4-286 To General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, March 12, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: March 12, 1944

Subject: World War II

To General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

March 12, 1944 Radio Nos. 5171 and 9891 Washington, D.C.


Book message for MacArthur and Richardson pass to Nimitz for action and Nimitz repeat to Halsey from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Para. 1. With reference to our dispatch of March 2 (4785 to CINC SWPAC, 729 to COMGENCENTPAC)2 the Joint Chiefs of Staff have further decided that the most feasible approach to the Formosa-Luzon-China area is by way of Marianas-Carolines-Palau-Mindanao area, and that the control of the Marianas-Carolines-Palau area is essential to the projection of our forces into the former area, and their subsequent effective employment therefrom. Examination leads us to the decision that effective lodgment in the former area will be attained by the following main courses of action:

a. Cancellation of FOREARM. Complete the isolation of the RabaulKavieng area with the minimum commitment of forces.

b. Early completion of Manus occupation and development as an air and fleet base.

c. Occupation of Hollandia by CINCSOWESPAC, target date April 15, 1944. The objective is the establishment of heavy bombardment aircraft for preliminary air bombardment of the Palaus and neutralization of western New Guinea-Halmahera area.

d. Establish control of Marianas-Carolines-Palau area by POA forces-

(1) By neutralization of Truk.

(2) By occupation of the southern Marianas, target date June 15. The objective is to secure control of sea communications through the Central Pacific by isolating and neutralizing the Carolines and by the establishment of sea and air bases for operations against Japanese sea routes and long range air attacks against the Japanese home land.

(3) Occupation of the Palaus by POA forces, target date September 15. The objective is to extend the control of the eastern approaches to the Philippines and Formosa, and to establish a fleet and air base and forward staging area for the support of operations against Mindanao, Formosa and China.

e. Occupation of Mindanao by SOWESPAC forces, supported by the Pacific fleet, target date November 15. The objective is establishment of air forces to reduce and contain Japanese forces in the Philippines preparatory to a further advance to Formosa either directly or via Luzon, and to conduct air strikes against enemy installations in the N. E. I. [Netherlands East Indies].

f. Occupation of Formosa, target date February 15, 1945, or occupation of Luzon should such operations prove necessary prior to the move on Formosa, target date February 15, 1945. Planning responsibilities as follows: Formosa—CINCPOA; Luzon—CINCSOWESPAC.

Para. 2. Action addressees submit to Joint Chiefs of Staff and to each other at earliest practicable date outline operation plans to support the foregoing concept.

Para. 3. We direct that CINCSWPA:

a. Cancel FOREARM operation and complete the isolation of the Rabaul-Kavieng area with the minimum commitment of forces.

b. Expedite occupation and development of the Admiralties as a base for-

(1) SWPA air forces to complete the neutralization of Rabaul and Kavieng and assist in the neutralization of Truk and Palau.

(2) POA air forces to assist in the neutralization of Truk and Palau.

(3) Units of the United States fleet as required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

c. Should additional air base facilities be required, Emirau and Mussau should be occupied and developed for this purpose.

d. Occupy Hollandia, target date April 15. Forces available are those assigned your area plus Pacific Ocean area forces allocated for FOREARM-MERCANTILE, excluding those Marine units assigned for these operations, fast carrier groups and old battleships. All Pacific fleet APA, AKA, AGC, allocated for FOREARM-MERCANTILE-ABSTRACT will be returned to Guadalcanal or other designated SOPAC ports and released to CINCPOA not later than May 5. Pacific Fleet combatant vessels including CARDIVS [Carrier Divisions] 22 and 24 with screens will be released by you and returned to CINCPOA control not later than May 5.

e. Following Hollandia, with available forces conduct operations along New Guinea coast and such other operations as may be feasible in preparation for support of the Palau operation and the assault on Mindanao.

Para. 4. We direct that CINCPOA:

a. Institute and intensify to greatest practicable degree aerial bombardment of the Carolines from bases in Marshalls and Admiralties in order to hasten the neutralization of Truk and the other islands of this group. Conduct carrier strikes against Marianas, Palaus, Carolines, and other profitable targets.

b. Provide cover for the occupation of Hollandia and other operations in the Southwest Pacific area.

c. Occupy the southern Marianas target date June 15, and establish land based aircraft, VLR bases and secondary naval facilities.

d. Occupy the Marianas-Palau line.

Para. 5. We direct that CINCPOA and CINCSWPA or their representatives confer and prepare plans for the coordinated and mutual support of the operations ordered in paragraphs 3 and 4.

Para. 6. With reference to the forces of the Southwest Pacific and Pacific Ocean areas, a redeployment is now under way and completion will be expedited.3

Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), Top Secret Message File CM-OUT-5137, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. On March 11, 1944, the Joint chiefs of Staff discussed strategy in the Pacific for 1944 (see note 2, Marshall Memorandum for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, March 2, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-276 [4: 326-27]). On March 12 General Marshall, Admirals Leahy and King, and Major General Barney M. Giles, chief of the Air Staff and representing General Henry H. Arnold, met in closed session and approved the J.C.S.’s new directive to General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz. (Minutes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, March 12, 1944, NA/ RG 165 [OCS, CCS 334, JCS Minutes].) General Marshall edited the draft of this message; his handwritten corrections are in NA/ RG 165 (ODD, 381, Case 301).

2. See Marshall Memorandum for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, March 1, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-275 [4: 324-26].

3. In order to coordinate the Pacific campaign as directed by the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Nimitz visited General MacArthur’s headquarters at Brisbane, Australia, on March 25-27 for a conference. Describing his visit to Admiral King, Nimitz wrote that MacArthur “seemed pleased to have the J.C.S. directive covering the entire calendar year of 1944 because it definitely provided for his entry into the Philippines via Mindanao—a plan which is very close to his heart.” (King and Whitehill, Fleet Admiral King, p. 538.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 336-338.

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