United States color-coded war plans

During the 1920s and 1930s, the United States military Joint Army and Navy Board developed a number of color-coded war plans that outlined potential U.S. strategies for a variety of hypothetical war scenarios. The plans, developed by the Joint Planning Committee (which later became the Joint Chiefs of Staff), were officially withdrawn in 1939 in favor of five Rainbow Plans developed to meet the threat of a two-ocean war against multiple enemies.

Colors

The use of colors for U.S. war planning originated from the desire for the Army and Navy to use the same symbols for their plans. At the end of 1904, the Joint Board adopted a system of colors, symbols, and abbreviated names to represent countries.[1] Many war plans became known by the color of the country to which they were related, a convention that lasted through World War II. As the convention of using colors took root, some were eventually reused, such as Grey, which originally referred to Italy but eventually became a plan for the capture and occupation of Portugal’s Azores.[2]

In all the plans the U.S. referred to itself as "Blue".[3][4]

The plan that received the most consideration was War Plan Orange, a series of contingency plans for fighting a war with Japan alone,[3] outlined unofficially in 1919 and officially in 1924.[5] Orange formed some of the basis for the actual campaign against Japan in World War II and included the huge economic blockade from mainland China and the plans for interning the Japanese-American population.

War Plan Red was a plan for war against Britain and Canada.[6] British territories had war plans of different shades of red—the UK was "Red", Canada "Crimson", India "Ruby", Australia "Scarlet" and New Zealand "Garnet". Ireland, at the time a free state within the British Empire, was named "Emerald". The plan was kept updated as late as the 1930s and caused a stir in American–Canadian relations when declassified in 1974.[7]

War Plan Black was a plan for war with Germany.[3] The best-known version of Black was conceived as a contingency plan during World War I in case France fell and the Germans attempted to seize French possessions in the Caribbean or launch an attack on the eastern seaboard.

Considerations

Many of the war plans were extremely unlikely given the state of international relations in the 1920s, and were entirely in keeping with the military planning of other nation-states. Often, junior military officers were given the task of updating each plan to keep them trained and busy (especially in the case of War Plan Crimson, the invasion of Canada). Some of the war plan colors were revised over time, possibly resulting in confusion.

Although the US had fought its most recent war against Germany and would fight another within twenty years, intense domestic pressure emerged for the Army to halt when it became known that the Army was constructing a plan for a war with Germany; isolationists opposed any consideration of involvement in a future European conflict. This may have encouraged the Army to focus on more speculative scenarios for planning exercises.

The Americas

War Plan Green

During the 1910s, relations between Mexico and the United States were often volatile. In 1912, U.S. President William Howard Taft considered sending an expeditionary force to protect foreign-owned property from damage during the Mexican Revolution. Thus War Plan Green was developed. In 1916, U.S. troops under General John Pershing invaded Mexico in search of Pancho Villa, whose army had attacked Columbus, New Mexico; earlier, American naval forces had bombarded and seized the Mexican port of Veracruz, and forced Victoriano Huerta to resign the presidency. In 1917, British intelligence intercepted a telegram from the German foreign ministry to its embassy in Mexico City offering an alliance against the United States and assistance in the Mexican reconquest of the Southwest. Released to American newspapers, the Zimmermann Telegram helped turn American opinion against Germany and further poisoned the atmosphere between the USA and Mexico. Relations with Mexico remained tense into the 1920s and 1930s.

Beyond Mexico

Additionally, between the American Civil War and World War I, the American military intervened in the affairs of Latin American countries, including Colombia/Panama, Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua. In doing so, parts of "Gray" and "Purple", plans were considered although never officially activated.

Multilateral war plans

Some plans were expanded to include war against a coalition of hostile powers.

The most detailed was Red-Orange, based on a two-front war against the Anglo–Japanese Alliance, which expired in 1924. This was the contingency which most worried U.S. war planners, since it entailed a two-ocean war against major naval powers. Theories developed in wargaming Red-Orange were useful during World War II, when the United States engaged the Axis in both the Atlantic and Pacific simultaneously.

Rainbow plans

Japan had used the opportunity afforded by World War I to establish itself as a major power and a strategic rival in the Pacific Ocean. After the war, most American officials and planners considered a war with Japan to be highly likely. The fear lessened when the civilian government of Japan temporarily halted their program of military expansion, which was not to resume until 1931. War Plan Orange was the longest and most-detailed of the colored plans.

However, following the events in Europe in 1938 and 1939 (the Anschluss, the Munich Agreement, the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact), American war planners realized that the United States faced the possibility of war on multiple fronts against a coalition of enemies. Therefore, the Joint Planning Board developed a new series of war plans, the "Rainbow" plans[8]—the term being a play on the multiple "color" plans that had been drawn up previously.

  • Rainbow 1 was a plan for a defensive war to protect the United States and the Western Hemisphere north of ten degrees [south] latitude. In such a war, the United States was assumed to be without major allies.
  • Rainbow 2 was identical to Rainbow 1, except for assuming that the United States would be allied with France and the United Kingdom.
  • Rainbow 3 was a repetition of the Orange plan, with the provision that the hemisphere defense would first be secured, as provided in Rainbow 1.
  • Rainbow 4 was based on the same assumptions as Rainbow 1, but extended the American mission to include defense of the entire Western hemisphere.
  • Rainbow 5, destined to be the basis for American strategy in World War II, assumed that the United States was allied with Britain and France and provided for offensive operations by American forces in Europe, Africa, or both.[9]

The assumptions and plans for Rainbow 5 were discussed extensively in the Plan Dog memo, which concluded ultimately that the United States would adhere to a Europe first strategy in World War II.

Plans for Rainbow Five were published by the press in early December 1941.[10]

List of Color Plans

According to the public intelligence site, Global Security,[11] the following plans are known to have existed:

War Plan Black[12]
A plan for war with Germany. The best-known version of Black was conceived as a contingency plan during World War I, in case France fell and the Germans attempted to seize French possessions in the Caribbean Sea, or launch an attack on the eastern seaboard.
War Plan Gray[13]
There were two War Plans named Gray. The first dealt with Central America[13] and the Caribbean, and the second dealt with invading the Portuguese Azores.[14]
War Plan Brown[15]
Dealt with an uprising in the Philippines.
War Plan Tan[16]
Intervention in Cuba.
War Plan Red[17]
Plan for the United Kingdom (with sub variants Crimson, Scarlet, Ruby, Garnet, and Emerald for British dominions)
War Plan Orange[18]
Plan for Japan.
War Plan Red-Orange[19]
Considered a two-front war with the United States (Blue) opposing Japan (Orange) and the British Empire (Red) simultaneously. This analysis led to the understanding that the United States didn't have the resources to fight a two front war, and it would make sense to focus on one front, probably in the Atlantic. Ultimately this was the decision made in the Plan Dog memo.
War Plan Yellow[20]
Dealt with war in China—specifically, anticipating a repeat of the Boxer Uprising (1899–1901).[21] War Plan Yellow would deploy the US Army in coalition with other imperial forces to suppress indigenous discontent in the Shanghai International Settlement and Beijing Legation Quarter,[22] with chemical weapons if necessary.[23]
War Plan Gold[24]
Involved war with France, and/or France's Caribbean colonies.
War Plan Green[25]
Involved war with Mexico or what was known as "Mexican Domestic Intervention" in order to defeat rebel forces and establish a pro-American government. War Plan Green was officially canceled in 1946.
War Plan Indigo[26]
Involved an occupation of Iceland. In 1941, while Denmark was under German occupation, the US actually did occupy Iceland, relieving British units during the Battle of the Atlantic.
War Plan Purple[27]
Dealt with invading a South American republic.
War Plan Violet[28]
Covered Latin America.
War Plan White[29]
Dealt with a domestic uprising in the US, and later evolved to Operation Garden Plot, the general US military plan for civil disturbances and peaceful protests. Parts of War Plan White were used to deal with the Bonus Expeditionary Force in 1932. Communist insurgents were considered the most likely threat by the authors of War Plan White.
War Plan Blue[30]
Covered defensive plans and preparations that the United States should take in times of peace.

References

  1. ^ "Symbols used to represent foreign countries" (PDF). Records of the Joint Board (1903 - 1947), Joint Board File No. 325 (War Plans), Serial 19. National Archives at College Park, Record Group 225.2. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-19.
  2. ^ War Plan Gray (WPL-47). National Archives at College Park, Record Group 225.2: Records of the Joint Board (1903 - 1947), Joint Board File No. 325 (War Plans), Serial 694.
  3. ^ a b c p26 John H. Bradley, Thomas E. Griess, Jack W. Dice, United States Military Academy, Dept. of History: The Second World War: Asia and the Pacific Square One Publishers, Inc., 2002
  4. ^ "US Color Coded War Plans (1904-1939)". AlternateWars.com. 2017-04-04. Archived from the original on 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  5. ^ Miller, Edward S. (1991). War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-759-3.
  6. ^ "Navy Basic Plan Red, Volume I (WPL-22), February 1931" (PDF). Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, NND 968133, Box 22 & 23. National Archives at College Park, Record Group 38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-10.Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Angela Chen (2015-11-11). "War Plan Red". TheMorningNews.org. Archived from the original on 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  8. ^ Roberts, Ken. Command Decisions. CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  9. ^ Spector, Ronald H. (1985). Eagle Against the Sun. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-394-74101-7.
  10. ^ Historian: FDR probably engineered famous WWII plans leak, UPI Archives, December 2, 1987.
  11. ^ "War Plan Rainbow". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  12. ^ Session: Problems and Exercises, Blue and Orange Series, Blue and Black Series, 1914-1915. Instructional Records, compiled 1921 - 1940, documenting the period 1864 - 1940. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  13. ^ a b Gray [Central America, Caribbean], 2877. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  14. ^ 694. Basic Plan for Capture and Occupation of Azores (Gray). Security Classified Correspondence of the Joint Army-Navy Board, compiled 1918 - 03/1942, documenting the period 1910 - 03/1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  15. ^ Brown [Philippines], 1473-1 to 1473-8. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  16. ^ 456. Intervention Plan Tan. Security Classified Correspondence of the Joint Army-Navy Board, compiled 1918 - 03/1942, documenting the period 1910 - 03/1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  17. ^ 274. Tentative Plan Red. Security Classified Correspondence of the Joint Army-Navy Board, compiled 1918 - 03/1942, documenting the period 1910 - 03/1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  18. ^ 280. War Plan Orange. Security Classified Correspondence of the Joint Army-Navy Board, compiled 1918 - 03/1942, documenting the period 1910 - 03/1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  19. ^ Red-Orange [Great Britain-Japan], 2963. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  20. ^ Yellow [China], 3479-13. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  21. ^ Millett, Allan Reed (1991). "The Marines in China". Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps. Simon & Schuster. p. 225.
  22. ^ Ross, Steven (2002). U.S. War Plans: 1938-1945. Lynne Rienner. p. 2.
  23. ^ Faith, Thomas (2014). "Legacy, 1926-1929". Behind the Gas Mask: The U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in War and Pace. University of Illinois Press. p. 129.
  24. ^ Game Plan Gold. Avalanche Press. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  25. ^ 571. War Plan Green. Security Classified Correspondence of the Joint Army-Navy Board, compiled 1918 - 03/1942, documenting the period 1910 - 03/1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  26. ^ Roberts, Ken. Command Decisions. CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  27. ^ Purple [South America], 3078. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  28. ^ 237. Violet Plan. Security Classified Correspondence of the Joint Army-Navy Board, compiled 1918 - 03/1942, documenting the period 1910 - 03/1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  29. ^ White [Domestic Emergency], 947-3. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  30. ^ Blue [US Peacetime Preparedness], 616. Top Secret Correspondence Relating to Mobilization Plans, compiled 1922 - 1942. War Department. Retrieved 2011-12-03.

Further reading

External links

Military operation plan

A military operation plan (also called a war plan before World War II) is a formal plan for military armed forces, their military organizations and units to conduct operations, as drawn up by commanders within the combat operations process in achieving objectives before or during a conflict. Military plans are generally produced in accordance with the military doctrine of the troops involved.

Plan XVII and the Schlieffen Plan are examples of World War I military plans. The United States developed a famous color-coded set of war plans in the early 20th century; see United States color-coded war plans.

Military plans often have code names.

Operation Garden Plot

The Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan, also known by its cryptonym GARDEN PLOT, was a general US Army and National Guard plan to respond to major domestic civil disturbances within the United States. The plan was developed in response to the civil disorders of the 1960s and fell under the control of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). It provided Federal military and law enforcement assistance to local governments during times of major civil disturbances.

The Garden Plot plan—drafted after the Watts, Newark, and Detroit riots—captures the acrimonious times when the document was drawn up. The "Plot" warns against "racial unrest," as well as "anti-draft" and "anti-Vietnam" elements."The Pentagon activated Garden Plot to restore order during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Garden Plot was superseded by USNORTHCOM Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 2502 following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Under Homeland Security restructuring, it has been suggested that similar models be followed.

Oversight of these homeland security missions should be provided by the National Guard Bureau based on the long-standing Garden Plot model in which National Guard units are trained and equipped to support civil authorities in crowd control and civil disturbance missions.

Walter Krueger

Walter Krueger (26 January 1881 – 20 August 1967) was an American soldier and general officer in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his command of the Sixth United States Army in the South West Pacific Area during World War II. He rose from the rank of private to general in the United States Army.

Born in Flatow, West Prussia, Krueger emigrated to the United States as a boy. He enlisted for service in the Spanish–American War and served in Cuba, and then re-enlisted for service in the Philippine–American War. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1901. In 1914 he was posted to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His regiment was mobilized on 23 June 1916 and served along the Mexican border. After the United States commenced hostilities with Germany in April 1917, Krueger was assigned to the 84th Infantry Division as its Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 (Operations), and then its chief of staff. In February 1918, he was sent to Langres to attend the American Expeditionary Force General Staff School, and in October 1918, he became chief of staff of the Tank Corps.

Between the wars, Krueger served in a number of command and staff positions, and attended the Naval War College at his own request. In 1941, he assumed command of the Third Army, which he led in the Louisiana Maneuvers. He expected, in view of his age, to spend the war at home training troops, but in 1943 he was sent to General Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area as commander of the Sixth Army and Alamo Force, which he led in a series of victorious campaigns against the Japanese. As an army commander, Krueger had to grapple with the problems imposed by vast distances, inhospitable terrain, unfavorable climate, and an indefatigable and dangerous enemy. He had to balance MacArthur's need to speed up the tempo of operations in order to win campaigns with the more cautious approach of subordinates who often found themselves confronted by unexpectedly large numbers of Japanese troops. In the Battle of Luzon in 1945, his largest, longest and last battle, he was finally able to maneuver his army as he had in 1941 against a Japanese army under Tomoyuki Yamashita.

Krueger retired to San Antonio, Texas, where he bought a house and wrote From Down Under to Nippon, an account of his campaigns in the Southwest Pacific. His retirement was marred by family tragedies. His son James was dismissed from the army in 1947 for conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. His wife's health deteriorated, and she died of cancer in 1956. His daughter Dorothy stabbed her husband to death in 1952. She was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court-martial, but was freed by the Supreme Court in 1957.

War Plan Black

One of the United States color-coded war plans, War Plan Black was the name of an American military plan to fight Germany in the early 20th century. The best-known version was conceived as a contingency plan during World War I in case France fell and the Germans attempted to seize French possessions in the Caribbean or to launch an attack on the eastern seaboard. The United States was to plant mines and have submarines on patrol at sites Germany might seize for a foothold in the Caribbean. The plan was revised in 1916 to concentrate the main US naval fleet in New England, and from there defend the US from the German navy. Following Germany's defeat, the plan lost importance.

War Plan Gray

War Plan Gray was a plan for the United States to invade the Azores Islands in 1940–41. Gray is one of the many color-coded war plans created in the early 20th century. On 22 May 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt directed the U.S. Army and Navy to draft an official plan to occupy the Portuguese Azores. Approved by the Joint Board on 29 May, War Plan Gray called for a landing force of 28,000 troops, one half Marine and one half Army.

While motions were made to prepare for this invasion, a shifting of focus halted War Plan Gray and the Azores were never invaded. This was mainly credited to intelligence sources producing evidence making it highly unlikely that Nazi Germany would invade pro-fascist Francoist Spain and the scrupulously neutral Portuguese Estado Novo. With Germany turning its attention to Russia, this eased American fears concerning the Azores, resulting in the suspension of War Plan Gray, letting the US focus their time and forces elsewhere.

War Plan Orange

War Plan Orange (commonly known as Plan Orange or just Orange) refers to a series of United States Joint Army and Navy Board war plans for dealing with a possible war with Japan during the years between the First and Second World Wars. It failed to foresee the significance of the technological changes to naval warfare including the submarine, air support and aircraft carriers, and although the Battle of Midway was important, and the US Navy did "island-hop" to regain lost territory, there was no culminating "showdown" battle as anticipated by Plan Orange.

War Plan Red

Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan Red was one of the color-coded war plans created by the United States War Department in the late 1920s and the early 1930s to estimate the requirements for a hypothetical war with Great Britain (the "Red" forces). War Plan Red discussed the potential for fighting a war with the British Empire and outlined those steps necessary to defend the Atlantic coast against any attempted invasion of the United States. It further discussed fighting a two-front war with both Japan and Britain simultaneously (as envisioned in War Plan Red-Orange).

War Plan Red was developed by the War Department after the 1927 Geneva Naval Conference and approved in May 1930 by Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley and Secretary of Navy Charles Francis Adams III and updated in 1934–35. It was not presented for presidential or congressional approval. Only the US Congress has the power to declare war.In 1939, on the outbreak of World War II, a decision was taken that no further planning was required but for the plan to be retained. War Plan Red was not declassified until 1974.

The war plan outlined actions that would be necessary if, for any reason, the US and Britain went to war with each other. The plan assumed that the British would initially have the upper hand by virtue of the strength of the Royal Navy. The plan further assumed that Britain would probably use its base in Canada as a springboard from which to initiate an invasion of the US. The assumption was taken that at first, Britain would fight a defensive battle against invading American forces, but the US would eventually defeat the British by blockading Britain and cutting off its food supplies. That was the strategy employed by Britain against the US in the War of 1812.

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