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8-08-2015, 14:55

Vinegar Joe’s Response

Stilwell responded less than enthusiasucally to Chennault's proposals. Although he was not opposed to the aggressive spirit of Chennault’s memo, Stilwell urged moderation in light of shortages of equipment and problems of supply. Chennault's plan, according to Stilwell, went well beyond the capabilit)' of his tiny force; to bring it within the realm of possibilits’ would require equipment and supplies which could not be obtained at the time, given priorities in the CBI and the capacity of the air lift from India to China. Stilwell refused to release the supplies necessars-for the scheme and rejected Chennault’s proposal to separate the C. A.TF from the loih Army Air Force Command in Delhi.

Chennault never accepted Stilwell’s reservations about the potential of air power in China and lost no opportunit)' to criticize his militar-judgement. In a letter to Roosevelt, dated 8 October 1942, Chennault presented his case against Stilwell directly to the commander-inchief, maintaining that Japan could be defeated by effective use of air power and requesting authorirs' to build and command an enlarged and independent air force in China. This, Chennault predicted, would bring about an early sdctors-.

If his objectives were to be reached, Chennault deemed it essential that he have complete freedom of action and direct access to Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese government. The militarv’ task of defeating Japan was a simple one which had been complicated by ah unwieldy and illogical mihtars’ organization and men who did not understand aerial warfare and its potendal. At the end of his note, Chennault summed up his plan:

Japan must hold Hongkong. Shanghai, and the Yangtze valley. They are essential to hold Japan itself. I can force the Japanese to fight in the defense of these objectises and I am confident that I can destroy Japanese aircraft at the rate of between ten and twenty to one. . . . My air force can bum up Japan’s main industrial areas and Japan wiU be unable to supply her armies in her newly conquered empire in China. Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies with the munitions of war. The road then is open for the Chinese armv in China, for the. American nap. in the Pacific, and for Mac. Arihur to advance from his. Australian stronghold all with comparatixely slight cost.

M entire aboxe plan is simple, it has been long thought out. 1 hae spent fixe years dex eloping an air xsarnins network and radio command serxice to fight this xsay. I haxe no doubt of my success.'