Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Market Garden: Was Intelligence Responsible for the Failure?

The following is the conclusion to a research report titled; Market Garden: Was Intelligence Responsible for the Failure? (AU/AWC/NNN/2001-04), submitted by LtCol Philip G. Bradley, USAF, to the Faculty of the Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in April 2001:
Chapter 4
It is unfair to say that intelligence oversights and mistakes led to the failure of MARKET GARDEN for several reasons. First of all, it is not true that intelligence failed to paint an accurate picture of German troop strength and capability. The correct information was available along with accurate analysis. True, not all intelligence summaries agreed, but there was enough of a disagreement to warrant more investigation and certainly greater caution. Secondly, it is not true that failure to accurately assess the terrain around Arnhem caused the Allies to pick drop zones six to eight miles from the bridge. In fact, terrain was only a minor issue. Furthermore, on this issue Montgomery was inconsistent. If the German troop strength was deemed too weak to challenge ground forces, then why wasn’t it deemed too weak to challenge airlift assets?
The one instance that is clearly an intelligence failure was the lack of coordination with Dutch forces about alternate routes to Arnhem. However, this in and of itself did not cause MARKET GARDEN to fail. To the intelligence community's credit, they did accurately describe the difficult nature of the route that 30th Corps was to take.
If blame must be assigned, responsibility for MARKET GARDEN’s failure can be given to planners at the strategic and operational levels who seemed hell-bent on carrying out the operation for at least two reasons. First, there was an ever-increasing push to test airborne operations before the war came to an abrupt end. Second, Montgomery pressed the urgency of the operation in part to make sure that Britain got credit for delivering the knock out punch.
On this second point, General Miles Dempsey, commander of the British 2nd Army, provides evidence that the commander of an operation can significantly slant the perspective of the intelligence effort. According to Ryan*, Dempsey believed Dutch reports regarding German troop strength but couldn’t convince Montgomery. Dempsey did, however, send this information on to Browning’s 1st Airborne Corps. But since Montgomery didn’t endorse this information it gained no credibility. In fact according to Ryan reports of panzers in Holland were completely discounted at Montgomery’s own headquarters. In Montgomery’s own words, “We were wrong in supposing it (the 2nd S.S. Panzer Corps) could not fight effectively.”1 It might be more accurate to say that Montgomery was wrong and convinced all his subordinates to agree with him. 
*Cornelius Ryan; A Bridge Too Far

In the personal opinion of this blog author the final sentence far surpasses the term "gross English under-statement". It wasn't just Montgomery's subordinates, but peers and seniors as well. And substituting the word 'coerced' for 'convinced' would be far too mild an admonishment. If you have further interest, please click on the home page menu bar 'Operation Market-Garden' for a detailed analysis of the planning for the operation; http://arnhemjim.blogspot.com/p/operation-market-garden.html.


Anonymous said...

Once Monte set his mind on his single-thrust to Berlin to end the war, he wasn't about to let any intelligence reports from the Dutch Underground get in his way. He didn't want Ike and the Americans to end the war before he and the British armed forces finished the job that they had been fighting longer than the Yanks. Pride goeth before the fall.

Anonymous said...

i absolutely agree with this comment!

Mahmud Manning said...

If the whole Market Garden operation had been successful, and the Arnhem bridge taken, Monty still would not have been able to continue towards the Ruhr. He would have had to go to SHEAF and Ike to ask for further reinforcements, (material, petrol and divisions) which just were not available) He must have known this, even if the drive to the Saar was stopped.The three corps of Br 2nd Army employed were still not enough (30th, 12th & 8th Corp) and for a double envelopment may have needed a further 9 divisions or 3 corps or one army at least. This would have been American as Britain did not have this capacity. So the question is, would Eisenhower have stopped Patton and given in to Montgomery, allowing the American 3rd Army to advance in conjunction with Br 2nd Army? I don't think so, especially as Antwerp was still not open and supplies were still being taken over the beaches back in Normandy. Ike had already refused this scheme before the operation had started. Monty showed impatience on this strategic level and used the Strategic reinforcements still available to him before he lost control of them! He may have been correct technically, (taking out the Ruhr) though in actuality was not the one making those strategic decisions. He wanted to make a fait accompli instead he created a cul de sac.

Marmaduke Winterbotham said...

All the above has only the US spin. Eisenhower and Bradley especially wanted Montgomery to fail, having little respect for him, in the same way that the US in general scorns foreign cultures and abilities. The US were playing the long game of global influence post WW2 and didn't flinch at what they thought needed to be done. A pity their hubris cost so many lives - including US ones.

Arnhemjim said...

With due respect you may want to briefly scan how Montgomery's planning comprehensively ignored and/or violated the officially published guidance of his own (by then) combat hardened airborne officers. A real pity. See in this blog;

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