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Hunting Steel Beasts: A Comparative Analysis of Anti-Tank Units in World War II

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2018,31 May 2019

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In order to fight and win in large-scale combat operations, the Army must think of and employ corps and divisions as fighting formations instead of simply headquarters organizations. Over the course of the Global War on Terror, the Army focused on employing the modular Brigade Combat Team as the tactical echelon of choice in warfighting. Over the past few decades, the Anti-Tank units in particular disappeared almost completely from the US Armys organization. The study is significant because there is potentially a lack of dedicated organic anti-tank capability in US Army divisions and corps. Given the threats that the US Army could do battle with in the future in large scale combat operations, there exists certain biases that suggest that American technological advantages can close operational and tactical gaps with our adversaries. Anti-Tank units are legacy formations that employed low-tech options to destroy armor. This capability seems to get overlooked in the modern high-tech Multi-Domain concept battle of the future. Historical case studies from World War II were selected for examination because of the use of Anti-Tank units at the operational level of war. This study conducts a structured, focused comparison of two World War II historical case studies that examine Anti-Tank units in the defense by asking six research questions related to operational art. These questions focus on testing three hypotheses concerning Anti-Tank units providing operational flexibility, preventing culmination, and enabling a quick transition to the offense. The empirical evidence examined partially supports this monographs thesis that Anti-Tank units provide lethality to divisions and corps in the defense. The evidence from both case studies supports the hypothesis that Anti-Tank units provided operational flexibility and prevented culmination of the defense, but did not support the hypothesis that Anti-Tank units enabled a quick transition to the offense.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Humanities and History

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