U.S. Army Forces Far East

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USAFFE (United States Army Forces - Far East)
Active July 26, 1941-1945
Country USA
Branch Regular Army
Type Army Corps
MG Douglas MacArthur

USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) included the Philippine Department, Philippine Army (2 regular and 10 reserve divisions), and the Far East Air Force (formerly, Philippine Army Air Corps). USAFFE Headquarters was created on July 26, 1941, at No.1, Calle Victoria, Manila, Luzon, the Philippines, with Major General MacArthur as commander. The Chief of Staff was Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland and the Deputy Chief of Staff was Major General Richard J. Marshall. The core of this command (including MacArthur, Marshall, and Sutherland) was drawn from the Office of the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government.

Creation of this command led to the subordination of the Philippine Department's headquarters, as a service command, since planning and tactical control were now under USAFFE control. MacArthur explains, "It became an administrative echelon. It was analogous to a corps area." MacArthur recommended that Philippine Department commander Major General Grunert be reassigned, as his services were no longer needed. On October 23, Grunert returned to the United States and MacArthur was temporarily appointed as the Philippine Department's commander.


Creation of USAFFE

In January of 1941, the intelligence officer (G-2) of the Philippine Department had recommended, to his superior in Washington D.C., that a Far Eastern Command be created, with the commander of the Philippine Department as the designated commander of said command. It does not appear this idea was seriously considered until Douglas MacArthur suggested, to the Army Chief of Staff, that such a command be created with MacArthur as the Far Eastern Commander.

On June 6, Acting Chief of the War Plans Division Brigadier General Gerow noted that he saw no need for such a command, as US Forces in the Far East were concentrated in the Philippines. As such, Gerow argued that should a "crisis" occur, then MacArthur should become the commander of, not some new command, but rather, of the Philippine Department itself.

On June 20, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall informed MacArthur, "Both the Secretary of War (Stimson) and I are much concerned about the situation in the Far East. Your qualifications and experience make you the logical selection for the Army Commander in the Far East should the situation approach a crisis. The Secretary has delayed recommending your appointment as he does not feel the time has arrived for such action. At the proper time, he will recommend to the President that you be so appointed."

On July 17, Gerow made the following recommendations:

  • 1) The President should call into the service of the US all organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines
  • 2)General MacArthur should be called to active duty as a Major General and assigned as commander of Army Forces in the Far East
  • 3}That $10,000,000, from the President's Emergency Fund should be allotted to cover the costs of mobilization and training of the Philippine Army
  • 4)That training of the Philippine Army be financed from the sugar excise fund, or from other funds
  • 5)That 425 reserve officers be sent to the Philippines to assist in mobilization and training

On July 25, Secretary of War Stimson requested that President Roosevelt issue orders calling the military forces of the Commonwealth into active service for the United States. Stimson explains, "All practical steps should be taken to increase the defensive strength of the Philippine Islands."

The following day, President Roosevelt froze all Japanese assets within the United States and issued the orders to absorb the forces of the Philippine Army. That same day, the War Department created the USAFFE command, with jurisdiction over the Philippine Department and the military forces of the Commonwealth. At the same time, MacArthur was recalled to active duty as the USAFFE commander, from his position as military advisor to, and Field Marshall of, the Philippine Army.

USAFFE -- November 31 1941

Total Strength -- 31,095 (2,504 officers -- 28,591 enlisted, including 11,957 Philippine Scouts)

US Army Troops - Philippines -- July 31, 1941

Total Strength -- 22,532 (1,434 officers -- 21,098 enlisted, including 11,937 Philippine Scouts)

See also

Original Source

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