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Not Just Lucky: How Patton's Third Army Adapted to Generate Operational Level Information Advantage from March to September 1944


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In August 1944, Patton's Third Army smashed through German defenses in Normandy and broke out in a rapid pursuit across France. Third Army's success was substantially due to its effectiveness at generating operational level information advantage. Information advantage enabled Third Army to gain and maintain the initiative, anticipate decisions, and extend operational reach. Yet when Third Army activated in England in the Spring of 1944, it possessed neither the information forces nor the staff processes to generate information advantage effectively. This study examines how Patton successfully embedded a unique military culture that encouraged rapid adaptation within Third Army's information forces. Specifically, it explores how Patton's visionary leadership created a sense of organizational urgency, reducing change resistance. It also analyzes how Patton's coalition established robust feedback loops and a culture of self-criticism and experimentation. Finally, it looks at how Patton leveraged diverse expertise to develop devastatingly effective solutions to complex problems. Improvements in Third Army's ability to generate information advantage resulted not from any technological advance or material factor but from a military culture that encouraged adaptation.



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