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Circling the Earth: United States Plans for a Postwar Overseas Military Base System, 1942-1948

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Before World War II the United States possessed only a handful of overseas military installations. These included bases in the Philippine Islands, Guam in the Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Midway Island, and the Hawaiian Islands, all in the Pacific and bases in the Panama Canal Zone, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. By the end of the war, the United States had established military installations of one kind or another at more than 3,000 locations around the world. The American military sought to retain only a small percentage of them following the war even so, one scholar has called the number of postwar bases the Army Air Forces AAF alone planned to maintain an imperial system of overseas bases encircling the earth. Another has suggested that post war basing plans reflected the militarys acceptance, as early as 1945, of a global peacemaking role for American military forces. Whether the postwar base network was imperial or the military saw a responsibility to police the world can be debated. Nevertheless, there was a dramatic expansion from the prewar period in the number of overseas bases the military believed would be necessary, demonstrating by 1945 an appreciably enlarged conception of national defense requirements. This book examines the American military establishments planning between 1942 and 1948 for a system of postwar overseas bases. Certainly, bases were but one aspect of military planning and that, in turn, only one feature of the US governments overall postwar policies. But connections do exist between base planning and larger issues such as the nature of military planning, the effects of institutional or interservice rivalry, the state of civil-military relationships, and the character of postwar American foreign policy.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Intelligence

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