World War II The American Experience

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The Military Experience

The Military Experience

Prior to World War II, the United States was a neutral world power to the battle between the Allies and the Axis. America had a minor involvement in the war from the beginning. We can see this is incidents like the Kearny Incident or the USS Panay attack from Japan, as well as supplying arms to the Allies in Europe and Africa (Military History Now, 2013). While there are many more examples of conflict between the Axis powers and the United States during World War II (prior to entering), the United States did not formally enter until one notable event happened; Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor, being the poster child of what not to do to the United States during wartime, was perpetrated on December 7, 1941. What was so significant about Pearl Harbor is that Japan launched out a full out attack on America’s base in Hawaii. With the casualty list being 2,403 of both military and 63 of them being civilian (Pearl Harbor Memorials, 2014), the United States was not prepared for the attack the rattled the nation. Pearl Harbor prior to the war was the largest naval base in the Pacific Ocean and considered the most significant in order for the United States to win any war that found its way in the Pacific.

It is often argued that the United States was saved by World War II to halt the Great Depression. The United States had economically monopolized on major production in the industrial factories and keep un demand for the war prior to entering it. The sales of major appliances as well as automobiles had been significantly increased as a result of the war, which propped up private businesses within the states (Id, 2011). While the United States didn’t formally enter the war until December 7, 1941 because of the Pearl Harbor attacks, they were actively supplying the Allied nations with major goods otherwise impossible for a war tattered European continent from World War I (George Washington University, n.d.).

The North African campaign, also known as the Desert War, is the fight between allied and axis powers in northern Africa. The fight mostly took place in the deserts of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia. Being that North Africa already has a large establishment of European dominance, it was an obvious target for conflict. The objectives of the North African campaign were to commandeer the Suez Canal in order to ensure proper placement of oil from the Middle East and goods from Asia, and to discharge the burden put on the Russian forces against on the Eastern front (OpenStax College Rice University, 2014).

The allied invasion of North Africa known as Operation Torch began on November 8, 1942. The United States and the United Kingdom launched the largest amphibious maneuver at the time (OpenStax College Rice University, 2014). The invasion of North Africa caused Germany to rapidly deploy troops to Tunisia. The reason for the invasion of North Africa was to eventually and strategically move troops into Italy to take the Italian Peninsula. However, with this move U.S. Naval generals were able to keep Axis naval ships from gaining access to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Battle of El Agheila was a minor battle that started in December of 1942 within the North African campaign. It was between the Allied forces led by General Bernard Montgomery of the United Kingdom and the Panzer Army of German and Italian troops within the Axis powers (Holmes, 2011). Because of the overwhelming Allied military and strategic placement, Brigand General Erwin Rommel began to withdrawal. It became one of the most significant losses to the North Africa campaign given the devastatingly powerful operations led by the allied forces, which overpowered and overmanned the Panzer Army in literally every way.

The North African campaign was largely regarded as successful because it continued to assault the Italian and German powers by controlling major trade routes in the Mediterranean. It was considered to be some of the worst failures of Italy and Germany to focus some of their might in North Africa, instead of repurposing their military in the European homeland (United States Holocaust Museum, 2016). They might have been more successful in their endeavors had they planned more strategically with one another in this effort to assert their dominance.

The Italian campaign of World War II officially started on July 10, 1943 (A&E Television Networks LLC, 2009). It is regarded as one of the least talked about campaigns of World War II, despite being one of the major ones. Essentially the campaigned aimed to invade Italy to mainly keep Germany’s troops dispersed across Europe, to invade Italy were to prop up and enhance “The Resistance” in Italy, to use Italy as a strategic center for air raids and central missions to conduct against the Nazis, and to strengthen the allied forces through conquest of Axis nations. Among other reasons, these were some of the most significant that allowed the allied forces to invade an otherwise militarily weak Italy.

There were many events that aimed to strategically figure out how to proceed with World War II. Among the many conferences and talks within World War II was the Casablanca Conference held in 1943. Within this conferences were U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain. Unfortunately, Josef Slain of the Soviet Union not able to make the conference. However, the Casablanca Conference established their mission of how to strategically go about defeating their Axis foe (Office of the Historian, n.d.). Among the many topics were the invasion of Italy, approaches to put an end to the conflict, and finally to find a way to institute unconditional positions of capitulation. The conference did aim to lure German forces away from the Eastern front to stagger the German advances.

Among many of the operations conducted on Italian soil was one notably known as Operation Husky. The largest factor of this military maneuver was to refocus the allied might in North Africa which had already won from an Axis surrender. Operation Husky aimed to invade the island of Sicily, Italy. On July 9 – 17, 1943 the allied forces began a large operation of over 150,000 allied troops, 3,000 ships, and 4,000 aircrafts (A&E Television Networks LLC). It seemed to be the most logical approach to advancing to the Italian homeland because the allied forces would have control of the Mediterranean Sea in its entirety, leaving most of the Axis powers in a suppressive state. Among the high ranking officers involved were Lieutenant General George S. Patton and General Bernard L. Montgomery who led the troops through the ground operation of the invasion of Sicily.

The Italian Campaign in World War II is regarded as a highly successful campaign. However, it’s not clear if it was the most strategic way of advancing the Allied militaries. Because of the success of the campaigns came the downfall of Paris, France to the Axis powers. With that said, conquering Italy was one of the biggest moral boosters following the Axis surrender in North African Campaign. The Resistance in Italy was able to overthrow dictator Mussolini and subsequently juncture the Allies in their effort to defeat the remaining Axis powers (A&E Television Networks LLC). While the Italian Campaign was a win for the Allies, it was a leading factor in the defeat of France given that it proportioned the German’s priorities on their western front. The Italian Campaign allowed the allied powers to regain footing in Europe and come up with the moral and strategic might in order to put an end to the tyranny of the Axis powers in Europe and North Africa.

References

OpenStax College Rice University (2014). U.S. History. Retrieved from VitalSource.

Military History Now. (2013, January 09). A “Neutral” Power? – American Involvement in

WW2 Before Pearl Harbor. Retrieved from http://militaryhistorynow.com/2013/01/09/the-war-before-the-war-americas-pre-pearl-harbor-involvement-in-ww2/

Pearl Harbor Memorials. (n.d.). How many people died at Pearl Harbor during the attack?

Retrieved from https://pearlharboroahu.com/faqs/how-many-people-died-at-pearl-harbor-

during-the-attack/

Id, J. (2011, October 20). Why WWII Got Us Out of the Great Depression, and Why Present

Government Spending Would Not Do the Same. Retrieved from

https://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/why-wwii-got-us-out-of-the-great-depression-and-why-present-government-spending-would-not-do-the-same/

George Washington Univ. (n.d.). World War II (1939-1945). Retrieved from

https://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/world-war-2.cfm

A&E Television Networks LLC. (2009). Italian Campaign. Retrieved fromhttp://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/italian-campaign

Office of the Historian. (n.d.). The Casablanca Conference, 1943. U.S. Department of State.

Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1937-1945/casablanca

A&E Television Networks LLC. (2009). Invasion of Sicily. Retrieved from

http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/invasion-of-sicily

Holmes, R. (2011, February 17). World War Two: The Battle of El Alamein. Retrieved from

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/battle_el_alamein_01.shtml

United States Holocaust Museum. (2016, July 02). Military Operations in North Africa.

Retrieved from https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007301




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