191 Hankinson to Chifley

Letter 4 December 1947,


With reference to your letter of the 6th January (A.Y.27/1/1) on the subject of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia the High Commissioner has been asked to let you know that the whole question of the work of this Committee has recently been under consideration by the United Kingdom Authorities and it has been agreed that the name of the Committee should be changed to 'the British Defence Co-ordination Committee-Far East'. Terms of Reference have also been agreed and I enclose a copy.

It will be noticed that the Terms of Reference embody provisions for continuing the practice of inviting representatives of Australia and New Zealand when questions affecting either country are under consideration (paragraph g). It has also been suggested that the United States should be invited to send an observer to meetings of the Committee on appropriate occasions. This is considered desirable by the United Kingdom authorities, provided that the Australian and New Zealand Governments concur. We have been asked to ascertain the views of the Australian authorities on this suggestion. [1]


Terms of Reference

(a) Name of Committee The Committee will be called the British Defence Co-ordination Committee- Far East.

(b) Composition The British Defence Co-ordination Committee-Far East will consist of:

The Governor-General of Malaya (in the Chair) The Special Commissioner in South-East Asia The Commander-in-Chief, British Pacific Fleet The Commander-in-Chief, F.A.R.E.L.F.

Air Commander-in-Chief, Far East.

(i) The Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station, will be included instead of the Commander-in-Chief, British Pacific Fleet, as a member of the Committee when matters are under discussion which affect the East Indies Station.

(ii) The Flag Officer, Malaya, will represent either the Commander-in-Chief, British Pacific Fleet, or the Commander-in- Chief, East Indies Station, in their absence.

(c) Area The British Defence Co-ordination Committee-Far East, will for the present concern itself with the following areas, which will be subject to periodic review in the light of subsequent Commonwealth Defence arrangements:

Malayan Union Singapore (which, besides adjacent islands, includes Christmas and Cocos Islands) British North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak Hong Kong Burma Andamans and Nicobars Ceylon (pending a decision on the command arrangements in that island and its allocation to a zonal Defence Committee) Siam French Indo-China Java, Sumatra, Bali, Dutch Borneo China (including Manchuria and Inner Mongolia) Korea, Outer Mongolia, Tannu Tuva, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan British Pacific Fleet Station (excluding Japan) (d) Responsibilities The Committee is responsible for the co-ordination of all civil and military matters in the area having a bearing on defence. The Committee should do this by:

(a) Acting as a forum for the discussion and co-ordination of all current and future defence activities.

(b) Furnishing coordinated advice and recommendations on local matters to London and through London to other Commonwealth Governments.

(c) Preparing strategic studies against a background provided by London.

(e) Channel of Communication Reports and recommendations of the Committee will be made to the Chiefs of Staff Committee. This in no way precludes individual members from reporting direct to their own departments.

(f) Relationship with Local Defence Committee Local Defence Committees in the area will be regarded as complementary and not subordinate to the British Defence Co- ordination Committee-Far East.

(g) Attendance of Observers Observers from Australia and New Zealand may be invited to attend meetings at the discretion of the Committee. Normally such invitations, when issued, should include observers from both countries.

1 The Defence Committee agreed, on 19 December, that the proposed invitation to US authorities was desirable.

[AA : A1838, TS382/8/2/1, iii]