Chapter VI: 
The TRIDENT Conference-New Patterns: May 1943
On 12 May the President and the Prime Minister, with their chief military advisers, met at the White House for the first session of the TRIDENT Conference. Churchill and his party of approximately a hundred crossed on the Queen Mary to attend the largest assembly of high-level Anglo-American officialdom in the war thus far.1 Met on his arrival off Staten Island by Harry Hopkins, the Prime Minister had come directly to Washington by train. President Roosevelt, who had brushed aside the suggestion that Churchill stay at the British Embassy during the conference, was on hand to greet him and took him to the White House.
This time the United States was represented by a much fuller complement of staff officers than at Casablanca and also enjoyed the advantage of drawing on the planning staffs in the nation's capital. The conference opened with even greater optimism for the future than had been shown at Casablanca four months earlier. Allied transition to the strategic initiative, which had begun in late 1942, was virtually complete. Initial campaigns for seizing the offensive had been successful. On the day after the conferees assembled, news came of the end of organized resistance in North Africa. In the Pacific, U.S. forces had completed the Guadalcanal and Papua Campaigns and were engaged in seizing Attu. On the Eastern Front the Soviet forces, having withstood the siege of Stalingrad, were continuing their counteroffensives. The Battle of the Atlantic was turning in favor of the Allies. Preparations were going forward for HUSKY. Again the question was, "What next?" Against the British predilection for deferring long-range over-all plans, the U.S. staff was ready to press the importance of long-term versus short-term planning.
Cross-Channel and Mediterranean Operations
For fourteen days, 12-25 May, the two delegations debated strategic issues. The President and the Prime Minister met six times with the CCS at the White House, and the CCS held additional sessions almost every day in the Board of Governors room in the stately Federal Reserve Building on Constitution Avenue not too far away.
The single most pressing question was  

THE FEDERAL RESERVE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C., where the Combined Chiefs of Staff held sessions in the Board of Governors room during the TRIDENT Conference.
THE FEDERAL RESERVE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C., where the Combined Chiefs of Staff held sessions in the Board of Governors room during the TRIDENT Conference.
again the problem of cross-Channel and Mediterranean operations. From the very beginning of the conference, it became apparent that the President had drawn closer to the position of his military staff and that the Prime Minister and his advisers had to face a more united and aggressive American team. As the lines drew more taut on each side, it became easier to define the areas of agreement and disagreement between the British and American cases. But to get any action at all, it was also apparent, each side would have to yield what the other regarded as extreme views, and move closer to a middle ground on which both could stand.
At the opening meeting with the Prime Minister and the CCS, the President declared that the question for immediate decision was how most profitably to employ in 1943 the large Allied forces then in the Mediterranean. Beyond any doubt it would be desirable to knock Italy out of the war-after HUSKY-but, he added, he had "always shrunk from the thought of putting large armies into Italy." Allied forces might thereby suffer attrition, German troops might be released from Italy, and no pressure would be taken off the USSR. He wondered whether the same results might not be achieved at less cost by air offensives from Sicily or from the heel and toe of Italy.
The President's position on Mediterranean operations had clearly become more cautious. At the same time he came out unequivocally in favor of a cross-Channel operation for the spring  

of 1944. Such an operation would, he maintained, be the most effective method of forcing Germany to fight and thereby relieving German pressure on the USSR. Regardless of operations undertaken in the Mediterranean, there would be a surplus of British and U.S. manpower that should be used for the build-up in the United Kingdom. The President felt that all were agreed that no SLEDGEHAMMER or ROUNDUP was possible in 1943 but that if one operation or the other were to be mounted in the spring of 1944 preparations would have to begin at once. An affirmative and firm decision should be reached at the conference to undertake either SLEDGEHAMMER or ROUNDUP in the spring of 1944.2  
The Prime Minister replied that the "first objective" and the "great prize" in the European-Mediterranean area, after HUSKY, was the elimination of Italy from the war. He saw no other way of relieving Axis pressure on the Soviet front in 1943 on so large a scale. The collapse of Italy might mark the "beginning of the doom" of the German people. German forces would have to be diverted from the Eastern Front to replace Italian troops withdrawn from the Balkans or Germany would have to yield the Balkans, the Italian Fleet would be eliminated, and Turkey would be favorably disposed to join the Allies. The Prime Minister did not feel that an occupation of Italy by the Allies would be necessary. On the other hand, in the event of an Italian collapse, ports and air bases necessary for launching operations against the Balkans and southern Europe should be seized. The problem was to decide on the course of action to be followed between the expected completion of HUSKY (end of August 1943) and the spring of 1944, when cross-Channel operations might first lie mounted. All these objectives, he emphasized, "led up to BOLERO, SLEDGEHAMMER, and ROUNDUP." His Majesty's Government earnestly favored undertaking a full-scale invasion of the Continent from the United Kingdom "as soon as possible," provided a plan offering "reasonable prospects of success could be made." On antisubmarine warfare and on the air bombardment of Germany, he indicated, the United States and Great Britain were in substantial agreement. The President and Prime Minister agreed that Anglo-American forces should not be idle between the end of the Sicily Campaign and the spring of 1944.3
With the stage thus set by the political heads of state, the British and U.S. Chiefs of Staff proceeded to marshal their arguments. The British stressed continuing the Mediterranean ground operations after HUSKY as a necessary prelude to an ultimate cross-Channel operation. The Americans emphasized the necessity of "firming up" the cross-Channel undertaking, warning that large-scale ground operations in the Mediterranean would jeopardize the cross-Channel effort.
Elaborating on the views of the Prime Minister, the British Chiefs intimated that operations against the mainland of Italy should be backed up by operations in other parts of the Mediterranean. Only through Mediterranean operations could the British and Americans capitalize on the benefits of victories in Africa and Sicily and profitably employ British-American forces and the resources assembled in the area. Acknowledging Ibid.

 that provision of shipping for another amphibious operation in the Mediterranean in 1943 would affect the buildup in the United Kingdom, they asserted that successful Mediterranean operations, especially the elimination of Italy, would "ease the task" confronting a British-American force landing in northwest Europe from the United Kingdom. With the collapse of Italy and the elimination of the Italian Fleet, the United States and United Kingdom should be able "to mount a threat" through Sardinia and Corsica against southern France in the spring of 1944. Moreover, considerable Allied naval strength could then be transferred from the Mediterranean to the Pacific or the Indian Ocean .4
The British Chiefs concluded that the Mediterranean offered opportunities for action in the autumn and winter of 1943 that might be decisive and, in the final analysis, might contribute more toward paving the way for a successful cross-Channel operation in 1944 than the transference to the United Kingdom of any of the Anglo-American forces then in the Mediterranean-as the Americans were suggesting. The balance of forces on the Continent, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal argued, would change more quickly in Allied favor if Mediterranean operations were undertaken before launching ROUNDUP. Summing up, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke maintained that Mediterranean operations would shorten the war. It was the "firm intention" of the British Chiefs to execute ROUNDUP as soon as favorable conditions were created. It was their "firm belief" that such conditions would arise in 1944. Since the necessary conditions could, in the final analysis, be created only by the Soviet Army, British-American action must consist of intensifying the bombardment of Germany and of drawing off from the Soviet front as many German forces as possible. Unless Mediterranean operations were first carried out, "at best only a SLEDGEHAMMER Could be undertaken" and the Anglo-American forces would be pinned down to a bridgehead in France. Such was the strategic context within which the British put forward their case for the Mediterranean.5
The U.S. Chiefs of Staff sought to bring the discussion around to a broader consideration of world strategy and long-range implications of further Mediterranean amphibious operations in 1943, recapitulating the arguments and views on which they had agreed before the meetings. The over-all objective of the United States and Great Britain, in conjunction with the USSR, was to force the unconditional surrender of the European Axis and then bring the full weight of Anglo-American strength to bear in compelling the unconditional surrender of Japan. For Europe, a full-scale assault should be launched against the Continent in the spring of 1944 (a ROUNDUP operation), for which the way should be paved for an intensified air offensive. Forces must be built up for the ground and air, assaults and the two countries must be prepared to launch a contingent cross-Channel operation to take advantage of German disintegration at any time

thenceforth with whatever forces might be available.
Insofar as post-HUSKY Mediterranean operations were concerned, the JCS indicated that at most they would be interested only in limited offensive action. Such Mediterranean operations would be designed to destroy the Italian war potential by air attacks from Mediterranean bases, furnish support to the USSR by diverting Axis strength, force a dispersal of Axis strength in order to promote a cross-Channel undertaking, and safeguard Allied positions and communications in the Mediterranean. The JCS emphasized that the strength of the forces to be employed in the Mediterranean must be so limited as not to endanger the success of a cross-Channel operation in 1944 and that in any event U.S. ground and naval forces were not to be employed in the Mediterranean east of Sicily.6
General Marshall was again the forceful spokesman and negotiator for the U.S. staff on European strategy.7 He relied heavily on air arguments that had been winning increasing support in the U.S. staff since Casablanca. Air capabilities, he argued, must be carefully considered in determining subsequent Allied strategy. Advantage should be taken of Allied air strength, especially in the Mediterranean where it should be possible to utilize airpower rather than pour in additional ground strength for subsequent operations. He expressed concern lest the landing of ground forces in Italy create a vacuum, precluding the assembly of sufficient forces in the United Kingdom for the cross-Channel effort. To undertake further Mediterranean ground operations would be to commit the United States and Great Britain, except for air attacks on Germany, to a Mediterranean policy in 1943 and practically all of 1944. Such a policy would prolong the war in Europe and delay the ultimate defeat of Japan, a course not acceptable to the United States.
General Marshall called for consideration of hastening the collapse of Italy by air action alone-a position similar to that advanced by the President. The Chief of Staff maintained that continual air operations in the Mediterranean would contain German troops in the area, just as the concurrent build-up of forces in Great Britain would serve to pin down German forces on the rest of the Continent. He also endorsed a plan, presented to the conference by General McNarney, to bomb the oil fields of Ploesti in Rumania from Mediterranean bases in order to dry up the German supply of oil. 8
In supporting a cross-Channel operation for 1944, General Marshall stressed the great faith put by U.S. leaders in the Combined Bomber Offensive. Indeed,  

he confessed to his colleagues in the JCS during the conference that, except for the factor of air bombardment in the coming year, "ROUNDUP would be a visionary matter." 9 He questioned the British arguments that operations in the Mediterranean would not appreciably slow the build-up in the United Kingdom and that they were necessary to create favorable conditions for a ROUNDOUP.10 On the contrary, he was concerned lest such operations prohibit the Allies from carrying out any cross-Channel attack. Marshall admitted that landing twenty-five divisions in 1942 in an emergency cross-Channel attack (SLEDGEHAMMER) might have been "suicidal," but the situation had changed radically since then. There was now the prospect of co-ordinating Anglo-American air superiority in direct support of ground forces at any bridgehead established in France and thereby turning the balance in favor of the Allies. Twice before, he observed, the forces the CCS had thought would be available for cross-Channel operations had dwindled to relatively small numbers as a result of increasing requirements for TORCH and HUSKY. Unless the build-up in the United Kingdom (BOLERO) were given priority over Mediterranean operations, he feared a similar result. The British, in their proposals for the Mediterranean, were in his opinion too optimistic in estimates of forces required, on the likely Axis reaction, and on logistical feasibility; they were too pessimistic on the effects of the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive in reducing Germany's strength and paving the way for cross-Channel operations. He summed up for the JCS the basic differences in the attitudes of the two staffs toward Mediterranean operations in this way: 
our [JCS] attitude is to the effect that Mediterranean operations are highly speculative as far as ending the war is concerned. On the other hand, the British feel that Mediterranean operations will result in a demoralization and break-up of the Axis.11
As the conference progressed and the points of difference in the British and American cases for European strategy for 1943-44 became clearer, he advised the U.S. Chiefs to aim at "something more than SLEDGEHAMMER and less than ROUNDUP." 12
Whatever line of action was adopted against Germany, it was clear to all the leaders-British as well as American-that current successes in the Battle of the Atlantic must be maintained. General Marshall felt that the needs of antisubmarine warfare made it particularly imperative for the Allies to gain the Azores as soon as possible. He agreed with both the President and the Prime Minister in favoring occupation of the islands, preferably through diplomacy but, if necessary, through diplomacy coupled with threats of force.13
The debate on whether Mediterranean operations could be conducted after HUSKY without jeopardizing a ROUNDUP in the spring of 1944 inevitably narrowed down to the question of availability of strength and resources-problems essentially in the planners' realm.

Aside from the need to husband trained U.S. manpower for a major cross-Channel effort-a problem of particular concern to General Marshall-there was, as always, the limiting and troublesome factor of landing craft. That factor, with which British and U.S. planners wrestled during the conference, was complicated by the fact that there could be no certainty as to future production rates or precise requirements for a projected cross-Channel operation a year thence. The first estimate of requirements that the British submitted to the conference called for 8,500 landing ships and craft to lift simultaneously ten divisions for the assault. The U.S. planners felt these calculations to be so far out of line with predictable production rates as to be completely unrealistic. General Marshall termed ROUNDUP on the basis of a ten-division assault for the spring of 1944 a "logistical impossibility."14 General Wedemeyer and Admiral Cooke, senior U.S. planners, also expressed the belief, shortly after the conference began, that if further amphibious operations were conducted in the Mediterranean after HUSKY, the United States could not meet the landing craft requirements for a full-scale ROUNDUP in 1944.15
In the final analysis, the whole debate on European strategy at the conference turned on the issue of landing craft. Studying the problem further, the U.S. planners concluded that, on the assumption of continued Mediterranean action after Sicily, enough landing craft could be provided in the United Kingdom by the spring of 1944 to lift five divisions simultaneously, three in the assault and two in the immediate follow-up. In the second follow-up two more could be moved. From twenty-six to thirty Anglo-American divisions could be made available in the United Kingdom by the same date. In the end these American planning estimates were accepted by the conferees for the guidance of Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan (COSSAC). The number of available landing ships and craft agreed upon for planning purposes was about half (4,504) the original British estimate. Morgan, however, was also to plan on using two airborne divisions in the assault. To convince the British of the logistical feasibility of a cross-Channel operation in the spring of 1944, the U.S. planners pegged the operation to the more certain 1943 production rates, thereby scaling down the size of the assault considerably. So far were the Americans now willing to go in order to win firm British agreement to a definite cross-Channel operation with a definite target date.16
The outcome of the debate at TRIDENT on cross-Channel and Mediterranean operations was another compromise of British and American views. The disagreements were not so great that they could not be reconciled or at least straddled. They could be treated as a disagreement over method. Both sides agreed that the final blow against Ger-

many could only be struck across the Channel-not from the Mediterranean -but the British argued that to capitalize on immediate opportunities in the Mediterranean would be the best way to prepare for the final blow. The U.S. staff was no longer resisting Mediterranean operations per se but only insofar as they might postpone the cross-Channel invasion.
Tied in with these different approaches to European strategy were the divergent attitudes of the British and Americans toward the Combined Bomber Offensive, although even here there was a large measure of basic agreement. At Casablanca both sides had already approved the concept of a Combined Bomber Offensive and its inseparability from a major cross-Channel effort, but now the Americans were pressing for a firm commitment to a four-phased Combined Bomber Offensive culminating on 1 April 1944 and paving the way for a definite cross-Channel operation with a definite target date in the spring of 1944. Still hoping for preliminary operations in the Mediterranean, the British were reluctant to make a firm commitment to such a Combined Bomber Offensive plan lest their other, more immediate, plans be jeopardized.17
In the end both sides had to give ground. The British accepted as a "first charge" the principle, for which General Marshall and his staff had been arguing for more than a year, of concentrating maximum resources in a "selected area" as early as practicable in order to execute "a decisive invasion of the Axis citadel."18 They agreed to mount a cross-Channel operation with a target date 1 May 1944, on the basis of twenty-nine divisions present in the United Kingdom by that date (Operation ROUNDHAMMER, soon to be called OVERLORD).19 Its object was to secure a lodgment on the Continent from which further offensive operations could be conducted. The CCS agreed that an immediate expansion of logistical facilities should take place in the United Kingdom and that, after the assault, ports were to be built up on the Continent to accommodate follow-up shipments at the rate of three to five divisions per month.
The Americans had finally won British acceptance of a cross-Channel operation with a definite size and target date. At the same time, the British also approved the Eaker plan, advanced by the JCS, for carrying out the four-phase Combined Bomber Offensive from the United Kingdom, to be completed by April 1944. The plan provided for destroying and disrupting the German "military, industrial and economic system" and critically undermining the morale of the German people. German fighter strength was to be whittled down, and increasing penetration into enemy territory was to be made in the successive stages. The conferees also agreed to continue to prepare for an emergency cross-Channel operation (a SLEDGE-

HAMMER in accord with the directive previously issued to General Morgan. It should be noted that while the basic U.S. aim of winning the British to a firm commitment to cross-Channel objectives appeared to have been gained, the projected ROUNDHAMMER operation was far smaller in scale and a full year later in time than that envisaged in the War Department's original BOLERO-ROUNDUP plan.
In return, the Americans made concessions to British arguments on Mediterranean operations. As has been suggested, the U.S. staff came to the conference in a frame of mind receptive to acceptance of some type of limited Mediterranean operations, if their major strategic aims might thereby be won. They gave their assent to the planning of further operations in the Mediterranean with the object of eliminating Italy from the war. At the same time, they extracted certain provisos. No precise method of eliminating Italy was adopted. General Eisenhower, commander in chief in North Africa, was to plan such operations, but the final decision was to be reserved to the CCS. The Americans also sought to restrict the forces to be used to those already in the Mediterranean. Indeed, they went even further and won British agreement to the preparation for transfer, from November onward, of four U.S. and three British divisions from the Mediterranean to the United Kingdom to participate in the cross-Channel operation. A definite ceiling was at last projected for the strength to be devoted to subsequent Mediterranean advances. The conferees decided that General Eisenhower was to plan on the basis of the availability of twenty-seven divisions, in all, for operations and garrisons in the Mediterranean after HUSKY. So high had the costs of diversion from concentrating on the cross-Channel effort mounted!
Other specific decisions of significance to the war in Europe proved less difficult. The CCS agreed that the U.S. Army Air Forces should send representatives to the Commander in Chief, North African Theater of Operations, to present their plan for bombing the oil fields at Ploesti from bases in North Africa. The British Chiefs of Staff were given the responsibility for preparing a plan to capture the Azores. The islands' land, sea, and air facilities would be made available, in the event of their occupation, to all the Allies.20 The war on the U-boats must be continued with every available means. That the war effort of the USSR should be aided, Turkey armed, and the French forces reequipped were again accepted as desirable objectives.
The specific undertakings agreed upon for the Atlantic-European-Mediterranean area for 1943-44 represented a reweaving of British and American strategic conceptions into a new design. The bare outlines of the new pattern of European strategy were beginning to take shape. Whether the steps taken by the U.S. staff toward fixing European strategy in terms of a major cross-Channel effort would be enough to turn the Allies from the Mediterranean and to-

ward northwest Europe by 1944 remained to be seen.
The Pacific and Far East
Although the question of European and Mediterranean operations was the principal issue before the TRIDENT Conference, the war against Japan received considerable attention from both the British and the Americans. The British were fearful that the United States might devote too large a portion of its resources to the defeat of Japan before Germany could be beaten, and the Americans were anxious to elicit a greater response from the British in the prosecution of operations in Burma and to be able to keep the enemy under unremitting pressure in the Pacific. The use by the U.S. staff of the "Pacific Alternative" argument as a lever to restrict Mediterranean activities and to gain British support for a major cross-Channel attack was tempered by British counter-pressures to ensure that the war against Japan would remain secondary and hinged upon the favorable outcome of the war against Germany. To a degree, both sides were successful. It soon became evident that a definite over-all plan for the defeat of Japan, for which the U.S. staff was pressing, could not be formulated and adopted until a similar plan, blueprinting the war against Germany, had been accepted and made firm. The time factors for operations, in the meantime, could be estimated only very roughly, and plans would have to remain largely fluid and opportunistic.
Forward in the Pacific
The U.S. Chiefs of Staff came to TRIDENT armed with a general concept of long-range strategy for the Pacific war -a product of the intensive study and search for an over-all plan for the defeat of Japan in which the joint Planning Staff had engaged in early 1943.21 At the first plenary session of the conference when Churchill, perhaps forewarned, took the initiative and suggested that the U.S. Chiefs assume the lead in preparing long-range plans to encompass the fall of Japan, the JCS were ready to comply almost at once. The Prime Minister believed that the war against Germany would be over in 1944 and that the "great" campaign against Japan might well begin in 1945. He personally favored the entrance of the USSR into the conflict in the Far East, and the President agreed, predicting that the Soviet Union would join them within forty-eight hours after Germany surrendered.22
Some of the old differences of opinion between the British and the Americans

again cropped up. It was the familiar story of the relative importance of the war against Germany versus the war against Japan and the United States' implied threat of a "Pacific Alternative" to counteract British pressure in behalf of the Mediterranean. Marshall reiterated the American position in an early meeting of the Combined Chiefs-the United States did not want to become committed to a Mediterranean war that would prolong the European phase and delay the prosecution of the Pacific war. The American people would not tolerate any such postponement, and the U.S. Chiefs could not accept any such proposals.23 The Joint Chiefs felt that unremitting pressure on Japan should be maintained and extended in the Pacific and the Far East while the European war was in progress.24 The American stand was rebutted by the usual British counterargument - Pacific operations must be coordinated with those in Europe; they must not prejudice the defeat of Germany, or the war would drag on interminably.25
At a meeting of the U.S. JCS during the conference, Marshall went so far as to suggest that if, as a result of the adoption of a Mediterranean strategy, there were to be only a cross-Channel attack of the SLEDGEHAMMER variety, a readjustment of landing craft and troop shipping should be made in favor of the Pacific.26 In line with this feeling, the proposals of the U.S. Joint Chiefs for the defeat of Japan contained the thought: "If, however, conditions develop which indicate that the war as a whole can be brought more quickly to a successful conclusion by the earlier mounting of a major offensive against Japan, the strategical concept set forth herein [beating Germany first] may be reversed." 27 The application of the "Pacific Alternative" argument undoubtedly added another spur to the persuasive factors already suggested for placing a major cross-Channel operation on the planning books at TRIDENT.
The final objective envisaged in the American strategic concept was the unconditional surrender of Japan. This objective, the U.S. staff concluded, might require an invasion of the Japanese home islands-though there was no certainty on that point. In any event, such an invasion would not be practicable until the Japanese will to resist had been greatly reduced, probably only after "a sustained, systematic, and large-scale air offensive against Japan itself." The Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that an air offensive of such magnitude could be mounted only from bases in China, and for this reason the Chinese would have to be sustained in the war. Adequate supply routes would have to be established to maintain the Chinese and support Allied operations in and from China. The immediate reopening of the Burma Road and the seizure later of a port on the China coast would be necessary. Hong Kong, which was felt to be the most suitable port for initial seizure, could be captured by forces operating from the interior of China supplemented by amphibious forces operating in the South China Sea. Two lines of advance to this penultimate ob-

jective were set forth: one by the British through the Strait of Malacca; the other by the United States, crossing the Pacific to the Celebes Sea by way of the central and southwest Pacific routes. Bases would have to be secured in the Formosa-Luzon sea area as intermediate objectives. Allied success or failure in compelling the enemy to expose his fleet would be the deciding factor in determining which objective in particular to select for attack. If the United States could gain control of the western Pacific waters, Japan might surrender before being invaded.
The Japanese war was divided into six phases, with no time limits imposed and with reliance placed upon the co-operation of British, Chinese, and U.S. forces. During the first period, while the Chinese sought to improve their position in China and the Americans tried to open a line of communications into the Celebes Sea, the British, assisted by Chinese and U.S. forces, would attempt to recapture Burma. The United States would take over the major role in the second phase, retaking the Philippines while Great Britain carried out operations in and around the Strait of Malacca and China made ready to attack Hong Kong. During the campaign against Hong Kong-the third phase the Chinese would be assisted by U.S. forces, which would enter the northern reaches of the South China Sea, and by further diversionary action around the Strait of Malacca by the British. As the fourth step, the three nations would prepare an overwhelming air offensive against Japan from bases in China and in the fifth period would mount the air attack. The final stage would find the United States providing the main forces for the invasion of Japan, the other two powers assisting.28 With little debate, the CCS accepted these long-range proposals as a basis for more detailed study by the Combined Staff Planners. 29
Turning from the general to the specific, Admiral King presented the outline of operations the United States hoped to carry out in 1943-44 in the Pacific. In his opinion, all such operations should be directed toward severing the Japanese lines of communications and toward recapturing the Philippines. King considered decisive action against the Japanese Fleet and seizure of the Mariana Islands prime requirements for victory in the Pacific. Because of their location on the enemy line of communications, the Marianas were the key to the approach to the Philippines regardless of whether the northern, southern, or central route were taken. Pointing out that the ultimate defeat of Japan would come about through blockade, bombing, and assault, he proposed that attrition of Japanese war potential be intensified in the meantime and that favorable positions be secured for the final attack. There was no way of knowing, he cautioned, where Japan would strike next, although it had the ability to invade Siberia or complete the conquest of China. King listed six possible courses of action against Japan for 1943 and 1944 that would damage the Japanese

lines of communications or would gain for the Allies positions of readiness for the final assault on Japan: (1) air operations from and in China; (2) operations in Burma to augment the flow of supplies to China; (3) operations to drive the Japanese from the Aleutians; (4) seizure of the Marshall and Caroline Islands; (5) seizure of the Solomons-Bismarck Archipelago and the rest of Japanese-held New Guinea; and (6) operations against Japanese lines of communications.30
The JCS informed the British Chiefs of Staff in detail of the status of current Pacific operations and of the forces required for future undertakings. No firm dates could be given for any but the most immediate operations, since the reaction of the enemy was impossible to forecast and topographical difficulties might tend to slow down projected moves. The JCS March 1943 directive to the Pacific commanders covering the current American objectives was described for the benefit of the British.31 Examination of the availability of means for later operations revealed that seven additional Army divisions would be needed to capture the Marshalls, the Carolines, and New Guinea. There would be some shortages in aircraft, but sufficient naval forces would be on hand.32
Except for the rather touchy problem of land operations in Burma, the British Chiefs of Staff accepted the U.S. estimate of Pacific strategy and approved the operations recommended.33 Not only did the United States secure British assent to its Pacific projects, it also sought to call a halt to the practice of reinforcing the Mediterranean at the expense of the Pacific. The U.S. Chiefs turned down a British plea for sending an additional eighty transport aircraft to the Mediterranean for HUSKY on the ground that the transports would have to come from the South Pacific. Marshall told the British quite bluntly that the limit for HUSKY had been reached.34 When the British attempted to restrict the allocation of surplus aircraft to the Pacific once the maximum that could be maintained in the United Kingdom had been reached, Marshall again demurred and successfully argued that the South Pacific had been operating on a shoestring when great results might be achieved by relatively small air increments.35
Though the results of TRIDENT for the Pacific war were not startling in themselves, they did indicate a positive growth of the realization that attention would henceforth have to be given to long-range planning on the combined levels. The nebulous Pacific strategy set forth at the Casablanca Conference had been replaced by the adoption of new short-range objectives and an effort to analyze the future course and requirements of the war against Japan. The Allies would move forward, nibbling at the outer crust of the Japanese holdings and hoping to attain favorable positions whence the center of the empire could be subjected to attack. The policy of attrition would be intensified and additional attempts would be made to hamstring Japanese lines of communications. If nothing new had been added to the

method of operation at this juncture, at least the will to maintain and push the strategic offensive had been sustained.
ANAKIM-The Losing Battle
Although the U.S. Chiefs were successful in securing the adoption of their Pacific program for the immediate future, they did not fare so well in their support of Burma operations. The importance of the Far East in Allied discussions was symbolized by the presence of Wavell, Chennault, and Stilwell in Washington-the first time commanders from the Far East were present at a major international wartime conference. The reluctance of the British to themselves engage in the Burma jungles, coupled with the need to provide China with more immediate assistance, made the U.S. staff's position hopeless from the start. Two basic problems were to be settled: How vital was China to the war effort? How could China be helped most effectively? The British could not agree with the view of the President that China should be treated as a great nation and necessary to the war, nor were they convinced wholeheartedly that China would be essential as a future base of operations, as the U.S. Chiefs and Stilwell believed. But when it came to a question of the kind of aid to be provided China, the British were fully in favor of air rather than ground support.36
The indications that the British had abandoned a full-scale ANAKIM and that they were increasingly opposed to any Burma operation had become more and more clear after their setback at Akyab. Aware of the mounting British disinclination to go into Burma and realizing also that the President's enthusiasm for ANAKIM had cooled, the Army planners turned to the consideration of modified plans that would provide aid to China and yet would not be so ambitious as to discourage the British. Brig. Gen. Carl A. Russell, Deputy Chief of the Theater Group, OPD, advocated the seizure of Myitkyina in north Burma along with the operations against Akyab and Ramree Island and an advance to the Chindwin River.37 Wedemeyer, on the other hand, favored the diversion of U.S. forces and means to the Southwest Pacific if the British would not agree to carry out ANAKIM, especially since the landing craft and shipping involved would be of great assistance to Pacific operations. The Strategy Section of OPD believed that ANAKIM was imperative to keep China in the war and that the United States should insist on British participation since the necessary troops were on hand.38
Against the divided counsels of the Americans, the British presented a solid front. They asserted that any comprehensive land operation in Burma would be wasteful and diversionary from the main European effort. Churchill, their

most persuasive advocate, emphasized the difficulties involved in fighting in the Burmese jungles and was ably seconded by Field Marshal Wavell, who painted a dismal picture of the administrative, logistical, command, climatological, topographical, and medical problems that would impede any Burma operation. The British favored augmenting the air route to China, but were not convinced that Burma had to be recaptured for that purpose. The Prime Minister also advanced one of his pet schemes, an operation against the northern tip of Sumatra, as an alternate to ANAKIM, since it would utilize the large forces then in India.39
The President, convinced that ANAKIM might be too slow to aid China in time, agreed with the British that air support would be the quickest way to assist the Chinese.40 In vain did Stilwell refute the British estimate that the Burma Road would not be opened until 1945 and even then could carry a peak load of only 20,000 tons a month. The President, already favorably disposed toward further emphasis on the air war in China, did not seem to care that the road might be opened to traffic in early 1944 or to have any interest in the more prosaic land operations.41
Left to their own devices, the JCS next attempted to salvage part of ANAKIM and to prevent the wholesale withdrawal of the British from the project. The American argument was based upon two factors: the effect on the Chinese if there were no land operations in Burma, and the relation of land operations to the build-up of the air route. The British were unimpressed with the first argument and unwilling to undertake what they regarded as foolish operations simply to allay Chinese feelings. Nevertheless, Churchill did assent to Roosevelt's stand for action in 1943, though he asserted that the action should be neither at the expense of the air route nor to placate groundless Chinese suspicions of British good faith.42 Some of the War Department frustration seeped into Marshall's comment on the situation:
 . . . in the development of ANAKIM, RAVENOUS [the advance to the Chindwin River] had been the first approach. Field Marshal Wavell had objected to RAVENOUS as being unsound for supply reasons, Sir Alan Brooke had objected because of the insecurity of the south flank, and the Generalissimo had objected because it was not coupled with naval action. Finally, ANAKIM in its present form had been agreed upon by all. This was now considered to be impracticable.43
While the debate on operations continued, the question of Chinese participation in the conference arose. The United States did not wish to present Chiang Kai-shek, the commander of the China theater, with a fait accompli, without giving his representatives at least an opportunity to make known Chiang's views on Far Eastern affairs. Dr. T. V. Soong was permitted to address the CCS and informed them that the Generalissimo wished the Hump tonnage of the next three months to be assigned to the

air forces. The Generalissimo regarded ANAKIM as a definite U.S.-U.K. commitment and considered naval forces an essential part of the plan. Later on, Soong told Leahy that unless Rangoon were attacked, Chiang would not move in Burma.44
Although Chiang's support of the air build-up coincided with the wishes of the President and the British, his insistence upon ANAKIM provided Marshall and Stilwell with some ammunition. They also attempted to defend the ground operation as a means of securing the air route, pointing out the possible danger of a strong Japanese reaction to an increased air effort in China. If this threat should materialize, trained ground forces would be required to defend the air bases.45 Neither Marshall nor Stilwell opposed the concept of mounting an air attack against the enemy. Rather, it was to them a question of timing. An air effort without adequate ground defense seemed to them to be putting the cart before the horse.
The Presidential answer to their forebodings was to raise the target tonnage for the Hump in July to 7,000 tons. Of this total, Chennault was to receive the first 4,700 tons and Stilwell's ground forces the next 2,000 tons; the last 300 would go to Chennault. During May and June the ground forces would get 500 tons and the air forces the remainder. This arrangement supposedly would provide Chennault with the tonnage he deemed necessary to begin his air attack and yet would not hold up the training of ground units.46 The immediate problem would be to lift 7,000 tons a month over the Hump-3,400 tons a month had been the maximum carried up to April 1943. It is evident that the long-term logistical difficulties of supporting both the air and the ground forces over the Hump were not fully comprehended at the time.
Marshall reintroduced another factor into the CCS debates on Burma-the influence on U.S. operations in the Pacific of pressure on the Japanese flank in southeast Asia. The terrain and fighting conditions in the Southwest Pacific jungles were not dissimilar to those in Burma, he pointed out, and had not prevented Allied troops from advancing in New Guinea and Guadalcanal. Lack of aggressive action in Burma would be unfortunate for the South and Southwest Pacific and fatal to China, he went on, and the CCS should not bank all on the attractive proposition of doing everything by air. He was in no doubt as to the difficulties of the operations, but equally he was in no doubt of their vital importance.47
The British lack of eagerness was finally met by a compromise. The CCS resolved to increase the air route to 10,000 tons per month by early fall, and the British agreed to conduct vigorous and aggressive land and air operations from Assam into Burma via Ledo and Imphal, in conjunction with a Chinese advance from Yunnan. The land opera-

tions would serve to contain Japanese forces and to cover the air route to China, and would be an essential step in the opening of the Burma Road. In addition, amphibious operations would be carried out against Akyab and Ramree Island, and Japanese sea communications to Burma would be interrupted. It was the same old three-pronged advance-with specified objectives deleted. In the meantime, administrative preparations were to be continued for the eventual launching of an overseas operation of about the size of ANAKIM.48
The careful avoidance of any mention of Rangoon was intentional, and the President was persuaded to acquiesce in the omission. It marked the final shift away from any attempt to reopen the old Burma Road. Henceforth, emphasis would be placed on constructing a new road across northern Burma from Ledo in India to link up with the old one at Wanting in Yunnan, a distance of 483 miles through swamps and jungle. Churchill was a little disappointed that no mention of his north Sumatra operation had been made, but was assured that it would be studied separately.49 Chiang Kai-shek was to be informed of all the decisions, except that Akyab and Ramree Island were not to be mentioned by name. No limits were to be placed on the operations except those imposed by time and circuinstances.50 As Stilwell pointed out to Churchill, the weakness of the decisions lay in the vagueness of the wording of the resolutions and the many loopholes that could be used by an irresolute commander. Nevertheless, land operations in Burma were kept on the books.51
Looking backward, it is evident that ANAKIM Was doomed even before the first meeting at TRIDENT, and the main question to be settled was whether there was to be any major land operation in Burma, and, if so, how far it would go. The President, trusting in the efficacy of airpower and feeling the need to help China immediately, failed to give his Chiefs of Staff any effective support in the ANAKIM argument, and there appeared to be no overwhelming enthusiasm for the substitute plan that had replaced ANAKIM.52 The one positive decision to emerge was that to augment the air supply route to China, and this would be mainly an American task.
U.S. Combat Troops for Burma
Another by-product of the lack of enthusiasm for ANAKIM at TRIDENT was the increasing coolness shown by the U.S. Army staff toward the related project of sending U.S. ground combat units to the China-Burma-India theater. The possibility of the Army's sending a limited number of ground combat units to the CBI to strengthen Stilwell's position and to stiffen the backbone of Chinese and Empire troops had received some encouragement during March. Marshall sent word to Stilwell that the 1st Cavalry Division, which was being readied for shipment to SWPA, might eventually be  

used in Burma operations.53 Shipping plans had been drawn up by Somervell, a consistent supporter of the build-up of the CBI, for the diversion of a U.S. corps of two divisions from SWPA and SOPAC to the CBI on the ground that such a move would hasten the end of the war.54 But the shortage of shipping during the early spring and the added difficulties of logistics in the CBI kept the plan in the theoretical stage until the time of TRIDENT, when the obvious need for extra drive in the theater occasioned suggestions from the Army planners that U.S. combat troops be sent to spearhead the Burma campaign.55
Although Marshall admitted the merit of giving Stilwell a force upon which he could rely and over which he would have direct command, several other considerations entered into the picture and led the Chief of Staff to oppose the scheme. In an already muddled situation, the arrival of U.S. troops would cause additional administrative, command, and supply problems. Noting there were vast resources of manpower on hand in India that could be tapped, Marshall said that he preferred not to place U.S. units under British command in Burma-India. Lastly, and most important of all, was the danger that committing U.S. combat troops to action in Burma might create another pull, similar to that in the Mediterranean, which would call for shipment of more and more reinforcements and replacements to support the initial commitment.56
On Stilwell's request during TRIDENT for the provision of two divisions, the Army planners commented frankly that while granting the request would bolster Stilwell's position and was therefore desirable, the diversion would have to come from SWPA and SOPAC and also would entail shipping air and support units. The transfer of such a large body of troops could be made only as the result of a major strategic decision and would be worthwhile only if the United States were willing to pay the price.57 Wedemeyer bluntly opposed the request unless it could be shown absolutely that it would not interfere with European operations, for it would mean a strain on shipping when there were plenty of men in the area.58 Marshall's opposition, combined with the acceptance of limited operations in Burma during the coming year, resulted in the temporary shelving of the project.
The Balance Sheet
The second 1943 conference of the Anglo-American high command was much more satisfactory to the U.S. mili-

tary planners than had been the first. The immediate reaction in the Washington Army headquarters was that the wishful thinking of Casablanca had been replaced by a more realistic attitude and aggressive spirit in charting the global war.59 In the Pacific, where the joint Chiefs of Staff were in charge and would brook no unwarranted delay, the movement was to be forward. The mild statement of Casablanca about making the Aleutians as secure as possible had been stiffened at TRIDENT to the ejection of the Japanese from the islands. The indefinite proposals for the operations against Rabaul and for projected advances against the Marshalls and the Carolines-a Central Pacific drive-had become firm resolutions at TRIDENT. The war in the Pacific not only was going to continue but would, in fact, be stepped up. In addition, long-range planning in the conflict with Japan was to be raised from the joint U.S. level to the combined British-American planning level. Planning of the war against Japan had been elevated to a more prominent position in Allied strategic councils.
Less encouraging were the Allied agreements for the China-Burma-India theater. The secondary project at Casablanca of improving air transportation to and building up the air forces in China had been pushed to the fore at TRIDENT and now occupied the role of primary objective. On the other hand, the brave plans and high hopes for the re-conquest of Burma embodied in ANAKIM at Casablanca suffered a setback.
In the war against Germany, the bare outline of a new and acceptable pattern of strategy was beginning to take shape. The provision at TRIDENT for planning a cross-Channel operation with a target date of 1 May 1944 on the basis of a definite allocation of forces was hailed by the Army planners as the "first real indication" that the British had "definitely accepted" a major operation against the Continent launched from the United Kingdom. That decision might well be, as they believed, the "key decision of the war." The concomitant decision on the Combined Bomber Offensive furnished the first clear-cut indication of a British-American agreement for definitely merging the projected cross-Channel ground effort with the air offensive.60
Nor were the planners discouraged by the decision to go forward in the Mediterranean after the Sicily operation in order to eliminate Italy. They felt that the agreements on the Mediterranean were designed to contribute to rather than detract from the cross-Channel operation. In the light of the restriction set by the U.S. Chiefs on further increase of forces in the Mediterranean, they were hopeful that the "periphery-pecking complex" and the creation of a vacuum in the Mediterranean, which General Marshall and his assistants had feared, had been stopped.
In the war on the U-boats, new confidence and a more aggressive note had been sounded at TRIDENT than at Casablanca. The attendant agreement to employ force, if diplomacy failed, to occupy the Azores was interpreted to signify that shortening the war had be-

come of greater importance even than scruples against an attack on a neutral.
Though global strategy was still incomplete, it had, in the opinion of the planners, been far better developed at TRIDENT than at Casablanca. Casablanca had been pre-eminently concerned with projects and accomplishments of 1943, but TRIDENT agreements had gone well beyond that year. Logistics as "a key to strategy," they observed, had also been given a more proper emphasis at TRIDENT, and strategy was being more closely tied in with resources and manpower. The decision of the high commands to meet again in the summer of 1943 to review the agreements reached in the Washington meetings was a further demonstration to them of a fresh note of realism and aggressiveness.61
Though Army planners had cause for immediate satisfaction, it is clear in retrospect that TRIDENT was a halfway point rather than a final destination in the development of strategy. TRIDENT represented the definite transition in U.S. strategic planning to the offensive phase of coalition warfare. Casablanca had given American strategists their initiation; TRIDENT marked their growing-up stage. Gaining skill in preparing and arguing their case, the U.S. staff was advancing in the art of applying quid pro quo in international strategy councils. Though TRIDENT did not provide the final answers, it signified that the staff was at last coming to grips with the new problems and facing up to the new realities of coalition warfare. If wishful thinking and single-minded concentration on a cross-Channel operation still appeared to linger, their methods of reaching the goal were at least becoming more flexible and sophisticated. Though the President and his military staff were still not in complete agreement on all strategic issues, they had closed ranks to the point of presenting a united front on the cross-Channel operation.
The outcome of TRIDENT, as of Casablanca, for the immediate future pointed to the continuation of the Mediterranean and Pacific offensives. Nevertheless, barriers had been manufactured at the Washington meetings to contain or limit the Mediterranean advance, and the defense of Mediterranean operations had largely shifted to the grounds that the operations would set the stage for the projected cross-Channel operation. Some progress had also been made in weaving Pacific and European operations into tentative long-range planning in the war against Japan and Germany respectively. Welcome as these signs were to the Army planners, events were soon to show that all the pieces in the global strategic puzzle had not yet fallen into place and that the Mediterranean issue in particular was still far from moribund.


Previous Chapter     Next Chapter

Return to the Table of Contents

Search CMH Online
Return to CMH Online
Last updated 1 June 2004