Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

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LineDoggie
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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by LineDoggie » 28 Apr 2021 16:58

rcocean wrote:
28 Apr 2021 15:53
Pretty much all his subordinates "kept MacArthur happy' in the SW Pacific. The only exceptions are Brett, a failed AF General,

By what quantifiable measure was George Brett a ''Failure'' as a USAAF General?
"There are two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here".
Col. George Taylor, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach

rcocean
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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by rcocean » 28 Apr 2021 17:14

Define "quantifiable measure". Define number needed for failure vs. success. Support applicability of quantifiable measures to discussion of WW 2 generals.

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by rcocean » 28 Apr 2021 17:15

More questions and demands will follow. thank you.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Apr 2021 23:41

rcocean wrote:
28 Apr 2021 15:53
Pretty much all his subordinates "kept MacArthur happy' in the SW Pacific. The only exceptions are Brett, a failed AF General, the Navy chief before Kincaid, and a few divisional commanders. With the divisional commanders, its Krueger and Eichelberger who recommended their relief, and MacArthur reluctantly agreed. MacArthur like Patton was a rather easy-going boss. its humorous that "Nice guys" Ike and Bradley could be difficult to work for, but you'd never know it from reading Pop History. Ike had furious temper, and many times his subordinates wouldn't approach him on certain subjects because of that.

A funny example, is that Ike wanted nothing to do with Truman during his Presidency, and several of aides thought it looked bad that the current and previous Presidents wouldn't appear together. They wanted Ike to patch things up, but it took quite a while, because none of this aides wanted to make Ike angry.
Brereton
Barnes
Brett
Leary
Carpender
the entire Australian high command
anyone Dutch
anyone Filipino
etc.

rcocean
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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by rcocean » 29 Apr 2021 00:29

Brereton is an interesting case. Sent by Hap Arnold, he arrived in Manila on Nov 4, 1941 to take command of the FEAF. He then went to Australia for 12 days to help speed up the B-17s coming to Philippines. On December 29th he was on his way to Australia via Java.

He was then commander of the US Air forces in Australia till Feb 8th 1942, when he clashed with Sir Richmond Pierse and requested George Marshall transfer him. He left Australia on Feb 24th. After leading the American air units in india/burma he ended up in charge of the Middle Eastern air forces in June 1942. Later he served in the ETO.

From what I can figure out, he was in the Philippines for about 45 days.

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Apr 2021 02:52

Brett, like Bereton told MacArthur the truth. "Sir, we have 96 B17s, but only 43 were flyable. 36 were able to sortie, six developed problems after take off & a seventh crashed on take off. While refueling at Three Mile four were found to have malfunctions & were grounded, That left 25 taking off for Rabaul. Two more aborted and returned to Three Mile. The enemy fighters jumped them before the reached the target & five were lost, leaving 18 to bomb the target." Kenny told Mac what he wanted to hear "Sir we had 96 B17s & hammered the Japs hard. Only five were lost."

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 30 Apr 2021 06:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
30 Apr 2021 02:52
Brett, like Bereton told MacArthur the truth. "Sir, we have 96 B17s, but only 43 were flyable. 36 were able to sortie, six developed problems after take off & a seventh crashed on take off. While refueling at Three Mile four were found to have malfunctions & were grounded, That left 25 taking off for Rabaul. Two more aborted and returned to Three Mile. The enemy fighters jumped them before the reached the target & five were lost, leaving 18 to bomb the target." Kenny told Mac what he wanted to hear "Sir we had 96 B17s & hammered the Japs hard. Only five were lost."
MacArthur was quite capable at some levels of command and not so much at others, but he was far from a great captain and given the number of flag and general officers who could not work with him, "easygoing" is not an appropriate descriptor. Krueger deserves a lot of credit for dealing with him, and accomplishing his command's missions, so successfully - as do Eichelberger, Kenney, and Kinkaid.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 01 May 2021 03:37, edited 1 time in total.

rcocean
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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by rcocean » 30 Apr 2021 16:14

From reading Rodger's MacArthur and Sutherland and the James' MacArthur biography, it seems Brett got off on the wrong foot with Big Mac, in March 1942, and was disloyal and "antagonistic". Hence, his leaving in July 1942 after only 4 months. MacArthur not only wrote two written reprimands, he contacted Marshall personally and asked for his replacement.

The problem seems to have been three fold. First, Brett didn't get along with people. Per the Wikipedia article, he had problems getting along with the Brits in the Middle East, so he got transferred ABDCOM and then became head of the American AAF in Australia. Later, he got sent to Panama, and then the Caribbean command. Not exactly a great posting for someone with such a high rank and combat experience.

Second, Brett for a time was independent of MacArthur and never accepted the fact that he had to take orders from MacArthur's GHQ. It seems most of the interactions were between his C-O-S and Sutherland. He rarely saw MacArthur.

Third, Brett constantly argued about orders and dragged his feet on missions he didn't want to perform. Rodger's lists several. For example, Marshall had wanted the AAF to attack Rabaul, so Mac ordered Brett to do it. Brett then protested, dragged his feet, and finally after 2 weeks launched an attack with a handful of planes. in another instance, When MacArthur asked for a plane for GHQ use, Brett ignored the order. Then under prodding, Brett sent him a worn out aircraft that was full of holes, and considered by the pilot to be a "Lemon". Mac then had to ask for ANOTHER aircraft. :lol: Not a good way to behave toward your commanding officer, but maybe Brett wanted to go back to the USA and was tired of being overseas.

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 May 2021 04:45

rcocean wrote:
30 Apr 2021 16:14
From reading Rodger's MacArthur and Sutherland and the James' MacArthur biography, it seems Brett got off on the wrong foot with Big Mac, in March 1942, and was disloyal and "antagonistic". Hence, his leaving in July 1942 after only 4 months. MacArthur not only wrote two written reprimands, he contacted Marshall personally and asked for his replacement.

The problem seems to have been three fold. First, Brett didn't get along with people. Per the Wikipedia article, he had problems getting along with the Brits in the Middle East, so he got transferred ABDCOM and then became head of the American AAF in Australia. Later, he got sent to Panama, and then the Caribbean command. Not exactly a great posting for someone with such a high rank and combat experience.

Second, Brett for a time was independent of MacArthur and never accepted the fact that he had to take orders from MacArthur's GHQ. It seems most of the interactions were between his C-O-S and Sutherland. He rarely saw MacArthur.

Third, Brett constantly argued about orders and dragged his feet on missions he didn't want to perform. Rodger's lists several. For example, Marshall had wanted the AAF to attack Rabaul, so Mac ordered Brett to do it. Brett then protested, dragged his feet, and finally after 2 weeks launched an attack with a handful of planes. in another instance, When MacArthur asked for a plane for GHQ use, Brett ignored the order. Then under prodding, Brett sent him a worn out aircraft that was full of holes, and considered by the pilot to be a "Lemon". Mac then had to ask for ANOTHER aircraft. :lol: Not a good way to behave toward your commanding officer, but maybe Brett wanted to go back to the USA and was tired of being overseas.
You should read this, which is a leadership study of Brett:

https://web.archive.org/web/20070107124 ... ox/cox.pdf

Makes it clear he was as much sinned against by MacArthur, Sutherland, and company, as sinner; also makes it clear his task in the Middle East was as an observer and advisor, not as a commander designate, and was actually under orders and ready to leave for the US when the Japanese attacked and he was pitched into various tasks in what became SEAC, ABDA, and eventually SWPA.

Seems equally clear that MacArthur & Company always found someone else to blame - Hart, Brereton, Wavell, Helfrich, Brett, etc. - when it came to the fact the Allies forces in the western Pacific suffered; amazingly enough, it was never MacArthur's responsibility, despite being the senior commander in the PI and Australia - much less Korea and the Far East, a decade later.

One could be so cruel as to say MacArthur peaked out as combat commander as an infantry brigade commander in 1918, and everything else he accomplished was due to his party affiliation ... but I wouldn't say that. ;)

But a great captain he was not. After the PI, he should have been sent to what became the CBI to play prima donna with Chiang.

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by rcocean » 01 May 2021 17:21

Thanks for the link to the article! Very informative. I was wondering why Brett, given his high rank and combat experience, wasn't given a more important command than the Caribbean in 1942, and the article gives the answer. (Humorously the article tries to make it out like this was important command "guarding America's southern flank" :lol: ) It seems that Stimson and Secretary of Air had zero confidence in him and Arnold wasn't impressed by him either. In fact, it was Marshall, under prodding by Stimson, who initiated the relief of Brett. Also interesting is that no one in Australia was sad to see him go. He refused to see MacArthur (seen 6 times in 3 months excluding the entrance and exit conferences) and never visited the troops in New Guiana.

Another interesting fact is that Brett was given a written reprimand for speaking to the Press without permission. The article more or less confirms what Rodger's says in his book. Brett would get orders and if he didn't like them would argue (in writing), and drag his feet. MacArthur's evaluation of him seems to be spot on.

Brett's excuses for sending worn out B-17's to pick up MacArthur and his family/staff seem weak. He says the new B-17s, fresh from Hawaii, were "assigned to the Navy". And blames Admiral Leary for saying no to his request for 4 new bombers. Well, they were HIS B-17s. He could have sent the B-17s to MacArthur and let Leary complain. Or he could have immediately elevated the matter to Marshall. Instead, its only AFTER 1 worn out B-17 crashed on route, and 2 had to turn back, and MAC complained, that he got Leary to say "yes". That's pretty much the story of his whole relationship with Macarthur. No initiative. Just excuses.

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by rcocean » 01 May 2021 17:42

Brett was actually given a chance to be a big wheel in WW2. He was acting Air Corps commander in 1940 when Hap Arnold was in FDR's doghouse, was sent in 1941 to coordinate Lend-lease in Egypt with the Brits, and was deputy of ABCOM. With that sort of resume, he should have been on his way to an important ETO command, but instead despite Marshall's friendship, he ended up in the Caribbean backwater. Arnold is quoted as saying "He was good as a group commander, no good at executive work, and failed in Panama and as head of the Air Corps".

When MacArthur was asked to give an evaluation of Brett in July 1942, big Mac sent the following:
Brett is unquestionably highly qualified as an air technician and in air administrative duties of a productive or supply character. He is an unusually hard worker but his very industry leads him to concentrate at times upon unimportant details which tend to obscure a true perspective of more important matters. He is naturally inclined toward more or less harmless intrigue and has a bent (due perhaps to his delightful personality) for social entertainment and the easy way of life. He is unpopular with the Australian Administration who resent his lack of forthrightness and he does not command the confidence of the younger and fighting elements of the air corps here.

I would rate Brett’s service during the last three months under my command as only average. His relationship with the navy component is poor. His relations with my own headquarters have been personally most cordial but professionally he has been evasive. Although Brett has a very large staff; I do not consider it particularly competent. This may be due to his inability to select and place the right men in key positions or possibly he is unable properly to coordinate them. Andrews is a type of commander who needs a competent chief of staff and operations officer. If this change is made I suggest that he be permitted to bring these two staff officers with him and that men of corresponding rank here be returned with Brett

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 May 2021 17:54

Bruce Gamble in his 'Fortress Rabaul' has of course his own take on Brett. The "foot dragging" he ascribes to a severe lack of material, from wrenches to tires to replacement engines. Gamble examines in detail the bomber missions of the FEAF & 5th AF vs Rabaul & yes a 20% or smaller available rate for the B17s was normal in the first half of 1942. New aircraft from the US were not a solution as they usually arrived missing key equipment, having malfunctioning parts after flying from the departure airfield in the US & across the Pacific. Refueling at airfields incapable of proper transit service. The supply problem was not sorted out until 1943 tho when Kenny took over the availability rate did improve to 50% or better.

Gamble does criticize Brett for being pedantic & inflexible in adapting the Army AF logistics to conditions. Nevertheless he did set up a logistics system and other base structure in his four months, which Kenny benefitted from. Had Kenny been required to start from the situation Bereton or Brett found his reputation might be a lot worse.

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 May 2021 17:57

When MacArthur was asked to give an evaluation of Brett in July 1942, big Mac sent the following:

Brett is unquestionably highly qualified as an air technician and in air administrative duties of a productive or supply character. He is an unusually hard worker but his very industry leads him to concentrate at times upon unimportant details which tend to obscure a true perspective of more important matters. He is naturally inclined toward more or less harmless intrigue and has a bent (due perhaps to his delightful personality) for social entertainment and the easy way of life. He is unpopular with the Australian Administration who resent his lack of forthrightness and he does not command the confidence of the younger and fighting elements of the air corps here.

I would rate Brett’s service during the last three months under my command as only average. His relationship with the navy component is poor. His relations with my own headquarters have been personally most cordial but professionally he has been evasive. Although Brett has a very large staff; I do not consider it particularly competent. This may be due to his inability to select and place the right men in key positions or possibly he is unable properly to coordinate them. Andrews is a type of commander who needs a competent chief of staff and operations officer. If this change is made I suggest that he be permitted to bring these two staff officers with him and that men of corresponding rank here be returned with Brett
ROFLMAO

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 May 2021 20:40

rcocean wrote:
01 May 2021 17:21
Thanks for the link to the article! Secretary of Air?
Who would that person be, pray tell?

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Re: Chief of Staff Choices 1939?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 May 2021 20:43

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 May 2021 17:54
Bruce Gamble in his 'Fortress Rabaul' has of course his own take on Brett. The "foot dragging" he ascribes to a severe lack of material, from wrenches to tires to replacement engines. Gamble examines in detail the bomber missions of the FEAF & 5th AF vs Rabaul & yes a 20% or smaller available rate for the B17s was normal in the first half of 1942. New aircraft from the US were not a solution as they usually arrived missing key equipment, having malfunctioning parts after flying from the departure airfield in the US & across the Pacific. Refueling at airfields incapable of proper transit service. The supply problem was not sorted out until 1943 tho when Kenny took over the availability rate did improve to 50% or better.

Gamble does criticize Brett for being pedantic & inflexible in adapting the Army AF logistics to conditions. Nevertheless he did set up a logistics system and other base structure in his four months, which Kenny benefitted from. Had Kenny been required to start from the situation Bereton or Brett found his reputation might be a lot worse.
Yeah, again - Brett was as much sinned against by MacArthur and Sutherland as was a sinner. Given that MacArthur managed to be surprised repeatedly at the strategic and operational level while a supreme commander, anyone relying on MacArthur's opinion of ANY subordinate is avoiding the GOP elephant in the room.

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