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Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 12:49:20 AM   
DOCUP


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Philippines is granted independence (protectorate) in the early 1920's. Guam is the major US base in the pacific. How would it and other islands look in 1941? Extra credit what would Japan do.?

My thoughts. Guam's AF and port would be built to the max. I don't know about a dry dock. CD defences would look similar to Manila's (1941). I would think army 1 Fighter and Bomber (mixed 4E's and 2E's) group stationed there. I don't know about Marine aviation. I would also guess a USMC rgt, USN BF, USA BF, maybe a tank Bn(ie 194th) and some arty. A cruiser lead SAG and the normal merchants in the harbor with subs.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 12:58:32 AM   
Admiral DadMan


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Philippines, Japan still invades, as it will requisition the ports and airfields.

Guam is precluded from being strengthened as agreed in the various treaties.

In the end, IMHO, it would make very little difference, other than that there would not be a significant Far East American military presence.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 1:18:38 AM   
DOCUP


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Sorry was rushing my post. Bath time for the kido.

Guam is built up before the WNT. After the WNT expires some more of the Two Ocean Navy money goes into Guam and maybe Wake. I was thinking that some of the men and material that went to the Philippines would be sent to Guam in 1940-41.

Yes, I agree Japan would still invade the Philippines and Guam. I am just wondering what the thoughts are on this matter. I have read that some people thought that Guam would have been a better base than the Philippines.

My thoughts on the Japanese is that they would match or one up the Americans.

Thanks for your comment Admiral Dadman

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 1:48:23 AM   
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I think Midway would also be Max'd. Then you would have a string of bases for air transfer. And I think a 5k ton lift ARD would be at Guam....GP

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 2:08:59 AM   
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Guam HAD been somewhat built up before WNT. Shore batteries, USMC aviation. It was all pulled out after the treaty. Hector Bywater , British navalist called for turning into a "Gibraltar of the Pacific", with similar shore batteries . Several divisions of troops, planes and 100+ destroyers.

Plans and studies were made, I've seen the blueprints that would have made the Fonte Plateau pretty darned tough to crack (not unlike the Manila bay defenses.)

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 2:27:49 AM   
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The scope of the question as asked is too large for anything but a fanciful choose-your-own-adventure that has little bearing on reality, even though it would be tempting to label them 'realistic'.

I'm not saying this just to "drop Pferdeäpfels in the parade". The question posited asks for an analysis of a non-linear system, but you're also asking for cause-and-effect analysis, which does not apply to non-linear systems. It's like trying to observe the orbit of an electron - by doing so you're changing the inherent nature of the system.

For instance, the very act of granting Philippine independence suggests a different political climate in the U.S., heavily suggesting a skew towards isolationism - even more so than the historical preference at the time. Given that scenario it's plausible there is no war in the Pacific (as we understand it in the context of WW2), because the U.S. never issues the oil embargo, thus removing the imperative for Japan to rapidly expand in the DEI before concluding the war with China.

The little narrative I wrote is just one of many possible narratives on a spectrum, but it's hard to know which might be more valid as it's next to impossible to predict 2nd and 3rd order effects with any accuracy.


quote:

ORIGINAL: DOCUP

I have read that some people thought that Guam would have been a better base than the Philippines.


I think this is the basis for a better question, and hence, a better discussion: other than the Philippines, what would have been the ideal U.S. military base in the Far East during the 5-10 years prior to the U.S. entry into WW2?

All the a-historical events go away (or at least are kept to a minimum), and there can be reasonable discussion of the merits of each as a military base - and there better be a healthy discussion of logistics for any answer to be taken seriously.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 6:56:00 AM   
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Guam has a pretty good harbor. But THE major US port in the Pacific? That's a stretch unless you posit the US as a hyper aggressive non isolationist country at that time, which is a stretch in and of itself.




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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 12:32:21 PM   
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One thought on this that springs to mind (and ignoring any restrictions that would perhaps be imposed retrospectively by the WNT). Why would the US seek to turn Guam into a major naval base? Just a look at a map of the Pacific and the distance from the US to Guam. France, the British Empire and, more realistically from a threat point of view, Japan, are relatively right on Guam's doorstep. The possibility of Guam being surrounded and cut-off would surely be too big a risk?




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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 12:51:55 PM   
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There are many reasons why Guam is the perfect Pacific stronghold. Mostly due to "the goldilocks factor". It's small enough to defend , large enough to hold a tremendous number of troops. Apra harbor is a great deal larger than the Gorn realizes. Not only COULD it hold the bulk of the US fleet, after August 1944 , it DID! There were 4 massive airfields built, and several smaller. There could have been more. And the strangest reason is a secret hidden within it's name. According to Chamorro's (the native people of the Marianas) Guam's name was derived from Guuham. Litterly "We have water". It may sound like a chamber of commerce slogan , but Guam has lots and lots of water. Most Pacific island have enough for the locals , but not much more. Guam could easily export it. Not a bad thing to have when you have over a million troops on the island. (Which they could...apologies to the ill informed congressman who thought 5,000 Marines would make the island flip over. For many years the island held a quarter of a million PERMANETLTY assigned troops.)

The point is ANY base can be taken , if everything around it is taken. EVENTUALLY. Pearl Harbor could have been in that fix. But instead of seeing Guam as a "Ft. Apache", surrounded and cut off, planners of the day saw it as a forward deployed beach head capable of menacing Japan with aircraft , surface ships and most of all submarines. As it did shortly after "Liberation day" in July 1944, when SUBPAC, PACKFLT and Nimitz moved their head quarters there. And Guam became the biggest supply base in the Pacific (a position it held till after the Vietnam war).

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 1:08:50 PM   
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Well I don't know what plans the USN had for Guam in the 1920's (more reading ahead ) but intuitively I certainly wouldn't look at the position in 1944 - with the Japanese fleet largely consigned to the depths of the ocean and the British and Dutch as Allies - as a guide to thinking in terms of Guam as the main Pacific naval base in the immediate aftermath of WWI.

Moreover, and whilst I acknowledge that any base can be taken, the position of Pearl Harbor - in terms of closeness to the US west coast and distance from the enemy - is markedly different to that of Guam.

The other point of course is in terms of belligerence, having the main naval base at Guam would not exactly be seen as friendly by the Japanese. Would there really be any reason for the US to be so threatening (sorry trying - and failing - to think of a better word) to the Japanese in 1920?

quote:

Extra credit what would Japan do.?

No idea but I think we can assume that WNT is off Now of course as we know from WWII, in the long run the US can simply out build the Japanese, but in 1920 things need to be seen without hindsight. Are the US going to engage in a naval arms race they don't want all for the sake of building an exposed and potentially vulnerable base on Guam? As base that, if they are going to make as impervious to attack as possible, will need a shed load of money thrown at it? And even making it impervious to attack still doesn't make its supply lines any more easily defended.

< Message edited by warspite1 -- 8/1/2017 1:57:06 PM >


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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 3:24:38 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Well I don't know what plans the USN had for Guam in the 1920's (more reading ahead ) but intuitively I certainly wouldn't look at the position in 1944 - with the Japanese fleet largely consigned to the depths of the ocean and the British and Dutch as Allies - as a guide to thinking in terms of Guam as the main Pacific naval base in the immediate aftermath of WWI.

Moreover, and whilst I acknowledge that any base can be taken, the position of Pearl Harbor - in terms of closeness to the US west coast and distance from the enemy - is markedly different to that of Guam.

The other point of course is in terms of belligerence, having the main naval base at Guam would not exactly be seen as friendly by the Japanese. Would there really be any reason for the US to be so threatening (sorry trying - and failing - to think of a better word) to the Japanese in 1920?

quote:

Extra credit what would Japan do.?

No idea but I think we can assume that WNT is off Now of course as we know from WWII, in the long run the US can simply out build the Japanese, but in 1920 things need to be seen without hindsight. Are the US going to engage in a naval arms race they don't want all for the sake of building an exposed and potentially vulnerable base on Guam? As base that, if they are going to make as impervious to attack as possible, will need a shed load of money thrown at it? And even making it impervious to attack still doesn't make its supply lines any more easily defended.



A couple of points. 1) did the USA want to antagonize Japan? Yes and no. Basically it wanted the Japanese to "back off". 1st By sending the "Great White Fleet" out , then by neutralizing Japans demand in China. Part of the reason behind building "The Navy Second to None ACT" of 1916 was to deal overwhelmingly with problems in both oceans. It was delayed 1st by US involvement in WW1 (changing production on BB's to DD's on the Basis of Recommendations of ADM WS Sims.) and being cancelled by the WNT.

2) yes you can cut off supply to Guam. But only until war plan Orange is activated, and the whole USN battlefleet arrives to raise the siege. Six months at most , and you can easily store that much in advance. Added to the fact that Guam could at that time feed it'self. Don't forget, the whole world KNEW that amphibious warfare was dead. Gallipoli proved that. At least till Pete Ellis and other Marines re-examined the issue in the mid 1920's.

Now Japan could hardly complain , as it was building up Saipan....in direct defiance to the league of Nations mandate that "awarded" the islands to Japan.

In keeping with thoughts of the time , in 1919 the USA was more than willing to build the biggest , most badass Navy and defenses to ensure it's defense. By the time of the Washington Naval treaty , with a political leadership class that wanted nothing more than a "return to normalcy" and to cut government expenditures (and taxes) to the bone, not so mush. When the "whole world" was in the midst of an orgy of "peace through lawmaking" actions (like Kellog-Brand) , the league of nations and laws against this and that. It's hard to feel threatened. And the US population to a very large degree felt "Ill used" , when it fought world war one to "make the world safe for democracy" only to see the major European powers carve the world up to suit their own interest. This would lead to isolationism and to some degree pacifism , that was NOT the case in 1919. In 1919 the attitude was "We can beat anyone!". In the mid 20's it was "what good would it do?".

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 5:30:34 PM   
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quote:

yes you can cut off supply to Guam. But only until war plan Orange is activated, and the whole USN battlefleet arrives to raise the siege.


Well that simply assumes that that is what will happen and the US Fleet is not reduced on its long voyage across the Pacific and/or doesn’t suffer a naval defeat. Well, particularly given what we know subsequently about Japanese capability, it may well be that that is exactly what would have happened and the USN not only raises the blockade but also destroys the Japanese in the process. But, if there is only this one outcome you are even willing to countenance then clearly there is no reason the US can’t do what it likes. Personally I think it ignores sound military reasoning though.

As I have always made clear (including on this forum) I am, and always have been, a fervent supporter of the US, but sometimes…… I will ignore the last paragraph as I don’t even know where to start .


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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 5:53:27 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

yes you can cut off supply to Guam. But only until war plan Orange is activated, and the whole USN battlefleet arrives to raise the siege.


Well that simply assumes that that is what will happen and the US Fleet is not reduced on its long voyage across the Pacific and/or doesn’t suffer a naval defeat. Well, particularly given what we know subsequently about Japanese capability, it may well be that that is exactly what would have happened and the USN not only raises the blockade but also destroys the Japanese in the process. But, if there is only this one outcome you are even willing to countenance then clearly there is no reason the US can’t do what it likes. Personally I think it ignores sound military reasoning though.

As I have always made clear (including on this forum) I am, and always have been, a fervent supporter of the US, but sometimes…… I will ignore the last paragraph as I don’t even know where to start .




You asked basically "what were they thinking" and I replied to the best of my ability. Recently I've been doing a lot of research in this period , into doctrine , plans, proposals and general beliefs. You can't (fairly) judge people in the past by todays standards. Or to paraphrase a former SECDEF, "They didn't know what they didn't know". Doctrine, and plans are made on specific "knowledge and assumptions". Sometimes those are found to be wrong.

Brinksmanship is not chess, but a poker game. It's an emotional sport, based on intimidation , not logic. For example most of the efforts of the US towards Japan were based upon intimidation , from Teddy Roosevelt's administration till Dec 1941. "Everybody" in the US state department and in presidential cabinets (with the exception of Hoovers) "knew" that it was just "common sense" that Japan would come around to our way of thinking if we just kept up the pressure. These were diplomats and businessmen who "knew" that Japan wouldn't act against her own interest and economics. Career military and professional diplomats like Joseph Grew knew otherwise. They understood "face". And of course the Asian sections were sharply divided amongst themselves into the Pro-Japan" (who wanted to treat Japan with a little bit more respect) and the "China Lobby". who like Hornschifer and Stimson and later Hull who felt help China at all costs to Japan's detriment.

It's not "USA Policy" its a faction versus faction to write USA policy.

The USA is really not much different from the UK in this respect. Aggressive nationalism isn't unique to any country. Haven't you in your own history had a occasional amount of "John Bullism" in your own leadership?

In this case I'm going to ask you to not blame the messenger for the message. You wanted to know why, and I've attempted, via some of my recent research , to explain it. I'm no lore responsible for it than I am if I write a paper on slavery. I'm trying to shed some light on the period, not endorse a policy.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 6:03:33 PM   
warspite1


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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?

< Message edited by warspite1 -- 8/1/2017 6:06:34 PM >


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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 6:38:10 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

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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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 6:55:06 PM   
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I find these discussions very interesting.

You are generally very well informed and you comments well thought out.

Cheers

My two cents:

I am unsure if Guam could have ever been developed into 'another Pacific Gibraltar' ; this very epitaph was variously applied to Singapore (British), Truk (Japan), Pearl Harbor (USA) during the period.

History of course reveals that none of them were ! Especially with the advent of the fast carrier task force as a weapon.

The USA with or without the territorial permissions of the Philippines was sufficiently isolationist to prevent the required increase in military spending in the 1930s. There were "New deal" expenses to Manage.

However Guam was certainly developed / important enough on January 29 1945 ; Chester Nimitz moved Pacific Oceans Areas HQ to Guam.


http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1945/01/29/page/1/article/nimitz-moves-headquarters-nearer-japan

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 7:02:40 PM   
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Proposals to built Guam up to "a 1st rate base" were submitted in 1919 , 1930 by the Hepburn committee, and again in 1938. Funding was denied for the last one by congress, the 1919 proposal sunk by the WNT , and the Hepburn report was examined , and PARTS of it were acted upon, particularly the Build up of Midway, Johnson and Wake islands.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 7:14:43 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

Proposals to built Guam up to "a 1st rate base" were submitted in 1919 , 1930 by the Hepburn committee, and again in 1938. Funding was denied for the last one by congress, the 1919 proposal sunk by the WNT , and the Hepburn report was examined , and PARTS of it were acted upon, particularly the Build up of Midway, Johnson and Wake islands.
warspite1

What is the definition of a 1st Rate Base? The OP spoke of Guam being the US Naval base in the Pacific (and what I have been basing my comments on). Is that what was submitted in 1919?


< Message edited by warspite1 -- 8/1/2017 7:31:55 PM >


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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 7:32:22 PM   
Korvar


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Although it had been alluded to, let's take a step back and ask the question - what makes for a good Pacific base?

Here's my swing at it:

Buildable land mass (for bulk storage, construction of airfields, and the housing of personnel other than garrison requirements - esp. hospitals)

Size and quality of anchorage/harbor (quality referring to sufficient depth, its defensibility, presence/lack of navigational hazards)

Strategic location (what strategic areas of interest - either to hold for use or deny to potential adversaries, can power be projected into? Submarine/aircraft as well as the refueling/resupply of naval vessels)

Strategic qualities - somewhat of a catch-all category, but should be limited to truly vital strategic considerations not related entirely to geography; the presence of a significant (exportable) fresh water supply would certainly qualify* in the Central Pacific.

As a side note, for anyone wanting to do more reading about the subject, I believe the best reference for WW2 Pacific logistics discussion has to be: Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil. If there are others, I'd love to know.

As a small aside, has the list functionality of the forums been turned off? I couldn't get it to work.

Edit*: typo

< Message edited by Korvar -- 8/1/2017 7:33:52 PM >

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 7:38:44 PM   
warspite1


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...and communications. How easy is it to isolate what is your main naval base? Surely that is a consideration?

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 7:50:12 PM   
Korvar


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quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

There are many reasons why Guam is the perfect Pacific stronghold. Mostly due to "the goldilocks factor". It's small enough to defend , large enough to hold a tremendous number of troops. Apra harbor is a great deal larger than the Gorn realizes. Not only COULD it hold the bulk of the US fleet, after August 1944 , it DID! There were 4 massive airfields built, and several smaller. There could have been more. And the strangest reason is a secret hidden within it's name. According to Chamorro's (the native people of the Marianas) Guam's name was derived from Guuham. Litterly "We have water". It may sound like a chamber of commerce slogan , but Guam has lots and lots of water. Most Pacific island have enough for the locals , but not much more. Guam could easily export it. Not a bad thing to have when you have over a million troops on the island. (Which they could...apologies to the ill informed congressman who thought 5,000 Marines would make the island flip over. For many years the island held a quarter of a million PERMANETLTY assigned troops.)

The point is ANY base can be taken , if everything around it is taken. EVENTUALLY. Pearl Harbor could have been in that fix. But instead of seeing Guam as a "Ft. Apache", surrounded and cut off, planners of the day saw it as a forward deployed beach head capable of menacing Japan with aircraft , surface ships and most of all submarines. As it did shortly after "Liberation day" in July 1944, when SUBPAC, PACKFLT and Nimitz moved their head quarters there. And Guam became the biggest supply base in the Pacific (a position it held till after the Vietnam war).


Excellent analysis. I suppose you once being based there has something to do with that?

Your point on a fresh water supply really hits the nail on the head. There are other bases that might give Guam reasonable competition as far as anchorage/land mass/etc. go, but this quote from Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil illustrates the point very well:
quote:

"Water became a major problem in the middle of the largest of all oceans. There was little or no fresh water on many atolls while the demands for it on islands with some supply were too great for the local sources. Another major factor in water requirement was the fact that hundreds of small vessels were not equipped with their own distilling apparatus or found their tank capacity insufficient when at sea for extended periods. To supply water, several new tankers of the oiler and gasoline tanker types were employed for more than a year solely in transporting pure water from supply points at Oa'hu, Guam, and Manus to anchorages where the fleet was temporarily based [...]"
(emphasis mine)

We all know from playing WitPAE how precious the TK and AO types are. That really says something that 1) some of these vessels were employed for more than a year(!) to deliver fresh water and 2) there were only three(!) viable sources in the Central Pacific, one of those being Pearl itself.

I think the shortcomings of Guam were:

1) the relative lack of security and navigability of the harbor:
quote:

"Squadron Twelve, nicknamed 'harbor stretcher,' had been commissioned in March 1944 for the primary purpose of increasing depths in channels and harbors where major fleet units would anchor, or where coral reefs and shallow water created serious navigational hazards.By far the largest operation Twelve undertook was at Guam"


I'm guessing the "Glass Breakwater", as well as (I assume) a deepening of the harbor, part of that effort?


2) its defensibility considering how far it was from the US (i.e. the need for fortifications and storage to hold it long enough until naval reinforcements could arrive in quantity from CONUS)

Both of these could be largely solved by throwing money at the problem, and Guam had enough going for it in all the other categories to make a plausible argument why such an expenditure would be warranted. The Depression-era spending cuts and treaties put an end to the development needed to make it truly a viable base before the US entered the war.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 7:59:39 PM   
Korvar


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

...and communications. How easy is it to isolate what is your main naval base? Surely that is a consideration?


I don't quite buy Guam as THE main base of the Pacific, even though the OP set the scenario that way. Even if the Philippines were out of the running, there is still Pearl Harbor. There is a really good argument for Guam as a forward operating base, but I don't think it would ever seriously compete with Pearl as the main base.

You bring up a really good point though - SIGINT could be a 'strategic quality' where Guam would shine - it's centrally located to pick up a lot of radio transmissions, which would be very helpful even during peacetime (material to break codes and such).

As far as the SLC, those are ultimately going to be decided by who has naval superiority. I think it was certainly possible to build Guam up to withstand a temporary siege, but that wasn't happening in the political and economic climate of the time.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 8:51:45 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

...and communications. How easy is it to isolate what is your main naval base? Surely that is a consideration?



On theory , ANY island can have it's communications cut off. The UK COULD have in theory been cut off in two separate world wars. YES you can cut it off. But how much of your fleet are you willing to tie up on blockade duty and for how long? Again , at the time period ,most of the war colleges were saying amphibious landings were dead ( due largely to Gallipoli ). So that leaves blockade. Even in the Russo-Japanese war proved that to be impractical. The Russian base (Port Arthur) was taken by land action from the land side. (At a tremendously heavy cost). So reducing an island fortress was not particularly easy to do. And would remain that way till air power grew up (probably say late 1930's?).

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/1/2017 8:58:42 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Korvar


quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

There are many reasons why Guam is the perfect Pacific stronghold. Mostly due to "the goldilocks factor". It's small enough to defend , large enough to hold a tremendous number of troops. Apra harbor is a great deal larger than the Gorn realizes. Not only COULD it hold the bulk of the US fleet, after August 1944 , it DID! There were 4 massive airfields built, and several smaller. There could have been more. And the strangest reason is a secret hidden within it's name. According to Chamorro's (the native people of the Marianas) Guam's name was derived from Guuham. Litterly "We have water". It may sound like a chamber of commerce slogan , but Guam has lots and lots of water. Most Pacific island have enough for the locals , but not much more. Guam could easily export it. Not a bad thing to have when you have over a million troops on the island. (Which they could...apologies to the ill informed congressman who thought 5,000 Marines would make the island flip over. For many years the island held a quarter of a million PERMANETLTY assigned troops.)

The point is ANY base can be taken , if everything around it is taken. EVENTUALLY. Pearl Harbor could have been in that fix. But instead of seeing Guam as a "Ft. Apache", surrounded and cut off, planners of the day saw it as a forward deployed beach head capable of menacing Japan with aircraft , surface ships and most of all submarines. As it did shortly after "Liberation day" in July 1944, when SUBPAC, PACKFLT and Nimitz moved their head quarters there. And Guam became the biggest supply base in the Pacific (a position it held till after the Vietnam war).


Excellent analysis. I suppose you once being based there has something to do with that?

Your point on a fresh water supply really hits the nail on the head. There are other bases that might give Guam reasonable competition as far as anchorage/land mass/etc. go, but this quote from Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil illustrates the point very well:
quote:

"Water became a major problem in the middle of the largest of all oceans. There was little or no fresh water on many atolls while the demands for it on islands with some supply were too great for the local sources. Another major factor in water requirement was the fact that hundreds of small vessels were not equipped with their own distilling apparatus or found their tank capacity insufficient when at sea for extended periods. To supply water, several new tankers of the oiler and gasoline tanker types were employed for more than a year solely in transporting pure water from supply points at Oa'hu, Guam, and Manus to anchorages where the fleet was temporarily based [...]"
(emphasis mine)

We all know from playing WitPAE how precious the TK and AO types are. That really says something that 1) some of these vessels were employed for more than a year(!) to deliver fresh water and 2) there were only three(!) viable sources in the Central Pacific, one of those being Pearl itself.

I think the shortcomings of Guam were:

1) the relative lack of security and navigability of the harbor:
quote:

"Squadron Twelve, nicknamed 'harbor stretcher,' had been commissioned in March 1944 for the primary purpose of increasing depths in channels and harbors where major fleet units would anchor, or where coral reefs and shallow water created serious navigational hazards.By far the largest operation Twelve undertook was at Guam"


I'm guessing the "Glass Breakwater", as well as (I assume) a deepening of the harbor, part of that effort?


2) its defensibility considering how far it was from the US (i.e. the need for fortifications and storage to hold it long enough until naval reinforcements could arrive in quantity from CONUS)

Both of these could be largely solved by throwing money at the problem, and Guam had enough going for it in all the other categories to make a plausible argument why such an expenditure would be warranted. The Depression-era spending cuts and treaties put an end to the development needed to make it truly a viable base before the US entered the war.


I lived there 1998 to early 2001. I was already retired from the Navy and was following my wife who was stationed there. To keep myself from going completely nuts , I worked at the Marianas Military Museum (then located at "Big Navy") and spent as much time touring the battlefields and talking to people who'd been there during the war years. From all three sides. Some of the most interesting people that I got to talk with there included the navigator that lead the land B-29 raid on Tokyo, a survivor of the Sumay massacre, The daughter of Tojo and the son of Rear Admiral Yamaguchi. It really was an amazing opportunity. The plans to fortify Guam had been of particular interest to me.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/2/2017 1:58:09 AM   
DOCUP


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Great discussion guys. I was hoping for this.

Again, I'm sorry for not expressing myself in my first two posts. I only get a little time around my kids bedtime to get on here and read or post.

Yes, I said the main Pacific base, I should of said the main Far East base.

AW1Steve: Has mentioned most of the things I have read and not expressed very well. From what I have read and will try to express here. SLOC to the China market went through Pearl, Midway, Johnston, Wake, Guam, Philippines. Yes, Guam was isolated, but as AW1Steve said it was in the Goldilocks zone. Guam also had a lot going for it as Steve mentioned above. In the 20s and 30s a big base at Guam would be able to keep SLOC to the PI, and was mentioned that a big base could help protect the PI.

Ok I will have to get back to this.

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/2/2017 3:47:04 AM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

...and communications. How easy is it to isolate what is your main naval base? Surely that is a consideration?



On theory , ANY island can have it's communications cut off. The UK COULD have in theory been cut off in two separate world wars. YES you can cut it off. But how much of your fleet are you willing to tie up on blockade duty and for how long? Again , at the time period ,most of the war colleges were saying amphibious landings were dead ( due largely to Gallipoli ). So that leaves blockade. Even in the Russo-Japanese war proved that to be impractical. The Russian base (Port Arthur) was taken by land action from the land side. (At a tremendously heavy cost). So reducing an island fortress was not particularly easy to do. And would remain that way till air power grew up (probably say late 1930's?).
warspite1

Well quite but the UK didn't choose its geographical location - mother nature kind of took care of that... whereas this would be a conscious decision to base the entire fleet at Guam.

Amphibious landings and taking the fortress are by the by. The point is, if this is the main base - so far from home, and with all assets in one basket - it is vulnerable to blockade and any ships damaged during any sea battle to break the blockade etc will likely have only one home to go to. And that home is being blockaded.

And what if some crises arises on the Atlantic seaboard? The Pacific Fleet assets could hardly be any further from the US. As the USN main Pacific base this makes no sense to me whatsoever - but is that really what they meant by 1st Class Base?


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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/2/2017 3:54:16 AM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DOCUP

Yes, I said the main Pacific base, I should of said the main Far East base.

warspite1

The main Far East base is a totally different issue. The PI was the main Far East base in 1941 - and we know what naval assets were placed there. So if Guam was given that role instead then no doubt the assets placed within would have been little different. But that is a completely different discussion. Please ignore my comments above as they were in response to:

quote:

DOCUP

Guam is the major US base in the pacific.



< Message edited by warspite1 -- 8/2/2017 5:32:25 AM >


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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/2/2017 12:56:00 PM   
Lecivius


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

As the USN main Pacific base this makes no sense to me whatsoever - but is that really what they meant by 1st Class Base?



I believe this is the misunderstanding. Guam could have become a major forward based military installation without becoming the home port of the Pacific Fleet. Just like the P.I., it could have had something along the lines of the Asiatic Fleet, some cruisers and destroyers. Support infrastructure. A serious ( not necessarily major, but still hefty) air field. Radio communication, or even a cable if that was in the budget. It wouldn't be Pearl Harbor. More like The Rock

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/4/2017 12:48:08 AM   
afspret


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In my mod I made based on Ironman I beefed up Guam by adding a naval base force thats more or less a USMC Def Bn with a few light tanks, naval and air support, plus created a separate unit called the Chamorro USMC Bn (similar to the Samoan unit at Pago Pago). I also added a VMF det of 6 F2A-3, a VMSB det with 8 SB2Us and small USN VJ unit with 4 SOCs. In addition I based two subs there along with a YO and 2 YPs. I initially took Trenton and the DDs from the TF they start the game in and placed them at Guam, but after running a couple of tests they were all sunk within three turns by air attack from Truk and Tinian/Saipan, so I put them back into their original TF.

In the PI I created some small CD units and put them at the traditional AI landing points and I beefed up some of the LCUs as well as putting the 70th PS/35th PG at Cagayan. I have also turned Cebu into a medium sized USMC base with relocated fighter, dive bomber, recon and naval patrol assets.

Long story short, the AI still took Guam, but it took 3 turns to do it instead of one and it rolled over the small CD units in the PI. Most fell in one turn, but one held on for 2 turns, and the only advantage I've noticed so far is the AI is suffering some damage to naval assets involved, the LCUs are suffering a few more casualties and its taking a couple of extra turns to capture a hex.

< Message edited by afspret -- 8/6/2017 3:22:01 AM >

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RE: Hypothetical Question - 8/4/2017 5:27:39 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

Proposals to built Guam up to "a 1st rate base" were submitted in 1919 , 1930 by the Hepburn committee, and again in 1938. Funding was denied for the last one by congress, the 1919 proposal sunk by the WNT , and the Hepburn report was examined , and PARTS of it were acted upon, particularly the Build up of Midway, Johnson and Wake islands.
warspite1

What is the definition of a 1st Rate Base? The OP spoke of Guam being the US Naval base in the Pacific (and what I have been basing my comments on). Is that what was submitted in 1919?


1st class base? Damned if I know. I'd say from the time period somewhere between Pearl Harbor and Norfolk VA.

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