120 Burton to Evatt

Minute CANBERRA, 15 April 1948



Shedden spoke to me about arrangements which might be made for the preparation by the Chiefs of Staff of strategic appreciations. He argued that, unless they had a political appreciation reflecting Government foreign policy, they could not make a strategic appreciation in conformity with Government policy. He argued also that it is necessary, in making a strategic appreciation, to make certain assumptions regarding possible enemies without implying that in fact a country singled out is regarded politically as an enemy.

2. I have always argued that strategic appreciations can and should be made without reference to a political appreciation pointing to likely enemies, and that, in any case, no foreign policy directed at securing peace could be based on possible enemies.

3. Whether or not the Chiefs of Staff get an appreciation of the political point of view will not make much difference to the type of appreciation they make. The Chiefs of Staff appreciations seem to be based on the assumption that Australia will undertake commitments in the Middle East in support of any military action which might involve Great Britain.

4. It would seem to me that it is not a judgment by us on the policies of other countries which the Chiefs of Staff require so much as a direction of Government domestic policy in certain eventualities. For example, if they are making an appreciation on the assumption that the Government would undertake commitments in the Middle East, and if, in fact, the Government would not undertake such commitments in any foreseeable circumstances, then a direction to the Chiefs of Staff seems to be required. If the Government is willing to undertake commitments within the near South-East Asia area but not go beyond that, equally it would seem necessary to direct the Chiefs of Staff to give more consideration to strategy in this area rather than concentrate upon possible action further afield. If, as a basic principle, the Government would be prepared to state that its manpower would be devoted primarily to production of food and other materials in the event of conflicts taking place not within an Australian area, then this might be a direction on which the Chiefs of Staff could work.

5. In other words, it is begging the question to suggest that it is an appreciation of the policies of other countries which they require so that they can choose their enemy. What they require is a direction on the basis of Australian Government policy on the use of Australian manpower and resources in the event of any conflict howsoever brought about by any country.

6. It would seem to me that it is this direction which the Chiefs of Staff do not wish to get, as it would completely change their planning and would prevent them making appreciations designating a particular country-Russia-as an enemy. In other words, they are putting forward formal reasons why they must be allowed to designate an enemy, and therefore formal reasons why they must be allowed to produce appreciations which appear to be inconsistent with foreign policy, whereas, if directed along the lines above, their appreciations would have to be in accordance with foreign policy and with the emphasis on the protection of Australia as a final defence in the event of situations not being determined or settled by the United Nations.

[AA:A1068/7, DL47/5/1A]