Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943

By Richard M. Leighton; Robert W. Coakley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
Strategy, Production Goals, and Shipping

In the midst of a more or less continuous emergency in the Pacific and a mounting shipping crisis in the Atlantic and Caribbean, the military leaders and staffs had also to attempt to make plans for the more distant future -- specifically to formulate a strategy for taking the offensive and defeating the enemy, and to develop programs for mobilizing the forces, munitions, and shipping needed to carry out that strategy.


The Victory Program -- Morning After

Allied political and military leaders meeting in Washington soon after Pearl Harbor to formulate a coalition strategy took as their point of departure the principle already enunciated in ABC-1, that the defeat of Germany should be the first and major goal of Allied strategy, and that operations in other theaters must not be allowed to retard its attainment. Beyond this, agreement was more difficult. The British brought to the conference the plan of action they had set forth the preceding summer. This strategy looked to an eventual return to the European continent in force, possibly in the summer of 1943, with numerous landings around its perimeter. Churchill envisaged the invading armies, strong in armor but relatively modest in numbers, serving as spearheads behind which the peoples of Europe would rise and smite their German conquerors. U.S. Army planners still took a dim view of this program, foreseeing that it would involve a long series of costly preliminary operations merely in order to gain positions for penetrating the Continent simultaneously from several directions. The main effort, they felt, should be concentrated upon one point of the enemy's defenses, and delivered with maximum force in conjunction with a Soviet offensive from the East.1

The American planners as yet had no positive counterplan to offer, and the whole question of how to defeat Germany seemed to lie in the dim future. For months to come, the staff pointed out, Britain would be hard pressed merely to hold her own at home and in the Middle and Far East. The United States, a staff paper stated late in December,

. . . can only inadequately defend its coasts against air raids, hold Hawaii, the Panama
____________________
1
(1) Paper, Churchill for President, "Part III: The Campaign of 1943," 18 Dec 41, as quoted in Churchill , The Grand Alliance, pp. 655-58. (2) Memo, Br CsofS, 22 Dec 41, sub: Br-American Strategy, ABC 337 ARCADIA (12-24-41), 2. (3) WPD paper, 21 Dec 41, sub: Notes on Agenda Proposed by Gt Brit, Folder-Bk. 2, Exec 4. (4) Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning: 1941-1942, Ch. V. (5) See above, Chs. II, V.

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