The Fall of the Philippines
The Legendary Failings of a Legendary General
LCDR Josh Fuller
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in a surprise strike that was the start of World War Two for the United States. While the strike at Pearl Harbor is well remembered in history, the strike by the Japanese against the Philippines nine hours later is not as well remembered, studied or debated. No less than nine investigations into the events of 7 December were conducted within five years while none were conducted into the events in the Philippines. While Admiral Kimmel, Commander in Chief of the Pacific, and Lt. General Short, Commanding General of the Hawaii Department, were both relieved of their commands as a result of the Pearl Harbor attacks, General Douglas MacArthur, Commander United States Army Forces Far East, was never even investigated, in fact he was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. However, the attack on the Philippines was just as dramatic as the attack on the Hawaiian Islands. Additionally it had the added dimension of being nine hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, making it an attack that should not have been a surprise.
The ensuing struggle for the Philippines was also rife with military blunders, both in the planning of the defense and in the execution of military actions. While General MacArthur is not solely to blame for the mistakes in the Philippines, his actions both leading up to and during the battle for the islands leave much open to question. In fact, while it was never expected for the Philippines to be able to hold out indefinitely against the Japanese forces, with the forces available to MacArthur, as well as the warning of the start of the conflict, American forces should have been able to make a better account for themselves. General MacArthur, through his failure to execute the Rainbow 5 plan when ordered, by allowing the majority of his air force to be destroyed on the ground, by overestimation of...