HOLLANDIA AND BIAK -- VICTORY AND CONFLICT
Although Eichelberger had indeed been informed in January 1944 that he would be allowed to take part in future operations, he did not begin preparations for his next assignment until the beginning of March. At that time, MacArthur told him that he would participate in the landing at Hollandia, an important Japanese base in New Guinea. In this operation, Eichelberger's I Corps was designated as the primary landing force, although the Hollandia task force was nominally under the command of General Krueger.
The Hollandia operation was to be an ambitious move. The Allied forces had advanced only 250 miles along the northern coast of New Guinea during the year that Eichelberger had spent on the sidelines. Hollandia was over 600 miles from the nearest Allied base, at Saidor. This operation was a bold risk for MacArthur, who still remembered the bloody lessons of Buna. After the costly Papuan campaign, MacArthur had devised a new strategy, which avoided high numbers of casualties by bypassing enemy strongpoints and attacking the rear and flanks of the enemy island defenses. Since this strategy had worked successfully during 1943 in the isolation of Rabaul and in the capture of the Marshall and Admiralty Islands, MacArthur was anxious to implement it along the northern coast of New Guinea. According to GHQ's estimation, the 600-mile advance to Hollandia would not only cut off the enemy strongpoints at Hansa Bay, Mandang, and Wewak, but would significantly accelerate the timetable for the advance to the Philippines by providing air bases and staging areas for future operations. 1
In accordance with this strategy, Eichelberger was ordered (by MacArthur and Krueger) to make simultaneous landings at Humboldt Bay and Tanahmerah Bay, near Hollandia, and ordered to seize the three major airfields near the landing site. Then, after disposing of enemy forces in the Hollandia area, Eichelberger was to improve and widen the airfields, and to establish naval, port, and base facilities