Volume #17 - 393.|
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
CONTRIBUTION TO THE INTEGRATED FORCE: 27TH INFANTRY BRIGADE GROUP
Memorandum from Chief of General Staff|
to Minister of National Defence
TOP SECRET ||
July 16th, 1951|
GROUPING OF CANADIAN FORCES IN EUROPE22|
1. The decision as to whether Canadian forces allocated to the Integrated Force in Europe under General Eisenhower should be placed under UK or US command is one having repercussions extending far beyond purely military considerations of ease of maintenance. Major issues of national concern must be weighed along with the factors of immediate military expediency. The decision is one which should be made by the Canadian Government after most careful consideration of all the issues. This memorandum attempts to present those issues as the basis for a decision.
2. It is manifestly impracticable for Canada to establish a separate line of communication to maintain her forces in the European theatre either in peace or in war. Our forces must be maintained on the lines of communication of either the US or the UK, or a combination of the two. The choice for Canadian forces is therefore that of being grouped under either US or UK command.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS
3. In building resistance to the expansion of Russian communism it is important to foster and maintain a "balance of power" within the western democratic alliance. Following the First World War, the term "balance of power" was represented as inferring an obsolete and dishonest system of diplomacy, antagonistic to the principles upon which international relations should be conducted in a democratic world. "Balance of power" is, in fact, essential to any democratic group of persons or nations. It implies a balancing restraint upon arbitrary unilateral action. Its practical application within NATO at the present time is to find a counterbalance to the disproportionate and preponderating power of the US. If Canada is to continue to develop as an independent nation on the North American Continent, we should be in the van of those interested in contributing to such a counterbalance. This is not intended to imply any unfriendliness to our neighbour to the south. It is merely facing the elementary facts of our situation. The US has risen to an unprecedented position of dominance in the modern world. She is still young in experience of world affairs and her policies are, at times, subject to unpredictable emotional influences. Without some balancing restraint, it is just conceivable that in the grip of sudden emotion, the US might carry the democratic world to the very debacle it is attempting to avoid in accepting the leadership of the US under the North Atlantic Treaty namely to a third world war.
4. Nor is there any need for the issue to sharpen into a choice between domination by the USSR or domination by the US. The building of strength to check Communism is not incompatible with the development of a proper balance within the North Atlantic alliance. It is of the highest importance to foster this balance as the military strength of NATO increases. Many influential political and military leaders in the US have doubts as to the ability of American democracy to stand up to a really "long pull" an armed truce lasting for many years accompanied by a continuous war of nerves once sufficient strength is available to provoke a showdown.
5. It appears from every point of view that the best interests of Canada will be served by helping to provide a counterbalance to the power of the US rather than by augmenting that power. Many of the smaller NATO countries take their lead from Canada and if our contribution goes towards augmenting the power of the US theirs will go also, and we may lead a movement which will wreck all possibility of eventually establishing a balance.
6. The question for Canada to decide is whether it is in her best interests to move in a direction which may start a landslide towards the US camp and assure the complete dominance of the US, or whether her influence should be used as one of the locking stones in building a dam against this strong pressure.
Preservation of Canadian National Identify
7. As a result of cooperation in two world wars, the British are fully conscious of the importance of respecting the national identity of Canadian forces serving with them. With an historical and traditional background of partnership in alliances and the growth of understanding of the real nature of the Commonwealth association, British leaders have learned to respect and even to be indulgent towards the national wishes and peculiarities of armed forces of other countries serving with them.
8. Most US leaders are still, even if unconsciously, forcefully crusading for the "American Way of Life", are less indulgent in accepting differences in others and, in fact, are inclined to the view that anything different is wrong and should be changed. We have had ample and recent experience of the tendency on the part of US military leaders to ignore Canadian national susceptibilities in matters concerning continental defence.
9. Canadian forces are going to be more and more closely associated with US forces in North American defence. It seems desirable that outside of North America, there should be a counterbalance to integration and absorption.
Infuence on Other Members of NATO
10. In the US zone Canadian forces would be cooperating with US forces and possibly on occasions with the French. The French army is extremely sensitive to anything which savours of tutelage and it is unlikely that the presence of a Canadian element would prove any great stimulant to the tempo of French military training. In the British zone Canadian forces would be in close touch with Dutch and Belgian forces of comparable size as well as with UK forces. In the course of conversation General Eisenhower stressed the importance of stimulating morale, training and battle worthiness of the Belgian and more particularly of the Dutch forces at the present time. The prestige of the Canadian Army stands very high with both the Belgians and the Dutch. Prejudices stemming from historical background rather than from any objective consideration of present realities give rise both in Belgium and Holland to a subtle and indefinable resistance to UK leadership. The presence of a Canadian brigade to set an example in vigorous military training might well spark the Belgian and Dutch military efforts into far greater and more realistic activity. This consideration alone would provide an adequate explanation to the US as to why we are not grouping our forces with theirs, should Canada's decision lead to this conclusion.
Relations with German Population and Europeans
11. The relations between the German population and occupying troops are better in the British zone than in the American, though in the latter zone they have lately improved. The large influx of partially trained American troops within the next few months is likely to result in a new deterioration. The reputation of Canadian forces for good conduct and discipline stands at a high level throughout Western Europe and in terms of relationships both with the Germans and with our allies it is most desirable that this reputation should be maintained. Regardless of the extent to which strictures on the discipline of US troops, as compared to those of other countries, may be justified, it is inevitable that as representatives of the major and dominating member of NATO, they will be the main target for criticism by Europeans. If Canadian forces are grouped with those of the US, Canadians will fall heir to such criticism. Having regard to the role of stimulating European morale, in the event that the present tension continues and related to the "long pull", it is highly important that good relations should exist both with our European allies and the Germans.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CANADIAN CONTRIBUTION
12. In comparison with the US forces in Europe, the Canadian contribution will be numerically insignificant. In the event of war this disparity would become even greater.
13. Though in terms of the peacetime strength of forces the British contribution on the continent is comparable to the US and numerically the disparity in the Canadian contribution will appear almost as great as in contrast with the US forces, in war the Canadian contribution would be highly significant. The UK would definitely want the physical contribution that Canada could make. The US attitude is one of helpful friendliness which suggests that to the US the Canadian contribution is not significant in a material sense but is appreciated as a token of allied cooperation and acceptance of their leadership.
Sentiment Within the Canadian Army
14. There is no doubt that the Canadian Army would prefer to be grouped under British command. Canadian officers and men have confidence in the professional capacity and skill of British commanders and feel with every good reason that the British are fully cognizant of the importance of observing the national identity of a Canadian force. The decision to group the 25 Canadian Infantry Brigade in the Commonwealth Division in the Far East was enthusiastically received throughout the whole Canadian Army.
15. If Canadian forces are grouped with British forces it represents merely the continuation of an association which has existed in two world wars and which has been profitable and deeply satisfying to both parties. To group with the US forces now means severing a past connection and establishing a new. Both in UK and among the other Commonwealth countries, this will be interpreted as a drift from that association at a time when it is in greatest need of support. Canadian statesmen have reiterated on numerous occasions that it is Canadian policy to support the Commonwealth. The grouping of Canadian forces in Europe with those of the US will certainly be widely interpreted as a change from such a policy and as implying on Canada's part some loss of confidence in the practical value of the Commonwealth association.
Command, Staff Training arid Tactics
16. There is an eminently practical aspect growing out of this historical association. The Canadian Army trained in the past and fought in the last war on tactics, staff training and command procedures, for practical purposes identical with those of the British Army. Canadian Army organization is similar to the British Army, which even some senior US officers admit is more economical and more efficient than their own. The psychological outlook of the Canadian officer is more akin to the British than to the US. It was the experience in the last war, and has been in Korea, that US commanders, coming from a nation with large resources of manpower and great manufacturing potential incline to be more prodigal of both manpower and equipment in the conduct of operations. Since the First World War, the British have had to husband their resources, and will usually achieve the same result with smaller losses, making up for lack of numbers and lavish supplies of equipment, by careful operational planning and close tactical integration of all arms and weapons. The British economize by teaching a high standard of care and maintenance of equipment, and abuse or abandonment of equipment is treated with severity. The Americans tend to the attitude of expendability of equipment and "there's lots more where that one came from". It is obviously to the advantage of the Canadian Army to adhere to a tactical doctrine which stresses high operational efficiency with a view to economizing both in manpower and material.
17. Though since the last war much greater emphasis has been placed upon the teachings of US as well as British staff and command procedures in our active force, Canadian trained reserves represented by officers and men who served during the last war are familiar only with British practice.
THE PROBLEM OF MAINTENANCE
18. Though the 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade which is being raised for service in Europe is to be equipped with US type of equipment (except for motor transport), should an emergency arise within the next 18 months and Canada be called upon to fulfil her commitment to provide two divisions in the first twelve months of war, these divisions would have to proceed overseas with UK type of equipment. Our only existing mobilization plan, resting upon tripartite planning before NATO came into being, is based upon the grouping of Canadian Army forces under UK command, and these plans include detailed studies and tentative agreement between the Canadian Army and the War Office as to the provision of administrative units by each party to maintain Canadian forces in operations. This arrangement is highly advantageous to Canada from the point of view of manpower overhead in rearward echelons, and it would take a long time and detailed international staff studies to reach a similar arrangement with the US Army.
19. The regrouping of the Integrated Forces in Europe is under consideration at the highest levels at the present time. At the moment the British forces, with the Dutch and Belgians under command, are in the northern sector, extending from the North Sea roughly to a line including the Ruhr and passing north of Kassel. The UK communications are designed in war to run from Antwerp towards Gladbach. The central sector bounded by a line excluding the Ruhr but including Kassel in the north to, roughly, the line FrankfortFulda in the south, is occupied by a mixture of French and American troops. The southern sector, from the FrankfortFulda to the Swiss Alps, is also occupied by a mixture of French and American troops. The present dispositions are based more upon available accommodation than upon considerations of strategy. The US communications, designed to run from Bordeaux to Metz, cut across the communications which would have to maintain the French armies in operations. It is the view of the US General Staff that national forces should be regrouped to place all the US forces in the central sector with their communications running from Metz up the Moselle Valley. The southern sector would be the responsibility of the French forces. This would result in a better alignment in the communications supporting both. If this regrouping takes place it would eventually bring the communications maintaining the UK and US forces closer together and would ease the problem of maintaining Canadian forces regardless of the command under which they were grouped. It would be highly desirable if the arrangements made permitted our forces to be served by either the UK or the US lines of communication. At the present time, of course, UK forces are being maintained from Hamburg and US forces from Bremerhaven, so that no immediate obstacles should arise in maintaining 27 Brigade in peacetime.
20. If the Canadian brigade serves under American command in the US zone of Germany two alternative locations are offered:
(a) In the area of Kassel on the extreme northern limit of the central sector next to the British zone and in direct contact with the Russian zone.
(b) On the extreme southern edge of the US zone south of Munich and again in an area nearest to the Russian zone. Either of these locations would ensure the Canadian brigade being immediately involved should the Russians make an aggressive move.
21. If located in the British zone the Canadian brigade would be positioned on the east bank of the Rhine just north of the Ruhr available in an emergency to man a lay back position on the west bank of the Rhine. This would be a much better operational position for the brigade and in addition it would have better access to training areas and better training facilities than in either of the areas proposed in the US zone.
ADMINISTRATIVE MANPOWER COMMITMENT
22. Whatever arrangements are finally decided upon, it should be made clear that the maintenance of a Canadian force abroad will always entail a small administrative "tail" to ensure the timely delivery of distinctively Canadian items of supply. This will apply to Canadian uniforms and items of dress and in the case of 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade will apply to motor transport. In other words, it will probably never be feasible to have the Canadian supply line absorbed completely into that of any other country.
23. The details of the administrative arrangements for 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade can, of course, not be made firm until the major decision has been taken, but it would appear that the supplementary detachments and liaison sections would require about the same numbers and types of officers and men whether our communications run through British or American channels.
Maintenance of Equipment
24. Unless the American forces are concentrated in the central sector next to the UK forces the maintenance of equipment would be easier if the Canadian Brigade is grouped under US command. The present controversy over small arms has a bearing on the equipment problem. If Canada decides to adopt the .30 the advantage would lie from the equipment point of view in grouping with the US forces. If Canada decides to adopt the .280, or to await more conclusive tests for the .280 and retain the .303 in the interim period, the advantage would lie in favour of being grouped with the British forces. Canadian type vehicles with 27 Brigade will remain a Canadian responsibility in any case, and will account for the greater part of the repair work. In the longer term both the Dutch and Belgian forces are converting to the US type of equipment, though they will continue to operate under British command. In this event the maintenance of the Canadian brigade in US type of equipment whilst grouped under British command would provide no insurmountable obstacles.
25. It is desirable that the cost of maintenance of the Canadian brigade overseas should be financed by capitation rate arrangements payable to the US or UK government, whichever is responsible for maintenance. The situation visavis US dollar exchange would appear to favour the grouping with British forces where payment would be in sterling (even though the capitation rate offered by the US may be less).
26. The location of dependents of soldiers serving in Europe is a most aggravating problem to both the US and UK forces. It is of particular concern to the US forces in the light of their policy of maintaining married personnel abroad for a year and single for two years. The despatch of a Canadian brigade to Europe without making provision for dependents accompanying the troops will create a precedent. Apart from National Service men, UK personnel posted to Germany are sent there for long service, many have been serving there for 6 to 7 years. The inclusion of dependents is more justified under such conditions than it is in the US zone, where personnel are posted for short service only. The dependents problem is less likely to cause us difficulties if our troops are serving in the British zone rather than in the American zone where troops are serving under similar conditions but are permitted to have dependents with them.
THE TIME FACTOR
27. Whether it is decided to group the Canadian brigade with the UK or US forces, 4 to 6 months notice is required to the military authorities concerned with making arrangements. An early decision is therefore required as to the date on which the 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade is to proceed to Europe and the command with which it is to be grouped on its arrival there.
28. When the decision was made to raise the 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade and the second line companies to provide rotational personnel, it was made clear that if these troops wintered in Canada they would fill all available winter accommodation. Should the truce in Korea materialize and a decision be taken to repatriate part or whole of the 25 Canadian Infantry Brigade the public demand that those troops released should be returned to Canada before Christmas is likely to become irresistible. Though it might be desirable to release from the service the personnel of the 25 Canadian Infantry Brigade who are still on a short service engagement there is a high proportion which still wishes to continue serving, and accommodation may become an acute problem this winter unless the 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade is despatched overseas. There is a moral commitment to make this brigade available to the Integrated Forces of General Eisenhower during 1951.
Importance of the Present Decision
29. It is critically important that the decision taken concerning the grouping of 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade be a decision which will continue to be valid in the event of war when our forces in Europe can be expected to increase greatly. Once the command and administrative machinery has become settled and is working smoothly for 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade it will be relatively easy to build on that foundation to care for a larger number of troops. It would prove difficult and probably impossible in a sudden emergency to transpose our forces with their lengthy communications to another command and another supply system. Furthermore, the larger the Canadian force involved, the more administratively selfcontained will it become. For this reason, it would be wise to make the present decision in the light of long term possibilities as influenced by major national factors and not to permit any immediate local administrative factors to weigh unduly in the balance.
30. It appears that when the decision was made to convert the Canadian Army to US type equipment, it was accepted that on that account alone any Canadian forces allocated to the Integrated Forces in Europe should be based upon the US lines of communication and be placed under US command. To this end, informal approaches were made to General Collins, Chief of Staff US Army to ascertain whether the US Army would house and maintain a Canadian brigade group in the US zone of Germany. General Collins agreed that this could be done if Canada wished it. From recent conversations, this agreement was only tentative and is not irrevocable should it now be decided to change the Canadian grouping. However, in the light of the trouble taken by the US Army to study our needs, it is entitled to some explanation should a decision now be made to group with the British, Dutch and Belgians. It is considered that there is an adequate explanation in the morale aspect underlying the decision to despatch Canadian forces to Europe at this time. Taking all factors into consideration, we can make a more useful contribution to enhancing the morale of European allies by grouping with the British, Dutch and Belgians, than by association with the US and French forces, the former of which needs no stimulant, and the latter of.which would be most unlikely to accept it.
30. Taking all factors into consideration it is recommended that the 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group be despatched to Europe in October 1951, that it be grouped under British command in Germany where it will be serving in cooperation with British, Dutch and Belgian troops, and that the UK and US governments be informed of this decision forthwith.
22Au sujet de la décision d'envoyer des troupes canadiennes en Europe, voir le document 375.