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Operations Mercury and Husky: Contemporary Art of Operations and their Relevance for Operational Art

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2015,01 Apr 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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According to current United States US Army doctrine, operational art fulfills a bridging role to pursue strategic objectives throughout the arrangement of tactical action in time, space, and purpose. The German Wehrmacht and the US Army as part of the Allies applied their contemporary art of operations in the complex testbed of World War II successfully. By comparing the doctrinal frameworks, this monograph raises the initial research questions about a comparable doctrinal perception to todays sophisticated understanding. This enables the utilization of three lenses intent, synchronization, and risk to evaluate the application of an art of operations during the Operations Mercury 1941 and Husky 1943. Although both operations were successful, they achieved their objectives at high costs and faced significant impediments. This monograph argues for a comparability of the contemporary and the current concepts of operational art. The German Wehrmacht and the US Army applied similar characteristics and principles without having a cohesive doctrinal understanding. The use of the lenses revealed that both armies utilized a constrained application and rarely exploited the potential of their art of operations. Operation Mercury was a reflection of German operational skills and their art of operations that highlights the relation to cognitive efforts and the intent. Furthermore, it emphasized the adaptability of the German Wehrmacht utilizing their leadership philosophy to adapt quickly to emerging challenges. Nevertheless, poor synchronization and less prioritized logistical and intelligence aspects had a negative influence. Operation Husky highlighted the impediments of indecisive leadership, vague political guidance, inter- and intra-service rivalry, and an only partially filled role of an operational artist.

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