126 Notes by Coleman for Defence Committee

Agendum 14/1949 MELBOURNE, 14 February 1949

TOP SECRET

THE STRATEGIC POSITION OF AUSTRALIA

INTRODUCTION This Agendum covers an Appreciation by the J.I.C. on the 'Strategic Position of Australia-Possibility of War and Consequent Threat to Australia'. [1] The Joint Planning Committee has submitted the Appreciation to the Defence Committee for information noting that 'the Appreciation had been prepared on the basis of the information available to the J.I.C. up to the end of 1948, which did not include any authoritative political background from the Department of External Affairs'.

COMMENTS (i) The present J.I.C. Appreciation is a revision of their Appreciation No. 1/1947 [2] which was the basis of the report by the J.P.C. leading to the Chiefs of Staff Appreciation of September, 1947. [3] The earlier J.I.C. Appreciation did not go beyond the J.P.C.

(ii) The Council of Defence in April 1948 directed [4] that prior to the preparation of a further Appreciation by the Chiefs of Staff, the Department of External Affairs should furnish a review of the international situation [5] for the information of the Council, and as an authoritative background to the Chiefs of Staff Strategical Appreciation.

(iii) In view of (ii) above, the present J.I.C. Appreciation cannot form the basis of an authoritative Appreciation by the Chiefs of Staff.

(iv) As the Chiefs of Staff are responsible for the preparation of strategic Appreciations, it is not clear why the J.I.C. and J.P.C.

reports have been submitted to the Defence Committee. There would appear to be some danger in the Defence Committee even noting the reports, as this might imply endorsement, for example of such statements as the following:-

(a) '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' (vide paragraph 9-conclusions).

(b) The inference that in the event of Soviet propaganda bringing about a state of war between India and Pakistan, the Western Powers might support India (vide paragraph 87). [6]

SUGGESTED ACTION It is suggested that the Defence Committee should direct that, in view of the Council direction referred to in (ii) above, J.I.C.

Appreciation No. 3/1948 cannot be accepted as an authoritative review of the international situation and that therefore it should remain on the J.I.C.-J.P.C. level. [7]

1 Document 124.

2 Volume 12, Document 160.

3 Volume 12, Document 161, Attachment thereto.

4 See Document 97, (4) (d) 5 Document 121, Attachment thereto.

6 The relevant part of the paragraph reads: '...the U.S.S.R. could occupy Afghanistan as a basis for operations against Pakistan and India, and for use as a propaganda base to further disrupt their relations with the object of bringing about a state of war between these two countries. This could well lead to serious difficulties throughout the Middle East, particularly if the Western Powers support the Union of India.' 7 Defence Commitee climate In, dated 17 February 1949, records that the Committee 'took note' of the appreciation.

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