Asiatic-Pacific Theater


The Asiatic-Pacific Theater was the theater of operations of U.S. forces during World War II in the Pacific War during 1941–1945. From mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945, two U.S. operational commands were in the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), divided into the Central Pacific Area, the North Pacific Area and the South Pacific Area,[1] were commanded by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. The South West Pacific Area (SWPA) was commanded by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander South West Pacific Area.[2] During 1945, the United States added the United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, commanded by General Carl A. Spaatz.

A map of the Asiatic-Pacific Theater showing its component areas. (The China-Burma-India Theater fell under the British-led South East Asia Command)

Because of the complementary roles of the United States Army and the United States Navy in conducting war, the Pacific Theater had no single Allied or U.S. commander (comparable to General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower in the European Theater of Operations). No actual command existed; rather, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater was divided into SWPA, POA, and other forces and theaters, such as the China Burma India Theater.

Major campaigns and battlesEdit

Pacific Ocean AreaEdit

Japanese naval aircraft prepare to attack Pearl Harbor
Okinawa, 1945. A U.S. Marine aims a Thompson submachine gun at a Japanese sniper, as his companion takes cover

North Pacific AreaEdit

Central Pacific AreaEdit

South Pacific AreaEdit

South West Pacific AreaEdit

China-Burma-India TheaterEdit

  • Burma, December 1942 – May 1942
  • India-Burma, April 1942 – January 1945
  • China Defensive, July 1942 – May 1945
  • Central Burma, January 1945 – July 1945
  • China Offensive, May1945 – September 1945



1944 Strategy Conference in Honolulu. Left to right: MacArthur, Roosevelt, Leahy, Nimitz. The discussion weighs the options of Formosa or the Philippine Islands as the next operational target in the Pacific theater.
  1. ^ Note that the Battle of Leyte Gulf is listed in both the Central Pacific Area (under Nimitz) and in the South West Pacific Area (under MacArthur). Leyte Gulf is where Nimitz's western thrust across the central Pacific Ocean intersected MacArthur's northern thrust across the western Pacific Ocean. While the Pacific Ocean command structure was convoluted, operations were "designed to sequence the SWPA's operations with POA's forces across the central Pacific.[11] The main purpose of sequencing is to arrange objectives/tasks in such a progression that collectively they lead to the accomplishment of the assigned ultimate objective in the shortest time possible and with the least loss of personnel and materiel."[12] Nimitz provided, but maintained control over, Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet to cover and support Admiral Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet operating under General MacArthur. The result of this imprecise arrangement was the crisis precipitating the Battle off Samar. Halsey was operating under Commander in Chief, Pacific Operating Area's (Nimitz') Operations Plan 8–44.[13]
  2. ^ By US Navy's Third Fleet under Admirals Halsey and Nimitz.
  3. ^ By US Navy's Task Force 38 under Admirals Mitscher and Nimitz.


  1. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, pp. 652–653.
  2. ^ Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander SWPA
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Silverstone 1968.
  4. ^ a b Silverstone 1968, pp. 9–11.
  5. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, pp. 651–652.
  6. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg 1946, p. 185.
  7. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 751.
  8. ^ Ofstie 1946, p. 194.
  9. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 761.
  10. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 765.
  11. ^ Vego 2007, pp. IX-136.
  12. ^ Vego 2007, p. IX-135.
  13. ^ Vego 2006, pp. 126–130.
  14. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 695.
  15. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 697.
  16. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 699.
  17. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 701.
  18. ^ Dull 1978, pp. 55–60.
  19. ^ Dull 1978, pp. 76–86.
  20. ^ Dull 1978, pp. 88–81.
  21. ^ Dull 1978, pp. 86–88.
  22. ^ a b c Sulzberger 1966, pp. 332–333.
  23. ^ Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 759.
  24. ^ "World War II – Asiatic-Pacific Theater Campaigns". U.S. Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 21 October 2015.


  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1.
  • Kafka, Roger; Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946). Warships of the World. New York: Cornell Maritime Press.
  • Ofstie, Ralph A. (1946). The Campaigns of the Pacific War. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office.
  • Potter, E. B.; Nimitz, Chester W. (1960). Sea Power: A Naval History (First ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
  • Sulzberger, C. L. (1966). The American Heritage Picture History of World War II. Crown Publishers.
  • Vego, Milan N. (2007). Joint Operational Warfare: Theory and Practice. Newport, Rhode Island: United States Naval War College.
  • ——— (2006). The Battle for Leyte, 1944: Allied and Japanese Plans, Preparations, and Execution. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.

Further readingEdit