War Plan Red – America’s Secretive plans for war..
Last night I came across a rather interesting documentary shown on the BBC here in the UK detailing a certain interesting finding from the National
Archives by a reporter for the Washington post by the name of Peter Carlson, a finding of what was once regarded as one of the most secretive set of
documents in all of America, perhaps even the world It claimed. Their secretive plans for a potential war with Great Britain and also their closest
friend to the north, Canada. With writing this thread here and now I want to try and take this opportunity to discuss and hopefully bring to light
this another fascinating chapter in American history that people don't really seem to know very much about yet, but one they certainly should, in my
The plans for war, nicknamed "War Plan Red", Red in reference to the enemy which was seen as Britain at the time, were, I believe, first made around
the immediate aftermath of the failed 1927 Geneva Naval Conference, a Conference which was initially set up to ironically discuss and attempt to quell
any future war's such as what was seen in World War 1. The first conference in 1922 was attended by Great Britain, the United States, Japan, France,
and Italy and resulted in the Five Powers Treaty, or the Washington treaty as it's also known as, and was a treaty to specifically limit naval
construction and prevent an arms race of those who were victorious in the wake of the first World war.
In the 1927 Geneva conference however, only Great Britain, Japan and the United States attended, resulting in a major disagreement between the three
nations and instead of creating a disarmament agreement as was planned, they actually inadvertently created an arms race between America and Great
Britain in particular, as Britain, who had more of a need for light cruisers at the time, as opposed to heavy, proposed a "limitation on the
production of heavy cruisers while including more freedom for building those in the lighter class." Great Britain also felt that since Lighter
cruisers were useless in battle against heavy cruisers, the Unites States also had to build the lighter variety as opposed to the heavier. As well as
this they also proposed a limit of 70 ships and 600,000 tons requiring the United States to quit literally build as many as thirty new heavy cruisers
just to keep up with them. *
Britain put forth what was known as the “doctrine of requirements", which said that the size of a nation's naval fleet should be based on what it
required to defend its territory, an idea in opposition of the American preference that the size of the fleet required should be proportional to the
size of the navies of other nations in the world. For America to agree with Britains plans they would have to start a massive building program to
catch up, something they, as well as Japan, disapproved of. Talks eventually failed and no new treaty was made.
History between the United States and Great Britain is a far cry from what is seen today with the "special relationship" as it's commonly known as.
Many conflicts have been fought between them over time and America, around the time of the 20's and 30's in particular here, portrayed Britain as
hugely ungrateful due to their postponement of paying back America's $14 million dollar debts. Britain in turn portrayed America in a rather bad light
in reply causing tensions between the two to slowly rise over time and to the point where war actually seemed like it could be certainly possible and
would've been more than accepted by some. With this America already feared Britain and it's power and believed that their imperial reach would
eventually bring itself to America's shores resulting in a war between the two powers, and with the tensions surrounding the Naval arms race, America
set about creating extremely detailed plans for a future war, a war which would firstly result in the invasion of Canada by American forces and was
even approved in 1930 by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of Navy. A at first far-fetched sounding idea it would seem, but an idea we know today
as fact as the plans were officially declassified in 1974, being openly discussed only briefly since then it would seem.
(Professor Mike Vlahos looking through the declassified documents)
The plans became extremely detailed through the mid 30's and by the year 1935, the United States was going as far as detailing an invasion route and
even strike plans on Canada, firstly taking the port city of Halifax, thus cutting the Canadians off from their British allies, Britain being the main
target in these entire series of plans but taking Canada proving to be the best way to truly strike Britain, then taking Canadian power plants near
Niagara Falls, and finally invading Vermont from South Dakota and then further travelling to take Montreal and Quebec all the while blockading other
ports in Canada and eventually Britain. The use of "Chemical warfare" was even considered it seems.
The Americans imagined a conflict between the United States (Blue) and England over international trade: "The war aim of RED in a war with BLUE is
conceived to be the definite elimination of BLUE as an important economic and commercial rival."
In the event of war, the American planners figured that England would use Canada (Crimson) -- then a quasi-pseudo-semi-independent British dominion --
as a launching pad for "a direct invasion of BLUE territory." That invasion might come overland, with British and Canadian troops attacking Buffalo,
Detroit and Albany. Or it might come by sea, with amphibious landings on various American beaches -- including Rehoboth and Ocean City, both of which
were identified by the planners as "excellent" sites for a Brit beachhead.
The planners anticipated a war "of long duration" because "the RED race" is "more or less phlegmatic" but "noted for its ability to fight to a
finish." Also, the Brits could be reinforced by "colored" troops from their colonies: "Some of the colored races however come of good fighting stock,
and, under white leadership, can be made into very efficient troops."
"Blue intentions are to hold in perpetuity all CRIMSON and RED territory
gained," Army planners wrote in an appendix to the war plan. "The policy will be to prepare the provinces and territories of CRIMSON and RED to become
states and territories of the BLUE union upon the declaration of
In the great 1935 update of war plans, not only did they choose to solely plan routes and strike targets for an invasion, but amazingly it was found
that plans were even taken seriously enough to warrant the approval of $57 million by US Congress in order to build three military airfields near the
Canadian border and actually disguise them as civilian airports, plans for which were accidentally leaked to the press at the time resulting in
outrage from the Canadian government.
The following is a full-text reproduction of the 1935 plan for a US invasion of Canada prepared at the US Army War College, G-2 intelligence
division, and submitted on December 18, 1935. This is the most recent declassified invasion plan available from the US archival sources. Centered
pagination is that of the original document. The spelling and punctuation of the original document are reproduced as in the original document, even
when in error by present-day norms.
In February 1935, the War Department arranged a Congressional appropriation of $57 million dollars to
build three border air bases for the purposes of pre-emptive surprise attacks on Canadian air fields. The base in the Great Lakes region was to be
camouflaged as a civilian airport and was to "be capable of dominating the industrial heart of Canada, the Ontario Peninsula" from p. 61 of the
February 11-13, 1935, hearings of the Committee on Military Affairs, House of Representatives, on Air Defense Bases (H.R. 6621 and H.R. 4130). This
testimony was to have been secret but was published by mistake. See the New York Times, May 1, 1935, p.
As mentioned before, Canada were outraged at the leaking and were reassured repeatedly that no such invasion plans were ever being taken seriously by
the American government, this however, despite the fact that in August of 1935 36,000 troops arrived near the Canadian border of Ottawa, and another
15,000 held in reserve in Pennsylvania, in what was an incredibly large war game actually acting out the invasion of Canada. "The war game scenario
was a US motorized invasion of Canada, with the defending forces initially repulsing the invading Blue forces, but eventually to lose "outnumbered and
outgunned" when Blue reinforcements arrive. This according to the Army's pamphlet "Souvenir of of the First Army Maneuvers: The Greatest Peace Time
Event in US History" (p.2)." According to the above linked source.
According to the plans however, America assumed the position of the underdog, assuming that the British Empire was by far more powerful than
themselves. Due to this they planned a war with a defensive attitude, choosing to offense against Canada in an effort to eventually defend itself
against the much more powerful British forces. Choosing also not to attack the powerful British naval fleet, which was much more powerful, and instead
"choose to stay in the western North Atlantic to block British-Canadian traffic. The navy would wait for a good opportunity to engage the British
fleet, and if successful would then attack British trade and colonies in the Western Hemisphere."
In all reality America planned a huge invasion of Canada and planned for an an all out war with Great Britain, planning on blockading them at one
point, starving them financially and even the possible use of "Chemical warfare" against them, as well as the planning of war with other nations at
the time also, and as recent as the mid 30's in fact. Although it was known that such plans were unlikely and improbable still, that we know. But
nonetheless the war with Britain and Canada in particular appears to have been taken very seriously, millions and millions of dollars even being spent
on it by building bases on the Canadian border. Whether it would've happened or not who knows for sure. If so, the world today would've been very,
very different something all can agree on I'm sure.
In a odd twist of fate, Nazi Germany quite literally forced the world to pay attention, including America and Great Britain, forcing them to also
fight side by side resulting in the shelving of any and all war plans between the two nations, for the time being anyway. It would seem that no matter
what, the world was going to be changed by the mid 40's though, whether it be through a world war with the Germans, or a huge war between the British
Empire and America resulting in the invasion of Canada by America Forces most probably resulting in a world war anyway.. A sad state of affairs
But anyway, thanks to all those who took the time to read this thread. This is a rather interesting part of American history I thought and one that,
In my opinion, shouldn't really be forgotten about..
edit on 16-4-2012 by Rising Against because: (no reason given)