The battle of Tunisia was a decisive turning point in the Allied victory in the Second World War. As a result, it changed the strategic landscape of the battlefield and established a new capacity for planning. However, Libya has become a vital national security concern for Tunisia.
Changes in the landscape
There are many changes in the landscape of the enlisted battle of Tunisia. These changes include a new set of challenges for the Tunisian military. It is essential that the Tunisian defense leadership engage in an effective and deliberate planning effort. The country’s defense capabilities are inadequate to counter the conventional threats posed by Libya.
Despite the progress that the Tunisian military has made since the 2011 revolution, it is still in the early stages of adopting reforms. This includes the formalization of population-focused capabilities, which address the corruption in the army ranks and improve army coordination with the MOI forces.
However, the enlisted battle of Tunisia is still far from over. This is largely due to the conventional threats posed by Libya. With the escalation of the conflict, there are mounting security risks for the country.
Tunisia’s armed forces have responded to terrorist threats, but have also had to deal with insurgents. They have also had to adapt to their new border enforcement mission in the south.
However, the country’s defense capabilities are limited and the trajectory of transformation is unclear. A comprehensive package of socioeconomic reforms is necessary for better political integration in the south.
While there are other important capabilities, the Tunisian armed forces’ most notable contribution to the nation’s security was their response to the terrorist threat. Their respect for elected institutions and civilian authorities is a good start.
However, the military’s role in the democratic process must be delinked from its foreign patrons. In order to make this transition, the government needs to create a culture of cooperation that is free of the political and bureaucratic obstacles that hamper the country’s transition.
Allied aircraft moved forward
When Allied aircraft moved forward during the enlisted battle of Tunisia in 1943, it would be the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany and its fascist armies. The Allies’ campaign in North Africa would set the stage for future Allied operations against Italy.
British troops landed at the Mediterranean port of Bizerte on March 4. By the end of the month, more than 9,000 Italian soldiers had arrived by road from Tripoli. However, they were insignificant compared to the Allied armies.
On April 6, the Eighth Army attacked the Wadi al-‘Akarit. Under cover of darkness, they penetrated deep into German-held high ground. They were soon forced to withdraw.
The IX Corps was ordered to attack from the flanks. Its forces included the 4th Indian and 4th British divisions. Their advance was supported by artillery bombardment and an aircraft storm of bombs. As the attack was over, it was clear that the opposition had been weakened.
An armoured dash into the German lines was necessary. But it was a costly operation. After three days, the position was untenable.
Meanwhile, the Americans began to establish bases in Tunisia. A large forward base was constructed at Maknassy, near the eastern edge of the Atlas Mountains. This area was well-suited to cut off the Fifth Panzer Army in the north.
Rommel led the panzer detachment through Gafsa. He intended to push through the Kasserine Pass and reach the coast. Fortunately, he found only limited support in the local population.
Despite its success in Sicily, the Allied invasion of North Africa failed to destroy Rommel’s forces. The resulting pause would continue on most of the front. Some Allied commanders wondered whether such a new method of warfare was the wisest course of action.
Changing the strategic environment
While Tunisia’s military is slowly adopting reforms, many challenges remain. For instance, Tunisia’s defense establishment faces numerous shortfalls, including strategic planning, interagency coordination, intelligence sharing, and unit-level training deficiencies.
However, Tunisia’s military has shown progress in several areas. One of these is in the fight against terrorism. It has been able to better integrate counterterrorism and population-centric operations. Moreover, the armed forces have made some notable advances in combat competency and doctrine.
Nevertheless, Tunisia still has a long way to go in improving its defense capabilities, particularly in the face of the growing threat from Libya. Ultimately, the country needs to elevate its prevention efforts and address the underlying causes of violent extremism.
A good place to start is by building a solid military intelligence cadre. Such a cadre would help the armed forces in analyzing threats and developing strategies. This may be accomplished by fostering a culture of information sharing among Tunisian security institutions.
Several foreign partners have played a significant role in boosting the country’s defense capabilities. The United States has notably steered the armed forces toward the nebulous task of countering terrorism. As a result, the military has become more professional in its mission execution and more adept at joint counterterrorism operations with Algerian forces.
Nonetheless, the military has also been plagued by bureaucratic rivalries and cultural hurdles. To a certain extent, the armed forces have been held back by an overdependence on foreign superpowers. In order to avoid becoming a pawn in these foreign-sponsored schemes, Tunisia must learn to plan, coordinate, and execute its defense efforts independently.
The armed forces have improved their operational readiness, though they still face a number of challenges. For example, the 125-mile antiterror barrier erected by the government helps in its efforts to keep jihadists from infiltrating the country.
A homegrown capacity for planning
The Tunisian armed forces are a model of efficiency, professionalism and respect for elected institutions. It is also playing a useful role in the transition of the nation to democracy. However, many have questioned the military’s ability to handle the challenges posed by Libya. Among those challenges is a border enforcement mission in the south.
The Tunisian military is in the process of becoming a more professional military organization in the Maghreb. It has made substantial strides since the 2011 revolution. But it is still facing many of the conventional problems that plagued its predecessor.
In addition, the Tunisian military has faced numerous insurgent and terrorist threats. And it remains susceptible to bureaucratic rivalries and stove-piping. That being said, it is clear that the best way to ensure Tunisia’s security is through an active, deliberate and multi-pronged approach to defense planning.
A comprehensive package of socioeconomic reforms will help promote better political integration in the south. Those innovations should be in tandem with a strategic plan for addressing the country’s conventional security needs. While this may seem like an abstract concept, the U.S. Department of Defense has been instrumental in guiding the armed forces’ efforts.
Other countries have aided Tunisia in addressing some of its most pressing defense issues, but the U.S. Department of Defense has acted as a catalyst, and its influence can only increase in the future. Ultimately, it is up to the Tunisian military to devise a comprehensive strategy to deal with its present and future challenges.
The most important step is to establish a solid military intelligence cadre. This would help the armed forces prepare for a possible escalation of the Libyan threat.
Libya is a vital national security concern for Tunisia
The ongoing Libyan crisis continues to pose important security challenges for Tunisia. Its impact is significant on the country’s political stability and economic development.
The Tunisian government seeks active outreach with the Libyan regime in order to prevent the spillover of conflict into the country. Tunisia is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. However, it will serve as an interim member until 2021.
A new agreement signed by the two prime ministers of Tunisia and Libya on May 22 eases trade and movement of citizens. It also helps the private sector to explore new partnerships. This will boost the number of tourists visiting the region.
The current interim Tunisian government has taken measures to securing the country’s border with Libya and prepare the ground for the upcoming democratic elections. But Libya’s escalating conflict has exposed some gaps in Tunisia’s defense transformation. These shortfalls include capability gaps, strategic planning, and interagency coordination.
The Tunisian military has faced decades of neglect and bureaucratic rivalries. Despite these challenges, the force is gradually adopting reforms.
However, a comprehensive socioeconomic solution is still lacking. This could lead to increased tensions among the local population and could even increase the risk of radicalization of young people.
Foreign investors have been discouraged from investing in the region because of the rise of jihadist violence. Moreover, smuggling has become a major threat to the region’s stability. In addition, foreign-piloted fixed-wing aircraft are bombing the western regions of Libya near Tunisia.
While the international community has divided over who will serve as the mediator for the Libyan transition, it is vital that the government of National Unity (GNU) in Libya takes steps to control the violence. Furthermore, it is crucial that the new Libyan government calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country.