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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA MF 1-70
1945-1954, 1979-1981
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
70 reels and 8 published detailed guides


Name of creator(s)

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1946-1953

Administrative / Biographical history

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) committee was the principal US inter-service body which, together with the British Chiefs of Staff, formed the Combined Chiefs of Staff committee, the supreme Anglo- American military strategic and operational authority, 1942-1945. With the formation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) in Dec 1941 it became necessary to form an American agency with comparable decision making structure to that of the British Chiefs of Staff (COS). This was formally inaugurated in Feb 1942 as the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) committee, its first members being Gen George Catlett Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff , Adm Harold Raynsford Stark and Adm Ernest Joseph King, US Navy, and Lt Gen Henry H 'Hap' Arnold, US Army Air Forces. In Jul 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Adm William D Leahy as his political and military representative and Chief of Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee. Unlike the British Chiefs of Staff (COS), which was integrated into the British Cabinet system, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff was responsible primarily to the President of the United States as Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces. Under Leahy's leadership, the Joint Chiefs of Staff became the centre of the US executive command structure during World War Two and was responsible for operational strategy in the Pacific, the co-ordination of US military operations in the Far East, and the planning and co-ordination of US operational strategy elsewhere. In addition, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff functioned together under the auspices of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to plan Allied strategic and operational efforts in Europe, North Africa, and the Far East. Following World War Two, the need for a formal structure of US joint command was apparent and the wartime Joint Chiefs of Staff offered a workable model. The first legislative step was the passage of the National Security Act in 1947, which formally established the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On 10 Aug 1949 the Joint Chiefs of Staff became a US statutory agency and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), became the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council. The other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff included the Chief of Staff, US Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff, US Air Force, and the Commandant, US Marine Corps. The chiefs were able to respond to a request or voluntarily submit, through the Chairman, advice or opinion to the President, the Secretary of State, or the National Security Council, but they had no executive authority to commit combatant forces. In addition to their responsibilities on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military service chiefs were responsible to the secretaries of their military departments for management of the services as they prepared and directed unified and other combat commands under the Secretary of Defense.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Content & structure

Scope and content

Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, part 2: 1946-53 is a themed microfilm collection containing copies of official documents of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), 1946-1953. Documents include meeting minutes and memoranda and reports relating to strategic issues; Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the Far East; the Middle East; the Soviet Union; and the United States. Meeting minutes include those of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1948-1954, and its committees, the US Joint Logistics Committee, 1946-1947; the US Joint Logistics Plans Committee, 1946-1947; the US Joint Staff Planners, 1946-1947; and the US Joint Strategic Plans Committee, 1947-1953. Documents relating to strategic issues include Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting memoranda and official reports concerning the effect of the atomic bomb on warfare and military organisation; scientific representation from British Admiralty and Air Ministry at the atomic bomb trials, 1945; projected Soviet atomic capabilities; armed forces participation in proof-testing operations for atomic weapons; the control and direction of strategic atomic operations; requirements for the stockpile of atomic weapons in North America and Western Europe; atomic requirements from NATO member states; US psychological and unconventional warfare; US industrial mobilisation planning; US Joint Chiefs of Staff plans for global demarcation into areas of strategic control; and post-war US military requirements, 1945-1954. Documents relating to Europe and NATO include Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting minutes concerning the political stability of post-war Austria, Hungary, Finland, the Balkans, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Italy, the Trieste Free Territory, and Spain; the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty; NATO command arrangements; the state of the armed forces in European NATO member states; the defensive capabilities of Western Europe; the establishment of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE); and the establishment and function of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). Documents relating to the Far East include meeting minutes and memoranda concerning the demilitarisation of China, 1945; reform of the Japanese government, 1945; British and Canadian requests for information on the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945-1948; US military assistance to the Netherlands Indies Forces, Netherland East Indies, 1946; US military assistance to the Philippines; US policy in reference to the adoption of the Japanese Constitution, 3 Nov 1946; the post-war disposition of combatant vessels of the Imperial Japanese Navy; the implications of possible Chinese Communist attack on foreign colonies in South China, 1949; the defence of Formosa, 1949-1953; the withdrawal of US occupation forces from Japan; the planning and conduct of the Korean War, 1950-1953; talks with French and British military representatives regarding the defence of Indochina, 1950; possible US military involvement in Indochina, 1950-1953; the Treaty of Peace with Japan, Aug 1951; US military assistance to Japan, 1951-1954. Documents relating to the Middle East include US Joint Chiefs of Staff reports on political and military relations with Iran, Palestine and Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, 1946-1954. Documents relating to the Soviet Union include US Joint Chiefs of Staff political estimates of Soviet policy; intelligence estimates assuming war developed between the Soviet Union and the Non-Soviet Powers, 1946-1953; Soviet objectives in relation to the strength of its armed forces; Soviet capabilities in the Far East, Central and South America, and the Middle East; estimates of the scale and nature of Soviet attacks on the United Kingdom and Western Europe; plans for military aid to US allies and NATO member states. Documents relating to the United States include US Joint Chiefs of Staff memoranda and reports concerning the strategic defence of US territory; US programmes for national security; and civil defence capabilities, 1946-1953.

System of arrangement

Arranged into the following sections and thereafter chronologically: meetings of the JCS; strategic issues, section 1 and section 2; Europe and NATO; the Far East; the Middle East; the Soviet Union; the United States.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to University Publications of America, Inc, 4520 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD, 20814, USA.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

This summary guide, and a series of 8 published detailed guides (with some duplicate copies)


Allied materials

Existence and location of originals
King's College London College Archives
Related units of description

Further microfilmed papers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may be found at KCLMA MF 111-160.



Compiled Jul 1999

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

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  • Alliances
  • Armed forces
  • Colonial countries
  • Decolonization
  • Diplomacy
  • East West relations
  • Foreign relations
  • Higher science education
  • International conflicts
  • International relations
  • Korean War (1950-1953)
  • Military doctrine
  • Military engineering
  • Military equipment
  • Military liaison
  • Military organizations
  • Military strategy
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Organizations
  • Political systems
  • State security
  • War
  • Warfare
  • Wars (events)
  • Weapons

Corporate names

  • NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • Soviet Army
  • US Joint Chiefs of Staff


  • Balkans, Eastern Europe
  • China, East Asia
  • Hiroshima, Japan, East Asia
  • London, England
  • Nagasaki, Japan, East Asia
  • Turkey, Middle East
  • USA, North America
  • USSR, Eastern Europe

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