Defense Files

Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff1

Proposed Draft of Instructions to the Supreme Commander, Southwestern Pacific Theater, Submitted by United States Chiefs of Staff for the Consideration of the Joint United States-British Chiefs of Staff Conference

Letter of Instructions to be signed by the government of the country from which the Supreme Commander is chosen, and counter-signed [Page 274] by representatives of each of the other powers in the group, Australia, Dutch East Indies, British and the United States.

To: Supreme Commander, Southwestern Pacific Theater.

(Letters, similar in content, will be sent by each of the ADBU governments to its highest Army, Navy and Air Commander in the Southwestern Pacific Theater.)

Subject: Letter of Instructions.

By agreement among the Governments of Australia, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, hereinafter referred to as the ADBU governments, the Southwestern Pacific Theater has been constituted, to comprise all land and sea areas included in the region Malaya–Australia–Philippine Islands, all inclusive.
You have been designated as the Supreme Commander of the Southwestern Theater and of all armed forces afloat, ashore and in the air of the ADBU governments stationed therein and allotted by their respective governments for service in that theater, except that you are not authorized to transfer from the territory of any of the ADBU governments land troops of that govenment except with the consent of the local commander or his government. You are authorized to employ naval and air forces in general support of operations in the theater assigned you. However, during the period of initial air reinforcement, it being the view of all the associated governments that air superiority over the enemy should be attained as soon as possible, each government reserves the right to assign and employ its pursuit and fighter airplanes at its own discretion. All accumulations of pursuit and fighter airplanes beyond the minimum requirements fixed by each government, will pass to your general reserve, for use under your direction.2
The ADBU governments have further agreed as follows:
The mission of the armed forces in the Southwestern Pacific is immediately to:
Prevent further Japanese penetration of the Southwestern Pacific Theater.
Establish security of essential land, air and sea communications within the theater. At this time essential communications in the Southwest Pacific theater are:
The approaches from India and to East Australia; and
Extending from such approaches to Singapore, and, through the Dutch East Indies, to the Philippines.
Eventually defeat the Japanese forces in the theater and expel them therefrom.
Your duties, responsibilities and authority are defined as follows:
To coordinate in Southwestern Pacific theater the tactical and strategic operations of all armed forces of the ADBU governments, to assign them strategic and/or tactical missions and objectives, and, where desirable, to organize task forces for the execution of specific operations.
To submit recommendations to the Associated Governments in all matters pertaining to that theater, regarding which specific authority is not herein delegated to you.
To require, from the Commanders of the Armed Forces of each of the ADBU governments, such reports as you deem necessary in the determination of tactical strength and effectiveness, and/or in the discharge of your responsibilities as Supreme Commander.
The following specific limitations are placed by the ADBU governments upon your authority as Supreme Commander, Southwestern Pacific Theater:
You may not relieve from duty the Commander of any of the Armed Forces of any of the ADBU governments, or any subordinate of such commander.
You may not destroy, revise or alter the major tactical organization of the armed forces of any ADBU government. Each national component of a task force will operate under its own commander and will not be distributed into small units attached to the other national components of the task force.
You may not take over for general use the supplies, munitions or other material resources belonging to any one of the ADBU governments without the consent of the appropriate commander, nor may you interfere in the administrative and/or disciplinary control of such Commander over his own forces.
You may not prevent or interfere in direct communication between the Commander of the Armed Forces or any one of the ADBU governments with his home government.
You may not prevent the Commander of the Armed Forces of any ADBU government from obeying the orders of his own government in detaching troops, individuals or material to any other theater.
You may not assume direct command of any portion or part [Page 276] of the forces assigned to the theater or of any particular portion or section of such theater, but will exercise your authority through the duly designated commanders of the ADBU governments.
You may not, at any time, locate your headquarters within the limits of any critical tactical zone, but will so situate such headquarters as to facilitate establishment and maintenance of communications with all tactical zones and so as to provide you with a balanced perspective of the complete theater.
The ADBU governments have also agreed that they will jointly and severally support you in the execution of the duties and responsibilities as above defined, and in the exercise of the authority as above defined, and in the exercise of the authority as above delegated and limited. Commanders of all naval, air and ground forces within your theater will be immediately informed by their respective governments that all orders and instructions issued by you in conformity with the provisions of this letter will be considered by such commanders as emanating from their respective governments.
No government will materially reduce its armed forces assigned to your theater nor any commitments made by it for reinforcing its forces in your theater except after giving to the other governments, and to you, timely information pertaining thereto.
As Supreme Commander of the Southwestern Pacific Theater, you are directly responsible to this government, and all instructions to you will follow established methods. Any recommendation, report, request, or other communication between you and any of the other governments of the ADBU Powers will be processed through this government.
Your headquarters will be established, initially, in Java.
(By Power furnishing Supreme Commander)

Other ADBU representatives.

  1. The source text is the copy that was attached as Annex 1 to JCCSs–4; see ante, p. 115.
  2. According to Stimson’s diary for December 27, Stimson feared that Marshall’s original language in this paragraph was not strong enough to ensure the accumulation of pursuit planes until superiority was achieved. The present language reflects Stimson’s suggested wording which Marshall promptly accepted in the early afternoon of December 27.