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MILITARY RELATIONS WITH BRAZIL BEFORE PEARL HARBOR - BRAZIL X USA MILITARY RELATIONS

2)JOINT STAFF/GAL. PLANNING


The Army had better success in getting action on the other major objective of Colonel Ridgway's hurried mission to Brazil in May 1941-the joint staff planning project for combined Brazilian-American ground and air operations that might have to be undertaken in Northeast Brazil. The Brazilian Chief of Staff had suggested such planning in October 1940, and on 31 May 1941 he tentatively agreed that it should begin in Brazil in the immediate future, though he requested a formal written proposal to govern its scope and conduct.


The War Plans Division drafted and secured the Department of State's approval of the proposal before 11 June, but it was delayed in transmission and did not reach the Brazilian capital until the last day of the month. In slightly revised form, the draft became the Brazilian-American Joint Planning Agreement, signed on 24 July 1941. This agreement was based on the existing joint Staff Agreement of 29 October 1940.


It provided for a joint planning group of six Brazilian and five United States staff officers that was to survey the military requirements of Northeast Brazil and plan the contribution each nation should make to the defense of the area. The group's planning was to be subject to certain limitations, among them the following: In case of a positive threat against any part of Brazilian territory, and when she considers it appropriate, Brazil will be able to request the assistance of forces of the United States, at the points and for the time determined in advance by Brazil.


The air and naval bases in the territory of Brazil will be commanded and maintained by Brazilian forces and only on request of its government may they be occupied also by United States forces, as an element of reinforcement. The United States Army hoped that an early Brazilian request for assistance from American forces would come out of the joint planning work.


The Army selected an Infantry officer, Col. Dennis E. McCunniff, to head the United States section of the Joint Planning Group, and gave Colonel McCunniff and his colleagues a dual mission. They were to participate with Brazilian officers in joint planning, and independently they were to "engage in planning for the execution of so much of Rainbow No. 4 as applies to the Northeast Brazil Theater."


The Army's RAINBOW 4 theater plan, drafted the preceding summer, provided for the movement, if necessary, of more than sixty thousand United States troops to the Brazilian bulge. The United States planners before their departure spent three days at General Headquarters in early July studying the plan and other data on Brazil. In effect, the United States Army in the summer of 1941 was planning alternative courses of action in Brazil.


If the war outlook in the Atlantic remained relatively favorable, the Army wanted to put a 9,300-man security force into Northeast Brazil as a reinforcement for Brazilian forces; if the situation worsened, either because of the collapse of Great Britain or in the event of a German occupation of West Africa, the Army planners considered that it would be necessary to send a much larger American force to Brazil.


Before the arrival of the United States members of the Joint Planning Group in Rio on 16 July, Ambassador Caffery had been rather strongly critical of the delay in getting joint planning under way, and particularly of the formal way in which the Americans had approached it. Since early May the Ambassador had also been protesting the failure of the United States Army to live up to its "commitments" to supply the Brazilians with arms. General Marshall told Mr. Welles that Mr. Caffery's "misapprehensions" ought to be corrected "for the common good."


On the other hand, neither Mr. Caffery nor the Department of State appears to have been informed about the RAINBOW 4 aspects of the Army's Brazil plans. Though not exactly working at cross purposes, the War and State Departments were certainly not working in close coordination between June and December 1941 in furthering the Army's plans for operations in Brazil. After preliminary conferences in the Brazilian capital, eight of the eleven members of the Joint Planning Group participated in a month's reconnaissance of the Brazilian bulge and the island of Fernando de Noronha.


The United States members then prepared a Northeast Brazil defense plan, which proposed Natal and Recife at the eastern tip of the bulge and Belém at the mouth of the Amazon as the sites for major air bases and supply installations. The Brazilians accepted this plan in principle, though they contended that Brazil could furnish all the ground troops necessary to implement it.


There was full agreement on the need for additional air base and communications facilities, and the Brazilians proposed that a permanent United States-Brazilian Army board be established at once "to study and prescribe the construction recommended and material required to implement the proposed plan." With this much accomplished, the United States members departed for home on 5 October.


During the period of joint planning the Brazilians allowed United States Army officers to make a separate medical survey of Northeast Brazil, but they would not let United States Army planes map the area, though they promised to do so themselves and make the results available to the United States. While the Brazilian Army was perfectly willing to share its information freely with the United States Army and to let American officers in civilian clothes reconnoiter Brazilian territory, the Brazilians were still opposed to any overt United States Army activity.


Although this attempt at joint planning was a failure as a device for getting United States Army forces into Brazil in 1941, it provided much valuable information for the correction and elaboration of earlier United States Army war plans, it prepared the way for the military improvement of Brazilian air bases undertaken in the spring of 1942, and it induced the Brazilian Army to take a definite stand in respect to the movement of American forces to Brazil.


By October 1941 it was clear that the Brazilians were prepared to accept virtually unlimited naval assistance from the United States, and to accept air assistance if a serious external threat loomed before the end of 1942. They were not prepared to allow United States Army ground combat forces in Brazil, either in 1941 or later.


Instead, they insisted that if United States equipment were forthcoming they could supply adequate ground defense forces, and in fact they were already rapidly increasing their own ground garrisons in northern and eastern Brazil. In view of the inability of the United States to equip these forces, the American members of the Joint Planning Group still doubted that Brazilian ground troops would be able to protect the vital air installations in Northeast Brazil against an attack by a major power.


They noted that the current staff agreement did not provide any assurance that Brazil would ask for American assistance in time, should a real emergency arise, and they adopted the Army's consistent view that the situation called for the presence of United States ground and air forces in advance of any such emergency.


Therefore, they recommended the negotiation of a new Brazilian-American military agreement that would provide for the lease of land and sea bases at nine locations in Northeast Brazil. They also recommended the further improvement of eight airfields for military use and the preparation of detailed plans for the occupation of these bases by United States forces.


The War Plans Division in Washington believed that there was no possibility of obtaining United States Government approval--let alone Brazilian assent--to the first recommendation made by the joint planners, but the Army could get to work on the other two. The Army Air Forces proceeded to draft new plans for airfield improvement.


General Headquarters was given the task of drawing up a detailed operations plan, with the assistance of Colonel McCunniff and the other joint planners, who were temporarily assigned to General Headquarters to work on it. The original Northeast Brazil theater plan shown to Colonel McCunniff and his colleagues in early July 1941 had been drafted in 1940.


Revised operations plans for Brazil, begun in the War Plans Division in July 1941 and in General Headquarters a month later, were based not on RAINBOW 4 but on RAINBOW 5, the basic apprehension being the seeming imminence of a German move toward the South Atlantic rather than the collapse of Great Britain. Between 10 October and early December, General Headquarters virtually completed a new and much more detailed operations plan for Northeast Brazil, also based on RAINBOW 5.


It called for a total deployment to Brazil of more than 64,000 ground and air troops, including two divisions. These forces were to be concentrated, as recommended by the joint planners, in the vicinities of Natal, Recife, and Belém. This was the plan the Army wanted to follow in part after the outbreak of war.


Transcribed by Patrick Clancey – Hyper War Foundation


 

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