GENERAL ARTICLES

Grand Strategy

The United Nations, says this writer, must base their plans for victory on five world-girdling supply lines

RICHARD L. HARKNESS May 1 1942
GENERAL ARTICLES

Grand Strategy

The United Nations, says this writer, must base their plans for victory on five world-girdling supply lines

RICHARD L. HARKNESS May 1 1942

Grand Strategy

The United Nations, says this writer, must base their plans for victory on five world-girdling supply lines

RICHARD L. HARKNESS

WASHINGTON. You would pass the building without noticing it if you were driving down Washington’s famed Constitution Avenue from the Lincoln Memorial to Capitol Hill. But that comparatively small, unobtrusive structure on your right, across from the War Department is probably the most important building in the world today.

Within its white stone walls are housed the Chiefs of Staffs of the United Nations. There, guarded by sentries carrying automatic rifles, the combined strategy committee of the Allied countries, the combined intelligence committee, the combined shipping committee, and the combined munitions assignment board are drafting our “blueprint for victory” over Hitlerism.

Before Pearl Harbor, the building, landscaped with magnolia and tulip trees now in full bloom, was national headquarters for the United States Public Health Service. There men of science devoted their genius to stamp -ing out pestilence and disease. Today it is filled with uniforms of the United Nations— military and naval men scientifically fighting another kind of plague which threatens to engulf the world.

Two soldiers guard the door, with bayonets drawn. You cannot even approach the entrance without a written invitation from a staff officer. Even then, an armed sentry is your constant companion until you leave. At night, revolving searchlights play upon its

four walls. Not even the White House is more carefully guarded.

But you do not have to go inside the United Nations’ war headquarters to plot our “blueprint for victory.” Spread a map of the world before you, sharpen your pencil, and you can do it yourself.

It is no secret. Hitler knows what the United Nations are doing to crush him—and knows well, what the grand, global strategy of the Allied High Command must be.

First, draw heavy black lines northward across the Atlantic from Halifax and New York to Reykjavik, Iceland. From there, trace a mark southeast to the British Isles. Curve another line northeast from Reykjavik into the Barents Sea above Nazi-dominated Norway and Finland, around the Kola Peninsula, and on to the Russian port of Archangel by way of the White Sea.

That’s the United Nations’ Supply Line Number One—the evergrowing bridge of ships from Canada and the United States to Great Britain and the Soviet.

Over the 3,460-mile long route to the British Isles—it’s fifteen days or more by death-defying convoy through water infested by enemy submarines—-our two countries are sending food to drive Canadian, American, and British man power. Over that sea road we rush our fighting planes and tanks, our guns and shells. It’s our answer to Russia’s plea for an immediate second front on the continent of Europe against the Nazis before Hitler is able to rally for a summer drive against the Soviet.

Already, that front has been opened by British bombers raining down a scourge of high explosives on Nazi war industries from just across the English Channel in France and on into the heart of Germany itself. Soon, it may be revealed on authority of a most reliable Washington source, new-type United Nations bombers with more speed than the

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world has ever seen, planes carrying more than two tons of bombs apiece, will join the attack.

The supply line from North America to Russia stretches 5,100 miles across the North Atlantic and into the Arctic Circle to Archangel. It is twenty-three days by convoy. But American-made fighter planes, fight bombers, and tanks are being delivered to Russian forces as they battle to clamp shut the northern pincers of their Red vise on Hitler’s belabored forces.

Around Cape Town

NOW turn back again to Halifax and New York. Draw another heavy line southeast through the A tlantic oceans to Cape Town, South Africa, skirt the southern tip of that vast continent, turn north along the African coast line inside Madagascar, and go on to Suez by way of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Branch out to chart routes to Basra, in Iraq, by the Persian Gulf; to Bombay and Calcutta, in India.

That is the United N ations’ Supply Line Number Two. It is long and treacherous—more than 14,000 miles by water and more than sixty days in time. But it represents the Allies’ best and surest way of sending equipment to their embattled forces in the Middle East and to Josef Stalin’s armies in the Ukraine as they stand against a possible three-pronged drive by Hitler into Egypt, Turkey, and southern Russia in the hope of joining forces with the Japanese in India.

To chart the United Nations’ Supply Line Number Three, begin at America’s major port of San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast. Draw a line to Hawaii, cut sharply south to New Zealand, turn west to Australia, cut south of that Dominion and then north again to Calcutta and Bombay. On this route, some 15,000 miles long, war-weary veterans in China and the masses of India are depending for aid to keep the Japanese from thrusting westward to meet the Hun.

Go back again to San Francisco, and draw another line to the west across the Pacific to the Russian port of Petropavlovsk, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, only a step from the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands off the tip of Alaska. That is Supply Line Number Four, a 3,770-mile route which United Nations military leaders here believe will be of the utmost importance in event of an outbreak of Russo-Japanese hostilities.

Supply Line Number Five is the joint Canadian-American highway to Alaska, on which construction already has started to give the two nations a rapid transportation route to territory which may prove strategic from both a defensive and offensive standpoint.

On these five supply lines is based the grand strategy of the United Nations. They are the key to any plan for rolling back the enemy on all continents.

It is obvious, then, that here is no program for defense, for merely

holding on. Rather, it presents the makings of a gigantic offensive against Hitler on the continent of Europe, against the Nazis in Russia, against Italy in the Mediterranean, and against Japan in the Far East.

The United Nations may strike— may strike at any time—against Hitler’s 2,000-mile European front anywhere from the northern tip of Norway south to the Spanish border.

The Canadians and English are building a powerful, hard-hitting force of Commandos, air-born infantry, and parachute troops on the British Isles to co-operate with light, fast naval forces. Already they have shown the United Nations’ invasion technique by their lightning-like raids on the coast of Norway, against the Nazi airplane radio locator at Bruneval, near Le Havre, and, more recently, against the U-boat base at St. Nazaire. The British War Office has made no secret of the fact that the Commandos are being prepared for an offensive on Nazi-held Europe.

Lieutenant General A. G. L. McNaughton, commander of Canadian troops in England, promised an invasion after conferences in Washington with Allied strategists.

“None of us think we can win the war sitting on our heels in England,” he said. “The only way the United Nations can win is to start an offensive campaign in Europe.”

The American garrisoning of Iceland and the arrival of an A.E.F. in Northern Ireland has given Hitler no peace either, since those developments threaten the possibility of a joint Anglo-American-Russian attack across the top of Norway. Such a move would establish a common Allied front to protect Supply Line Number One to the Soviet, and release Red troops for offensive action on the central and southern fronts. Hitler fears this. Otherwise, why is he sending men he cannot spare from Russia to reinforce his troops in rebellious Norway?

Supply Line Number Two, down around Africa and northward to the Middle East, provides another probable offensive attack on Hitler—a drive against the Axis in North Africa as a prelude to a smashing air attack on Italy.

It is not beyond the realm of military possibility that Britain’s Middle East forces, heavily reinforced by American machines, technicians, and men, might move through Turkey for a push into Bulgaria, co-ordinated with a Russian smash north of the Black Sea. This also has Hitler worried.

Canada Faces East

CANADA’S war effort faces the continent of Europe, with the Canadian Army’s decision to send its men to Britain rather than into the Pacific. But, nevertheless, the United Nations’ Supply Line Number Three—the anti-Axis life line to Honolulu, Australia, and India—is as important to the Dominion as it is to the United States. For, with Japan exercising a free, bloody hand in the Pacific, the whole West Coast

of North America would be at the mercy of the Japanese version of “mercy.”

Further proof that the Pacific fight also is Canada’s fight came recently when Canadian Minister Leighton McCarthy was given a seat on the new Pacific War Council along with representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, and China.

So, again, the guarded convoy lanes into the southwest Pacific must not be merely defensive lines—they must be useful as avenues of attack aimed at Tokyo.

A piecing together of chary, tightlipped communiqués issued singly by the Navy Department in Washington clearly shows the United Nations’ grand Pacific strategy of hammering at the Japanese at so many different points along their drawn-out supply lines and at so many of Japan’s outlying defense posts that their strength must one day surely crumble.

The American Navy now is bearing the brunt of this strategy. Small, fast-moving naval task forces—Commandos of the sea in effect—are operating from unrevealed Pacific ports to strike at such Japanese insular fortifications as the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. One by one, Japanese air and submarine bases located in the Pacific to protect Tokyo’s lines to the Philippines and Java are being hammered to shambles.

Long-range United States submarines are prowling Japan’s supply routes to sink and cripple enemy shipping practically in Tokyo’s home waters. One unofficial estimate—the best available here—set Japan’s losses to date at around one fourth of her entire merchant tonnage.

When will the Allies be ready to strike? Where will the first big-scale movement develop? That’s the secret. That’s why the United Nations’ war headquarters in Washington is so closely guarded.

But this much can be said. Each spring of the war Hitler has held the initiative. This spring he will no doubt try to seize it again. But so long as the United Nations can keep open their world-girdling supply lines, every day that passes increases their power to seize and hold the initiative.