The Framework of Hemisphere Defense

The Framework of Hemisphere Defense

The Framework of Hemisphere Defense

The Framework of Hemisphere Defense

Excerpt

This is the first of two volumes on the plans made and measures taken by the Army to protect the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere against military attack by the Axis Powers before and during World War II. The global character of American participation in the war, described in the many volumes of this series, tends to obscure the primary and basic concern of the United States Government, and consequently of the Army, for the safety of the continental United States. When in the late 1930's the coalition of aggressor nations foreshadowed a new world war that would inevitably involve the security of the United States, Army and Navy planning officers concluded that the continental United States could not be threatened seriously by either air or surface attack unless a hostile power first secured a lodgment elsewhere within the Western Hemisphere. To prevent that from happening, the United States adopted a new national policy of hemisphere defense. Between 1939 and 1942 the Army played a key role in executing this policy. The achievement of substantial security within the hemisphere permitted the United States to concentrate on the offensive soon after the Japanese attacks on Oahu and Luzon plunged the nation into open war in December 1941.

The first seven chapters of this volume describe the evolution of the policy of hemisphere defense in the three years before Pearl Harbor, the gradual merger of that policy into a broader national defense policy of opposing Germany and Japan by all-out aid to nations that were fighting them, and the quick transition in December 1941 to offensive plans and preparations for the defeat of those powers. These chapters have been designed to introduce not only the rest of this volume but also the second one being prepared for this subseries. Chapters VIII through XV of the present volume describe the military relationships of the United States with the other American nations in support of plans and preparations for continental and hemisphere defense, and Army ground and air action outside the continental United States not involving bases under exclusive American military command. Three of these chapters narrate the military relations of a general character with the Latin American nations, and five discuss in greater detail military co-operation with Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.

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