Wedemeyer Begins His Work in China
After assuming command on 31 October 1944, General Wedemeyer proceeded to estimate the situation that faced him in China. The Japanese menace was an immediate one. Considering that he had to hold the Kunming area, Wedemeyer tried to gauge the intentions of the Japanese from their strengths, disposition, and capabilities. Since Wedemeyer had no U.S. ground combat forces, any renewed Japanese drive would have to be met by the Chinese Army and the Fourteenth Air Force.
On arriving in Chungking, Wedemeyer began a series of conferences with senior Chinese military officials, his principal subordinates, such as General Chennault, and his own staff. From these meetings emerged a series of recommendations to the Generalissimo for strengthening the Chinese Army, an estimate of Japanese plans and intentions, and a plan to hold the vital Kunming area. Since the Japanese held the initiative in east China, the first reports from China Theater headquarters to General Marshall for the Joint Chiefs of Staff began with surveys of the Japanese position vis-à-vis the Chinese and the American forces in the Pacific. The intelligence reports used by theater headquarters, many of which come from the Forward Echelon, Z-Force, placed ten well-equipped Japanese divisions in the area between Heng-Yang and Liuchow. It seemed obvious to the Americans that such a force had been concentrated with further offensive intent in mind.1
A Japanese drive on Kunming from the Kweilin-Liuchow-Nanning area did not at first appear imminent to China Theater headquarters but the results if the Japanese should take Kunming appeared so grave that such a____________________