104 Report by Defence Committee

Attachment 'A' to Defence Committee MELBOURNE, 11 November 1948 Minute 252/1948

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REPORT BY THE DEFENCE COMMITTEE ON UNITED KINGDOM PAPER P.M.M.

(48) 1 [1]-THE WORLD SITUATION AND ITS DEFENCE ASPECTS PART I- GENERAL DEFENCE POLICY AND STRATEGY

[matter omitted] [2]

Relationship of Australian Defence Policy to United Kingdom Views:

3. The Australian Government announced in its post war defence policy in June 1947 that- (a) the nature and extent of the provision to be made for the defence of Australia will be influenced by the stage of development that has been reached in organising a system of collective security, a scheme of British Commonwealth defence, and the degree of reliance which can be placed on them; and (b) if an overall plan cannot be prepared in accordance with the principles of the Charter, reliance must be placed primarily on co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence, and in the last resort on the forces that can be provided for the inherent right of self defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter.

4. The importance of regional arrangements for defence and close co-operation with the United States of America has been fully recognised. As was stated in the Australian Government's Defence Policy in June 1947, Australia has a primary responsibility in regard to its own problem in its particular region which requires working out, not only with the other members of the Commonwealth concerned, but also with other Nations with territorial and strategic interests in that area. If these regional arrangements are ultimately pieced together, a major contribution to an overall plan may be achieved whether on a British Commonwealth or world basis.

5. Similarly, as stated by the Prime Minister at the Conference in London in 1946 in relation to Regional Security in the Pacific, the approach to a common scheme of defence for this area should be by agreement between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United States and later with other nations with possessions in this area.

6. The United Kingdom view with regard to the need and urgency for a regional plan for Western Europe, the foundation of which was laid by the Brussels Treaty of March 1948, and in which the Western European countries, United States of America and the United Kingdom should closely co-operate, is in accordance with the Australian Government's views with regard to the Pacific Region.

7. With regard to the United Kingdom's suggestion that planning should take place within the British Commonwealth corresponding to that for which the necessary political agreement has been reached in the Western Union, it was stated in the House of Representatives on 23rd September 1948, that:-

'...the Government's Policy is essentially and fundamentally based on cooperation between members of the British Commonwealth.'

The following statement was made also by the Prime Minister at the Conference in London in 1946:-

'Co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth is a matter of bilateral or multilateral planning, according to the strategical position of the particular part of the Empire concerned, the view of its Government and those of the other Governments concerned.'

8. In the absence of progress in collective security under the United Nations, the development of regional arrangements for defence by the Western Union is therefore in accord with the Australian Government's policy for the development of regional arrangements in its own area. In principle the development of corresponding planning within the British Commonwealth, either multilaterally or bilaterally, is also in accord with views already expressed by the Australian Government.

Aspects of Defence Co-operation 9. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff consider that the two main aspects of defence co-operation are:

(a) The co-ordination of general issues affecting all Allies, e.g., the fundamental objectives of defence policy and strategy, the utilization of resources, dispersal, etc.

(b) The planning of action in the various regions.

10. The ultimate security of Australia in war can be achieved only in co-operation with the other members of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. The general objectives of defence policy and strategy which are to be pursued by the British Commonwealth in war, in conjunction with the United States of America, have a fundamental effect on Australian Defence Policy.

Accordingly, decisions as to the relative strengths of the three Australian Services, their composition, the nature and proportion of their armaments, and the material resources, which Australia should be in a position to produce in war should be based on the overall general defence policy and strategy which is likely to be adopted in war, and Australia's part in it.

11. In the absence of an agreed overall plan, Australian defence policy has been formulated on the best available information.

Progress has been made with the raising of forces and planning for the Australian zone has begun, but the strategic information on which decisions relating to these matters were made, in the light of the then existing strategic situation, was necessarily incomplete. More extensive agreement as to the general defence policy and strategic objectives to be pursued in war would provide a much more secure basis on which to determine future Australian defence policy.

12. The political basis for military co-operation in the Western Union has been achieved but full co-operation within the British Commonwealth has not previously been fully attainable. Co- operation within the Western Union is a problem, however, primarily for the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

It was stated in the House of Representatives on 23rd September 1948-

'Since our geographical location is in the Pacific, it is logical, as the Prime Minister stated in 1946, that we should bear a greater share of the burden of British Commonwealth Defence in that region.'

Nevertheless, agreement on the general objectives of defence policy and strategy within the British Commonwealth and with the United States of America, in conjunction as far as possible with the objectives of the Western Union, is a most desirable aim from the point of view of Australian defence.

With regard to these general issues, even if agreement cannot be attained between a the nations concerned, it would be desirable for the Australia Authorities to examine them in conjunction with those who are willing to collaborate. From the Australian point of view, agreement at least between Australia and the United Kingdom, and if possible New Zealand, would be desirable.

13. Before decisions with regard to the general issues could be taken by the Governments concerned, however, the implications of any proposed general defence policy and strategy would require examination by Service Staffs. It is an essential prerequisite to a study of these subjects in Australia for the United Kingdom views to be made available.

Strategic Objectives in War:

14. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff suggest that, if war occurs, the following aims should be pursued in co-operation with all Allies:

(i) Secure the integrity of Commonwealth countries.

(ii) Mount a strategic air offensive.

(iii) Hold the enemy as far east as possible in Western Europe.

(iv) Maintain a firm hold an the Middle East.

(v) Control essential sea communications.

15. As has been indicated above, the integrity of Australia and New Zealand from the military aspect will depend in the long run on the outcome of comprehensive operations such as those mentioned in sub-paragraphs (ii), (iii) and (iv) above. It is agreed that the control of essential sea communications will be a basic requirement in Allied strategy.

The United States, as is indicated in the United Kingdom Paper, is affected by the Soviet threat in both the European and Pacific regions. Action which may be taken by the United States of America in the Pacific will be of major importance to Australia.

The degree to which Australia could contribute to overall strategy in war, would depend on Allied measures which may be taken in the Pacific and South East Asia and which would directly or indirectly secure the position of Australia and New Zealand. A correct balance must be struck between Australia's contribution to overall strategy on which ultimate safety depends and on local defence measures. Both of those measures are essential to achieve the aim of securing the integrity of the Australian area, as envisaged by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff in paragraph 14 (i) above.

Essential Measures in Peace:

16. The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff suggest also essential measures required in peace to allow Commonwealth countries to fight successfully in the event of war, as follows:-

(i) To prepare common strategic objectives and coordinated plans.

(ii) To possess balanced armed forces ready for immediate use on the outbreak of war with the necessary resources to support them.

(iii) To maintain co-operation between all members of the Commonwealth in all aspects of defence.

(iv) To ensure the active and early support of the United States.

(v) To co-ordinate defence plans with the Western Union.

(vi) To maintain and increase Allied scientific and technical lead.

17. The above measures are desirable overall aims in peace. The degree of readiness at which the armed forces are to be maintained as stated in sub-paragraph (ii) may be essential for the United Kingdom. Its relationship to Australian Defence Policy should be considered when agreement has been reached on strategic objectives in war.

It was announced on 4th June 1947, in the Government's Statement on Defence Policy, that the programme would be kept constantly under review in the light of the prevailing international situation. A review of the measures which have already been taken by the Australian Government for the raising of armed forces, their logistic support in war and the development of scientific and technical resources may be desirable in the light of the existing international situation. It must follow, however, from an investigation of the possibility of agreement either multilaterally or bilaterally with the United Kingdom with regard to general defence policy and strategic objectives in war.

Conclusions:

18. Therefore, it is recommended that, in extension of the conclusions of the Council of Defence on 20th April 1948 [3], on Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence, the Australian Government should authorise, in the first instance, an examination by the Defence Committee (in conjunction with the United Kingdom, and if New Zealand agrees, New Zealand Joint Service Liaison Staffs) of the following:-

(a) The basic objectives of British Commonwealth defence policy and general strategy.

(b) A suitable basis for the distribution of strategic responsibility and war effort.

When Government approval has been given to the conclusions reached in Staff discussion of the matters listed in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b), general outline plans to meet immediate and long term dangers should be prepared.

It is an essential pre-requisite to a study of these subjects in Australia for the United Kingdom views to be made available.

PART 2-PRINCIPLES AND MACHINERY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF PLANNING

United Kingdom Views:

19. With regard to the principles under which the development of planning may proceed, the United Kingdom Government's views may be summarised as follows:

(a) No system of defence co-operation can work effectively unless there is continuous and close political co-operation between the Governments concerned.

(b) There must be agreement between those Governments as to the objects of the defence policy which is to be pursued.

(c) Planning can satisfactorily proceed and a coherent plan can be devised only when the necessary agreement in the political field has been reached.

(d) Once agreement has been reached in the political field, it will then be possible to allow the study of defence problems by the Military Staffs either globally or regionally as circumstances might necessitate, on the understanding that no country would be committed to accepting any particular solution that might emerge from study, until it has been accepted by the Government concerned.

Australian Views:

20. Prime Minister stated at the Conference in London in 1946, that it is fundamental to arrangements for co-operation in defence that appropriate machinery should be created to provide for an effective voice by the Governments concerned in policy and in the higher control of planning on the official level.

The principles stated by the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff are in accord with the views expressed by the Australian Government in its memorandum on Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence of 23rd May 1947 [4], with regard to consultation through the liaison staffs.

Thus, it has been agreed that prior political approval for joint planning by Military Staffs is fundamental, and it is an accepted principle that Governments are not committed to plans for joint action prepared by Military Staff; unless such plans are expressly accepted and approved by the Governments concerned.

21. The Australian Government's proposals for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in the Australian Government machinery for matters of cooperation in British Commonwealth Defence have been agreed to by all three Governments concerned and the machinery for United Kingdom and New Zealand representation in Australia and Australian representation in the United Kingdom and New Zealand has been set up. This machinery provides a means for consultation between the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia on the political level, and also on the official level in respect of matters approved for consultation by Military Staffs by the Governments concerned.

22. There are many disabilities in any arrangement for consultation which may lead to a large number of representatives from various parts of the Commonwealth meeting together to consider the very complex problems involved in British Commonwealth and Allied Defence Policy. It is improbable that agreement even on general issues would be achieved in this manner.

In conjunction with the evolution of defensive measures in respective regions, co-ordination of general issues could be arrived at by consultation between the principal partners (i.e., the United Kingdom or the United States of America) and regional groups with similar interests.

23. In so far as Australia is concerned, suitable machinery for consultations on the general issues is in existence, and the Joint-Service liaison machinery which was set up at the beginning of the year can proceed with an examination of such general or detailed defence matters as may be approved for joint examination by the United Kingdom and Australian Governments, and other governments who may agree to participate.

It was stated in the Australian Government's Memorandum on the Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence that the machinery adopted should be capable of functioning efficiently in war. The development of this machinery by use in peace is therefore an important consideration.

24. When agreement is reached on the question of the general issues involved, it may subsequently be desirable to assemble military planning staffs for special problems at appropriate places and times. This would be a matter for later determination in view of progress made.

Co-operation with the United States of America and Other Dominions:

25. The Australian Government's Memorandum on Machinery for Co- operation in British Commonwealth Defence was addressed not only to the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but also to Canada, South Africa, India and Pakistan. The three latter, as well as Ceylon, are mutually interested with us in regional security in the Indian Ocean.

26. The United Kingdom Government states that the United States, through her geographic position, is affected by the Soviet threat both in the West and in the East, and that close co-operation with her is obvious and natural.

27. The views of the Australian Government on Co-operation with the United States in regional security in the Pacific are stated in paragraphs 4 and 5 above. It will also be recalled that one of the basic principles laid down at the 1946 Conference relating to the Machinery for Co-operation in British Commonwealth Defence was that it should be capable of interlocking with that of other nations on a Regional and World basis in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

28. In so far as Australia is concerned, the development of corresponding British Commonwealth planning to that proposed between the United Kingdom, United States and Western European countries, would also require the linking of Australian and British Commonwealth plans with those of the United States in the Pacific to cope with the Soviet threat in the Pacific. The machinery established for cooperation in British Commonwealth Defence is capable of interlocking with that of the United States, though the procedure to be followed would be a matter for consideration and development.

Conclusion:

29. The liaison arrangements in existence between Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, are suitable for discussing the general issues raised by the United Kingdom Authorities, and for general planning. An extension of the existing machinery which will permit planning staffs to meet may be necessary when the details of plans are under discussion. The existing arrangements are capable of extension to include other Dominions or Allies if required. [5]

1 Document 100.

2 The omitted matter comprises. summary of the United Kingdom's views in Document 100.

3 Document 97.

4 See Volume 12, Document 172, Attachment thereto.

5 Chifley approved the recommendations in paragraph 18 on 9 December 1948

[AA: A816/52,14/301/353]