J. C. S. Files

No. 1267
Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff
top secret
C. C. S. 890/1

Control and Command in the War Against Japan

With reference to the proposed boundaries for the extension of command of the Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia,1 suggested by the British Chiefs of Staff,2 the United States Chiefs of Staff have no objection from the military viewpoint to the inclusion of Indo-China south of latitude 15 degrees N. in the new area. This, however, is a matter primarily for decision by the Generalissimo3 and a shift does not appear practicable until such time as his agreement is obtained. Until that time it appears operations can go forward on the present basis.

As to the boundaries of the Australian command, this is a matter on which the solution worked out between the British and Australian Chiefs of Staff should be acceptable to the United States Chiefs of Staff.

On the matter of the northern boundary of the area, the United States Chiefs of Staff reaffirm the necessity for retaining control by the United States of the Admiralty Islands for the reasons set forth in paragraph 3 of C. C. S. 852/1.4

The proposal to extend the British sphere of responsibility east of the present boundary of the Southwest Pacific Area does not appear necessary or desirable until United States activities are cleared from the area, at which time the transfer should be effected. Aside from United States military resources in the area which must continue to be rolled up under United States military control, there are no military objectives or problems in the area except Ocean and Nauru Islands. At such time as British forces are prepared to recapture these islands, the United States will offer no objection.

The objective of the United States Chiefs of Staff in proposing the transfer has been to release United States resources and commanders from the responsibility for containing and mopping up the [Page 1314] Japanese forces in the area in order that they might concentrate on the main effort. Hence they have proposed 15 August as the date of turnover. Their objective would not be achieved by delaying the turnover until such time as Admiral Mountbatten is in position to advance through the Malacca Straits. Furthermore, it does not appear that retention of the area under United States responsibility until the end of the year will result in any activity additional to that which would occur if the area passed to Admiral Mountbatten on 15 August. The forces employed in the area are already primarily Australian. It is possible that if the British Chiefs of Staff do not desire to take over the area shortly, the Australian Chiefs of Staff might be able to do so with subsequent adjustment with Admiral Mountbatten within the British Empire.

In summary, with regard to the matter of the Southeast Asia Command and the Southwest Pacific Area, the United States Chiefs of Staff consider that the immediate action should be to pass to the British Chiefs of Staff as of 15 August or very shortly thereafter the area with boundaries as outlined in C. C. S. 852/1.5

Concerning the matter of higher strategic control in the war against Japan, the thought of the United States Chiefs of Staff is that the role of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in the European war cannot appropriately be applied to the Pacific war. In the Pacific war there exist two clearly delineated areas that, commanded by Admiral Mountbatten with the extensions proposed in the foregoing paragraphs, constitute an area of British Empire responsibility associated with the Portuguese, the Dutch, and perhaps eventually the French. The initial operational interest of the United States in this area has now greatly decreased. The Pacific area is devoted to the main effort, is organized under a command and control set-up peculiar to the United States, and has forces and resources overwhelmingly United States unless the Chinese, and possibly Russian, contribution is considered. Any change in the present control system which would involve added complications and more cumbersome procedures is unacceptable.

It appears that the interest of the United States in Admiral Mount-batten’s expanded theater now includes little more than sufficient review of operations to determine their impact on Allied operations and from the standpoint of lend-lease requirements, that they are adjusted to the main effort, and that they do not have an unduly adverse effect on the supply line to China through India and Burma. [Page 1315] In line with this thought the British Chiefs of Staff may wish to consider some readjustment of the status of the Southeast Asia Command under the Combined Chiefs of Staff, perhaps along the line of the present status of the Pacific Theater.

In summary, the United States Chiefs of Staff believe that increased participation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in the Pacific Theater is impracticable.

  1. Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.
  2. See vol. i, document No. 604.
  3. i. e., Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
  4. “3. It is considered necessary that the United States retain control of the Admiralty Islands due to the extensive naval facilities that have been assembled at Manus and its continued use as a primary base west of Hawaii for support of U. S. Naval forces.”
  5. Not printed.