Pacific Ocean Areas was a major Allied military command in the Pacific
Ocean theater of World War II. It was one of four major Allied
commands during the Pacific War, and one of three United States
commands in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Admiral
Chester W. Nimitz
Chester W. Nimitz of
the U.S. Navy, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, headed the
command throughout its existence.
The vast majority of Allied forces in the theatre were from the U.S.
Navy, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. However units and/or personnel
from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Fiji
and other countries also saw active service.
1 Formation and composition
2.1 Commanders, South Pacific Area
2.2 Commanders, North Pacific Area
3 See also
5 External links
Formation and composition
03 1905 APR 1942 message from COMINCH (Commander-in-Chief, United
States Fleet, King) to CINCPAC (Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet,
Nimitz) designating Nimitz Commander-in-Chief
Pacific Ocean Area
(first of four part message).
On 24 March 1942, the newly formed British and US Combined Chiefs of
Staff issued a directive designating the Pacific theater an area of
American strategic responsibility. On 30 March the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff (JCS) divided the Pacific theater into three areas: the Pacific
Ocean Areas (POA), the South West Pacific Area (SWPA), and the
Southeast Pacific Area. Details and transition, including
whether Nimitz "appointed" or "nominated" the commander of the South
Pacific Area, were worked out between 3 April and formal assumption of
the overall Commander-in-Chief
Pacific Ocean Areas by Nimitz on 8 May
The JCS designated Admiral
Chester W. Nimitz
Chester W. Nimitz as Commander in Chief,
Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPOA), with operational control over all units
(air, land, and sea) in that area. The theater included most of the
Pacific Ocean and its islands, but mainland
Asia was excluded from the
POA, as were the Philippines, Australia, the Netherlands East Indies,
the Territory of
New Guinea (including the Bismarck Archipelago) and
the western part of the Solomon Islands. US strategic bomber forces in
the theatre were under the direct control of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff. All land forces in
Canada remained under the control
of the US Army's
Western Defense Command
Western Defense Command (see Aleutian Islands
The Joint Chiefs further divided the
Pacific Ocean Areas into the
North, Central and South Pacific Areas. Nimitz designated subordinate
commanders for the North and South Pacific Areas (NORPAC and SOPAC)
but retained the Central Pacific Area (CENPAC), including the Hawaiian
Department, under his direct command.
From 1942-1943, three Army infantry divisions (23rd/"Americal", 25th,
27th) and two Marine divisions (1st, 2nd) fought in the POA (the 1st
and 3rd Marine Divisions also fought in the SWPA in 1943). From
1944-1945, five Army infantry divisions (7th, 27th, 77th, 81st, 96th)
and six Marine divisions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th) served in the
POA (an additional 15 Army divisions fought in the SWPA during this
time). Among allied land force formations was the 3rd New Zealand
Division, which fought in the
Solomon Islands campaign during 1943-44.
U.S. Army Air Forces
U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) operated in the POA under the Seventh,
Thirteenth, and Twentieth Air Forces at various times. Allied air
forces included units of the Royal
New Zealand Air Force.
In the separate South West Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur
assumed command. The effective result of this organizational scheme
was the creation of two separate commands in the Pacific: POA and
SWPA, each reporting separately to the Joint Chiefs, each competing
for scarce resources in an economy-of-force theater, and each headed
by a commander in chief (CINC) from a different service. In
particular, the division of the Solomons caused problems, since the
battles of the
Solomon Islands campaign in 1942–1943 ranged over the
whole region, with the main Japanese bases in SWPA and the main Allied
bases in SOPAC.
Commanders, South Pacific Area
Robert L. Ghormley
Robert L. Ghormley (19 June–18 October 1942)
William Halsey, Jr.
William Halsey, Jr. (18 October 1942 – 15 June 1944)
Vice Adm. John H. Newton (15 June 1944 – 13 March 1945)
Vice Admiral William L. Calhoun (13 March–2 September 1945)
Commanders, North Pacific Area
Rear Adm. Robert A. Theobald (17 May 1942 – 4 January 1943)
Thomas C. Kinkaid
Thomas C. Kinkaid (4 January–11 October 1943)
Vice Adm. Frank J. Fletcher (11 October 1943 – 2 September 1945)
United States Navy in World War II
^ Cressman 1999, p. April 3, Fri. entry.
^ Potter 1976, p. 45.
^ Williams 1960, pp. 30—31.
^ Morton 2000, pp. 244—256.
^ Nimitz & Steele 1942, p. Entries April 1942.
^ Mark R. Henry and Mike Chappell, The U.S. Army of World War II,
Volume 1: The Pacific (Men at Arms Series, 342)(Osprey Publishing:
Cressman, Robert J. (1999). "The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy
in World War II". Contemporary History Branch, Naval Historical Center
(now Naval History & Heritage Command). Retrieved 24 May
Morton, Louis (2000). The War in the Pacific—Strategy and Command:
The First Two Years.
United States Army In World War II. Washington,
D. C.: Center Of Military History,
United States Army.
Nimitz, Chester W., Admiral (USN); Steele, James M., Captain (USN)
(1942). ‘Gray Book’ — War Plans and Files of the
Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet; Running Estimate and Summary
maintained by Captain James M. Steele, USN, CINCPAC staff at Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii, covering the period 7 December 1941–31 August 1942
(PDF). 1 of 8 volumes. Operational Archives, Naval History and
Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard, Washington D.C. Retrieved 24
Potter, E.B. (1976). Nimitz. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press.
ISBN 978-0-87021-492-9. LCCN 76-1056.
Williams, Mary H. (1960). Chronology 1941—1945.
United States Army
In World War II. Washington, DC: Center Of Military History, United
States Army. LCCN 59-60002.
Willmott, H. P. (1983). The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and
Allied Pacific Strategies February to June 1942. Annapolis, Maryland:
Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-535-3.
Central Pacific 1941–1943. The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II.
United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 72-4.
Strategy and Command: The First Two Years
The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World