Washington Versus London

The AT (E) Committee and CCAC

What strategy is to military operations, policy is to civil affairs and military government. Policy lends form and purpose to the government of occupied and liberated territory and is ultimately as much concerned with winning wars as the military strategy itself. Washington and London both were aware of this fact, and neither questioned the extension of the partnership developed in the war to the formulation of civil affairs and military government policy. The partnership was not one without differences, however, and the partners were not without independent ambitions; civil affairs and military government gave ample scope to both.

The first organization, either British or American, to be concerned specifically with defining civil affairs policy was the Administration of Territories (Europe) Committee. The AT (E) Committee traced its origins back to the early planning for ROUNDUP in the spring of 1942. As a committee of the British War Office, it held its first meeting on 2 July 1942 under the chairmanship of the Permanent Under Secretary for War, Sir Frederick E. Bovenschen. By then ROUNDUP, after a brief period of combined planning, was reverting to the British while the Americans took up the planning for the North Africa operation. Although the AT (E) Committee was entirely British, under its terms of reference it assumed broad authority to devise policy that would "ensure efficient civil administration of the territories liberated in Europe as the result of operations by forces of the United Nations" and to maintain contact for this purpose with the Allied exile governments and with ETOUSA.

ROUNDUP, never much in favor with the British Chiefs of Staff, quickly fell into abeyance, but the AT (E) Committee met regularly after July 1942, concerning itself chiefly with relief and with the negotiation of civil affairs agreements with the exile governments. The occupation of Germany as yet seemed too remote to be pertinent. At its first meeting the committee agreed to arrange for an ETOUSA representative to sit in on future meetings; therefore, from the third meeting on, at least one liaison officer from ETOUSA attended first Colonel Betts, later Colonel Wade, and for a time both. Their instructions were to attend the meetings "without accepting the responsibility of making final decisions which have not already received the approval of this headquarters." 1 The Americans' status was uncertain from the beginning. The British apparently wanted to regard the men as full-fledged members. ETOUSA seems at first to have intended to negotiate with the committee through them but, as the American concern with ROUNDUP declined in the summer of 1942, came to regard them merely as observers.2


The revival of the cross-Channel attack in early 1943 raised, more urgently than the 1942 approach to ROUNDUP had, the question of combined civil affairs planning for northwestern Europe. In April, the representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff on the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS ) proposed that civil affairs policy-planning during the period of military control be delegated to the AT (E) Committee and that special War Department representatives be assigned to sit on the committee. For the subsequent period of civilian control they proposed the creation of a committee in Washington under State Department leadership composed of interested British and U.S. civilian agencies including War Department and CCS representatives.3 The US Joint Chiefs objected that the British proposals would create a dual chain of command and jeopardize the hard-fought principle of military necessity. They proposed, instead, the creation of a combined civil affairs committee to function under the Combined Chiefs of Staff with authority both to formulate directives to commanders in the field and to co-ordinate the activities of US and British civilian agencies.4

Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) did not comment specifically on the AT (E) Committee, the Americans clearly indicated that they did not regard it as a suitable vehicle for combined civil affairs planning. On 13 April, at a meeting in the US Embassy in London, the Commanding General, ETOUSA, at the time General Andrews, expressed the American view that COSSAC would handle all plans for cross-Channel operations and, thus, would supersede the AT (E) Committee. Two weeks later, Colonel Wade reported that the committee had completed the estimates for the military phase in cross-Channel operations and was moving on to long-range planning which did not concern ETOUSA; he recommended, therefore, that active ETOUSA participation on the committee be withdrawn.5

The Americans had, in fact, come to regard civil affairs as a unilateral concern and the AT (E) Committee as a British committee with which they might exchange opinion but could not negotiate, since neither ETOUSA nor the War Department itself had anybody authorized to do so at the time. Consequently, while in the British view the AT (E) Committee performed a valuable and needed service for the alliance, the Americans saw in it an attempt to pre-empt the civil affairs planning in the British interest, particularly after the committee and its most active offshoot, the Shipping and Supply Subcommittee, began to concentrate on relief and seemed about to assign the furnishing of relief supplies to the United States and their distribution to British agencies. The overt American objections to the AT (E ) Committee were that it renewed the danger of civilian interference in the military phase end that civil affairs ought to be in exactly the same command channel as the tactical troops, namely, under the Combined Chiefs of Staff. 6

Toward the end of May, the British War Office agreed with two provisos, to accept a combined civil affairs committee in Washington under the CCS. In the first


proviso the War Office required exemption from combined control for recovered territories which had originally been possessions of the United Kingdom, the Dominions, or the United States. In the second it insisted on expanding the AT (E) Committee into a fully combined committee "with strong US representation which must be fully authorized to speak for the US Government." 7 Within less than a week, the Civil Affairs Division of the US War Department had recast the JCS proposal to incorporate the British provisos, but the agreement in principle thus easily reached was to meet far rougher going when it came to writing a charter for a combined civil affairs committee. In a foretaste of similar arguments to come, the British and Americans fell to debating hypothetical aspects of the first British proviso, meanwhile ignoring the immediate and practical implications of the second.

On 3 July, after nearly a month's intensive discussion, the Combined Chiefs of Staff approved a tentative charter for the Combined Civil Affairs Committee (CCAC). Paragraph 6, concerned with CCAC authority in areas in which one or the other of the partners claimed sovereignty, was still undergoing revision; but since the CCAC would not have to deal with any such problems for awhile, it could function adequately without the paragraph.8 On 7 July, General Marshall authorized General Devers to appoint an officer from the ETOUSA staff to serve as US member of the AT (E) Committee.9 In Washington, the CCAC held its first formal meeting on the 15th under the chairmanship of Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, but by then the CCAC was already quickly lapsing into a state of paralysis.

Some weeks before, the AT (E) Committee had sent to Washington a draft civil affairs agreement with Norway. According to their understanding of the CCAC charter, the British expected the US Joint Chiefs to review the document and return it to London, where the combined negotiations would be completed by the US representation on the AT (E) Committee. The Americans insisted on prior submission to the CCAC, which they maintained constituted the final authority in civil affairs decisions.10 Until then neither side had fully enlightened the other as to its interpretation of the charter. The British now revealed that they considered the AT (E) Committee to be the principal combined planning agency for all civil affairs operations based in the United Kingdom, hence for all of northwestern Europe.11 The Americans, on the other hand, had never intended to recognize the AT (E) Committee as a combined agency. In recommending approval of US membership on the committee General Hilldring had stated, "it does not appear to be desirable to have the War Department recognize and be a part of any agreements which are made by the War Office Committee [AT (E) ] ." 12

Subsequently, through the summer, the


combined planning degenerated into a tug of war over the Norwegian agreement, with the Americans insisting that one way or another, no matter how fleetingly, the paper had to pass through the CCAC and with the British staunchly refusing to have the CCAC lay so much as a finger on it. By mid-September the frustration reached such intensity that General Hilldring contemplated a direct assault on the AT (E ) Committee. To General Barker, chief of the US element in COSSAC, he expressed the opinion that the AT (E) Committee no longer had "any real function to perform" (because primary responsibility for combined planning was vested in the CCS and CCAC) and, therefore, if Barker considered it politically expedient, the US representative on the committee ought to be withdrawn.13 The suggestion was not acted upon, though it almost certainly would eventually have been had the committee not resolved on its own accord in October to suspend its meetings while the War Office and Foreign Office reassessed its relationship to the CCAC.14

The EAC and CCAC(L)

In Moscow the Tripartite Conference of Foreign Ministers, under a secret protocol signed on 1 November 1943, created the European Advisory Commission (EAC) and charged it with tripartite planning on questions pertaining to the occupation. At the conference, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sir Anthony Eden, and Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav M. Molotov had been mostly concerned with the agenda for the forthcoming Big Three conference at Tehran. Hull and Eden, however, had also hoped to begin establishing, for the last stage of the war against Germany, something like the collaboration that had existed between the Western Allies since 1941 but had so far not been attained with the Soviet Union. Since OVERLORD would meet the long-standing Soviet demand for a full scale second front, the development of common approaches and objectives not only for the war but also for the period after the victory seemed both possible and necessary. The British and American thinking on the RANKIN plan, since it presupposed a German surrender before Western forces were on the Continent, even lent a degree of urgency to tripartite agreement on occupation policy.

The Americans and British were pleased, and a trifle surprised, to find the Russians willing to discuss postwar questions, but the Americans were much less pleasantly surprised when Eden proposed that the European Advisory Commission have its seat in London and be the vehicle for tripartite decisions. The Americans saw in this proposal an attempt to replace the faltering AT (E) Committee with a more powerful body and capture for London the entire field of postwar planning. The Russians, for their part, were quite willing to participate in broad decision-making for areas of primary concern to the Western Allies but gave no indication that they would reciprocate where areas of direct interest to them were concerned. As finally drafted, the terms of reference of the EAC were left sufficiently indefinite to accommodate both the British expectations and the American and Soviet reservations. "The Commission," the Moscow protocol stated, "will


study and make joint recommendations to the three Governments upon European questions connected with the termination of hostilities which the three Governments may consider appropriate to refer to it." 15

The European Advisory Commission was to meet in London. Eden, on his return from Moscow, named as United Kingdom delegate Assistant Under Secretary of State in the Foreign Office Sir William Strang, who was already thoroughly familiar with the British thinking on postwar plans. As the seat for the commission, the British government renovated and redecorated the palatial Lancaster House to make it "a building where medium-sized international conferences could be held in conditions worthy of a great capital." 16 Strang's was a full-time appointment and the British were somewhat chagrined when the United States and the Soviet Union appointed as their delegates their ambassadors in London, John G. Winant and Fedor T. Gousev, who would both continue to perform their ambassadorial duties.17

In the War Department, the creation of the EAC aroused severe misgivings, particularly after reports from London described the preparations to house it as being made on a scale extensive enough to accommodate "a major interallied organization." 18 Moreover, no matter what the eventual scope of the EAC, it would inevitably lend a political aspect to civil affairs and military government. The Supreme Commander, when he was appointed, would from the beginning not be guided solely by military considerations and international law but would be saddled with and constantly have to adjust his plans to any developments in national or international policy conveyed to him either by the governments or through the EAC. The War Department, in turn, would have to accept increased State Department influence in civil affairs and military government planning.19

In November, the tug of war between Washington and London brought civil affairs planning outside of COSSAC to a standstill. After General Barker reported that the AT (E) Committee "unhappily," he said, was not as defunct as the Americans had thought, ETOUSA acted to hasten the committee's demise by withdrawing the US representative.20 The British, on the other hand, now wanted the CCAC transferred to London and, to emphasize their desire, ordered their representatives on the committee to refuse to talk about anything having to do with Europe. For several weeks the CCAC ceased meeting altogether. Caught between the withdrawal of US recognition and its own government's pursuit of more important prizes, the AT (E) Committee finally became a casualty of the struggle. It held its last meeting on 2 December.

After Hull returned from Moscow, Stimson undertook to impress on the President before his departure for Tehran the War Department's antipathy toward a strong EAC.21  Later in the month, Assistant Secretary of War McCloy went along as a


member of the United States delegation to preliminary talks with the British in Cairo to argue the case for the Washington CCAC. On the British side, the Prime Minister had been briefed to urge the CCAC's transfer to London.22

The President and the Prime Minister did not take up the matters either of the EAC or the CCAC, but McCloy found Eden eager to talk about both and, in the end, came away believing he had gotten what he needed. When McCloy complained about the British CC AC representatives' tongues being tied, Eden replied that if the United States agreed to treat the EAC seriously he would see to it that the tongues were loosened. In return for support of the EAC, Eden proposed to have the commission's recommendations submitted to the CC AC for comment, give up the attempt to have the CC AC shifted to London, and allow the British representatives in the CCAC to participate fully in decisions related to operations based in the United Kingdom.23

In subsequent talks both with Eden and with the War Office Director of Civil Affairs, Maj. Gen. S. W. Kirby, McCloy explained the War Department's desire to keep the civil affairs control in Washington as a necessity of US domestic policy. He asked Eden to avoid playing up the EAC as the "great decider" of all postwar questions, and he told General Kirby that isolationism and anti-British feelings were far from dead in the United States and would increase if the decisions were being made in London. He indicated to both that the War Department was not as much interested in where the decisions were actually made as it was in preserving the appearance of having them emanate from Washington. Hence, the CCAC would have to stay in Washington, even if most of the decisions were made in London and only funneled through Washington.24

The spirit of Cairo, such as it was, did not outlast the meeting. On 14 December, the War Department, apparently not aware that the AT(E) Committee was defunct, directed ETOUSA to make certain that any US personnel who might attend meetings of the committee did not take an active part in the discussions; a week later the US civil affairs officers in COSSAC received orders not to attend AT (E) Committee meetings at all.25  On 5 January 1944, anticipating the first formal session of the EAC early in the new year, Adm. William D. Leahy sent the JCS guidelines for the US delegation of the EAC to Secretary Hull. "The EAC," Leahy wrote, "from the US point of view is an important body, whose functioning and development should be guided and maintained in accordance with the US concept as to the scope of its activities and the manner of its operation." The scope, from the JCS point of view, was to he narrow, with a tight rein kept on the manner of operation. "The EAC," Leahy continued, "should keep strictly within the letter and spirit of its directive and in so doing in particular avoid problems relating to the conduct of military operations and concerning civil affairs of liberated or enemy territory prior to the end of hostilities." The JCS strictures further required that Ambassador Winant


submit "all studies and proposed recommendations of the EAC" for approval by appropriate US agencies before making commitments on them and that all questions involving military matters "either directly or indirectly" be passed on by the JCS, the theater commander, or the War or Navy Departments as appropriate.26 The State Department had, in fact, in its instructions to Winant already excluded the period of hostilities from the EAC's area of discussion, and the President had earlier, according to Hull, warned against allowing the EAC to arrogate to itself the general field of postwar organization. Consequently, in the US concept as transmitted to Winant, the EAC could have at the outset only two functions: to draft the surrender documents for Germany and her allies and to devise the Allied control machinery to be imposed after the surrender. 27

On his return to London, General Kirby found understanding for the American attitude as expressed by Assistant Secretary McCloy but no inclination to abandon the struggle for control of civil affairs. The most the War Office would concede was the formation of a second CCAC in London possessing the authority formerly claimed for the AT (E) Committee, namely, control of civil affairs and military government in operations based in the United Kingdom. In January, Sir Frederick Bovenschen went to Washington to try to secure agreement on these terms.28  Sir Frederick's mission was, as the British official historian stated, "on paper, entirely successful." 29 On 29 January, the CCS approved a new CCAC charter. Under it the Washington committee was to recommend general civil affairs policies to the Combined Chiefs of Staff and be responsible for broad civil affairs planning. A London committee-CCAC (L) was created which was to give guidance and make recommendations to the European and Mediterranean theater commanders ("within the framework of CCS directives"), resolve questions raised by the theater commanders ("not requiring submission to the CCS"), and make recommendations to the CCS.30 The new charter, like the old, skirted the main question: Where did the ultimate authority really lie?

 The first EAC meeting, on 14 January, and the approval of the CCAC (L) charter two weeks later completed the formative period of the Allied and combined planning agencies for the occupation of Germany. In neither instance was there or would there ever be a full consensus on the role of the two bodies. In the EAC, the Soviet interpretation of the commission's terms of reference soon proved to be more restrictive even than that of the United States. The CCAC (L) , excluded from broad planning by the Washington committee and from decisions in the theater by SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force), held only seven formal meetings, and these with its American members under orders to see that the committee accomplished as little as possible.31 The Washington CCAC emerged as the


principal combined civil affairs and military government planning agency; but the authority to decide major issues, the subject of the struggle between Washington and London, for the most part remained outside its grasp. The Norwegian agreement never was submitted to the CCAC nor were the civil affairs agreements with other occupied countries. After the British failed to have the agreements adopted in the EAC, the United States, the United Kingdom, and (for Norway) the Soviet Union negotiated identically worded but separate agreements with the countries concerned. 32 For the military government of Germany the CCAC would provide the appearance but little substance of combined policy.




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