War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Cables Section Files

The Military Representative on the Supreme War Council ( Bliss) to the Adjutant General ( McCain)


67. Paragraph 1. The Secretary of War this morning directed this telegram be sent direct to the President with copy for Secretary of State and Secretary of War and Chief of Staff. Following Joint Note 18 of the permanent military representatives with the Supreme War Council is transmitted for the action of the President. Following the text of the joint note are the recommendations of the Secretary of War dictated by him this morning.

Paragraph 2. The following joint note 18 was adopted by the permanent military representatives March 27, 1918:1

1. In paragraph 4 of joint note No. 12 dated 12th [21st] January, 1918,2 the Military Representatives agreed as follows:

After the most careful and searching enquiry they were agreed on the point that the security of France could also be assured. But in view of the strength of the attack which the enemy is able to develop on this front, an attack which, in the opinion of the Military Representatives could reach a strength of 96 divisions (excluding reinforcements [Page 179] by roulement), they feel compelled to add that France will be safe during 1918 only under certain conditions, namely:

(a) That the strength of the British and French troops in France are continuously kept up to their present total strength, and that they receive the expected reinforcement of not less than two American divisions per month.

2. The battle which is developing at the present moment in France and which can extend to the other theatres of operations may very quickly place the Allied armies in a serious situation from the point of view of effectives, and the Military Representatives are from this moment of opinion that the above-detailed condition (a) can no longer be maintained and they consider as a general proposition that the new situation requires new decisions.

The Military Representatives are of opinion that it is highly desirable that the American Government should assist the Allied armies as soon as possible by permitting, in principle, the temporary service of American units in Allied army corps and divisions; such reinforcements must, however, be obtained from other units than those American divisions which are now operating with the French, and the units so temporarily employed must eventually be returned to the American Army.

3. The Military Representatives are of opinion that, from the present time, in execution of the foregoing, and until otherwise directed by the Supreme War Council, only American infantry and machine gun units, organised as that Government may decide, be brought to France, and that all agreements or conventions hitherto made in conflict with this decision be modified accordingly.

Paragraph 3. The following is the action recommended by the Secretary of War:

To the President: The foregoing resolutions were considered by General Tasker H. Bliss, General Pershing, and me. Paragraph 3 proposes a change in the order of shipment of American troops to France and necessarily postpones the organization and training of complete American divisions as parts of an independent American army. This ought to be conceded only in view of the present critical situation and continued only so long as that situation necessarily demands it. The question of replacements will continue to embarrass the British and French Governments, and efforts to satisfy that need by retaining American units assigned to them must be anticipated, but we must keep in mind the formation of an American army, while, at the same time, we must not seem to sacrifice joint efficiency at a critical moment to that object. Therefore, I recommend that you express your approval of the joint note in the following sense:

The purpose of the American Government is to render the fullest cooperation and aid, and therefore the recommendation of the Military Representatives with regard to the preferential transportation of American infantry and machine gun units in the present emergency is approved. Such units when transported will be under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces and will be assigned for training and use by him in [Page 180] his discretion. He will use these and all other military forces of the? United States under his command in such manner as to render the-greatest military assistance, keeping in mind always the determination of this Government to have its various military forces collected, as speedily as their training and the military situation will permits into an independent American army, acting in concert with the armies of Great Britain and France, and all arrangements made by him for their temporary training and service will be made with that end in view. Baker.

  1. The text of joint note 18 follows a photostat of the original received later (File No. 763.72Su/138).
  2. See telegram from the Ambassador in France, No. 3087, Jan. 24, ante, p. 36.