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Rommel's defense tactics in the desert

Desert Fox tactics and strategy


Rommel always paid great attention to tactics in the desert, which had a different character compared to the tactics of fighting in Europe. An example is his speech on the briefing of the headquarters of the Afrika Korps on defensive tactics: "Gentlemen! The battle in the desert can be compared to a sea battle. Here, as well as at sea, the advantage is possessed by one whose guns farther. Who has greater mobility due to effective motorization and good organization of supply, he can quickly force the enemy to play by his rules. Our troops here in Halfa have no mobility. They will be able to contain the pressure of the enemy's motorized troops only if they are placed on well-fortified and carefully prepared positions. And again, the advantage here is for someone who has longer arms. And our hands are longer - we have guns caliber 88mm. But for you, same as for mobile units, it is especially important to have good shelters, excellent camouflage and the best sector of shelling for 88mm guns and other weapons."

Rommel paused, and then continued with his inherent energy "I intend to create a long defensive line stretching from the sea to Sidi Omar. Forward posts, the number to the company, should be quite far apart, but in general, the line should be planned at a suitable depth.


Each defense point is an independent defensive system. The guns should be positioned in such a way that they provide fire in all directions. I imagine the organization of defensive points as follows...


One 88mm antiaircraft gun should be dug into the ground to a depth, allowing to save the sector of shelling. From this place, three trenches diverge radially to three positions: one to the machine gun point, the other to the position of the heavy mortar and the third to the 22mm antiaircraft installation or to the 50mm anti-tank gun.


It is necessary to have a weekly supply of water, ammunition and provisions. Soldiers must get enough sleep and be ready for battle."


Rommel's voice warmed: "Gentlemen! A few words about combat tactics. During the enemy attack, the fire of our weapons must completely cover the space between the defended points. If the enemy still succeeds in breaking through here, for example, because of poor visibility, all firing points must be able to turn around and fire towards the rear. Let's understand that there is no concept of "direction – front", but there is the concept "direction – adversary"."


Then Rommel concluded his speech with the following words "Victory in battle, in the event of an enemy attack, will determine the actions of tanks and motorized units located behind the front line. And it does not matter where they will act. Victory comes when the enemy is destroyed. Remember one thing - you cannot lose any position, regardless of the overall situation. Our tanks and motorized units will not leave you without any further support, even if they appear in a few weeks... Thank you, gentlemen!"

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