File No. 763.72Su/11

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State


3117. For Secretary of State and Colonel House:

Frazier reports to me as follows:

Yesterday the Supreme War Council sat, the French, British and Italian Prime Ministers being present as well as the French and British commanders-in-chief and their chiefs of staff, the Italian Minister of War and the four military representatives including General Bliss. The plan of campaign for 1918 was the subject of the discussion. The French Prime Minister, being chairman, called upon General Foch, General Robertson, General Bliss, General Cadorna, Sir Douglas Haig, and General Pétain to express their views. They were unanimous in believing that an expectant attitude should be maintained, which however should not exclude the possibility of counteroffensives at well chosen points. General Foch, General Pétain, General Haig agreed that the American Army, if taken as an autonomous unit, could not be counted upon for effective aid during the present year, and that the only method of rendering them useful at the earliest possible moment would be by amalgamating American regiments or battalions in French or British divisions. General Pétain was particularly outspoken on this subject.

The Italian Prime Minister stated that in his opinion the Council should request General Bliss to state whether the American Government would or would not be willing to accept this system of amalgamation. The British Prime Minister objected that before putting this question it was essential to know the number of combatants which each of the four nations concerned could muster, the number of reserves and the amount of heavy and light artillery. He thought that each commander-in-chief or chief of staff should also make an estimate of the number of combatants and reserves which the Central Powers could [count on]. He said before making this calculation it was necessary that the four commanders-in-chief agree upon a definition of the word “combatant”.

The meeting thereupon adjourned to be resumed at 3 o’clock today.