Department of Defense Files

Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Truman


Memorandum for the President (Thru the Secretary of Defense):

Subject: Provision of U.S. Armed Forces in Palestine.

1. In a memorandum from the Secretary of Defense dated 2 April 1948,1 subject, “Provision of U.S. Armed Forces in Palestine,” the [Page 799] Joint Chiefs of Staff are asked three specific questions to be answered upon the assumption that the following two conditions, stated by the Acting Secretary of State, are in fact met:

That the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee agree to cooperate by abstaining from further violence (i.e., a truce between the responsible representatives of the two principal groups in Palestine).
That the United Kingdom agree to undertake its share of the responsibility for supporting the program proposed.

2. The questions asked, and the answers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are as follows:

Question a. What armed forces would be required to be supplied from outside of Palestine in order to maintain law and order under a temporary trusteeship, including any necessary action to control borders to prevent the illegal entry of persons, either Jewish or Arab, from other countries?

Answer a. Subject to the above assumptions and conditions, we estimate that the following forces would be required:

Army Naval Air
1 Corps of 3 Infantry Divisions plus appropriate Corps, Service and Special Troops, totalling 100,076 personnel. 6 Destroyers (or destroyer escorts) 1 Sqdn Troop C (16 a/c)
6 PCs (for harbor patrol) 2 Sqdns Ln Type (32 a/c)
1 Air Reconnaissance Sqdn. About 3124 personnel. 1 Sqdn Photo Ren (25 a/c) (Photo equipped Fighter Bombers) Necessary Maintenance Units. About 921 personnel.
It is our considered opinion that a truce between the responsible representatives of the Jewish Agency and the Arab Higher Committee would not assure the termination of violence by irresponsible elements. The extent of that violence cannot be predicted, but based on past history it must be assumed that it will be considerable.

Question b. From a United States military standpoint, what should be the composition of such forces in terms of the nations which should furnish contingents and in terms of the size of the contingent to be furnished by each such nation?

Answer b. Based upon the second assumption that the United Kingdom agrees to undertake its share of the responsibility for supporting the program proposed, it is our belief that the United States should share equally with the United Kingdom. However, because France is one of the remaining members of the Allied and Associated Powers, it is believed that that country should also participate. Moreover, French [Page 800] participation would give the United Nations a broader representation. On this basis, we believe that the participation should be as follows:

United Kingdom 45% 46,800 personnel
United States 45% 46,800 personnel
France 10% 10,400 personnel
The above figures are subject to minor adjustments inasmuch as certain service functions provided by the United States and United Kingdom will be duplicated and overlapping in scope, for example, communications and engineers.

Question c. What are the military implications of the course of action proposed?

Answer c. (1) At least partial mobilization will be required, which includes the early implementation of Selective Service.

(2) The United States could not fully deploy its share of forces before 15 May.

(3) It would further over-extend the Armed Forces by increasing the dispersion of United States forces overseas.

(4) A supplementary budget would be required to defray additional cost, which expenditure quite probably will continue over a considerable period of time.

(5) The United States would have to accept the loss of the bulk of its general reserve for at least six months until new units could be constituted by partial mobilization.

3. The foregoing replies deal only with the stated specific questions, and are not intended to imply any conclusion as to the desirability of taking the action under consideration.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
William D. Leahy

Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
  1. Not printed.