The Aleutian Islands Campaign was a military campaign conducted by the United States in the Aleutian Islands, part of the Alaska Territory, in the American theater and the Pacific theater of World War II starting on 3 June 1942. A small Japanese force occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska, where the remoteness of the islands and the challenges of weather and terrain delayed for nearly a year a larger U.S./Canadian force to eject them. The islands' strategic value was their ability to control Pacific transportation routes, which is why U.S. General Billy Mitchell stated to the U.S. Congress in 1935, "I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world." The Japanese reasoned that control of the Aleutians would prevent a possible U.S. attack across the Northern Pacific. Similarly, the U.S. feared that the islands would be used as bases from which to launch aerial assaults against the West Coast. A battle to reclaim Attu was launched on May 11, 1943 and completed following a final Japanese banzai charge on May 29. On 15 August 1943, an invasion force landed on Kiska in the wake of a sustained three-week barrage, only to discover that the Japanese had withdrawn from the island on July 29.
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