In the Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 11, pp.
53-54, there appeared a translation of a Fifth Panzer
Army order signed by Lt. Gen. Gustav von Vaerst,
listing "ten commandments" for the employment of
tanks. This month the Intelligence Bulletin again
publishes a translation of these "commandments," and
adds appropriate comments by GHQ, Middle East
Forces, based on a report by an experienced armored
First, the German order:
1. The tank is a decisive combat weapon. Therefore, its
employment should be limited to the "main effort" in suitable
2. The tank is not an individual fighting weapon. The
smallest tank unit is the platoon, and, for more important
missions, the company.
3. The tank is not an infantry support weapon. It breaks
into, and through, the opposition's line, and the infantry follows
4. The tank can take and clear terrain, but it cannot hold it.
The latter is the mission of the infantry, supported by infantry
heavy weapons, antitank guns, and artillery.
5. The tank is not to be employed as artillery to fight the
enemy from a single position for an extended period. While
fighting, the tank is almost constantly in motion, halting briefly
6. The mission of the infantry is to neutralize hostile antitank
weapons, and to follow the tank attack closely so as to
exploit completely the force and morale effect of that attack.
7. The mission of the artillery is to support the tank attack
by fire, to destroy hostile artillery, and to follow closely the
rapidly advancing tank attack. The main task of the artillery
support is continuous flank protection.
8. The task of the tank destroyers ("Ferdinands" or other
self-propelled mounts equipped with high-velocity weapons) is to
follow the tank attack closely, and to get into the battle
promptly when tank fights tank.
9. The mission of the combat engineers is to open gaps in
minefields--under tank, infantry, and artillery protection--and
thereby enable the tank attack to continue.
10. At night, when tanks are blind and deaf, it is the mission
of the infantry to protect them.
And now the comments by GHQ, British Middle East Forces:
It is considered that, with the exception of Nos. 2 and 3,
these "commandments" are sound common sense, based on fundamental
Number 2 is interesting, however, since it reflects the opinions
of von Arnim, von Thoma, and Stumme (all now prisoners of
war), who fought in Russia, where they acquired the habit of
using their tanks in "penny packets." A platoon consists of
five tanks, and a company consists of 17 Pz. Kw. 3's, 18 Pz. Kw.
4's. or 8 Pz. Kw. 6's. Rommel would never have agreed to the
company being split, and would normally have preferred to use
the battalion, or even the regiment, as the unit of attack, just
as we [the British] ourselves would.
Number 3 is debatable. Against weak antitank defense and
no mines, this method would be effective. However the action
at Medenine, in the Mareth line area, and all action after that
showed that we are as well equipped with antitank guns as the
Germans are. Because of this, the Germans will be compelled
to rewrite their No. 3 "commandment" and use their tanks much
as our Eighth Army has been doing recently.