Battle of Kasserine Pass: Defeat is a Matter of Scale
Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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The Battle of Kasserine Pass is marked by history as an embarrassing defeat of American soldiers during their first major action against Germany in World War II some historians even go so far as to anticipate defeat in the first battles of all major American wars. Does the battle of Kasserine Pass prove the conventional wisdom that America is doomed to defeat in its first battles Martin Blumenson, a prominent military historian, characterizes the battle of Kasserine Pass as a crushing defeat. He cites inexperience, inferior technology, and poor doctrine as causation. This monograph challenges Blumensons thesis. Scientific study of the battle of Kasserine Pass, inspired by Hans Delbruck, focuses on relevant technologies, the organization of opposing units, US doctrine, and the effects of the ULTRA program. Conclusions from the scientific analysis carry forward to a comparison of contemporary battles. There are many similarities between the battle of Kasserine Pass and other battles, such as the Battle of the Bulge, which history characterizes as victories. To determine why, an in-depth study of the battle of Kasserine Pass is necessary to identify errors in the current history. This study uses Clausewitzs method of critical analysis and the application of historical scale to compare the battles of Kasserine Pass and St. Vith. When viewed at a similar scale, the results of Kasserine Pass are similar to the results from the actions around St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge. Surprise, rapid penetration and isolation of friendly units, breakdowns in command, the eventual surrender of terrain, and successful Allied counter attacks characterize both battles. The similarities in outcome require similar classification. Much study of the battle of Kasserine Pass has been done since Martin Blumenson wrote the original history in 1966.