If the defense of Singapore was of utmost importance to British strategy, American interests dictated a far different position. While Singapore was fundamental to maintaining Empire security, U.S. policy boiled down to a belief that, as important as the Island was in the Far East, America was not prepared to support Singapore at the expense of security in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions.
With 44 ships and a troop strength of about 88,600 men on hand for the defense of Singapore, defender numbers looked better than those of Japanese aggressors - but that was on paper. In reality, 37,000 were ill-trained, ill-equipped Indians, while another 16,800 were Malayan "volunteers" (McIntyre 195). Essentially, 60 percent of the Singapore defenses consisted of poorly prepared foreign soldiers and volunteers. The remaining 35,000 British and Australian troops would be facing an army of 60,000 highly-trained Japanese.
Stark believed that Germany was the primary adversary and that Japan could be dealt with in time (Watson 118). Thus the threat to American interest in the Pacific was of secondary importance. Foreseeing the loss of Singapore and unwilling to risk its warships in a hopeless cause, the Naval Chief wished that the U.S. fleet would be employed offensively to direct Japanese strength away from Malaysia and thus support the Malay Barrier (Morton 150). Stark believed that it behooved the Americans to wait, as they gained strength, but not so long that the Britain fell. He did not relish the grim prospect of the United States facing a victorious Axis Alliance alone.
Vacillating and ineffective bureaucratic British policies under Chamberlain and Churchill abounded between the Wars. Requiring 20 years to complete, the construction on the Base was delayed because the government had trouble bank-rolling the project. Budget cuts and work slow downs were de rigueur (McIntyre 57). Meanwhile, British Chiefs of Staff, caught in the crosscurrents of changin