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Russian History: XX century

Russian History: XIX сentury

The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II

German forces in Italy surrendered effective 2 May and those in the Netherlands, northwestern Germany, and Denmark on 4 May. Patrols of the U.S. Seventh Army driving eastward through Austria and the Fifth Army driving north from Italy met near the Brenner Pass. On 7 May the German High Command surrendered all its forces unconditionally, and 8 May was officially proclaimed V-E Day. Though peace had come to Europe, one of the most culturally and economically advanced areas of the globe lay in ruins. Germany, the industrial engine of the Continent, lay prostrate, occupied by British, French, American, and Soviet troops. Britain, exhausted by its contribution to the victory, tottered near economic collapse, while France was totally dependent on the United States. The Soviet Union had suffered in excess of 20 million casualties and untold devastation, but its armed forces remained powerful and its intentions obscure. To the victory in western Europe and Italy, the United States had contributed 68 divisions, 15,000 combat aircraft, well over 1 million tanks and motor vehicles, and 135,000 dead. The country now turned its focus to a war a half a world away and to the defeat of Japan in the Pacific.
The Pacific War
Even before Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the American military chiefs had agreed on a common strategy with Great Britain: Germany, the most powerful and dangerous of the Axis powers, must be defeated first. Only enough military resources would be devoted to the Pacific to hold the Japanese west of an Alaska-Hawaii-Panama defensive line.
Competition for limited resources between the Allied commanders of the European and Pacific theaters was actually less intense than might have been expected. The Pacific was a naval war, and little U.S. offensive naval power was required in the Atlantic besides landing craft. Aside from the U-boats, the Germans posed no threat in Atlantic waters. U-boat defense primarily required many small, fast escort vessels. Then too, almost the entire British Navy was deployed in the Atlantic. Thus, American offensive naval power--especially the fast carrier task forces--could be committed to the Pacific war.
More than distance separated the two wars; they differed fundamentally in strategy and command and in the character of the fighting. In Europe the war was planned and conducted in combination with powerful Allies. Strategic decisions had to be argued and agreed to by the American and British chiefs of staff, and, on occasion, even by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Operational planning was conducted, at least at the higher levels, by combined Anglo-American staffs. In the Pacific the United States also had Allies--Australia and New Zealand. Yet the ratio of U.S. to Allied forces was much higher there than in Europe, and in consequence strategy and planning were almost wholly in American hands.
Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander in Europe, had no counterpart in the Pacific. From the beginning of the war, rivalry between the Army and the Navy marked the conflict. The two services competed for command, territory, and resources. In the vast Pacific, an ocean dotted with thousands of coral islands, there should have been ample room for both. But interservice rivalries and great distances prevented a single unified commander from being named, until General Douglas MacArthur became Supreme Commander,

" West Coast Dock" by Barse Miller. Roughly 40 percent of the cargo moved overseas by the Army during the war went to the Pacific theater. (Army Art Collection)

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