Article

Chester Nimitz

Douglas V. Smith

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0030
Chester Nimitz

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Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz, US Navy, is arguably the most important American naval officer of the 20th century. His leadership, acumen as a strategist, sense of the intricacies and requirements of logistics, organizational skill, military requirement foresight, ability to accept and act on ambiguous intelligence, and profound faculty for evaluating his subordinates with the willingness to make changes in his command structure where warranted combined to establish Nimitz as the prototype of a World War II military leader and effective wartime decision maker. Fleet Admiral Nimitz developed his expertise in each of these areas by setting and maintaining an extremely rigorous study regimen, interacting intellectually with his fellow naval cadets and midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy and later, as a commander, with the future leaders of the US Navy, by consciously striving to understand and emulate the characteristics and decision-making capabilities of successful more senior officers—and most importantly, developing their skills in dealing with people—that he identified while passing through the ranks of the Navy. Ultimately, Fleet Admiral Nimitz rose to become commander-in-chief, Pacific, during World War II. As such, he commanded the largest ocean area and most ships of any single commander in the history of the world. He served as the strategic commander for the entire Pacific Ocean Area for almost the entire war, and was the strategic decision maker for the important carrier actions including the battles of the Coral Sea, the battle of Midway, the battle of the Eastern Solomons, the battle of Santa Cruz, and the battle of the Philippine Sea. Near the end of the war, Nimitz transferred his command post from Pearl Harbor to Guam to be nearer to the action. While constantly able to issue commands from his land-based command post, as opposed to his counterpart Japanese strategic decision makers, who were invariably embarked at sea, Nimitz’s leadership in the war was characterized by his refraining from interfering with the strategic and operational direction of his embarked commanders during battle, who had a better operational perspective on the action in which they were engaged.

Article.  13181 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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