Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West

By George F. Howe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Tactical Plans and Political Preparations

At the same time that major strategy decisions were being made, command organization, tactical planning, and preparation for political activity were also going forward at lower military levels. For the planning to proceed with the greatest efficiency, directives to the various task force commanders should first have been formulated. Then, as indicated by subsequent World War II experience, from three to five months would have been required to complete tactical plans and mount the expedition. The Army commanders would have selected the beaches to fit schemes of inland maneuver, subject to their suitability for naval operations, and once that major problem was solved, correlated joint decisions would have established: the time of landing (H Hour), detailed requirements, assignment of assault shipping, plans for general naval bombardment, and specific organization by tasks, including the furnishing of naval gunfire, air support, transportation, supply, medical service, administration, and communications.1 In planning for Operation Torch, there was no time for this orderly sequence.

The pressure after the first decision in July to have tactical plans ready for the earliest possible D Day made impossible any waiting for directives or fundamental decisions concerning the general outline plan. Tactical and logistical planning began almost at once. Efforts to keep abreast of the shifting concept of the operation prior to 5 September produced a dizzying confusion which was accentuated by the dispersal of the planning staffs at several points on either side of the Atlantic.2


Organizing the Chain of Command
of the Allied Force

General Eisenhower's command was officially designated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to be that of Commander in Chief, Allied Expeditionary Force. For security reasons, he altered the title to Commander in Chief, Allied Force. The original plan to have a deputy commander in chief from the British Army was dropped on British initiative in favor of an American, one able to retain the American character of the expedition in case General Eisenhower was prevented from exercising his command by disability. General Clark ( U.S.) was then appointed Deputy Commander in Chief, Allied Force, and took charge of the details of planning.3 Headquarters was established

____________________
1
U.S. Navy Dept CNO, Amphibious Warfare Instruction (USF 6), 1946, pp. 3-21.
2
(1) Clark, Calculated Risk, p. 48. (2) Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower, pp. 56ff., utilizing Clark's daily reports as Deputy CinC AF to the CinC AF.
3
(1) Ltr, Gen Clark to author, 12 Apr 49, cites entry in his diary of 11 August 1942 for confirmation of his appointment. (2) Clark, Calculated Risk, p. 42. (3) The abbreviations (U.S.) for American and (Br.) for British will be used to indicate nationality.

-32-

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Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • History of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations iv
  • Foreword vii
  • The Author viii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Maps xx
  • Illustrations xxi
  • Preparations 1
  • The Mediterranean Theater of War, 1940-1942 3
  • Strategic Planning 15
  • Tactical Plans and Political Preparations 32
  • Completing the Preparations 60
  • The Amphibious Phase on the Atlantic Coast 87
  • The French Decide to Fight 89
  • Taking Safi 97
  • Fedala to Casablanca 116
  • Mehdia to Port-Lyautey 147
  • The End of Hostilities in Morocco 171
  • The Amphibious Operations in the Mediterranean 183
  • The Last Preliminaries 185
  • The First Day's Operations Against Oran 192
  • The Seizure of Oran 215
  • The Occupation of Algiers 229
  • The Axis Reaction and the French Decision 253
  • The End of Operation Torch 275
  • Taking Positions for the Drive on Tunis 277
  • The Attack Towar43d Tunis 299
  • Stalemate Before Tunis 311
  • Concentration of Forces in Tunisia 345
  • The New Situation: Allied Reaction 347
  • The New Situation: Axis Reaction 363
  • Sparring Along the Eastern Dorsal 373
  • The Enemy Strikes at U.S. II Corps 401
  • The Enemy Drives Back the Allied Southern Flank 423
  • Rommel's Thrust Through Kasserine Pass 438
  • The Enemy is Turned Back 459
  • Shift to Northern Tunisia 483
  • The Allies Prepare for Decisive Action 485
  • The Enemy Strives to Retain the Initiative 501
  • From Mareth to Enfidaville 521
  • Gafsa, Maknassy, and El Guettar (17-25 March) 543
  • Il Corps Operations Beyond El Guettar 564
  • Attacks at Fondouk El Aouareb and Pursuit onto the Plain 578
  • Allied Drive to Victory 593
  • Preparations 595
  • The Attack Begins 609
  • The Advance to Mateur 628
  • The End in Tunisia 644
  • Fruits of Victory 669
  • Allied Troop and Supply Shipments 679
  • Axis Troop and Supply Shipments 682
  • Note on Sources 684
  • Glossary 688
  • Code Names 693
  • Basic Military Map Symbols 695
  • United States Army in World War II 697
  • Index 699
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