Midwar International Military Conferences
The President and the Prime Minister convened four military conferences in 1943: in January at Casablanca, in May at Washington (TRIDENT), in August at Quebec (QUADRANT), and in November-December at Cairo and Tehran (SEXTANT-EUREKA).1 The agreements reached at these conferences settled the order and scale of British and American operations in every part of the world. Like the earlier wartime meetings between the President and the Prime Minister, the 1943 conferences were primarily military.2 The heads of government with their Chiefs of Staff met to decide on future military operations. They carried on their discussions on military grounds. Carefully agreed interpretation of the military decisions was made possible by increasingly effective military staff work done before the conferences, and the decisions were carried out after the conferences by the military staffs.
Although the staff techniques evolved for the 1943 conferences continued to be used subsequently, most of the critical questions that came up at the comparatively infrequent later meetings were more in the sphere of foreign policy than the sphere of strategy, and were handled mainly by the President and his civilian advisers rather than by the JCS.3 It was in the midwar conferences that the major military decisions of World War II were approved. One of OPD's most pressing duties in 1943 was to help in preparing for the international conferences, through taking part in preliminary joint and combined committee work and in advising the Chief of Staff, upon whom always rested
much of the burden of presenting American military views to the President and the Prime Minister.4
The predominant questions before the midwar conferences were the relation of cross-Channel to Mediterranean operations and the relation of European to Pacific and Far Eastern operations. These were at the same time matters of the first importance in the national policies, particularly in the foreign policies, of the United States and Great Britain. The President and the Prime Minister, in formulating their agreements, showed a tendency to bind themselves no further in advance than absolutely necessary, keeping it within their discretion as much as possible and as long as possible to readjust military agreements to suit current aims in the wider field of national policy. The uncertainty of future military operations thus continued to unsettle military planning. U. S. Army planners, still urging a maximum concentration of force for the invasion of France, became increasingly concerned with securing from the international conferences the long-range commitments which would make it possible to mount the OVERLORD operation and to organize other campaigns around the globe on the basis of a first-priority effort in northwest Europe.
The two previous conferences in Washington between the President and the Prime Minister, ARCADIA in December 1941-January 1942 and an impromptu White House meeting in June 1942, had been called on very short notice as a result of specific military crises. There was little opportunity either for a thorough analysis of American views or for the completion of detailed studies to establish their feasibility. The lack of a carefully co-ordinated American case was also evident at the meetings in London of the Prime Minister and British Chiefs of Staff with General Marshall (in April 1942) and with Mr. Hopkins, General Marshall, and Admiral King (in July 1942). Most of the staff studies and memoranda had been drawn up in OPD for General Marshall and adopted or disregarded by the President, not always on the basis of clear-cut understandings with his military advisers.
Before the first conference of 1943, held in January at Casablanca, American staff officers had begun to appreciate the need for better preparation, and the conference greatly stimulated their appreciation of that need. Before each of the three conferences that followed during the year, they worked long and hard on a program to recommend to the President and did their best to anticipate the reasoning of the British Chiefs of Staff. In the face of British proposals worked out in great detail and evidently well coordinated with British foreign policy, American staff officers had to try to concert a program of British-American strategic aims at a time when the national policy of the United States was not always clear. Moreover, military proposals had to be presented in sufficient detail to avoid misunderstanding and yet in a form flexible enough to enable the President to work out with the Prime Minister acceptable compromises in matters that could be settled in the light of national policy. In short, military aims, conceived broadly and in detail, were subject to negotiation. The American military staff was in practice compelled to learn to apply, as the British staff so successfully applied, the methods of diplomacy to the development of military plans. This lesson in international planning techniques served OPD officers well, not only in the mid war
conferences, but also in the comparable and simultaneous problem of joint strategic planning. In the end, also, it taught them how to make their military views heard in the 1945 conferences and in other areas of national planning late in the war, when nonmilitary issues were of great importance but when it was still necessary to conduct operations against the enemy.
The military conferences of 1943 thus received a great deal of attention in OPD. Decisions reached in them tended to govern staff work in the midwar period, planning officers dividing their time between alternating phases of preparation and performance. This rhythm regulated the closely associated work of the joint committee planning system and OPD's dealings with overseas commands.
Casablanca Conference: 14-23 January 19435
The Casablanca Conference was the first conference after June 1942 attended by both the President and the Prime Minister as well as the Chiefs of Staff. For several weeks before it was convened, there had been discussion of a high-level conference at which an agreement could be reached on the basis of the probable outcome of the North African campaign and the siege of Stalingrad.6 By the time the Allied staffs and leaders were making final preparations for their departure to Casablanca, the tide of war definitely had begun to turn in Allied favor. Although the Germans were still east of Rostov, Soviet forces had successfully lifted the siege of Stalingrad in what proved to be the turning point in the Russo-German conflict, and had begun to wipe out the German salient in the Caucasus. Similarly, a hard struggle loomed in Tunisia, but most of North Africa was already in British and American possession. Even in the Pacific the enemy had lost the initiative, although the Guadalcanal and New Guinea campaigns showed how steadfastly the Japanese would defend the empire they had won so easily. The pressing question was what course of action the United States and Great Britain would follow in the Mediterranean area after the complete conquest of North Africa, the relation of that conquest to the projected cross-Channel offensive, and, less directly, its relation to operations in the Pacific and Far East.
To prepare for coming debates over these strategic issues OPD assembled a great deal of documentary material in loose-leaf volumes called SYMBOL or the Casablanca Book for use by the War Department representatives in the conference. Before putting these books into final form, General Wedemeyer reviewed the draft plans which officers in S&P had prepared and early in January submitted them to Generals Marshall, Handy, and Embick (JSSC) for comment.7
The three volumes of the Casablanca Book covered a broad range of planning data. Volume I, "Strategy and Plans," contained current proposals of the British and U. S. Chiefs of Staff on the strategic concept for 1943, comments by the U. S. JSSC on British papers, S&P outlines of strategic plans for projected operations in the European, Mediterranean, and Pacific areas, reviews of the logistic feasibility of strategic plans, and views of the War Department G-2 and of British Intelligence on Axis strategy for 1943.8 Volume II, "Command and Deployment," outlined the status of commands, the troop basis, schedules of troop movements, the shipping situation, and other miscellaneous current problems in the various theaters. For instance, in reference to the most crucial operational areas, it contained briefs on the status of TORCH directives, the handling of civil affairs in North Africa, shortages of equipment in North Africa, handicaps to movement of troops, special supply problems, equipment of French troops in North Africa, the threat to the Allied line of communication in the Mediterranean from the possible closing of the Strait of Gibraltar, and the existing rate of build-up of American troops in the United Kingdom. It also summed up such political, economic, and social issues connected with operations in the European theater as the De Gaulle-Giraud rapprochement; exchange rates of franc, dollar, and pound; Jewish-Moslem conflicts; and the status of French citizens in the United States who wanted to volunteer for service in Africa.9 Volume III, "Places and Personalities," simply contained short descriptions of leading foreign personages whom the American representatives might meet en route to Casablanca, important cities along the way, and a list of American military attachés and the commanding officers of American bases.10
In addition to compiling the Casablanca Book, OPD planners kept up with the interchange of views between the U. S. and British Chiefs of Staff on the proposed agenda for the conference.11 They obtained for the Chief of Staff comments on the British proposals by War Department leaders, notably General Arnold and General Somervell.12 Logically the next step to be performed by some staff, with more authority than OPD, would have been to secure agreement on both agenda and issues by the JCS and the President. This step was not taken, and the only high-level preparation for the conference was a meeting at the White House on 7 January 1943 with just the President, the four Chiefs of Staff, and the JCS secretary (Brig. Gen. John R. Deane) present. At this meeting the President gave the JCS free rein to follow the BOLERO line of strategy at the forthcoming conference, although the Chiefs of Staff admitted that joint planning was not united in its support. The President
did not commit himself specifically to the BOLERO policy. He thus retained his freedom of action on the cross-Channel versus Mediterranean issue, which the JCS considered critical. Simultaneously he announced for the first time the unconditional, surrender formula as the proper aim of the Allied war effort, a subject on which no real military staff work had been done at all. The President also spoke of certain political matters, such as disarmament after the war, which he and Mr. Churchill had to discuss and which neither he nor the Chiefs of Staff seemed to think were subjects for military staff consideration of any kind.13
General Marshall left for Casablanca on 9 January 1943. The U. S. Army delegation included three OPD officers, General Wedemeyer, General Hull, and Colonel Gailey, although the latter two were not present for the first few meetings. Meetings of the JCS at Casablanca began on 13 January, and the CCS conferences began the next day. General Wedemeyer, as Army planner, attended a number of meetings of the U. S. JCS as well as some of the meetings of the CCS. He was present at one of the two special meetings of the JCS at Anfa Camp, with the President presiding.14 The British favored keeping up the momentum of the North African venture through further offensive action in the Mediterranean, but General Marshall and the other U. S. Chiefs of Staff reiterated their support of the BOLERO/ROUNDUP plan for invasion of western Europe in 1943. Sicily, Sardinia, or Corsica, and the eastern Mediterranean all were discussed as possible objectives. The American delegates questioned each one of these as something less than the second front which the Russians were seeking.15
The arrival of General Hull and Colonel Gailey, on the fourth day of the conference, gave General Wedemeyer some relief and assistance in his work as one-man Army planning staff at the conference.16 In addition to assisting General Wedemeyer as much as possible and attending some of the JCS and CCS meetings, General Hull served on a combined subcommittee appointed to draft a summary of the conclusions of the conference for use in a message to Premier Joseph Stalin and a communiqué for the press.17
The conferees finally agreed to maintain the momentum of the North African campaign and invade Sicily (HUSKY) in July 1943 or, if possible, in June. While, as a consequence, prospects for the cross-Channel operation receded, the conferees gave a high priority to a combined bomber offensive against the Continent from the United Kingdom, one of the indispensable preliminaries to an invasion of France. With respect to other areas, Casablanca confirmed the policy of shipping military supplies to the USSR, of making a two-way advance through the Central Pacific and the Southwest Pacific toward the Philippine
area, and of building up U. S. Army air forces in the China-Burma-India area.18 Just how, when, and with what these various operations, except for HUSKY and the combined bomber offensive, could or would be carried out, remained extremely vague, just as it had after similar 1942 conferences. Agreement in principle was still more impressive than agreement in operational detail. The most striking news of the conference released to the public reflected to some extent the general character of the results. The President announced that he and the Prime Minister had agreed that the aim of the war was the unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy, and Japan.19 The Casablanca Conference marked the beginning of a series of British-American understandings on the military way to bring about those surrenders, but it was only a beginning.
The definite commitment to undertake a Mediterranean operation in 1943, in accordance with British urging, and the inability of the American delegation to secure an equally definite commitment to ROUNDUP, left the U. S. military representatives at the conference disappointed. Their attitude was reflected in a letter written by General Wedemeyer to General Handy, just before leaving Casablanca:
"We lost our shirts and . . . are now committed to a subterranean umbilicus operation in midsummer." General Wedemyer of course was referring to the phrase used earlier by the Prime Minister, the "soft underbelly of Europe."20 He believed that the weak point in the position of the delegation from the United States was its staff work. The British delegation, he observed, had the American representatives on the defensive during almost the entire conference, and had plans worked out in detail to support all the British views. In trying to help General Marshall, General Wedemeyer said, he had depended a great deal on the antecedent preparations by S&P officers and, during the conference, on the work of General Hull and Colonel Gailey. This fact pointed to the desirability of having a great deal of staff assistance available before and during the next conference.21
General Wedemeyer took one of the most important steps in carrying out Casablanca decisions simply by making a trip around the world to tell senior American commanders and their staffs what had been agreed upon. In Washington, OPD began the paperwork of implementation as soon as the conference was over, issuing instructions to zone of interior commands and exchanging messages almost daily with overseas commands. General Hull's Theater Group, which carried on most of this correspondence, also sent special representatives to North Africa to help untangle critical problems con-
nected with future operations in the Mediterranean.22
Trident: 12-25 May 1943
The American military staffs took to heart some of the lessons of Casablanca in preparing for the next conference, TRIDENT, held at Washington in May. It was just before TRIDENT that the JCS approved the major wartime reorganization of the joint committee system. One of the main purposes of the reorganization was to provide studies that would serve as a basis for agreement among the armed services, with the President, and, insofar as practicable, with the British.23 General Marshall, speaking for the JCS, assured a Senate subcommittee that the members of the JCS, well aware that the British Chiefs of Staff worked very closely with the War Cabinet and the Prime Minister, were reorganizing their own staff to meet Great Britain on equal terms at the coming conference.24
In line with this reasoning, the JSSC had concluded that joint outline studies and plans on all "reasonable" courses of action subsequent to HUSKY had to be prepared for the JCS before the encounter with the "always well prepared British." 25 Upon receiving instruction to this effect from the JCS, the joint planning staff quickly produced a series of plans and suggested lines of action for consideration prior to TRIDENT.26 The new Joint War Plans Committee did most of the work, preparing a proposed agenda and drafting over thirty studies, but time was short, and it drew extensively on plans and studies prepared by the separate service planning agencies. OPD contributed in this way, sifting into the joint committee system papers developed in the Strategy Section in the spring of 1943.27 Furthermore, OPD went on briefing the Chief of Staff and the Army planner as usual and brought up to date the volumes of studies (SYMBOL) prepared for Casablanca.28
General Wedemeyer proposed to the JCS that the United States take the offensive at TRIDENT by asking the British to consider some of the papers agreed upon by the JCS so that the American representatives would not find themselves in the position of considering all British papers.29 His suggestion, based on experience at Casablanca, was approved by General Marshall and General McNarney and accepted by the JCS on 10 May 1943.
In much the same spirit, General Hull recommended increasing the number of
representatives in the American delegation, even though extra assistance would be on call from the War Department at any time since the conference was convening in Washington. General Marshall approved the idea, and the JCS made arrangements accordingly.30 Shortly before the conference, General Hull informed General Handy, then on one of his visits to the overseas theaters, that the American planners and Chiefs of Staff would be well prepared for TRIDENT.31
When the conferees assembled in Washington for the first meeting on 12 May, the military situation on the Soviet front and in North Africa appeared even more favorable than at the time of Casablanca. The Soviet Army counteroffensive had overrun Kursk, Rostov, and the whole eastern shore of the Sea of Azov. All of North Africa was in British or American control except for a small area around Tunis, and on the following day, 13 May 1943, organized German resistance in North Africa ended. Although there had been no substantial change in the Pacific or Far East since Casablanca, a major conference was necessary to decide on the next step after Sicily (HUSKY). Again the critical decision was whether to continue with the Mediterranean campaign or to concentrate on the cross-Channel operation.
At TRIDENT the President came out unequivocally in favor of adhering to the principles of the BOLERO/ROUNDUP concept by planning for a cross-Channel operation in 1944. The JCS reaffirmed their support of this strategic policy. For the Mediterranean the JCS recommended undertaking only limited offensive operations after HUSKY lest a vacuum be created which would draw in the military resources necessary for the cross-Channel effort. The Prime Minister and the British Chiefs of Staff, on the other hand, stressed the importance of eliminating Italy from the war, classing it as the great prize and the first objective after HUSKY. They took the position that the end of Italian resistance would pave the way for a successful cross-Channel invasion and thus shorten the war. All agreed on the necessity of intensifying the combined bomber offensive from the United Kingdom, General Marshall in particular stressing the faith of American military leaders in its contribution to the cross-Channel operation.32
During the two weeks of the TRIDENT Conference the planners and other officers in OPD found themselves deeply involved in work connected with it.33 General Wedemeyer went to nearly all the meetings of the CCS, though he did not attend the plenary sessions held at the White House in the presence of the President and the Prime Minister. The S&P Group continued to brief and analyze new or revised papers on conference issues for General Wede-
meyer and the Chief of Staff.34 S&P officers also briefed the minutes of the White House and CCS meetings, checking inconsistencies and incomplete statements in the American position and trying to anticipate arguments which the British might adopt. The Strategy Section, working under General Wedemeyer's personal direction, prepared studies on the strategic implications of British proposals for submission to the Chief of Staff. As the final agreement was being drafted, officers in both the Strategy Section and the Policy Section were constantly reviewing conference papers, offering suggestions in the interest of consistency and clarity in defining American policies, and accepting compromises with British views. In advising General Wedemeyer and General Marshall, OPD planners sought to supply the information on the basis of which the views of the President and the JCS could be harmonized.35 Thus they emphasized the importance of using at the conference statistics prepared by the Army Service Forces or OPD's Logistics Group. They also continued to urge that the members of the JCS had to agree among themselves so they could strengthen their position in discussions with the British.36 As General Marshall observed, the "Joint Chiefs of Staff must be a unit to determine our play." 37
The results of the conference were much more satisfying to Army strategists than the Casablanca decisions had been. A major concession to British views was made in the form of a decision to plan further Mediterranean operations with a view to eliminating Italy from the war. At the same time the British approved continuing the combined bomber offensive from the United Kingdom on a large scale with the last stage to be completed by April 1944, designed to lead up to an invasion. Most important, they had agreed to assign a target date of 1 May 1944 for a cross-Channel operation intended to put twenty-nine divisions ashore on the Continent. Briefly called ROUNDHAMMER, this operation became OVERLORD, the central feature of all planning during the next year.38
The Army planners on the JWPC and other OPD officers who had helped in preparations for TRIDENT concluded that the
American staff had done much better than at Casablanca. They agreed that the United States should plan to send a large delegation to the next conference, due to be called within the next few months, and that all the members of it should work together beforehand. They advised settling well in advance what would be on the agenda, anticipating British arguments, and preparing the American case for the JCS thoroughly and in time for everyone to know exactly what it was. Above all, they wanted to be sure that the President and the JCS were willing to support the case as worked out in detail by the joint staff.39
As with all the major conferences, TRIDENT put a great strain on the OPD machinery after the conference was over. The Army command post had to inform Army commanders everywhere just what had been decided, and had to make arrangements for moving troops and supplies in conformity with the decisions. With so many decisions being made in the course of a few days, carrying them out involved careful co-ordination between the small joint and combined staffs on the one hand and the War Department and the Army's overseas commands on the other. S&P, the Army agency linking the Army with the joint committee system, laid great stress on close liaison with joint and combined agencies, including the joint and combined secretariats. It was responsible for implementing decisions already made, as well as for keeping in touch with joint and combined deliberations at every step in order to see that studies and decisions took into account the situation in the Army commands overseas.40
Quadrant: 14-24 August 1943
The preparation for the international conferences after TRIDENT became more and more centralized in the joint planning staff. Thus the studies drafted by the joint committees, especially the JWPC, superseded the books which OPD had prepared for Casablanca and revised for TRIDENT.41 Nevertheless, the S&P Group, independently of the work of its representatives on the JWPC, went on making studies for submission to the Army planner and, through him, either to the JPS or to the Chief of Staff, on matters concurrently being considered by joint committees. The Strategy Section continued to advise the Army planner on the agenda of joint and combined meetings he was to attend.42 OPD went on preparing papers for General Marshall on problems that would come before the next
conference, especially in preparation for his meetings with the President prior to the international sessions.43 In early August the Strategy Section summed up for General Marshall the various choices before the representatives of the United States at the coming conference, QUADRANT, to be held within the month at Quebec. Just prior to the opening of the conference, the Chief of Staff submitted to the President his conclusions, as drafted by the Strategy Section, on the main issue, which was the cost in time and resources of a failure to concentrate at once on a cross-Channel operation.44
The military situation in general had changed little since TRIDENT. In the Mediterranean, however, the campaign in Sicily (10 July-17 August 1943) had proved highly successful and was entering its final stages. The time had come to review the tentative TRIDENT decision to eliminate Italy from the war. Final decision on this point, the American delegation believed, would force a clear ruling on the familiar issue, whether the main effort would be made against northwest Europe or in the Mediterranean. The fighting forces were at an operational crossroads in the European war, and definite commitments of shipping, troops, and supplies could not long be postponed.
Among the American delegation sent to discuss these issues at QUADRANT were fifteen OPD officers.45 General Handy and General Wedemeyer attended practically all the meetings of the CCS, except the plenary sessions with the President and the Prime Minister. Being well informed about day-to-day conference proceedings, they were able to take a useful part in analyzing British proposals and looking for ways to bolster the American position.46 At one point General Handy submitted a paper written to counter British suggestions for qualifying the commitment to OVERLORD, and his study was accepted by the JCS and submitted to the CCS, where a final compromise was reached.47 General Wedemeyer, as Army planner, briefed the Chief of Staff on all plans brought up for consideration at the conference. He also helped General Handy draft papers, as requested by the Chief of Staff, for submission to the JCS and via the JCS to the CCS.48
On the subordinate staff level at QUADRANT, as at TRIDENT, most of the activities of OPD officers revolved about General Wedemeyer. In studying proposals presented at the conference for consideration by the Chief of Staff, General Wedemeyer drew upon the advice of his S&P advisory planning staff and representatives of the OPD theater sections concerned. For discussion in meetings of the JPS and the CPS, he drew as well on the opinions of OPD officers assigned to the JWPC teams. Members of the entire OPD contingent, planners, logisticians, and theater section representatives, were present at planning meetings as required by the course of the discussions, and served on ad hoc committees from time to time.During the course of the conference, the OPD team at Quebec was linked with the "home team" in Washington through telephone conversations and a constant exchange of messages between General Handy and General Hull.49 To keep the Chief of Staff abreast of important activities in the overseas theaters and the reaction of his command post staff in Washington to them, General Handy prepared digests of significant cables with OPD comments on them.50 General Handy also called upon General Hull for special studies, such as an analysis of the effect of moving divisions from one projected operation to another, to be presented to General Marshall.
All the American military spokesmen at QUADRANT pressed for a final commitment to OVERLORD, the plan for the cross-Channel invasion developed by a combined British-American planning staff in London on the basis of the 1 May 1944 target date and twenty-nine division force accepted at TRIDENT. They were anxious to reach an agreement to give OVERLORD overriding priority above all other operations in the European-Mediterranean area in 1944.51 The President again put the weight of his influence behind the cross-Channel operation, and the British representatives agreed that "OVERLORD should constitute the major offensive for 1944 and that Italian operations should be planned with this conception as a background." They argued, however, that the assignment of overriding priority to OVERLORD was too binding. In the ensuing discussions of measures to eliminate Italy from the war, including an operation in southern France in conjunction with OVERLORD, the American delegates, fearing lest Mediterranean ventures drain off vital strength from the cross-Channel operation, vigorously argued for a strict limitation of Mediterranean operations in accordance with the long-approved basic strategy for defeating Germany in western Europe.52
Although the QUADRANT conferees in the end came to a compromise phrasing which avoided the American term "overriding priority," they finally approved the outline plan for OVERLORD which had been studied at the conference, and classed the operation (target date still 1 May 1944) as the "primary U. S.-British ground and air
operation" in Europe.53 On the vital question of priority for resources, the final decision was ambiguous: "As between Operation OVERLORD and operations in the Mediterranean, where there is a shortage of resources, available resources will be distributed and employed with the main object of insuring the success of OVERLORD." The conferees interpreted this principle as not inconsistent with proceeding to eliminate Italy from the war and establishing bases at least as far north as Rome, seizing Sardinia and Corsica, and establishing a lodgment in southern France. All of these operations were approved, but the saving clause that reassured the American planners was the ruling that all of these Mediterranean operations would be "carried out with the forces allotted at TRIDENT."54 Thus, after the long debate that had begun when General Marshall took the BOLERO/ROUNDUP outline plan to London in April 1942, the United States and Great Britain had agreed to allocate forces for the cross-Channel invasion of northwestern Europe and not to use them in other operations. With a plan for the operation written and approved, with a definite restriction on the Mediterranean offensive, and with authorization for an extended combined bomber offensive in support of OVERLORD, general strategic planning for the campaign in Europe had crystallized in nearly final form.
QUADRANT, which thus was a decisive conference in the war against Germany, also marked the beginning of definite and constructive planning for large-scale offensives against Japan. The Pacific operations did not figure importantly in debates at any of the midwar conferences. The strategic responsibility of the United States and the commitment of American forces in the Pacific were so preponderant that the members of the JCS simply reported their plans, and the CCS normally approved them. At QUADRANT, operations were scheduled along both the Central Pacific and Southwest Pacific lines of advance to take deep bites into the Japanese defensive ring of islands. The Gilberts and Marshalls in the Central Pacific were marked out as the first big steps toward Truk, Guam, the Palaus, and the Marianas. In the Southwest Pacific "step-by-step airborne-water-borne advances" were approved to take or neutralize northern New Guinea as far west as Wewak, including the Admiralty Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago, while Rabaul, so long the main objective in the region, was to be neutralized rather than captured.
Similarly, the long-neglected China-Burma-India area received more definite commitments at QUADRANT than at previous conferences. In the first place, a beginning, at least, was made in reducing the command complexities that restricted cooperation among the British, American, and Chinese forces in the Burma combat zone. An Allied Southeast Asia Command (SEAC) was authorized with a British
Supreme Commander, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, and with an American Deputy Supreme Commander, General Stilwell. The American deputy retained his direct responsibilities to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in the China theater, which was not included in the Allied Southeast Asia Command but left in its earlier nebulous state as part of the American area of strategic responsibility in the Pacific. He also exercised "operational control of the Chinese forces operating into Burma" as well as American air and ground forces committed to the Southeast Asia theater. The new command, though Allied, was put under the immediate jurisdiction of the British Chiefs of Staff in much the same way that the Southwest Pacific area was under the jurisdiction of the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The first operational assignment for the Southeast Asia Command was the long-planned, much postponed campaign in North Burma. It was scheduled once more, this time with a target date of February 1944, as a prerequisite for improving the air route and opening overland communications with China.55
OPD officers had set the stage for Army-wide implementation of these QUADRANT decisions even while they were still being discussed. In an effort to avoid the kind of delays encountered in starting the chain of actions necessary to carry out TRIDENT decisions, they prepared a master chart identifying CCS papers by number, subject, and date, listing the CCS meeting at which the paper was approved, and indicating the divisions of the War Department General Staff, theater sections of OPD, the major zone of interior commands (Army Air Forces, Army Ground Forces, and Army Service Forces), and the overseas theater headquarters which needed copies of particular papers and minutes or extracts of them. The chart provided OPD with a convenient check list and running record of action taken to initiate Army execution of CCS decisions. 56 In addition, tighter administrative control of the whole process of carrying out QUADRANT plans was established by requesting every military agency concerned to send to OPD's Policy Section a brief resume of the action proposed in line with the CCS papers supplied them.57 This procedure, applied to international conference decisions for the first time, was a logical development from the follow-up technique OPD had long used in making certain that command decisions inside the Army were understood and carried out in the theaters of operations. In fact the two follow-up procedures tended to merge into one, since the Policy Section often simply furnished the appropriate OPD theater section with copies of the CCS papers sent to the overseas commands. 58
Sextant: 22 November-7 December 1943
The next meeting, held partly at Cairo and partly at Tehran, in November and December 1943, brought Great Britain and the United States into military conference not only with each other but also with the
USSR and China.59 The whole set of conversations were usually designated by the code name SEXTANT, although it properly applied only to the British-American-Chinese meetings at Cairo 22-26 November and 3-7 December. The discussions held at Tehran in the interim, 28-30 November, were given the special code name EUREKA. The composite conference, in any case, brought together the nations whose military efforts had just brought about the capitulation of the Italian Government (8 September) and the conquest of nearly half of Italy, the nation whose armies were sweeping German forces back from the Dnepr River in a huge winter counteroffensive, and the Asiatic nation whose hopes for survival after years of partial occupation by Japan depended on the offensives building up in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The leaders of the Soviet Union had already indicated that they would eventually join in the war against Japan, and the War Department was aware of this confidential commitment.60 In the view of Army planners, there was only one major military question to be settled by SEXTANT, and that was whether the Prime Minister and the British Chiefs of Staff would abide by the QUADRANT commitment to OVERLORD, which was nearly irrevocable—in short, whether they were at last going "to fish or cut bait." 61
In reviewing conference procedure before SEXTANT, the JWPC concluded that the methods adopted at QUADRANT were sound, in particular early joint consideration of the American position, consultation with the President, limitation of the agenda, circumspect but continuous exchange of ideas with the British planners, taking the initiative in presenting papers, and continuously studying in detail at the conference the implications of British proposals. They criticized the performance in only two major respects, first because the American planners (JPS) still relied heavily on their own staffs rather than on the joint staff, and second because liaison between the JCS and the President was still imperfect.62 Preparations for SEXTANT conformed in general with these principles. The joint staff took an increasingly large part in the preparations.63 OPD continued, however, to advise the Army planner, the chief of OPD, and the Chief of Staff, much as before.64
OPD sent a delegation of eleven officers to SEXTANT, including a number of the officers assigned to joint committee work. The roster was headed by General Handy and by General Roberts, who had succeeded General Wedemeyer as Army planner. Despite this comparatively large representation from OPD, the membership of the working staff as a whole at SEXTANT showed how far joint staff work had been regularized and had become the basis of the strategic and logistic arguments advanced at the conference.65
Preparation for SEXTANT continued aboard the USS Iowa, on which the President and the JCS party sailed en route to Cairo.66 RANKIN (the plan for an emergency return to the Continent in the event of a collapse of German resistance), the projected occupation zones, the command of British and American forces operating against Germany, the possibility of Turkey's entrance into the war, and the projected strategic plan for the defeat of Japan were all under discussion on shipboard. The President and the JCS also presented their views on spheres of responsibility for the occupation of Germany, on postwar air bases, and on the agenda for discussions with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and with Marshal Stalin.67 The President's comments on such occasions afforded the best guidance on politico-military issues that the JCS could hope to get. General Handy and General Roberts attended the more strictly military meetings, and General Handy took an active part, continuing to press for agreement among the JCS and between the JCS and the President before the coming conference. He also laid emphasis on the operational need for some practical way of correlating Soviet advances in Europe with those projected by the United States and Great Britain.68
At Cairo, as always before, the Prime Minister and the British Chiefs of Staff emphasized the need for continuing the momentum of the Allied offensive in the Mediterranean, advocating an advance well beyond Rome to the Pisa-Rimini line, the seizure of Rhodes, a major supply operation for the benefit of Yugoslav guerrillas, and exploration of the feasibility of undertaking other eastern Mediterranean operations. As the Prime Minister phrased the British position: "OVERLORD remained top of the bill, but this operation should not be
a tyrant to rule out every other activity in the Mediterranean." Despite the Prime Minister's accompanying declaration that he "wished to remove any idea" that the British "had weakened, cooled, or were trying to get out of OVERLORD," the early discussions gave some promise of reviving the well-worn arguments over cross-Channel versus Mediterranean operations.69
At Tehran, where for the first time the President, the Prime Minister, and their top staff officers conferred with Marshal Stalin and his small staff, the situation changed completely.70 Soviet leaders came out unequivocally in favor of making OVERLORD the main British-American effort for 1944 at the expense of any other operation, except a directly supporting invasion of southern France. This strong Soviet stand deflated any chance that might have existed for more ambitious eastern Mediterranean operations and cleared the way for concentration on OVERLORD and ANVIL (southern France). Back in Cairo after the Tehran meetings, the British-American staffs completed preparations to adjust the pattern of world-wide operations to fit the requirements of these undertakings for the defeat of Germany.The final blueprints for Allied victory in Europe were quickly drawn. Marshal Stalin had promised that the Soviet forces would launch a large-scale offensive on the eastern front in conjunction with OVERLORD and ANVIL to contain German troops.71 Other operations, including ANVIL, had to be assigned priorities and allocated resources in accordance with the operational needs of OVERLORD. To gain landing craft for ANVIL, the long-projected campaign against Burma was stripped of its phase calling for amphibious operations in the Bay of Bengal, and the date of the land campaign in North Burma was thereby made dubious once more. Plans approved for the Pacific remained far in advance of the operations that could be supported with available forces, already including the promising project of bombing Japan proper by very long-range bombers (B-29's) based in China and on the Mariana Islands.72 The main outcome of the conference of significance for the Pacific and Far Eastern Commands was Marshal Stalin's definite commitment for the future. that Soviet forces would enter the war against Japan as soon as Germany had been defeated.73
While these decisions were being reached at SEXTANT, General Handy, and General Roberts as Army planner, attended nearly all the meetings of the CCS but as usual were not present at plenary sessions with the Prime Minister and the President. In addition General Handy served as a link between the Washington command post and the Chief of Staff, keeping General Marshall abreast of current developments in the theaters. The other OPD representatives assisted General Handy and General Marshall as they were needed. For instance, for the benefit of General Handy, who went to Tehran, Colonel Ferenbaugh of the North African Section formulated a list of questions the Soviet delegates might ask.74 General Tansey and Lt. Col. Edward B. Gallant of the Logistics Group briefed General Handy, after his return to Cairo, on the requirements and the availability of landing craft, critical in planning for the projected southern France operations in support of OVERLORD.75
At the JCS meetings held during SEXTANT, General Handy, General Roberts and his deputy, Col. Walter E. Todd, and General Tansey were in regular attendance, while OPD logisticians, area specialists, and joint planning staff members attended the sessions whenever their special knowledge was required.76 General Marshall made free use of General Handy and his staff officers. At JPS and CPS meetings, the Army planner and his deputy, as well as technical and area specialists and members of the JWPC as required, were normally present, but the joint staff strategic planning teams carried the heaviest burden of preparing plans and papers.77 The logistics specialists helped in the joint planning process, and the OPD theater specialists served on joint subcommittees dealing with problems relating to their theaters.78
At SEXTANT the fact that international conference technique was well advanced was manifest. From OPD's point of view it was equally important that the Washington command could keep up with its daily business while so many Division officers were away. General Hull, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff in General Handy's absence, reported to General Handy on 1 December that "Lincoln [Col. George A. Lincoln, S&P acting chief] and the entire 2nd Team doing grand job" and about two weeks later: "We have not had too difficult a time here, although it has been the usual grind. . . . Everything is running smoothly here, and there is nothing for you to worry about." 79 The system was in such smooth operation by this time that OPD continued to work on the "2nd Team" basis, while General Handy and a number of Division officers who had been at SEXTANT took extensive trips and, among other missions,
advised Army commanders around the world of the results of the conference.80
The routine business of implementing SEXTANT decisions went on throughout December.81 The S&P Group prepared a master implementation chart much like the one used in implementing QUADRANT decisions.82 After its approval by General Hull, OPD proceeded to dispatch copies and extracts of SEXTANT papers and minutes to other War Department divisions, OPD theater sections, and the major zone of interior commands (Army Air Forces, Army Ground Forces, Army Service Forces), and the overseas theater headquarters concerned with each decision. OPD also continued the practice of following up the action taken by Army agencies on the SEXTANT decisions.
This last of the four great military conferences of 1943 marked the beginning of a major change in the character of the international meetings of World War II. The Prime Minister, who at best could have hoped only for concessions within the framework of what had appeared to be an irreversible QUADRANT decision in favor of OVERLORD, had yielded quickly in an unequal struggle when the American delegates were seconded by the Soviet military leaders. The great midwar debate on European military strategy was over after the SEXTANT Conference.
The very mechanics of the meeting reflected a consideration for diplomacy and affairs of state as much as for strategic planning. SEXTANT was procedurally complicated and geographically split for political reasons. Since the USSR and China were not technically allied in belligerency against any single enemy, diplomatic protocol required that discussions of military plans with the Chinese should take place apart from similar discussions with the Soviet representatives. The American and British delegations met the Chinese representatives in Cairo and the Soviet leaders in Tehran. The engineering of even an appearance of cooperation among the Great Powers fighting Germany and Japan was a triumph for the United Nations coalition. Coming after the successful conference of Foreign Secretaries at Moscow, 19-30 October, at which an international organization for peace and security had been indorsed by the United States, the USSR, Great Britain, and China, SEXTANT ended in a spirit of confidence and optimism.83 The military course was set in Europe. It was being charted in the Far East. Already strictly military matters were becoming less pressing than plans for the political structure the world would adopt after the defeat of Germany and Japan. The changing situation was evidenced not only by the Moscow conference but also by the Chinese-British-American declaration at Cairo on policy concerning Far Eastern territorial settlements. Military leaders did not formally take these political matters under consideration at all on these later 1943 occasions, but the portents of increasing impor-
tance for foreign policy aims in future international deliberations of all kinds were clear. SEXTANT was the last of the great international military conferences of midwar.
The political and military leaders of the United States and Great Britain, having at last committed themselves irrevocably to OVERLORD, could only await the outcome in mid-1944 before making further decisions on military strategy. Until OVERLORD had succeeded or failed, the military decisions to be made were tactical, logistic, or administrative rather than strategic. The Chiefs of Staff, relying primarily on the judgment of theater commanders, above all of General Eisenhower, made these decisions without referring them to more formal international deliberative processes than the CCS committees in Washington provided. The elaborately planned, full-dress conferences of 1943 had served their purpose. They were not resumed until after the invasion, and then under somewhat different circumstances, since the discussion of military matters on purely military grounds was rapidly becoming secondary in urgency to reaching international understandings on the postwar political world. In the meantime the only military conference that took place was a rather informal one held in the United Kingdom in June 1944, during the initial assault phase of the invasion of the Continent. It brought to a close, in a minor key, the midwar period of international military collaboration.
The British and American Chiefs of Staff arranged to be in session in the United Kingdom in the event that major military decisions were required at the time of launching OVERLORD. There were two possible developments which American military leaders and the President believed might require action by the CCS. First, an insecure hold on the beachhead might require a decision as to whether to withdraw or to continue the operation. Second, a German counterattack seven or eight days after D Day might pose the same difficult choice. The meetings were simply for discussion unless an emergency required a decision on the one critical subject of OVERLORD'S chances of success. Since the American representatives did not bring the joint planning staff, they did not intend to consider any broad strategic issues.84
In addition to the four members of the JCS, General Handy and Admiral Cooke attended the London meetings. General Handy was accompanied by Colonel Lincoln and Lt. Col. Paul L. Freeman, Jr., of OPD. The whole military staff present was sufficient to permit the meetings, held on 10-15 June 1944, to broaden out to include not only current developments in the European theater but also current and projected operations in the Pacific.85 General Handy attended some of the meetings and participated in some of the discussions, especially on the timing, forces, and equipment to carry out the ANVIL operation in southern France.86 The most important development during the conference, however, was the
passage of time in which no action by the CCS was necessary. Neither of the contingencies arose that would have required an emergency decision. The last OVERLORD conference ended on 15 June without any action on the main subject on the agenda. This fact did not signify that the conference was a failure but that OVERLORD was a success. The era of the great international military conferences of midwar, all of which had , dealt first and foremost with the cross-Channel invasion issue, had ended.
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Last updated 19 October 2004