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Joint by Design: The Western Desert Campaign

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,01 May 2015

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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During the Second World War, the Allied Forces were victorious in the Western Desert Campaign not because of heroic individual leadership, but because improvements in command relationships, basing, and resource allocation enabled them to fight effectively as a joint and coalition force. Air and land commanders used co-located headquarters and liaison officers to overcome significant philosophical differences in the structure of the British versus American chains of command. Air forces developed a technique to move operations to a new aerodrome quickly, enhancing flexibility and reach. Finally, the Allied forces applied a systems approach to shock and overwhelm the enemy, attacking it with a combination of American bomber aircraft and improved close air support tactics. Todays military should emulate the way the Allies allocated their resources in North Africa. Rather than focusing exclusively on a single perceived decisive node or parceling air support to ground commanders at the lowest echelons, planners should attack the enemy as a system. In an era of reduced military spending, the United States cannot count on an ability to mass resources and win with brute force alone. Like the Allied forces in North Africa, America may again find itself under-resourced in a fight against a near-peer competitor. Success will lie in effectively using every available tool to understand the situation and then act in multiple ways to shock the enemys systemout thinking the adversary when out-numbering or out-spending is impossible.

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