MacArthur and Curtin: Deciding Australian War Strategy in 1943

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    The brilliantly successful, but nonetheless hard-fought, bloody campaign in New Guinea in 1943 received considerable publicity at the time and was the subject of a series of historical accounts over the succeeding decades. The story of the development of Australian strategy in the context of Allied strategy during this period has, however, received less attention. But no military campaign is conducted in a political and strategic vacuum. The New Guinea campaign was the outcome of strategic decisions by US and British political and military leaders made in conferences on the other side of the world, such as at Casablanca and in Washington. The nature of Australia's contribution was determined by political and military leaders meeting far to the south of New Guinea in Canberra and Brisbane. This chapter examines Australia's role in trying to influence Allied strategy and how Australia decided its own strategy in 1943. Australian strategic decision-makers in the Second World War faced a challenging task. On the one hand they needed to marshal Australia's resources to maintain its armed forces in the field and decide where and how to deploy them to promote Australia's national interest. On the other hand the policy-makers’ capacity to decide where and how Australia's forces were to be deployed was influenced, and in many cases determined, by the decisions of Australia's powerful alliance partners, the United States and Great Britain. The big question was how to reconcile Australia's national interest against the wider interest of the grand alliance. Australia's difficulties in determining its own war strategy were illustrated strongly in the first few months of 1943, as plans were being developed for military operations later that year, and throughout the year as it sought to determine what resources should be allocated to the subsequent war effort.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAustralia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea
    Editors Peter J. Dean
    Place of PublicationPort Melbourne
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Pages25-44
    Edition1st
    ISBN (Print)9781107037991
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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