111 Defence Committee Agendum
68/1949 Supplement 2 [MELBOURNE], 15 September 1949
STRATEGIC PLANNING IN RELATION TO BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE THE BASIC OBJECTIVES OF BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE POLICY AND GENERAL STRATEGY
At its meeting on 16th August, 1949, the Defence Committee endorsed a paper prepared by the Joint Planning Committee , relative to the Basic Objectives of British Commonwealth Defence Policy and General Strategy, for use at a conference with the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff, with the United Kingdom Planners in attendance (Minute No. 162/1949).
2. The Conference which was held in Melbourne from 22nd to 26th August, 1949, considered the paper in question, which embodied the main features of United Kingdom document COS(49)49-'Defence Appreciation as a basis for Military Planing between Commonwealth Staffs' -and also included certain minor variations from that document.
3. Attached is copy of the paper, revised as a result of the Conference which incorporated the main principles and important matters on which agreement was reached.
4. The United Kingdom Chief Liaison Officer informed the Conference that note would be taken of the variations from COS(49)49 embodied in the revised paper. He stated that they would be brought to the notice of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff, with a view, if they agreed, to COS(49)49 being revised to become the basic document on this subject, for the use of Defence authorities of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
5. The Conference was of the opinion that the revised paper would provide a suitable basis for making a submission to higher authority, as appropriate, and this subject will be listed for further consideration by the Defence Committee on receipt of the observations of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff.
THE BASIC OBJECTIVES OF BRITISH COMMONWEALTH DEFENCE POLICY AND GENERAL STRATEGY (Revised 26th August 1949 following discussions between the Defence Committee and the New Zealand Chiefs of Staff)
INTRODUCTION In December 1948, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence approved recommendations which had been made in a report by the Defence Committee  after consideration of United Kingdom Paper PMM(48)1, 'The World Situation and its Defence Aspects'.  The recommendations referred to were that:
'... the Government should authorise an examination by the Defence Committee, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Liaison Staffs of the following:
(a) The basic objectives of British Commonwealth Defence policy and general strategy;
(b) A suitable basis for the distribution of strategic responsibility and war effort.
When Government approval has been given to the conclusions reached in staff discussions under (a) and (b) above, general outline plans to meet immediate and long term dangers should be prepared.' 2. This paper deals specifically with subject (a) above, but only in general terms with subject (b) which will be dealt with in a separate submission.
3. The undermentioned documents have been taken into consideration by the Committee in its examination of this subject:
(a) Memorandum by the United Kingdom Government-The World Situation and its Defence Aspects (PMM(48)1, 23rd September, 1948).
(b) A report by the Defence Committee on the United Kingdom Paper PMM(48)1 at (a) above (Attachment 'A' to Defence Committee Minute No. 25 2/1948).
(c) Comments by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff on Australian Chiefs of Staff Appreciation, September 1947 (Attachment  to letter from United Kingdom Prime Minister of 29th December 1948 ).
(d) United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff Committee-Defence Appreciation as a basis for discussion between Commonwealth Military Staffs (COS(49)49, 9th February 1949).
WORLD SITUATION AND THREAT TO SECURITY 4. To determine the basic objectives of British Commonwealth Defence Policy and General Strategy, it is necessary first to consider the world situation and the threat to security.
5. The following outstanding factors of military significance from United Kingdom Paper PMM(48)1 which are still cogent, formed the basis of the Defence Committee's report which was approved by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence, and forwarded to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom with a letter dated 10th December 1948 :
'(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.
6. It was stated in United Kingdom Paper PMM(48)1, that, in the present world situation, the United Kingdom Government had thought it necessary to pursue the following policy:
(i) To stimulate political resistance to the spread of communism and to promote economic recovery in those countries threatened by it, and (ii) Recognising that no one country can safely stand alone, to join with the United States and the countries of Western Europe and the Commonwealth in organising all deterrent forces, in building up effective defences, and in working out appropriate collective security arrangements in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
With regard to the latter aspect of policy, the Committee recalled that, on the 13th December 1948, the Australian Government had signified its approval to the recommendations on the subject of Commonwealth consultation  which it had been agreed at the Meeting of Prime Ministers in London in October 1948, would be submitted to all Commonwealth Governments for approval. These recommendations included the following:
'In furtherance of the general aim of co-operation between all peace-loving nations to deter and to resist aggression, there will be close consultation between Commonwealth Governments to arrange co-operative action in matters of defence, including those matters which arise from a common interest in the security of a particular region. The military advisers of those Governments will consult together to frame proposals and plans for submission to their respective Governments.'
DEFENCE POLICY 7. The Committee was of the opinion therefore that the following policy, which has been recommended by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff and conforms to United Kingdom Government policy, should be adopted as Australian Defence Policy:
(a) 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.
(b) To resist the spread of Communism by all means short of war.
WAR Aims 8. With a view to building up effective defences and working out the necessary plans, it is necessary first to determine the war aims toward which Allied strategy should be directed. In this connection we are in agreement with the following views of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff:
'We consider that it is not possible to limit the Allied War Aim to the narrow one of restoring the situation to that immediately preceding the outbreak of war, or even to that of driving the Russians out of territories over which they have acquired control.
We therefore define the Allied War Aims 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 AIMS 9. Air Offensive: Because of the geographic characteristics of Russia, and the great numerical superiority of her land forces, the only means of taking offensive action initially is by a strategic air offensive.
10. Bases and Sea Areas Essential for the Strategic Air Offensive:
To launch an air offensive, the bases from which it must be mounted and the vital sea and air communications necessary to the maintenance of the Allied war effort must be protected. Air bases must be selected so that all the important targets in Russia are within range. Nearly all the major targets in Soviet territory could be reached from bases in Western Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan, and the Japanese Islands. At present it is not possible to plan on using Pakistan bases, at least from the outset, as there is no defence arrangement with that country. It may be, however, that the situation will change and these bases become available.
11. Defence of Areas Essential to the Allies: In addition to the land areas required for air bases, the retention of certain other areas is vital to the allies. These fall into three classes:
(a) Home territories of the Allies.
(b) Support Areas.
(c) Areas to give depth in defence.
12. Home Territories of the Allies: Each allied nation will naturally consider the security of its own country as its first strategic aim. Nevertheless, if the Allies are to achieve victory, their resources must be concentrated on the defence of those areas which are essential to overall strategy. In the long run, it is by an allied victory in the principal theatres of operations that the ultimate security of the home territories of all the Allies will be achieved.
13. Support Areas: Certain areas are the sources of manpower, raw materials and industrial resources, to which the Allies must have ready access if they are to be able to prosecute the war. It is obvious that such areas must be defended.
14. Areas to give Depth to Defence: Certain additional areas must be held in order to give defence in depth to our bases and support areas in war. The decision as to which areas these are will be brought out in the detailed plans for each area.
15. Control of Sea and Air Communications: To hold the air bases essential for launching the air offensive, sea and air communications between these air bases, and the main support areas must be controlled. Similarly, to deploy forces as required by the overall strategy, and to utilise materials and resources to the fun, control of certain sea and air routes will be essential.
CONCLUSIONS ON ALLIED STRATEGY 16. We are in agreement with the conclusion of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff, that the following military measures are essential to implement allied 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.
(c) It would also be desirable to hold as bases for our air offensive:
(i) Sea areas for possible carrier offensives.
(ii) Pakistan (d) To defend the main support areas which are:
(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.
(e) To ensure the internal security and local defence of support areas of less importance.
(f) To hold those areas necessary to give defence in depth to allied air bases and support areas.
(g) To retain firm control of the essential sea and air communications, and of land areas necessary to ensure this control.
17. Indian-Sub Continent: Should it be possible subsequently to make appropriate arrangements with India and Pakistan, under which the Indian Sub-Continent could be included as a support area, this would be most advantageous.
THE STRATEGIC PROBLEM IN THE AUSTRALIAN AREA 18. In the event of a major war in the foreseeable future, it would be global in character, the major conflicts taking place in Europe and the Middle East, and to a lesser degree in the Far East. The fate of Australia would be decided by the result of those conflicts.
In paragraphs 12 and 16 above, the security of Australia has been shown to be essential to the war aims, firstly, as a 'Home Territory' and secondly, as a 'Support Area'. It is essential to strike a correct balance between the requirements of local defence and the contribution to decisive overseas theatres, on which the security of Australia depends.
19. The strategic importance to Russia of Europe and the Middle East is such that the major effort of her armed forces is likely to be made in those theatres. We note and agree with the views expressed by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff in the attachment to the United Kingdom Prime Minister's letter of 29th December, 1948, that:
'...The most immediate and dangerous Russian threats will be in Western Europe and the Middle East... The successfiil defence of the Middle East depends on the rapid build up of Commonwealth and American Forces. We estimate that we shall be hard put to deploy adequate forces in time.'
Australia is most unlikely to be an objective of high strategic priority in Russian plans. In addition, geographic factors and the inferiority of Russian surface naval forces, decrease the probability of serious attack. The security of the Australian mainland will depend, therefore, on:
(a) the distance from Australia of possible enemy air bases; and (b) the control and security of sea and air communications in the Pacific, South-East Asian Area and Indian Ocean.
20. The Australian Chiefs of Staff in their Appreciation of the Strategic Position of Australia (September 1947)  defined the danger line for hostile penetration as a line which includes the Philippines and Malaya. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff were in general agreement with this view. Provided there is an adequate superiority of Allied Naval and Air Forces in the Pacific and a secure hold is maintained on the Philippines and Malaya, there is no threat of invasion and the scale of air attack will be negligible.
21. This view is in agreement with the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff comments forwarded with the United Kingdom Prime Minister's letter dated 29th December, 1948, as follows:
'We agree with the Australian Chiefs of Staff that Australia's security is unlikely to be directly threatened in the early stages of a war. Should the war develop in such a manner that the security of Australia is directly threatened it is appreciated that Australia will require considerable assistance from her allies.
The amount of such assistance and by whom it would be provided could only be decided by the Allied Higher Direction in the light of the situation at the time. Australia's security, however, depends ultimately on an Allied victory. Russia's strength is such that victory can only be achieved if all the allies make the maximum possible contribution to implement the Allied plan, and to meet the threat as soon as, and wherever, it develops.'
22. Insofar as the military threat is concerned, it is considered that the extension of Communist influence in Asia will make available to Soviet Russia further potential air and submarine bases from which attacks could be mounted against sea communications in South-East Asia, and thus lead to an increase in the probable scale of attack in this area. The degree of subversive activity in South-East Asia will also increase.
However, the appreciation of the Australian strategic position, outlined in paragraphs 19 and 20 above, is not materially affected by the foregoing during the period under review (i.e. up to 1957).
23. The security of the zone of immediate strategic interest to Australia, south of the line through the Philippines and Malaya therefore, requires the following in relation to the probable form and scale of attack:
(a) Protection of sea and air communications.
(b) Seaward and air defence of vital areas.
(c) Measures to ensure internal security.
24. Outline Plans for seaward and air defences of vital areas in Australia are under consideration and an assessment of the forces required to implement these plans has been made. The Defence Committee's views on the measures required to ensure internal security in Australia have been formulated and incorporated in a separate paper.
Plans for protection of sea and air communications are currently under consideration in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Service Liaison Staffs and will be completed in the near future.
25. In the light of this situation, we consider it essential to prepare for participation of Australian forces, surplus to those required for Australia's home defence, in British Commonwealth emergency and long range plans.
TIME FACTOR 26. In previous wars, deterioration of the world situation has usually provided a considerable period of warning prior to the advent of war. It has been possible to collect, well in advance, evidence of preparation for war. In addition, the ready availability of United Kingdom forces has provided a cushion of time during which this country has been able to organise and mobilise her armed forces.
The principal factors which affect the present situation are:
(a) The speed of modern warfare has increased immeasurably. This provides an aggressor nation with an opportunity for much greater strategic gains in the opening stages of war; and (b) Russian Armed Forces are maintained in a high degree of mobilisation, and could engage in war at any time. Their strategic location is such that they can launch offensive operations without moving forces overseas.
For these reasons the period of warning of the possible outbreak of hostilities is likely to be very short. In certain circumstances there may be no warning at all.
27. In view of the time factor it is essential for plans to be fully developed in peace for the deployment of adequate Allied forces to protect vital strategic areas with maximum speed in an emergency. Armed forces must be maintained in a higher state of readiness for war than has previously been necessary.
28. Allied general strategic plans will directly influence the composition, strength and armament of the Australian Services, and the material resources which Australia should provide in war. The maximum effectiveness of Australia's contribution, in a future war, will only be achieved if the composition, strength and armament of the Services in peace is based on their probable role in the general strategy for war. It is essential, therefore, that there should be an early examination, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Authorities of the part which Australian Armed Forces may play in British Commonwealth emergency and long range plans.
BASIS OF PLANNING 29. It is considered that plans for Australian participation in British Commonwealth Defence should be developed initially on a regional basis in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand. At an appropriate stage of development, the plans would need to be coordinated with American plans for the defence of the Pacific. It is desirable also that plans for the defence of the area of vital strategic importance to the security of Australia should be linked ultimately with the plans of other friendly nations having possessions in the South-West Pacific Area.
30. Information with regard to United States intentions in the Pacific will have a major effect on planning. The information now available to us is a satisfactory basis for the preparation of plans and alternative plans on a Service level, but ultimate consideration and acceptance of such plans by the Australian Government would appear to be contingent on an agreement between the United Kingdom, the United States and Australian Governments as to how defence responsibilities are shared in the Far East, South-West Pacific Area and the Middle East.
31. As has been stated in paragraphs 27 and 28 above, plans, and alternative plans if necessary, for the employment of all Australian forces likely to be engaged in war both at home and abroad, must be fully developed well in advance of events if the Australian contribution to Allied strategy is to be effective.
Subject to it being clearly understood that the preparation of plans for the employment of Australian Armed Forces will not commit the Australian Government unless it subsequently accepts specific plans, it is recommended that approval be given for emergency and long range plans to be developed, initially on the Service level, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Liaison Staffs. Proposals arising out of this planning should be submitted to the Minister for Defence in accordance with the procedure  agreed at the 13 th Meeting of the Prime Ministers in 1948.
RECOMMENDATION 32. The Committee recommended:
(A) That the defence policy and general strategy, upon which planning is to be based, be:
(a) Defence Policy:
(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.
(b) War Aims:
(i) To ensure the abandonment by Russia of further military and ideological aggression.
(ii) To create conditions conducive to world peace.
(c) Military Measures to implement Allied Strategy:
(i) To deliver the strategic air offensive from the outbreak of war;
(ii) To hold the air bases and sea areas essential for our air offensive. These are: The United Kingdom.
The Middle East.
(iii) It would also be desirable to hold as bases for our air offensive:
Sea areas for possible carrier offensives.
(iv) To defend the main support areas which are:
United States of America and Canada.
Australia and New Zealand.
South Africa and certain other parts of the African continent.
The Argentine and certain other parts of South America.
Should it be possible subsequently to make appropriate arrangements with India and Pakistan, under which the Indian Sub- Continent could be included as a support area, this would be most advantageous.
(v) To ensure the internal security and local defence of support areas of less importance, as necessary.
(vi) To hold those areas necessary to give defence in depth to Allied air bases and support areas;
(vii) To retain firm control of the essential sea and air communications, and of land areas necessary to ensure this control; and (B) That, subject to it being clearly understood that the preparation of plans for the employment of Australian Armed Forces will not commit the Australian Government, unless it subsequently accepts specific plans, approval be given for emergency and long range plans to be developed, initially on a Service level, in conjunction with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Liaison Staffs. Proposals arising out of this planning should be submitted to the Minister for Defence  in accordance with the procedure agreed at the 13th Meeting of the Prime Ministers in 1948.