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Memorandum for the Combined Chiefs of Staff
August 25, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Retaking of Burma1
1. There is a progressive weakening, morally and materially, in China’s war effort. It is important that such practicable steps as are consistent with other commitments be taken to reverse this trend. The Combined Chiefs of Staff were agreed on this point.
2. Japan is employing about a quarter of her combat divisions and independent brigades in China and Burma. The Japanese are able, due to the Chinese air bases they hold, to ferry their combat planes from North China and Manchuria to the Southwestern Pacific. Furthermore, occupied China secures for the Japanese her west flank in operations towards India or Australia.
3. The Chinese opposition to the Japanese effort is rapidly dwindling. The series of Allied defeats and withdrawals on land, coupled with little visible means of assistance to China from her Allies, have seriously impaired the will of the Chinese to fight. Unless the United Nations increase the visible assistance to China her opposition to Japan may collapse even though Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek continues in power.
4. If China succumbs the United Nations must be ready to combat the Japanese divisions thus released. The freeing of only 10 Japanese combat divisions with proportionate air strength releases an important force for employment on the Siberian, Indian or Australian fronts.
5. The United States is undertaking to maintain in India and China by the end of October the following aircraft in support of the Chinese: 160 fighter airplanes, 57 medium bombers, 24 heavy bombers, and 78 transport airplanes to be used principally in ferrying munitions of war from India to China. However, it is not believed that the air support thus afforded to the Chinese and the relatively small quantity of munitions that can be transported by air from India to China will be sufficient to insure China’s continued effective participation in the war. The reopening of the Burma Road will keep China in the War.
6. Present U.S. commitments make it impossible, with the shipping available, to divert any American ground forces to China or India.
7. Even though our present policy is to treat the Pacific as a secondary theater, we must depend upon the Chinese to contain increasingly more Japanese divisions than at present. The reopening of the Burma Road appears to be the only method of bolstering up the Chinese.
8. I recommend that the Combined Chiefs of Staff give immediate consideration to the problem of the retaking of Burma after the monsoon season.
Document Copy Text Format: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Operations Division (OPD), 381 China Theater of Operations, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. For information on this subject, see Charles I. Romanus and Riley Sunderland, Stilwell’s Mission to China, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1953), pp. 177-84.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 319-320.