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there were enough armored and artillery units-comparatively rich in signal equipment-to flesh out a speedy and fairly reliable command and artillery net. Tactical communication beyond the Bastogne perimeter, however, as for example with the 4th Armored, had to be couched in ambiguous-sometimes quite meaningless-terms.


Mobile forces racing cross-country, shooting up isolated posts and convoys, do not necessarily make a battle. The German dash around Bastogne was preeminently designed to encircle, not constrict. The German commanders, well aware of the fragmentization of their enveloping forces, did not consider that Bastogne had been surrounded until the evening of the 21st. The major enemy impact on this date, therefore, came as in previous days against the east face of Bastogne. The American perimeter, then taking form, represents basically a reaction to the original German intentions with only slight concessions to the appearance of the enemy in the south and west. The 502d held the northern sector of the American line in the Longchamps and SonneFontaine area. Northeast of Bastogne the 506th was deployed with one foot in Foy and the other next to the Bourcy-Bastogne rail line. To the right of this regiment the 501st faced east-one flank at the rail line and the other south of Neffe. The 2d Battalion, 327th, held the Marvie position with an open flank abutting on the Bastogne-Arlon highway.


The American deployment on through the south and west quadrants could not yet be called a line. In the early afternoon McAuliffe took the 1st Battalion of the 327th (then attached to the 501st) and sent it due south of Bastogne; here tenuous contact was established with the division engineer battalion-the 326th-strung thinly across the Neufchateau road and on to the west. (The airborne engineers were not well equipped with demolition materiel and this road had to be blocked; McAuliffe phoned the VIII Corps for assistance and in the early dark a detachment from the 35th Engineer Combat Battalion came north and did the job.)


Directly west of Bastogne lay the remnants of the division trains and service companies. Defense here would devolve initially on the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (Lt. Col. Barry D. Browne), which was gathering infantry and tank destroyers and finally would be known as Task Force Browne. The last link in the perimeter was the 3d Battalion of the 327th, holding on a front northwest of Bastogne which extended from the Marche-Bastogne highway to Champs.


The dispositions just described represent the more or less static formations in the Bastogne force, the beef for sustained holding operations. Equally important were the mobile, counter-punching elements provided by the armor, assault guns, and tank destroyers. These units, with constantly changing task force names and composition, would have a ubiquitous, fluid, and highly important role in maintaining the Bastogne perimeter against the German concentric attack. Their tactical agility on the interior line would be greatly enhanced by the big freeze which set in on the 21st.


All through the night of 20 December the troops of the 506th in Foy had been