Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 119

BOOK REVIEWS Perry’s assessment of MacArthur’s generalship rests quite accurately on MacArthur’s concept and execution of Operation Cartwheel and on the debate over whether to make the final approach to the Japanese home islands through the Philippines or Formosa. During Operation Cartwheel, MacArthur’s forces combined with those of Halsey to adroitly maneuver the Japanese out of Rabaul. Cartwheel is a textbook illustration of effective joint and combined operations. With respect to the Philippines, MacArthur made the case for advancing on Japan via the Philippines instead of Formosa on two grounds—both of which were compelling. First and foremost, the United States had a vital strategic interest in minimizing the suffering of the Filipinos who after all were U.S. citizens and had a right to expect succor at the first possible instance. Second, and equally important, in 1944, Japanese counteroffensive operations overran a number of Chinese airfields essentially denying eastern and southern China bases to the Allies. Accordingly, the Philippines and the lesser Japanese Islands such as Iwo Jima provided better alternatives to an assault on Formosa which the Japanese were defending more heavily. Spruance and Halsey agreed with MacArthur’s view thus winning over Nimitz. In the end, Roosevelt, the consummate politician and commander-in-chief sided with MacArthur over the chief of naval operations, Adm. King, and the rest is history. This is a very good book with clear insight not only into MacArthur but the very real human endeavor of making policy and war. Both are blood sports and not for the faint hearted. This is a must read for young officers who may someday find themselves confronted with difficult operational and even strategic dilemmas. There is no doctrine for this work. Learning to do it requires the approach suggested by Frederick the Great. Frederick believed we are able to learn both from our own experience and that of others. As he put it, “what good is experience if it is not directed by reflection?” Thinking critically about what we do and what others have done before us is part of our preparation for leadership and p