110 Defence Committee [1] Minute 73/1949

Agendum 15/1949 Supplement 5 MELBOURNE, 5 May 1949



INTRODUCTION At its meeting on the 3rd March, 1949, the Defence Committee took note of a Defence Appreciation (C.O.S.(49)49) [2] which had been approved by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff as a basis for discussion between Commonwealth Military Staffs. It was decided (Minute No.32/1949) to refer the Appreciation to the Joint Planning Committee for:-

(a) examination and report as to whether it could be accepted, from the Australian Service point of view, as a basis for detailed planning with military staffs of other Commonwealth countries; and (b) consideration, subject to any commitments under (a) (above), in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand representatives, in connection with other matters related to strategic planning, on which the Joint Planning Committee is to report in accordance with Minute No.20/1949 [3], and which were also referred to in Minute No.28/1949.

REPORT BY THE JOINT PLANNING COMMITTEE 2. The Committee noted a report (No. 19/1949) which had been submitted by the Joint Planning Committee, with United Kingdom and New Zealand representatives in attendance, in respect of (a) above, i.e., the question of acceptance of the Appreciation as a basis for detailed planning with military staffs of other Commonwealth countries.

CONCLUSION 3. The conclusion arrived at by the Committee was that, subject to certain observations, the United Kingdom Defence Appreciation (C.O.S.(49)49) is acceptable generally, from the Australian Service point of view, as a basis for discussion between Commonwealth Military Staffs.

RECOMMENDATION 4. The Committee recommended that the attached report which embodies its observations on Defence Appreciation C.O.S.(49)49 be forwarded to the United Kingdom Chief Liaison Officer, for transmission to the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff and also to the New Zealand Liaison Officer, for the information of the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff


GENERAL In its examination of United Kingdom Defence Appreciation C.O.S.(49)49, the Defence Committee recalled that the following outstanding factors of military significance from United Kingdom Paper PMM(48) 1-The World Situation and its Defence Aspects [4]- formed the basis of the Defence Committee's report [5] which was forwarded to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by the Prime Minister with a letter dated 10th December, 1948 [6]:-

'(a) The establishment of collective security under the United Nations has not been achieved.

(b) Soviet policy and aims are a threat to all free nations who are in danger of being subjugated one by one.

(c) Soviet policy, if pursued, will inevitably lead to a clash.

(d) The Soviet can engage in a land war at any time. The probability of the Soviet engaging in war may be affected for the time being by economic or relative air power factors, but if she felt confident of attaining her primary objectives rapidly, economic considerations themselves would not prevent her from engaging in war.

In the light of these factors, the Defence Committee was of the opinion that the undermentioned views of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff on 'Allied Defence Policy', in paragraph 41(a) of the United Kingdom Defence Appreciation which were put before the meeting of Prime Ministers in United Kingdom Paper PMM(48)1 at the Conference of Prime Ministers in London in October, 1948, are militarily necessary:-

'41. ...

(a) We should plan to prevent war in two ways:-

(i) by showing that the Commonwealth and its Allies possess forces and resources on a scale adequate to convince the Soviet Union that war is unprofitable and further that the Allies are fully prepared to act offensively from the outset;

(ii) by taking all possible means, short of war, not only to resist a further spread of Communism, but also to weaken the Russian hold over the countries she now dominates.'

The policy proposed in paragraph 41(b) and (c) (hereunder) is the logical conclusion from the strategic viewpoint.

'41. ...


(b) The policy of each Commonwealth country should therefore be- (i) to join with the other Commonwealth countries, the United States, and the countries of Western Europe in organising essential deterrent forces, in building up effective defences and in working out the necessary plans, preferably on a regional basis, in accordance with Article 52 of the United Nations Charter;

(ii) to resist the spread of Communism by all means short of war.

(c) In order to make these measures fully effective it is desirable that the plans drawn up on a regional basis should be founded on an agreed concept of the Allied strategy in war.'


C.0.S.(49)49 2. The Defence Committee was in general agreement with the views of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff Committee on 'Allied Strategy in War', including the war aims defined as-

'(a) To ensure the abandonment by Russia of further military and ideological aggression.

(b) To create conditions conducive to world peace.'

Military Measures to Achieve the Aim 3. The Committee's comments on the military measures necessary to implement Allied strategy, which are summarised in paragraph 40 (hereunder) of the United Kingdom document, are set out below-

'40. We conclude that the following military measures are essential to implement our strategy- (a) To deliver the strategic air offensive from the outbreak of war.

(b) To hold the air bases and sea areas essential for our air offensive. These are (i) The United Kingdom;

(ii) The Middle East;

(iii) Japan;

(iv) And possibly sea areas for the carrier offensive;

(v) Pakistan, if political conditions allow.

(c) To defend the main support areas- (i) United States of America and Canada;

(ii) Australia and New Zealand;

(iii) South Africa and certain other parts of the African continent;

(iv) The Argentine and certain other parts of South America.

(d) To ensure the internal security and local defence of support areas of less importance.

(e) To hold those areas necessary to give defence in depth to our air bases and support areas (paragraph 36).

(f) To retain firm control of the essential sea communications (paragraph 38), and of the land areas necessary to ensure this control (paragraph 39).'

4. While it was agreed that the only means of taking immediate offensive action is by a strategic air offensive, it was felt that some indication should be given as to whether the strategic air offensive would continue to be the principal method of achieving the war aims, or whether a land offensive might ultimately be necessary, in addition to those land operations which would be complementary to the strategic air offensive.

5. Uninterrupted sea communications between Allied bases, main support areas and other areas of strategic importance were considered to be essential in a future war, but the Committee was of the opinion that control of air communications between such bases and areas would be equally important.

Middle East Air Base 6. The importance of Egypt in British strategy was fully recognised, but it appeared to the Committee that the Allied position in Egypt and the question of obtaining adequate, timely co-operation from the Egyptian Government were uncertain. The prospects of holding and using Egypt as a base should, therefore, be assessed. The Defence Committee desired advice of any alternative plans which might be contemplated in the event of the retention of Egypt as a base proving impracticable.

Japanese Air Base 7. It was agreed that the bases on Okinawa and in Japan are comparatively easy to defend as they have no land frontier, but the possibility of a considerable internal security problem, in the event of the Japanese population not being co-operative in a future war, should be home in mind. This would be accentuated by economic problems resultant upon shortages of food and raw materials, aggravated by enemy action.

Support Areas 8. it would appear that the Indian sub-continent is equally important as the 'Argentine and certain other parts of South America' as a Support Area which must be defended, and should not be omitted from the list of areas to be defended.

9. It was noted that the extent to which the oil resources of the Middle East are vital to the Allied war effort will largely determine the strategy to be followed in the Middle East. It would appear that if it is necessary, for protection of the South Persian and Iraqi oil fields, to hold the line of the mountain passes leading out of Turkey and Persia, there would be a much greater commitment than for defence of the Middle East air base.

This in turn may have an important effect on Allied strategy elsewhere. The results of the current examination of oil resources are of particular interest and importance to Australia.

Areas to Give Defence in Depth

For Defence of Support Areas 10. If the Philippines and Malaya are held as a forward line, adequate defence in depth for Australia and New Zealand would be provided. Advice would be appreciated as to why Formosa was included as being also essential for that purpose. It appeared to the Committee that the main significance in the inclusion of Formosa lies in its importance in relation to the protection of sea and air communications.

Control of Sea and Air Communications 11. If support for the Middle East from Australia and/or New Zealand proved necessary as planning proceeded, it would be essential to command the sea communications through the Indian Ocean. An explanation of the terms 'firm control of and 'a high degree of control of, was desired by the Defence Committee to enable it to appreciate their purport.

Land Areas Necessary to Ensure Control of Sea and Air Communications

Defence of Sea and Air Communications in the Indian Ocean 12. It was noted that in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean, the land areas mentioned as necessary [7] to ensure control of sea communications were coincident with those necessary for the control of recognised air communications for air transportation, as distinct from Service aircraft reinforcement.

13. It was considered that the following should be added to the list of land areas, the control of which would be essential for the defence of sea communications in the Indian Ocean [8]:-

Cocos Islands, Chagos Archipelago, Seychelles.

This would also ensure the availability of air communications across the Indian Ocean through bases now under British control, in the event of the existing route-through Netherlands East Indies, Malaya, India and Pakistan-not being available.

Defence of Sea and Air Communications in the Pacific Ocean 14. The Committee observed that there were no areas listed as being essential for the defence of sea communications in the Pacific Ocean. From the Australian viewpoint, control of the following is considered essential for sea and/or air communications:-

Hawaiian Islands, Midway Island, Wake Island, Marianas (Guam and Saipan), Bonin Islands (Iwo Jima), Admiralty Islands (Manus), Philippines, Malaya, Netherlands East Indies, Fiji, Phoenix Islands (Canton).

Control of the following would be desirable:-

Galapagos Islands, Johnson Islands, Marshall Islands (Kwajalein), Samoa.

CONCLUSION 1[5]. The Defence Committee was of the opinion that the United Kingdom Defence Appreciation C.O.S. (49)49 was generally acceptable from the Australian Service point of view as a basis for discussion between Commonwealth Military staffs, and recommended that the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff Committee be informed of the foregoing comments and observations.

1 The commitee on this occasion, comprised representatives of the Department of Defence and the, Chiefs of Staff. Those present were P.E. Coleman, Acting secretary, Department of Defence; Lieutenant General S.F. Rowell, Vice-Chief of the General Staff, Air Commodore F.R.W. Scherger, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Captain G.G.O. Gatacre, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, and, for consideration of this agendum, Rear Admiral C.T.M. Pizey, UK Chief Liaison Officer and Colonel D.T. Maxwell, Head of the NZ Joint Services Liaison Staff.

2 Dated 9 February 1949; not published.

3 Dated 10 February 1949. It asked the Joint Planning Committee to examine and report on 'a) the basic objectives of British Commonwealth defence policy and general strategy; and b) a suitable basis for the distribution of strategic responsibility and war effort'. The Joint Planning Committee reported on subject a) in report 25 dated 30 May 1949, but held over reporting on b) until discussions with UK planners been completed.

4 Document 100.

5 Document 104 6 Document 105.

7 i.e. in the Atlantic; Azores, Canary Islands and Iceland; in the Mediterranean: southern Spain and Portugal, Gibraltar, Malta, Spanish and French North Africa.

8 The list of land areas reads: Saudi Arabia, Aden, Bandar Abbas, Ceylon, Malaya and Sumatra.

[AA:A5954, 1628/5]