J. C. S. Files
Joint Chiefs of Staff Minutes
1. Visit of General Noguès and the Sultan of Morocco With the President
The President asked as to the advisability of his seeing General Noguès and possibly the Sultan of Morocco. General Marshall and Admiral King both stated they felt that General Eisenhower was in a better position to advise the President on this subject and he would no doubt do so when he arrived at Anfa Camp. Admiral King, however, questioned whether or not General Noguès merited the honor of visiting the President of the United States.
2. The President’s Program
General Marshall explained that it had at first been thought the President would stay here for about four or five days; then leave by motor for Rabat and Lyauty [Port Lyautey] where he would visit three divisions and interview certain selected officers and men; then proceed by air to Oran, observe the troops there and also visit a hopital. From Oran, it was planned that he should go to Marrakech, change planes at the airfield there and then return to the United States. He stated that in view of the fact that the conference would probably last about ten days, these plans would of necessity have to undergo some change. He said that it is not desirable for the President to visit Marrakech and he should refuse any invitation of the Prime Minister to do so.
General Marshall explained that Marrakech is inland, that its airfield is entirely open. No one knows how many Axis agents may be included in the civilian populations. He also said that it would be unwise to have the President of the United States in a city that contained about one and one-half French divisions which have recently been hostile to us and only one regiment of American troops.[Page 559]
General Marshall suggested that if the Prime Minister desired to visit Marrakech, he might do so with Mr. Hopkins and this would furnish good cover for the real location of the President.
It was decided that the President would remain here and that if there was any indication that his presence here had become known, he would immediately start on the inspection tour which had been previously planned to start at the conclusion of his stay in Africa, except that when he returned to the Marrakech airport, he would change planes and leave the Marrakech airport as though returning to the United States. Actually he would return to the Anfa Camp in time to be here to finish up such business as might be necessary in connection with the conference.
In discussing the protection available at Anfa Camp, General Arnold brought out the fact that there was a French squadron equipped with our P–40 airplanes and at the request of the President, he explained something of our program for equipping French air units.
3. The British Strategic Concept
General Marshall gave the President a brief summary of the British Chiefs of Staff concept regarding the prospects in the European theatre. They believed that we should first expand the bombing effort against the Axis and that operations in the Mediterranean offer the best chance of compelling Germany to disperse her air resources. He explained that the British are now in favor of an attack against Sicily rather than Sardinia and that this change of attitude was probably inspired by the Prime Minister.
At the same time, the United Nations should try to bring Turkey in on our side. Continued aid should be given to the Russians. A balance will have to be struck between these various commitments because they are mutually conflicting.
They also feel that we must be in a position to take advantage of any weakness developing in Germany by being prepared for operations across the English Channel.
General Marshall said that both Lord Mountbatten and General Clark agreed that there must be a long period of training before any attempt is made to land against determined resistance. General Clark had pointed out many of the mishaps that occurred in the landing in North Africa which would have been fatal had the resistance been more determined. General Clark was also apprehensive about our ability to maintain a surprise because of the necessity of locating landing craft along the northern coast of Africa prior to initiating operations. General Marshall stated that General Clark felt that while this presented some difficulties, they could be overcome.
General Marshall stated that the British are extremely fearful of any direct action against the continent until a decided crack in the [Page 560] German efficiency and morale has become apparent. The British point out that the rail net in Europe would permit the movement of seven divisions a day from east to west which would enable them to reinforce their defenses of the northern coast of France rapidly. On the other hand, they can only move one division from north to south each day in order to reinforce their defense of southern Europe.
General Marshall said that General Clark had expressed the opinion that operations in the Mediterranean could be mounted more efficiently from North Africa. His reasons are that the lines of communication would be shorter there, that the troops in North Africa have had experience in landing operations, and that there will be an excess number of troops available for the operation once the Axis has been forced out of Tunisia, and finally that training will be more effective if undertaken in close contact with the enemy.
General Marshall stated that while the British wish to build up a strong force in the United Kingdom for possible operations against Germany in case a weakness develops, it must be understood that any operation in the Mediterranean will definitely retard Bolero.
Admiral King pointed out that the line of communication is the bottle neck in any operations in the Mediterranean.
Mr. Hopkins asked if the British Chiefs of Staff felt that the lines of communication are sufficient. General Marshall said that the two critical factors in the decision as to whether the operation is to be in the north or the south were: (1) the safety of the line of communications and (2) the fact that there will be an excess of veteran soldiers available in North Africa to mount an operation.
In discussing Turkey, General Marshall said that the British Eighth Army would be prepared to send a considerable force there or near there. The aim of the United Nations should be to have Turkey resist Axis aggression and at the same time permit and protect our use of their airfields.
The President said that the question of bringing Turkey into the war is one for the diplomats to settle. In conducting negotiations, he stated that he and the Prime Minister should be given information as to how much military support the United Nations should be prepared to offer Turkey in order to accomplish what is desired. He stated that he did not want to be in the position of over-promising anything to the Turkish government. (The Joint Staff Planners have been directed to investigate how much aid it would be necessary for us to furnish Turkey in order to enable them to provide effective resistance to an Axis invasion.)
It was agreed that regardless of whether Turkey came into the war on the side of the United Nations, we should assemble sufficient force to the east of the Turkish boundary to enable the United Nations to reinforce Turkey as soon as she did become involved in the war. [Page 561] This can probably be accomplished by using part of the British Eighth Army.
4. Anti-Submarine Warfare
General Marshall then pointed out that both the American and the British Chiefs of Staff agreed that effective measures must be taken against the Axis submarines. He said that Admiral King had pointed out that the most effective targets would be at the places where the submarines are assembled. He agreed with the statement, which he attributed to Sir Charles Portal, that we must keep hammering on one link in the chain, whether it be the factories which manufacture component parts, the submarine assembly yards, submarine bases, or submarines along the sea lanes.
5. Operation Ravenous
General Marshall informed the President of the British attitude concerning the operation Ravenous.
Admiral King stated that he had the impression that the British were coming around to the idea that it would be [a] profitable gamble.
General Marshall explained that there were hazards, particularly from Japanese action against the southern flank, but that if the operation was successful it would secure favorable results far out of proportion to the risks involved. The most important benefit to be hoped for would be a decrease in the Japanese pressure in the southern Pacific by forcing the Japanese to divert their attention to the Burma theatre and even in the event of failure it would almost certainly result in a junction of the Chinese forces now in Burma with those from Yunnan and if a retirement became necessary, a trained Chinese army would withdraw into China.
General Marshall then spoke of the Generalissimo’s refusal to mount the operation. One reason given by the Generalissimo is the failure to secure British cooperation in assembling naval forces in the Bay of Bengal which he felt was a definite British commitment.
It was agreed that an effort should be made to obtain firm British support for the operation before requesting the President to discuss the matter further with the Generalissimo.
The President added that for psychological reasons he thought it would be advisable to double General Chennault’s force in China and also to bomb Japan proper. General Arnold replied that he agreed that it would be wise to increase General Chennault’s force and expressed great confidence in his ability to effectively operate against the Japanese. He stated, however, that the difficulty of supplying gasoline, spare parts, and other maintenance necessities prevented doing this at this time. He indicated that this was one of the most urgent reasons for opening the Burma road.[Page 562]
Mr. Hopkins asked General Marshall what he thought the prospects of success in Operation Ravenous were.
General Marshall replied that he thought they were better than fifty-fifty. He said the British presented all sorts of difficulties which must be overcome but that he personally did not feel any of them were insurmountable. The tactical operations involved would not be of long duration but it would be necessary to build an improved road rapidly before the rainy season set in. He felt that our engineers could do this but the British were inclined to doubt it. The British also feared the effects of Malaria but General Marshall pointed out that their malaria preventative methods did not approach the effectiveness of ours.
Admiral King stated that he thought it was most essential to undertake Operation Ravenous, particularly for its effect on the Japanese in the South Pacific. He stated that they are operating on interior lines and it was difficult to understand why they did not make some serious thrusts at Midway or other points on our line of communications.
6. Command Situation in Europe
General Marshall stated that he had learned that the Prime Minister was concerned over the effectiveness of our bombing operations in Europe. The utilization of our bombing force is tied up with the question of command. At the present time General Eisenhower controls the Air Force, both in North Africa and in England. We are cooperating with the British in selecting the bombing objectives but we are not subject to their orders. General Marshall said that he felt the time had come when we should establish a separate United Kingdom theatre. He stated that he had sent General Andrews to Cairo to give him some experience in an active theatre of operations and that he now proposed to put him in command of the American troops in the United Kingdom.
General Marshall stated that so far as operational direction of bombing, i.e. time and mission, our bombers in England should be subject to British command. So far as technique, etc. they should not be permitted to dictate our procedure.
7. Operations in Tunisia
General Marshall indicated that there may be a change in the British command in the operations in Tunisia. He said that Admiral Cunningham agreed that the command had not been well handled. Instances occurred in which trained United States combat teams loaned to the British were broken up, thus reducing their effectiveness. There had also been instances of the misuse of British parachute troops. This situation is now being corrected.