109 Attlee to Chifley

Letter LONDON, 4 April 1949


Thank you for your letters of the 7th and 16th February about defence matters. [1] We are very glad that you welcome our proposal that a United Kingdom planning team should visit Australia for discussions with the Australian Service authorities.

We agree, of course, that these discussions must be within the scope of approved Australian Government policy and that the planning which takes place will be without commitment to our respective Governments until approved by Ministers. We suggest that an Agenda for the discussions should be agreed beforehand and we shall forward our proposals as soon as possible through the normal service channels.

We agree also that the United Kingdom planning team should work in association with the United Kingdom Chief Liaison Officer through the established Australian defence machinery; the members of our planning team will accordingly be attached to the Liaison Staff while they are in Australia. I suggest that the dates of their visit should be arranged with the United Kingdom Liaison Staff in Melbourne.

Your Chiefs of Staff will by now have received the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff paper (COS (49)49) [2] giving our views on general defence policy and strategy which your Defence Committee wished to have to assist them in their examination of Commonwealth Defence problems. We hope that it will be possible for detailed planning talks to begin as soon as the examination by your Defence Committee is completed. We feel that discussions of this nature will result in real progress in joint defence planning, and we are therefore anxious that they should take place at an early date.

With regard to paragraph 7 of your letter of the 7th February, we realise the vital concern of Australia for her own security, and we fully appreciate your need to know more about United States intentions in the Pacific before the Australian Government can approve any immediate or long term plans. There is, however, much detailed work to be done between the Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom Service Staffs before plans are ready for submission to Governments; we hope, therefore, that you will agree that planning discussions between ourselves should start without necessarily waiting for the information you require from the United States. In any case our planning team will by then be able to give you some information regarding United States intentions in the Pacific Area.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Fraser.

1 The first letter is Document 108; the second, which was the reply to Attlee's letter of 3 1 January (Document 107), agreed that a UK planning team should visit Australia.

2 Entitled 'Defence Appreciation as a Basis for Military Planning between, Commonwealth stalls'; dated 9 February 1949; not published.

[AA:A816/52, 14/301/353]