WI: More extensive investment in Philippines defense in 1930s?

How much could the United States have invested in the defense of the Philippines in the 1930s, 1940, and 1941 before the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Could the Philippines have been reinforced more heavily, starting from the 1937 invasion of China by Japan, or was it not politically and financially possible to justify such an investment at the time?
 
Well the US started developing the Philippine Army in 1936, if they started doing so earlier it could be theoretically stronger by 1941. Though that would probably require an earlier Tydings-McDuffie Act. Regardless the islands will still fall to the Japanese.
 
Very little. War Plan ORANGE had regarded a defense of the PI as impractical. Congress had no interest in spending a ton of money for defense of a Nation that would soon be independent of the US. More than anything else, before 1941 war with Japan was a hypothetical. Treated as a distant and avoidable event.

About the only really big thing would be accelerated development of the PI Army. OTL they held the Japanese until food and ammo ran out. A better trained and equipped PI Army combined with the US Regulars present could have embarrassed the Japanese Army.
 
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There were some coastal gun-forts built. I
IRC, one was a converted island in the mouth of the bay that held out for a really, really long time.

That would be the one the Japanese refurbished, and proved a real pain to re-capture. Eventually, gasoline was pumped into the air vents, an ignition source supplied...
 
There were some coastal gun-forts built. I
IRC, one was a converted island in the mouth of the bay that held out for a really, really long time.

That would be the one the Japanese refurbished, and proved a real pain to re-capture. Eventually, gasoline was pumped into the air vents, an ignition source supplied...
That would be Fort Drum. Nicknamed the concrete battleship because of her thick hide and 14 inch guns in armored turrets.

Unfortunately obsolete as hell by 41 without much in the way of anti aircraft coverage. A lot of the seacoast defenses were pretty antiquated by the time of the Japanese invasion. 12 inch mortars from the 1890s were still in use.
 
How much could the United States have invested in the defense of the Philippines in the 1930s, 1940, and 1941 before the attack on Pearl Harbor?
Build a much larger navy?

The treaties lapsed in 37 and even before that the USN could have built more new cruisers and DDs, all would be built in US cities by US voters.

If by 41 the USN has out built the IJN to make war impossible the defences of the PI are irrelevant....

I might suggest,
6x North Carolina class 12x14" 28Kn 35,000t all laid down Jan 37 commissioned 1 Oct 40 - May 41
6x Hornet sub class (of the 8 total Yorktown class) Laid down Jan 37 commissioned Feb - June 41
7x St. Louis class CLs (to "replace" Omaha class tonnage) Laid down Jan 37 commissioned Dec 39 - October 40
48 Sims class DDs 1,850 tons 6x5"/38 DP Laid down Jan 37 commissioned Aug 39 - July 40

Then in 39/40 more, Iowa and Essex classes etc are laid down to follow...

By Oct-Dec 41 the IJN would be under no illusions that the opportunity had closed to win any fight with USN.
 
As other posters have mentioned several major problems:
1. Treaty limitations on fortification improvements which did not expire until the latter half of the 1930s. Unlike Japan who could and did cheat, and could hide it on remote islands, the USA could only start improving the fortifications in most ways by abrogating the treaty.
2. The PI were on the path to independence with a firm date in the near future, in the depression why spend money OUTSIDE the USA for territory that will not be "ours" soon.
3. From even before WPO defending the PI against Japan was seen as a lost cause.

Having said that, speeding up the protections at air fields with revetments, more AAA was doable under the treaty limits. Getting radar to the PI earlier. More/better air defense at major Naval and Army bases. Of course accelerating the development of indigenous PI forces. Of course none of this will be anywhere near as effective as it could be unless it is used intelligently. Use your time after PH to hit Taiwan air bases, sure it would be spectacular but better than the B-17s destroyed on the ground. Make Bataan in to the hold out area it was supposed to be - move supplies there as soon as you get the PH message. Lots more of this.

The USA can make Japanese conquest take longer, cost more, and include the southern islands. Maybe some isolated garrisons hold out for relief or evacuation but...
 
This is leading in a different direction from the OP, but what if the U.S. arranged to get out of the Philippines earlier.

Some potential ideas:

1) Wilson committing to an independent Philippines within a defined (10 year) timeframe as his "15th Point"

2) The Harding Administration committing to independence for the Philippines within 10 years during the time of the Washington Treaty and Nine Power Treaty.

3) A carbon copy of OTL 1935's Tydings-McDuffie law for Filipino independence in 10 years.

These PoDs yield Filipino independence in 1928, 1929, 1932 or 1935 respectively.

I assume at the point when any of these timelines are established, the US gets the right to maintain bases by treaty for an additional period after independence, 5, 10 or 25 years or perpetual.

This means an independent Philippines well before WWII, and in the first two cases, before Japan pivots to aggression in Asia.

The Philippines will have some sort of military or constabulary built up for independence, and can have a great deal of say about their own armed forces and defense plans within a couple years after independence (if Filipinos choose to exercise initiative in this area).

If independence is scheduled for the 1930s, two developments of the decade, Japanese expansionism and the Great Depression, could add complexity to the situation and alter the independence timeline to one degree or another.

For example, the Depression could cause the U.S. to speed up the timeline a little, or neglect to make much use of Filipino naval bases once the Philippines are independent. (the latter could happen even if independence is achieved in 1928 or 1929).

Strategic concern about Japanese aggression could possibly slow down the independence timeline, or cause the U.S. to hold on to bases longer than they would have otherwise.

If the U.S. makes hasty decision to just to ditch the bases and commitments they imply during the depths of the Depression, what does Filipino foreign and military policy look like? How much do they build up their own Army and what can they afford.

If they perceive no U.S. commitment might they go with the tide and align with Japan like Thailand did in 1941?

Would that work out for them, or would there be disagreement on the degree of Filipino alliance or clientage that gets Japanese forces fighting in the archipelago in the 1930s?

Alternatively, if the US does retain its basing rights through the 1930s, how much will the Filipinos see it as making them safer, or more exposed to danger from Japanese-American friction?

An independent Philippines, even one leasing bases to the U.S. might be prone to ask the Americans to "Get serious or get out". Even in OTL, Quezon proposed Filipino neutralization, so we can't take it for granted that the Philippines would keep a grip on Uncle Sam's leg and be an ever loyal client.
 
If the PI are independent in 1941, and have been so for 5-10 years, the question is then what is the status of any US bases in the PI (if any) and any treaty obligations. The reason Japan attacked the US was because US forces in the PI represented a blocking position to interdict Japanese shipping bringing oil and other natural resources from DEI/SEA. If there are no US bases in the PI or if the PI has the right to veto any US actions out of PI bases, Japan might be able to ignore the PI. If Japan convinces the PI to be neutral, they can simply leave them alone, there is nothing there they need to seize. The question then becomes if Japan attacks the DEI/Malaya does the USA go to war against Japan to "save" European colonies if Japan has not attacked the USA.
 
If the PI are independent in 1941, and have been so for 5-10 years, the question is then what is the status of any US bases in the PI (if any) and any treaty obligations. The reason Japan attacked the US was because US forces in the PI represented a blocking position to interdict Japanese shipping bringing oil and other natural resources from DEI/SEA. If there are no US bases in the PI or if the PI has the right to veto any US actions out of PI bases, Japan might be able to ignore the PI. If Japan convinces the PI to be neutral, they can simply leave them alone, there is nothing there they need to seize. The question then becomes if Japan attacks the DEI/Malaya does the USA go to war against Japan to "save" European colonies if Japan has not attacked the USA.
I tend to agree a sovereign Philippines could under some circumstances be able to get treated as a neutral by Japan.

I figure many would disagree as they see WWII era Japanese as Klingons inclined to inevitably attack any weaker neighbor.

I do not think that with an independent PI, whose neutrality is respected by Japan, that the US would regard an attack on the European colonies of Southeast Asia as an attack on itself or a casual belli.

This is not to say that US-Japanese war would not be possible in the circumstances described. It certainly could be if the US allies with Britain at any time in the latter’s war with Germany.
 
In this case then the Philippines might be to SE Asia, what Sweden was to Europe. Namely that the PI would supply raw materials to feed Imperial Japan.

Does Mac end up as an advisor to Chiang Kai Shek ITTL? XD
 
I agree the islands would fall but it seems a higher price could have been extracted. The US Army didn't want to spend funds on bases they would be giving up. But there was the sugar excise fund under US control. So what if a political savvy operator in the PI starts this.
1939: Funds to build all mobilization centers and training facilities. Non threatening as really just buildings and practice ranges. Reaction to world events. Not sure if airfields can be built as they may appear more threatening. Infrastructure never sexy but always necessary.

1940: Reaction to Japanese entry into Indo China. Purchase of US "Scrap". World War I weapons enough for 10 US divisions just like being sent to England. For the PI equivalent to 20 divisions (PI divisions half the size of US) so allows for spares and attrition. Obsolete nature of the shipments emphasized to lesson impact. Still useful for defensive fighting which is what is imagined. Sighting plans for inland sea project funded. Airfield work begun. refresher training to start, mobilized for 15 weeks then sent home. Do in phases allows for phase I divisions to all have refresher training complete. As never more than 1/3 rd at a time and demobilizing when each phase complete not as threatening.

1941: "Junk Yard" With war looming starts asking for obsolete aircraft. P35 and P36 to be shipped in their entirety. A17 shrike and B-23 also sent in entirety. Idea being aircraft being replaced in US so disposable and putting entire fleets in PI gives spares to keep going for a while. M2 medium tank requested on same theory. Not great tank but interesting thought of one of these rolling down a landing beach spitting machine gun fire in all directions. All units sent to be used up in PI. Modern equipment asked for is Radar and command and control to be employed Like RAF in during Battle of Britain. Reason army agrees is to hopefully bleed Japanese forces while utilizing local forces and not US forces beyond what is absolutely necessary to support PI forces. Along this lines savvy operator asks for US Black units and agrees to trade US 31st regiment to receive 24th and 25th infantry regiments and 9th and 10th cavalry (converted to the M2 tanks) pointing out 1 White regiment is worth 4 Black ones. (Such idiocy but say what you have to get reinforcements.) These professional regiments stiffen PI forces. Along these lines PI asks for all Black units they can get especially artillery, coastal artillery, anti-aircraft and engineers to free up more PI scouts to establish another infantry regiment. Plays on racial idiocy of the day to gain reinforcements. With black artillery units should be able to form 4 combined arms regiments. 2 black 2 PI with 25+ tanks attached to each regiment. Inland sea project begun. Lastly acknowledgment of weakness of Asiatic fleet results in switching DD's for all 8 DM's and large supply of mines. Will mine the choke points. S boats and tenders sent with plans to operate from Cebu when war starts. S boats limited range not as much a weakness here. (use old torpedoes so will be marginally more effective, still have to deal with poor tactics and lack of aggressive commanders.) Again obsolete equipment that Military is willing to let go over modern gear. PT boats sent as well as perfect environment for their use. 1 heavy cruiser to remain as flag ship for ironically enough showing the flag. Inland sea project actually begun. When Japan occupies southern Indo-china all improvement would allow for at least a month earlier mobilization as would not be necessary to build centers. Means at invasion time 1/3 of PI forces have 14 weeks training vs 10, 1/3 9 weeks training and last group 4 weeks training on top of year before refresher training. Still going to lose due to lack of supply but should be able to bleed Japanese forces even more severely and possibly hold out long enough to actually stock Bataan and hold out longer occupying Japanese thinking if not additional forces.
 
1941: "Junk Yard" With war looming starts asking for obsolete aircraft.
The Philippine Army didn't have enough Rifles.

Before worrying about aircraft, get those guys something that goes 'bang'

US had a lot of Krags that would never be used, both Rifles, and old Navy 'Potato Digger' M1895 in the same caliber.

Next, the Army had about 500 M1902, M1904 and M1905 3" field guns that were in a chambering that was obsolete, not even used for training by the '20s

Again, something obsolete that goes 'bang' is better than not having anything at all
 
Weren't there treaty restrictions that forbade upgrading defenses of any of the American western Pacific bases? I thought that part of the Washington Naval Agreement the U.S. and the Japanese agreed to not upgrade their islands.
 

Driftless

Donor
The Philippine Army didn't have enough Rifles.

Before worrying about aircraft, get those guys something that goes 'bang'

US had a lot of Krags that would never be used, both Rifles, and old Navy 'Potato Digger' M1895 in the same caliber.

Next, the Army had about 500 M1902, M1904 and M1905 3" field guns that were in a chambering that was obsolete, not even used for training by the '20s

Again, something obsolete that goes 'bang' is better than not having anything at all
Your emphasis on being sure those weapons work is key. IIRC, many of the surplus weapons that the US sent to the Filipinos needed a lot of work by gunsmiths and the like.
 
1941: Along this lines savvy operator asks for US Black units and agrees to trade US 31st regiment to receive 24th and 25th infantry regiments and 9th and 10th cavalry (converted to the M2 tanks) pointing out 1 White regiment is worth 4 Black ones. (Such idiocy but say what you have to get reinforcements.) These professional regiments stiffen PI forces. Along these lines PI asks for all Black units they can get especially artillery, coastal artillery, anti-aircraft and engineers to free up more PI scouts to establish another infantry regiment. Plays on racial idiocy of the day to gain reinforcements. With black artillery units should be able to form 4 combined arms regiments. 2 black 2 PI with 25+ tanks attached to each regiment.
Can't decide whether this idea is brilliantly amusing, or amusingly brilliant, but what a load of fleece to pull over the eyes of the shmucks at the pentagon and in congress...
 
Your emphasis on being sure those weapons work is key. IIRC, many of the surplus weapons that the US sent to the Filipinos needed a lot of work by gunsmiths and the like.
Mid 1941, there wasn't enough Arty to equip half of the requirement for a US Division, and that as it was was a mix of M1897, M1902, M1916 and M1917, plus around a dozen 155mm GPF howitzers. And Dugout Doug planned to use that manpower as a cadre for 10 more divisions.

Machine Guns was even worse, around 100 automatic weapons, and that was including BARs. An interwar US Infantry Division would have around 675.

Personally, I think they got a lot of condemned weapons, with people getting rich off of that by swapping junk for the good stuff sold elsewhere.

They never noticed, till they were took out of storage. There was zero training in operations above battalion, and the training rarely including shooting any weapons. It was a farce.
 
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