JFC Naples takes lessons from past battlegrounds

Members of Allied Joint Force Command Naples survey the terrain of Monte Cassino in Italy in order to gain tactical perspective on the historic World War II battle, July 28, 2015. (NATO photo by Capt. Kay Magdalena Nissen)
Jul 28, 2015

MONTE CASSINO, Italy - Amid the picturesque mountains of Southern Italy lies one of the historic battlegrounds of World War II.

The Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944 is remembered as one of the most complex and challenging of clashes between the allied powers and the German military in Italy. 

For key members of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples headquarters who traveled to Monte Cassino July 28, 2015, the historical site proved to be a substantive lesson on cooperation, strategies and tactics. 

"There are a lot of lessons to be learned of the mistakes in the past,” said Germany Navy Commander Nils Gallagher, JFC Naples staff officer. "It helps us understand our role much better because the operational command at Monte Cassino also had to lead a very complex campaign comparable to our tasks (at JFC Naples).” 

The aim of the visit was to understand the different national perspectives and draw modern conclusions for JFC Naples. 

A specialized historian, Damiano Parravano of the non-profit Associazione Linea Gustav, guided the JFC Naples members' visit to specific locations including the Gari River and the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Both locations were key landmarks of the Gustav Line, a fortification line held by the German military. 

Monte Cassino was one of the first joint, combined operations of the Second World War. As JFC Naples’s primary function is to command and control the NATO Response Force, the visiting members gained perspective on the important relationship between strategic and tactical operations and discussed the effects of decisions made during the battle.

The battle resulted in an estimated 75,000 casualties before the allies were able to claim victory at Monte Cassino. Members of JFC Naples laid wreaths at the Polish, Commonwealth and German cemeteries in the area to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the war. The cemeteries together have approximately 25,000 fallen service members.

"We honor them all today, their courage and their character,” said U.S. Navy Admiral Mark Ferguson, Commander of JFC Naples, after the group visited the last cemetery. He shared the following quote from the American General Tecumseh Sherman as a final thought for the NATO members on the day’s visit:

 

"It is well that war is so terrible – lest we should grow too fond of it.” 
 
Story and Photos by Allied Joint Force Command Naples Public Affairs

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