Complete Integration of Military Operations Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Speaking shortly after the Japanese surrender that ended hostilities in World War II and the ensuing demilitarization of Japan, US General Douglas MacArthur congratulated US military forces on their achievements in the Pacific theater and applauded military leadership for executing a well-integrated strategy that used ground, naval, and air forces to the best of their abilities. MacArthur also spoke highly of the rapid and thorough demilitarization of the surrendered Japanese, noting that it signaled the completeness of the Allied victory—a victory that he saw as certain and inevitable due to the differences in the strategies applied by the two competing forces in the Pacific. MacArthur pointed out the flawed nature of Japan's independently operating military branches and argued that the complete integration of US services assured victory and set a precedent for success in all future military conflicts.

Summary Overview

Speaking shortly after the Japanese surrender that ended hostilities in World War II and the ensuing demilitarization of Japan, US General Douglas MacArthur congratulated US military forces on their achievements in the Pacific theater and applauded military leadership for executing a well-integrated strategy that used ground, naval, and air forces to the best of their abilities. MacArthur also spoke highly of the rapid and thorough demilitarization of the surrendered Japanese, noting that it signaled the completeness of the Allied victory—a victory that he saw as certain and inevitable due to the differences in the strategies applied by the two competing forces in the Pacific. MacArthur pointed out the flawed nature of Japan's independently operating military branches and argued that the complete integration of US services assured victory and set a precedent for success in all future military conflicts.

Defining Moment

During World War II, the conflict in the Pacific theater was intense and often brutal. Tensions between the United States and imperial Japan had begun to rise before the start of the war, as the United States opposed the militaristic territorial expansion of Japan into mainland East Asia. Those tensions exploded into open conflict with the Japanese bombing of the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December of 1941. Within hours, the United States declared war on Japan, activating a series of alliances that brought it into the global conflict with Germany and other Axis powers as well. Although the United States and the Allies agreed to follow an overall Eurocentric strategy, American sentiment against Japan was high, and the Pacific campaign was launched immediately. At first, Japan's forces seemed superior, winning victories in the Philippines and elsewhere. Japan also earned a reputation for harsh treatment of conquered territory and abuse of prisoners, such as leading captives on the infamous Bataan Death March. As the war progressed, however, General MacArthur's leadership, the island-hopping strategy used to win back territory, and intense waves of US air attacks on Japanese cities helped turn the tide.

With the Axis powers defeated in Europe by mid-1945, Allied leaders met in Potsdam, Germany, to discuss plans for the reorganization of the continent and the conclusion of the war in the Pacific. Armed with the knowledge of the successful testing of an atomic weapon by US scientists, US president Harry S. Truman pushed for a hard line against the Japanese. The resulting Potsdam Declaration demanded that the Japanese agree to an immediate and unconditional surrender or face immense destruction. No surrender followed, however, and Truman agreed to the use of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The resulting devastation, combined with the Soviet Union's declaration of war on Japan, finally forced Japanese emperor Hirohito to agree to surrender.

As the supreme commander of the Allied forces in the Pacific, MacArthur was among those who accepted the formal Japanese surrender in early September 1945, and he became the head of the Allied occupation of the Japanese islands. Over the next several weeks, he led efforts to ensure that Japan's military was completely demobilized and that it lacked the ability to muster offensive forces again. Military leaders were removed from political leadership, and further reforms over the next several years addressed Japan's economic, social, and governmental systems.

Author Biography

Douglas MacArthur was born on January 26, 1880, in Little Rock, Arkansas. A lifelong military man, he served in Europe during World War I and spent time overseeing operations in the Philippines, then a US holding, during the 1920s. He gained the rank of general in 1930 when he was appointed the US Army's chief of staff. MacArthur spent much of the 1930s working with the Philippine Army. After the United States entered World War II in 1941, he oversaw the ultimately unsuccessful Allied effort to prevent the Philippines from falling to Japan before rising to become a top Allied military officer in the southwest Pacific region in early 1942. Over the next few years, MacArthur led Allied forces in regaining territory lost to the Japanese, and his successes led to his appointment as head of US Army and Army Air Force operations in the Pacific in 1945. After the war's end, MacArthur oversaw the occupation, demilitarization, and rebuilding of Japan. He also served for a time as head of the United Nations coalition forces in the Korean War. MacArthur died on April 5, 1964.

Historical Document

Today the Japanese armed forces throughout Japan completed their demobilization and ceased to exist as such. These forces are now completely abolished. I know of no demobilization in history either in war or peace by our own or by any other country that has been accomplished so rapidly or so frictionlessly. Everything military, naval or air is forbidden to Japan. This ends its military might and its military influence in international affairs. It no longer reckons as a world power either large or small. Its path in the future, if it is to survive must be confined to the ways of peace. Approximately 7,000,000 armed men, including those in the outlying theatres, have laid down their weapons.

In the accomplishment of the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous surrender in Japan, unique in the annals of history, not a shot was necessary, not a drop of Allied blood was shed.

The vindication of the great decision of Potsdam is complete. Nothing could exceed the abjectness, the humiliation and the finality of this surrender. It is not only physically thorough, but has been equally destructive on Japanese spirit. From swaggering arrogance, the former Japanese military have passed to servility and fear. They are thoroughly beaten and cowed, and tremble before the terrible retribution the surrender terms impose upon their country in punishment for its great sins.

Again I wish to pay tribute to the magnificent conduct of our troops. With a few exceptions, they could well be taken as a model for all time, as a conquering army. No historian in later years when passions cool can arraign their conduct. They could so easily and understandably have emulated the ruthlessness which their enemy freely practiced when conditions were reversed. But their perfect balance between implacable firmness of duty on the one hand and resolute restraint from cruelness and brutalities on the other has' taught a lesson to the Japanese civil population that is startling in its impact.

Nothing has so tended to impress Japanese thought, not even the catastrophic fact of military defeat itself. They have for the first time seen the free man's way of life in actual action and it has stunned them into new thought and new ideas. A revolution—or more properly speaking, the evolution—which will restore the dignity and freedom of the common man, has begun. It will take much time, and require great patience, but if world public opinion will permit of these two essential factors, mankind will be repaid. Herein lies the way to true and final peace.

The Japanese Army, contrary to some concepts that have been advanced, was thoroughly defeated before the surrender, The strategic maneuvering of the Allies so scattered and divided them; their thrusts had so immobilized, disintegrated and split its units; its supply and transportation lines were so utterly destroyed; its equipment was so exhausted, its morale so shattered, that its early surrender became inevitable.

Bastion after bastion, considered by it as impregnable in barring our way, had been by-passed and rendered impotent and useless, while our tactical penetrations and envelopments resulted in piecemeal destruction of many isolated fragments. It was weak everywhere, forced to fight where it stood, unable to render mutual support between its parts and presented a picture of collapse that was complete and absolute.

The basic cause of the surrender is not to be attributed to an arbitrary decision of authority. It was inevitable because of the strategic and tactical circumstances forced upon it. The situation had become hopeless. It was merely a question of when, with our troops poised for final invasion. This invasion would have been annihilating, but might well have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.

The victory was a triumph for the concept of the complete integration of the three dimensions of war—ground, sea and air. By a thorough use of each arm in conjunction with the corresponding utilization of the other two, the enemy was reduced to a condition of helplessness. By largely avoiding methods involving the separate use of the services and by avoiding methods of frontal assault as far as possible, our combined power forced the surrender with relative life loss probably unparalleled in any campaigns in history.

This latter fact indeed was the most inspiring and significant feature: the unprecedented saving in American life. It is for this we have to say truly, “Thank God.” Never was there a more intensive application of the principle of the strategic and tactical employment of limited forces as compared with the accumulation of overwhelming forces.

Illustrating this concept, General Yamashita recently stated in an interview in Manila, explaining reasons for his defeat, that the diversity of Japanese command resulted in the complete lack of cooperation and coordination between the services. He complained that he was not in supreme command, that the air forces were run by Field Marshal Teraushi at Saigon and the fleet run directly from Tokyo, that he only knew of the intended naval strike at Leyte Gulf five days before it got under way and professed ignorance of its details.

The great lesson for the future is that success in the art of war depends upon a complete integration of the services. In unity will lie military strength. We cannot win with only backs and ends. And no line, however strong can go alone. Victory will rest with the team.

Glossary

abjectness: the state of utter hopelessness, misery, or humiliation; shamelessly servile

annals: records of events, especially in a yearly record, usually in chronological order; historical records

bastion: a fortification; a fortified place

cowed: to frighten with threats or violence; intimidate

demobilization: to disband (as with troops or an army); to discharge someone from military service

frictionlessly: done without dissention or conflict between persons owing to differing ideas, etc.

theatres: major areas of military action

Document Analysis

In his speech, MacArthur focuses on two main points: the causes and processes of the Japanese surrender and the success of the Allied military branches in achieving “complete integration of the services,” or the strong and effective coordination of efforts among ground, air, and naval operations. According to MacArthur, this coordination allowed for the Allied forces to triumph decisively over the Japanese, which suffered from a lack of this kind of interservice planning and communication. The general thus asserts that the victories celebrated in the first portion of his speech are due to the connectivity emphasized in the second half and further proposes that future military successes will rest on a similarly integrated approach: “Victory will rest with the team.”

The general first hails the Allies for overseeing a complete demobilization of the Japanese military in only about two months in what he calls a “vindication of the great decision of Potsdam,” a reference to the Potsdam Declaration's call for the strict demilitarization of Japan. Indeed, the surrender that followed the pair of atomic bombings and Soviet attack on Japan was a full and nearly unconditional one that demanded the Japanese completely disband its military. MacArthur asserts that millions of Japanese soldiers have been discharged from their posts and the US occupiers have acted firmly, but fairly and humanely. The imperial military that attacked the United States in 1941 and wreaked havoc in the Pacific from China to the Philippines is no more, and MacArthur sees this outcome as a strongly positive one for Japan and the world.

MacArthur uses the rest of the speech to explain what he sees as the “strategic and tactical circumstances” leading to this inevitable Japanese surrender, focusing on the implementation of a three-pronged strategy incorporating ground, naval, and air forces. The military functions most effectively by relying on a balance of all three branches rather than emphasizing one at the expense of the others, he suggests, protecting its members from needless loss of life and wielding a combined power that can overwhelm any defense. To illustrate the efficacy of this three-pronged approach, MacArthur points to the contrast between the winning Allied strategy and the ultimately losing Japanese strategy. He notes that even the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashika attributed the Japanese defeat to the lack of coordination among the leaders of its armed forces, which were managed by different men and even from different command points. MacArthur thus supports the usage of a single integrated strategy in future military conflicts to maintain US superiority.

Essential Themes

At the heart of MacArthur's speech is the argument that cooperative strategies among different types of military forces were central to Allied success against Japan, and that such cooperation would be central to US successes in the future. Although earlier wars had been conducted mostly by one branch of the military—World War I, for example, had been fought mostly on land with a lesser reliance on air and water power—conflict in World War II drew on a blend of tactics to achieve its aims, and MacArthur saw this as the way of the future. Integration of leadership, planning, and resources would allow the nation to wield the combined efforts of each military branch against any challenge. Physical geography may limit the implementation of naval forces, but modern warfare typically blends focused air attacks with strategic advances by ground troops.

Indeed, coordination among military branches and even among forces operated by separate nations has increased exponentially in the time since MacArthur's speech. Improved communications and military technology continue to support this goal. Instant electronic communications allow for easier coordination of efforts among soldiers and officers regardless of their relative locations. Technology also eases efforts to conduct simultaneous or strategically linked air, land, and sea attacks, and permits for the oversight of key missions from secure locations thousands of miles away.

The rise of the United Nations (UN) after World War II has allowed troops from different member nations to work together on certain missions, beginning with the campaign led by MacArthur himself in the Korean War during the early 1950s. Such operations take integration beyond individual military branches to coordination on a global level. Other international defense organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) established in 1949, increased military cooperation among allied nations during the Cold War era and beyond. During the twenty-first century, the concept of “coalition forces” formed by international consensus is seen by many as necessary to undertake any military action with potential global consequences. With this strategy a threat can be faced with broad support, while unilateral acts of war may be discouraged.

Bibliography and Additional Reading
  • James, Dorris Clayton. The Years of MacArthur. 3 vols. Boston: Houghton, 1985. Print.
  • MacArthur, Douglas. Reminiscences. Annapolis: Naval Inst. P, 1964. Print.
  • “Milestones: 1945–1952: Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan, 1945–52.” Office of the Historian. Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, US Dept. of State, n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.
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