J. C. S. Files

The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President

top secret

Memorandum for the President

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have been guided by the following basic principles in working toward U.S.S.R. entry into the war against Japan:

Russia’s entry at as early a date as possible consistent with her ability to engage in offensive operations is necessary to provide maximum assistance to our Pacific operations. The U. S. will provide maximum support possible without interfering with our main effort against Japan.

The objective of Russia’s military effort against Japan in the Far East should be the defeat of the Japanese forces in Manchuria, air operations against Japan proper in collaboration with U. S. air forces based in eastern Siberia, and maximum interference with Japanese sea traffic between Japan and the mainland of Asia.

[Page 397]

The following paragraphs set forth the status to date of negotiations with the Russians and indicate the objectives which we believe should be achieved at the coming conference.

a. Assistance prior to hostilities. The project to stockpile supplies in eastern Siberia in preparation for Russian entry into the war against Japan is making excellent progress. Of the ¾ of a million tons of dry cargo required in this initial project, it is estimated ¼ of a million tons will be available in U. S. ports by 1 March. The date of the Russian entry is of great importance to the U. S. both in planning the delivery of supplies and also in planning our operations. The Russians have recently made intensive staff studies which should enable them to give us at the coming conference a better estimate than we have received to date of the timing and planning of their operations.

b. Opening of a sea route to eastern Siberia. The required capacity of any sea route across the North Pacific to eastern Siberia has not yet been determined. Such a route must be through one of the northern Kuriles straits, across the Sea of Okhotsk, and around northern Sakhalin to eastern Siberian ports, although it is possible that by moving supplies overland between Petropavlovsk and Ust Bol-sheretsk a route of limited capacity could be established without having to pass convoys through the Kuriles. Because of ice, either route would only be navigable from June through October. The requirements of the war in Europe and our shortage of resources in the Pacific make remote any possibility of conducting amphibious operations in the Kuriles during 1945. The Russians have indicated a willingness to allow us to establish our forces in southern Kamchatka at the proper time. This measure alone may permit sufficient neutralization of Jap forces in the northern Kuriles to allow convoys to pass through the chain. It appears now that the bulk of supplies for any U. S. strategic air forces in eastern Siberia would have to come across the North Pacific rather than over the trans-Sib.1 Lacking definite information from the Russians as to their requirements for supply across the Pacific and firm commitment for the operation of U. S. strategic air forces from eastern Siberia, the necessity for opening a sea route to eastern Siberia has not yet been demonstrated.

In view of the fact that the route to Vladivostok will be closed by the Japanese at the beginning of war and in order to make plans and preparations, we should at this conference determine from the Russians the extent to which their operations against the Japanese will depend on supplies continuing to be brought across the North Pacific. However, no commitment to undertake an operation in the North Pacific should be made at this time. Also, all possible information [Page 398]should be obtained concerning the distribution facilities for these supplies.

c. Operations of U. S. strategic air forces from Russian bases. Entry of Russia into the war against Japan will provide additional areas from which our seasoned European strategic air forces can be utilized. Shortage of suitable heavy bomber bases elsewhere and the desirability of increasing the number of directions from which we strike Japan indicate we should make every effort to exploit the potential of Russian bases. At the Churchill-Stalin meetings in October, Stalin gave assurance that he would provide Maritime bases for U. S. strategic air forces. Recently, however, this agreement has, on a staff level, been withdrawn on the ground that Russian operations from the area in question would preclude the establishment therein of American air and naval forces. The United States Chiefs of Staff feel, however, that the availability, after victory in Europe, of large numbers of trained heavy bomber units; the scarcity of bases elsewhere, and the potential of the Russian bases, indicate we should press for agreement in principle to the establishment of U. S. air forces in eastern Siberia.

d. Russian strategic air forces. The United States Chiefs of Staff do not propose to raise the question of Russian strategic air forces at the forthcoming conference. The Commanding General, Army Air Forces, has offered to the Russians some 200 heavy bomber type aircraft, implying that these should be used as a Russian strategic air force employed jointly with a U. S. strategic air force of equal size; has offered to provide a nucleus establishment for the organization and training of a Russian strategic air force; and has further indicated that additional aircraft might be forthcoming if desired. To date the Russians have not accepted these proposals and we have not pressed the matter. It should not be raised on our part, but, if brought up, we should say that the matter will be further examined by the two military staffs.

e. U. S. assistance in Kamchatka. At the Churchill-Stalin meetings in Moscow in October, Stalin stated his willingness to give the U. S. air bases, including B–29 bases, on Kamchatka and to allow the U. S. to use Petropavlovsk as a naval base. He also agreed to a U. S. survey party entering Kamchatka. This party is now formed and will depart as soon as Russian visas are received. In planning, it is necessary to consider what, if any, U. S. assistance the Russians may require to defend Kamchatka against the Japs as well as what can be done in developing it as a base for U. S. operations. It may be desirable to use Kamchatka as a base for an air transport route to eastern Siberia and for transshipment to shallow draft vessels of supplies destined for Amur River ports.

[Page 399]

At the conference, we should determine the Russian ideas on any U S. assistance that they might need to defend Kamchatka, particularly as regards ground forces. In this connection any assistance that Russia could render in regards to developing housing, airfields and communications in Kamchatka before her entry in the war and without arousing Japanese suspicions would make our task much easier.

f. Use of Aleutian naval bases by the Russians. At the Churchill-Stalin meetings, the U. S. offered the Russians use of our Aleutian naval bases for their submarines and light naval craft. To date, the Russians have not indicated their desire in this matter. If the Russians raise this question at the conference, we should ask for their estimate as to what their requirements might be, but make no commitments.

g. Installation of U.S.A.A.F. Weather Reporting Stations in the U.S.S.R. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider it highly important that additional weather reports be made available from Far Eastern U.S.S.R. to support our approved operations and future planned operations against the Japanese. Weather pertinent to our operations against Japan is formed in Eastern Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau. Marshal Stalin should be asked to agree to the provision of adequate weather stations in these areas to furnish us with the necessary weather information upon which we could base weather forecasts. The Russians should be told that the U. S. are prepared to furnish the necessary equipment and personnel or to assist in the training of Russian personnel to equip and operate these stations.

h. Improvement of U.S–U.S.S.R. collaboration. The working efficiency of U.S. and U.S.S.R. collaboration to date has been low, even though there appears to have been quick agreement on general principles pertaining to military problems on the highest level. This inefficiency is largely attributable to administrative delays on the part of the Russians and a reluctance on staff levels to exchange with the U. S. the information essential to the carrying out of broad decisions. Any specific example is a detail but the cumulative effect of the failure of the Russians to act on reasonable requests—space for couriers on airlines, movement of mail and dispatches, securing of visas for military personnel, replies in a reasonable time to requests from the Joint Chiefs of Staff addressed to the Soviet General Staff, and many others—all these make progress difficult. The Chiefs of Staff suggest that Marshal Stalin be asked that necessary administrative steps be taken to make collaboration between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. work more efficiently and more rapidly, and that he also be asked to state what inefficiencies and delays his own people have experienced in working with the U. S. in order that we may make necessary corrections on our side.

[Page 400]

A special planning mission headed by Brigadier General Frank N. Roberts is now in Moscow and arrangements have been made for them to meet with a corresponding special planning group from the Red General Staff. No meeting has yet been scheduled by the Russians. It is felt that the combined efforts of these planning groups can be of great benefit to both General Staffs in expediting exchange of planning information and they should be given every assistance in their work.

The Chiefs of Staff feel that all the above points, if raised at the tripartite conference, should be discussed on the broadest basis; the details should be worked out separately between the staff representatives of the U. S. and U. S. S. R.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
[George C. Marshall ]2

Chief of Staff, U. S. Army
  1. Trans-Siberian Railroad.
  2. Printed from an unsigned carbon copy.