Command Relations at the Operational Level of War

By Griffith, Thomas E., Jr. | Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Command Relations at the Operational Level of War


Griffith, Thomas E., Jr., Air & Space Power Journal


AS GEN DOUGLAS MACARTHUR'S air commander in the Southwest Pacific theater during World War .II, Gen George C. Kenney applied operational insights, intellectual acumen, and innovative drive that made airpower a vital part of the Allied victory. An important, indeed critical, part of Kenney's success was his ability to juggle the demands placed on him by the theater commander, MacArthur, with those imposed by Gen Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces. Establishing MacArthur's trust and confidence proved essential to gaining the flexibility and authority Kenney needed to employ airpower effectively, but he remained dependent on Arnold for the supplies, people, and planes necessary to fight the war, making his association with the commanding general equally important. Balancing the demands levied by officers with very different perspectives and goals created a source of tension and conflict for Kenney throughout the war. In the end he decided that he owed his primary loyalty to MacArthur, a decision highlighted in Kenney's debates with fellow airmen over the use of B-29s in the Pacific.

The fact that personal relationships among commanders are important and have an impact on military affairs in both peace and war is not new. Although the armed forces spend a great deal of time and energy designing organizational relationships and arrangements that will ensure success, harmonious relationships among commanders and other senior leaders often provide the necessary lubrication for making the military machine run smoothly. In the face of less-than-optimum circumstances, good working relations can make a military operation effective. Conversely, even the best-designed organization cannot overcome problems created by personal friction. Although Kenney's dilemma is important for understanding the war in the Pacific, it also points out a more enduring lesson: the considerable weight that personal relationships bear in any theater of war.

Kenney and MacArthur

When, as a newcomer, Kenney assumed command of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific in August 1942, gaining MacArthur's backing was his top priority as well as his greatest challenge. During meetings in Washington, D.C., before leaving for the Pacific, Kenney heard plenty about the considerable friction between MacArthur and Lt Gen George Brett, the incumbent air commander.

Although many problems in Australiasuch as the lack of supplies, a paucity of trained staff officers, and ill-equipped aircraft-were not entirely Brett's fault, as the commander of the American air units, he bore the brunt of the blame. MacArthur's reports to Washington made his unhappiness with Brett clear. In May 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt sent a three-man team to investigate conditions in Australia. When Lt Col Samuel Anderson returned to Washington at the end of June, he told Gen George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff, that Brett had to be relieved: "As long as Brett is there, you won't have any cooperation between ground and air, and I don't think you plan to relieve General MacArthur."' In early July Marshall offered either Brig Gen James H. Doolittle, "who had impressed all of us as an organizer, as a leader and as a dependable type," or Maj Gen George Kenney, "who is rated tops by General [John L.] DeWitt [Kenney's immediate superior officer],"2 as a replacement for Brett. MacArthur opted for Kenney because, he said, "It would be diffcult to convince the Australians of Doolittle's acceptability."3 MacArthur claimed that the Tokyo Raider's break in service during the 1930s would be viewed "unfavorably" by the Australians. More likely, MacArthur did not want Doolittle because he would take publicity away from MacArthur.

Extenuating circumstances might have explained the problems in Australia, but Arnold clearly blamed Brett, telling Kenney that "Brett should have done the `getting along' since he was the junior."4 In addition to the problems between MacArthur and Brett, Marshall cryptically warned Kenney about some "personality clashes" in the headquarters that were causing problems. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Command Relations at the Operational Level of War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.