Sunday, November 01, 2009

Eisenhower Rates his Generals - June 1943

From his Diary dated June 11, 1943.

I (Eisenhower) am recording here my impressions and opinions of certain senior officers for reference if I may need them at a later date:

LT General Omar Bradley: This officer is about the best rounded, well balanced senior officer we have in the service... He is respected by British and Americans alike. I have not a word of criticism of his actions to date, and do not expect to have any in the future. I feel there is no position in the army he could not fill with success.
LT. General George Patton: A shrew soldier who believes in showmanship to such an extent that he is almost flamboyant. He talks too much and too quickly and sometimes leaves a bad impression. Moreover, I fear he is a bad example to his subordinates who may be guided only by his surface actions without understanding the deep sense of duty, courage, and service that make up his real personality. He has done well with a combat corps command, and I expect him to do so in all future operations.
LT General Mark Clark - He is the best organizer, planner, and trainer of troops I have yet met in the American Army.... he is certainly one of the best we have. His only drawback now is a lack of combat experience in a high command position. This I tried to give him in the early day of organizing an American task force in the central Tunisian front. He rather resented taking any title other than Army commander, and since I could not establish an American Army in Tunisia, I gave the command to someone else. This was a bad mistake on Clark' s part, but I think he could successfully command an army in operations.

Patton in *his* diary states in July 1943 he thought Eisenhower was looking for an excuse to relieve him during the Sicily Campaign - which shows how perceptive he was. Given Ike's private opinion of him vs. Clark or Bradley- he was right. The implication from this entry is (1) Clark was Ike's first choice as I Corps Commander NOT Patton and (2) Ike considered Bradley and Clark better fit to command an Army.


An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Ah! the great 'what ifs'!

What if Patton hadn't died in 1945?

What if Patton had been in Bradley's shoes during the Battle of the Bulge?

What if Clark had commanded in Sicily?

A better war or a worse one? There is no doubt that Patton's actions in Sicily were considered wrong at some points, but proved to be right in the end. Would a different, more conventional approach have shortened the campaign or lenghthened it? Would we have been delayed so long that the Russioans would have gotten not only all of Germany, but maybe even a chunk of France?

Some questions not even conjecture can answer.

rcocean said...

Hey AER, Thanks for posting.

I'll give my opinion. Patton was probably the only Lt General in the ETO/MTO that had a touch of genius. Yes, sometimes he was TOO aggressive, but he had a great feel for the enemy and seemed to understand that boldness and risk taking saves lives in the long run.

I've written this before, but the main reason the Sicily campaign lasted so long and cost so many lives was was Ike, Alexander, Monty refused to take chances or the undertake any amphibious short-hook landings to cut the Germans off as they retreated to Palermo. Patton understood this, I don't think Bradley did, and given his record in Italy, I doubt Clark would have. A good book on this is D'este's "Bitter Victory".

Ike's diary is interesting and it shows Ike's strengths and weaknesses. Like most people he was most impressed by qualities he didn't have, which explains his excessive admiration of Bradley and Clark.