Defense Files

Draft Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff1

Memorandum for the President:

Higher Direction of War in the ABDA Area

The Chiefs of Staff have somewhat revised their original memorandum on the above subject, so as to incorporate certain of the President’s suggestions. With respect to those points where the revised memorandum, hereto attached, differs from the President’s re-draft, the following explanation is submitted:

The United States Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff, through their representatives in Washington, are in an especially favorable position to weigh the needs of the ABDA area in relation to those of other theaters of war. Recommendations to the President and to the Prime Minister emanating from the Joint Chiefs of Staff would reflect this balanced perspective.
Consultations with the Dutch, Australian, and New Zealand governments can not well be carried out in several places without serious loss of time, and creation of confusion. For the reasons set out in paragraph 4 of the attached revised memorandum, London would appear to be the logical place for carrying on such consultations. The Chiefs of Staff committee in Washington can, of course, keep the representatives of the Dutch and Dominion governments informed, should this be considered desirable.
The suggested duplication of messages from the Supreme Commander to London and Washington is for the purpose of saving time. The copy sent to Washington would be the action copy, but the one to London would furnish the basis for immediate comment to Washington.
Admiral Pound feels that, in view of his conversation with the Prime Minister this morning, the attached procedure will be entirely acceptable to the Prime Minister.

Chief of Staff
Commander-in-Chief U.S. Fleet
Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Air Forces
[Page 288]
Memorandum Revised by the United States and British Chiefs of Staff2

Higher Direction of War in the ABDA Area

On all important military matters, not within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Commander of the ABDA Area, the U.S. Chiefs of Staff and the representatives in Washington of the British Chiefs of Staff will constitute the agency for developing and submitting recommendations for decision by the President of the United States and by the British Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. Among the chief matters on which decisions will be required are:
The provision of reinforcements.
A major change in policy.
Departure from the Supreme Commander’s directive.
This agency will function as follows:
Any proposal coming either from the Supreme Commander or from any of the ABDA governments will be transmitted to the Chiefs of Staff Committee both in Washington and in London.
The Chiefs of Staff Committee in London will immediately telegraph to their representatives in Washington to say whether or not they will be telegraphing any opinions.
On receipt of these opinions, the United States Chiefs of Staff and the representatives in Washington of the British Chiefs of Staff will develop and submit their recommendations to the President, and by telegraph to the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. The Prime Minister will then inform the President whether he is in agreement with these recommendations.
Since London has the machinery for consulting the Dominion Governments, and since the Dutch Government is in London, the British Government will be responsible for obtaining their views and agreement, and for including these in the final telegram to Washington.
Agreement having been reached between the President and the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, the orders to the Supreme Commander will be dispatched from Washington in the name of both of them.
  1. The source text was part I of Annex 2 to JCCSs–6; see ante, p. 142.

    The source text, being a draft, bears no signatures. According to Matloff and Snell (p. 126, footnote 26), it was signed and sent to the President on the afternoon of December 31; see the discussion of the Chiefs of Staff on December 31 ante, p. 147.

  2. The source text was part II of Annex 2 to JCCSs–6; see ante, p. 142.