The battle that defined for the American army the challenging realities that what war through the German military truly meant.

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In November 1942, the American and also British forces launched operation Torch, the invasion of north Africa v French Morocco and Algeria. This to be the very first campaign in i m sorry the American military engaged the equipped forces the Nazi Germany, commanded under basic Erwin Rommel. The Allied pressures moved steadily eastward, through the British taking Tripoli under basic Bernard Montgomery in so late January 1943. Allied pressures crossed the Atlas mountains and took up front positions at Faid, native which they could thrust eastward toward the Mediterranean sea, splitting Rommel’s forces in the north and also south. Yet the American army was about to encounter the difficult realities that what war through the German military truly meant.

Acting top top the threat, in mid-February Rommel used the Afrika Korps 10th and also 21st Panzer departments to push earlier the Allied protective lines native the eastern to the western Dorsale in ~ the internal plain of the Atlas mountains. The us II Corps concentrated its strength at Tebessa, whereby Allied commanders Lloyd Fredendall and also Kenneth Anderson (UK) believed they could best protect the Kasserine Pass. Rommel, however, sensed the opportunity. V the momentum against the allied forces, he establish an attack directly ~ above their main strength through the Kasserine Pass might yield exceptional gains— the capture of much-needed supplies, protection of the German-held seaside region to the east, and a feasible forward staging area because that the Luftwaffe to stage additional attacks.

 


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The 75th Anniversary the The fight of Kasserine pass Symposium, following February 24 at the Museum, will look in ~ the vital lessons the the battle and also explain means in i m sorry the setback in Tunisia produced a hardened US military that would march on come victory.


In the at an early stage morning hrs of February 19, the Germans released their attack through the Kasserine Pass. They were able come inflict heavy damages on the Allied pressures in the comes days, together the Allies reeled westward in retreat for 50 miles. Basic problems amongst the ally forces, and within the American military in particular, became painfully clear. The Allied pressures were not effectively positioned due to the fact that their commanders had no personally reconnoitered the landscape. Not only were the American, British, and French forces uncoordinated among themselves, however within the American pressures Fredendall had separation up elements within divisions, assigning them individual work on the battlefield fairly than emphasizing coordinated, incorporated actions. The inexperience of the US military in combat was obvious in the performance of both troops and equipment. These aspects later drew Rommel’s an individual scorn. Finally, that was noticeable that the Allied leaders did not inspire confidence amongst their men.

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Despite this losses and also setbacks, the us II Corps in addition to British reserves managed to regroup and hold ~ above February 22, launching a enormous artillery attack that stopped the German offensive. Faced with his own overextended supply lines and an Allied force that was currently receiving rushed reinforcements, Rommel chose to exit and also ordered every Axis devices to return to their starting positions to concentrate on defending the German-held seaside areas.

While Kasserine happen was no an American victory, that did organize deep definition for the future. The american seriously contemplated where their initiatives had failed and boldly initiated changes to boost their battlefield performance. Focus on waiting superiority, ideal cover in the desert landscape, and positioning of systems so the they could effectively work-related together and cover each other in a linked manner was stressed. Finally, basic Dwight D. Eisenhower took manage of the command structure. He produced the 18th army Group under general Harold Alexander (UK) together the new Allied headquarters in phibìc Africa, and placed an vitality leader, significant General George S. Patton (see top photo), in fee of the united state II Corps. The American reaction come Kasserine Pass confirmed the American Army’s determination that next time the Germans would experience really different results.

This post originally appeared in V-Mail, a quarterly newsletter because that Museum Members.  


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Keith served as the Senior director of research study and history in the Institute because that the examine of War and Democracy in ~ The nationwide WWII Museum in brand-new Orleans.