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Griffith, Thomas Edward, Jr. 1996 MacArthur's airman: General George C. Kenney and the air war in the southwest Pacific theater in World War II, PhD Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
    © Thomas Edward Griffith, 1996. Use of any part of this thesis for any purpose must be acknowledged.

Abstract

As the theater air commander in the Southwest Pacific during World War II, General George C. Kenney played a pivotal role in the conduct of the war, but his performance has remained relatively unexplored. The first part of the dissertation concentrates on Kenney's background before World War II. This section details his family history, youth, and experiences as an observation pilot on the Western Front during World War I. It then traces his career in the Army Air Corps through a variety of assignments that expanded his knowledge of aviation and military operations. The bulk of the work focuses on Kenney's role in planning operations that exploited the advantages of air power to accomplish the objectives set by the theater commander, General Douglas MacArthur. Kenney was an innovator, both operationally and organizationally, who willing junked existing doctrine and tactics if they were ineffective, such as the shift he made to low-level attacks for better bombing results. He quickly grasped the value of ULTRA intelligence and exploited the Allied advantage in breaking the Japanese radio codes in nearly every operation. Kenney cultivated a close relationship with MacArthur, which proved problematic in his relations with General Henry H. 'Hap' Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, who supplied Kenney with planes, people, and parts. Kenney's influence on strategic decisions is examined, but because the focus is on the theater level, these decisions and the tactical details of most missions are not discussed in detail. The nature of combat in the Southwest Pacific meant that Kenney worked closely with the ground commanders in the theater, Generals Walter Krueger and Robert Eichelberger as well as the naval commanders, Admirals Thomas Kinkaid and Daniel Barbey. Kenney's leadership and planning are assessed in the campaigns in Papua, New Guinea; the Huon Peninsula and Markham Valley; the Admiralty Islands; Hollandia; Leyte and Mindoro; Luzon; Okinawa; and, the planning for the invasion of the Japanese home islands (OLYMPIC). In addition, air operations against Rabaul, Formosa, and in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea are discussed in detail.


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