History Tells Us That Generals Are Only As Good As The Men And Women Who Follow Them

Warfare History Network

Great commanders need great subordinates. In the campaigns in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was ably served by a number of extraordinary officers, including Mark W. Clark, George S. Patton Jr., and Omar Bradley. Each of Ike’s subordinates contributed mightily to Allied victory, but in the final analysis it was the unheralded Bradley who proved to be Ike’s indispensible lieutenant.

Of the four commanders destined to play a leading role in Europe, Eisenhower was the relative newcomer, but by mid-1942, he had surpassed Clark, Patton, and Bradley in Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall’s estimation. According to historian Martin Blumenson, within six months of Eisenhower’s assumption of command of the European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, known as ETOUSA, the remaining three settled in as “satellites of Ike.”

Eisenhower and Patton: A Close Friendship

Although six years Eisenhower’s senior at the United States Military Academy, Patton was Eisenhower’s oldest friend. While Patton captured headlines for his frontline leadership in World War I, Eisenhower was confined to Camp Colt, Pennsylvania, where he trained the fledgling tank corps. Following the war, he and Patton crossed paths at Camp Meade in 1919, where the two developed a lasting friendship. At the time, Eisenhower was an untested warrior, while Patton was a legitimate war hero, having received the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. At Meade, Patton commanded the light tanks of the 304th Brigade, while Eisenhower was second in command of the 305th Brigade, composed of newly manufactured Mark VIII Liberty tanks.

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