STRATEGY AND COMMAND: THE FIRST TWO YEARS. By Louis Morton. (1962, 1989; 761 pages, 13 tables, 16 charts, 17 maps, 92 illustrations, 23 appendixes, bibliographical note, glossaries, index, CMH Pub 5-1.)

This volume is the capstone of The War in the Pacific subseries, drawing on the operational volumes that preceded it in the subseries and providing the broad perspective on Japanese and Allied interests in the Pacific basin that shaped the war between these antagonists. As one of the later volumes in the United States Army in World War II series, it cross-references and often amplifies coverage of global strategic issues in the volumes on Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare and Global Logistics and Strategy. Since this work traces the growing tensions between Japan and the United States against the broad background of prewar military planning, it also provides a useful complement to Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations.

After sketching early U.S. strategic thinking about the problem of Pacific strategy, with special attention to the problems of defense of the Philippines, the work presents a full treatment of evolving Japanese strategy through the decision for war. Early Allied strategic decision, to include the "Europe First" policy, the challenges associated with accommodating U.S. policy to "colonial" and commonwealth expectations, and the tensions between the U.S. Army and the Navy are developed carefully. Steps taken at the national and coalition level during the early months of Japanese victories on vast fronts are presented in the context of the clashes of arms that resulted in those victories. After the fall of the Philippines, the Allied command relationships stabilized, and the various headquarters are described in detail as products of the complex political, geographic, and strategic factors that shaped them. Complementary sections analyze the Japanese command system, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses.

Since the Pacific is clearly a joint theater, naval battles, Marine Corps contributions, and the myriad tactical questions that spill over into strategic debates are presented. Logistical difficulties abound in the theater selected for the "economy of force" effort, and the ways in which enemy action, bureaucratic decision making, and powerful personalities undermined the Europe First priority system provide useful lessons for those who are interested in problems in policy implementation.

After the battles of Coral Sea and Midway, both sides in the Pacific theater attempted to match resources with strategic concepts to impose their will on the enemy. The United States was hampered in this effort by a lack of unity of command, the vastness of the Japanese defensive perimeter, and the distances from U.S. ports. This volume traces the evolution of strategic plans designed to overcome those difficulties and outlines the operations conducted in consonance with those plans.

Page 44

Throughout, the impact of the major conferences among the Allies that shaped their grand strategy of the war is assessed, and the twists and turns imposed on strategy by the actions of the enemy are described. Even though the volume ends with plans being evolved in late 1943, the material capabilities and doctrinal framework necessary to achieve tactical victory were in place by that time, and the strategic pattern for the remainder of the war was reasonably clear. The last six volumes of operational history in the subseries each contain the necessary strategic setting for the campaign described.

While focusing primarily on action in the Central and Southwest Pacific, this volume also provides the strategic setting for operations in the Aleutians covered in greater detail in Guarding the United States and Its Outposts. In this volume, as in all others, the detailed citations to the U.S. Navy's and U.S. Air Force's histories provide a fuller understanding of the campaigns in the Pacific theater.

Return to the Table of Contents