From manuscript D-424 by General Gause
"The command methods employed by FM Rommel in Africa evolved from his almost one-sidedly developed military frame of mind and a certain measure of audacity, combined with ability and flexibility in the exploitation of favourable situations and an extraorinary instinctive sense for terrain and the enemy situation.For instance, on one occasion, the Field marshal and I were completely alone in the desert on our open flank with no enemy in sight.Suddenly he said:' In 30 minutes the enemy will be here.Shortly thereafter,the dust clouds caused by hostile armored reconnaissance cars became visible on the horizon.Similar episodes were a frequent occurence.
Rommel had no General Staff Corps training. It might be said that he grew into his missions, from company commander to commander in chief of an army group, through actual practice.To his mind the best solution to all problems was, if at all possible, to be found in attack, speed and surprise.His objective was to destroy the enemyand not to seize or hold any specific piece of terrain.
The germ of the command methods he later developed and perfected was already evident in his work 'Die Infanterie greift an' which caused quite a sensation at the time of its publication.
The conditions of the African theatre enabled Rommel to employ methods different from those he would have had to employ in Europe in commanding an Army flanked by other units and under some superior command.In Africa he was completely independent in his conduct of operations.His next superior, the Governor General of Lybia, was usually hundreds of miles distant, and most of the time no telephone communications existed.Directives concerning the conduct of operations arrived only rarely and then were usually in accordance with his own recommendations.Whenever his opinion on matters of fundamental importance differred from that held at higher headquarters he succeeded in having his way.As Kesselring complains:' Neither discussions nor orders could influence Rommel'.
In the abscence of rear telephone lines, no telephone messages requiring sudden decisions were to be expected and Rommel therefore in his command placed main eùmphasis on his own mobility. Leaving the forward echelon of his army headquarters staff in an established command post, Rommel established himself and a small staff, which usually included me and a number of messenger officers on vehicles.This small command staff was mounted on one or two command cars and five or six Volkswagen for the messenger officers.It was followed by 14-15 motorised radio stations on wheeled vehicles, which maintained communication with the command post, the Africa Corps, the assigned Italian corps, and some of the divisions.German liaison officers with German radio sets were attachede to the Italian corps and divisons.For his own protection, Rommel took only two armored reconnaissance cars, and it must be remembered that he was usually in the foremost lines, sometimes even further ahead and sometimes in the area on the open flank.
This small staff was always on the move, and it was from here that Rommel conducted operations.Radio messages were sent and received frequently while in movement.Since Rommel, as a matter of principle directed operations personally from the area of main effort and based his decisions on his own observations, no time was lost in waiting for reports.
It must be admitted that the method descrived here was inconvenient for some subordinate commanders because Rommel used to interfere in the control of individual unists if he thought it necessary. On the other hand, however, he also accepted exclusive responsability for all tactical and strategic action taken.Basic decisions on the field of battle he left to no other person. Every uinit commander and every man knew that in the most difficult situations, and no matter how heavy the fire was, Rommel would appear in person and would master the situation.Nobody ever had the feeling he was foresaken.It was in this way that his indefinable sway developed, which also influenced the enemy, and which enablec him even after serious reverses to maintain the morale and the spirits of the troops, as evidenced by his recapture of the Cyrenaica in february 1942 although he had received no reinforcements after his difficult winter retreat.In the case of his retreat fom El Alamein to the morale of the approximately 70.000 troops also remained unimpaired'.
To be continued.