In order to obtain advance bases for the Air Force and Navy, the US Marines clawed their way through every square inch of Peleliu. The united nations forces occupied Morotai and Ulithi.
To insure a successful invasion of the Philippines, it would first be necessary to secure sea and air superiority. To entice the Imperial navy into a confrontation with the improved US Navy, Halsey initiated a Naval Air assault against the Eastern and Southern Chinese Seas. Embarking from the new US base at Ulithi atoll, the Third Fleet devastated the the Japanese air bases at Formosa that had wreaked such havoc on the US protectorate and her Asiatic Fleet at the start of the war. In the three day Formosa Air War, Japan lost over 500 aircraft compared to the 79 aircraft and 64 airmen of the US. With that accomplished, the fleet ranged North past Okinawa and South to Indochina in a vain attempt to lure the the surface fleet into action.
When the Carrier Strike force withdrew to prepare for the Leyte invasion, the Japanese government announced that their eagles had sucessfully repelled an invasion of Formosa with great American losses (11 carriers, 2 battleships and 3 crusiers). The US response released was:
"ADMIRAL NIMITZ HAS RECEIVED FROM ADMIRAL HALSEY THE COMFORTING ASSURANCE THAT HE IS NOW RETIRING TOWARD THE ENEMY FOLLOWING THE SALVAGE OF ALL THE THIRD FLEET SHIPS RECENTLY REPORTED SUNK BY RADIO TOKYO."