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George Patton

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3. Strategic Thinking Prompts Customization

General George S. Patton observed, "Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans." On December 19, 1945, Patton, commanding gen­eral Dwight D. Eisenhower, and generals Bradley and Devers met in Verdun to discuss how to combat the last great German coun­teroffensive of World War II, known to history as the Battle of the Bulge. The trapped 101st Airborne Division needed to be rescued, and quickly.

It was decided that Patton should attack the southern flank of the Bulge with his Third Army. Patton had three divisions at his disposal and had calculated that he would be ready to stage his offensive in four days. Eisenhower had a different point of view. Patton recalled,

“General Eisenhower stated that I should wait until I got at least six divisions. I told him that, in my opinion, a prompt attack with three was better than waiting for six­, particularly when I did not know where I could get the other three.”

Eisenhower agreed to allow Patton to attack, which he did one day ahead of schedule. General Bradley called Patton's actions in the engagement "one of the most astonishing feats of gener­alship of our campaign in the west.”  As a result, the Allies contained the German forces, defeated their counteroffensive, and brought the war to an end earlier than it would have other­wise.

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