October 23, 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the “Second Battle of El Alamein, Egypt,” a significant point in WWII representing the first time that the Allies convincingly defeated the Germans in battle, preventing them from taking control of the critical Suez Canal and Middle East oilfields. The reasons for victory included:
- Excellent planning and management – General Montgomery spent months in advance of the battle sizing up the enemy and his own capabilities and devising an attack strategy that included coordination of air- and land-based military assets.
- Innovative products – Created in the U.K. by Polish engineer Józef Kosacki, the Polish Mine Detector, used for the first time in battle during El Alamein, expedited the movement of troops and Sherman Tanks across the sand; this innovation allowed infantry men to clear 200 meters of land in one hour, which was twice as productive as the previous technology. Similarly, this was the first time in the war that US-made Sherman Tanks were used, which improved firing accuracy while on the move.
- Superiority in numbers – The Allies had 195,000 soldiers and 1,029 tanks, compared with the German/Axis force of 116,000 soldiers and 547 tanks.
Last month marked the four-year anniversary of what most of us recognize as the start of “the Great Recession:” the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008. Along the way to recovery from this recession, it seems that our policy makers have lost most of the battles in which they have engaged, including battles using fiscal stimulus and QE.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November, we need an “El Alamein moment” to mark the start of small victories, with contributions and innovations from men and women across the globe.
As Winston Churchill said about El Alamein, “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
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