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Schnee Eifel on the left wing and the river sequence fronting the corps center and right, there were numerous points of entry for an attack moving east to west. The three infantry divisions under Middleton's command were responsible for a front of about eighty-five miles, a distance approximately three times that normally assigned an equivalent defending force by U.S. service school teaching and tactical doctrine. On the morning of 16 December the total assigned strength of the VIII Corps was 68,822 officers and men. Immediately after the Battle of the Bulge, the tag "a calculated risk" would be applied to the attenuated VIII Corps front as it existed on 16 December. Middleton was well aware of the risk-indeed he had made this clear in discussions with his superiors. Somewhat after the event General Eisenhower wrote General of the Army George C. Marshall (on 10 January 1945) that in early November he and Bradley had discussed the possibility of a German counteroffensive in the Ardennes but had agreed that such a move would be unprofitable to the enemy. The line of reasoning, as set before Marshall, was this: the "Volkssturm" would be no good in offensive operations, winter in the Ardennes would render continuous logistic support impossible, and Allied strength was so great that the Germans could not push far enough to reach really vital objectives. [8]


Whatever thought may have been given to the Ardennes, the Allies were on the offensive and preparing for yet greater offensive operations well to the north and the south of the VIII Corps sector. Losses during November had been high and the reserve of new divisions in the United States was running low (in the United Kingdom such a reserve no longer existed). The old military axiom that the line cannot be strong everywhere applied with full force to the Allied positions reaching from Switzerland to the North Sea. Almost automatically Allied strength would concentrate in those areas where the offensive was the order of the day and where decision might be reached. The Ardennes sector seemed no special risk, it had been quiet for weeks, it offered-or so it seemed-no terrain attraction for the enemy, and there was no recognizable indication that enemy forces opposite the VIII Corps and ggth Infantry Division outnumbered those deployed on the friendly side of the line. If there was a "calculated risk," therefore, it was no more precise or specific than that taken wittingly by any commander who thins his front to mount an attack while knowing that he has over-all superiority and the ability to retain the initiative.


The Intelligence Failure


In the years that have passed since the close of World War II the Ardennes has ranked close to Pearl Harbor as an episode inviting public polemic, personal vituperation, and ex parte vindication. Sentences, phrases, and punctuation marks from American intelligence documents of pre-Ardennes origin have been twisted and turned, quoted in and out of context, "interpreted" and misinterpreted, in arduous efforts to fix blame and secure absolution. There no longer is point to such intensely personal examination of the failure by American and


[8] Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 10 Jan 45, in SHAEF message file, Plans and Operations, folder 27.