Battle of Guadalajara - Aftermath - Military Significance

Military Significance

The tactical lessons of the battle were ambiguous and prone to misinterpretation. The failure of the Italian offensive demonstrated the vulnerability of massed armoured advances in unfavourable terrain and against a coherent infantry defence. The French General Staff, in harmony with existing beliefs in the French Army, concluded that mechanized troops were not the decisive element of modern warfare and continued to shape their military doctrine accordingly. A notable exception to this view was Charles de Gaulle. The Germans escaped this conclusion by correctly dismissing the Guadalajara failure as the product of Italian incompetence.

In truth, both views had some merit: armoured forces were largely ineffective against prepared defences organized in depth; in adverse weather, and without proper air support, the result was disaster (Italian strategists failed to consider these variables). But the German assessment correctly noted the deficiencies in Italian soldiery, planning, and organization that contributed to their rout at Guadalajara. In particular, their vehicles and tanks had lacked the technical quality and their leaders the determination necessary to effect the violent breakthroughs characteristic of later German blitzkrieg tactics.

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