacific not be raised at the conference lest it complicate the problem of selecting the commander for Europe. In support of this position, Handy pointed out that to do so would give the British a vote in the choice of commander in an area that was "almost 100 percent American."23 Furthermore, there was no necessity for a decision in the Pacific, Handy said, until a plan for the defeat of Japan had been developed. In the meantime, operations in the area were going well and coordination between the two commanders appeared to be satisfactory. In any case, the selection of a supreme commander at this time, observed Handy, would


force a choice between MacArthur and Nimitz, a choice, Handy observed, that would be both unpalatable and "politically impracticable." This was the view ultimately accepted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and on 19 November, aboard the Iowa, the President agreed not to bring up the matter of a supreme commander for the Pacific at the forthcoming meeting with the British at Cairo.24

Theater Organization

Admiral Nimitz' views on the subject of command were, of course, of primary importance in any decision relating to the organization of his theater. On him rested the responsibility for operations in the Pacific Ocean Areas. He, therefore, had the greatest stake in perfecting an organization for the most effective employment of his forces. Thus, Admiral King had requested Nimitz' ideas on command even before the Army had raised the question. On 2 July he had suggested to Nimitz that perhaps the time had come to take a close look at his own position and the organization of his theater. In view of the projected offensives in the Central Pacific, did Nimitz think, King asked, that a change would be desirable? Specifically, he wanted to know what Nimitz thought about the idea of distinguishing between his functions as area commander and as naval commander, and whether such a distinction ought to be extended to the staff that served him in both capacities. And he was interested further in Nimitz' recommendations on the relationship between the Pacific Ocean Areas command and the command of the three areas that comprised it.25

Admiral Nimitz could see little advantage in a separation of his functions or the division of his staff. As a matter of fact, he thought that for the forthcoming offensive his control of the fleet should be tightened rather than weakened. This he hoped to achieve, he told King, by consolidating elements of the fleet into task forces under separate commanders, thus decreasing the number of coequal subordinates reporting directly to him. Specifically, he had in mind a Central Pacific Force for use in the Gilberts campaign and so recommended to Admiral King.26 He wanted also to expand his planning staff, but opposed the creation of two separate staffs. The net effect of such a move, he thought, would be to slow down business and create a demand for more and more staff officers, files, and space. Inevitably, each of the headquarters would grow in size and ultimately become an organization less manageable and efficient than the small headquarters he now maintained.

Though Nimitz' response temporarily discouraged further efforts to create a joint staff, it held out the promise of a reorganization of the forces in the Central Pacific to meet the demands of the projected offensive. This reorganization was not long in coming. On 20 July Admiral Nimitz received the directive from the Joint Chiefs to seize the Gilberts and to plan for the Marshalls invasion. About two weeks later, on 5 August, he established a Central Pacific Force to


plan and conduct these operations, and appointed as its commander Admiral Spruance, his chief of staff.27

The Central Pacific Force was an operational headquarters. Its job was to plan for the operations ahead, supervise and coordinate the plans and preparations of the forces assigned, and carry out the operation at the appointed time. Nimitz himself retained control over the administration and supply of the naval and Marine units of the Central Pacific Force; the commander of the Hawaiian Department, of the Army ground and air elements.

Within the Central Pacific Force were three major commands, the Fifth Amphibious Force, the Carrier Force, and the Defense and Shore-Based Air Force. The first was established on 24 August with Rear Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, who had led the invasion of Guadalcanal, in command. His job was to conduct the landing operations, and for this purpose he was given ultimately all the assault forces as well as the transports, cargo vessels, landing craft', and supporting warships. These Turner organized into two attack forces. A separate ground headquarters, V Amphibious Corps, was created on 4 September. Commanded by Maj. Gen. Holland M. Smith, USMC, this headquarters was to direct the training and control the operations not only of the troops assigned for the Gilberts invasion, but also for those that followed.

The Defense and Shore-Based Air Force under Rear Adm. John H. Hoover included all the shore-based aircraft -- Army, Marine, and Navy -- assigned to the operation. Consisting of more than 300 planes and organized into four groups, Hoover's force was to conduct search and photo reconnaissance missions, develop and defend U.S. air bases in the forward area, and attack enemy bases and shipping before, during, and after the landings.

The third and last major component of the Central Pacific Force was the Fast Carrier Force led by Rear Adm. Charles A. Pownall. Consisting of six large and five small carriers with supporting battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, this force had the twofold mission of providing long-range protection for the invasion force and direct support during the operation itself.

At the same time that Nimitz was organizing his forces for the offensive ahead, the Army commander in the area -- Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, Jr.-was also reorganizing his forces. General Richardson had arrived in Hawaii to relieve General Emmons on 26 May 1943, but he was even then no stranger to the problems of the Pacific. A year earlier he had made an extended tour of inspection of the theater as the personal representative of the Chief of Staff and talked at length with all the major commanders in the area.28 Though the situation had changed greatly since that time, the familiarity with Pacific problems he had acquired then stood Richardson in good stead now. On 1 June he formally assumed command of the Hawaiian Department, becoming simultaneously the Military Governor of Hawaii. Almost immediately, he appointed a board of officers to make a study of


Chart 13: Command Organization, Pacific Ocean Area, October 1943


Admiral Spruance

General Richardson

the existing organization of the Department. "It can be foreseen ...," he told the senior officer of the board, "that as the war against the Japanese develops the Hawaiian Islands and particularly the Island of Oahu will assume greater and greater importance. It is essential that this command be prepared and have foreseen the facilities which will be required in the operation of a large advance base."29

On the basis of the report and recommendations of this board, General Richardson on 29 July modified radically the organization of his command, placing the major air and ground forces in the area under seven major commands, all under his direct control. In recognition of the importance of shipping in an oceanic theater, he abolished the old Service Forces and created instead an Army Port and Service Command. A Hawaiian Artillery Command was also established, and a Department Reserve designated. All the combat divisions in the area, as well as those expected, were placed under separate command and a task force headquarters was formed in anticipation of future needs. Finally Richardson appointed a deputy chief of staff for operations, who became in effect a War Plans officer since the Hawaiian Department


General Smith

Admiral Hoover

did not have then or later acquire an operational mission.30

Though this reorganization increased the efficiency and flexibility of the Army organization in the Central Pacific and went far toward meeting the requirements for the expanding role of Army forces in the area, it did not take into account the fact that Richardson's responsibilities would soon extend far beyond the territorial limits of the prewar Hawaiian Department. The establishment of the Central Pacific Force on 5 August, by bringing all troops involved in the Gilberts operation under one headquarters, further emphasized the need for a comparable Army organization encompassing all troops within the geographical limits of the Central Pacific Area. At Admiral Nimitz' suggestion, therefore, Richardson recommended to General Marshall that he be designated commander of all Army ground and air elements in the area "so that Army troops used in the forthcoming operations will have a commander toward whom they can look for supply, administration, and assistance."31 At the same time, in response to Nimitz' request that the Army construct and defend a bomber base on Baker Island, he asked for authority to shift his forces within the theater without


first requesting permission from the War Department. This authority, he explained, was necessary to meet Admiral Nimitz' operational requirements.

In Washington, Admiral King, no doubt prompted by Nimitz, supported Richardson's request on the ground that his appointment as commander of Army forces in the Central Pacific Area would create an organization similar to that in the South Pacific. Under such an arrangement, he pointed out, General Richardson's position vis-a-vis Nimitz would parallel the relationship between Harmon and Halsey. Richardson's appointment was desirable also, King told Marshall, "to insure coordination and effectiveness in the area for the forthcoming offensive," and he asked therefore that the change be made as soon as possible.32

Actually the War Department planners were already studying the problems of General Richardson's status and authority. With the exception of certain War Department restrictions relating to island garrisons (which the planners now recommended be removed) and an additional restriction on the use of aircraft imposed by Admiral Nimitz, they found that Richardson had full authority to employ the forces under his command, subject to agreement with Nimitz, as he wished. They saw no difficulty either in designating the Hawaiian Department commander as Army commander in the Central Pacific and recommended that this be done. Marshall quickly approved these recommendations, at the same time informing Admiral King that action was being taken to meet his request. Finally, on 14 August, Richardson received official notification of this decision and on that day assumed the title Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, Central Pacific Area "by direction of the President."33

The geographical extent of General Richardson's authority under this directive, as distinguished from his Hawaiian Department command, corresponded to the area delineated as the Central Pacific in Nimitz' original directive. It encompassed therefore all the land and sea areas of the Pacific between the equator (but including Canton Island) and the 42d parallel to the north, except for that portion of MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area that lay north of the equator and a small strip off the coast of South America. Within this vast region, only a small portion of which was as yet in American hands, Richardson was responsible for the administration and training of all U.S. Army troops, whether ground or air. This responsibility included also supply, but the precise nature of these duties was left undefined pending his recommendations. And like Harmon, General Richardson had no responsibility for operations other than to assist "in the preparation and execution of plans" involving Army forces in the area, "subject to the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Area."34

In designating Richardson Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, Central Pacific Area, the War Department had said nothing about his duties as Hawaiian


Department commander. Actually his responsibilities for both were about the same, but the older command, which carried certain additional legal responsibilities, had been established by Congress and could be altered only by that body. Did Richardson still retain those functions unique to the Hawaiian Department or had the new directive superseded the old? This confusion was settled quickly when the War Department on 18 September affirmed the continued existence of the Hawaiian Department under Richardson and stated explicitly what had been left implicit before -- that its instructions to Richardson were not intended to affect the status of the Hawaiian Department or to impair his authority as commander of a territorial division as defined in regulations and in the Articles of War.35

With regard to supply, General Richardson recommended that his authority should be the same as that normally exercised by any overseas commander and should extend to all Army forces in the Central Pacific Area as well as Navy and Marine forces for certain classes of supply. (Chart 14) This authority, granted him on 25 October, confirmed an arrangement already in existence in the theater, for, under directives issued by Nimitz, Richardson's headquarters had become virtually the logistical agency for the support of the projected offensive.36

By this time, differences of opinion over the division of responsibility between the Army and Navy commands in the theater were beginning to affect planning for the forthcoming operations. In the task force organization established by Nimitz in August all land-based aircraft, whether Army, Navy, or Marine, had been placed under Admiral Hoover, a naval air officer. Since this arrangement placed virtually all the Army's combat air units in the Central Pacific under naval command, General Richardson proposed that the senior Army air officer in the area, Maj. Gen. Willis H. Hale, be given this command, subject to Hoover's control. Nimitz opposed this suggestion and insisted that, "in view of the over-all naval aspect of the operation," Admiral Hoover continue to exercise direct command over such shorebased aviation as was assigned to the Central Pacific Force. But if Richardson desired, Nimitz was willing to assign General Hale to Hoover's staff.37

This proposal hardly met Richardson's objections. What he wanted was an Army headquarters in close juxtaposition to Hoover's, not representation on the staff. General Hale, he insisted, should command directly the Army air units in the invasion of the Gilberts as a subordinate to Hoover. In this way Hoover would exercise control through Hale, who would be in a position to ensure the proper and effective employment of Army aircraft in accordance with Army Air Forces doctrines. This argument, which was similar to the one General Harmon had successfully impressed on Halsey during the Guadalcanal Campaign, apparently convinced Admiral Nimitz and on 25 October he agreed to appoint Hale commander, under


Chart 14: Organization for Administration and Supply, U.S. Army Forces, Central Pacific Area, December 1943


General Hale

Hoover, of a task group composed of Army air units.38

Control of the 27th Division, scheduled to make the assault on Makin, and of other Army troops assigned to the Gilberts operation also created a problem during the period of planning and preparation. The V Amphibious Corps, established on 4 September as a permanent theater organization headed by a Marine officer, General Holland Smith, had responsibility for the amphibious training of all troops in the theater. But in addition, General Smith commanded the expeditionary forces for the Gilberts operation. In this latter capacity, Smith's responsibility for training Army troops was not clearly defined and his relationship to Admiral Turner, the assault force commander, was somewhat confusing. His control also over Army combat troops, who were attached to his corps in October while it was still in process of organization, raised some questions.

The 27th Division, under Maj. Gen. Ralph Smith, had been assigned to the Central Pacific Force for the Gilberts invasion early in September. Since that time it had remained under Richardson's headquarters for planning and training while coordinating these activities with Spruance's headquarters. The interposition of V Amphibious Corps headquarters in the chain of command in the midst of preparations for the coming invasion seemed to General Richardson a cumbersome and unnecessary arrangement, especially since he had responsibility, under the directive of 14 August, for the administration and training of all U.S. Army ground and air forces in the Central Pacific. He was aware also of the confusion over command between Turner and Holland Smith, and sought enlightenment from Admiral Nimitz. Who, he asked, would control Army ground troops during the invasion?

Nimitz' reply did not clarify the situation. The 27th Division, the admiral explained, was a part of the V Amphibious Corps, the theater organization formed to train troops for amphibious operations. But it was also a part of the Gilberts expeditionary force, and thus under Holland Smith in both his capacities. This explanation left Richardson with no recourse but to seek


from his superiors in Washington a clarification of his earlier instructions with regard to his responsibility for administration and training. The reply, received on 3 November, outlined the War Department's conception of his authority as follows:

In the fullest coordination with CINCPAC, you will continue the training of forces to the extent that time and facilities are available or are made available to you. Troops earmarked for specific operations should pass to the command of CINCPAC, Central Pacific Force, Fifth Amphibious Force, V Amphibious Corps, ... at the time when, at the discretion of CINCPAC, they are required for specific operational training or rehearsal under the Force, Corps, Task Force commander in preparation for eventual utilization. The exact determination as to when such training responsibilities will pass from you to CINCPAC or his appropriate subordinate commander must, in all cases, be decided by CINCPAC after consultation with you as his Army adviser.39

General Richardson could find little solace in this fresh statement of his responsibility. It gave him no authority he did not already have and confirmed the action taken by Nimitz. But he accepted the decision gracefully and assured the Chief of Staff that "your conception of my responsibility for administration and training has been in effect continuously." His relations with Admiral Nimitz were excellent and there was, he further assured General Marshall, the "closest cooperation" between his office and that of CINCPAC, "with whom," he said, "I discuss daily the participation of Army troops in forthcoming operations."40

Though he gave these assurances, Richardson was not convinced of the need for a corps headquarters in the type of operations envisaged in the Central Pacific. To him it was just another echelon to deal with, for amphibious training, as he pointed out to General Handy, was conducted by Admiral Turner's amphibious force. The elimination of the V Amphibious Corps, in Richardson's opinion, would not affect the situation in any way. As a matter of fact, he remarked, "this Marine Corps headquarters gives me the impression of wanting to justify itself by extending its control to the maximum."41 But this matter was Nimitz' responsibility, not the War Department's, and Brig. Gen. John E. Hull, acting for Handy, suggested to Richardson that he take it up with the admiral "in the interest of conservation of manpower, a problem most vital at this stage of our war effort."42 By this time the problem had become academic so far as immediate operations were concerned, for already Army and Marine forces had invaded the Gilberts. At a later stage in the war, during the Saipan campaign, this problem of command and interservice relations would arise again, in a more acute form.

The Joint Staff

The proposal to establish a theater joint staff for the Pacific Ocean Areas, a proposal the Army had temporarily


dropped in midJuly, had meanwhile been revived by General Marshall. The spark that kindled anew the interest in this project was a letter written by Brig. Gen. Edmond H. Leavey, one of Somervell's ablest assistants and recently assigned to the staff of Vice Adm. William L. Calhoun, Commander, Service Force, Pacific Fleet. In it, General Leavey recorded for his former chief, General Somervell, his impressions of the Navy's organization in the Pacific. His purpose, he declared, was to inform Somervell, in advance, of "the general nature of the situation" in case the official report he submitted later to Admiral Calhoun "causes any particular reaction in Naval circles."43

The picture Leavey painted of naval organization constituted a strong indictment and justified fully the general's concern about the reaction in "naval circles." So far as he could discern there was not even any theater staff in the area. Admiral Nimitz' headquarters, Leavey charged, was not a theater staff at all but merely a fleet staff for operations in the Central Pacific. Moreover, there was no section or officer in Nimitz' headquarters or elsewhere, "either designed for, or capable of, coordinating and controlling the Service of Supply activities in the theater." Admiral Calhoun's responsibility as Service Force commander, declared Leavey, was for fleet supply only, and even in this field did not include Halsey's fleet in the South Pacific. For this reason Leavey believed his own assignment to Calhoun's staff was a mistake. "I would be in a much better position to help clear up the logistic picture," he told General Somervell, "if I were directly on Admiral Nimitz' staff, and expect to so report to Admiral Calhoun and Admiral Nimitz on my return to Pearl Harbor."

"Complete and coordinated" operations in the Pacific could be achieved, General Leavey believed, only by establishing what he called a GHQ type of theater headquarters. The staff of such a headquarters should consist of naval, air, and ground officers with adequate representation of the essential supply services. Thus, the staff would be qualified to coordinate tactical and logistical planning while exercising the necessary supervision over day-to-day operations in both fields. Leavey also believed that the area commanders under Nimitz should have similar joint staffs, and he recommended that separate commanders be appointed for the Central and North Pacific, as had been done for the South Pacific.

General Leavey's views surprised no one in Somervell's headquarters. They were much the same as those expressed about eight months earlier by General Lutes after a trip to the Pacific. As Somervell's operations officer, Lutes now gave strong support to Leavey's report, noting that he had himself recommended virtually the same reforms proposed by Leavey. Moreover, Lutes told his chief, Admiral Nimitz had agreed "to initiate a modified organization to provide for theater staff supervision of logistic supply matters in the entire Pacific area."44 It was to assist in putting this plan into effect and to "sell" it to the Navy that Leavey had been sent to the Pacific in


the first place, Lutes reminded Somervell. But in view of Leavey's report Lutes had his doubts that the Navy would proceed as planned.

A week after writing this letter, General Lutes himself was in Hawaii. If anything, his own report of conditions there was even more critical than Leavey's. He found no arrangements for logistical control in the theater headquarters, as provided in the Basic Logistical Plan of March 1943, and no machinery for resolving differences within the Army-Navy Logistical Board, which correlated supply matters common to both services. More serious was his contention that there was little exchange of information between the Army and Navy staffs. Richardson's staff, he noted, had to "solicit" from the Navy the information it needed, and even then did not learn enough "to plan supply and other logistical requirements" for future operations.45

As evidence of the need for a joint staff to control and coordinate planning and operations on the theater level, General Lutes pointed to the dual standard of living of the Army and Navy. In some instances soldiers and sailors stationed almost within a few yards of each other lived entirely differently. Where the Army had built temporary shelters for reasons of economy, the Navy had constructed much better facilities for its men. This difference, declared Lutes, had created "a serious morale situation."46

Planning for the projected offensive in the Gilberts and Marshalls provided an even better illustration, General Lutes thought, of the defects of the organization of the Central Pacific. The Navy staff, he found, had only a "very limited knowledge" of the Army's logistical resources in the area and of the number of service units that could be made available for future operations. This last was a particularly sore point with the War Department's supply experts, for they had continually to fight for a larger share of the Army's manpower. "If we could get the backing of Admiral Nimitz on such matters as Army Service Units," Lutes told General Somervell, with reference to the South Pacific, "we might have more luck with our own General Staff in obtaining such units...."47

Both Leavey's and Lutes's reports ultimately reached General Marshall, who had a deep and abiding conviction in the necessity for a representative joint staff. Leavey's report, which he described as "a rather intimate picture of the logistical side of the Pacific theater as viewed from Army eyes," he passed on to Admiral King on 10 August in the hope that the Navy chief would give the matter his "personal consideration."48 More than two weeks went by without reply and on the 26th Marshall forwarded Lutes's report to King. This time he wrote a much stronger endorsement. Both reports, he declared, pointed clearly to "the urgent necessity of establishing a joint staff for the theater and he could see no reason why this matter "should not be an immediate proposition." Certainly "in view of the coming events" in the Central Pacific, the creation of such


a staff was, in Marshall's judgment, "an absolute requirement."49

Admiral King's response to this appeal was a strong protest against the action of both Leavey and Lutes in sending their reports directly through Army channels. First, he doubted that either officer was qualified to comment on the organization of the Central Pacific. They had had only a limited opportunity to observe "the overall situation," and, according to members of Nimitz' staff, General Lutes at least was not "completely and accurately informed on the matters which he discusses."50

A more serious indictment was Admiral King's criticism of the procedure followed by the two Army officers in presenting their views. General Leavey, he contended, had violated the first principle of the staff officer -- loyalty to the commander and to the organization he served. As a member of Admiral Calhoun's staff, Leavey should have made "a forthright report through his responsible superior." By writing directly to General Somervell, King charged, Leavey had "violated proper, correct, and required military procedure." Lutes's error was not as clear. He did not know, King said, for what purpose Lutes had been sent to the Pacific. But if it was "to observe and report" on Admiral Nimitz' organization and command, then Nimitz should have been informed in advance. "I do not believe," King told Marshall, "that actions of this kind, even though they may be steps toward the formation of a joint staff, will help to promote the unity of action which you and I are attempting to bring about."51

King's protest, it will be noted, did not deal at all with the substantive questions raised by the two officers involved. He ignored these questions also in a second communication of the same date in which he examined General Eisenhower's organization in North Africa with reference to its applicability in Nimitz' area. This possibility had first been raised by one of the naval planners and the Army had obligingly asked both Eisenhower and MacArthur to describe the organization of their headquarters.52 MacArthur's reply, which King did not comment upon, emphasized the importance of "complete and thorough integration" of ground, air, and naval elements, close personal relationships, and the close physical location of the various headquarters. All these, he claimed, made possible "a constant daily participation of the staffs in all details of planning and operations" and "an attitude that is without service bias." But, he cautioned, the mere assembly of an approximately equal number of officers from the various services would not in itself produce an effective joint staff.53

General Eisenhower's response was fuller and to the point. Like MacArthur, he occupied a dual position as commander of an Allied theater of operations and as the commander of U.S. forces in that theater. In the latter capacity, Eisenhower exercised his functions, which consisted largely of supply,


personnel, and discipline, through a deputy theater commander, much as MacArthur did through a deputy chief of staff. And like MacArthur, he had organized his air and naval elements into separate forces with their own commanders and exercised command through them rather than through his own headquarters. However, instead of appointing a single ground commander as MacArthur had done in the case of Allied Land Forces, Eisenhower exercised this control himself through his senior ground officer, the British commander of the 15th Army Group, and when necessary, through the commanders of separate task forces or units. Later, the 14th Army Group commander became the deputy commander for ground operations.54

To the heads of the major staff divisions of his headquarters, Eisenhower entrusted the task of coordinating and supervising the corresponding staff divisions of the air and naval headquarters in the Mediterranean theater. In addition, he had a joint planning staff, which paralleled closely that of the Combined Chiefs in "organization, membership, and duties." This small staff was actually a part of the G-3 Section of Allied Force Headquarters and made its recommendations to G-3 rather than to Eisenhower directly.

Conferences between the officers of the various staffs were held frequently and on a regular basis. He himself, Eisenhower explained, met with his major subordinate commanders at least once a week, and "in periods of operational activity" more often.55 Furthermore, his chief of staff met three times a week with the senior American and British administrative and supply officers to coordinate nonoperational matters. Cooordination was achieved also, Eisenhower pointed out, through the joint planning staff, a separate joint intelligence committee and daily G-3 conferences with representatives of the air and naval staffs.

One further agency established by Eisenhower to secure coordination and cooperation of the forces under his command was the so-called Chief of. Staff Conference. This body consisted of his own chief of staff, G-2, and G-g, and the corresponding officers of the air and naval headquarters. Meeting daily, this group exchanged information on the activities and intentions of each of the headquarters with particular reference to the effect of operations by one service on those of the others. "This conference," Eisenhower explained, "is expected to develop points of friction or malcoordination in the details of operations," thus providing assurance for him and for the major force commanders that "operational coordination exists in details as well as in policy."56

In the organization of his headquarters, Eisenhower had followed in general the pattern he knew best, the U.S. Army staff organization, with such modifications as were necessary to meet conditions peculiar to the Mediterranean theater.


One important difference was in the composition of the staff. His was an Allied command consisting of U.S. and British forces, and the British were fully represented on the staff of Allied Force Headquarters. In addition, Eisenhower had two deputy chiefs of staff, both British, one for operations and one for supply. The first was charged with "the general coordination" of the G-2 and G-3 Sections of the headquarters. G--1 and G-4 were under the second deputy chief of staff, who, after January 1943, was also the British Chief Administrative Officer in the theater. As such he reported directly to the War Office in London, and held a position similar to that of the deputy theater commander, an American officer, through whom Eisenhower exercised his functions as commander of U.S. forces in the theater.

Other problems unique to the Mediterranean theater, such as military government and French rearmament, were handled by special staff sections which then had no counterpart in the War Department. In sections such as these and where specialized knowledge was required, assignment was on the basis of qualification rather than nationality and rank. Furthermore, in those sections dealing with administrative and supply matters there was a duplication of function and personnel that would not have been tolerated in the War Department. This was necessary, Eisenhower explained, because of the Allied nature of his command, "since the American channel goes back to Washington and the British channel to London."57

To Admiral King, the organization established by Eisenhower for the Mediterranean theater did not seem applicable to the Pacific, where the situation was quite different. He noted, for example, that coordination of air, ground, and naval plans and operations in the Mediterranean was effected through the commanders concerned rather than through the staff of Allied Force Headquarters. As a matter of fact, King pointed out, Eisenhower did not have a joint staff at all but an Allied staff of American and British officers, with little or no air or naval representation. Was this the kind of organization General Marshall wanted for the Pacific Ocean Areas, he asked? "If it is not," he told the Chief of Staff, "I would welcome a more or less specific outline of what you have in mind."58 And, in what appeared to be an oblique reference to General Leavey, he again reminded Marshall that the effectiveness of any organization "is bound to depend upon the personalities and the loyal cooperation of those involved."

The task of outlining specifically the kind of organization the Army wished to recommend for the Pacific Ocean Areas was assigned to the Operations Division of the General Staff. Even here there was no unanimity of opinion.59 But the necessity for reaching agreement was largely obviated when Admiral Nimitz on 6 September announced the formation of a joint staff. This staff, he told General Richardson, would consist of Army and Navy officers and would be organized into four sections -- Plans,


Operations, Intelligence, and Logistics. The first two would be headed by naval officers from the fleet staff; General Leavey would take the post of chief of the Logistics Section and another Army officer -- to be recommended by Richardson -- that of chief of Intelligence. "Have discussed this organization thoroughly with Admiral Nimitz and his advisers," Richardson reported with evident satisfaction to Marshall. "Both Admiral Nimitz and I are in full accord to solve in advance as many operational and logistic problems as possible."60

Admiral Nimitz' decision to establish a joint staff, just as discussions in Washington were approaching a climax, was not a sudden one. (Chart 15) Early in July, it will be recalled, King had suggested to him that in view of the coming offensive in the Central Pacific it might be desirable to reorganize his staff. At that time Nimitz had seen no need for a change. But the Navy planners in Washington had nevertheless continued to study the problem, and it was for this purpose that they had in late July asked their Army colleagues for information about Eisenhower's and MacArthur's staff.61 The results of these studies, as well as the Army's criticism of Pacific organization, were passed on to Admiral Nimitz, who presumably had continued to give the matter his attention. General Richardson, too, had been exerting his influence on behalf of the joint staff, and it was General Somervell's opinion that the Hawaiian commander, by the use of a "tack hammer" rather than a "sledge hammer" technique, had "undoubtedly been instrumental in securing Admiral Nimitz' consent to the creation of the joint staff."62

Thus, by the end of August, both the theater and the Washington staffs, spurred on by Admiral King who was himself being pressed by General Marshall, were working hard on the problem. On 6 September, the same day that Admiral Nimitz announced the formation of the joint staff in Pearl Harbor, Admiral King had sent him a proposed organization for the Pacific Ocean Areas. General Marshall, he explained, had been urging him for some months to separate the fleet and area commands in the Pacific and to establish in Hawaii a joint staff with greater Army representation. On the first issue, King had no intention of giving way. "I plan," he assured Nimitz, "to keep command of the Pacific Fleet and the command of the Pacific Ocean Areas vested in one person -- you."63 But in the matter of a joint staff he was apparently willing to make adjustments. These, he told Nimitz, were incorporated in the draft plan, which, in his view, represented the best efforts of the naval planners "to compromise the conflicting aspects of this problem."

Admiral Nimitz responded to this proposed reorganization by describing the system he had already put into effect. The new joint staff, he claimed, showed "a thorough appreciation of the necessity of amalgamating the interest" of the Army "with our own," and provided the machinery required to put into effect


Chart 15: Headquarters Organization, CINCPOA-CINCPACFLEET, October 1943


the principles of joint action.64 The staff was to be headed by a Deputy Commander, Pacific Ocean Areas, a vice admiral, and would consist of officers from both services. But some of these officers, Nimitz pointed out, would serve in a dual capacity on the fleet or Army staff and on the joint staff, a provision that was to cause considerable dissatisfaction later.

In view of the Army's criticism of the organization for supply in the area and the failure to meet the requirements of the Basic Logistical Plan, Admiral Nimitz called special attention to the Logistics Section of the new staff. Headed by General Leavey, this section would establish priorities and supervise theater transportation, fuel supply, medical services, and the advance base sections. This last was a function hitherto assigned to the Service Force, Pacific Fleet, and likely to assume increasing importance as the Central Pacific offensive pushed westward into the Mandates. With logistical responsibility thus centralized Nimitz felt that his staff would be able to give "full and undivided consideration to joint logistical matters," and at the same time ensure that the Army's needs would be fully represented.65

Admiral Nimitz' optimistic view of the benefits that would result from this organization were not fully shared by General Somervell, who was in Hawaii from the 8th to the 12th of September. As he saw it, the formation of a joint staff, promising as it was, would not solve the "still nebulous" command problem in the Pacific nor make any clearer the "rather tenuous and ill-defined" relationships between the various commanders and staffs.66 There was no question that Nimitz was the theater commander and that Richardson, as Army commander, was his subordinate. The fact that this relationship was clear and that the working arrangements between these two officers and their staffs were "of the best" did not mean, Somervell pointed out, that the same was true elsewhere in the Pacific. It was not true, he declared, of the relationship between the area commands (the North, Central, and South Pacific) and the theater command, which, Somervell observed, was marked by a "lack of uniformity." And within each of the areas there were wide variations in organization, in the responsibility of the commanders, and in methods of operation. Thus, supply and logistics followed "a different pattern" in Hawaii than elsewhere.

Nimitz' command of the Central Pacific Area and of the fleet created an additional problem. By retaining both commands, Somervell declared, Admiral Nimitz had become so involved in details and so preoccupied with the local situation that he had lost sight of "the general picture" and thereby reduced his effectiveness as theater commander.

General Somervell's solution to the command problem in the Pacific Ocean Areas was similar to that proposed earlier by General Marshall. First, he would separate the fleet and Central Pacific commands, appoint separate commanders for each of the areas, and establish in


each an organization parallel to that of the theater command. In addition, he would establish a base area comprising Hawaii and "perhaps a few of the islands immediately to the south." Because of the importance of these islands in the coming offensive, Somervell would make the commander of this area responsible for "the operation of supply and administrative system" and coequal with the other area commanders. With such an organization, said Somervell, Admiral Nimitz would be free from "the multitudinous problems which arise in any of the three sectors or with the details of handling the supply lines, the training of troops sent into the base area prior to their commitment to more active theaters, or the defense of the base area." Relieved of these heavy burdens and aided by an effective joint operating staff, Nimitz would be able, Somervell concluded, to give his full attention to theater-wide problems and to the prosecution of the war against Japan.

Meanwhile in Washington, the Army planners had continued to study the problem of Pacific command. As yet, they had not received any more information about Nimitz' reorganization than that contained in General Richardson's message of 7 September. All they knew, therefore, was that the Pacific Ocean Areas commander had initiated action to establish a joint staff and that this staff would consist of four sections. That much, they thought, was "a most fortunate step for Admiral Nimitz to take."67

General Somervell's report to the Chief of Staff arrived in Washington while these discussions over command were still in progress. With the earlier reports of Leavey and Lutes, it furnished the basis for a comprehensive review on 20 September of command arrangements in the Pacific Ocean Areas as seen through Army eyes. The Army's spokesman in this case was General Handy, chief of the Operations Division. Addressing his naval counterpart, Admiral Cooke, Handy expressed concern over Nimitz' apparent concentration on Central Pacific affairs. In the opinion of the Army, he said, the time had come for Nimitz to assume the functions of theater commander and, with the aid of a joint operational staff, exercise his responsibility equally in all three areas of his command.68 The present organization, he admitted, was entirely adequate for the operations of the Pacific Fleet, but, asked General Handy, "was it adequate" to handle the operational and logistical planning essential to successful utilization of not only the Pacific Fleet afloat, but of its shore-based installations, and all of the Army forces -- both combat and services -- totaling over 300,000 in the Pacific Ocean Areas?

The question was rhetorical. Clearly, the Army planners had already answered the question in the negative. And, while disclaiming any desire "to force on Admiral Nimitz" their ideas as to how he should organize his staff, they had a number of specific suggestions to make. These Handy now presented to Admiral Cooke in the hope they might prove helpful. Without argument, the Army planners conceded that Eisenhower's organization was not "the ideal organization" for the Pacific. They also thought Nimitz' division of the joint staff into four sections "quite proper," as was the


selection by Nimitz of his own chief of staff. There was little doubt in the minds of the Army planners that Nimitz should choose a naval officer as his chief of staff, but they expressed concern lest this officer become bogged down in detail. To avoid this unhappy condition they proposed that Nimitz, like Eisenhower, have two deputy chiefs of staff, one a flag officer, the other an Army general. Each could then coordinate "routine matters pertaining to his own service," while performing any other tasks the chief of staff might assign.

Tied to this proposal was the suggestion that Nimitz appoint to his joint staff representatives from the Army and Navy administrative and supply services, thus giving him, in effect, a special staff consisting of medical, signal, ordnance, engineer, quartermaster, transportation, civil affairs, and other sections. Each of these, while an integral part of the joint staff, would be supervised by one of the four main sections, but the job of coordinating the work of all would fall on the two deputy chiefs of staff. Theirs would be the responsibility of seeing to it "that the many angles of joint operations" received full consideration in planning and in operations. "With such a staff as outlined herein," concluded General Handy, "Admiral Nimitz would be in a much better position than he is at present to direct over-all planning and operations" for the entire theater.

At the time General Handy made these recommendations, the Army planners had not yet received a specific and detailed description of the actual organization put into effect by Nimitz on the 6th. This lack was remedied almost immediately from two different sources. From General Richardson came a copy of the Nimitz directive and a letter praising it -- and the admiral -- highly.69 The new joint staff, the Hawaiian commander told General Marshall, was already proving "most helpful" in furnishing information required for planning. In this respect, declared Richardson, Admiral Nimitz had been extremely cooperative, thus sparing the Army "the embarrassment of being confronted with a readymade plan."

The second copy of the Nimitz directive came from Admiral King on September, the day he and Admiral Cooke left for Pearl Harbor to confer with the Pacific commander. Scribbled hastily on a piece of paper attached to the directive was the comment, "It would seem that we are in a fair way to setting up an adequate staff organization out there."70 General Marshall agreed, but with reservations. The objective toward which he and his staff had been striving for months was a reorganization in which Nimitz would function solely as a theater commander, divorced from his area and fleet commands. The establishment of a joint staff was "definitely a step" toward that goal, but in Marshall's view, there was still room for improvement.71 And lest King still had any doubt as to what the Army had in mind, Marshall referred him to General Handy's recommendations on the subject. These he declared were "directly in accord" with his own views "as to a desirable organization of this staff and



as to a delineation of its responsibilities and relationships to other commands and staffs in the Pacific Ocean Theater."

This statement by General Marshall was apparently made more for the record than for the purpose of persuading King to make further changes in the organization of the Pacific Ocean Areas. The Admiral had conceded as much as he intended to, and the date for the Gilberts assault was rapidly approaching. Unless the Army planners wished to broaden the problem and relate it to matters of more immediate importance, they would have to accept the fact that the debate over Pacific command had reached a stalemate.

What had begun in early July as an effort by the Army to bring the organization of the Pacific Ocean Areas into line with its concept of joint command had finally resulted, after two months of discussion, in the establishment of a joint staff. Though this reform fell far short of the initial aim, it was apparently as far as the Navy was willing to go to meet the Army's criticism. Summarizing the situation for General Handy, one of the Army planners predicted on 9 October that Admiral Nimitz would make no effort to bring the South Pacific any more closely under his control or "that any conclusion can be had as to where the over-all command responsibility is going to rest" until the operations then scheduled were concluded.72 His advice to the general, therefore, was that the Army should make no further attempt at that time to alter command relationships in the Pacific. There the matter rested for the next six months.


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (23) ** Next Chapter (25)


1. Basic Logistical Plan for Command Areas Involving Joint Operations, 7 Mar 43, AG 381 (943). For a full discussion of the background and development of the plan, see Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, pp. 656-60.

2. The principle of unified command in combined operations had been established earlier by agreement with the British at Casablanca, System of Command for Combined U.S. British Operations, 11 Feb 43, JCS 2156.

3. For an account of early planning on this problem, See Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943-44, pp. 102-05.

4.JCS 263/2/D, 20 Apr 43.

5. Ibid.

6. Memos, Marshall for King, 13 Jul 43, sub: Relief by Army Troops . . .; King for Marshall, 24 June 43, same sub, both in OPD 370.5, case 240.

7. See above, ch. XI.

8. Memo, King for Marshall, 19 Jul 43: Relief by Army Troops . . ., OPD 3705., case 240.

9. was referring here to his request of 25 June for the assignment of two Army officers to the staff of the Pacific Fleet and two more to the staff of the projected Central Pacific Force. No mention was made of a joint staff. Memo, King for Marshall, 25 Jun 43, sub: Assignment of Army Officers, OPD 210.31, case 50.

10. Ibid.

11. OPD Memo for Record, 19 Jul 43, no sub, OPD 370.5, case 240.

12. Memo, King for Marshall, 19 Jul 43, sub: Relief by Army Troops . . . , OPD 370.5, case 240.

13. Memo for Record, 9 Nov 43, sub: Designation of CPA as a Theater of Opns, OPD 384 (PTO), sec. 2, case 54.

14. Rad, JCS to CINCPAC,, 041819, 4 May 42, copy in OPD 370.5, case 240. This dive was modified so far as AAF units were concerned on 30 October 1942.

15. OPD, Memo for Record, 19 Jul 43, no sub, OPD 370.5, case 240.

16. Memo, King for Marshall, 19 Jul 43, sub: Relief by Army Troops . . . , OPD 370.5, case 240. See above, ch. XXI.

17. For an account of these difficulties see History of United States Army Forces, Middle Pacific and Predecessor Commands During World War II, pt. IV, Army-Navy Joint Action, OCMH.

18. Rad, JCS to Comdrs Coastal and Sea Frontiers, 191630, 19 Apr 42; OPD Memo for Record, 19 Jul 43, no sub, both in OPD 370.5, case 240.

19. Memo, Marshall for King, 12 Aug 43, sub: Relief of Army Troops . . . , OPD 370.5, case 240.

20. For an earlier discussion of this problem, see above, ch. XVI.

21. For an exposition of the political and military considerations involved, see Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1954), pp. 23-28.

22. Memo, Handy for Marshall, 5 Oct 43, sub: Comdr and System Comd for War in Germany, tab A, OPD 384, case 15.

23. Memo, Handy for Marshall, 10 Nov 43, sub: Problem of Over-all Comd, OPD Exec, item 15, folder 3.

24. Mins, JCS Informal Mtg, 19 Nov 43, 1500, OPD Exec 2, item 11.

25. Rad, King to Nimitz, 021437, 2 Jul 43, cited in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. XIX, p. 16.

26. Ltr, Nimitz to King, 12 Jul 43, sub: CINCPAC Comd and Staff Organization for POA, in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. XIX.

27. Morison, Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, p. 86; Crowl and Love, Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls, p. 25.

28. General Richardson's Trip, OPD 333, case 15.

29. Ltr, Richardson to Col. Ray E. Blount, 2 Jun 43, sub: Ltr of Instrs, copy in USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. III, app. I to ch. II.

30. USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. III, pp. 296-301. 362.

31. Rad, Richardson to Marshall, No. 4907, 6 Aug 43, CM-IN-3916.

32. Memo, King for Marshall, ser. 001594, 9 Aug 43, no sub, OPD 384 (PTO) case 54.

33. OPD Memo for Record, 12 Aug 43, sub: Designation of Hawaiian Department G U.S. Army Forces in Central Pacific; Memo, Marshall for King, same date and sub, OPD 384 (PTO) case 54; Rad, Marshall to Richardson, 14 Aug 43, CM-OUT 5372.

34. Rad, Marshall to Richardson, 14 Aug 43, CM-OUT 537

35. USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. II, Structural and Functional Development of the Army and, p. 363.

36. Ibid., pp. 366-67; Rads, Ft. Shafter to WAR, No. W-6410, 17 Oct 43, CM-IN 10104; WAR to CG USAFCPA, 25 Oct 43, CM-OUT 12232.

37. CINCPOA ser 001299, 13 Oct 43, sub: Organization of Comd for GALVANIC, cited in USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. IV, p. 844.

38. Ltr, Richardson to Nimitz, 20 Oct 43, sub: Organization of Comd for GALVANIC; CINCPOA ser. 00207, 25 Oct 43, same sub, both cited in USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. IV, pp. 844-45.

39. Rad, Marshall to Richardson, 2 Nov 43, CM-OUT 480. See also Ltr, USAFICPA, 17 Oct 43, sub: Clarification of Comd of 27th Division, CINCPOA ser. 00249, 256 Oct 43, same sub, both cited in USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. IV, pp. 842-43.

40. USAFMIDPAC Hist, pt. II, p. 364.

41. Ltr, Richardson to Handy, 6 Nov 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 54.

42. Ltr, Hull to Richardson, 17 Nov 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 54.

43. Leavey to Somervell, 29 Jul 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

44. Memo, Lutes for Somervell, 11 Aug 43, sub: Attached Ltr from Brig Gen Leavey, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55. (Underlining is by Lutes).

45. Memo, Marshall for King, 26 Aug 43, no sub, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55. (Underlining is by Lutes).

46. Ibid.

47. Ibid.

48. Memo, Marshall for King, 10 Aug 43, no sub, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

49. Memo, Marshall for King, 26 Aug 43, no sub, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

50. Memo, King for Marshall, 30 Aug 43, no sub, ser. 0018801, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

51. Ibid.

52. Rads, Marshall to MacArthur to Eisenhower, 26 Jul 43, CM-OUT 10477 and 10478.

53. Rad, MacArthur to Marshall Jul 43, No. C-4369, CM-IN 22577.

54. Rad, Eisenhower to Marshall, W-6285, 1 Aug 43, CM-IN 814. It should be noted that this difference between MacArthur's and Eisenhower control over ground operations was more apparent that real, for General Blamey, the Allied Land Forces Commander in the Southwest Pacific Area, did not actually function in that capacity. See above, ch. XX.

55. Memo, Silverthorne for Capt Charles T. Joy, USN, 21 Oct 43, sub: Staff Organization in NATO, Incl, p. 3, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

56. Rad, Eisenhower to Marshall, W-6710, 7 Aug 43, CM-IN 5102.

57. Rad, Eisenhower to Marshall, W-6285, 1 Aug 43, CM-IN 814.

58. Ltr, King to Marshall, sec. 001800, 30 Aug 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 53.

59. Memos, Wedemeyer for Hull, 3 Sep, sub: Changes in Theater Boundaries and Comd Setup--Pacific; Ritchie for Handy, 28 Aug 43, same sub, OPD 370.5, sec. 7, case 240.

60. Rad, Richardson to Marshall, No. 5498, 7 Sep 43, CM-IN 5272.

61. Memo for Record, 26 Jul 43, sub: Staff Organization in NATO and SWPA, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 53.

62. Memo, Somervell for Marshall, 12 Sep 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

63. Ltr, King to Nimitz, ser. 001889, 6 Sep 43, cited in Hayes, The War Against Japan, ch. II, pp. 90-91.

64. Ltr, Nimitz to King, ser. 00168, 9 Sep 43, sub: Comd Relationships and Staff of CinCPOA and Pacific Fleet--Reorganization of, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 53.

65. Ibid.

66. Memo, Somervell for Marshall, 12 Sep 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55. See also memo, Somervell for Nimitz, 22 Sep 43, no sub, OPD 384, case 17.

67. Memo, Handy for Cooke, 20 Sep 43, sub: Joint Staff for Adm Nimitz, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

68. Ibid.

69. Ltr, Richardson to Marshall, 19 Sep 43, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 53.

70. Penciled Note, King for Marshall, 22 Sep 43, attached to Ltr, Nimitz to King, 9 Sep 43, sub: Comd Relationships, ser. 00168, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 53.

71. Memo, Marshall for King, 24 Sep 43, no sub, OPD 384 (PTO) sec. 2, case 55.

72. Memo, Silverthorne for Handy, 9 Oct 43, sub: Observations on Organizations, OPD 384, case 17. Nimitz did, however, order Halsey to establish a joint staff in the South Pacific.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation