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To Lieutenant Colonel Francis G. Brink1
December 15, 1941 Radio No. 59. [Washington, D.C.]
The President has requested the British authorities to hold a military and naval conference in Singapore to include Chinese, American and Dutch officers and report operational plans as they see the situation in the Southern zone. The President has suggested a date not later than December 17th and is requesting the Generalissimo at Chungking to hold at the same time a conference with particular reference to problems in Eastern Asia. You are designated as the War Department representative at the Singapore conference. Because General MacArthur may find it difficult to communicate with you secretly the following summarization of his views which are generally concurred in by the President are communicated to you for your information and presentation at conference: “in part American, Australian and Dutch air and naval forces should cooperate to keep open line of communications from Australia to Philippines. Successful defense of Philippines considered essential to maintenance of the Allied defensive structure in the Western Pacific. Plans for immediate Philippine reinforcement definitely dependent for success upon establishment of air traffic between Philippines and bases to the south. Every effort should be made to supplement air supply by reestablishment of limited sea communications between Australia and Philippines. From long range viewpoint the common advantages of maintaining against any attack the entire region justify early cooperative effort to clear enemy from area. Speed in initiation of both the limited and major operations above indicated is to take advantage of present Japanese over-extension.” American air reinforcements are to be rushed to Philippines, beginning at once from Australia with pursuit planes, and steps are being taken to supply vital items to defending forces from Australian bases by use of heavy B-24 bombing planes now organizing for movement via Africa. The American Naval representative at the conference will be designated by the Navy Department. Desire that you confer with him prior to conference so that so far as possible the presentations of the American representatives may be in agreement. Immediately upon conclusion of conference you will render full report to the War Department by the most rapid means consistent with secrecy.2 If secrecy permits a copy of your report will be communicated to General MacArthur.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Record of the War Plans Division (WPD), 4544-31, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed radio message.
1. Brink was the United States Military Observer in Singapore.
2. The conference was held December 18 and 20; present were representatives from Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. Brink’s preliminary report, which was received in the War Department on December 21, stated that the conferees had agreed: (1) to expedite measures to establish and protect communications and supply routes; (2) that there was an immediate need for the appointment of a supreme allied commander for the Pacific. Brink recommended that the Chinese be included in the allied command and stated that unofficial opinions expressed at the conference indicated that a United States commander familiar with the Pacific area would not only be acceptable but desirable. (Major E. J. Rogers Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, WPD, December 22, 1941, NA /RG 165 [WPD, 4544-31].) Concerning the role of this conference in the coalition strategy against Japan, see Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1953), pp. 85-87.
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. 19-21.