104 Report by Defence Committee
Attachment 'A' to Defence Committee MELBOURNE, 11 November 1948
REPORT BY THE DEFENCE COMMITTEE ON UNITED KINGDOM PAPER P.M.M.
(48) 1 -THE WORLD SITUATION AND ITS DEFENCE ASPECTS PART I-
GENERAL DEFENCE POLICY AND STRATEGY
[matter omitted] 
Relationship of Australian Defence Policy to United Kingdom Views:
3. The Australian Government announced in its post war defence
policy in June 1947 that-
(a) the nature and extent of the provision to be made for the
defence of Australia will be influenced by the stage of
development that has been reached in organising a system of
collective security, a scheme of British Commonwealth defence, and
the degree of reliance which can be placed on them; and
(b) if an overall plan cannot be prepared in accordance with the
principles of the Charter, reliance must be placed primarily on
co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence, and in the last
resort on the forces that can be provided for the inherent right
of self defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter.
4. The importance of regional arrangements for defence and close
co-operation with the United States of America has been fully
recognised. As was stated in the Australian Government's Defence
Policy in June 1947, Australia has a primary responsibility in
regard to its own problem in its particular region which requires
working out, not only with the other members of the Commonwealth
concerned, but also with other Nations with territorial and
strategic interests in that area. If these regional arrangements
are ultimately pieced together, a major contribution to an overall
plan may be achieved whether on a British Commonwealth or world
5. Similarly, as stated by the Prime Minister at the Conference in
London in 1946 in relation to Regional Security in the Pacific,
the approach to a common scheme of defence for this area 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.
6. The United Kingdom view with regard to the need and urgency for
a regional plan for Western Europe, the foundation of which was
laid by the Brussels Treaty of March 1948, and in which the
Western European countries, United States of America and the
United Kingdom should closely co-operate, is in accordance with
the Australian Government's views with regard to the Pacific
7. With regard to the United Kingdom's suggestion that planning
should take place within the British Commonwealth corresponding to
that for which the necessary political agreement has been reached
in the Western Union, it was stated in the House of
Representatives on 23rd September 1948, that:-
'...the Government's Policy is essentially and fundamentally based
on cooperation between members of the British Commonwealth.'
The following statement was made also by the Prime Minister at the
Conference in London in 1946:-
'Co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth is a
matter of bilateral or multilateral planning, according to the
strategical position of the particular part of the Empire
concerned, the view of its Government and those of the other
8. In the absence of progress in collective security under the
United Nations, the development of regional arrangements for
defence by the Western Union is therefore in accord with the
Australian Government's policy for the development of regional
arrangements in its own area. In principle the development of
corresponding planning within the British Commonwealth, either
multilaterally or bilaterally, is also in accord with views
already expressed by the Australian Government.
Aspects of Defence Co-operation
9. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff consider that the two main
aspects of defence co-operation are:
(a) The co-ordination of general issues affecting all Allies,
e.g., the fundamental objectives of defence policy and strategy,
the utilization of resources, dispersal, etc.
(b) The planning of action in the various regions.
10. The ultimate security of Australia in war can be achieved only
in co-operation with the other members of the British Commonwealth
and the United States of America. The general objectives of
defence policy and strategy which are to be pursued by the British
Commonwealth in war, in conjunction with the United States of
America, have a fundamental effect on Australian Defence Policy.
Accordingly, decisions as to the relative strengths of the three
Australian Services, their composition, the nature and proportion
of their armaments, and the material resources, which Australia
should be in a position to produce in war should be based on the
overall general defence policy and strategy which is likely to be
adopted in war, and Australia's part in it.
11. In the absence of an agreed overall plan, Australian defence
policy has been formulated on the best available information.
Progress has been made with the raising of forces and planning for
the Australian zone has begun, but the strategic information on
which decisions relating to these matters were made, in the light
of the then existing strategic situation, was necessarily
incomplete. More extensive agreement as to the general defence
policy and strategic objectives to be pursued in war would provide
a much more secure basis on which to determine future Australian
12. The political basis for military co-operation in the Western
Union has been achieved but full co-operation within the British
Commonwealth has not previously been fully attainable. Co-
operation within the Western Union is a problem, however,
primarily for the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
It was stated in the House of Representatives on 23rd September
'Since our geographical location is in the Pacific, it is logical,
as the Prime Minister stated in 1946, that we should bear a
greater share of the burden of British Commonwealth Defence in
Nevertheless, agreement on the general objectives of defence
policy and strategy within the British Commonwealth and with the
United States of America, in conjunction as far as possible with
the objectives of the Western Union, is a most desirable aim from
the point of view of Australian defence.
With regard to these general issues, even if agreement cannot be
attained between a the nations concerned, it would be desirable
for the Australia Authorities to examine them in conjunction with
those who are willing to collaborate. From the Australian point of
view, agreement at least between Australia and the United Kingdom,
and if possible New Zealand, would be desirable.
13. Before decisions with regard to the general issues could be
taken by the Governments concerned, however, the implications of
any proposed general defence policy and strategy would require
examination by Service Staffs. It is an essential prerequisite to
a study of these subjects in Australia for the United Kingdom
views to be made available.
Strategic Objectives in War:
14. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff suggest that, if war
occurs, the following aims should be pursued in co-operation with
(i) Secure the integrity of Commonwealth countries.
(ii) Mount a strategic air offensive.
(iii) Hold the enemy as far east as possible in Western Europe.
(iv) Maintain a firm hold an the Middle East.
(v) Control essential sea communications.
15. As has been indicated above, the integrity of Australia and
New Zealand from the military aspect will depend in the long run
on the outcome of comprehensive operations such as those mentioned
in sub-paragraphs (ii), (iii) and (iv) above. It is agreed that
the control of essential sea communications will be a basic
requirement in Allied strategy.
The United States, as is indicated in the United Kingdom Paper, is
affected by the Soviet threat in both the European and Pacific
regions. Action which may be taken by the United States of America
in the Pacific will be of major importance to Australia.
The degree to which Australia could contribute to overall strategy
in war, would depend on Allied measures which may be taken in the
Pacific and South East Asia and which would directly or indirectly
secure the position of Australia and New Zealand. A correct
balance must be struck between Australia's contribution to overall
strategy on which ultimate safety depends and on local defence
measures. Both of those measures are essential to achieve the aim
of securing the integrity of the Australian area, as envisaged by
the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff in paragraph 14 (i) above.
Essential Measures in Peace:
16. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff suggest also essential
measures required in peace to allow Commonwealth countries to
fight successfully in the event of war, as follows:-
(i) To prepare common strategic objectives and coordinated plans.
(ii) To possess balanced armed forces ready for immediate use on
the outbreak of war with the necessary resources to support them.
(iii) To maintain co-operation between all members of the
Commonwealth in all aspects of defence.
(iv) To ensure the active and early support of the United States.
(v) To co-ordinate defence plans with the Western Union.
(vi) To maintain and increase Allied scientific and technical
17. The above measures are desirable overall aims in peace. The
degree of readiness at which the armed forces are to be maintained
as stated in sub-paragraph (ii) may be essential for the United
Kingdom. Its relationship to Australian Defence Policy should be
considered when agreement has been reached on strategic objectives
It was announced on 4th June 1947, in the Government's Statement
on Defence Policy, that the programme would be kept constantly
under review in the light of the prevailing international
situation. A review of the measures which have already been taken
by the Australian Government for the raising of armed forces,
their logistic support in war and the development of scientific
and technical resources may be desirable in the light of the
existing international situation. It must follow, however, from an
investigation of the possibility of agreement either
multilaterally or bilaterally with the United Kingdom with regard
to general defence policy and strategic objectives in war.
18. Therefore, it is recommended that, in extension of the
conclusions of the Council of Defence on 20th April 1948 , on
Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence, the Australian
Government should authorise, in the first instance, an examination
by the Defence Committee (in conjunction with the United Kingdom,
and if New Zealand agrees, New Zealand Joint Service 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 discussion of the matters listed in sub-paragraphs (a)
and (b), general outline plans to meet immediate and long term
dangers should be prepared.
It is an essential pre-requisite to a study of these subjects in
Australia for the United Kingdom views to be made available.
PART 2-PRINCIPLES AND MACHINERY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF PLANNING
United Kingdom Views:
19. With regard to the principles under which the development of
planning may proceed, the United Kingdom Government's views may be
summarised as follows:
(a) No system of defence co-operation can work effectively unless
there is continuous and close political co-operation between the
(b) There must be agreement between those Governments as to the
objects of the defence policy which is to be pursued.
(c) Planning can satisfactorily proceed and a coherent plan can be
devised only when the necessary agreement in the political field
has been reached.
(d) Once agreement has been reached in the political field, it
will then be possible to allow the study of defence problems by
the Military Staffs either globally or regionally as circumstances
might necessitate, on the understanding that no country would be
committed to accepting any particular solution that might emerge
from study, until it has been accepted by the Government
20. Prime Minister stated at the Conference in London in 1946,
that it is fundamental to arrangements for co-operation in defence
that appropriate machinery should be created to provide for an
effective voice by the Governments concerned in policy and in the
higher control of planning on the official level.
The principles stated by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff are in
accord with the views expressed by the Australian Government in
its memorandum on Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence of
23rd May 1947 , with regard to consultation through the liaison
Thus, it has been agreed that prior political approval for joint
planning by Military Staffs is fundamental, and it is an accepted
principle that Governments are not committed to plans for joint
action prepared by Military Staff; unless such plans are expressly
accepted and approved by the Governments concerned.
21. The Australian Government's proposals for United Kingdom and
New Zealand representation in the Australian Government machinery
for matters of cooperation in British Commonwealth Defence have
been agreed to by all three Governments concerned and the
machinery for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in
Australia and Australian representation in the United Kingdom and
New Zealand has been set up. This machinery provides a means for
consultation between the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia
on the political level, and also on the official level in respect
of matters approved for consultation by Military Staffs by the
22. There are many disabilities in any arrangement for
consultation which may lead to a large number of representatives
from various parts of the Commonwealth meeting together to
consider the very complex problems involved in British
Commonwealth and Allied Defence Policy. It is improbable that
agreement even on general issues would be achieved in this manner.
In conjunction with the evolution of defensive measures in
respective regions, co-ordination of general issues could be
arrived at by consultation between the principal partners (i.e.,
the United Kingdom or the United States of America) and regional
groups with similar interests.
23. In so far as Australia is concerned, suitable machinery for
consultations on the general issues is in existence, and the
Joint-Service liaison machinery which was set up at the beginning
of the year can proceed with an examination of such general or
detailed defence matters as may be approved for joint examination
by the United Kingdom and Australian Governments, and other
governments who may agree to participate.
It was stated in the Australian Government's Memorandum on the
Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence that
the machinery adopted should be capable of functioning efficiently
in war. The development of this machinery by use in peace is
therefore an important consideration.
24. When agreement is reached on the question of the general
issues involved, it may subsequently be desirable to assemble
military planning staffs for special problems at appropriate
places and times. This would be a matter for later determination
in view of progress made.
Co-operation with the United States of America and Other
25. The Australian Government's Memorandum on Machinery for Co-
operation in British Commonwealth Defence was addressed not only
to the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but also to Canada, South
Africa, India and Pakistan. The three latter, as well as Ceylon,
are mutually interested with us in regional security in the Indian
26. The United Kingdom Government states that the United States,
through her geographic position, is affected by the Soviet threat
both in the West and in the East, and that close co-operation with
her is obvious and natural.
27. The views of the Australian Government on Co-operation with
the United States in regional security in the Pacific are stated
in paragraphs 4 and 5 above. It will also be recalled that one of
the basic principles laid down at the 1946 Conference relating to
the Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence was
that it should be capable of interlocking with that of other
nations on a Regional and World basis in accordance with the
Charter of the United Nations.
28. In so far as Australia is concerned, the development of
corresponding British Commonwealth planning to that proposed
between the United Kingdom, United States and Western European
countries, would also require the linking of Australian and
British Commonwealth plans with those of the United States in the
Pacific to cope with the Soviet threat in the Pacific. The
machinery established for cooperation in British Commonwealth
Defence is capable of interlocking with that of the United States,
though the procedure to be followed would be a matter for
consideration and development.
29. The liaison arrangements in existence between Australia, the
United Kingdom and New Zealand, are suitable for discussing the
general issues raised by the United Kingdom Authorities, and for
general planning. An extension of the existing machinery which
will permit planning staffs to meet may be necessary when the
details of plans are under discussion. The existing arrangements
are capable of extension to include other Dominions or Allies if