Leavenworth Paper 9: Defending the Driniumor: Covering Force Operations in New Guinea, 1944

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Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days When will my order arrive? Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Categories: Military History. On the night of July, several thousand Japanese infantrymen attack and broke through U. Army covering force units defending the Driniumor River about twenty miles east of Aitape, New Guinea.

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  4. Defending the Driniumor : Edward J. Drea : .
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For the next month U. The apparent lack of solid doctrinal basis for jungle fighting in either army is significant.

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  • Commanders at the highest level applied conventional tactics, despite the nature of the terrain, and ignored General George S. Patton's dictum that there is no approved solution to any tactical situation. By the very brilliance of his operational maneuver, however, General MacArthur was able to capitalize on such orthodox or approved tactics on the Driniumor. Drea has adopted a twofold approach to the Aitape campaign. In the first part of his Leavenworth Paper, he examines the strategic and operational levels of the battle, particularly command decision making and its relationship to Ultra.

    The second part of the paper, however, shifts the center of attention to small unit tactics, usually at the company level and below, because the jungle terrain fragmented units operating within it. In this section, the author deals with such basic questions as combat motivation, effects of prolonged combat, and unit cohesion. The th Cavalry Regiment serves as the centerpiece of part two, and its fate becomes intertwined with that of the attacking Japanese units. While the focus is on the human dimension, Dr. Drea reminds the reader of the strategic and political context in which the battle was fought.

    Weapons, tactics, mobility, and national strategy evolve over time. No one would suggest a one-for-one transposition of doctrine and its application to the s. The human factor in wartime, however, does remain unchanged. The reasons that American and Japanese soldiers fought and died in the New Guinea rain forests ultimately return to leadership and unit cohesion-the intangibles of combat that are crucial to success on any battlefield.

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    During the course of researching and writing this Leavenworth Paper, many persons and agencies contributed their time and resources to assist the project. In particular, Mr. The National Security Agency also provided valuable assistance in this study.

    Defending the Driniumor : Covering Force Operations in the New Guinea, 1944

    At the U. Army Military History Institute, Dr. Richard Sommers and Messrs. John Slonaker and Dennis Vetock were very considerate and helped me to investigate many documents in a short period. In addition, Mr. Claude Rigsby, then president of the th Cavalry Association, gave me a partial copy of the historical report. These documents, particularly the historical report, are the basis for this narrative, although I also compared their contents with the official Japanese military history of the campaign in order to present a balanced account of the battle.

    The members of the th Cavalry Association kindly allowed me to attend their and reunions in Dallas, Texas, and I also attended the reunion of the 32d Infantry Division in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On all three occasions I had the opportunity to talk to veterans of the New Guinea. Time limitations, unfortunately, meant that I could talk to only a handful of veterans, although ideally all of the members should have been able to contribute to the human dimension of this battle.

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    I extend my deepest appreciation to the members of both organizations, particularly Mr. Rigsby and Col. Thomas Makal, past president of the 32d Infantry Division Veterans Association, for their help in arranging my interviews at their respective reunions.

    The Aitape campaign is little remembered, and consequently few reliable secondary accounts of the fighting exist. Millard Gray's Military Review article was illuminating because Gray had been G-3, 32d Division, during the operation. Clayton James's work on MacArthur was helpful in understanding the strategic background.

    This Leavenworth Paper adds tactical detail to a single phase of the complex operations that Smith describes so well. The Allied invasion of Aitape, New Guinea, on 22 April was one of three simultaneous invasions far to the rear of what conventional military wisdom considered the front line of Japanese resistance. It recently has been revealed that the U. Aitape was one of those places.

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    In the lexicon of historians of World War II, forgotten has become a popular modifier. One reads of the forgotten front, forgotten soldiers, the forgotten army, and so on. The operations in New Guinea also qualify for the forgotten label. And how many invasions? Almost all of them names people in the United States never heard of, and still haven't. If military readers related the historical lessons of the Driniumor River fighting to today's doctrine, they would discover striking similarities.

    Huon Peninsula campaign

    Although today's FM has incorporated many lessons from the past, it is intended to serve as a how-to-fight manual for the individual soldier. Guidance for the intricacies of larger unit operations-battalion and above is lacking. Current U. Army jungle warfare doctrine, for instance, uses the same terminology as its predecessor to describe the general conduct of operations in jungle terrain through the use of covering force, main battle, and rear areas. It does not, however, spell out the exact role of a covering force or how to establish the respective battle areas in such a situation.

    Instead, the interested reader is referred to FM , which describes the covering force in terms of a European style battlefield. In , B. Liddell-Hart wrote, The practical value of history is to throw the film of the past through the material projector of the present onto the screen of the future. He naturally assumed that the audience paid attention to the film. If the film of the past is forgotten, so too are the U. Army's tactical and doctrinal legacies from World War II. As John F. Morrison Professor of Military History at the U.

    Clayton James, MacArthur's foremost biographer, often expressed his puzzlement about the U. Army's historical neglect of its extensive campaigns in the Pacific theater. An exclusive focus on northwest Europe, he suggested, is represented not only the global role of the U. Army And its adaptability to the diverse conditions of World War II but also the very nature of that war.

    If we did not understand the Pacific War, we could not comprehend the nature of global conflict. Professor James spoke of the highest strategic levels, but he also suggested to the Combat Studies Institute that the battles along the Driniumor River would be a suitable topic for tactical analysis as a Leavenworth Paper. The immediate question was how to translate his strategic perspective into a tactical framework. In one sense, the paradox of New Guinea as a theater of war solved the problem.

    New Guinea was so large that it absorbed vast numbers of troops, more than nine U. At the tactical level, company- and platoon-size actions were the norm. The actual number of U. From MacArthur's strategic viewpoint, Aitape was hailed as a classic victory, but to the few men who actually fought the battle, it was a swirling, confused melee.

    Chronologically, the Aitape campaign fell into distinct phases, the strategic-operational and the tactical. The strategic and operational phases began in January when Southwest Pacific Area commander and staff first conceived the leap to Hollandia-Aitape. It culminated in early July when 6th Army completed the operational deployment of Persecution Task Force, the code name for the American forces at Aitape.

    Although occasional skirmishes punctuated this period, the full tactical fury of protracted battle did not commence until the night of July , when the entire Japanese 18th Army attacked Persecution Task Force defenders along the Driniumor River. By extending this dichotomy, the first phase was preparatory as both sides deployed for combat. At this time, Ultra intelligence revelations about Japanese capabilities and attack plans were instrumental in American operational deployment. The planning and maneuvering that brought Japanese and American forces to the Driniumor River serve as the focus for the first part of this study.

    As the battle raged, however, the respective commanders had to depend on the collective skills of their individual soldiers and hope that their operational deployments, training, and tactical doctrine would bring them victory. The tactical struggle, or second phase, then, was as removed from the strategic and operational phase as the experience of the officers and men on the front line was from the abstract map symbols that represented their units at higher headquarters.

    The purpose of this Leavenworth Paper is to integrate American and Japanese strategic, operational, tactical, and human dimensions into a narrative form. The focus is on the th Cavalry Regiment because that unit played a significant role in defeating a numerically superior Japanese force that tried to outflank an American covering force. Official histories in both English and Japanese languages illuminate the decision-making processes of the combatants at the strategic and operational.

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