The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Plan Orange Executed

ADMIRAL Nimitz HAD been forced on the defensive for the first eighteen months of the war. Except for scattered naval and marine raids, there had been little offensive action in the vast area of the Central Pacific. The major concern of Nimitz and his staff had been to check the Japanese threat in the Solomons. By mid-1943 the reversal of fortune was obvious, and Nimitz planned to take the offensive in both the Aleutians and the Gilbert Islands. Nimitz agreed with Admiral King that defeating Japan would require implementing an updated version of the prewar Plan Orange. Thus, throughout the difficult battles for Guadalcanal and New Georgia, Nimitz rationed out his support for Halsey's efforts in MacArthur's theater and began building a great blue-water fleet whose responsibility would be to carry out the Central Pacific offensives.

In March 1943, Admiral King established a new system for identifying American naval forces. Halsey's South Pacific force was redesignated as the Third Fleet, and by August Nimitz had received enough new ships to reconstitute the Central Pacific force as the Fifth Fleet. He selected his chief of staff, Admiral Spruance, to command this force.

Nimitz had encountered considerable opposition from General Marshall and other senior army officers, who believed MacArthur

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