740.0011 Pacific War/3751

The Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn) to the Director of the Civil Affairs Division, War Department (Hilldring)

My Dear General Hilldring: In our conversation on February 1, 1944 you asked for an opinion, from the point of view of the State Department, on Admiral Mountbatten’s79 suggestion that American Military Civil Affairs officers be assigned to his staff. We believe that from a political point of view such assignments would be inadvisable under present circumstances.

The presence of American Military Civil Affairs officers on the staff of the Southeast Asia Command, under a British Commander, would further increase the belief among the peoples of India and presumably throughout the Far East that our policy and that of the British in Asia are the same. On the other hand, if American forces, independent of Admiral Mountbatten’s command and under an American Commander, temporarily occupied parts of southeast Asia in the course of military operations against Japanese forces, it would be advisable from the political point of view for the American forces to have with them American Military Civil Affairs officers.

If you wish we shall be glad to discuss this question with you further in the light of any considerations you may present. You are, of course, aware that it is possible that developments may occur in the future that would make it advisable for American Civil Affairs officers to be sent to Thailand and French Indochina. It will be appreciated if you will inform me of any action the War Department may take in connection with the matter.80

Sincerely yours,

James C. Dunn
  1. Adm. Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia.
  2. At a meeting on March 2 of War and Navy Department officers concerned with civil affairs, it was decided that the Department of State’s recommendations embodied in this letter should be applied except when military necessity required otherwise. (890.20/3–2444)