Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Archives: President Truman Deploying 30,000 More Troops, Plans Pullout Beginning July 1947

From the archives, December 1, 1945

WEST POINT, NY (CBS) -- President Truman announced his new strategy in the Pacific in a speech Saturday night, vowing to deploy 30,000 additional troops to the Pacific theatre as quickly as possible and setting July 1947 as a date to begin pulling U.S. forces out of the region.

"I do not make this decision lightly," the president said, telling more than 4,000 West Point Military Academy cadets that "as your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service."

CBS News chief war correspondent Larry LeSueur said Tuesday night that the speech will be looked back at as the "defining moment of the Truman presidency."

"This was the night when Harry Truman took full ownership of the war in the Pacific," he said.

The president also said that U.S. troops will begin to come home in approximately 18 months, though he did not set a date for a full withdrawal of American forces. The troop surge, he said, will "allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of the Pacific in July of 1947."

In the highly-anticiated address, the president said that while gains had been made against Japan since he came into office, the country has "moved backwards" for several years, in part because the United States has been focused on Europe.

The president also responded to those who oppose a timetable for withdrawal and seek what he called "a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort - one that would commit us to a nation building project of up to a decade."

"I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests," he said. "Furthermore, the absence of a timeframe for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Japanese government."

"America has no interest in fighting an endless war with Japan," added Mr. Truman.

The president has received criticism from "hawks" in both parties for his cancellation of former president Roosevelt's Manhattan Project. He made a veiled reference to the so-called "Atom Bomb" when he said "we have at times made mistakes."

In previous statements, Mr. Truman was more outspoken against the so-called "Buck Rogers" technology, saying "the science is settled" that an Atom Bomb is not feasible. American troops are currently scheduled to begin withdrawal from Germany in late 1946, where American forces continue to face attacks from Nazi insurgents.

"Our policy of pursuing talks with Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz of the Third Reich will allow a satisfying conclusion of hostilities in Europe," Mr. Truman told the cadets.

Turning his attention back to the Pacific, the president then addressed the Japanese people directly, telling them "America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering."

"We have no interest in occupying your country," he said.

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