Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943

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

CHAPTER X
Lend-Lease as an Instrument of Coalition Warfare

Momentarily, the reaction to Pearl Harbor left the future of lend-lease in doubt. In an emergency action to assure that its own needs would be met, the Army on the night of 7 December 1941 stopped the movement of all supplies to foreign governments. Axis propagandists trumpeted the claim that American entrance into the war meant the end of American supply aid, and even the British showed alarm at the course events were taking. But the doubt was soon dispelled by an announcement by the President that U.S. entry into the war would mean an increase, not a stoppage or decrease, in lend-lease supplies. The Army continued during December to give first priority to its own needs, but the existing schedules of lend- lease releases were reviewed and many shipments resumed. By the end of the year it was clearly established that lend-lease would continue; what remained to be determined was the extent to which the supply of Allied nations would be affected by that of the U.S. Army, now that the latter was engaged in active hostilities.1

Lend-lease in 1941 had been an instrument of economic warfare, based on the theory that the United States could, solely by furnishing supplies, enable other powers to defeat the Axis. Pearl Harbor put an end to this illusion. There was no longer any question about the need for large American armed forces to defeat the Axis, but the United States also remained the principal reservoir of industrial production for the entire coalition to which it now belonged, and the need for American munitions by the other Allied armed forces continued as acute as before. Lend-lease had now to be transformed into an instrument of coalition warfare, and some means had to be found for allocating the growing output of American munitions to the forces, including our own, that could use them most effectively to win the war, regardless of nationality.


The Munitions Assignments Board and the Common Pool

During 1941 the prevailing military thought had been that American resources should be allocated entirely by Ameri-

____________________
1
(1) Memo, Col V. V. Taylor for CofEngrs, 8 Dec 41, sub: Suspension of Def Aid Shipts, Misc Corresp Lend-lease 4 file, DAD. (2) Telephone Convs Col Taylor file, Bk. 1, DAD. (3) Memo, Col Aurand for Gen Moore, 18 Dec 41, sub: Review of Trf Schedules, Col Boone's file, Item 79, DAD. (4) Memo, Stettinius for Hopkins, 8 Dec 41, MS Index to the Hopkins Papers, Bk. VII, Lend-lease in Opn ( 1941), p. 4, Item 48. (5) Ltr, Stettinius to Hopkins, 9 Dec 41, MS Index to the Hopkins Papers, Bk. V, FDR and HLH Actions Post-Dec 7, p. 2, Item 6. (6) Cable, Harriman to Hopkins, 11 Dec 41, MS Index to the Hopkins Papers, Bk. V, FDR and HLH Actions Post-Dec 7, p. 2, Item 7. (7) Memo, DAD for Chiefs of SAS, 3 Jan 42, Misc Corresp Lend-lease I file, DAD.

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