Academic journal article Military Review

Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940

Academic journal article Military Review

Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940

Article excerpt

GUARDIANS OF EMPIRE: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940, by Brian McAllister Linn. 360 pages. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1997. $39.95.

To explain the American military failures in the Pacific in 1941 and 1942, most accounts scrutinize the months immediately before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In Guardian of Empire, however, historian Brian McAllister Linn takes a broader perspective as he effectively traces the Army's experiences in the Philippines and Hawaii from 1902 to 1940. The result is an intriguing look at strategic thinking and tactical planning in the decades before World War II. Without hesitation, I recommend this superb study as both a first-rate history and as an insightful discussion of peacetime contingency planning.

The scope of Linn's study is impressive, ranging from the highest Army planning circles in Washington, DC, to a soldiers' boxing tournament in Hawaii. Linn outlines the creation and development of the distinct Pacific Army that was to guard America's newfound empire. While an integral part of the US Army, this army was separate, having its own customs and internal dynamics. Similarly, the soldiers of the Hawaiian "Pineapple Army" and the Philippine "Carabao Army" were part of their local societies yet remained discrete entities. Careful to keep them within the context of their own time, Linn describes how the soldiers lived and interacted with local communities. Allowing for the Army's ethnocentric bias, he nevertheless concludes that, in many practical ways, the army improved Hawaiians' and Filipinos' lives.

The crux of the book, however, remains Linn's analysis of the evolution of strategic and tactical plans to defend America's Pacific possessions. Linn skillfully examines how, from 1907 to the 1940s, those plans changed, ending with the final versions of War Plan Orange on the eve of World War II.

Much of the strategic debate revolved around basic disagreements-- within and outside the Army-of, if and how the Philippines should be defended. …

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