How Effective was Field Marshal William Slim as an Operational Artist?
Monograph Jun 2011-May 2012
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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Field Marshal William Bill Slim ended World War II in command of Fourteenth Army. His understanding of what motivated men in the most trying of times is well publicized. Indeed, he is most well-known for his thoughts on morale and leadership. This monograph seeks another aspect of Slim, his ability to command at the highest of formations. Focusing on his time in Burma, this paper covers from 1942-1945 and his time as a Corps and Army commander. Slim arrived in Burma in 1942 and assumed command of a corps at the worst possible moment. His two weak divisions were hammered by the Japanese Imperial Army and demoralized by poor leadership, a lack of equipment, and a fear of the jungle. Slim returned the battered remnants of I Burma Corps to India. Assuming command of XV Corps in India, Slim trained and prepared a force capable of defeating the Japanese. Using the tactic of an Administrative Box, a defended locality resupplied by air, it was designed to defeat the Japanese tactics of envelopment. In 1944 Slim, as commander Fourteenth Army, deployed XV Corps and successfully defeated the Japanese for the first time in Burma. It was the tipping point. Following this success, others followed. This paper sets out the historical aspects of the three main campaigns managed by Slim. First it examines Slims input and performance in the First and Second Arakan Campaigns. Second, his decisions at the defense of Kohima and Imphal and the subsequent break out of the Indian Army from those locations. Finally, it assesses the pinnacle of his generalship during Operations Capital and Extended Capital. Slims performance warrants careful consideration. He commanded a diverse multinational army over extremely challenging terrain against a fanatically determined enemy. His decisions offer future operational artists guidance and prescient advice. His efforts are often overlooked because of the focus on the European theater. This monograph offers that Slim should come out from the shado
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics