From: Mordor Illlinois
But if we can just stick to the question of Guam, was there any serious consideration given to making the major US Naval base at Guam before the WNT made any such thinking irrelevant? If so, who proposed it and what happened to the proposal?
If its simply a case of putting War Plan Orange into effect and a Japanese victory isn't even worth considering, then why wasn't Guam (or the Philippines (for example)) converted for such use as soon as the Japanese pulled out of the 1936 Naval Treaty?
My understanding is that communications between the US and the PI were too vulnerable - and thus too risky. Why was Guam any different?
One again you have political factions at work. Almost as soon as the ink was dry on War Plan Orange , the Navy felt that this wasn't going to work. They felt that the best thing was to simply get rid of the Philippines. Which were do to receive independence in 1944. The Navy felt they couldn't be defended. The Army on the other hand , felt they could. Basically for nearly 40 years the plan stood because nobody had a better idea. They kept it as a "Planning document" feeling it could be updated as needed. And without the PI, Guam became of less value. And of course governments are much less likely to spend money overseas when they have a depression at home. The feelings were 1) withdraw as much as we can from the Philippines and Guam, give the PI independence as soon as possible and the problem will solve it'self. Maybe we'll build up Guam, but not till we finish with Midway, and Wake.
Then retired Army chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur is made a Philippine army field marshal , is given large sums of money to build up the PI's defenses. Which he does. But he feels it's not enough. So he goes back to the US and convinces the leaders (both military and civilian) that he can defend the PI's with the new wonder weapons , The B-17, the M-1 rifle , PT boats and with some US Army troops as trainers he can make the PI's impregnable pretty quick. Which means the USA can pull out sooner than intended. Hey presto! Suddenly forces are no longer flowing out of the PI's , but back to them.
And combined with Morgenthau and Hornficher convincing Roosevelt to over ride his Naval Leaders and leave the fleet at Pearl Harbor, it's felt that Japan will back down.
The problems with everything from 1919 to 1941 are many and varied, but basically the problems were caused by leaderships ignorance and in consistency.
In short, in 1919 Guam was a potential Gibraltar to control the Pacific , and by 1941 it , and the Philippines were albatrosses around the governments neck to be off loaded as soon as possible. In fact at one point Guam was seen as to have become so useless to the Navy that there was a movement to turn it over to the interior department. When a delegation of prominent Guamanians went to DC to solicit that change , FDR suggested that they visit a couple of Indian reservations. That having been done , the delegation decided that the Navy department was just fine with them!
The situation was extremely fluid , changing several times , and Guam's main value by 1941 was , like Midway, wake, Johnston and other islands , was as a seaplane base. Juan Trippe , president of Pan Am , a former Naval Aviator , with Naval cooperation set up Civilian seaplane bases , which could be used by the Navy , yet not violate the WNT. That was seen as good enough till 1940. Then bases slowly were built up. But it was simply too late.
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