Role of the India-Burma Base
With the taking of Lashio on 6 March 1945, which meant the substantial accomplishment of India-Burma Theater's combat mission, theater headquarters lost its immediate concern with combat. Its primary attention was now given to logistical support of China Theater and SEAC, which were still fighting. Logistical matters were the sphere of the SOS, but since India BurmaTheater headquarters had no longer to deal directly with combat, troop training, or strategy, the two headquarters, SOS and theater, were sharing common concerns.
Because the two were working on different but related aspects of the same problems, they both were concerned about finding men to fill the vacant spaces in Wedemeyer's theater organization, the supply and health of their own men, the best way to operate the new Ledo Road (or Stilwell Road as it came to be called), and deciding whether the Hump or the Stilwell Road should be expanded to meet the anticipated needs of China Theater. SOS for many months had primary concern in the routine but often absorbing tasks of operating its complex of ports, warehouses, pipelines, roads, and railroad at ever greater efficiency. (See Maps 2 and 3.) Operations necessarily involved two things, organizations and men to operate them.
When the CBI Theater was split in October 1944 the relationship of India-Burma Theater headquarters and SOS was still in process of evolution. During 1944 General Covell, the SOS commander, had advanced a number of suggestions, the trend of which lay toward giving SOS all operational responsibilities in the field of logistics. It appeared that theater headquarters was willing to have SOS organize a construction service and a transportation service, which would conduct those two major activities, but it was still reluctant to divest itself of signal functions and special staff sections such as ordnance, chaplain, chemical warfare, and judge advocate. There the matter stood when the theater was split.