The Transatlantic Essay Contest and the Planning Principles of the North African Campaign
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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The North African campaign of World War II began with Operation Torch on November 8, 1942. The campaign required the coordination of air, ground, and naval forces in time, space, and purpose to ensure a near simultaneous amphibious assault on multiple objectives from two ports of debarkation, separated by 3,000 miles of enemy-infested ocean. Making matters more complex, military professionals from the two nations involved, and their respective services, had diverging opinions on the conduct of the campaign. The 6 weeks of deliberations known as the transatlantic essay contest demonstrated the cognitive tensions between the two allies and their respective services regarding the operational objectives for the North African campaign. Achieving the ultimate objective of the campaign was a balancing act between selecting operational objectives within the operational reach of the forces available while mitigating undesired effects. Each nation and service proposed different methods for balancing the conflicting views to achieve the strategic objectives set forth in the August 13, 1942 directive to the Allied Expeditionary Force Commander in Chief. In the end, it took the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to break the impasse and provide the resources necessary to provide the mission a reasonable chance of success. Although the North African campaign was fought 70 years ago, the planning principles that drove the development of the campaign are just as relevant today as they were in 1942.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics