Discarded Victory North Africa, 1940-1941 U.S. Army War College Author
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The Anglo-Italian campaign of 1940-41 resulted in one of the most lopsided operational victories of the entire Second World War. Strategic misjudgment at the highest levels of British political and military leadership would discard the opportunities won by its fighting forces in North Africa and commit them to a catastrophic intervention in Greece. In 1940, Italy fielded a numerically overwhelming, but technologically deficient, conscript military force on the continent of Africa. Italy's political leaders expected her 500,000 strong North African army to quickly defeat the 50,000 British troops stationed in the theater of operation. The British forces, though inferior in numbers, were well-trained regulars who possessed more superior weaponry than their Italian foes. In the brief, high intensity conflict waged in the North African deserts from December 1940 to February 1941, the British would annihilate an Italian army of 130,000 soldiers. On the verge of complete victory in the North African theater, the British would commit an act of extraordinary strategic misjudgment and divert their efforts to Greece in order to engage the Axis forces on the continent of Europe. The discarded early victory in North Africa would lead Britain to catastrophe in Greece, cost them the initiative in the war, and nearly lead to their defeat in North Africa.


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