143 Shedden to Forde

Note [MELBOURNE], 26 March 1946


Post-War Defence Policy falls into two main divisions-the interim and the ultimate strength and organisation of the Forces.

The interim position is mainly governed by our immediate commitments in the shape of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force for Japan and the garrisons for the islands under our control. The strength of the garrisons in the islands will be determined by the shipping available for the repatriation of Japanese prisoners, and the strength on the mainland will be influenced by the administrative and maintenance requirements of the Forces in Japan and the islands, and the ultimate strength to be maintained under future Post-War Policy.

The ultimate strength and organisation has to be determined in the light of the strategical position of Australia in the post-war world. It has to be related to our commitments under the World Security Organisation, to our part in Co-operation in Empire Defence, and to the basic organisation and resources that should be maintained by Australia. These include munitions, aircraft and naval shipbuilding capacity, supported by manufacturing resources and supplies of raw materials which permit of the expansion of our war effort to the maximum of our capacity in an emergency.

Pervasive of the whole question of Post-War Defence Policy is the impact of scientific development on the types of weapons and armament for the various Services, their efficacy, and the effects on future methods of warfare and organisation for it.

As recently announced, the Government is setting up a Scientific Advisory Committee in the Higher Defence Machinery and is being represented by a strong delegation at the Empire Defence Science Conference to be held in London about the middle of the year. As also announced, the Government has approved of proposals relating to Empire Co-operation in the exchange of personnel and information on matters of research, design and development of munitions. All these steps should lead to the conclusion of arrangements whereby Australia will be kept abreast of scientific developments, including atomic energy, and be able to play an appropriate part in the solution of the problems relating to their application to defence. In the opinion of the Government's Advisers, the attainment of this stage is an essential preliminary to the determination of Post-War Policy. They are giving continuous study to this vital matter and will submit their views for the Government's consideration as soon as they are in a position to do so.

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