News | July 27, 2022

Insights on Theater Command and Control from the Creation of Allied Force Headquarters

By J. Bryan Mullins Joint Force Quarterly 106

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Colonel J. Bryan Mullins, USA (Ret.), Ph.D., is the Division Chief for War Plans, Strategy, and Exercises at the U.S. Army Pacific G4.

Navy warplanes (five Douglas SBD Dauntless bombers in foreground and one F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat at tip of deck) played major role in protecting armada during Operation Torch, November 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Navy warplanes (five Douglas SBD Dauntless bombers in foreground and one F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat at tip of deck) played major role in protecting armada during Operation Torch, November 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Navy warplanes (five Douglas SBD Dauntless bombers in foreground and one F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat at tip of deck) played major role in protecting armada during Operation Torch, November 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Navy warplanes (five Douglas SBD Dauntless bombers in foreground and one F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat at tip of deck) played major role in protecting armada during Operation Torch, November 1942
Navy warplanes (five Douglas SBD Dauntless bombers in foreground and one F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat at tip of deck) played major role in protecting armada during Operation Torch, November 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command)
Photo By: Naval History and Heritage Command
VIRIN: 220726-D-BD104-008

This article explores the creation of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ) over the summer and fall of 1942 and seeks insights into the difficulties faced by any joint, combined, theater-level headquarters during the early stages of a large-scale war. While 80-years hence technology and practice have improved our ability to stand up a theater headquarters rapidly, the critical challenges faced by AFHQ remain relevant. In general, new joint task forces (JTFs) will face the same five general challenges that AFHQ had to overcome.

First, AFHQ formed quickly, using manpower from a wide range of preexisting organizations. Second, the command simultaneously planned and prepared for operations while trying to fill out its personnel and establish procedures to govern its business. Third, it was inserted into an already functional national and bilateral coordination structure that had been synchronizing strategy and global logistics for months. This new combined U.S.–United Kingdom (UK) staff triggered a complex reevaluation of the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the system. Fourth, AFHQ inherited a formidable range and depth of preexisting plans and supporting staff analyses of the operational and logistical problems associated with invading northwestern Africa that offered advantages and disadvantages for the command. Finally, AFHQ needed to establish and convey a phased command and control (C2) concept for the campaign while simultaneously defining internal responsibilities and coordination procedures for the operational and administrative portions of the staff and the component commands charged with action within each domain. Regardless of how good or imperfect the U.S. and UK models were for exercising C2 at the theater level, the real challenge was merging them into one system that was understood and functional at a massive scale. Based on observations of major command post exercises within U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) from 2015 to 2018, this article concludes that these five factors remain relevant to future conflicts and likely apply to other combatant commands.

Building AFHQ

Despite the fact that the United States and United Kingdom had been discussing a combined venture against Vichy French possessions in Africa or the Atlantic islands since August 1941, AFHQ found itself in a sprint to man the headquarters, finalize the planning details necessary to pull off an invasion of North Africa (called Operation Torch), and mount the invasion force from July to November 1942.1 The first key component of AFHQ, British First Army, stood up in late June 1942.2 On July 24–25, the British and Americans agreed to the general terms for Operation Torch. The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) appointed Dwight D. Eisenhower the overall commander and assigned him a new joint combined staff to plan and control the operation, with the planning effort to occur primarily in London.3 The initial conditional nature of Torch, proposed by U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, was overridden by President Franklin D. Roosevelt almost immediately, lending urgency to the effort to man a large headquarters.4 On August 4, the executive planning team convened for the first time at Norfolk House in the heart of London. U.S. Brigadier General Alfred Gruenther was the first director of this group made up of 12 planners drawn from Combined Operations Headquarters, British First Army, and European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA).5 Officially activated on August 11, the command held its earliest planning sessions less than 2 weeks later; Major General Humphrey Gale, the British chief administration officer, held his first logistics coordination meeting on August 22, 1942.6 Key U.S. personnel continued to trickle into the command over the following weeks, including U.S. G4 Brigadier General Archelaus Hamblen and Chief of Staff Brigadier General Walter Bedell Smith. Smith remained Eisenhower’s staff coordinator for the duration of the war in Europe.7 Not appointed until August 18, Brigadier General Smith of the U.S. portion of the AFHQ headquarters found himself in a race to assemble the core of his unit by September 15.8

AFHQ remained a relatively small organization during its first year of existence. In mid-November 1942, it was authorized 507 officers, 71 warrant officers, and 1,068 enlisted Soldiers.9 If this seems a large number, it is helpful to remember that until November 24, the command was spread among London, Gibraltar, and Algiers and retained a rear, main, and forward staff footprint for virtually the duration of the war. To appreciate the density of personnel at each location, the AFHQ staff directory for Gibraltar, published on November 5, listed about 140 individuals and coordination centers, with large contingents from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and a robust combined political section.10 It is difficult to determine what percentage of authorized positions were filled by the time field operations began, but AFHQ had at least 80 percent of its officers and 50 percent of its total personnel in mid-November.11 By mid-December, the entire G-3 section for AFHQ consisted of 31 officers concentrated primarily in Algiers.12 Although deemed sufficient at the beginning of the campaign, the size of the AFHQ staff continued to expand throughout 1943. In addition, it gained a few new subordinate organizations, including 18th Army Group, U.S. Fifth Army, and North African Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, activated in part to help AFHQ better handle its diverse range of missions and units.

Although near full strength, the polyglot nature of its population and the inexperience of its U.S. members hampered the efficiency of the command. British personnel came from the Combined Operations Headquarters, Home Guard, the War Office, the Admiralty, and the Air Ministry. U.S. personnel coalesced around a core provided by ETOUSA, which traced its lineage back to the Special Observer Group and then U.S. Army Forces British Isles. (Some of these men had been in the United Kingdom since the summer of 1940.13) These experienced hands received reinforcements from the Operations Division, Army Air Service, and Service of Supply (SOS) of the U.S. War Department.14 Additional officers came from military units scattered all over the United States and elements assigned to AFHQ. Key players among the Americans barely knew one another (unless they had been classmates), and everyone had to agree how to run a combined headquarters for the first time. The frantic pace and long duty hours common at Norfolk House accelerated the process of coalescing this group of individuals into a functional team.

A Kitchen with Many Cooks

Despite the need to form a headquarters from scratch on a compressed timeline, AFHQ did benefit from all the hard work that had already gone into planning the precursor to Torch—Operation Gymnast. But the sheer volume of preexisting plans and the number of agencies intimately involved in producing them also came with disadvantages. First, planners at AFHQ had to master the set of facts (and in some cases discover the mistakes) that their counterparts at the highest levels had been working with since the beginning of 1942. Second, they eventually had to not only understand the material as well as its original creators but also go beyond them, winning ownership over the process and progressing to detailed schemes of maneuver and logistical support, backed up by precise convoy schedules and packing lists.

One of the earliest challenges AFHQ faced was the need to establish a working relationship with the already existing national agencies tasked with determining strategy and directing operations. The British high command had a major advantage over the Americans: it had already established a functional national-level joint command. By early 1942, the British military had a functional executive planning body that answered to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff committee (General Alan Francis Brooke after March 1942) and then to Winston Churchill as the Minister of Defence. The Americans operated under a much looser structure, where the War Department and Department of the Navy functioned as almost independent agencies. The Joint Staff planners—five officers from the Army (including Army Air Forces) and Navy, who supervised a joint strategic committee of six planners—guided what little informal coordination and synchronization occurred in Washington. Both organizations were established in March 1942 and were soon joined by a small secretariat plus intelligence, military transportation, communications, and other specialized committees. Retired Admiral William Leahy joined the team in July as the chief of staff for the President in his role as the commander in chief of the Army and Navy. Perhaps as expected, the American military organizations charged with fleshing out and synchronizing overall U.S. strategy were small, new, and at odds with one another throughout the second half of 1942.15

Like in any large, bureaucratic structure, the U.S. War Department was hardly a unified monolith. The Operations Division, established in March 1942 using a core of officers pulled from the old operations and planning divisions, consisted of the people who had worked out the garrisoning of the Western Hemisphere and the immediate shoring up of Great Britain and had published the first drafts of Operation Gymnast and its related expeditions in and around Africa.16 They remained the most logical Army planning counterparts for the Joint Board and CCS supporting staff in Washington and had easy access to Marshall and thus maintained firm control over future operations. General Brehon Somervell’s SOS was responsible for maritime transportation and the resupply of U.S. units serving overseas. It was also responsible for deciding what percentage of service troops would be fed to each overseas theater command. If Eisenhower believed that ETOUSA and AFQH were not getting their fair share of troops or material, he would have to take that up with Somervell through Marshall.17 Finally, the commanders of the Western and Central task forces, both of which would sail directly from the United States, were in constant contact with planners in London and Washington, adjusting their landing scheme, loading plans, and reinforcement and resupply schedule—tasks that required coordination among AFHQ, SOS, Army Ground Forces, and War Department staff.18 Each minute change in the resources available or the planning factors being used reverberated throughout each organization, driving another sequence of coordination and synchronization meetings and cables.

Just as AFHQ had to try to remain tied in with half-a-dozen separate entities on the East Coast, it required similar cooperation with the British and American portions of the Eastern Task Force and its associated air and naval units, as well as the industrial and supply agencies that would sustain UK forces in theater. Relative proximity made coordination easier but probably also strengthened British influence over the AFHQ. While the British Joint Planning Staff facilitated the initial contact between AFHQ and the British Middle Eastern Command, real integration could wait until the two commands approached one another in Tunisia or Libya.19 Finally, the relationship between ETOUSA, the U.S. logistics staff officers at AFHQ, and the service troops within each task force had to be ironed out. In theory, ETOUSA would work itself out of a job soon after the third or fourth reinforcing convoy departed Great Britain (to be replaced by North African Theater of Operations, U.S. Army). Not every professional logistician agreed with this concept, however, and it did little to clarify who was responsible for what during the preparation, mounting, and immediate resupply of the American elements of the invasion force sailing from the United Kingdom.

The intent of the preceding discussion is not to imply that Allied C2 was uniquely defective or that some magical rearrangement of the organization chart and reporting scheme would have fixed most of the problems faced by AFHQ. Despite the near universal desire for simple wire diagrams, no such animal seems ever to exist in the historical record, particularly in the case of joint and combined operations. What the example of AFHQ illustrates is the requirement for a large and well-networked staff to synchronize activities among a bewildering array of superior, peer, and subordinate organizations and staffs. AFHQ did not need to, nor could it have, centralize all planning within its own organization. But it did need to understand the plan as well as all these other entities and have a strong, if not decisive, voice when it came to establishing priorities, evaluating risk, and determining exactly how to accomplish its overarching objectives. As relative newcomers to the planning efforts surrounding Operations Gymnast and Torch, AFHQ found this almost impossible, and it was not until late January 1943 that Eisenhower’s command began to achieve this dominant position.

The Plan(s)

The War Plans Division and then Operations Division of the U.S. War Department had been working with their British counterparts from January to April 1942 to produce an acceptable plan for an operation in North Africa that would eventually be named Torch.20 The War Department plan, titled “North West Africa Theater” and dated February 20, 1942, seemed to have been widely distributed and relatively well known to officers working on the European theater.21 The plan included a large and detailed base order and dozens of annexes for each coordinating and special staff section; the entire document was several hundred pages long. This early version of Torch assumed little to no resistance from the French, semi-autonomous strikes by the Americans along the Atlantic coast and the British at Algiers, the commitment of 6 divisions (rather than the eventual 13 projected in the final version), and sufficient civilian local labor to handle the distribution of supplies on the continent.22 The CCS approved the final Allied version, which included draft convoy schedules on April 6, but did not seem to make its way as deeply into U.S. records.23 If a U.S. staff officer wanted to grasp the overall picture, how each Service would play its part, and the detailed analysis for each staff and technical section, this was the most thorough and readily available source.

The second set of references were the three outline plans produced by AFHQ between August 9 and September 5.24 The main sticking points revolved around the date for the invasion, the number and scope of the various landings, and the primary objective of the campaign. The British were willing to accept more risk to prioritize a rapid advance into Tunisia and follow-on operations in the Mediterranean. Marshall prioritized a low-risk approach focused on establishing a secure blocking force that could isolate Spanish Morocco. Both parties realized there needed to be some compromise between these almost mutually exclusive priorities but could not agree on the degree. The relative merit of the various positions is not important here; what is important is how powerless Eisenhower and his principal subordinates were in forcing a solution. Even though by late August Eisenhower, Mark Clark, and George S. Patton largely agreed with the British concept, they could not get Marshall to change his mind. President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill had to intervene—only Roosevelt could force Marshall to bend over the critical concerns voiced by the British.

In the end, Eisenhower convinced the CCS to postpone the invasion by a month to generate more resources for three full-fledged assaults. The Allies agreed to disagree quietly, or ignore, the unsettled issue of the relative importance of quickly clearing Tunisia versus containing any Axis forces that might reach Spanish Morocco. The U.S. Army would get the British First Army ashore at Algiers, but then they were on their own. U.S. Fifth Army and 12th Air Force would mass on the borders of Spanish Morocco, bottle up any Axis forces projected into the region, and perhaps manage to preserve the possibility of executing Operation Roundup in the spring of 1943.25 The AFHQ staff found itself underemployed throughout August while various arguments bounced back and forth between Washington and London.

Once Eisenhower’s Outline Plan C was published on September 5, it was revealed to be just that—an outline. But at least the staff could now get started adding details to this framework. One of the first crises that swept through the staff was Brigadier General Everett Hughes’s announcement that the plan was logistically unsupportable.26 The news put the War Department and Somervell’s SOS into a spin; at one point in late September, Hughes recommended to Clark that D-Day for Torch be pushed back over a month to December 15—a recommendation Clark refused to act on.27 Despite frantic efforts by Somervell and Major General C.H. Lee’s SOS in the UK, most of the missing and replacement equipment and reserve supplies never made it into the hands of the assault forces. In hindsight these issues were irrelevant to the failure or success of the early stages of Torch but were a massive distraction from mid-September through December for the logisticians assigned to the problem.

About the same time that Eisenhower submitted his consolidated shortage list to the War Department, his staff began to realize that the entire convoy loading schedule was unrealistic. Until September 17, planners had believed that the number of berths and manpower to unload ships and disperse supplies would constrain the buildup of forces. But by the end of the month, the Army began to realize that the real limiting factor would be the ratios of escorts to merchantmen demanded by the U.S. Navy.28 The Navy was willing to provide enough escorts to shepherd 45 slow ships or 20 fast ships in each convoy. The logisticians believed it was possible to berth and offload 55 or 25 ships and had planned the capacity of each convoy accordingly. No one could get the Navy to provide more escorts or relax its escort ratio, so the planners were sent back to rework the composition of each convoy.

The consistent bill payer was logistical capacity—supplies, transportation assets, and service troops. Planners decided to strip out almost all 2.5-ton trucks and Jeeps from the combat units while also slashing the reserve stocks of general supplies and ammunition. The Americans faced a heavier bill, but British First Army cut service troops and cargo trucks as well.29 Because slow convoys from Great Britain took about 2 weeks to sail and unload and those coming from the United States 25 days, the staff had to be working 3 to 5 weeks in front of the expected delivery date of units and supplies. The complexity of such a task in the face of slowly evolving decisions and significant changes to the critical planning factors is mind-boggling. Just keeping up with all the changes was hard enough—trying to then project what needed to be done differently as a result was almost impossible. In many cases, exactly what was loaded on each convoy coming from the United States and then delivered to the theater was largely a mystery to AFHQ and the U.S. War Department. Designing and executing a campaign plan was extremely challenging under these conditions.

How to Run a Theater

Figuring out exactly how to run a joint campaign across vast distances was a new experience for the U.S. Army in mid-1942. Deploying units overseas was one thing, but no one in the U.S. military had any experience integrating strategic and operational logistics with air-sea-land engagements at the theater level. General guidelines for such an endeavor were vaguely outlined in Field Manual (FM) 100-15, Field Service Regulations, Larger Units, and FM 100-10, Field Service Regulations, Administration, but these documents lacked detail and were riddled with internal inconsistencies.30 The British had slowly cracked the code in the Mediterranean within the Middle Eastern Command and had an excellent doctrinal reference on the conduct and logistical support of expeditionary operations in The Manual of Movement, but the Americans seemed equal parts ignorant and resistant to learning from their experience.31 Harnessing the considerable potential of the Army Air Forces seemed to be especially difficult during the initial months in North Africa.32 Eisenhower and the AFHQ appeared capable of adequately planning three isolated amphibious assaults but lacked a compelling concept for how to maximize advantages in the air and sea to support British First Army’s drive from Algiers to Tunis.

Brigadier General Lyman Lemnitzer and the AFHQ staff clearly understood the nature of the problem confronting the command in the fall of 1942. The G-3 circulated a coordinating draft of “Organization of the North African Theater” on September 22 that was designed to explain what AFHQ had to do and to solicit input on the best way to go about it.33 The core requirement was to transform AFHQ from a planning agency to an organization that could operate in the field. Lemnitzer began with the complexity of the administrative situation—U.S. and UK staff arrangements governing logistics were fundamentally different, and the American sea line of communications (SLOC) would run back to the port of New York while resupply for British General Kenneth Anderson’s First Army would come from Great Britain.34 The second major problem that worried Lemnitzer was how to achieve synergy among the joint force: how could the Allies harness naval power and airpower to achieve the objectives of Torch?

Each task force got its own decentralized air support during its assault landings, but once established ashore, AFHQ needed something better. Lemnitzer envisioned an overarching air commander and staff collocated with AFHQ that could direct a centralized theater air campaign, a concept too progressive for its time and not enacted until mid-February 1943.35 The Navy would contribute by securing SLOCs and providing support to First Army along its northern flank. The air staff collocated with AFHQ in Algiers would synchronize ground-based air support for navy forces. The remaining concerns pivoted on responsibility for coordination—with the Vichy government in Africa, with the national chains of command and support in Washington and London, and with Middle Eastern Command in Cairo. AFHQ reserved responsibility for doing so to itself and potential methods described.

AFHQ concurrently began to flesh out its understanding of where and when it would need to establish and adjust its footprints in London, Gibraltar, and Algiers. By October 18, Lemnitzer had worked out a four-stage C2 plan that incorporated a new concept, so-called rear links, and a general outline for how things would proceed.36 The plan not only addressed the limitations of existing methods of communication but also increased the size of the staff and the complexity of its move into theater. Only a few leaders would fly; the rest would be unavailable for up to 14 days as they traveled by ship to Gibraltar or Algiers. The ground and naval task forces and two air commands faced similar requirements, and to help offset the loss of control, AFHQ planned to establish and maintain a consolidated rear echelon at Norfolk House, pulling in coordination teams from the three ground task forces, two air commands, and naval command by D-12. Eisenhower would direct current operations first from Gibraltar and then Algiers, while Smith and Gale handled planning, coordination, and administrative support employing the large and well-connected staff in London. As the situation stabilized and transportation became available, most of the staff would shift to Algiers, leaving only a small liaison element behind to work with ETOUSA and the various services, departments, and ministries on narrow, logistical concerns. Although he tried to be as specific as possible, Lemnitzer acknowledged that the timing would depend on tactical developments.

The final document published by AFHQ on this topic not only clarified weak areas of earlier documents but also backed off on some of the more progressive ideas contemplated by Lemnitzer.37 Once the three assaults consolidated their lodgments, AFHQ could transition into its final configuration—an American force arrayed along the southern border of Spanish Morocco, and some blend of forces working for the British in Tunisia. Each force would have its own army, supporting air command, and rear-area sustainment organization. AFHQ would serve as an administrative referee between the two regional commands and supporting naval forces, issue target priorities for the bombers assigned to 12th Air Force, and work with the remnants of the Vichy government to maintain civil control and secure labor and transportation support for Allied efforts. It seems as if AFHQ had given up trying to exert any direct control over naval assets and resigned itself to two autonomous regional subcommands, each with its own distinct goal and objectives. The concept for the campaign left little for AFHQ to do in the realm of operations beyond deciding which U.S. forces to place under Anderson’s control; Operation Memoranda 30 described a command that would adjudicate the allocation of supplies among the regional commands and the Navy, and little else. It was a watered-down document that delivered little of the promise hinted at by Lemnitzer’s musings from a month earlier about how to achieve synergy through decisive control over land, sea, and air elements of the coalition force.

The Past Is Present (and Future)

One might wonder how this summary of the early travails of AFHQ is relevant today. The U.S. military has standing combatant commands, Service components, and tactical and operational units with formal and informal linkages to each area of responsibility. Surely the chaos surrounding the formation of AFHQ is not a useful comparison to what USINDOPACOM or U.S. European Command will face during a future crisis. My personal experiences in what was U.S. Pacific Command from 2015 to 2018 suggest otherwise.

The details might be debatable, but experienced hands would acknowledge that USINDOPACOM does not have enough staff to handle the pace and scope of operations during a major crisis. It would need time and a surge of augmentees and civilian personnel to reconfigure the Service components along functional lines. Eventually, the command would consider establishing a JTF to shoulder some of the increased workload. How new people and organizations are integrated during such a stressful period is something touched on in exercises, but not mastered. Exactly how USINDOPACOM might interact with all the applicable agencies in Washington and its peer commands is also practiced in some exercises, but it is fair to say those events never have the full attention of their participants for more than a few days at a time. A further complicating factor would be the addition of command nodes of key allies and partners—something never fully replicated during training for classification reasons alone.

The time crunch placed on USINDOPACOM in the first weeks of a conflict would make the situation in AFHQ look pedestrian. A minor dustup, or something that looked like just another routine iteration of an annual major exercise, could spiral into a major theater war in weeks, if not days. An advantage of this reality is that people understand they must be ready to fight with the team and structure they already have for a few weeks, until reinforcements arrive and the option of establishing a JTF presents itself. But executing the option of standing up a new JTF would need to come with a hefty instruction booklet describing how the new headquarters operates and its relationship with established organizations.38

Like AFHQ, a staff officer working in the Pacific has access to a wealth of preexisting plans—perhaps more than any one organization could fully digest. On one hand, there are too many applicable documents; on the other, these documents seldom seem to get down to the level of detail one might hope for. Again, exercises help flesh these concepts out and result in products that are filed away for future use, but the exact conditions will always be slightly different than anticipated. How historically aligned organizations, new additions to the team, and a host of allies and partners would contribute to the existing battle rhythm and C2 processes to understand, refine, and execute these plans remains vague in many cases.

Rather than speculating about command and control during a modern crisis in the Pacific or Eastern Europe, this article set out to describe in some detail the nature of the problem faced by Eisenhower’s Allied Force Headquarters in the fall of 1942. This approach has the advantage of being able to examine what happened rather than speculate about what might have happened, in some detail. It also suggests that historical case studies can help us work through future problem sets more thoroughly than we first thought possible. Some of the critical challenges confronting AFHQ are just as, or even more, applicable today, while others would be irrelevant or relatively easy, unless the voluntary decision was made to stand up a new command. There will be a rush to integrate a new team on a compressed timeline while simultaneously planning and conducting operations. No new organization starts with a clean slate—concepts, plans, and operational preferences predate its creation. The new team must master this context while it tries to change some of it. The difficulty of these tasks is compounded by the need to define internal and external relationships and duties disrupted by the introduction of a new actor. This article lists a set of historical challenges faced by AFHQ to expand our ability to think through how best to command and control a joint campaign, not to suggest that one solution will fit all problems. JFQ


1 Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941–1942 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1953), 102–103.

2 Lynn M. Case et al., History of Allied Force Headquarters, Part I, August–December 1942 (Caserta, Italy: Printing and Stationery Services, Allied Force Headquarters [AFHQ], 1945), 5. The precursor was Force 110, Combined Operations Headquarters, which was created by Winston Churchill as a standing joint command in July 1941 to figure out how to return to the Continent and to harass the Germany military until that was possible.

3 Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 280–281.

4 Ibid., 282–283. The U.S. Army officially maintained the position that Torch would be conditional until September 15, when an assessment of Russian fortunes would be weighed against commitment of the Western Allies’ operational reserve to North Africa. Both the U.S. and British militaries had fully committed to Torch by early August.

5 Case et al., History of AFHQ, Part I, 18. Major General Mark Clark, the deputy commander of AFHQ, assumed oversight of this planning team on August 10, 1942.

6 Ibid., 17. There are discrepancies between the British and U.S. dates for activation of AFHQ attributable to the need to maintain the fiction that Torch was still conditional until September 15 to preserve George C. Marshall’s reputation. Minutes of the daily chief administration officer (CAO) conference started on August 22. See Record Group (RG) 492, “Files of the CAO, AFHQ (Gale)”—one box, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) II, College Park, MD.

7 Case et al., History of AFHQ, Part I, 18–20. CAO conference notes, August 22–September 15, RG 492.

8 Colonel J.W. Ramsey, memorandum to Major General W.B. Smith, February 3, 1943. RG 492, “Lessons Learned from Operational Torch” box, NARA II.

9 Case et al., History of AFHQ, Part I, 26.

10 “Staff Directory,” November 5, 1942, folder 3, box 19, Lemnitzer Papers (LP), National Defense University Library, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC.

11 Case et al., History of AFHQ, Part I, 26. The history admits that British numbers present appeared low; however, tasked personnel technically assigned to other organizations were working at AFHQ. U.S. officers present were overstrength (313 versus 217 authorized) and 70 percent of the authorized enlisted positions were filled.

12 “Organization, G-3 Section AFHQ,” December 14, 1942, folder 3, LP.

13 Niall Barr, Eisenhower’s Armies: The American-British Alliance During World War II (New York: Pegasus Books, 2015). Richard H. Anderson, “Special Observers: A History of SPOBS and USAFBI, 1941–1942” (Ph.D. diss., University of Kansas, 2016).

14 Marshall reorganized the U.S. War Department in March 1942, which included the creation of the Operations Division, built largely on the foundation of the old War Plans Division. The three major subordinate commands of the War Department were the Army Ground, Air, and (eventually) Service Forces. Initially called the Service of Supply (SOS), General Brehon Somervell renamed his command the Army Service Forces in spring 1943.

15 Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1943–1944 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1959), 21n5, 38–39. Brigadier General Albert C. Wedemeyer, among others, argues that the Americans did not get properly organized until after the U.S. delegation was embarrassed at Casablanca in January 1943 and that these changes did not begin to bear fruit until May.

16 Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations Division (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1951).

17 Eisenhower retained his title as the commander of European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA) until early 1943 and had direct operational and administrative control over the ground and air units assigned to AFHQ. North African Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (NATOUSA), was established in February 1943 (with Eisenhower its commander), and ETOUSA was relieved of any requirements to support U.S. units in that theater.

18 See Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy 1940–1943 (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1955), 420–426.

19 Brigadier F.W. Vogel, “Memo for AFHQ Chief of Staff,” October 23, 1942, folder 5, box 19, LP. Vogel was AFHQ deputy G-3.

20 See Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 176n12.

21 “Operations Plans” file (one box), SOS, NATOUSA, RG 492, NARA II. Eisenhower, Everett Hughes (deputy CAO, deputy NATOUSA commander), Lyman Lemnitzer (AFHQ G-3), and Frank S. Ross (chief of transportation at ETOUSA and AFHQ) had all supervised work on, or directly contributed to, the document.

22 Pages 1 and 2 of the base order and the G-4 Annex, “Plan North West Africa Theater,” U.S. War Department, February 20, 1942. Copy filed in SOS, NATOUSA, “Operations Plans” box, RG 492, NARA II.

23 The earliest records for AFHQ, ETOUSA (including its SOS), and NATOUSA at the National Archives and Records Administration are of poor physical condition, extremely unorganized, and thin. Copies of the final plan published on April 6 were probably used for reference, but the document that was carefully preserved in the historical record was the U.S. plan from February 20, 1942.

24 Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 286–293. First Army published its “first maintenance project” in September, and it was validated by Gale’s Inter-Service Committee in October. See J.A.H. Carter and D.N. Kann, Army Maintenance in the Field, vol. 2: 1943–1945 (London: The War Office, 1961), 11; AFHQ published a draft logistics plan on October 27 that was finalized on December 4. See George F. Howe, Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West (Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1957), 66–67.

25 Operation Roundup was the code name for the Allied invasion of France projected for the spring of 1943 or even the fall of 1942. Eisenhower took command of ETOUSA in July 1942 to apply the drive that Marshall argued was necessary to complete preparations and bring the British around to the American timeline.

26 Hughes was the senior American logistician working on Torch and a close friend of Eisenhower. Diary, various entries in August and September 1942, box I-2, Everett S. Hughes Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. This event and its denouement are summarized in Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy 1940–1943, 430–435.

27 Diary, September 1942, box I-2, Everett S. Hughes Papers.

28 Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy 1940–1943, 435–439.

29 CAO Conference Notes, 2, 5, and October 23, 1942. CAO Conference File, RG 492, NARA II. British planners, largely protected from the argument about escorts and convoy size, were instead directed to reserve more cargo space for crated aircraft to serve as replacements in the Royal Air Force.

30 J. Bryan Mullins, “For the Want of a Nail: The Western Allies Quest to Synchronize Maneuver and Logistics During Operations Torch and Overlord” (Ph.D. diss., Kansas State University, 2020), 23–31, 39–56.

31 Ibid., 56–65.

32 Robert S. Ehlers, Jr., The Mediterranean Air War: Airpower and Allied Victory in World War II (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015), 257–263, 266–271.

33 AFHQ G3, Planning Paper 6, September 22, 1941, folder 5, LP. Planning Paper 6 was a draft version of Operation Memorandum 30, “Organization of the North African Theater.”

34 The U.S. Army had decided to place its technical staff advisors under the SOS commander while the British subordinated them to the Adjutant General (G-1) and Quartermaster (G-4) who worked directly for the senior commander. AFHQ would have to come up with reporting systems and a formal delegation of responsibilities to make both methods work without any fundamental reorganization.

35 Ehlers, The Mediterranean Air War, 269. The problem lay with the Americans.

36 AFHQ G-3, Operation Memorandum 22, October 18, 1942, folder 4, LP.

37 AFHQ G-3, Operation Memorandum 30, October 24, 1942, folder 4, LP.

38 U.S. Indo-Pacific Command manages an operational capability assessment program to certify three- and four-star headquarters over an 18-to-24-month process that directs team-building, planning, and standard operating procedure–development sessions. There is no standard playbook because the managers of the program acknowledge the link between personal preferences and the art of command. There is also a command relationship document that captures duties and responsibilities under the array of possible headquarters structures.