THE SUPREME COMMAND. By Forrest C. Pogue. (1954,1989; 607 pages, 11 tables, 9 charts, 16 maps, 64 illustrations, 7 appendixes, bibliographical note, glossaries, index, CMH Pub 7-1.)
This book, while it contains the history of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, is focused on the decisions of the Supreme Commander rather than the machinery of command. It is primarily a history of the decisions of General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.
To present these decisions in the round, it includes their background: the situations, military and political, that confronted the Supreme Commander, the discussions leading to his decisions; and the controversies--inter-Allied, interservice, personal, or purely military--which he had to resolve. It also includes an account of the reactions to his decisions and their effect on the course of the war. Since the author drew his information and impressions from interviews with more than a hundred of the leading participants as well as from public and personal records, he has been able to assess and illustrate, in many cases, the weight of personality as a factor influencing Eisenhower's final decisions and their effect. To give further perspective, the author has drawn on German records and interrogations to present the enemy's views, plans, and positions, not always known to the Supreme Commander at the time.
The period covered runs from December 1943 to 14 July 1945. The author reaches back (in Ch. II) to review the origins of SHAEF and to summarize (in Ch. V) the evolution of General Eisenhower's strategic mission as embodied in the OVERLORD plan.
The volume deals with the most complex combined (Allied) and joint (Army, Navy, Air) command that had appeared in the history of war, a headquarters founded
on the principle of Allied "integration," first applied by General Eisenhower in his organization of the Allied headquarters in the Mediterranean in 1942 (AFHQ). It was the culminating expression of the principle of unity of command which the Allies applied in World War II with varying degrees of success in all theaters of operations.
Recognizing this, the author has included the facts and references necessary for a study not only of the antecedents, machinery, and activities of SHAEF (Chs. II-IV), but also of its relations, on the one hand, with the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the supreme instrument of the Allied governments for the military direction of the war, and, on the other, with the principal subordinate commands that directed operations in northwestern Europe on land and sea and in the air, from 6 June 1944 until 7 May 1945.
The Supreme Commander's primary responsibility was military, and after 2 September 1944 he assumed direct command of the operations of the ground forces of the Allies. In order to furnish the setting and trace the consequences of General Eisenhower's military decisions, the book includes a full account of the campaigns of the Allied Expeditionary Force. The scale of this account is determined by the outlook of SHAEF. In general, it follows at army and army group level operations that are being recounted in greater detail in the campaign volumes of the United States Army in World War II and in the British and Canadian official histories. Since the present account is necessarily based chiefly on American records, it gives a more complete and authoritative history of American than of British operations.
Although the Supreme Commander's primary responsibility was military, the scope of his command repeatedly put him astride the traditional line between military and political considerations which modern war tends to obliterate. This line presented a problem in his relations with the British and French commanders, particularly with Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, and in the recommendations he had to make on relations with the Soviets in the last phase of the war. The volume also discusses in detail the difficulties of making politico-military decisions without timely, clear, or positive directives from higher authorities.
1. The planning and preparations for a vast inter-Allied surprise assault on a strongly defended coast and for pursuit and defeat of the enemy (Chs. V-VII, IX). (The plans and preparations here sketched are treated in more detail in Cross-Channel Attack.)
2. Command decisions at the highest level of Allied authority below the Combined and Joint Chiefs of Staff (see Index: "Eisenhower, General of the Army Dwight D.; Strategy, Allied").
3. The interplay between the views and decisions of the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff and those of the Supreme Allied Commander in the field, a treatment which supplements that given in the strategy and logistics volumes of the United States Army in World War II (see Index: "Combined Chiefs of Staff; Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Eisenhower, General of the Army Dwight D.").
4. Unity of command, combined and joint (Chs. II, III, VII, XV; see Index: "Command").
5. The mechanism and operations of a headquarters based on the principles of
command unity and integration (Ch. IV).
6. The tendency to create the large and complex headquarters characteristic of American military organization in World War II (App. B).
7. The interplay of military and political considerations in directing a command of this type (Chs. II, VI, VIII, XII, XIII, XVIII).
8. The campaigns of 1944-45 in France, the Low Countries, and Germany, at army group and army level, including the plans and operations of the enemy (Chs. X-XII, XIV, XVI, XVII, XX-XXIV). In this aspect the present volume is the capstone for the histories of American operations and logistics in the European theater subseries of the United States Army in World War II and, in a more limited degree, for the history of British, Canadian, and French operations.
9. Military government and the military administration of civil affairs, in military operations involving relations with a number of liberated countries and the occupation of enemy territory on the basis of unconditional surrender (Chs. IV, VIII, XIII, XVIII, XIX).
10. The controversies of General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery over strategy and command (see Index: "Eisenhower, General of the Army Dwight D., Montgomery's relationship with").
11. The surprise achieved by the Germans when they attacked in the Ardennes on 16 December 1944, and the countermeasures by which General Eisenhower and his principal commanders contained the attack and regained the initiative (Ch. XX).
12. The decision of General Eisenhower to halt his forces short of Berlin (Ch. XXIV).
13. Psychological warfare (Chs. IV, XIX).
14. Public relations of SHAEF (App. A).
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