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99 Boase to Shedden

Letter LONDON, 6 July 1948


1. With reference to your letter No. 47/1948 dated 2[4]th May 48
[1], the Strategical Appreciation by the Australian Chiefs of
Staff [2], together with the Conclusions of the Council of Defence
thereon [3] is being examined by the United Kingdom Chiefs of
Staff. In this connection the first draft report has been prepared
by the Joint Planning Staff who have invited Commander Walton [4]
to attend their next meeting when the draft is being re-examined.

2. Pending consideration and acceptance by the United Kingdom
Chiefs of Staff of the report in its final form, a tentative
forecast of the main issues which may be raised by the United
Kingdom for further discussion with Australia is given in
paragraphs 3 to 7 hereunder.

3. There is apparently no conflict of opinion on any matter of
substance between the Chiefs of Staff of the two countries, but it
appears that the Australian Government considers that planning on
a bilateral (or trilateral, if New Zealand is included) basis
should be confined to the Australian Area of strategic
responsibility. This appears to preclude any Australian
contribution in the Middle East.

4. Moreover, while it is agreed that planning at the official
level will not commit the Governments concerned in advance, it is
considered that any plans agreed between the Chiefs of Staff can
be of no real value until their respective Governments have
approved of them. Such approval, while in no way committing the
Governments to go to war, will commit their countries to carrying
out the agreed plans should they be allied in war.

5. It is appreciated that, in a war between the Anglo-American
powers and Russia, no direct threat to Australia will develop
until the enemy has had outstanding success in Europe and the
Middle East. Since it can be assumed that America will be in the
war from the beginning, any commitment that may arise in the
Pacific will in any case be fully covered by her.

Retention of the Middle East Area, therefore, is more vital to the
security of Australia-at least in the early stage of a war-than
South East Asia; consequently, an Australian contribution in the
former area would best help to secure the Australian continent.

The Australian Government should, therefore, be persuaded in its
own interests to extend joint planning to cover the Middle East,
and not to bar in advance the possibility of an Australian
contribution in that theatre. (Paragraph 86 of the Australian
Chiefs of Staff Appreciation refers.)

6. Although the extent to which Australia can be responsible for
the physical defence in war of her zone of strategic
responsibility is dependent on her available resources, the
responsibility for initiating and guiding Commonwealth planning
for the area need be governed by no such consideration and
Australia win probably be asked to accept this responsibility
7. The boundary of the zone suggested by the Australian Chiefs of
Staff does not go as far north as that approved by the United
Kingdom Chiefs of Staff as a basis for discussion in 1947 and does
not include Hong Kong. Since it is considered an Commonwealth
Pacific possessions should be included, it is suggested that
Australian agreement to extending the area at least to include
this port should be obtained.

Furthermore, it is considered that Australia and New Zealand
should be asked to agree to pool their resources for defending
this area, thus avoiding the undesirable arrangement of having two
separate zones of strategic responsibility in the Pacific.

8. As I expect to be invited to attend the United Kingdom Chiefs
of Staff meeting when the final report of the Joint Planning Staff
on this subject is being considered, I shall be glad to receive
early direction on the matters mentioned in the preceding
paragraphs. [5]

1 In which Shedden forwarded copies of documents for Boase's
'personal information.'.

2 See Volume 12, Document 161, Attachment thereto.

3 Document 97.

4 Commander J.K. Walton, RAN, staff officer to Boase.

5 Boase advised in letter dated 8 July 1948 that it was unlikely
he would attend as no points requiring reference to him were
expected to arise.

[AA: A816/51, 14/301/352]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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