Until late in the war, operations against the enemy on the Asian mainland in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, were hindered by a tangled chain of Allied command, the long distance from sources of resupply and the very low priority of men and material given to the theater. The primary purpose of the Allied efforts in the CBI Theater was to hold the Japanese in check while achieving victory elsewhere. By mid-May 1942, the Japanese had driven to the borders of India, taking all of Burma and cutting the Burma Road into China. Only the arrival of the monsoon season prevented an invasion of India.
During the enemy's rapid advance through Burma, Allied combat airpower consisted of a meager force of British Royal Air Force units, the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) and fewer than a dozen USAAF B-17s and LB-30s (export version of the B-24) assigned to the newly created 10th Air Force. A trickle of reinforcements arrived from the U.S., and AAF bombers succeeded in flying a few bombing missions against the enemy, but they were unable to halt the Japanese advance. As Allied defenses crumbled in Burma, AAF transport crews aided in the evacuation of personnel and dropped supplies to the remnants of Lt. Gen. Joseph Stilwell's command as they retreated on foot. In June all of the 10th Air Forces's bombers were transferred to Africa to bolster defenses there, temporarily leaving the AAF in India without a single operating combat unit.
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