Roosevelt Papers

The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President
top secret

Nr: No #.

Top Secret memorandum for the President.

Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Law in their memorandum of agreement concerning shipping for liberated areas1 made the recommendation that the military and civilian authorities of the respective governments [Page 535] be ready to make recommendations to their heads of government at the coming conference concerning the allocation of shipping. The British Chiefs of Staff have twice been asked to reaffirm the overall objective of bringing about at the earliest possible date the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan and the overall strategic concept of beating Germany first while simultaneously extending unremitting pressure against Japan, followed by concentration of full U. S.–U. K. resources on Japan. Twice the British Chiefs of Staff have conditioned their continued acceptance of these basic agreements with the statement that this acceptance is subject to any decisions concerning shipping at the coming conference.

The United States Chiefs of Staff are seriously concerned over the present determined effort to divert shipping to non-military uses, with the resulting effect on our military operations, and over the implied willingness of the British to consider qualifying our objective of ending the war at the earliest possible date. Extensive technical shipping studies show a considerable deficit in cargo shipping during the next 6 months. The United States Chiefs of Staff believe that even the present estimated deficits are optimistic. Stated requirements of the United States Theater Commanders have been carefully reviewed in Washington and it is felt they have been cut to the bone; perhaps cut further than will prove, in fact, acceptable if we are to stick to the principle of finishing the war as quickly as possible. Furthermore, the availability of shipping has been computed on a loss rate which did not allow for the Germans attaining any degree of success in the campaign they may launch with their new fast submarines.

The Chiefs of Staff consider that the issue is now clear. The decision lies between continuing unqualified priority to beating Germany and Japan or compromising this policy by diverting to non-military programs shipping essential to military operations. Any compromise almost certainly means prolongation of the war. Any unnecessary prolongation means ever-increasing pressure and demands for more diversions to non-military purposes. The overriding objection from the military standpoint to these proposals which amount to slowing down our military effort is that the price is paid directly in the unnecessary loss of the lives of many American fighting men and also in expenditure of American resources. The Chiefs of Staff know of no reason sufficiently pressing to justify the acceptance of such an extra and, what appears to them, unnecessary cost.

The military necessity for essential Civil Affairs supplies has always been recognized and these are included under the theater commander’s military priorities. There is no doubt that more shipping and supplies are desirable for rehabilitation to help out the liberated peoples. [Page 536] At best this could be only a trickle. The sound and quickest step toward giving the aid wanted is to end the war quickly. The Chiefs of Staff recognize that considerations other than military may dictate some small allocations of shipping to non-military purposes in a priority above everything but urgent military necessity.

Before working out the details of shipping allocations it is essential to have certain basic principles agreed. The United States Chiefs of Staff have in the attached memorandum presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff proposed recommendations to the heads of State as to what these principles should be. It is considered that material change in the spirit of these principles may well result in prolonging the war with all the costs consequent thereto.

Memorandum by the United States Chiefs of Staff
top secret

C. C. S. 746/7

After considering C. C. S. 746/62 the United States Chiefs of Staff agree that additional relief supplies and home rehabilitation for liberated areas are most desirable. They consider, however, the basic truth is that the best help we can possibly give the populations of liberated territories in Europe or elsewhere is to win the war as quickly as possible following out the over-all objective which has been agreed up to this time. The principles for allocation of shipping proposed by the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board Representatives in C. C. S. 746/6 can gravely lower our military effectiveness and may jeopardize complete victory. The vital military point involved to the United States Chiefs of Staff is the cost in American lives which would almost certainly result from placing non-military requirements in a priority where they could compete with military needs essential to ending the global war successfully at the earliest date.

A definite but secondary consideration is the cost in money and resources to the United States resulting from any prolongation of the war. The effect of any let-up in our maximum military pressure or any delay in operations is much more than the actual number of days’ delay to a particular operation which would result from acceding to a demand for resources to rehabilitate liberated areas. It means we lose our momentum and give the enemy time to recoup his losses and build up his resistance with consequent unnecessary cost in American blood and resources. As to the Thesis of the British representatives of the combined military transportation committee that cuts in estimates [Page 537] for operations can be made without adverse effects on those operations, the U. S. has already reviewed its military requirements and made a major cut below the theater commander’s minimum estimates. If anything the minimum U. S. military requirements may prove to be higher than contained in the study to date.

The United States Chiefs of Staff recognize the military necessity for preventing disease and unrest among the liberated areas and continue to subscribe to a policy under which the theater commander includes essential civil affairs supplies in his military priorities.

They recognize that there may be consideration other than military so over-riding as to justify at times some small allocation of shipping for rehabilitation of liberated areas, regardless of routine military requirements, but however subject always to cancellation due to urgent military necessity.

Before the Combined Military Transportation Committee in collaboration with the Combined Shipping authorities can proceed with the allocation of shipping, made particularly difficult by the present apparent large deficit, it is essential for them to have basic principles agreed for their guidance. It is recommended that insofar as liberated areas are concerned the following principle be recommended by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the heads of government:

Provision of resources for liberated areas will not be at the expense of current and projected operations to press the war to its earliest successful conclusion.

It is further recommended that the following be presented to the heads of government as guiding principles in working out the details of shipping allocation:

A. First priority to

Military requirements (including civil relief) vital to the successful conduct of current and projected operations in accordance with agreed strategic concepts. This may include military lend-lease for existing forces engaged in operations.
Increasing the fighting forces of the United Nations in order to apply greater pressure against the Axis powers.
Civilian requirements that are vital to the maintenance of the war making capacity of the United Nations.

B. Second priority to civilian programs desirable but not essential to the war making capacity of the United Nations. This includes rehabilitation of liberated areas beyond that envisaged in civil relief under A above of direct value to the war making capacity of the United Nations.

C. Third priority to military requirements necessary for stockpiling not directly contributory to any approved or projected operation under the agreed strategic concepts.

[Page 538]

D. Last priority to civil economy requirements which only indirectly affect the war effort.

3 [E]. Requirements in higher priorities will, in general, be filled before any in lower priorities.

F. So long as military requirements are not met in full shipping for civilian programs will not be allocated without prior consultation with the Chiefs of Staff.

G. Deficits will be absorbed on as broad a base as practicable within the above guidance in order that the incidence of limited shipping availability on programs essential to the military effort may be minimized.

H. The Combined Chiefs of Staff will decide priority classification of military requirements. Appropriate civilian agencies will decide the priority classification of civilian requirements.

  1. Ante, pp. 420422.
  2. Not printed.