Hopkins Papers

Draft Memorandum by the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Marshall)1


It is suggested that as soon as a preliminary decision is reached as to the delimitation of the Southwest Pacific theater, and in agreement with the British and Dutch authorities, a communication in substance as follows be dispatched to Chiang Kai-shek:

In order to insure immediate coordination and co-operation in our common effort against the enemy, there is being established a supreme commander for all British, Dutch and American forced in the Southwest Pacific theater, which includes southwest Burma.
The advisability of a similar command of activities of the Associated Powers in the Chinese theater appears evident. This theater we suggest should initially include northwest Burma and such portion of Thailand and Indo–China as say become accessible to troops of the associated Powers. In agreement with the representatives of the British and Dutch Governments, I desire to suggest that you should undertake to exercise such command over all forces of the Associated Powers which are now, or may in the future be operating in the Chinese theater.

[Page 284]

It is our thought that, in order to make such command effective, a Joint planning staff should at once be organised consisting, of representatives of the British, Dutch, American and Chinese governments. If you consider it practicable, and Russia agreed, a Russian representative right be included. This staff should function uncer your supreme command.

The commander of the Southwest Pacific theater and the commander of the British forces in India would be directed to maintain the closest liaison with your headquarters. A mutual exchange of liaison officers between the three headquarters would be desiable.

Such arrangements would enable your counsel and influence to be given effect in the formulation of the general strategy for the conduct of the war In all theaters. Your views in this setter will be greatly appreciated by me.

  1. This memorandum, as originally typed, is the draft prepared at the meeting in Stimson’s office on December 29, 1941 (ante, p. 134), and presented by Marshall to the British Chiefs of Staff in the meeting later the same afternoon (ante, p. 140). As a result of that discussion, Marshall crossed out the following phrases: “which includes southwest Burma” (par. 1) and “northeast Burma and” (par. 2). He also inserted the word “initially” and wrote the note to Hopkins at the top of the page. The substitution, in three places, of the word “United” for “Associated” was made by Roosevelt. Before sending the message (infra) to Chiang, Roosevelt also eliminated the Arabic numerals before the first two paragraphs and the word “Dutch” in the third paragraph.