In Caesar's Shadow: The Life of General Robert Eichelberger

By Paul Chwialkowski | Go to book overview
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10
VICTORY AND DISAPPOINTMENT

Even before the end of the Luzon campaign, MacArthur was making plans for future operations in the southern Philippines. He hoped to land units in rapid succession, on the island of Palawan, on the Zamboanga peninsula, and on Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Mindanao. Since Krueger's units were still fully occupied against the enemy forces in northern Luzon, MacArthur planned to make these landings in the south using elements of Eichelberger's 8th Army. 1

Although the navy was not enthusiastic about these operations, MacArthur felt that these landings in the southern Philippines were necessary for a variety of reasons. First, it would be "immoral" to leave the Filipino natives in these areas under the control of the enemy, especially since the Japanese forces had become increasingly brutal as the war had escalated. Second, the southern Philippines contained a large number of airfields, ports and major cities, control of which was necessary to attack the Japanese oil resources in nearby Java and Borneo. Third, areas of the southern Philippines provided ideal training bases for the invasion of Japan, as well as providing adequate staging and supply bases for upcoming operations in Indonesia. 2

More importantly, the operations in the southern Philippines were vital to MacArthur for personal reasons. Since 1944, MacArthur had been involved in an intense struggle with Admiral Chester Nimitz and the navy for overall control of the strategy in the Pacific. MacArthur had "won the battle" against Nimitz in 1944, convincing President Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approve the landings on Leyte and Luzon and to reject Nimitz's argument for bypassing the Philippines. MacArthur was aware that this victory did not guarantee him the leading role for the next major operation. The Joint Chiefs of Staff could easily turn to Nimitz as overall commander for the invasion of Japan. To prevent this from happening, MacArthur was particularly anxious to do well in the southern Philippines, for he felt that a rapid and successful campaign at this juncture would convince the authorities in Washington to award him the predominant role

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