National Geographic : 1953 Oct
Our Navy in the Far East 537 BY ADMIRAL ARTHUR W. RADFORD, United States Navy lWith Illustrations by National Geographic Photographer J. Baylor Roberts SIA'S great importance lies in the single overwhelming fact that more than half the world lives there. Add to this the military commitments of our mutual-assistance pacts, involving mil lions of people on the periphery of Asia, and you can understand why our fighting ships are deployed from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. The white hats that bob along Tokyo's Broadway-the Ginza-and on Hong Kong's Gloucester Road are out there on Navy busi ness involving the security of American in terests in a score of widely scattered Asian places with names unknown to most of us a decade ago. (See the National Geographic So ciety's new map, "China Coast and Korea," a supplement to this issue.) Our Far-flung Interests American contact with the Far East began with the opening of our trade there immedi ately after the American Revolution. Our interests were compounded when Commodore Perry opened Japan to the West 100 years ago and amplified half a century later when Admiral Dewey steamed into Manila Bay.* Since the signing of the Japanese surrender on the Missouri, our Asian responsibilities have been rendered infinitely more complex. The support of South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Formosa, the Philippines, and other important free countries on the fringes of Asia indirectly concerns the protection of an area and a population far larger than our own. Only a nation with a powerful navy could undertake such an enormous task five to eight thousand miles from its homeland. Involved is more than the limited naval role of keeping the sea lanes open and sup plying our troops. The blockade of North Korea, the patrol of a thousand miles of the China Coast, and the active participation of fast carrier task forces and the Fleet Marines in the Korean struggle have added up to no small task. Yet these have been only a part of Pacific Command responsibility. To picture the disposition of our Navy in the Far East, think of a giant hand articu lated by a wrist that is Hawaii, headquarters of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. From Pearl Harbor fingers of operations, sup ply, and administration extend to several spheres of naval activity. Chief among these is the Naval Forces, Far East, which includes the Seventh Fleet and all activity in Japan. Second is the big Marianas Command, op- erated from Guam, the westernmost segment of United States sovereignty in the Pacific. At Sangley Point, on the calm waters of Manila Bay, is the Commander of Naval Forces, Philippines, who keeps a concerned eye on troubled Southeast Asia while directing activities at the naval base on Subic Bay. The remaining forces are the lesser installa tions on Formosa and Okinawa, where the routine patrols of the international waters off the China Coast are launched (page 562). These are administered from Hawaii, but in the case of Okinawa through Japan. United States Naval Forces, Far East, is under the command of Vice Adm. Robert P. Briscoe, and its operations are directed from his headquarters at Yokosuka. Also from there, as a part of the unified command, he directs the strategy of the Seventh Fleet, and at the request of the Japanese assists in build ing their defense forces. On a recent visit to Yokosuka I observed a squadron of American-made frigates flying the Japanese flag. I recalled that only eight years ago I had commanded a naval task force bent on the destruction of the Japanese fleet. Now, here were ships we had given them for patrol and harbor defense. More over, Japanese crews are being trained by Americans to handle the vessels. Yokosuka, only an hour and a half by rail south of Tokyo, was Japan's largest naval base. It serves now as our Far East naval headquarters and a rest area for crews on The Author Admiral Arthur W. Radford, United States Navy, knows the turbulent Far East as the average house holder knows his own back yard. Because of this first hand knowledge and his keen grasp of global strategy, he was named by President Eisenhower to serve in the Nation's highest military post-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The accompanying article sums up the author's impressions formed during a four-year tour of duty as Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet. It was written before his promotion. As CINCPAC, Admiral Radford traveled more than 300,000 miles from his Pearl Harbor headquarters to visit every section of a command stretching from Korea to Indochina. On his official journeys he often conferred with such leaders as President Rhee of Korea, Premier U Nu of Burma, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Chinese Nationalist forces on Formosa. Admiral Radford during World War II commanded a carrier group. His performance in the Baker, Makin, and Tarawa landings won him the Distin guished Service Medal. He has long been an out spoken advocate of air power.-Editor. * See "The Yankee Sailor Who Opened Japan," by Ferdinand Kuhn, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1953.