J.C.S. Files

Memorandum by the United States Joint War Plans Committee1


Memorandum to the Joint Staff Planners

Subject: Strategic Plan for the Defeat of Japan.

During the period in which we have worked with our British colleagues in the preparation of the Plan for the Defeat of Japan,2 we have had an opportunity to hear many expressions of the British point of view. From these expressions, we believe we have gained a clear picture of the case which the British will present at the forthcoming conference.
These matters do not always appear in full clarity in the Plan itself, since the paper, as written, is a compromise in its form and tenor.
The basic difference between the two planning groups, which required constant compromise, is the different evaluation placed on the importance of keeping China in the war.
a. From this basic difference, almost all the implications arise.
b. Fundamentally, it is believed that the British are guided by the aim to re-establish the prestige of the British Empire in the Far East (with which we have no quarrel). This cannot be achieved if the primary objective (Hongkong) is captured for us by Chinese forces and British–U.S. forces merely follow up to insure its success
c. On the other hand, they recognize that after Germany is defeated there will be a tremendous and probably irresistible demand in England for partial demobilization, which will at least delay, if not postpone to an unacceptable degree, the time at which the operations in the Far East can be undertaken, unless they can persuade the United States to embark on Combined Operations where the United States will furnish the deficiencies of troops and equipment under British leadership.
We point out the following implications:
The British do not attach the same degree of importance to the value of China in our war as does the United States. Therefore, in considering the measures that we must undertake to keep China in the war, there is a divergence as to the risk we can assume to maintain China as an ally.
The British contend even though we lose China as an active ally, we can re-establish our position in China by amphibious assaults and seize the area required for the air offensive against Japan. The U.S. Planners do not feel that this risk can be taken, in that logistical difficulties alone would probably prevent sufficient build-up of forces to maintain our position against the enemy.
The British look on the campaign in the west (Burma–Singapore and advance northward) as a combined effort, and not one of British responsibility alone. Therefore, once the United States has recognized the acceptability of the Malaya–Singapore–Camranh Bay–Hongkong amphibious advance, the British consider that both she and the United States should pool their resources (divisions, air, navy, landing craft, service forces, and shipping) to carry out the campaign. The U.S. Planners have refrained from indicating any agreement to making this a combined effort.
We believe the British definitely do not intend to capture Rangoon, at least until after they have captured Singapore. The primary reason for this they contend is their inability to divert resources from Europe to Southeast Asia until Germany has been defeated. After Germany’s defeat they feel the next major campaign should be a bold stroke to capture Singapore. Thereafter they consider that operations in South Burma would become relatively unimportant.
In line with their evaluation of the importance of China, the British are inclined to emphasize the importance of Formosa as a possible substitute in the role that the U.S. envisages for bases in China. The U.S. Planners agree that Formosa has many desirable features and preliminary logistic estimates indicate the possibility of operating 15 B–29 groups from that area. We do not believe, however, that Formosa would be a satisfactory substitute for China. We are informed that the British are making a detailed examination of this subject in London and it is possible that they will use the results of this study at the conference in order to further emphasize Formosa’s importance, and to minimize the importance the United States places in China.
Attention is particularly invited to the role which the U.S. Planners envisage for the Chinese Army. In order for them (and [Page 434] U.S. Army Air Forces in China) to perform this role, tremendous efforts on the part of British and the United States must be exerted.
If the Joint Staff Planners feel that this role has been overemphasized then the plan should be modified accordingly. Specifically, the operations for the recapture of Burma would have to be completely re-evaluated before we become committed to an unacceptable effort in that area which will be costly both in men and matériel.
It is urged that Parts VIII, and the Annex of the Plan, be carefully studied in view of the fact that they will be of immediate concern during the forthcoming conference.
H. B. Slocum
Capt., U.S. Navy
E. H. McDaniel
Col., U.S. Army
W. R. Wolfinbarger
Col., U.S. Army
  1. The source text bears the following manuscript endorsement by Marshall: “Copy was handed President by Admiral Leahy 8/10/43. GCM”.
  2. The paper referred to is the appreciation and plan for the defeat of Japan prepared by the Combined Staff Planners (C.P.S. 83). This paper is not printed as a whole, but a summary is appended to C.C.S. 313, post, p. 981.