Landing At Nadzab - Background - Strategy - Allied


In July 1942, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a series of operations against the Japanese bastion at Rabaul, which blocked any Allied advance along the northern coast of New Guinea towards the Philippines or northward towards the main Japanese naval base at Truk. In keeping with the overall Allied grand strategy of defeating Nazi Germany first, the immediate aim of these operations was not the defeat of Japan but merely the reduction of the threat posed by Japanese aircraft and warships based at Rabaul to air and sea communications between the United States and Australia.

By agreement among the Allied nations, in March 1942 the Pacific theatre was divided into two separate commands, each with its own commander in chief. The South West Pacific Area, which included Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines came under General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander. Most of the remainder, known as the Pacific Ocean Areas, came under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. There was no overall commander, and no authority capable of resolving competing claims for resources, setting priorities, or shifting resources from one command to the other. Such decisions had to be made of the basis of compromise, cooperation and consensus.

Rabaul fell within MacArthur's area but the initial operations in the southern Solomon Islands came under Nimitz. The Japanese reaction to Task One, the seizure of the southern part of the Solomon Islands, was more violent than anticipated and some months passed before the Guadalcanal Campaign was brought to a successful conclusion. Meanwhile, General MacArthur's forces fought off a series of Japanese offensives in Papua in the Kokoda Track Campaign, Battle of Milne Bay, Battle of Buna-Gona, the Battle of Wau and the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

Following these victories, the initiative in the South West Pacific passed to the Allies and General Douglas MacArthur pressed ahead with his plans for Task Two. At the Pacific Military Conference in Washington, DC in March 1943, the plans were reviewed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chiefs were unable to supply all the requested resources, so the plans had to be scaled back, with the capture of Rabaul postponed to 1944. On 6 May 1943, MacArthur's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Brisbane issued Warning Instruction No. 2, officially informing subordinate commands of the plan, which divided the Task Two operations on the New Guinea axis into three parts:

  1. Occupy Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands and establish air forces thereon.
  2. Seize the Lae-Salamaua-Finschafen-Madang area and establish air forces therein.
  3. Occupy western New Britain, establishing air forces at Cape Gloucester, Arawe and Gasmata. Occupy or neutralise Talasea.

The second part was assigned to General Sir Thomas Blamey's New Guinea Force. As a result, "it became obvious that that any military offensive in 1943 would have to be carried out mainly by the Australian Army, just as during the bitter campaigns of 1942."

Read more about this topic:  Landing At Nadzab, Background, Strategy

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