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 1941–45. From mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945, there were two U.S. operational commands in the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), divided into the Central Pacific Area, the North Pacific Area and the South Pacific Area,[1]:652–653 were commanded by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. The South West Pacific Area (SWPA) was commanded by General 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.

Asiatic-Pacific Theater
Part of Second World War

Pacific Theater section of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
7 December 1941 – 2 September 1945
(3 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
Major Allies:
 United States
 Great Britain
Major Axis:
Commanders and leaders
Main Allied leaders
Franklin D. Roosevelt[nb 1]
Chiang Kai-shek
Winston Churchill
Main Axis leaders
Hideki Tōjō
Units involved
Casualties and losses
Military Deaths
Civilian Deaths

Because of the complementary roles of the United States Army and the United States Navy in conducting war in the Pacific Theater, there was no single Allied or U.S. commander (comparable to General Dwight D. Eisenhower in the European Theater of Operations). There was no actual command; 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 battles

Pacific Ocean Area

North Pacific Area

Central Pacific Area

South Pacific Area

South West Pacific Area

China-Burma-India Theater[14]

  • 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


  1. Until April 1945
  2. 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.[6]:IX-136The 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."[6]:IX-135 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.[7]
  3. By US Navy's Third Fleet under Admirals Halsey and Nimitz.
  4. By US Navy's Task Force 38 under Admirals Mitscher and Nimitz.


  1. Potter & Nimitz (1960).
  2. Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander SWPA
  3. Silverstone (1968) pp.9–11.
  4. Kafka & Pepperburg (1946) p.185.
  5. Ofstie (1946) p.194.
  6. Vego 2007
  7. Vego 2006, pp. 126–130
  8. Dull 1978, p. 61.
  9. Silverstone 1968, pp. 9–11.
  10. Dull 1978, p. 75.
  11. Dull 1978, p. 91.
  12. Sulzberger 1966, pp. 332–333.
  13. Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 759.
  14. U.S. Army Center of Military History. "World War II – Asiatic-Pacific Theater Campaigns – U.S. Army Center of Military History". U.S. Army Center of Military History. U.S. Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 21 October 2015.


  • Cressman, Robert J. (2000). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-149-1.
  • Drea, Edward J. (1998). In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1708-0.
  • Kafka, Roger; Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946). Warships of the World. New York: Cornell Maritime Press.
  • Miller, Edward S. (2007). War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-500-7.
  • 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, Inc.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
  • Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
  • Vego, Milan N. (2007). Joint Operational Warfare: Theory and Practice. Newport, Rhode Island: United States Naval War College.
  • Vego, Milan N. (2006). The Battle for Leyte, 1944: Allied and Japanese Plans, Preparations, and Execution. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
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