124 Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation 3/1948

Extract MELBOURNE, 5 January 1949



(Revising Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation No. 1/1947 of 27th March, 1947. [1])


1. To assess the possibility of war and consequent threat to Australia.


2. This paper has been prepared on information available to the Joint Intelligence Committee as at December, 1948.


3. The following is the arrangement of parts in the paper:-

Part I Introduction Part II Summary of Conclusions Part III Selection of Potential Enemies Part IV Enemy War Potential Part V Possibility of War Part VI Likely Courses of Enemy Action


4. As this paper is a Service Intelligence Appreciation, it should be borne in mind that in selecting potential enemies we have considered the worst probable case in order that:-

(a) The probable intentions of the potential enemy can be forecast as far in advance as practicable before actual hostilities begin.

(b) The necessary information can be obtained to enable a successful war to be waged.


5. The only major power with which the British Commonwealth and therefore Australia is likely to become involved in war in the foreseeable future is the U.S.S.R.

6. Any direct threat to Australia will be as a consequence of hostile moves in the Far East by the U.S.S.R., with the collaboration of communist-controlled China and the pro-Soviet factions in French Indo-China, Malaya and Burma. The nationalist movement in the Netherlands East Indies may be a further disturbing element.

7. Despite the possibility of this threat, Soviet military aggression in South East Asia is most improbable so long as the United States of America maintains bases in Japan. A Soviet challenge to the United States of America in the Far East will be a necessary pre-condition to Soviet military activity in South East Asia or the Pacific.

8. The U.S.S.R. should have the economic self-sufficiency to enable her to support a major struggle by 1957. Despite, however, any lack of economic self-sufficiency, it is considered that the U.S.S.R. would not be deterred from going to war now or in the immediate future if she considered it opportune.

9. A state of 'war' at present exists between the U.S.S.R. and the Western Powers although it does not involve the employment of orthodox hostilities.

10. It is best described as a 'cold war' in which Soviet aggression is characterised by the exploitation of minorities and disaffected elements in foreign countries, and the manipulation of international organisations in her own interests with the ultimate object of communising the world.

11. It is at present, and will continue to be for a period, to the Soviet advantage to restrict activities to this plane. The possibility of war involving the use of orthodox hostilities, however, exists, and may be precipitated through either an unplanned incident or a miscalculation by the U.S.S.R. of the point at which she will be opposed by armed force or because she believes that conditions favour the prosecution of her aim by military action rather than by her present methods.

12. In the event of armed hostilities, military moves by the U.S.S.R. would be characterised mainly by land advances supported by air forces, including airborne operations, and supplemented by intense submarine activity against sea communications. Global fifth column activities from which Australia cannot be excluded must be expected. The use of biological warfare and chemical warfare cannot be disregarded.

13. Taking into account the present strategic dispositions of Soviet forces, and the logistical difficulty of reinforcing the Far Eastern area, we consider the Soviet's general plan would be to fight a full scale aggressive war on her Western and Southern fronts with the object of overrunning Europe-including Great Britainand the Middle East. In the Far East she would establish forces in as much of China and Korea as would be necessary to deny us the free use of any bases in these territories, and conduct an offensive against Japanese territory with the object of denying us control of that area.

1 Volume 12, Document 160.

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