¶ … enemy situation that Koch had to face
What were some of the issues regarding the enemy situation that Koch had to face in various operations during World war Two?
Colonel Oscar W. Koch served as the Assistant Chief of Staff G2 for Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., from February 1944 until the end of World War II. He has been called one of the unsung heroes of the Second World War, especially in the area of intelligence, strategy and planning. One biographic study refers to Koch as "the spark plug of the Third Army" and states that he was "in the field of intelligence, probably the most penetrating brain in the American Army."
The literature also refers to three characteristics that have been associated with Koch and his adeptness at perceiving the actions and intentions of the enemy. These refer to "…his amazing situational awareness, his keen analytical sense, and his unwavering moral courage."
His view of the importance of intelligence and his far-reaching analysis and planning are expressed as follows: "Without intelligence, the commander is blind. Only through the reasoned application of information supplied by intelligence is he able to make sound tactical decisions. "
From this perspective the commander of an army or force must be aware of the natural and acquired resources of the enemy, as well as other factor such as enemies political structure; its economy as well as"… the attitudes of its people, their ideologies and characteristics; its climate, and its transportation and communications systems. In short, the commander must know that country as well as he does his own -- or better."
2. Koch, Intelligence and the Battle of the Bulge.
For Koch therefore, the intelligence officer was responsible for supplying his commander with the necessary information and insights needed to fulfill critical mission objective. This also includes the need to ensure that the correct intelligence reaches the right people. This role of intelligence gathering, planning and insight into the issues affecting the enemy are evident in the Battle of the Bulge.
During the various operations that he was involved in during the Second World War, Koch studied and evaluated issues such as the terrain to ascertain how the enemy might use it for defensive or offensive purposes, the morale and psychological resolve of the soldiers and many other variables that may have an affect strategy and planning.
In the Battle of the Bulge Koch's incisive analysis of the various factors and variables -- especially the disposition of the enemy- is clearly evident. While most of the commanders were of the opinion that the German's were on the run and incapable of a coherent counter-attack, Koch thought differently.
On the one hand Allied Command was of the opinion that the war in that sector was almost won and that there would be little German resistance. This is obvious form the following extract;
General Eisenhower's intelligence officer predicted that victory in Europe was within sight, almost within reach. The First Army chief of intelligence was even more optimistic, declaring that it was unlikely that organized German resistance would continue beyond 1 December 1944.
However, Colonel Koch had a very different view of the situation. He believed
… that the Germans remained unbeaten. Col. Oscar W. Koch, the Third Army intelligence officer, was convinced that the German Army, far from being routed, was playing for time and preparing...
For example, Koch noted that there were an increasing number of German troops and vehicle's leaving Westphalia and that these German units, which included armor, were moving away from Third Army's front.
He also noted that there was a large amount of German traffic observed moving toward the Eifel region of Germany, and to the east of the Ardennes. From these observations he concluded that "… a major force, consisting mostly of Panzer (armored) units, must be assembling somewhere in that region."
In the face of opposition to his views from other senior officers, Koch wrote an assessment of the situation in which he warned that, "Despite the crippling factors of shattered communications, disorganization and tremendous losses in personnel and equipment, the enemy nevertheless has been able to maintain a sufficiently cohesive front to exercise an overall control of his tactical situation."
This view was also based on a perception and analysis of the morale and psychological capabilities of the enemy to recover quickly from defeat. He asserted that although the enemies were withdrawing this should not be seen as a chaotic and disordered retreat. He was of the view, which turned out to be correct, that "…the enemy is still capable of bringing new elements into the battle area…" and that the enemy & #8230; "nevertheless has been able to maintain a sufficiently cohesive front to exercise an overall control of his tactical situation."
He was also of the opinion that the Germans had a reserve force, which they were deploying in a counter-offensive. Subsequent events proved Koch to be correct and resulted in the near success of the German offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge.
The above discussion can also be applied to the invasions of Sicily and France. In Operation Husky the complexity of landing troops on the island and the logistics involved were obstacles that had to be overcome. The planners of the invasion also devised methods of diverting the attention of the enemy; such as planting false information on a dead body which was intended to misdirect the attention of the enemy for the actual landing points. This use of intelligence and counter intelligence was also used in Operation Overlord.
While it is not possible within the limited space of this paper to go into each area in detail, what these examples and particularly the Battle of the Bulge indicate is Koch's ability to assess the issues, variable and factors that were most important in terms of overcoming the enemy.
The views and opinions that Koch put forward often also took a great deal of moral courage as they were the opposite of the views of those above him in rank. This is obvious in the case of the Battle of the Bulge. "To offer a view that contradicted his higher headquarters and at the same time brought him into opposition with as strong a personality as Patton's required great moral courage on COL Koch's part."
Koch was able to determine and assess the situation as well as the predisposition of the enemy through intelligence and analysis; which in turn provided a sound basis for command objectives. However, as the resistance to his views before the Battle of the Bulge indicates, the relationship and trust between higher command structures and the intelligence echelon is an essential feature in modern warfare and strategy. This can be seen as an issue and one potential problem that emerges from the above analysis. As one pundit notes;
The intelligence man must be confident that the results of his efforts will be respected by his commander, both in terms of interest and attitude and in the degree of utilization of the end product so painstakingly produced. The commander, on the other hand, must be confident that his intelligence chief's work merits such respect. If either's confidence fails, command support is nonexistent.
This is an essential aspect that Patton realized and showed in his confidence in the insights and apprehension of the enemy situation that was so competently provided by Col. Koch during the various operations during World War Two.
Dougherty K.. " Oscar Koch: An…
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