This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Since WWII, historians have lionized General Patton for his bold and daring leadership during Allied campaigns. His many biographers have highlighted his ability to instill discipline, remove incompetent leaders, and form an effective staff. While these attributes evolved in his persona through his military training, Patton applied his intellect to develop a deep understanding of the new methods of warfare that armies encountered on the battlefields of WWII. The application of operational art now required knowledge grounded in the close coordination of air, sea, and land assets to achieve victories at both the strategic and tactical level. While historical examples of daring victories demonstrate what western culture loves in a war hero, a critical analysis of Patton's actions reveal a more compelling story. Closer examination of his actions in the latter stages of the Tunisian campaign, during the Sicilian campaign, and in Western Europe from Normandy to the Rhineland, demonstrate that he excelled at achieving tactical successes, but did not perform well when integrating those tactical successes in campaigns to achieve strategic aims. Patton developed a reputation as a bold and daring leader; however, analysis of WWII campaigns reveals that he did not apply what the US Army now refers to as operational art.
1. Introduction * Background * Methodology * The Allied Approach to Operational Art, 1942 to 1945 * Patton and the German Way of War * 2. The North Africa Campaign * Background * Narrative * Analysis * 3. The Sicily Campaign * Background * Narrative * Analysis * 4. Western European Campaign * Background * Narrative * Analysis * 5. Conclusion
General George S. Patton was not the military genius that historians have made him out to be. Following the end of WWII and his death in 1945, the media, historians, and even former German adversaries raised his reputation to mythical proportions. Today, one still encounters the continued fascination with Patton in works such as Bill O'Reilly's Killing Patton, likening him to Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and even Jesus. This longstanding legacy begs the question of whether Patton really does stand among the great captains in history. Perhaps a combination of historical memory, media glorification, and American culture's affinity for the heroic figure afforded him undue recognition, diverting attention from other generals who performed (or could have performed) just as well or even better in WWII. His sudden death certainly seems to have contributed to his legendary status, further skewing the all-important perception from the reality of his capabilities.
As John Lynn wrote in Battle: A History of Combat and Culture, "the reality of war differs from the discourse of war and is to some degree countered by efforts to make reality better by conforming to expectations." Francis Ford Coppola's 1970 film "Patton" had a lasting influence on the public's perception, contributing further to the separation of the reality of Patton's generalship from the myth that such portrayals have created over time. The alteration of history and the misrepresentation of the past have a long history of their own. This led to a public memory of Patton as depicted in popular culture - which essentially depicted him the way.