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DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

United States Army War College

Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013

Spring 2001


MEMORANDUM FOR Whom It May Concern
SUBJECT: Center of Gravity Determination for Operation Husky, the World War II Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
1. Purpose

The purpose of this memorandum is to present, with justification, the strategic center of gravity for each opposing force in the above named scenario.


2. Description of the Scenario

The Allied decision to invade Sicily following the successful operation in North Africa was a critical element of World War II (WWII). The commitment of such a large force to continue operations in the Mediterranean theater meant that the cross-channel invasion of Europe would be delayed.

American military leaders strongly favored the cross-channel invasion at the earliest possible opportunity. This meant giving this invasion force first priority for troops, shipping and equipment. The British favored an indirect approach that would see a major effort continue in the Mediterranean. The Allies settled on the Mediterranean approach at the Casablanca conference in January 1943 and began planning for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.

Situated ninety miles off the north coast of Africa and two and one-half miles from the toe of the Italian peninsula, Sicily was both a natural bridge between Africa and Europe and a barrier dividing the Mediterranean Sea. It was an unsinkable air and naval fortress from which Axis forces interdicted Allied’ sea lines of communications through the Mediterranean.

Operation Husky was the largest amphibious operation ever conducted up to that time. The operation encountered numerous difficulties and gained the Allies valuable experience that would be critical for the successful invasion of Europe. Operation Husky was the last U.S. and British combined operation of WWII in which roughly equal numbers of British and US ground forces would be committed. British ground forces would initially be the main effort of the operation but by its conclusion US ground forces would have the lead. After Sicily, US forces would constitute the largest element of Allied’ combat power for the remainder of the war.
The German defense of Sicily is one of the finest examples of defensive warfare in modern history. The bulk of the Axis forces available for the campaign were Italian, but despite competent leadership and decision-making at the General Officer level, the Italian forces were mostly ineffective. Greatly outnumbered and out-gunned, the Germans effectively delayed the allied advance for weeks, allowing German units to reinforce Italy. The campaign ended with a brilliant evacuation of German forces and equipment from Sicily despite Allied air and naval superiority.
3. Anglo Allies 1943
3.1 Strategic goals of Anglo Allies 1943

The strategic goals of the US-British alliance in 1943 were to defeat Germany first while containing Japan, to keep Russia in the war on the side of the Allies, and the eventual unconditional surrender of all Axis countries. To accomplish these goals, US leaders favored an early, direct attack into northern Europe. The British on the other hand were weary and cautious after four years of war. The British recognized the importance of applying pressure on the Germans, but they also recognized the scope of the challenge of an invasion of northern Europe and were determined to take an indirect approach.

The objectives of the Allies in WWII were seen as absolutely just and appropriate by the populations of the alliance, the people of the free world and the people living under the yoke of the Axis. The leaders and people of the Axis countries believed in their objectives too, but they stood apart from the rest of the international community.
3.2 Operational goals of Anglo allies 1943

The operational goals of the Allies were to secure sea lines of communications in the Mediterranean Sea, divert German combat power from the Russian front, and knock Italy out of the war.

These operational goals were not obvious or clear to the bulk of the populations of the Allied’ nations or the international community but generally would have been seen as just and appropriate. The leadership of the Axis countries had just come to the realization that their power and freedom of movement was in decline and that they would be on the defensive for most of the remainder of the war. Their populations were purposely kept unaware of Allied objectives and progress.

3.3 Relevant factors of Anglo Allies 1943


Demographic factors

The Anglo Allies were comprised of the US and Britain who share a common culture and language with diverse dialects.


Economic factors

The US was truly growing into the arsenal of democracy with the most powerful industrial capacity in the world. WWII has brought the US completely out of the depression and while Britain and Russia have their own powerful industrial capacities, it will be the economy and industry of the US that overwhelms the Axis.


Geographical factors

The allies have long, external lines of communications. Allied’ leaders and staffs are geographically separated by great distances. Coordination and planning efforts are spread from the US across the Atlantic to Britain, and into the Mediterranean region and North Africa. Availability of land-based air support for the operation is a critical aspect of the planning for the operation.


Historical factors

The US and Britain have a history of successful wartime cooperation during WW I and in the early stages of WWII.


International factors

The Allies have failed to agree on an overall strategy for defeating Germany and are choosing operations one at a time with no long-range plan. The Allies’ demand for an unconditional surrender of the Axis nations complicates the international situation.


Military factors

The Allies have employed a very complex deception plan to provide surprise for Operation Husky. The Allies have not had much practice in planning or conducting combined and joint operations. This operation provides them needed practice for their staffs and combat forces. Allied’ shipping and landing craft are in short supply. The Allies consider the available shipping and landing craft to be the bare minimum necessary to conduct Operation Husky, and significantly less than is necessary for an invasion of northern Europe. British forces are well trained, experienced, well equipped and well led. Their moral is high.


Political factors

The populations and major political parties of both the US and Britain are firmly in support of Allied leaders and objectives. The governments of both countries are stable, and the military of both countries are firmly under civilian control.


3.4 Dominant factors of Anglo Allies 1943
3.4.1 Composition of forces of Anglo Allies 1943

The Anglo Alliance of 1943 is a multi-state force.


The Anglo Alliance of 1943 is organized as an equal partner alliance with the following members:

  • Britain_1943

  • US_1943

The primary force element that will conduct the campaign for the Anglo Allies of 1943 is “Allied Forces Operation Husky”. In terms of its composition, Allied-Forces-Operation-Husky is a multi-group force. The subgroups of Allied-Forces-Operation-Husky are:

  • British 8th Army (Force 545)

  • Eastern Naval Task Force

  • Northwest Africa Air Force

  • US 7th Army (Force 343)

  • US 9th Air Force

  • Western Naval Task Force

The subgroups of Allied-Forces-Operation-Husky conduct combined and joint operations.
3.4.1.1 Britain 1943
3.4.1.1.1 Strategic goals of Britain 1943

The British strategic goals in 1943 are to pursue an indirect approach to attacking Germany and to preserve the British Empire. They have only recently come to see that victory is ultimately likely, but they also recognize that the path to victory will be long and costly. Winston Churchill understands both the current situation and the likely challenges to be faced after the war, and he is already maneuvering to preserve as much British power as possible.


3.4.1.1.2 Operational goals of Britain 1943

The primary British operational goal is to shorten their supply routes to their forces and Empire in the Middle-east and Asia. While Axis air and naval power on Sicily and in southern Italy threaten shipping through the Mediterranean Sea, British supplies and forces must take the extremely long route around Africa to reach the Middle-east and Asia.


3.4.1.1.3 Relevant factors of Britain 1943
Demographic factors

Britain is employing forces from throughout the empire. These forces share a common history and operational experience but come from different nations and cultures and use different languages.


Economic factors

The British economy and industry are strong and at maximum wartime capacities. The British Empire is in decline. The British are able to sustain their forces in European theater, but at the expense of their forces in the Far-east and Asia. The British economy and industry are not strong enough to generate enough combat power to defeat the Axis without US support.


Geographical factors

The British have long, external lines of communication to the theater. They have even longer lines of communications to Far-east and Asian pieces of the empire.


International factors

The British are openly debating US goals and plans. It takes the intervention of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill to make the final decision to conduct this operation.


Military factors

The Allies have adopted the British staff by committee method for planning the operation. British Generals mistrust the will to fight and capabilities of the US forces. This mistrust drives actual operational plans and decisions and results in the British 8th Army initially being the main effort of the operation.


Political factors

The British government is stable, is fully in control, and has the firm support of the British people. The British Empire is in decline however and while much of Britain's combat power comes from Colonial troops, these troops are not likely to be motivated fight for the preservation of the Empire.

Transportation resources

The British lack the shipping and landing craft necessary to go on the offensive in the war and are dependant on US to provide them.


3.4.1.1.4 Dominant factors of Britain 1943
3.4.1.1.4.1 Control and governing elements of Britain 1943

The government of Britain_1943 is a Parliamentary Democracy. The dominant element in this parliamentary democracy is the “Will of people.” The primary controlling element in the governing body of Britain in 1943 is Winston Churchill.


3.4.1.1.4.2 Civilization of Britain 1943

Britain in 1943 has an industrial civilization, where the dominant element is British’ industrial capacity.


3.4.1.1.5 Strategic Center of Gravity Candidates for Britain 1943
Britain 1943 industrial capacity
Description

Britain’s industrial capacity is the dominant element in their industrial civilization in 1943. This suggests that their industrial capacity is a potential Center of Gravity for Britain in 1943.


Evaluation

Britain-1943 is the provider of relatively little of the war material and transports for the war in Europe. The generation of combat power by Anglo Allies in 1943 is dependant on the industrial capacity of US. Neutralizing the industrial capacity of Britain would have little impact on the combat power of the Anglo Allies in 1943 and little impact on the scheduling of the eventual allied invasion of Europe.


Evaluation result

“Britain 1943 industrial capacity” should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


Winston Churchill
Description

Winston Churchill is the primary controlling element in the governing body of Britain in 1943, a Parliamentary Democracy. Winston Churchill is a valid candidate center of gravity for Britain in 1943.


Evaluation

While Winston Churchill is the primary controlling element of the British government and is making the key strategic decisions for Britain and its allies, he is not irreplaceable. The Parliament, the British public and allies would not allow a dramatic change in course by Churchill or his successor. If major policy changes occurred in Britain-1943, The time lines for US victory might change, but not the eventual outcome of the war.


Evaluation result

Winston Churchill should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


Will of people of Britain 1943
Description

The “will of people of Britain” is the dominant element in the government of Britain in 1943, which is a Parliamentary Democracy. This suggests that the “will of people” is a potential center of gravity for Britain in 1943.


Evaluation

Britain in 1943 is the provider of a relatively small amount of the allied combat power for the war in Europe. The generation of combat power by Britain-1943 is dependant on the will of the people of Britain in 1943. Neutralizing the will of the people of Britain-1943 could disrupt and slow the generation of combat power by the Anglo Allies in 1943, but not to the point that Germany-1943 could defeat the Russians and British in turn and then prevent the US from successfully invading Europe.


Evaluation result

“Will of people of Britain 1943” should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


3.4.1.1.6 Operational Center of Gravity Candidates for Britain 1943

British 8th Army


Description

The British 8th Army is a major component of the allied invasion force.


Evaluation

The British 8th Army is a major component of the Allied’ invasion force and initially is the main effort of the operation.


Evaluation result

British 8th Army should not be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


British Airborne Forces
Description

British Airborne Forces were a key part of the operational plans for operation Husky.


Evaluation

While they played an important tactical role in Operation Husky, British Airborne Forces represent only a small portion of the overall combat power available to the Allies for Operation Husky.


Evaluation result

British Airborne Forces should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


3.4.1.2 US 1943
3.4.1.2.1 Strategic goals of US 1943

A primary goal of the US is to get US forces directly into the fight some where in Europe. The US recognizes that Russia and Britain have carried the fight up to this point. President Roosevelt wants to take on a share of the burden as quickly as possible, while also gaining preeminence in the alliance. The US wants to take the direct approach to defeating Germany and only agrees to invade Sicily after much debate.


3.4.1.2.2 Operational goals of US 1943

The US recognizes that US forces lack training and combat experience and the invasion of Sicily is seen as an opportunity to get correct this situation.

3.4.1.2.3 Relevant factors of US 1943
Demographic factors

US forces are generally homogenous in terms of language and culture. US units are still racially segregated at this time.


Economic factors

The US has an overwhelming advantage over all other countries in economic and industrial strength and has not yet reached its peak capacity in 1943. The US is supplying and paying for the lion's share of the Allied’ effort.


Geographical factors

The US has extremely long and external lines of communication. Some US forces deployed directly from the US for the invasion of North Africa and much of the shipping and naval forces for Sicily will come directly from the US for operation Husky.


Historical factors

The US fully supported and successfully cooperated with Britain in WW I and in the early stages of WW II.


International factors

President Roosevelt’s announcement of the unconditional surrender policy was unexpected and is not fully understood internationally, although in general it is well supported by all of the non-Axis countries of the world. General Eisenhower is attempting to communicate directly with the Italian government to offer them something other than unconditional surrender in order to keep them from opposing the invasion of Sicily and Italy.


Military factors

US forces are very well equipped, and well led, but they have only limited combat experience and practice in amphibious, airborne, joint and combined operations. Their moral is high. US global combat power is growing daily. Despite the Germany-first policy, the US has enough man power and material to conduct Operation Husky, reinforce England, and still send significant forces to the Asian and Pacific theaters.


Political factors

The US government is stable, is fully in control, and has the firm support of the US people. The respect for the power and leadership of the US is growing steadily around the world.


US strategic and operational mobility resources

The British lack shipping and landing craft and are dependant on US to provide them. The US is providing all of the strategic and operational mobility resources for the Allies in WWII. US industrial capacity to produce shipping and landing craft already high but is still growing rapidly and has not reached maximum capacity.


3.4.1.2.4 Dominant factors of US 1943
3.4.1.2.4.1 Control and governing elements of US 1943

The government of US_1943 is a Representative Democracy. The primary controlling element in the governing body of US_1943 is President Roosevelt.


3.4.1.2.4.2 Civilization of US 1943

The US in 1943 has an industrial civilization, where the dominant element is US 1943 industrial capacity.


3.4.1.2.5 Strategic Center of Gravity Candidates for US 1943
President Roosevelt
Description

President Roosevelt is the primary controlling element in the governing body of the US in 1943, which is a Representative Democracy. This suggests that President Roosevelt is a potential center of gravity for US_1943


Evaluation

President Roosevelt is the primary controlling element of the US government and is making the key strategic decisions for the US and its allies, he is not irreplaceable. The US Congress, the US public and US allies would not allow a dramatic change in course by President Roosevelt or his successor. The time lines for US victory might change, but not the eventual outcome of the war.


Evaluation result

President Roosevelt should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


US 1943 industrial capacity
Description

The US industrial capacity is the dominant element in the industrial civilization of 1943. This suggests that US_1943_industrial_capacity is a potential Center of Gravity for the US 1943.


Evaluation

The US in 1943 is the provider of the majority of the war material and transports for the war in Europe. The generation of combat power by the Anglo Allies in 1943 is dependant on the industrial capacity of US. Neutralizing the industrial capacity of US in 1943 could end or disrupt the generation of war materials and transports and slow the generation of combat power by the Anglo Allies to the point that Germany could defeat Russia and Britain in turn and then prevent the US from successfully invading Europe.


Evaluation result

US_1943_industrial_capacity should not be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


Will of people of US 1943
Description

Will_of_people_of_US_1943 is the dominant element in the government of US in 1943, which is a Representative Democracy. This suggests that Will_of_people_of_US_1943 is a potential center of gravity for the US in 1943.


Evaluation

The US is the provider of the majority of the Allied’ combat power for the war in Europe in 1943. The generation of combat power by US is dependant on the will of the people of US in 1943. Neutralizing the will of the people of US could end or disrupt and slow the generation of combat power by US in 1943 to the point that Germany could defeat Russia and Britain in turn and then prevent the US from successfully invading Europe.


Evaluation result

Will_of_people_of_US_1943 should not be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


3.4.1.2.6 Operational Center of Gravity Candidates for US 1943
US 7th Army
Description

The US ground force conducting the amphibious assault is a major source of combat power for the allied invasion force. While nearly equal numbers of US and British ground forces will be involved in the campaign, the US forces will carry the brunt of the war in Europe after this point.


Evaluation

The US ground forces involved in the invasion are the real source of power for the operation. Destroying them, or causing their withdrawal will cause the invasion to fail.


Evaluation result

US 7th Army should not be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


US Airborne forces
Description

US Airborne forces represent a major source of combat power for Operation Husky.


Evaluation

A division plus sized force is dropped beyond the US amphibious assault points and they play a key role in protecting the beach heads while the amphibious forces are establishing themselves.


Evaluation result

US Airborne forces should not be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


3.4.2 Control and governing elements of the Anglo Allies 1943
3.4.3 Civilization of Anglo Allies 1943
3.5 Strategic Center of Gravity Candidates for Anglo Allies 1943

The strategic center of gravity candidates of the members of Anglo Allies of 1943 are also strategic center of gravity candidates for Anglo Allies in 1943.


Cooperation between members of Allied forces operation Husky
Description

Because of the level of complexity of the combined and joint operations being conducted by the Allied-Forces-Operation-Husky, cooperation between the subgroups of Allied-Forces-Operation-Husky is a valid candidate strategic Center of Gravity.


Evaluation

Cooperation between the US and British forces can be eliminated as a candidate COG because over the very long run, the US is capable of defeating the Germans in Europe on their own. Keeping Britain in the war and cooperating, and the island of Great Britain available as a launching base for the invasion of Europe is important but not decisive. The US was successful in deploying forces directly from the continental US for the invasion of North Africa and could do so again if necessary for the invasion of Europe. This would be very much more difficult than launching the invasion from England with British support, but still possible.


Evaluation result

Cooperation between members of Allied-Forces-Operation-Husky should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


Will of Anglo allies 1943
Description

The Anglo Alliance of 1943 is an equal partner, multi-state alliance. The will of the alliance is a potential center of gravity for the Anglo Allies of 1943.


Evaluation

The US is, over the very long term, capable of defeating the Germans in Europe on their own. Keeping Britain in the war, and the island of Great Britain available as a launching base for an invasion of Europe is important, but not decisive. The US was successful in deploying forces directly from the US for the invasion of North Africa and could do so again if necessary for the invasion of Europe.


Evaluation result

The Will of Anglo Allies 1943 should be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


Allied Strategic Mobility
Description

To win the war, the Allies have to successfully conduct global projection of combat power. The Allies can not defeat the Axis if they can't deliver their combat forces to the appropriate theater at the appropriate time.


Evaluation

Disruption of Allied strategic force projection or destruction of their means of global force projection could prevent or delay the invasion of Europe to the point that it could allow the Germans to defeat Russia and link up with the Japanese in central Asia.


Evaluation result

Allied strategic mobility should not be eliminated as a candidate center of gravity.


3.6 Strategic Center of Gravity Choice for the Anglo Allies 1943


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