122 Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation 2/1948
MELBOURNE, 24 November 1948
STRATEGIC POSITION OF AUSTRALIA-PROBABLE FORM AND SCALE OF ATTACK
1. The Defence Committee in minute No. 157/1948 laid down the zone
which, for planning purposes, should be regarded as the 'zone of
strategic planning for which Australia accepts responsibility'
(hereafter referred to as the zone).
2. On 28th March, 1947, copies of Joint Intelligence Committee
Appreciation No. 1/1947 entitled 'Appreciation of Certain Aspects
of the Strategical Position of Australia'  were furnished to
the Secretary, Chiefs of Staff Committee. By minutes dated
11/8/1948, the Secretary, Joint Planning Committee, requested that
the Joint Intelligence Committee should review Appreciation No.
1/1947, and, in conjunction with representatives of the United
Kingdom Chief Liaison Officer, and the New Zealand Liaison
Officer, should advise on the probable form and scale of attack
with regard to the zone. This appreciation deals with the latter
phase of the minutes from the Secretary, Joint Planning Committee.
3. The object of this paper is to determine the probable form and
scale of attack-
(A) Against the zone.
(B) Inside the zone.
(C) On the vital communications to and from the zone.
4. This paper has been prepared in the light of the present
strategical situation based on information available to the Joint
Intelligence Committee as at November 1948.
5. The information regarding dispositions and strengths of foreign
forces in the Far East is the best available, but we desire to
point out that it is insufficiently detailed (particularly as
regards the land forces) to enable other than broad conclusions to
6. In discussing potential enemies and likely enemy moves we have,
as an Intelligence Committee, considered the worst probable case.
PRESENT STRATEGICAL SITUATION
7. The only major power with which the British Commonwealth, and
therefore Australia, is likely to become involved in war is the
8. By virtue of her geographical position, any threat to the zone
will be in consequence of hostile moves by the U.S.S.R. in the
Middle East or Far East.
9. Without the assistance or connivance of India and Pakistan in
the Middle East, and China in the Far East, it is improbable that
the U.S.S.R. would be in a position to launch a direct land or air
attack against the zone.
10. As a result of their new status, however, the participation of
India and Pakistan in a war as members of the British Commonwealth
cannot be assured. Present indications are that the likelihood of
their assistance to the U.S.S.R., in the event of war, is remote.
We therefore conclude that their probable position win be that of
neutrals friendly to the British Commonwealth.
11. In view of the mounting success of the Chinese Communist
Forces, the completion of communist control and domination of all
China north of the Yangtze and Manchuria is imminent. It can be
predicted that the consolidation of northern China will be
accompanied by political agitation and infiltration prior to
overrunning Southern China. As the Chinese Communist Party adheres
to the Soviet Communist Party line in international affairs, we
must assume they will give full support to U.S.S.R. Forces in all
areas under Chinese communist control.
12. The effect of nationalist movements and general unsettled
political conditions obtaining in S.E. Asia introduce an
additional significant factor.
13. In South East Asia there exist schismatic movements of two
(a) Communist-which in the event of war would render active
support to Soviet aims.
(b) Non-Communist-which by seizing the opportunity to press their
claims for autonomy would indirectly further the aims of the
14. The countries in South East Asia, in which there exist such
factions capable of exerting a significant influence, are as
French Indo China, Burma, Malaya.
(b) Nationalist only:
Netherlands East Indies.
15. We consider, therefore, that a threat to the zone 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. We further
consider that the nationalist movement win be a disturbing clement
in the Netherlands East Indies.
PROBABLE ENEMY STRATEGY
37. From the foregoing, it will be seen that aggression by the
U.S.S.R. would of necessity be characterised mainly by land
advances supported by the air forces and supplemented by intense
submarine activity against trade communications and seaborne troop
movements. The use of large scale airborne invasion forces must be
taken into account. Global fifth column activities must be
38. Available manpower makes it possible for the U.S.S.R. to take
aggressive action simultaneously on her Eastern, Southern and
Western frontiers. In view of the present limitations of her
communications, however, and the disposition and state of
development of her economic resources in the Far East, we consider
that full scale aggression on all fronts would be militarily
unsound and is therefore unlikely.
39. 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,
therefore, would be to fight a full scale aggressive war on her
Western and Southern fronts with the object of overrunning Europe-
including Great Britain-and 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 use of any bases in these territories,
and conduct an offensive against Japanese territory with the
object of denying us control of that area.
40. In the Middle East, the U.S.S.R. could seize Persia, Iraq and
Palestine, and occupy Arabia to a line between the head of the
Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal.
This would give her control of 90% of the existent Middle East
oilfields, and complete the isolation of Turkey which could be
reduced at leisure. Should Pakistan and India prove unfriendly,
the U.S.S.R. could occupy Afghanistan as a base for operations
against Pakistan and India, and for use as a propaganda base to
further disrupt their unity.
41. Sea and air lines of communication to United Kingdom via the
Middle East would be subject to serious attack by both submarine
and air forces west of Suez; attacks east of Suez may be expected
only on an insignificant scale.
42. We consider the moves of the U.S.S.R. in the Far East would
probably be to:-
(a) Consolidate her position in the Far East in the areas under
communist domination, viz., Northern China, Manchuria, Inner
Mongolia, Sinkiang and Korea with a view to:-
(i) Assuring herself a buffer area on an otherwise vulnerable
(ii) Exploiting the valuable resources of the occupied area.
(iii) Obtaining advanced naval and air bases in the occupied area.
(iv) Denying us free use of bases in Southern China.
(b) Attack our bases within range of the Asiatic mainland,
especially Japan, with a view to neutralizing them.
(c) Conduct a submarine campaign to a radius approximately as far
south as the Equator on the sea communications to and from the
zone, with sporadic long range raids on sea communications within
the zone. We consider that approximately 30 submarines would be
available for the former task, and about 10 for the latter. 
(d) Carry out air attacks on our sea and air lines of
communication in the Far East.
(e) Conduct sabotage operations and engage in subversive activity
in Japan and South East Asia with the object of diverting troops
for internal police duties, as well as denying to us strategic
43. We conclude that the likely form and scale of attack will be:-
(a) Against the Zone-
(i) By sea-Submarine attacks on sea communications in the Eastern
South China Sea and Philippines Sea.
(ii) By land-Occupation of air and naval bases in territory
dominated by Communist forces and a probable airborne invasion of
(iii) By air-Air attacks against our bases within range of the
U.S.S.R. or Soviet held territory and on vital lines of sea and
air communication in the area. Use of airborne forces for invasion
(iv) By Fifth Column-Attacks on key points in Japan, Southern
China, F.I.C. , Burma, Philippines. This may include the use of
bacteriological agents which would be an alternative in Japan to
the invasion envisaged in (ii) above.
(b) Inside the Zone-
(i) By sea-Submarine attacks on communications in South East Asia
and sporadic submarine raids on focal points of sea
communications, particularly in South East Australian waters. 
(ii) By land-No immediate activity.
(iii) By air-Raids on a minor scale on our bases in the north of
the zone and on lines of air communication in this area.
(iv) By Fifth Column-Sabotage against key points and resources in
South East Asia and Australia. Subversion by promotion of
disaffected elements. The use of biological warfare must not be
disregarded in these cases.
(c) On communications to and from the Zone-
Submarine and air attacks, and/or physical occupation of Middle
East, will virtually deny to us the use of the sea and air route
to the United Kingdom via the Mediterranean.  The sea and air
routes through South East Asia will be subject to submarine and
air attacks of a moderately heavy nature.
[i] Sporadic submarine raids on the Pacific Ocean routes to the
Zone are unlikely.
(d) Significance of autonomous movements-
Campaigns by nationalist forces to further their aims for autonomy
will indirectly assist the Soviet aim by diverting troops for
internal security duties, and by denying us resources within their
sphere of operations.