167 Chifley to Sturdee

Letter 4 April 1946,

SECRET AND PERSONAL

THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH OCCUPATION FORCE AND THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF IN AUSTRALIA

It is possible that I may be asked in the United Kingdom [1] for my opinion on the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia, as a method of organising and controlling a Joint Empire Force, particularly, in view of the special responsibility accepted by Australia in this matter.

2. I shall be glad if you could give me your general impressions on the set-up, both of the Force and the machinery for its control. There is no need to traverse the matter in detail by any review of the history of procedure, the obstacles encountered, and the measures taken to surmount them.

3. All that I desire is your own opinion as to how you would go about. the matter again in the light of your experience to date, if given freedom of action in the matter, and the reasons for your views.

4. As you are aware, special significance is to be attached to our part as a member of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific in the following measures which were provided:-

The appointment of an Australian Officer as the Commander-in- Chief, British Commonwealth Occupation Force.

The creation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia as an extension of the Australian Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The use of the Defence Committee with overseas representation for administrative arrangements for the Force on this level.

The appointment of an Australian to represent the British Commonwealth in the Allied Control Council in Japan.

It would appear that, provided machinery exists for an effective voice on the Governmental level for the various parts of the Empire concerned in matters of Policy affecting their Forces, the higher control could be more effectively left to the part of the Empire primarily concerned with integration of overseas officers in the Australian Service and Joint-Service Machinery. When we despatched an Expeditionary Force to the Middle East, the broad principle followed was to place it under the general command and operational control of the major partner in the theatre with an Australian officer responsible for the command and administration of the formation.

1 Chifley was to attend a British Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting, the main topic of which would be 'matters pertaining to the Pacific'.

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