Kasserine Pass and the Proper Application of Airpower
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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In November 1942 the Allies began Operation Torch, a massive invasion of French Morocco and Algeria with over 107,000 troops--three fourths American--designed to throw Axis forces out of North Africa. Many factors including faulty decisions, confused command relationships, supply problems, and inexperienced troops thwarted hopes for a rapid victory. Forces under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel concentrated in Tunisia and were reinforced. Allied difficulties culminated in near disaster at Kasserine Pass in February 1943. In the process, the U.S. Army learned a major lesson on the appropriate relationship between air and ground forces-a lesson that it later put to good use. Kasserine Pass is the only important battle fought by the Armed Forces--either in World War II or since that time--without enjoying air superiority. During the winter of 1942-43, the air organization in North Africa paralleled the division of ground forces into American, British, and French contingents. Major General Carl Spaatz, nominal commander of Allied Air Force, ordered Eastern Air Command under Air Marshal William Welsh to support British 1st Army while Twelfth Air Force under Brigadier General Jimmy Doolittle, hero of the April 1942 raid on Tokyo, was directed to support all U.S. land forces. In particular, Twelfth Air Forces XII Air Support Command ASC was charged with cooperating with the American land forces, organized and consolidated under II Corps.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics