[ My intention with my blog is to simply collect articles of interest to me for purposes of future reference. I do my best to indicate who has actually composed the articles. NONE of the articles have been written by me. – Louis Sheehan ]
I will have to leave underrated British commander to our friends across the sea. Among Americans, I would propose General Walter Krueger as most underrated. Krueger was head of the War Department General Staff’s War Plans Division in the 1930s. He was one of the proponents of a slow step-by-step advance in the Pacific in the event of war with Japan. The fleet and a landing force would have to seize islands and establish airfields that would allow the advance to continue under an air umbrella. As the key was establishing air superiority, the Americans would only have to seize some of the islands and bypass the rest. His approach contained the germ of the idea of the island hopping campaign actually pursued by the United States during World War II. As this suggests, Kruger had given considerable thought to the impact of air operations on ground and sea campaigns. A keen student of his profession, he also closely followed exercises involving mechanized units in the 1920s and 1930s. He was one of the few senior American officers from an infantry background who thought about war on the operational as opposed to the tactical level of war. In 1941 he commanded U.S. Third Army in the Louisiana Maneuvers with Eisenhower as his chief of staff. Eisenhower has received most of the credit for the Third Army’s success in the maneuvers at least in part because Eisenhower, rather than Krueger.met with the press. Born in Prussia, Krueger came to the U.S. as a baby but grew up in a German-speaking community in Ohio. He apparently always spoke with a slight German accent.
Krueger commanded successively Alamo Force and later U.S. Sixth Army in New Guinea and later the Philippines. At times he was directing multiple operations spread over almost 1,000 miles. He was one of the few, perhaps the only, senior officer in South West Pacific Area, who would stand up to Douglas MacArthur. Often, but not always, he was able to convince MacArthur to modify his plans. Krueger was the voice of practicality.
Why was Krueger undervalued:
1. He did not fight in Europe where the United States made its major effort during World War II.
1. By design, MacArthur received most press attention in the Southwest Pacific Area.
1. Krueger’s account of Sixth Army operations in From Down Under To Nippon is cast in the mold of a staff study rather than a memoir.
4. Krueger’s operations were very complex and covered vast distances and were heavily dependent upon close coordination with the Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy. In contrast, Third Army’s successes were more straight-forward and easier to comprehend.