25 Mar 2011


Planning and Preparation for the Hollandia-Aitape Operation
The first step in the Southwest Pacific Area's drive to the Philippines--the seizure of the Hollandia region of Dutch New Guinea--could have far-reaching consequences. Anchorages at Hollandia were known to be capable of basing many of the largest combat vessels, cargo ships, and troop transports. Inland plains in the area were thought to provide almost unlimited potentialities for airdrome development. Aircraft operating from fields at Hollandia could dominate most Japanese airdromes in western New Guinea and nearer islands of the Indies, could fly reconnaissance and bombing missions against the western Carolines, including the Palaus, and could provide support for subsequent landing operations along the north coast of New Guinea. Small naval vessels, such as motor torpedo boats (PT's), operating from Hollandia area bases, could interdict Japanese barge traffic for miles both east and west of that region. Finally, the Hollandia region was capable of development into a major supply base and staging1 area for the support of subsequent Allied operations farther to the west.

General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, and its subordinate commands were to have no easy task in planning the advance to Hollandia; but by March 1944 these headquarters had accumulated two years' experience with the complex air, sea, and ground operations that characterized the war in the Pacific. Indeed, the planning for Hollandia provides an excellent case study for most amphibious undertakings in the Southwest Pacific. For this reason a detailed discussion of the work undertaken by the various theater commands, the problems they faced, and the means by which these problems were solved is included here. The planning for subsequent operations within the Southwest Pacific is treated in less detail with emphasis placed principally on the differences from the Hollandia planning.

Solving the many problems faced by the Southwest Pacific commands in planning the advance to Hollandia was made more difficult by the interrelationship of many of those problems. A direct move to Hollandia from eastern New Guinea, bypassing Wewak and Hansa Bay, could not be undertaken unless carrier-based air support were made available from the Pacific Fleet. It was also possible that a more powerful enemy force might be encountered at Hollandia than had been met during any previous landing operation in the Pacific theaters. This meant that a larger Allied force than had ever before been assembled for any single amphibious operation in the Pacific would have to be sent against Hollandia. The size of this force would complicate logistic planning and preparations and would necessitate the use of more assault shipping than was available within the Southwest Pacific Area. Finally, the advance was to be made into terrain about which many important details were unavailable and unobtainable. Thus, all interested commands of the Southwest Pacific Area were to have a thoroughgoing test of their training or past experience.

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