CARTWHEEL: THE REDUCTION OF RABAUL. By John Miller, jr. (1959, 1984,1990; 418 pages, 2 tables, 11 charts, 22 maps, 89 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 5-5.)
The numerous and varied operations which resulted in the reduction of Rabaul illuminate Allied strategy, tactics, and command. The Allied offensive, begun with limited and costly counteroffensives on Guadalcanal and in eastern New Guinea, now began to take unexpectedly long strides. Postponement of the cross-Channel attack in favor of the invasion of North Africa, together with the rapidly mounting productivity of the American war economy, made it possible for the United States to deploy more strength in the Pacific in 1943 than its planners had originally anticipated. But Japanese strength had not yet been seriously impaired except in
aircraft carriers, and Japan had the advantage of interior lines. The victorious operations that led to the isolation of Rabaul thus provide an inspiring and instructive story of successes won by strategic daring, tactical resourcefulness and flexibility, and human ingenuity and courage. They also demonstrate a remarkable capacity for teamwork at all levels. The Allied forces engaged, under the strategic direction of General MacArthur, were the ground, air, and naval surface forces of the South Pacific Area under the command of Admiral Halsey and those of the Southwest Pacific Area under the command of General MacArthur. Their ability to work and learn together was a remarkable achievement.
The operational strategy that grew into a pattern in this campaign called for ground forces, transported and protected by Allied naval and air forces, to seize bases from which the air forces and navy then neutralized other enemy bases in a continuous process of cooperation and forward leaps. To meet the enemy's determination to fortify heavily their advance bases and inflict high casualties in any attacking force, the Allied commanders used their superior strength to seize positions that were strategically important but weakly defended. Out of this emerged the bypassing technique whereby the Allies steamed or flew past strong enemy garrisons which were neutralized by air and naval action and left to wither on the vine. In the end, contrary to the original anticipations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General MacArthur, this method sufficed to dispose of the great enemy base at Rabaul.
CARTWHEEL provides information and references with which to study such variegated topics as Pacific strategy; intertheater relationships and coordination of widely separated forces and operations; problems and solutions in theater commands involving ground, air, and naval forces (U.S. and Allied); the relationship of such forces in a new pattern of warfare; and tactical problems and their solution, particularly in amphibious and jungle operations. The author also describes the close relationship of artillery, air, and naval support to infantry action wherever the records enabled him to do so and has been attentive to the relationship of logistics to progress in battle.
1. The execution of national strategy: a study in balancing ends against means (Chs. I, II, XII).
2. Theater headquarters in action: studies in unified command (Chs. III, VI, X, XI, XII, XIV, XV).
3. Intertheater cooperation and coordination (Chs. III, XII, XV).
4. Planning and executing amphibious offensives (Chs. V, VI, XII, XIV, XV).
5. Planning and executing a combined amphibious, overland, and airborne offensive (Ch. XI).
6. The corps in the attack (Chs. VIII, IX).*
7. The corps in defense, using interior lines (Ch. XVII).
8. The division in a jungle (heavy forest) attack, with emphasis on difficulties (Ch. VII).*
9. Operational techniques of bypassing strongpoints (Chs. X, XII, XV).
*These chapters also contain much material on operations of smaller units.
10. From reconnaissance in force to a divisional offensive (Ch.XVI).
11. Effective delaying action (Chs. VI-X).
12. Problems and solutions in jungle (heavy forest) warfare (Ch. IX).
13. War neurosis and combat fatigue (Chs. VII, VIII).
14. Japanese organization and strategy (Chs. IV, X, XI).
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