Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 324 CANBERRA, 4 October 1945


Your No. 396. [1]

1. We are glad you agree with the proposals in our telegram 305.

[2] We note that you would like to be sure that your interpretation of certain aspects of the machinery proposed, is correct, and we make the following observations.

(A) THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT MACHINERY 2. In Australia, the set-up of the Joint Service Machinery and procedure for administrative action on matters emanating from it differ somewhat from that in the United Kingdom.

3. The primary function of our Chiefs of Staff Committee is to deal with operational matters and strategical appreciations.

Another body, the Defence Committee, which comprises the Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of the Defence Department, is the advisory body on Defence Policy and all Joint-Service questions of an administrative nature. Both bodies and their subordinate Committees are part of the Defence Department.

4. It has been our experience with the United States Forces and the British Pacific Fleet that the Defence Committee, associated with American and Royal Navy representatives, is the more effective body for the control of the planning of requirements and programming of commitments for authorisation. Furthermore, it has a wider scope for investigation of aspects relating to the impact of service requirements on the civil economy. The Defence Committee’s recommendations are submitted to the Minister for Defence who controls questions of policy and principle and transmits the recommendations to Service and Supply Ministers for authorisation and provisioning action. The Defence Department thus furnishes the link between the Joint Service Machinery and the various other Departments that may be concerned.

5. (a) If the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Force had remained an independent force, its operational control would have been exercised by the Australian Chiefs of Staff, but all planning of requirements and programming of commitments for authorisation would have passed through the Defence Committee and its appropriate sub-committees.

(b) Presumably the administrative planning for the British Commonwealth Force will be done in Australia. If it is the intention to look to Australia as a source for supplies and services, or an agency of control for the maintenance of the British Commonwealth Force as a whole, it will be imperative to establish a close link with the administrative machinery of the Defence Department as indicated in paragraph 6(VII) of our cablegram of 21st September. As there also will be related questions of inter-Governmental financial adjustments, the administrative planning and programming must be linked with the appropriate Departmental machinery from the beginning.

(c) It would therefore appear that, as the problems will primarily be those relating to the administrative arrangements for the Force, it would be preferable if these were dealt with by the Defence Committee with which the United Kingdom representatives should be associated as was the case with the representatives of the United States and the Royal Navy. As indicated in paragraph 6(VII) of our cablegram, this association should extend to subordinate committees as well as to the Defence Committee itself.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia would deal with the purely military questions.

(d) As provided in paragraph 6(V) of our cablegram all instructions to the Commander-in-Chief will of course be issued by the Australian Chiefs of Staff as the agents of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia.

(B) OBSERVATIONS ON SPECIFIC POINTS RAISED BY UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT 6. (a) In regard to your paragraph 3, provision for reference by the Chiefs of Staff to their respective governments was considered to be covered by paragraph 6(V) of our cablegram.

(b) Paragraph 6(VI) was inserted to make it clear that the normal channel of direct exchanges between Governments was not superseded by the arrangement authorised by 6(V).

(c) The reference to inter-governmental views in paragraph 6(VII) was inserted to fill a gap which appeared to exist. There will be occasions when communication will be necessary with the New Zealand Government, which is not represented on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia. We are not clear as to your intention about procedure relating to India. It was also considered possible that the Chiefs of Staff might wish to project something requiring urgent initiating action on the part of the Australian Government with other Governments simultaneously with their separate representations to their respective governments. In all these cases, the Chiefs of Staff Committee would act in the normal manner of the Australian Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the necessary action would be taken by the Defence Department.

7. With reference to your paragraph 4 whilst the reason advanced for the proposed change of title from ‘Joint Chiefs of Staff’ to ‘Chiefs of Staff in Australia’ is appreciated, it is felt that this alternative could be as readily confused with the Australian Chiefs of Staff as the former with the American. The title ‘Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia’ would be more acceptable to us.

8. Referring to your paragraph 5, we will be glad to make the necessary approach to the United States Government with the joint proposal, on receipt of your reply and that of the New Zealand Government, to which we are repeating this cablegram. We will also inform both Governments shortly of our nomination of the officer to command the Force.


1 Document 284. 2 Document 256.


[AA : A5954, BOX 1902]