Week eight reading
D-Day, Bevor, pages 31-50
Crusade, Eisenhower, page 220-252
Ambrose, Intelligence Community
What were the two most important factors in preparing for D-Day? It is a question that one can look at through many different layers. I'm having a hard time pinning down two factors because of the issue of magnitude. On an individual level, I feel that the leadership of Eisenhower definitely ranks right up there at the top of the list. His ability to be a decisive leader while also a very democratic one is something that makes him one of the best generals ever in the history of the world, in my opinion. I enjoy the writing of historian Stephen Ambrose and in one of his books he talks about how democracies are capable of producing great armies. I believe that Eisenhower's leadership enabled this to take place and his leadership allowed many other factors to become part of the successful invasion. This is inline with the question because there is a tremendous amount of research out there that shows that teaching methods, tools and resources are important, but none so much as the actual teacher in that classroom. We are the Eisenhower's of our student's successes and failures because we marshal the resources and allocate them as we see fit, but I'm willing to go out on a limb that each one of you reading this also has a relatively democratic classroom where the students are not merely subjects to your rule, but partners in the process of learning. Great soldiers are scarce but more prevalent with great leadership. Great students can exist on their own, but great teachers create an atmosphere where everybody elevates beyond their "expected" level of success.
I spent so much space arguing for Eisenhower and the troops that I'm not sure how to layout the rest of my point. Intelligence and industrial might are the other two most important factors that led to the success of D-Day, Overlord, and the victory in Europe. I'm going to try and tap dance down the middle and the only way to do that is to declare "alliance" as the second most important factor. As our readings pointed out, the industrial might of the United States made our soldiers the best equipped on the battlefield. Not just each individual soldier, but the entire logistical support system he had behind him. Supplies, medicine and rations were prevalent thanks to the U.S. industrial might. Most of that might just have laid waste in the sea, however, if not for an absolute triumph by British intelligence. Keeping the Germans guessing, exploiting their poorly structured military chain of command, and being the puppet master of German intelligence was a decisive move that reduced the number of question marks for Allied leadership. Might in both is rarely achieved and, in reality, neither the British or the Americans possessed it all until they were in complete alliance with one another. The two nations have always had a special relationship with one another but it's been one long dominated by mistrust. That mistrust still existed in WWII, let's not get over-romanticized here, but the ability to trust and keep the bigger picture in mind helped this alliance survive the stresses of war, ego and self-interest. The alliance was essentially a transfer of "superpower" status from the British to the Americans, but I believe that, at the time, both nation had the ideal balance of confidence and humility that enabled it to work so strongly together. Had that not existed, and had those demons of ego, stress and selfishness dominated, the alliance would have looked more like the one that existed between the Axis leaders.
- Planning on both sides of the war can be considered the two most important factors in the success of D-Day. The German’s knew an attack was coming and planned as they saw necessary. This entailed placing troops up and down the coast of France. Hitler was afraid to combine all of his forces in to one area due to his fear that if all combined forces were one area they could be over run. Therefore the French coast was littered with smaller forces than would be necessary to stop the Allied Invasion. The Allies as well put much thought into their planning. The generals planned the most ornate and elaborate amphibious, the biggest of the time. They held the invasion during a storm and attacked not at the expected location but instead on the coast of Normandy. The generals were able not only to plan key military strategy by planning the invasion in levels of bombings and attacks but were able to incorporate the element of surprise. The combination of these plannings, ultimately were the two key factors in the success of D-Day.