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The desired End State of the Allies here is complete control of North Africa from the Atlantic (in the west) to the Red Sea (in the east).
The primary obstacle at present to achieving this End State is fairly easily described: the Axis has control of the Mediterranean Sea with small exceptions on the far east and west of the sea. (The British hold Alexandria and the Suez Canal on the eastern Mediterranean, and hold the island of Malta and the straits of Gibraltar in the western Mediterranean.) Due to Axis control of southern Europe -- including, crucially, the Italian peninsula and Sicily -- the Axis has reliable SLOC and ALOC into the central portion of North Africa, where their troops are presently stationed in the Western Desert. Nobody (neither Allies nor Axis) has reliable or useful LLOC here.
The Critical Requirements for the Allies to achieve this end state, therefore, are to establish reliable bases on the north and northwest coasts in the regions of Casablanca, Oran, Algiers, and Tunis. This area is controlled by Vichy France, which is technically not part of the Axis, and may offer less resistance to an Allied incursion. Gibraltar remains under Allied control but is surrounded by Spain, neutral but politically fascist and therefore potentially liable to join the Axis if threatened or if its neutrality is impinged upon. Therefore the establishment of bases must be followed by a second Critical Requirement, which is to take control of French North Africa entirely: i.e., to take the countries of French Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. This would have to be done with an awareness of the buildup of Axis forces to the east (in the desert between Libya and western Egypt). If, for some reason, the Allies take too long in seizing control of French North Africa, the Axis could very well progress from what is presently its rearward flank.
The Critical Vulnerabilities of the Allies in establishing themselves are the potential reaction of the Vichy French and, to a lesser degree, of neutral Spain. Thus Allied defense of Gibraltar and Malta would be a necessary part of any invasion strategy, especially if there is some chance Spain might join the fray and greatly complicate the Allied goals here. The other Critical Vulnerability is the presence of a substantial Axis troop buildup presently fighting British Allied forces in the western desert. The threat of the Axis moving these westward in the event of an Allied invasion that meets little French resistance is estimated as a bigger problem than the potential French resistance. If Rommel turns up in Tunis before the Allies do, that is a potentially insurmountable obstacle. However, given the Axis' main focus on fighting the Russians at this time, it is unlikely that their overall strategy could shift quickly enough to establish more substantial ALOC and SLOC to provide logistical support. It would appear that speed -- in establishing bases and taking French North Africa -- is the most crucial thing for the Allies here.
ENDSTATE: retain all North Africa under effective Axis control
Critical Capabilities Center of Gravity
Must ensure Vichy French Retain Vichy French rule keep Allies out in French North Africa
Must reduce existing Allied Cut off presence of Allies in either
Territory on east and west of N. Africa. east (Suez) or west (Gibraltar)
Critical Requirements Critical Vulnerabilities
SLOC from Italy/Sicily If Vichy French capitulate, rear flank in western North Africa
ALOC from Italy / Sicily Main military objective is elsewhere
(Russia) -- unable to redirect logistical
Vichy French hold fast necessities soon enough.
The desired End State for the Axis may be assumed to be more or less the same as it is for the Allies: ultimately, to gain control of the entirety of North Africa. The difference lies in the strategic advantage held by the Axis at present. Due to their control of the Mediterranean and their ability to maintain ALOC and SLOC from continental Europe down into Italy and Sicily, and thus across to North Africa, the Axis already has a substantial military presence in the Western Desert, hoping to march east from Libya and take the British Allied possessions in Egypt.
The potential vulnerabilities of the Axis position are also obvious here. The Vichy French are a conquered people, and not a signatory to the original Axis military pact. Although they are unlikely to revolt against Axis domination in French North Africa (from Tunisia west to Morocco) they may also not fight as hard to repulse an Allied invasion as Axis forces would. Likewise...
/ Invasion Take major Expand from Prepare for ports in Vichy there to seize battle w / Axis
French territory French N. Africa east of Tunis
Line 2. / SLOC Retain Gibraltar Establish bases Build naval and Suez close to Atlantic presence to challenge
Line 3. / ALOC Retain Malta, Prepare for Use carriers
And Gibraltar possible Spanish until bases front established
The three basic objectives in Operation Torch will be to prepare a ground force to invade French North Africa; and to maintain Allied SLOC and ALOC despite their potential vulnerabilities. This means a zealous defense of the existing Allied territory on the eastern and western ends of the Mediterranean, and an initial strategy of seizing the ports in French North Africa and expanding outwards to seize all of French North Africa. The use of carriers can support air combat until bases are established, and a sufficient naval presence will be required to challenge Axis dominance in the western Mediterranean while maintaining hold of Malta and Gibraltar. An awareness of a possible Spanish front should be maintained but is not a certainty.
Question 4. The End State of Operation TORCH that defines achievement of all military objectives is the total expulsion of the Axis from North Africa. The specific objectives that will help to achieve this are -- most immediately -- the reclamation of Vichy French territories for the Allies. The existence of an anti-Axis French resistance suggests that, once the Vichy French territories are taken by the Allies, existing French forces will join the Allies in fighting against the Axis military presence which is at the moment confined to Libya. However, once French North Africa is under Allied control, the strategic advantage of the Axis -- due to its ALOC and SLOC in the short hop across the Mediterranean from the Italian peninsula and Sicily -- is partially nullified. With the addition of the French to Allied forces, Rommel will no longer have a numerical advantage -- especially when Axis efforts are presently concentrated in Russia. Moreover, Rommel will be fighting on two fronts: with British Allied forces from Alexandria and the Western Desert to his right and with the Allied invasion joined by the French to his left, catching him in a pincer movement.
Question 5. The quad box is described as follows:
ENDSTATE: to take all of North Africa for the Allies
Critical Capabilities Center of Gravity
Must establish bases in French Speed of establishing a secure
North Africa quickly; foothold in French North Africa
Must retain existing Allied Speed of establishing sufficiently
Territory on east and west of N. Africa. large force to defeat Axis presence
Must eliminate Axis Forces from western
Critical Requirements Critical Vulnerabilities
SLOC from Atlantic Greater-than-anticipated resistance from Vichy French
ALOC from Gibraltar/Malta
Threatened Spain abandons neutrality,
Sufficient Naval and Ground leaves Allied Gibraltar vulnerable forces to establish bases
Axis forces in Western Desert reach
Sufficient increase in forces to French North Africa faster than estimated
Take all of French West Africa
This analysis makes the Center of Gravity the amount of time required for the Allied invasion -- what is most pivotal here is the speed whereby the Allies can establish themselves in French West Africa and build up troops quickly enough to seize the entirety of the territory to the east as far as Tunis.
The elements affecting the speed are therefore the potential amount of resistance that could be encountered with Vichy French forces in the area -- barring the additional complication of Spain abandoning neutrality, which would threaten Gibraltar (one of the few things the Allies have in the immediate theater). In reality the success or failure here hinges upon how long the Allies can delay a direct encounter with Axis forces.
Question 6. At the Operational level, the TORCH plan intends to attack the Theater-Strategic level Axis Center of Gravity with an awareness of the larger Axis military objectives and operations. North Africa is not the Axis's main focus: Rommel's activities are an attempt to cut off crucial British Allied supply lines in Suez and hinder the Allies' access to…
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