96 Submission by Dedman to Council of Defence

Supplement 1 to Agendum 1/1948 CANBERRA, 14 April 1948


THE STRATEGIC POSITION OF AUSTRALIA REVIEW BY THE CHIEFS OF STAFF COMMITTEE In the appreciation of the Strategical Position of Australia by the Chiefs of Staff Committee [1], which was circulated under Agendum No. 1/1948, the Chiefs of Staff 'recommend its acceptance as the basic document on measures necessary for the Defence of Australia'. [2]

2. In view of this, it is necessary for me to point out in regard to several matters, some of which extend beyond the scope of a strategic appreciation into the political and administrative spheres, that the information is not complete and, in the absence of any reference to action that has been taken or views expressed by the Government, the impression may be conveyed that nothing has been done on these subjects, or that they are now raised for the first time. Accordingly, for the completeness of the Council's records, this supplementary agendum is circulated showing, in the attached statement, my comments on passages relating to the following subjects:-

(1) Principles of British Commonwealth Defence.

(2) Machinery for Co-ordination.

(3) Civil Defence (4) The Necessity for an Intelligence Organisation (5) Necessity for Co-ordinated Planning.

(6) Development of Australia as a Main Support Area.

(7) Scientific Development.

(8) Standardisation.

(9) Summary of the Measures to Achieve Security.




(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'Proposals made by the United Kingdom at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946 with reference to British Commonwealth Defence, are set out below:-

"Each Member of the Commonwealth should- (i) Accept responsibility for the development and defence of their Main Support Area and the strategic zone around it.

(ii) Accept the principle of joint responsibility between members of the Commonwealth concerned for the protection of lines of communication between Main Support Areas.

(iii) Agree that it is in their strategic interest to assist both politically and militarily in maintaining our position in those protective areas which directly affect the security of their territory and communications."

It is observed, however, that no complete and final agreement has yet been reached with regard to these or any other governing principles.'

(B) Observations by the Minister for Defence:

While no complete and final agreement may yet have been reached in regard to the above proposals made at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946, it is necessary for completeness to refer to the following action taken by the Government:-

(a) A Governmental Memorandum on Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence dated May, 1947 [3], based on the discussions at the Prime Ministers' Conference, was forwarded to the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Pakistan, and a proposal made for the mutual accreditation of representatives to the Defence Machinery of each other for the consideration of matters of mutual interest.

Agreement to this proposal was reached with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments last December.

(b) The Australian Government's views on the proposals referred to by the Chiefs of Staff are contained in the following paragraphs of its memorandum of May, 1947:-

(i) Responsibility for Development and Defence of Main Support Areas and Regions of Strategic Responsibility-paragraphs 4 and 5.

(ii) Protection of lines of communication between Main Support Areasparagraph 6.

(iii) Areas of strategic importance other than Main Support Areas- paragraph 7.

Also the statement in the Chiefs of Staff Appreciation 'that no complete and final agreement has yet been reached with regard to any other governing principles' overlooks the following principles agreed to at Imperial Conferences since 1923, which were outlined in a memorandum approved by War Cabinet on 14th December, 1945, for circulation to the Departments concerned for their general information and guidance, in the consideration of Post-War Defence Policy:-

Local Defence.

1. Responsibility for.

Naval Defence.

1. Maintenance of adequate seapower.

2. Maintenance of an adequate standard of strength.

3. Provision of naval bases and facilities for repair and fuel.

Air Defence.

1. Uniform development of Air Forces.

2. Creation and maintenance of air bases and fuelling stations.

3. Air Force interchanges of personnel and units.

Munitions (including Aircraft), Raw Materials and Foodstuffs.

1. Development of Empire resources for the manufacture of munitions (including aircraft) as well as for the supply of raw materials, with the following objects in view:-

(i) A reduction in the existing dependence of all parts of the Commonwealth on the munitions produced in the United Kingdom.

(ii) The avoidance as far as possible of over-concentration of resources for manufacture and supply in any area especially liable to attack.

(iii) The possibility of a development and extension of such resources in time of emergency.

2. Development of manufacturing self-sufficiency and arrangements for combining facilities.

3. Planning of concerted arrangements to ensure adequate supplies of raw materials.

4. Planning of concerted arrangements for the supply of foodstuffs.

Co-operation in Empire Defence-General Considerations.

1. (i) The importance of standardisation in organisation, weapons and training.

(ii) Exchange of officers.

(iii) Consultation on all matters of mutual defence.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'the question of the institution of machinery, to enable planning to take place on a British Commonwealth basis was discussed at the Prime Ministers' Conference in London in 1946, but as yet, no machinery is in existence.'

(B) Observations by the Minister for Defence:

As indicated in sub-paragraph (1)(B)(a) above, Australian proposals relating to Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence were included in the Governmental Memorandum of May, 1947, and communicated to the United Kingdom and other Dominions. Agreement has been reached with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments and the machinery established. As subsequently stated by the Chiefs of Staff, without the co- operation of all the other Governments concerned, machinery for planning on a British Commonwealth basis is not possible. As mentioned in the Government's Policy Statement of June, 1947 [4], the position has been stated by the Prime Minister as follows:-

'Co-operation between members of the British Comnonwealth is a matter of bilateral or multilateral planning, according to the strategical position of the particular part of the Empire concerned, the views of its Government and those of the other Governments that may be concerned.'

The views of the South African Government on the development of machinery for British Commonwealth Co-operation as recently proposed by Lord Bruce in the House of Lords [5], and which largely correspond with those made by Mr. Curtin in 1944, were recently expressed by General Smuts as follows:-

'I feel that if this question should be raised at an Imperial Conference, at a conference of Prime Ministers, the feeling which existed in the past against any steps such as the one now proposed by Lord Bruce will be much stronger still. I believe that the influence of new members on such a conference will be still more to the effect that it is best to leave the matter there and not touch upon it ... it would mean a retrogressive step. The greater the attempt to create a closer union in order to knit more firmly together the loosely connected entities, the greater will be the friction, the more pronounced will be the disunity, the stronger will become the tendency towards secession.'


(A) Extracts from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'It is clear that the use of scientific weapons of mass destruction would have a great effect on the civil population and on the measures which should be taken for civil defence, and dispersal of population, industry and resources. This is of particular significance to a nation, which is situated adjacent to the territory of a potential enemy, but is not so in the case of Australia.' (Paragraph 67.)

'To minimise the effect of raids, a Civil Defence Organisation, dispersal of resources and duplication of vital industries to the economic limit, are necessary. '(Paragraph 95.)

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The measures for the defence of the civil community come within the scope of the Commonwealth War Book, the detailed plans being embodied in the Departmental War Book of the Department which will handle this matter in war. The Commonwealth War Book Officer was recently appointed and is at present gathering information relating to United Kingdom Civil Defence planning for defence against new types of weapons.

The following reference to the new problems in relation to civil defence presented by atomic and biological weapons was made in the Government's Statement of 4th June, 1947, on Post-War Defence Policy:-

'Important new aspects of Civil Defence have been under consideration for some time. Adequate measures for the defence of the civil community against attack by atomic and biological weapons must be based on proper scientific investigation which has not yet reached a stage to enable planning and other measures to be soundly developed.

When this stage has been reached, it will be possible for the Defence Committee and the Defence Scientific Advisory Committee, which has liaison with overseas sources of information, to advise on this matter. It will then be possible to establish a Committee on Civil Defence, representative of the Commonwealth and State authorities concerned, to recommend the plans and measures that should be taken.'


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'An effective intelligence organisation is a basic requirement in war, and is also essential in peace to provide the information necessary for strategic planning. The Australian intelligence organisation should, therefore, be an integral part of the world- wide British system, and permit of affiliation with those of the United States of America and other likely Allies. The organisation should be firmly established and functioning in peace if it is to be of real value in war.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The original Defence Committee proposals for the formation of an Australian Joint Intelligence Organisation were not acceptable to the Council of Defence when submitted in April, 1946.

After consultations in London at the time of the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946, the establishment of the organisation was approved in principle by the Government in July, 1946, subject to the approval of the detailed proposals.

Following visit by United Kingdom representatives for consultations early in 1947, detailed proposals were formulated and recommended by the Defence Committee. These proposals were finally approved by the Cabinet Committee in November last and action is now proceeding to set up the organisation. The Controller of Joint Intelligence, and the Directors of the Joint Intelligence Bureau, and the Signals Bureau, have been appointed, also a number of the staff together with others who have been seconded from the Services.

It is intended that the organisation be developed in stages, and financial provision has been made in the current Estimates (1947/8) for the implementation of the first stages of development. The Australian Organisation will be closely integrated with a world-wide British Commonwealth system and, if circumstances demand, is capable of affiliation in war with similar organisations of Allied countries.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'To ensure that each member of the British Commonwealth can, without delay, take that action which will be most effective in meeting a threat, it is essential that the joint strategic plans for the defence of the British Commonwealth should be formulated and coordinated in time of peace. In such plans, provision should also be made for probable participation by the United States of America, in particular, and by any other prospective Allies. An overall strategic plan cannot be developed, however, until political arrangements between the nations concerned have been made and effective machinery for the co-ordination of British Commonwealth defence measures has been introduced.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

As indicated in sub-paragraph (2)(B) above, it has only been possible to obtain the agreement of the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments to participation in Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence. Accordingly, it is not possible to formulate joint strategic plans for the defence of the British Commonwealth as mentioned in the above extract.

In regard to the statement that provision should also be made for probable participation by the United States in particular and by any other prospective Allies, the Australian Government Memorandum of May 1947 refers to the following principle arising from the discussions at the Prime Ministers' Conference in 1946 relating to Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence:-

'Be capable of interlocking with that of the United States and possibly other potential Allies.'

Also, as stated by the Prime Minister in his review to Parliament in June 1946:-

'The approach to a common scheme of defence for this area (the Pacific) should be by agreement between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United States, and later with other nations with possessions in this area.'


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'If Australia is to become an effective Main Support Area for the forces of the British Commonwealth engaged in hostilities in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and in South West Asia, it will be essential to:

(a) establish potential for the production of equipment, supplies, etc., essential to the prosecution of a war. This potential includes shipbuilding, ship repair and aircraft production;

(b) make concerted arrangements for adequate supplies of raw materials;

(c) provide the manpower essential to give effect to (a) and (b) above;

(d) establish capacity for scientific research and development;

(e) establish an organisation responsible for the survey of national resources, and for the planning, in peace, of the allocation and development of the industrial economic and manpower resources of the country, to meet the requirements of war conditions;

(f) make provision for training and maintenance facilities required both by Australian Forces and any other British Commonwealth Forces which may be based on this country.'

(B) Observations of Minister for Defence:

in sub-paragraph (1)(B)(b), reference was made to the principles which have been agreed to at Imperial Conferences relating to the development of Empire resources for the manufacture of munitions (including aircraft) as well as for the supply of raw materials.

In the Australian Government's memorandum of May, 1947, the views of the Government on the requirements of a Main Support Area, as expressed by the Prime Minister to the Prime Ministers' Conference, were stated as follows:-

(a) Industrial Facilities: In regard to the development of an industrial potential for war purposes in Dominions, it would be seen from the statement on Australian Defence Policy, that this is a Policy which Australia has been pursuing... It would be prepared to co-operate in this to the greatest extent possible.

(b) Manpower. The proposal for a more even spread of manpower was in harmony with the Commonwealth's Immigration Policy and, as indicated in the statement on Australian Defence Policy, the question of transfer of people and production units in industries had been raised during the war...

(c) Accumulation of Materials and Supplies: The proposal for accumulation of materials and supplies in the Dominions was in keeping with the general view on dispersion of resources...

Arrangements such as those suggested for the production and storage of stocks were a matter for examination in regard to the details of specific proposals.

(d) Training Facilities: The extent to which training facilities could be established or maintained for expansion and use for Empire purposes was a matter for consideration in relation to other Defence requirements and for examination in regard to the basis on which any such arrangements would be made.

(e) Research and Development: The question of co-operation in research and development had been referred to in the statement on Australian Defence Policy ... (Note: The Australian Government has since endorsed the recommendations of the British Commonwealth Defence Science Conference and agreed to participate in the Guided Missiles Project).

(f)Intelligence: As mentioned in the statement on Australian Defence Policy, the Government is at present considering the establishment of a Joint Intelligence Bureau for the Pacific Area... (Note: The Australian Government has since approved of the establishment of the Joint Intelligence Bureau and a Defence Signals Bureau in Australia).

The above covers items (a) to (d) and (f) in the extract from the Chiefs of Staff Appreciation. In regard to item (e) relative to National Planning for an Emergency, the following is an extract from the Government's statement of June 1947 on PostWar Defence Policy:-

'To achieve a balanced Defence Policy, it is necessary to ensure proper coordination of the Navy, Army and Air Force, the Supply Organisation and the civil economy which supports the direct military effort. The Defence Machinery must provide for the co- ordination of these as integral parts of the National Defence Policy. In peace, it is a question of funds and manpower and material resources that should be allocated for Defence. In war, it is a matter of how the aggregate national financial, manpower and material resources can be allotted to maintain the most effective and balanced war effort. The preparations in peace must embrace the planning for an emergency.

The basis of these plans is the Commonwealth War Book and Departmental War Books, and the time is approaching for their revision in the light of the experience of war-time policy and administration and likely contingencies. It is proposed shortly to constitute the machinery to deal with the wide range of subjects covered by the War Books.'

As already mentioned, the Commonwealth War Book Officer was recently appointed, and is at present gathering information on United Kingdom planning. When he returns to Australia, the necessary machinery will be established to enable planning to proceed.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'Australia is relatively weak in conventional war potential, and it is therefore important that she should seek to gain every advantage which the possession of scientific weapons would bestow.

just as co-ordination of British Commonwealth strategic effort will be necessary in future wars, it is equally important that the British Commonwealth's scientific effort in the research and development necessary for the production of such weapons, should be coordinated in peace and war.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The Council will be aware of the following action which was taken upon the approval of Cabinet in April 1946:-

(i) The appointment of a Defence Scientific Adviser.

(ii) The establishment of the Defence Scientific Advisory Committee.

(iii) The establishment of the New Weapons and Equipment Development Committee.

The Long Range Weapons Project is the first important step in the widening of Australia's responsibility in Defence Research and Development in accordance with the policy of the strategic development and distribution of resources of the British Commonwealth. Consultations are proceeding with the United Kingdom Government as to the manner in which Australia can further assist in this direction.

Also, a British Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Defence Science, representative of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, has been formed with the following terms of reference:-

(a) To consider and review major items of the defence research programme of the Commonwealth countries and to make recommendations.

(b) To keep under review machinery for Commonwealth liaison in defence science, including methods of exchange of scientific information and interchange of scientific staff.


(A) Extract from Chiefs of Staff Appreciation:

'The Australian Forces should be standardised in their organisation, equipment and training with those of other nations of the British Commonwealth and, as far as possible, with those of allies with whom a permanent association is likely to be achieved.

This would permit flexibility of employment in accordance with a coordinated plan, and facilitate co-operation with the forces of those nations and allies.'

(B) Observations of the Minister for Defence:

The principle of standardisation of organisation, equipment and training by British Commonwealth countries was laid down in the following resolution of the 1926 Imperial Conference:-

'Co-operation and Consultation on Matters of Mutual Defence: The Conference observes that steady progress has been made in the direction of organising military formations in the various parts of the Empire, in general on similar lines; in the adoption of similar patterns of weapons; and in the interchange of officers between different parts; it invites the Governments represented at the Conference to do everything possible to extend these forms of co-operation, and to promote further consultation between the respective General Staffs on all matters of mutual defence.'

In regard to standardisation with potential allies, the Chiefs of Staff are aware of

this aspect.

(9) PAGE 37, PART V-A SUMMARY OF THE MEASURES TO ACHIEVE SECURITY The following are the items mentioned in Part V of the Appreciation which have been referred to earlier in this statement:-

(3) The necessity for co-ordinated planning : See paragraph (5) above.

(7) Civil Defence : See paragraph (3) above.

(8) Development of Australia as a Main Support Area : See paragraph (6) above.

(9) Scientific Development : See paragraph (7) above.

(11) Standardisation : See paragraph (8) above.

(12) Intelligence Organisation : See paragraph (4) above.

1 See Volume 12, Document 161, Attachment thereto.

2 Volume 12, Document 161.

3 See Volume 12, Document 172, Attachment thereto.

4 See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 192, PP. 3335-46.

5 On 17 February 1948; Bruce had proposed the formation of a Council of British Nations comprising the self-governing members of the British Commonwealth. There would be a secretariat and monthly meetings would be held attended by High Commissioners representing the Dominions with the UK Prime Minister presiding.

visiting Ministers would also attend. Plenary sessions of all the Prime Ministers would be held as required and these would replace the old Imperial Conferences.

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