I. B. 102
JULY 11, 1941.
Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, W. P. D.
Subject: Strategic Estimate of the Situation.
1. At your informal request there are attached revised data on the foreign situation These data supersede those furnished by 1st Indorsement, May 26, 1941 to your memorandum W. P. D. 4510, May 24, 1941.
Brigadier General U. S. Army
Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2.
1 Incl.-G-2 Data for W. D. Strategic
Estimate of the Situation.
DATA FOR WAR DEPARTMENT STRATEGIC ESTIMATE OF THE SITUATION
1. SUMMATION OF THE SITUATION
a. Germany, possessing a central position and ground and air forces superior to any individual opponent, has exercised her initiative by attacking Russia. This attack will be at least so successful that, subsequent to the fall of 1941, Germany will have regained her ability to strike outwards from a central position.
b. The British Empire, widespread, with superior surface sea power, but deficient in man power, organization and battle leadership, is necessarily on the defensive. To her, the German attack on Russia affords a breathing spell in which she can buttress her home and Middle Eastern defenses. Assumption of the strategic offensive in any theater is beyond her power.
c. U. S. S. R., ill organized but formidable because of her size, is exposed to the full vigor of German attack. The most that can be expected of her is that she will remain in being in her distant fastnesses after the German onslaught has been spent. However, the German attack has cancelled out Russia as an Axis source of supply from the short-term viewpoint.
d. The United States, with a superior navy in one ocean, but without effective weapons and with but few combat organizations, is committed to opposition to Germany, is providing limited material support to the Axis' enemies, but lacks the means to take overt battle action against Germany in her own or anyone else's behalf.
e. All other countries are but the fringing satellites of the four great powers. China, Italy and Japan have some military, but indecisive potency. The others are themselves trivial, or of importance only in combination with others.
2. SITUATION OF INDIVIDUAL POWERS
(1) Germany is now engaged in a major war with Soviet Russia and has launched an offensive on the very broad front from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. In this offensive, her armies are supported by the armed forces of Finland, Slovakia, Hungary and Rumania.
(2) A large part of the German Army of 260 divisions is engaged in this Russian offensive, although some 60 divisions remain on guard in Western Europe and Norway against the possibility of a British attack in the West.
(3) The bulk of Germany's 20 armored and 20 motorized divisions are also thought to be engaged in this Russian campaign.
(4) A large part of the German Air Force of some 11,000 planes in 850 combat squadrons, and organized into seven or more air fleets, is conducting offensive operations against Russia, while at the same time there has been held a considerable number of air units in Western Europe and the Mediterranean as a defensive precaution. Around 5,000 planes in combat squadrons are believed to be participating in the campaign against Russia. To provide this operating mass of aircraft, the air forces in the Western European and Mediterranean Theaters have necessarily had to be greatly reduced below the levels prevailing in May, 1941.
(5) The German Navy, much inferior in tonnage to the British and recently weakened by the loss of the "Bismarck," is conducting an aggressive submarine campaign against British shipping with about 150 submarines. An unknown number of German auxiliary cruisers are also aggressively active against British seaborne commerce.
(6) The political and economic situation in Germany is sound. The "Hess affair" does not seem to have affected adversely the will of the German nation to continue the war.
(7) German-French relations are improving as the two nations draw closer together. Already the economic resources of France are beginning to play a considerable role in the German war effort.
(8) In consequence of this major offensive against Russia, no German offensive operations are to be expected in any other theaters of war in the immediate future. In particular, no invasion of England or of Iceland is probable during the remainder of 1941. Germany's ground forces will, undoubtedly, remain on the strategic defensive in both the Western European and Mediterranean Theaters until she can spare troops and aviation from Eastern Europe.
(9) In case of victory over Russia during the summer or fall of 1941, one may expect as logical further German moves:
(a) The consolidation of the German hegemony in Europe (less the British Isles).
(b) The expulsion of Britain from the Mediterranean.
(c) The continuation of the war of attrition against the British seaborne commerce.
(10) The complete entry of the United States into the War would probably not change the plans of the German High Command nor affect for the present Germany's military, political and economic position. It would undoubtedly depress somewhat the war spirit and morale of the German people. It would so stimulate the morale and hopes of Germany's subject populations as to increase greatly the Reich's problems in controlling them. On the other hand, our entry into war would cause Germany to activate her existing fifth column arrangements in Latin America.
(1) Military Situation. Japanese forces are deployed over a wide area from Karafuto in the north to Indo-China in the south. The Chinese, in spite of internal friction, continue to resist passively any advance by the Japanese forces. Japan has for some time been gradually assembling an expeditionary force, originally for a possible movement into southeast Asia, but which now may eventually be used in an attack upon the Maritime Provinces.
(2) Economic Situation. Japan is economically weak because she lacks essential war materials adequate foreign exchange, sufficient foreign trade; she is also encumbered with financial problems connected with the war in China.
Economically Japan will be no worse off than she is at the present time unless greater obstacles are placed before her economic progress. Availability of German technical advice and the acquisition of war materials from Thailand and Indo-China will improve her economic position. Japan is increasing her imports of oil from the United States instead of decreasing them. Japan could not be thrown into bankruptcy under present circumstances; if she undertakes a war with a major naval power, much greater obstacles would immediately be placed before her economic progress.
(3) Political Situation. The Japanese will support any decision made by the Japanese Government. The military and naval authorities continue to be the predominant influence in Governmental decisions. It is believed that the naval authorities and business interests will exert every effort to avoid a conflict with the United States regardless of the latter's participation in the European War.
(4) Psychology of Japanese. The intense patriotism, the remarkable recuperative capabilities and an indomitable tenacity of purpose along with a frugal and low standard of living have enabled the Japanese people to accept and even support the frightful cost of the indecisive war in China.
(5) Lines of Action. Japan has the following alternatives:
(a) Maintain status quo in China.
(b) Withdraw her armed forces from the area south of the Great Wall, make peace with Chiang Kai-Shek and use only economic penetration into southeastern Asia.
(c) Withdraw sufficient forces from the Chinese mainland to facilitate an advance:
(a) Contain or isolate the Philippine Islands and Hong Kong, attack British Malaya via Thailand and Indo-China or by direct attack by land, sea and air.
(b) Contain or isolate the Philippine Islands and Hong Kong, and attack the Netherlands' East Indies or Borneo.
(c) Reduction of the Philippine Islands and Hong Kong prior to movement to the south.
(2) Northward against Russia to secure the Maritime Provinces Japan has long regarded as indispensable to her security.
Actions indicated in (1) are all contingent upon the success of the Axis forces in the European War.
(6) Most Probable Action. Japan will probably continue to assemble, by gradual withdrawals from China, a field force for possible employment either in Southeastern Asia or against Russia. Her hopes of empire are bound up with an Axis victory and she is subject to strong German pressure to attack Russia at
once; nevertheless it is believed that she will avoid precipitate action and will continue her policy of avoiding war with Russia on the one hand and with the United States and Great Britain on the other. If forced or if electing to choose between action against Russia or to the Southwest, she will be influenced by Germany's success against Russia, particularly as regards possible Russian troop withdrawals from Siberia, and by America's action, particularly as regards the distribution of United States' naval strength, and as regards attempts to send supplies to Russia through Vladivostok. Should the choice be the southward advance, it will probably consist of a containment of Hong Kong and the Philippine Islands while attacking British Malaya via Thailand and Indo-China.
c. British Empire.
(1) The British Empire, at war, is on the defensive; its army, naval and air strength dispersed on exterior lines, with the United Kingdom, a theatre of combat partially encircled by hostile assault positions, absorbing the principal effective military strength. The Imperial Forces are composed of an equivalent of 84 divisions, 233 squadrons and some 360 war ships. The Army has suffered severe reverses in the past year but its morale is still high. There is a great shortage of supporting weapons, tanks, antiaircraft and antitank guns and ammunition in the Army in all theatres. While the Navy has lost several important vessels in the Atlantic, the Home Fleet has had several valuable additions. The Mediterranean Fleet was severely damaged at the Battle of Crete. Economically the condition of the Empire is not satisfactory; unless more severely restrained German attacks on the vital sea lanes could make the United Kingdom's condition critical in less than six months. Politically the Empire is intact, so far, no important territory has been lost to the enemy. Psychologically the whole people have developed a will to win, and an increasing application of all energy to the war effort is noted. At present the Empire is not able to assume the offensive except in air raids of limited depth on the continent of Europe and in minor areas such as in Syria. Forces in the United Kingdom have limited capacity for raids against the German-held coast line of Europe. In spite of many defeats the spirit of the people is unperturbed and morale is unbroken.
(2) Great Britain still faces a possibility of invasion. Some 40 divisions and an estimated 180 squadrons of first-line airplanes are in a state of readiness to repel a German attack. The Army forces are well-trained and continuously exercised; the air forces are, in fact, constantly engaged in combat. The Army is supported by a well organized and partially armed Home Guard and an effective civil organization to counter the probable German efforts to create confusion before and during invasion. The Royal Air Force has successfully restricted large scale German air attacks on England to night operations. While it has not been able to prevent German air raids on shipping, it has become increasingly effective in a narrow zone on the Continent during the pre-occupation of the German air force in Russia. The principal mission of the Fleet at present is to reduce shipping losses due to German attack on vital sea lanes. A readily assembled naval force is a vital factor for the defence of the British Isles against invasion. The promptness of action and effectiveness thereof will be increasingly influenced by the measure of relief from distant patrolling which might result from American naval patrols east of the 30th Meridian. The reduction of shipping losses is one of the keys to the situation of Great Britain. In addition to the importation of raw materials (some 30,000,000 tons) to keep industry going, the United Kingdom must import an absolute minimum of 10,000,000 tons of food-stuffs, per annum, for human consumption.
(3) In the Middle East (Mediterranean area), the British have available some 16 divisions. They have finally disposed of all Italian forces in East Africa but they have lost their previous gains in Libya. A beleaguered British garrison at Tobruk, some 30,000 strong, is in a precarious position. A recent British offensive with one of its objects to relieve that situation ended in defeat. It is expected that the Germans will concentrate on an effort to reduce the British position. A British offensive is not possible although there may be a desperate effort to fight their way out. A small British force has put down the uprising in Iraq and has cooperated with other small British and the Free French forces in consolidating Syria. The British defeat at Crete was a severe one, especially for the Royal Navy. Repairs to individual ships and small reinforcements have enabled the fleet to participate in the Syrian campaign and to continue in a limited fashion its attack on Italian and German war communications. The Cretan campaign has definitely proved that the Mediterranean fleet is no longer free to operate at will in that sea so long as German and Italian shore-based aviation
are maintained in their respective positions in effective strength. The opportunities for the Fleet and its future usefulness are therefore bound to more and more restricted. Already the supply of the British troops in Malta and Tobruk is a very serious matter and the supply of British troops in the Eastern Mediterranean area must now be undertaken through the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. The withdrawal of the Fleet from the Mediterranean is likely, especially if there is sufficient warning of a resumption of a major German threat in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Royal Air Force operating in the Middle East consists of approximately 30 squadrons. The principal key to the Middle East situation is the receipt of supplies from the United States. It is problematical if these will arrive in sufficient quantity or time to enable the British Command to arm and equip sufficient forces to maintain the defence of that area.
(4) In the Far East (Singapore area), there are approximately 4 1/2 divisions, 2 Indian, 1 Australian, and the remainder made up from local forces. At Hong Kong there is approximately a brigade of British troops and a few local units. The Royal Air Force has about 13 squadrons in this area. There are also minor naval forces.
(5) Lines of Action:
To continue on the strategic defensive in all theatres until such time as unforeseen events will permit the offensive, and to seek by every possible means to bring the United States into the war at the earliest possible moment.
(1) Italy, although previously defeated in the Mediterranean, has now emerged a tarnished victor as the result of active German support. While her East African colonies must be written off, she has acquired considerable Balkan territory, including the strategically important and long-desired Dalmatian coast, and her North African colony, Libya, is again almost in her possession.
(2) The Italian Army, which must be considered second rate, consists of approximately 86 divisions. It is estimated that trained man power is available for an additional 64 divisions, provided Germany could and would furnish the necessary equipment. There are about 1,500 so-called first line planes in the air force which are inferior to those of Germany and Great Britain in performance and armament. Pilots are not well trained. The Navy has, to date, made a sorry showing, however, it still must be reckoned a potent force with its present strength of 4 battleships, 11 cruisers, 75 destroyers, and 72 submarines, especially if supported by ground-based German aviation and operating against a weakened British Mediterranean fleet.
(3) Italy lacks practically all essential raw materials, including oil and steel, and was prepared for a war of only a few weeks' duration. Due to the British blockade, she has become dependent on Germany for most of her supplies, food excepted, which is resulting in German control of her industries. With rationing, she has sufficient food for her needs and is able to furnish a certain amount to Germany.
(4) The general unpopularity of the war, coupled with disastrous military defeats, resulted in rather open criticism of the Fascist Regime, together with considerable discontent. However, recent German-assisted victories and the fact that if Mussolini goes, the Germans will take over completely, have strengthened the position of Il Duce and have bolstered the morale of the mercurial Italian.
(5) Italy may be considered a second-rate military power that is a potential threat as long as she is backed by German military might. She is now in the position of a satellite of Germany, to be employed in any capacity that Hitler believes will further his aims. In this connection, the obvious and almost certain lines of action open to Italy are: (1) to maintain the defensive Axis position in the Mediterranean until the completion of the Russian campaign; (2) to provide the garrisons for the recently conquered Balkan countries: (3) to send a contingent of troops (probably a "token" one) to participate in the Russian campaign, and (4) to assist in the warfare on British shipping.
(3) The entry of the United States into the war should have no immediate effect on Italy other than causing a certain lowering of Italian morale due to the fact that a longer war is presaged.
(1) Metropolitan France, politically subservient to Germany, economically impotent and faced with possible starvation this Winter, hating the Germans and Darlan and beginning to criticize even Petain, has an Army (94,200 men) and an Air Force (273 planes) of no combat value.
Fleet (1 Battle Cruiser, 7 Cruisers, 34 Destroyers, 30 Submarines) has potential value. It is conceivable that Darlan might order it to aid Germany. Division of opinion among officers is accentuated by Vichy's decision to collaborate
The recent creation of the Croatian kingdom under Italian suzerainty tends to free France from the traditional Italian claims in Nice and Corsica and so removes one of the French fears of further Axis aggression.
The long-range possibility exists that growing hatred of Germans and of the Darlan regime, fanned by food shortage, will produce an internal crack-up with obvious repercussions in other occupied countries.
Conclusions. Ground and air forces will not fight for Germany and cannot fight for Britain or even for themselves
If ordered to aid Germany, some fleet units would be scuttled, some would run for North (or West) Africa, some would follow orders. Potential value of fleet as such would be destroyed.
US participation in the war would not alter the situation except to hasten the internal crack-up-especially if accompanied by wise radio propaganda.
(2) Syria, has Just been conquered by British and Free French forces. Conquest Syria by Britain will strengthen Allied geographical position in Near and Middle East but will increase administrative responsibilities and will require fair sized force for occupation and police, in other words, dispersion of military forces.
(3) North Africa, best governed of French territories, is short of food and other supplies, and is subject to intense Nazi propaganda. It has 8 incomplete Divisions (80,000 men), lacking mechanized equipment and short of munitions for major operations. General Weygand is much respected and strongly dislikes Germans and Darlan. Air Force has 286 planes, Navy has-Algeria, 7 Destroyers, 13 Submarines-Morocco: 1 incomplete Battleship, 7 Destroyers, 2 Cruisers, 13 Submarines. The Navy is less anti-British than the Toulon Force; the navy commander is strongly pro-American. Combat value of the troops is high.
Conclusions. Weygand will make every effort to prevent extension of collaboration to Africa but lacks means for aggressive action and can defend only if assured of prompt and adequate aid. He would not accept British aid initially.
US participation, if accompanied by materialization of prompt and adequate aid, will enable Weygand to hold North Africa.
(4) Dakar is the headquarters of the West Africa Government, Anti-American feeling is current there now due to unwise press and radio references to Dakar. A vital strategic location, with excellent port and air facilities, well defended from sea and air, it has successfully withstood one attack from the sea. West Africa has 6 Divisions (70,000 men), 96 planes, 1 immobilized Battleship, 8 Cruisers, 2 Destroyers, 10 Submarines. Dakar is vulnerable from land side-forces landing at St. Louis (186 miles North by good road and railroad) and Bathurst (162 miles South by good road and ferry).
Conclusions. Dakar will resist British attack. Navy would resist strenuously any US Navy attempt to take it; Army and Air Force would resist initially and half-heartedly; public would welcome US effort if wise radio propaganda prepares the way.
(5) De Gaulle has 2 completely equipped Divisions and a third in process of formation. Majority of his forces are with the British in East Africa and Egypt; 1 Division is operating in Syria.
Conclusions. Vichy collaboration will accelerate increase of Free French forces. Wise radio propaganda will step up the acceleration. Reported that Weygand dislikes de Gaulle personally but it is believed that-in the event of US participation-an offer by de Gaulle to place himself and his forces under Weygand's orders, to regain French independence, would be accepted. But all these forces are too inherently unstable and weak to form the predicate of any American plan.
(1) Western Hemisphere possessions.
Surinam: 950 troops, mostly black and mostly at Paramaribo, inadequately armed and equipped. The threat from 6,000 criminal prisoners in adjoining French Guiana is faced by 50 Dutch Marines on border.
Curacao: 1010 troops, including 618 British Infantry.
Aruba: 899 troops, including 612 Cameron Highlanders (Flanders veterans).
Bonaire: 50 Military Police.
Conclusions. It is believed that, preceded by proper diplomatic negotiations, U. S. occupation, in trust, of Netherlands possessions in Western Hemisphere would be welcome.
(2) The Netherlands East Indies, well governed, prosperous, untroubled by native difficulties or unrest, has about 80,000 men under arms, mostly on Java but with garrisons at important centers on Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes. The Island of Java and main centers on other islands are well fortified, harbors are mined, oil properties are adequately prepared for quick destruction if necessary, Navy has 3 Cruisers, 7 Destroyers, 13 Submarines, 40 auxiliaries-all modern. Air force has about 450 planes, mostly American and with large proportion of bombers. Continuous reconnaissance flights are made over the whole archipelago constantly. Defense plans are coordinated with those of British at Singapore and the Dutch have a firm determination to defend stubbornly.
Conclusions: The Netherlands East Indies will offer stubborn defense to attack. If the attack is determined and sustained, outer islands will have to be sacrificed, after destruction of oil properties, and defense will concentrate on Java which can be held until adequate naval aid arrives from U. S. forces. It is not believed that Britain is in a position to give the required aid alone.
g. U. S. S. R.
The U. S. S. R. is now engaged in a defensive war with Germany and has available for operations the following forces:
(1) Military Forces.-180 infantry divisions; 44 cavalry divisions; 79 tank brigades, 39 air divisions (total number of planes, 6,600). It is estimated that 5,000 planes are physically present in the western and southwestern frontier districts. General effectiveness estimated fair.
(2) Naval Forces.-Are considered a negligible factor in this war effort.
The definite policy of the Government is to pursue a defensive course and provide adequate armed defense forces in the critical areas of the Soviet Union. Active participation in offensive operations as acts of aggression are not the policy of the Regime; however, in areas where U. S. S. R. vital interests and defense demand that aggressive military operations be undertaken, such action has been taken and will follow.
(3) Economic.-Major effort within the Soviet Union industrially is to provide for the immediate self-sufficiency of the nation in munitions and war supplies. Transportation and production are inefficient, due to faulty production methods, inadequate supply of high-grade machine tools, and a lack of qualified technicians.
(4) Morale.-Morale within the Red Army is good; morale of the population is satisfactory in spite of the low standard of living, purges, etc.
(5) Political.-The recent pact with Japan indicates definite agreement with respect to the Far Eastern situation. A declaration on the part of Great Britain supporting Russia as an ally in the Russian-German conflict has again given Russia a definite place in European affairs.
The Comintern through the Soviet Regime is striving for a world revolution in the interests of Communism. Unless the U. S. S. R. emerges one of the victors in this war, Communism will definitely be on the way out in Europe.
The U. S. S. R. has the following lines of action open in case the United States entered the war as an ally of Great Britain and Russia: (1) Vigorous offensive conduct of the European conflict. (2) Continue a defensive war as at present until offensive operations can be conducted, assisted by British-U. S. support. (3) Continued withdrawal, if necessary, to the Urals to avoid decisive defeat to lengthen German supply difficulty. It is believed the U. S. S. R. would adopt action (2).
h. Latin America.
(1) The Latin American republics, while able to defend themselves against internal aggression, cannot do so if the subversive elements are given direct support by the German air forces. These countries, due to their geographical and economic situation, their insistent demands for military assistance have become liabilities to the United States.
(2) The German military successes have increased their reluctance to permit the United States to establish desired military and naval bases.
(3) The necessity of U. S. bases in Latin America has become not only essential but urgent.
(4) The establishment and occupation of bases requires, at least, several months.
(5) The time has come when the United States must make specific requests for immediate concession of bases at Natal, Brazil; the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Buenaventura, Colombia; and Acapulco, Mexico. Further postponements, particularly as regards Natal, might prove disastrous if the Germans seize the French naval base at Dakar. The American Republics must be shown that further delay in the concession of bases might not only be interpreted as an attitude of non-cooperation, but that it will also jeopardize the defense of the Western Hemisphere and the integrity and independence of their Sovereignty.
(EXHIBITS OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE, PHA, PT. 14, EXHIBIT NO. 33 MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATES PREPARED BY G-2, WAR DEPARTMENT)