Defense Flies

Report by the Planning Committee of the United States and British Chiefs of Staff 1
secret
United States: ABC–4/2A
British: WW–17

Operation Super-Gymnast

1.
The Joint United States–British Planning Committee has been advised that the President and the Prime Minister have agreed to the immediate dispatch of additional United States reinforcements from the east coast to Australia, the terms of the agreement being as follows:
a.
Approved the proposal put forward by the United States Chiefs of Staff that the United States convoy sailing on the 15th January should be reduced from 16,000 to 4,000 for Northern Ireland and from 8,000 to 2,500 for Iceland, in order to permit of the dispatch to the Far East of 21,000 troops, with aircraft and other equipment.
b.
Agreed that the remainder of the proposed shipping adjustments set out in the Annex should be referred to London for confirmation.
c.
Invited Mr. Hopkins and Lord Beaverbrook to investigate the effect of the above shipping adjustment on the delivery of United States supplies to Russia during the next three months and to coordinate the provision of shipping to make good any deficiency, it being understood that nothing must be done to interfere with the planned flow of tanks, aircraft and ammunition from the United States to the Middle East.
2.
Based on the above terms of agreement, the combined Chiefs of Staff have directed the Combined Planning Committee to examine and report on the following questions:
a.
The earliest date which could be fixed for D–1 of Operation Super-Gymnast , on the assumption that the shipping adjustments approved in 1 a above are carried out and that shipping to carry United States supplies to Russia is provided in full.
b.
To what extent Operation Super-Gymnast could be executed, on the assumption that the favorable opportunity arises at some date between the end of February and the date on which D–1 of the full operation could be fixed (vide 2 a above).

Reply to the First Question

British

1. The movement of United States Troops to Australia will not affect the readiness date of the British to carry out their part of Super-Gymnast .

United States

2. The readiness of United States Troops to carry out Super-Gymnast will not be affected by the movement of reinforcements to the Far East. The delay to Super-Gymnast caused by the Far East movement will depend upon the date of return to Atlantic ports of the ships involved in that movement.

3. We estimate that the vessels diverted from the Atlantic to make the Far East move can be back in the Atlantic ports on the following dates:

a. Passenger vessels April 10–20
b. Cargo vessels May 15–25

(Capacity of the above group of vessels is 22,000 troops and 230,000 tons of cargo).

4. The execution of Super-Gymnast , as originally planned, is dependent upon the return of the Far East convoy, therefore the earliest date that could be fixed for D–1 is May 25.

5. The May 25 date can not be accepted without certain reservations, since no allowance has been made for ship losses and possible increased demands for shipping arising from enemy operations, accelerated production, and additional lend-lease commitments. Furthermore, it seems probable that these vessels may continue to be needed in the Pacific for further movements to Australia.

Reply to the Second Question

British Available Forces

6. British land forces, i.e., one armored division and two divisions with antiaircraft units, will be ready for dispatch. The British air [Page 264] contingent of Gymnast consisting of three fighter and two A.C. squadrons could also be made ready. This force is not alone sufficient, but could not be increased from British resources.

United States Available Forces

7. United States Forces, as originally planned for Super-Gymnast , will be available, but their participation will be limited by the withdrawal of shipping for the troop movements in the Pacific. Combat loaded ships for one Division (12,000) are being held in readiness. This shipping will permit the employment of that division. It can be supported by one carrier group of naval aircraft or equivalent, disembarked from an aircraft carrier. All antiaircraft troops would have to be found by the British, also base troops, until additional United States shipping could be made available, either from Pacific or from shipping now employed on other tasks. This latter shipping is more fully discussed in Paragraph 11 below.

Rate of Movement

8. The rate at which the British force could be received would not be limited, as in the Super-Gymnast plan, by the capacity of Casablanca Port. It would depend upon the provision of shipping and naval escorts. The following table is based upon the assumption that the British could not afford to rob the Middle and Far East reinforcements of more than 25,000 men from one reinforcement convoy. The United States program is based upon the repeated use of the combat loaded ships, and the use of no other troop transports until the return to the Atlantic Coast of the Far East cargo convoy, about 15–25 May. For movements after the first one, 8 additional cargo vessels will be required. Possible acceleration of the movement will be governed by the priority needs stated in Paragraph 11 below.

9. The table below shows the earliest dates on which British and United States forces can arrive at Casablanca if D-l falls on March 1st:

Casablanca Algiers
March 1 D–1 British U.S. British
Mar. 28 D–28 5,000 12,000 7,000
D–43 6,000* 16,000
D–73 22,000
D–88 12,000
D–103 22,000
D–118 22,000
July 21 D–133 12,000*
D–148 12,000
D–163 22,000
Sept. 19 D–193 12,000
Totals 67,000 92,000 23,000

[Page 265]

Acceleration of Movement

British

10. If the situation were such that we could afford to stop the flow of British reinforcements to the Middle and Far East completely for a time, the second British convoy could be increased from 6,000 to 18,000 capacity, thus eliminating the fifth British convoy shown above.

United States

11. The priorities listed below will govern the availability of additional United States vessels for Super-Gymnast :

  • 1st Priority: Continuous maintenance of existing overseas Army and Navy garrisons and the United States Fleets.
  • 2nd Priority: Continued delivery of supplies to Russia, and planned flow of tanks, aircraft, and ammunition to the Middle East.
  • 3rd Priority: Continuous movements and maintenance of United States forces in the Far East.

12. All military requirements for shipping other than those listed above will have to be deferred, including:

a.
Reinforcements to Hawaii and other overseas possessions and bases.
b.
Movements to Iceland and North Ireland.

13. If this is done, we estimate that additional passenger vessels up to an estimated capacity of 12,400 might be available after about four weeks’ notice.

14. Approximately 13–15 cargo vessels will be required in addition to the passenger vessels. The availability of the cargo ships will have to be determined by the Maritime Commission.

  1. The source text was Annex 1 to JCCSs–12; see ante, p. 202. A typewritten notation on the cover of this document reads as follows: “Accepted as amended—Joint Planning Committee Report, as a basis on which the Combined Chiefs of Staff should inform the President and Prime Minister regarding the time factor for Super-Gymnast ”. This paper is the amended and approved version of the Joint Planning Committee’s report, dated January 13, 1942, serialized as ABC–4/2A, WW(JPC)2A(not printed).
  2. See Paragraph 10. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. See Paragraph 10. [Footnote in the source text.]