Operation Cobra in 1944 in the European Theater of Operations (ETO)

  • 2017

Operation Cobra in 1944 in the European Theater of Operations (ETO)

Author:
Carl Wayne Lowe
Abstract:

The unrecognized key factors that contributed to the performance of the United States Army Armored Force before Operation Cobra in 1944 in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). The interconnection of equipment, doctrine, and organization make it difficult to analyze and identify all the factors involved in determining the success or failure of U.S. forces at the beginning of World War II. Historians examining the mechanization of the United States Army and the transformation of cavalry during the interwar period cite the resource constrained environment, the competition between the Cavalry Branch and the Infantry Branch, the friction within the Cavalry Branch between the horse and mechanization factions, and the decentralized mechanization priorities as major factors affecting what occurred during that time. Most historians agree that these factors contributed to the marginal performance of the United States Army Armored Force in the European Theater of Operations before Operation Cobra in 1944. Many historians state these factors led to inferior tanks, organization, and doctrine. This paper examines three additional key factors that also contributed to the United States Army Armored Force’s marginal performance in the ETO before Operation Cobra in 1944: 1) the failure to deploy the M6 series of heavy tanks; 2) the failure of the U.S. Army education system to inculcate the doctrine with commanders and planners; and 3) the impact of the 90-division decision on the organization, rotation, and employment of armored forces and individual replacements.