Intermediate Level Education (ILE) Common Core
Operational Studies: Operation TORCH Examination
1. This examination is designed to test your ability to analyze and evaluate an existing campaign plan by
applying the concepts of operational design learned in the C300 Operational Studies Module of Lessons.
The test is open book; however, all work must be your own. You may not compare answers in either
draft or final form with any other student, to include examination specific conversations. Specific
scenario-related instructions for the exam are provided inside this exam booklet.
2. You must submit your answers to the exam as per the instructions provided in the Writing
Requirement section in C311: Operational Art/Campaign Planning, and following the specific
3. This examination is worth a total of 100 points. There are four questions each worth 25 possible
4. If you need specific guidance on writing mechanics, refer to Student Text 22-2. If you would like to
see grading standards, refer to the Operation TORCH 1009W. You will find both of these documents in
5. This examination is 100% individual effort.
GRADE COMPUTATION WORKSHEET
QUESTION POINTS AWARDED
1. We have provided you a copy of the outline plan prepared by planners of Headquarters, European
Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, Norfolk Group, for Operation TORCH (“2nd Revision”), submitted to
the Combined Chiefs of Staff for the 1942 invasion of North Africa. With the plan are documents from
the Combined Chiefs and the Allied Expeditionary Force Commander-in-Chief that clarify thought and
intent. These are the actual documents from the archives reprinted only for legibility (errors in the
original were intentionally not corrected).
2. Throughout the Operational Studies module, you will be asked to be objective and analyze your
thought processes. This test is no exception. Be sure to justify your responses. Take the time to study
the plan and supporting documents thoroughly before you answer the questions.
3. You must type your answers to all four questions. Answers will be double-spaced, no more than two
pages in length per question (no smaller than 11 font with 1 inch margins all around), clearly identifying
the question you are answering. Your response will be evaluated for clarity and conciseness. There are
multiple parts to each question. Each question has 25 points possible.
4. You will not find the answers in the library or in any other historical source. The TORCH plan was
modified at least one more time before it was executed. Think about your responses. Do your own work.
5. Recommended use of time:
2 Hours - Review the plan and supporting documentation.
8 Hours - Answer the questions.
OPERATION "TORCH" BACKGROUND
When the conduct of the Second World War is broken down using current theater geometry
terminology, it is clear that the war was fought in two Theaters of War--the European Theater of War
(ETW) and the Pacific Theater of War. Both were further sub-divided into Theaters of Operations. The
ETW was broken into the Atlantic Theater of Operations (ATO), the Mediterranean/North African
Theater of Operations (M/NATO), and the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Just as "Operation
OVERLORD" was a subordinate campaign of the greater European campaign to reconquer Western
Europe, "Operation TORCH," conducted in an Area of Operations within the M/NATO, was a sub-
campaign of a greater North African campaign.
In this context, looking at Roosevelt's strategic guidance to Eisenhower to "...enter the continent of
Europe and, in conjunction with the other united nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of
Germany and the destruction of her armed forces....," we understand that this was the Alliance's strategic
objective for the greater European campaign. As a subordinate campaign, "OVERLORD" was clearly
less grandiose in scope. Its Theater strategic objective (and there are both National/Alliance and Theater
levels of strategic objectives) was to gain a beachhead in preparation for follow-on operations inland. To
achieve this, the operational objectives were to secure a foothold on the Normandy coast from north of
the Carentan estuary to the river Orne; and occupy Cherbourg and the Brittany ports. The follow-on
operations, "GOODWOOD" and "COBRA," were the breakout efforts from that beachhead by the Second
British Army near Caen and the U.S. First and Third Armies near St. Lo, respectively. Looking at
"Operation TORCH," although also derived from more grandiose Allied strategic guidance and broader
strategic objectives, we can see that Theater strategic and operational objectives were likewise of a more
North Africa began as an Italian theater that Hitler initially considered a sideshow compared to
the pending operations in Russia. However, early in 1941 Hitler was forced to bolster his Italian ally’s
operations against the British Eighth Army in Egypt by providing Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel's
Over the next two years the British Eighth Army and what became Rommel's Panzer Armee
Afrika pushed each other back and forth across the Libyan Desert. Each army in turn galloped forward
until its momentum was exhausted, and then was compelled to gallop back to avoid annihilation. In the
jargon of Allied troops, this became known as the "Gazala Gallop." This was caused almost exclusively
by logistics and, like a piece of elastic, the line of supply of both armies could be stretched only about 300
to 400 miles from its principal base--Tripoli for the Axis forces and Alexandria for the British.
Since both sides were separated from their homeland base of support by considerable distances
over long stretches of water, each could have had their elastic snapped if the sea lines of communication
were threatened. In this respect the British had the advantage, even though they were required to resupply
their army in Egypt around the Cape of Good Hope and through the Suez. While the eastern
Mediterranean was dominated primarily by the Axis, between the Sicilian straits and Crete the British
held the island of Malta. This was a British base for aircraft, destroyers, and submarines which severely
curtailed the flow of supplies and reinforcements from Italy to Tripoli, forcing the Axis to select less
threatening routes. The Axis, however, operating from Sicily and Italy, had a substantial air capability,
particularly in the central Mediterranean. Thus, even though Tripoli was the main operating base for the
Axis forces, by transloading in Tunis and bringing reinforcements and resupply through Tunisia they
could, if necessary, shorten their exposure time to British attacks from Malta.
Since the fall of France (June 1940) brought the Vichy French government into collaboration
with the Nazis, there was no need for the Axis to station forces in the French Northwest Africa--French
Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. So, at the time of planning for TORCH, all of North Africa, minus most
of Egypt, was under Axis control, either directly or indirectly through Vichy France. The only major
concentrations of non-French, Axis forces were located in/near Tripoli or in the “Western Desert”
between Egypt and Libya.
Two other factors relating to Northwest Africa that affected Operation TORCH were (1) the narrow
strip of northern Morocco that was a Spanish protectorate. Despite being fascist, Franco's Spain was
neutral, making Spanish Morocco neutral as well. So, unless Spain denounced its neutrality and joined
the Axis, or the Axis violated its neutrality, Axis troops were prevented from being stationed there. This
fact, if it remained that way, was an advantage for the Allies since (2) the British also occupied the
peninsula of Gibraltar that controlled the western entrance to the Mediterranean through the Straits of
Operation TORCH initiated Allied operations in North Africa in November 1942. Several political-
military considerations influenced its execution and timing. These were: Soviet insistence on a second
front to relieve Eastern Front pressure; the desire to bring French colonial possessions into the war
against, and prevent their control by, the Axis (French colonial possessions in Morocco, Algeria and
Tunisia were not under Axis occupation but answered to the Vichy government); President Roosevelt's
domestic-political desire to have U.S. troops fighting Germans by the end of 1942; a need to open the
Mediterranean almost completely to Allied shipping and provide a jump-off point for operations into
southern Europe; and a desire to relieve pressure on the British Eighth Army in Egypt (the last two having
future operational implications). While the American Chiefs of Staff favored a direct cross-channel attack
against the Axis in early 1943, the British preferred a peripheral attack. The Americans feared such an
attack in 1942 would dissipate the forces available and delay the invasion of the European continent. On
the other hand, British experience and the lack of Allied resources pushed planners more and more away
from a frontal attack on Axis strength.
The final impetus for the TORCH operation was the British Eighth Army's defeat in a spectacular
tank battle with German forces at Knightsbridge in Libya, on 13 June 1942, and the subsequent fall of
Tobruk in eastern Libya on 21 June, followed by the rapid advance of General Feldmarschall Erwin
Rommel's Panzerarmee Afrika toward Alexandria and the Suez Canal.
It is now early September 1942. You are a staff officer with the Combined Chiefs of Staff, European
Theater of Operations. As a recent CGSOC graduate, your supervisor has tasked you to review the
Norfolk Group's plan and related documents. The Combined Chiefs will meet in about six hours to be
briefed on the planning thus far in order to advise President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on
the status of Operation TORCH. Your supervisor's instructions to you are:
"I want you to quickly review this outline plan and the associated communications
and give me your assessment of whether you think all of the operational planning
factors have been considered. Stay focused on the TORCH plan and what it is
specifically intended to achieve. Answer the questions I have provided and give me
some responses I can give the Combined Chiefs. The Chiefs will be here in about six
hours, so you don't have much time."
1. (25 points) The focus of a campaign or major operation is the achievement of the Theater strategic
objective or objectives--the military condition(s) or end state that defines success for the operational
commander, and which ultimately achieve National or Alliance objectives. Considering the strategic
guidance provided to General Eisenhower for the North African Campaign, and based on the outline plan,
what Theater strategic objective(s) did Eisenhower and his planners deduce as possible to achieve with
the Operation TORCH subordinate campaign? Planners develop operational objectives that, in sum,
achieve the campaign's Theater strategic objectives. What operational objectives did the TORCH
planners delineate in the outline plan? How well do those operational objectives support the attainment
of the Theater strategic objective(s)?
2. (25 points) The concept of the center of gravity is essential to the application of operational art,
since its identification guides development of operational objectives and provides focus to what must be
attacked and what must be defended. What does the plan lead you to identify as the enemy's (Axis)
operational center of gravity for TORCH? How does the plan attempt to destroy, eliminate, or neutralize
the enemy's center of gravity? What does the plan lead you to identify as the friendly (Allied) operational
center of gravity? How does the plan attempt to protect the friendly center of gravity? How effective is
the plan in attacking enemy and protecting friendly centers of gravity?
3. (25 points) Decisive points are the keys to centers of gravity because they provide a significant
advantage or leverage when attacking or defending centers of gravity. They are normally geographic in
nature (or related to space and time) and are directly related to protecting the friendly center of gravity,
attacking the enemy center of gravity, or both. What decisive points do you identify as important to
achieve campaign objectives? What marked advantage do they provide in defending the friendly center
of gravity and attacking the enemy center of gravity?
4. (25 points) Understanding the concept of culmination is critical to success in operational warfare.
It helps operational planners determine those factors or events that could cause either an attacker or
defender to fail to achieve its operational objectives (increasing the risk of its eventual defeat). What
events might stop the Allies (TORCH forces) short of achieving their operational objectives without
being defeated? How might the Axis forces be stopped short of achieving their operational objectives
without being defeated? How effectively do the planners address preventing Allied culmination? How
effectively do the planners address inducing Axis culmination?