Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-War Strategic Defence, 1942-1947

Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-War Strategic Defence, 1942-1947

Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-War Strategic Defence, 1942-1947

Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-War Strategic Defence, 1942-1947

Synopsis

In a lucid and scrupulous analysis Julian Lewis describes how British military planning was already considering the need to defend the realm against aggression in the post-war period. Since the first edition new material has been released by the PRO and the author has incorporated it into this second edition.

Excerpt

The late Professor R.V. Jones frs, Head of Scientific Intelligence, Air Ministry, 1939-1946

The desperate situation of Britain in 1940 demanded every effort, both national and individual, if we were to survive: and those of us who were most involved became conditioned to thinking of almost nothing but the war until it was won. We did not regard too kindly those who were less involved and who turned their energies, prematurely we thought, to post-war planning. 'Every time the fortunes of war turn in our favour, ' I wrote after Alamein, 'up springs a crop of post-war planners', although also suggesting that as soon as we could confidently foresee the defeat of Germany some of the best of our colleagues should be released to think about post-war policy.

Dr Lewis has written a scrupulous and lucid account of strategic planning for the defence of British interests at the highest level-that of the Chiefs of Staff. There the same factors were at work as those that I encountered at my lower level, and even earlier: the first proposals for post-war strategic planning came from the Foreign Office, a body less immediately involved than the Chiefs with military operations. We can sympathise with the Chiefs who, while agreeing in principle, stated on 26 February 1942 that 'such problems must of necessity take a relatively low priority in the work of the Joint Planning Staff'. Since Benghazi had fallen only a month before, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had sailed up the Channel in the past fortnight, and Singapore had surrendered only nine days ago, the Chiefs could hardly be expected to enthuse. Churchill pungently shared their distrust: 'I hope that these speculative studies will be entrusted mainly to those on whose hands time hangs heavy.'

Although some progress was made in the following months it was difficult for the preoccupied Chiefs to contemplate a world in which they might have to co-operate in a Combined Chiefs organisation including Russia and China, or even a military staff based on a United

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