Unchained Interests: American-British-Dutch-Australian Command 1942
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In January 1942, Allied forces established the American, British, Dutch, Australian Command ABDACOM -- the first operational level multinational command that was established in a desperate effort to stem the Japanese invasion of South East Asia. The Allied defense of the Netherlands East Indies, as part of the Malay Barrier, is one of the little known campaigns of World War II. Few histories have appeared in English, contributing to the myth that the Dutch conducted an incompetent and halfhearted defense of the Netherlands East Indies archipelago. The characteristic of a myth is that it lacks gradation and that it represents a simplified reproduction of the truth. This monograph aims to explore the Dutch perspective on the failure of ABDACOM. It will argue that ABDACOM failed because of divergent national objectives of the ABDACOM nations--the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia. The evidence adduced in the course of the research for this monograph revealed that the pathway to failure stemmed from Allied inability to reconcile political agendas and rationalize national objectives to coalition strategic ends prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the Far East. As a result, the ABDACOM nations had to establish a unified command under fire and lacked the time to conduct combined exercises, develop common doctrine, and establish an effective command and control architecture Centered on a historical snapshot of coalition warfare during the initial stages of World War II, this monograph aims to contribute to the professional education of officers of Allied partners by discussing the factors that potentially inhibit effective coalition operations. It presents examples of the challenges that operational planners might face when confronted with the undertaking of reconciling divergent national agendas in pursuit of coalition objectives.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics