Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 992
Position Paper Prepared in the Department of State 3
The Military Role of Australia and New Zealand
To inform Mr. Churchill of the role envisaged for Australia and New Zealand in meeting Communist aggression.
Facts Bearing on the Problem:
- Australia and New Zealand have refrained from making a firm commitment of forces to the military effort to meet Communist aggression globally;
- The security of the general area of the Middle East, as a whole, including particularly the oil areas and the Suez Canal, is important to the Western World;
- The United States does not plan to commit its forces to the defense of the Middle East; and
- If the United Kingdom is to meet its strategic responsibility for the defense of the general area of the Middle East, substantial [Page 2] armed forces from Australia and New Zealand as well as other commonwealth nations will, in all probability, have to be provided.
To encourage the development of the military potential of Australia and New Zealand for the common defense against the Communist threat.
Probable Position of U.K.:
- Desires to obtain commitment of troops by Australia and New Zealand to the defense of the Middle East.
- Desires to obtain participation of Australia and New Zealand together with France, Britain and the United States in the defense of Southeast Asia.
Position to be presented: (Only if raised by Mr. Churchill)
As you know, this government has done its best to encourage the development of the military potential of Australia and New Zealand for the common defense against the Communist threat. Clearly, these two countries are vital links in the defensive chain running from Japan and Okinawa, through the Philippines, to Australia and New Zealand. The defense of that chain is essential to the maintenance of the interests of both our countries in the Pacific. United States policy with respect to Australia and New Zealand is based upon recognition that an armed attack in the Pacific area against either of these two countries would be dangerous to its own peace and safety. We have given concrete form to this belief by committing our armed forces to the defense of Australia and New Zealand. The tripartite security pact4 spells out this commitment. On the other hand that pact recognized the fact that Australia and New Zealand, as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, have military obligations outside as well as within the Pacific area. As a result I think that this security arrangement should free substantial Australian and New Zealand forces for the defense of the Middle East. Prime Minister Holland in Washington last February specifically asked whether New Zealand’s commitment to the Middle East would be considered as a contribution to the then contemplated Pacific security arrangement. He was told then that the U.S. would certainly look at such a contribution as a benefit to over-all “allied” strategy.5 I still believe this to be the case.[Page 3]
On the other hand, while we recognize the importance of Southeast Asia and are concerned that the countries in the area do not fall into the Communist camp, we cannot at this time accept the commitment of U.S. ground forces to the defense of the area. You would agree, I am sure, that paper security agreements not backed by commitments of forces are worse than none at all. I think it naturally follows from this that it is too soon to attempt to establish a regional security system in the Pacific similar to NATO. While in a global war the defense of Southeast Asia would probably assume secondary importance to the defense of the Middle East, we should also consider the role which Australian and New Zealand forces might best play in hostilities limited to the Far East. In the event of a Communist move to the southward from China without a concurrent commencement of hostilities elsewhere, available Australian and New Zealand forces could be employed in the Southeast Asia area.
The above subject should not be raised by President Truman in the talks with Mr. Churchill.
- The U.S. desires that the military potential of Australia and New Zealand be developed.
- The U.S. has entered into a tripartite security agreement with Australia and New Zealand.
- The U.S. desires an Australia and New Zealand commitment of forces to the Middle East. The U.S. hopes the Pact will facilitate the contribution of troops by Australia and New Zealand for the Middle East.
- The U.S. is not willing at this time to enter any regional pact with regard to Southeast Asia that would commit U.S. forces to the defense of that area.
- Collection of documentation on certain official visits of European heads of government and foreign ministers to the United States and on major international conferences attended by the Secretary of State for the period 1949–1953, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.↩
This paper, designated TCT D–5/11c, was prepared by the Steering Group on preparations for talks between President Truman and Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill of the United Kingdom. Churchill was in the United States Jan. 5–18, 1952; see the editorial note, p. 8. For documentation regarding this visit, see volume VI.
TCT D–5/11c is attached to a covering note by Robbins P. Gilman, Secretary of the Steering Group, who stated that it incorporated suggestions made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and that it had been approved at the official level.↩
- For text of the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, also known as the ANZUS Pact, signed at San Francisco Sept. 1, 1951, see United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 3 (pt. 3), p. 3420.↩
- For the memorandum of a conversation held Feb. 8, 1951, between Prime Minister Sidney G. Holland and Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, p. 147.↩