Skip to main content

Historical documents

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

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

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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top