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Jointness and the Impact of the War

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Journal article

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Operations during World War II clearly and repeatedly demonstrated the advantages of jointness and the penalties for failing to achieve it. At wars end, the Joint Chiefs of Staff JCS supported jointness in principle, but the progress of jointness was slow. A review of JCS action in creating a postwar system of unified commands suggests that the wartime experience left an ambiguous legacy for the development of jointness. Unified command of U.S. forces in Europe began with the establishment in June 1942 of the European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army ETOUSA, a joint command in which an Army officer exercised planning and operational control of assigned naval forces. Directed to cooperate with the British, ETOUSA commander Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower was, however, to maintain U.S. forces as a separate and distinct component of the combined forces. With a task that called for Army leadership, the prospect of American participation in coalition operations led to early agreement by the War and Navy Departments to establish a joint command in Europe. Jointness was strongest in the face of the enemy or when necessitated by coalition operations. But even in war, it fell prey to interservice rivalries and other concerns. In the Pacific, the lack of strong allied forces diminished coalition pressures to achieve unified command. Coupled with the special problems posed by the presence of General Douglas MacArthur, Army and Navy reluctance to trust their forces to the command of officers of another service led to separate theater commands. The Army promoted unit of command by forces or functions while the Navy advocated achieving it geographically. While joint operations were routine in the Pacific, command of the entire theater had not been unified at the wars end. The debate over organizing by geographic area versus forces and functions was to surface repeatedly in the joint arena during the decades of the Cold War.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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