Token Forces: Strategic Plans, 1949–50
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In mid-December 1948,2 Slim conceded that the occupation forces should at least be made ‘battle-worthy’, by reorganising and training first one division, but had been reluctant to make any promise of reinforcement. He wanted to stimulate the Europeans into providing for their own defence, and was convinced that Britain’s ‘main effort’ in any war in Europe would be at sea and in the air. The first COS meetings of 1949 show that Slim’s view reflected something of a consensus within military planning circles. Defence of the WU seemed a lost cause and it was important not to create ‘the impression that if a big enough land contribution could be made, the position would be satisfactory’. Britain could make no contribution to WU defence without additional effort coming first from France and the Benelux countries. But then, even had it been possible to fund a large-scale commitment of land forces — which it was not — the strategic thinking of the day would rule out such an option in favour of action in the air (the strategic air offensive) and at sea.3
KeywordsStrategic Plan Middle East Defence Policy Land Force Ally Force
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