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MILITARY: North Africa to Italy

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, Brigadier General Dwight D. Eisenhower was sent from Fort Sam Huston, Texas, to the War Plans Division in Washington, DC.  He assisted Chief of Staff of the Army General George Catlett Marshall in military operations planning. 

Eisenhower devised ways to support American efforts against Japanese advances in the Pacific.  He and Marshall agreed that Australia would serve as a base from which to recover lost territories.  However, they recognized that strategically, it was more important to defeat Nazi Germany.  The Germans had advanced weaponry and technology, and posed a greater threat than Japan.  A British and Russian defeat by Germany would leave America alone to wage the war against the ruthless followers of Adolph Hitler.

In June 1942 General Marshall selected Eisenhower to command American forces gathering in the United Kingdom.  Later that year Ike led the Allied invasion of German-held Northwest Africa.  After victory in Tunisia in May 1943, Eisenhower commanded the campaigns against the Germans in Sicily and Italy.  Successes in these operations led to his assignment as Supreme Allied Commander for the cross-channel invasion of Western Europe.

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