Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Combined Chiefs of Staff

Ad hoc organization, composed of the British and American military chiefs of staff, that coordinated combined strategic planning and conduct of World War II. The ground work for military collaboration developed at least a year and a half before the United States was drawn into the war. The U.S. Navy Department established a permanent observer mission in London to discuss naval cooperation and information exchange. U.S. Army observers only went to London on special missions until the War Department set up permanent liaison in the spring of 1941. In early 1941, agreements called for the exchange of military missions, and the British established its Joint Staff Mission, representing the British chiefs.

The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) was formally established by the two powers in January 1942 shortly after the arcadia Conference made the Anglo-American alliance a fact. The organization was to consist of the British chiefs of staff and the their opposite numbers in the United States. But since there were no opposite numbers established in the United States at that point, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) was formed, consisting of the army chief of staff, General George C. Marshall; the deputy army chief of staff for air and commanding general of the army air forces, Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold; the chief of naval operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, and the commander in chief of the U.S. Fleet, Admiral Ernest J. King. In March 1942, Stark's and King's positions were combined under King, and Stark went on to command U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, headquartered in London. In July, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, acting in his capacity as commander in chief of the armed forces, brought out of retirement the former chief of naval operations, Admiral William D. Leahy, and appointed him chief of staff to the president.

The British Chiefs of Staff (BCS) organization included the chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Alan Brooke; the first sea lord, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound; and the chief of the air staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal. These men met with their American counterparts only at infrequent military-political conferences, but in the interim, they were represented at the permanent body in Washington by the Joint Staff Mission. The original members of the that mission were Lieutenant General Sir Colville Wemyss, Admiral Sir Charles Little, and Air Marshal A. T. Harris. In addition, Field Marshal Sir John Dill sat as a member of the Combined Chiefs representing Prime Minister Winston L. S. Churchill.

The CCS were to formulate and execute policies and plans related to the strategic conduct of the war, to include war requirements, allocation of munitions, and transportation requirements. Combined planning was done by the staffs of the JCS and BCS, the Joint Planning Staff—patterned after the British design—and the Joint Planners. Actual planning of the respective national staffs would work its way through the JCS or BCS for coordination by the Combined Planners, the CCS planning staff, which was more a coordinating than an originating body. This system worked surprisingly well during the war, as the United States and Britain closely integrated their war efforts.

Arthur T. Frame


Further Reading
Blumenson, Martin. United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations—Breakout and Pursuit. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1984.; Harrison, Gordon A. United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations—Cross-Channel Attack. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1951.; Matloff, Maurice. United States Army in World War II: The War Department—Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943–1944. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1959.
 

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