In the Southwest Pacific, having stopped the Japanese drive on Port Morseby and finally having won Buna and Milne Bay, the US and Australian forces under the command of General MacArthur began the task of advancing along the northern shore of New Guinea to neutralize the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, and interdict Japanese lines of communications.
In the early months of the war, MacArthur didn’t seem to grasp that he needed to fight for New Guinea. But once he found himself forced to conduct a campaign there, it would become one of the best conducted campaigns of the war.*
The primary air component of MacArthur’s forces was the US Army Air Forces Fifth Air Force, under command of Major General George Kenney. Fifth Air Force was much smaller than, say, the mighty host of the 8th Air Force, and operated under some of the most appalling conditions to be found. And yet Kenney quickly became adept at using airpower to neutralize Japanese airfields, and provide support at the operational level to the ground and naval schemes of maneuver MacArthur and Kenney formed the type of harmonious command relationship that wouldn’t be found in Europe until much later in the war.
This synchronization of effort between Army, Air Force, Navy and Australian elements yielded good results with only modest forces, and is a textbook case of how operational and tactical planning should work.
*With some notable exceptions- for instance, the battle at Buna was handled disastrously.