Western Defense Command
|Western Defense Command|
Emblem of the Western Defense Command
|Country||United States of America|
|Role||Home Defense & Training|
|Garrison/HQ||Presidio of San Francisco|
|Engagements||Aleutian Islands Campaign|
|Commanding General||John L. DeWitt|
|Commanding General||Delos C. Emmons|
Western Defense Command (WDC) was established on 17 March 1941 as the command formation of the U.S. Army responsible for coordinating the defense of the Pacific Coast region of the United States. A second major responsibility was the training of soldiers prior to their deployment overseas. The first Commanding General of WDC was Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, who continued on in command of the Fourth U.S. Army. WDC headquarters were co-located at the existing Fourth Army headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco. WDC's operational region covered the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. However, until 11 December 1941 the command was little more than a planning agency. On that date the Army coast defense, antiaircraft, and fighter assets on the west coast and in Alaska were placed under the command, which until 20 March 1942 was known as the Western Theater of Operations, then reverted to the previous name. From 11 December 1941 until 1 November 1943 Alaska Defense Command was controlled through WDC.
On 14 February 1942, Western Defense Command sent a memorandum to Secretary of War Henry Stimson recommending that "Japanese and other subversive elements" be removed from the West Coast region. This led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 9066 on 19 February, which gave U.S. military commanders the authority to designate "military areas" and to then exclude any or all people from them. On 2 March 1942 General DeWitt issued a proclamation that designated the western halves of Washington, Oregon and California, and the southern third of Arizona to be military areas from which Americans of Japanese ancestry would be excluded. (The exclusion zone would later be expanded to include the entire state of California.) Americans of German and Italian ancestry were also affected by restrictions and in some cases internment.
From June 1942 to August 1943, WDC was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the Aleutian Islands Campaign, which succeeded in expelling Japanese forces from their toehold in North America on the islands of Attu and Kiska. The operation to re-capture Kiska Island, Operation Cottage, involved both U.S. troops and a brigade of Canadian troops from Pacific Command.
Western Defense Command was disbanded on 6 March 1946.
The following men served as Commanding General, Western Defense Command:
- Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, 17 March 1941 – September 1943
- Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, September 1943 – June 1944
- Major General Robert H. Lewis, June 1944
- Major General Charles H. Bonesteel, Jr., June 1944 – November 1944
- Major General Henry Conger Pratt, December 1944 – November 1945
- Major General Harold R. Nichols, December 1945
- General Joseph W. Stilwell, December 1945 – March 1946
- Eastern Defense Command
- Central Defense Command
- Southern Defense Command
- Alaska Defense Command
- Caribbean Defense Command
- Conn, pp. 33-40
- "Western Defense Command," Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- Brian Niiya. "Civilian exclusion orders," Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- J. tenBroek, E. N. Barnhart, F. W. Matson, "Prejudice, War, and the Constitution: Causes and Consequences of the Evacuation of the Japanese Americans in Work War II", 2nd ed., University of California Press, 1970, ISBN 0-520-01262-3.
- Conn, Stetson; Engelman, Rose C.; Fairchild, Byron (2000) , Guarding the United States and its Outposts, United States Army in World War II, Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army