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"British Notes on a Campaign in Cyrenaica" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on British tactics in North Africa was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 18, Feb. 11, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The Middle East Theater has peculiar topographical and climatic conditions, and the conduct of military operations depends to a considerable extent on these important factors. Care must be observed in drawing general conclusions based on the tactics employed in one area, since the measures invoked may have local application only. The particular campaign treated here was in Cyrenaica as reported in a British document.

a. Consolidation of Position

Security against counterattack by enemy tanks will depend on the speed with which objectives can be consolidated. Consolidation is an operation in which all arms are concerned, and the proficiency required can be attained only by constant practice with a definite method to insure that it is carried out instinctively and without waste motion. There is no reason why a battle drill for consolidation should interfere in any way with selection of the best ground from a tactical point of view.

b. Deception

The study of this subject has, in the past, been neglected. Experience has shown that:

(1) Efficient deception measures may produce results out of all proportion to the effort in personnel and materiel expended on them.

(2) Staff officers must have a full knowledge of the potentialities of deception, and it must be considered in all operational planning.

(3) It cannot be effected on short notice; considerable preliminary organization and development are necessary.

(4) Large-scale deception normally involves a heavy call on administrative resources and equipment. Once it has been agreed that it is justified, full priority must be given to the scheme. Half measures are ineffective.

c. Penetration and Countermeasures

In certain operations there were occasions when strong forces, both enemy and British, penetrated to the extent of seriously threatening communications. When operating on wide fronts with dispersed forces this threat will always exist, and preparations must be made accordingly. Armored car patrols should be detailed to maintain contact both by day and night with any enemy columns which penetrate, and strong mobile reserves suitably located should be held for the protection of vital points.


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