Analysts continue to assess the data from Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a means of improving the military's ability to function efficiently in desert terrain. The information gleaned from this effort will enhance the already considerable body of knowledge on the subject derived from the historical record. That record, of course, is incomplete, in that much valuable information was never recorded, and much that was has been East or forgotten. When contributions in the latter category are located or rediscovered, they should be given the dissemination they merit. This is one goal of the publication program of the Combat Studies Institute. Such is the purpose of publishing Desert Warfare: German Experiences in World War II, an abridgment of a two-volume work that first appeared in 1952. Organized by Major General Alfred Toppe and written with the assistance of nine German commanders who served in North Africa, the manuscript (translated by Mr. H. Heitman) represents a collaborative attempt to determine "as many factors as possible which exerted a determining influence on desert warfare." Issues addressed include planning, intelligence, logistics, and operations.
Described and analyzed are the German order of battle, the major military engagements in North Africa, and the particular problems of terrain and climate in desert operations. Not unlike many of the U. S. units engaged in the war with Iraq, the Germans in North Africa learned about combat operations in the desert only after they arrived on the scene and confronted the desert on its own terms. For this reason alone, as well as for the insights it offers, Desert Warfare requires the serious consideration of those responsible for preparing the U. S. military for any future conflict in desert terrain. Roger S. Spiller, Ph. D. Director, Combat Studies Institute