U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East

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This article is about the World War II-era deployment of US forces in the Middle East. For information on components of the United States Army currently deployed there, see U.S. Third Army.

United States Army Forces in the Middle East (USAFIME) was a unified United States Army command during World War II established in August, 1942 by order of General George Marshall to oversee the Egypt-Libya Campaign.

The small USAFIME was headquartered in Cairo—which simplified liaison with its much larger British counterpart, Middle East Command. USAFIME had command over all United States Army forces in North Africa and the Middle East, except the Army Air Forces Ferrying Command. It was composed of:

  • Iran-Iraq Service Command, later renamed the Persian Gulf Service Command (PGSC) and then finally the Persian Gulf Command; this was the successor to the original US Iranian Mission and was responsible for US troops manning the Persian Corridor. It was originally commanded by Col. Don G. Shingler, who was replaced late in 1942 by Brig. Gen. Donald H. Connolly.
  • The North African Mission.

The first commander of the USAFIME was Maj. Gen. Russell L. Maxwell. He was replaced in November 1942 by Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), and in January 1943 by Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton.

Maxwell was an army general because at the time he was appointed it was expected that the Americans would contribute ground troops to assist in the Allied Western Desert Campaign. Initially the only US combat forces which were allocated to the Mediterranean Theatre of War were USAAF squadrons. As plans for Operation Torch began to take shape the it became clear that the Americans would not contribute ground troops to the Western Desert Campaign. This was reflected in Maxwell's replacement by Andrews. One of Andrew's first acts was to establish the Ninth Air Force to replace USAMEAF. The non-air force administrative functions of USAFIME were taken over by the North African Theater of Operations United States Army (NATOUSA) when the Egypt-Libya campaign ended on 12 February 1943.

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