I. B. 159




Record Section




[1]   I. B. 159 NOVEMBER 29, 1941.

Memorandum for the Chief of Staff

Subject : Brief Periodic Estimate of the Situation, December 1, 1941‑March 31, 1942.


I. General.

1. This estimate is addressed to the objective of Nazi defeat. Its purpose is to examine the factors of strength and weakness and of strategic positions of the Nazis and of their opponents, in order to present the military possibilities and probabilities during the period December 1, 1941 to March 31, 1942.

2. a. During that period Germany, though weakened by her losses in Russia will remain the only power capable of launching large scale strategic offensives. Her success in Russia and the advent of winter make disposable a larger portion of German land and air power than at any time since the beginning of the Russo-German war. On the other hand, the price she has had to pay for her Russian success and the width of the wasted zone behind her Eastern Front indicate that

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a considerable period of time would be required for the reorganization and redisposition of her major forces. The German conduct of war, so far, has been characterized by a thoroughness and deliberation in this regard. Between the end of one campaign and the launching of the next there have been considerable periods of time. In the present case, if Germany should decide to shift the theater of war, all indications point to an even greater necessity for a considerable time lag than has so far existed between her successive campaigns. Large scale German strategic offensives are therefore not to be expected outside of the Russian theater within the period under consideration. It is much more probable that Germany will continue her attack on Russia, particularly in the Ukraine and the North Caucasus plain between the Azov and Caspian Seas during the winter and early spring.

[2]   b. Japan also has the strategic initiative, but to a much more limited degree than is the case with Germany. Japan, already extended militarily, has a multiplicity of strategic objectives; but for a variety of reasons, she cannot concentrate the required forces to attack any of them on a large scale and with assurance of success. A possible exception to the latter statement lies in the contingency of a serious depletion of Russian forces in eastern Siberia. But even in this case, a large scale Japanese strategic offensive against Siberia during the period in question is somewhat doubtful in the light of present politico-military situation and of the rigorous winter climate in that region.

c. Great Britain is pressing a limited strategic offensive in Libya and has taken the aerial offensive over Western Europe. She, too, is extended militarily and more extensive ground and aerial action is beyond her means.

d. All other belligerent or potentially belligerent powers must be considered incapable of large scale strategic offensives during the period in question. The United States, committed to the defeat of Nazi Germany, is an increasingly important element in the situation. Our influence is exerted in naval and aerial participation in the Battle of the Atlantic, in the supply of material and technical assistance to the four land theaters and in psychological, economic and political action against the Axis throughout the world. But all this does not sum up to a large scale strategical offensive. We have only a means of strategical maneuver—our ability to make available more or less material and technical facilities and in their allocation to those theaters where they will be most advantageously employed.

e. Neither the economic nor the psychologic situation in Germany indicates any possibility of weakening the Nazi power to a critical extent during the period in question.

f. From the above it must be concluded that, during the period in question

(1) Neither the anti‑Axis nor the Axis powers can force a decision.

(2) The anti‑Axis powers will have a period of at least four months in which they may strengthen their position in one or more of the four important theaters of war, and in which they may decide upon a regrouping of forces, subject to certain physical limitations, consonant with their chosen long range strategy for the defeat of the Nazis.

[3]   II. Brief Estimate on the Theaters of War.

1. The British Isles. This theater is the citadel of the Anti‑Axis Powers. Its security is, therefore, so essential to Nazi defeat that it must be held. The ground, sea and aerial defenses of the islands have been and are being materially strengthened.

For reasons given previously, it is not believed that Germany will be in a position to attempt an invasion of the islands during the period in question. It is probable that an invasion if attempted, will be delayed until mid‑summer of 1942. An attempt made at that time will probably be unsuccessful. As for the present, after a short delay of reorganization and transfer, Germany can launch large‑scale air attacks on the United Kingdom at any time that she is willing to move the necessary forces from the Russian front. In view of im­proved British defenses and of the weakening of the German Air Force, how ever, it is estimated that in the period in question such attacks cannot reach the intensities of those of the winter of 1940‑41.         


From this theater the only British offensive capability lies in the air. It is to be expected that strategic bombing of, Germany and the occupied territories will continue; but that this action will be indecisive.


Material aid from the United States has been an essential element in the resistance and survival of the British Isles. Continuance of this aid is still essential. It is, fortunately, the easiest of ail the land theaters for us to aid.




2. The Atlantic: The Battle of the Atlantic is essentially a struggle for the sealanes radiating froth the United Kingdom, this conflict is now trending against Germany. Sinkings by the Axis are decreasing and ship construction in Britain and the United States is increasing. It is now probable that replace­ments have overtaken losses. Figures on ship and tonnage losses during 194 are as follows:



Losses (British, Allied, and Neutral)



Monthly Average






January 1 to June 30 (6 months)


2,755, 242


459, 207

June 30 to Nov. 15 (4 ½ months)






[4]   During October over 4,200,000 tons of goods were imported into the United Kingdom, as compared with a monthly average for the year of approximately 2,500,000. The October imports were received after the United States Navy began convoy duty in the Atlantic. As the weight of the United States Navy continues to increase, success in the Battle of the Atlantic should be assured.

Since Germany's means of attack (surface raiders long‑range planes and submarines) are of limited use in other theaters, it is to be expected that she will continue the offensive in this theater, regardless of results or of operations elsewhere.

The United States is contributing powerfully to the decision in the Battle of the Atlantic by direct naval action and by the building of cargo vessels. Continu­ance of this action is essential to the defeat. of Germany.

3. Eastern Theater. By a series of relentless offensives Germany has occupied vast stretches of terrain, including many of Russia's industrial regions and has inflicted grave casualties on the Red Army. But Germany has suffered great losses in men and material, and .has not yet attained her basic objectives of destroying the Russian armies and the Stalin regime. While Germany could transfer her principal military effort to other theaters this winter, it is estimated that she will continue to concentrate on the attack on Russia. Specifically she will

Seek to destroy the mass of the Russian armies.

Continue the siege of Leningrad.

Attempt to cut the Russian supply lines to Archangel and Murmansk.

Seek to seize the general line of the Volga.

Attempt to overrun the Caucasus, thus obtaining oil and securing a jump‑off position for an eventual advance into the Middle East.

The most serious German threat is southeastwards to the Caucasus, and her goal is oil. Axis forces are extending eastward north of Rostov toward the Don. They may capture Stalingrad and gain control of the Volga south to its mouth at Astrakhan. Russian defense of the North Caucasus will probably eventually fail, after substantially delaying the Axis advance. With sufficiently determined and prompt allied aid, the Germans may be kept from occupation of the Trans­-Caucasus and control of the Baku oil fields.

[5]   The U. S. S. R. is weaker, relative to Germany, than at the outset of hostilities. Her political structure has remained stable and her armies, while depleted, have not been irreparably defeated. Russia is favored by the following: The extreme cold of winter is a deterrent to operations, and Russian training and technique in severe winter weather is considered better than that of the invaders. While the Soviet situation is critical, ready availability of manpower resource is in Russian favor. Defense industry is in operation at approximately 60%0 of pre‑war volume. British and American material assistance is being received; ­increased and continuing allied assistance is urgently required.

The following considerations are unfavorable to the U. S. S. R. : The uncertainty of the Far Eastern situation causes concentration of efficient Soviet troops along the Manchukuo frontier, not available for use in the western theater. The Soviet Army has shortages in tanks, all weapons, probably in all ammunition. The shortage in tanks is especially serious; that in small arms and small arms ammunition is less marked than in other weapons. The means of supply from the outside world are difficult and precarious. To date no British operation elsewhere

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has been sufficiently strong to cause any withdrawal of German troops from Russia.

Aside from surrender, which seems unlikely Russia's only feasible line of action is to resist stubbornly in the hope that attrition, climate and lengthened communications will eventually bring her assailants to a standstill. By the spring of 1942 it is estimated that organized but depleted Russian armies will stand behind the Volga and perhaps even as far west as Moscow. It is also probable that Russian forces will hold the Caucasus mountains and Trans‑Caucasia.

With .her industry dislocated, Russia is in extreme need of material assistance from abroad. She requires raw materials; machine tools and munitions. Un­fortunately, the avenues of entry are vulnerable, limited in capacity and very awkwardly located. Aid to Russia has been planned on the basis of a total import capacity of 500,000 tons per month. It is by no means certain that this figure will be reached. Russian requirements can only be met by the United States and Great Britain. This relatively small contribution at the crisis of the Russo-German war appears to be the total material means available to the Democracies to influence the struggle within this theater.

4. Middle Eastern Theater. In this theater, extending from Libya to the Caspian, only the western segment is active. In Libya the British are engaged in an offensive the issue of which is still in doubt. Farther to the east, Syria, Iraq and Iran are shielded from the war for the time being by neutral Turkey and by the Russian forces in the Caucasus.

[6]   Because of the Russian campaign and certain great logistic difficulties, there is practically no danger of an Axis major offensive in this theater, from the north, before the spring of 1942. Even a British defeat in their current Libyan operations would so exhaust the Axis forces in North Africa as to free Alexandria and Suez from the threat of a thrust from the west. A British victory in Libya would probably force German entry into Tunisia and their occupation of Algiers and Morocco. But such an eventuality would be more apt to delay than to hasten an all‑out German offensive, from the west and the north, against the Middle East Theater.

Even if successful in their, current Libyan offensive, it is not, believed that the British will be able to advance through Tripolitania without a considerable delay for reorganization. It is therefore probable that from the British point of view this theater will shortly become a defensive one, with a minimum of several months available for the completion of its organization.

In the eastern sector of this theater (the Levant, Iraq and Iran), the British are gradually building a substantial force to meet any Axis threat to the area through Turkey or the Caucasus Mountains. In the Levant there are three Australian divisions with other troops, and General Wavell told our Military Observer in Iran that he expected to have at least ten divisions in Northern Iraq by March of 1942.

The United States is committed to providing great masses of material to the Middle East, and is undertaking vast construction projects to facilitate supply. Except the British Isles, the Middle East is the most accessible of the important active theaters to us, and our lines of supply to it, though long; are the least vulnerable.

We are building up an influence on British military policy in the Middle East. Further American commitments, including probably the eventual employment of our armed forces, will be necessary in this region.

5. The Far Eastern Theater. Here the initiative rests with Japan in spite of her military overextension. She has the following lines of action open to her:

a. Attack Siberia.

b. Attack Yunnan Province to cut the Burma Road with a view to an early end to the war with China.

[7]   c. Occupy Thailand.

d. Through Thailand, attack

(1) Burma and the Burma Road,

(2) Malaya.

e. Attack the Philippines and Hong Kong, preparatory to a movement on Singapore or the Netherlands East Indies.

f. Contain or isolate the Philippines and Hong Kong and

(1) Attack Singapore

(a) directly, by sea;

(b) by sea in conjunction with a land attack through Thailand and Malaya.

(2) Attack the Netherlands East Indies.




g. Bide her time, wait for a better opportunity to pursue any of the above lines of action, hoping that the course of events will turn in her favor.

h. Seek a general settlement through American mediation, including an understanding with the United States and Great Britain as to political and economic penetration of southeast Asia and the southwestern Pacific.

i. Reorient her whole foreign policy by withdrawing from the Axis.

(h.) and (i) are impossible, short of a complete overthrow of her governing forces.

The most probable line of action for Japan is the occupation of Thailand:

The forces of all other countries in the Far East are on the defensive before Japan. The British Commonwealth, the Netherlands East Indies and the Unite States are in consultative association  for the defense of Malaysia. To dace this association has been effective in slowing down the Japanese penetration toy the southwest. China is containing the equivalent of 30 Japanese divisions. The U. S. S. R., hard pressed for troops in European Russia, has reduced hey Siberian garrisons to what she estimates to be the minimum necessary to deter, Japan from attacking to the north. So far she has been successful in this effort.

China, aided and encouraged by America, will remain in the war against Japan and will continue to contain important [8] Japanese forces. The effective use of China's unlimited manpower, as an anti‑Axis potential, depends entirely on the extent to which, she is able to equip it, particularly in artillery and aviation. For this, she is entirely dependent upon the United States. The stronger the Chinese become, the more Japanese troops will be pinned down, in China, thereby releasing further Russian strength for use against Hitler.

Although China is receiving an increasing amount of equipment from this country, a major offensive by the Chinese cannot be expected during the period, ending March 31, 1942.

The British Imperial forces in Malaysia and at Hong Kong occupy a purely defensive role. The forces in Malaya have recently been re‑enforced by additional troops from Australia, New Zealand (air), and India, while those in Hong Kong have been augmented by the arrival of Canadian levies. Both of, these localities present a very strong defense against any possible Japanese attack.

The people and government of the Netherlands East Indies have continued, affirmatively and constructively, to function practically as a sovereign state, loyal to the mother country. As evidence of Dutch spirit, they (a) have re­organized their army, (b) are actively at work manufacturing needed army equipment, (c) are actively training reserves, (d) have expanded their system of air fields throughout the islands, (e) have cooperated with the British and United States governments in preparation of extensive plans for defense, (f) have refused to renew their commercial treaty with Japan, (g) have delivered to Japan only 10,000 tons of oil since January 1, 1941—said delivery having been on an old contract still in force.

In the Far East the United States is concerned as a possible belligerent and also as a prime source of war materials for China, the British Commonwealth and for the Netherlands East Indies. We are in process of sending a few mili­tary airplanes to Thailand. But this theater will be a secondary one from the point of view of supply. Under all circumstances we will continue to be able to supply Australasia, the Dutch East Indies, and probably, also China, though somewhat precariously, through the Burma Road. Siberia will become com­pletely cut off if Japan attacks Russia.

Our influence in the Fast Eastern Theater lies in the threat of our naval power and the effort of our economic blockade. Both are primary deterrents against Japanese all‑out entry in the war as an Axis partner. If we become involved in war with Japan we could launch a serious offensive against her by Naval and Air forces. But such an attack would fall short of a major strategic offensive because it could not be decisive within [9] a reasonable time, and still more, because it would be a diversion of forces away from rather than toward our objective, the defeat of the Nazis.

[10]         III. Morale.

The outstanding feature of the war in 1941 has been the rise in anti‑Axis and the decline in Axis morale.

The anti‑Axis powers have been heartened by the Failure of the German air attack on Britain, the decreased German success in the Atlantic, the continued resistance in the Middle and Far Eastern theaters, the drain on Germany of the Russian Campaign and of her conquered territories, and probably most of all,

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by the continued progress of America from neutrality towards participation in the war.

Even more notable has been the decline in Axis morale. In Italy and Japan the reasons are obvious. Both are weary of unsuccessful war and economically distressed. But Germany presents a true paradox. Here is a warrior nation which has made colossal sacrifices to build war power and has had unprece­dented success in war—and yet is wholly apathetic. No enthusiasm prevails, only the desire to see it all end.

In any given period, a nation at war generally finds itself in one of three military situations. To each of these situations there should be a correspond­ing moral reaction. These situations and reactions are:


Military Situation

Moral Reaction

1.    Superiority of strength.
Possession of initiative.
Unbroken success

1.  The clan of victory—fighting with confidence of success

2.    Approximate equality in strength.
Initiative doubtful.
Ultimate success still in balance.

2.  The grim struggle—fighting to gain success.

3.    Inferiority in strength.
Strategic initiative lost.
Ultimate success doubtful.

3.  Their "back to the wall"—fighting prevent defeat.



Perhaps the most fundamental fact in the war situation today is that Ger­many is, and has continuously been in military situation Number 1 while the moral reaction of her people is, and has been for some time rather lower than number 2.

The morale factor in the war will be affected by the out [11] come, probably within the next month, of the operations in Russia and in Libya, and by Japan's decision. But there is no reason to believe that the trend of 1941 in German morale will be reversed or even materially reduced in the period under discussion.

In this factor lies the germ of Nazi defeat.


Brigadier General, 17. S. Army;

Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G‑2.


The President Secretary of War

Secretary of State.

Undersecretary of War

Assistant Secretary of War

Assistant Secretary of War for Air

The Chief of Staff

Chief of the Army Air Forces

Assistant Chief of Staff, G‑1

Assistant Chief of Staff, G‑3

Assistant Chief of Staff, G‑1

Assistant Chief of Staff, W. P. D.

G. H. Q.

Chief of the Air Corps

Director of Naval Intelligence

Coordinator of Information

General Embick.

Record Section

I. B. File


[Hand written:] Copies checked in red delivered by an officer‑other copies gent out by Miss Finch & Miss Carrick.