The Destruction of the Far East Air Force, December 8th, 1941: The Strategy vs. Feasibility Gap

  • 2016

The Destruction of the Far East Air Force, December 8th, 1941: The Strategy vs. Feasibility Gap

Author:
Samuel Limneos
Abstract:

On America’s first day of World War II, December 8th 1941, United States air power in the Philippines was decimated by raids of Japanese heavy bombers and light pursuit aircraft from installations on Formosa. To add insult to the injury inflicted by Japan on the fleet at Pearl Harbor only a few hours prior, the Japanese attack force caught the American Far East Air Force off guard and on the ground. Although historians have analyzed both the strategic and logistical foundations of United States planning for Philippines defense, historiography placing the two side by side and highlighting their incongruence is sparse. Throughout the summer of 1941 increasing faith in a grandiose aerial strategy for the Philippines rapidly displaced decades of strategic neglect toward the islands. The feasibility of this strategy, debatable from the onset, was shattered in the first day of the war due to the poor correlation between strategy and logistics. The unequal relationship between strategy and logistics was inherent to the United States’ military appraisal of the Philippines. When the complex deterrent strategy in the Pacific came to fruition and rapid buildup of American airpower in the Philippines began in 1941, the abrupt changes manifested in horror and awe the logistical deficiencies in decades of the archipelago’s defense planning.