The Great Escape: An Analysis of Allied Actions Leading to the Axis Evacuation of Sicily in World War II
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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As Allied armies advanced in North Africa, Allied leadership established Sicily as the next target. As the invasion unfolded, the Allies pushed Axis forces into northeastern Sicily where a well-organized evacuation moved over 100,000 Axis troops, with equipment, to the Italian mainland. The central research question is Did an opportunity exist for the Allies to trap and compel the capitulation of Axis forces during the Sicily campaign Analysis of the invasion decision, the planning cycle, and the operation resulted in several conclusions. First, strategic guidance adequately promoted successful planning. Second, operational planning was disjointed and lacked senior ground commander involvement. Finally, Generals Eisenhower and Alexander did not communicate to their field army commanders a campaign strategic vision or commander s intent, which led to two decisions that eliminated the possibility to trap Axis forces. Additionally, the newness of combined operational practices and differences in command relationships caused coordination problems that hindered operational responsiveness. Though Sicily was a tactical success, the Allies missed an opportunity to capture a substantial Axis force, which demonstrates the importance of commander s vision and intent, cultivating unity of command in an allied environment and preserving the ability to exploit favorable conditions with an eye toward operational goals.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics