Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Nickdfresh » 20 Mar 2020 20:11

Wrong post quoted sorry

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Mar 2020 12:38

Nickdfresh wrote:
20 Mar 2020 19:58
From Wacki'pedia. See the underlined text for "team failing", incidentally it's from Ike's biographer:
Which one. Are there not three or four biographies of Eisenhower.
During the fighting, Harmon had opportunity to observe Major General Lloyd Fredendall, commander of II Corps, as well as his superior, the British Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson, commander of the British First Army. Anderson was in overall control of the Allied front in eastern Algeria, commanding British, American, and French forces. Harmon noticed that the two generals rarely saw each other, and failed to properly coordinate and integrate forces under their command. Fredendall was barely on speaking terms with his 1st Armored Division commander, Major General Orlando Ward, who had repeatedly complained to his superiors of the dangers of separating his division into weaker combat commands for use in various sectors of the front. Harmon also noticed that Fredendall rarely left his command headquarters, a huge fortified bunker constructed a full 70 miles behind the front lines (the bunker took two hundred Army engineers three weeks to excavate, using hundreds of pounds of explosive to blast rooms out of solid rock).[6] Allied forces were bereft of air support during critical attacks, and were frequently positioned by the senior command in positions where they could not offer mutual support to each other. Subordinates would later recall their utter confusion at being handed conflicting orders, not knowing which general to obey–Anderson, or Fredendall. While interviewing field commanders, Harmon received an earful of criticism over what many Allied officers viewed as a cowardly, confused, and out-of-touch command. Noting that Fredendall seemed out-of-touch (and at one point, intoxicated), he requested and received permission to go to the front and intervene where necessary to shore up Allied defenses.[8]

While Harmon attributed the lion's share of the blame for the catastrophe to Fredendall, he also began to question Anderson's leadership abilities with respect to a large command. Anderson was partly to blame for the weakness of II Corps in southern area of the front. When Fredendall asked to retire to a defensible line after the initial assault in order to regroup his forces, Anderson rejected the request, allowing German panzer forces to overrun many of the American positions in the south. Anderson also weakened II Corps by parceling out portions of the 1st Armored Division into various combat commands sent to other sectors over the vehement objections of its commander, Major General Ward.
...
After Rommel had finally been halted at Thala, Harmon returned to Fredendall's headquarters, and was incredulous to find Fredendall expecting to pick up where he had left off. Harmon's reports on Fredendall's conduct during and after the battle (in an interview with Major General George Patton, Fredendall's replacement, Harmon called Fredendall, "cowardly") played a key role in Fredendall's removal from command of II Corps and reassignment to a training command in the United States.[10] Offered the command of II Corps in Fredendall's place, Harmon declined, as it would appear to others that Harmon was motivated by personal gain. Instead, in March, General Eisenhower appointed Patton, a colleague and friend of Harmon's, to replace Fredendall. Harmon later accepted command of the 1st Armored Division after the relief of Major General Ward in April.[9]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_N. ... rth_Africa
[/quote]

The cite above is a really interesting description. For one it gets into detail on Harmons observations of Fredendal. At least a bit more than the usual mention. The most important part for me is the second paragraph giving Harmons view of Anderson as contributing to the February 'effect' pf the 1st AD. This is in step with Atkinsons description of the overall arc of the November-January battles. That is the frequent fragmentation of both the US 1st AD & 1st ID to reinforce the Brit V Corps & Juins French command. This went beyond the dispersal of the US II Corps during Dec-February. I think it would be a mistake to cast Fredendal as a victim here, but the overall context of the February battle should be understood. Another point Atkinson makes is the intelligence failure across the board. Eisenhower dismissed his intelligence chief post battle & I believe either Patton or Bradley replace the II Corps intel officer. One point from the narratives that frequently jumps out at me is how neither Anderson nor Fredendal, & their staff, understood the size of the Axis forces in the January Faid pass battle or the battles around Sidi you Zid & Sened station in February. This may connect to the belief that took hold in January the Axis armies were not capable of major offensive operations.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 25 Mar 2020 23:14

At this point I've run out of useful material to read on this subject. Not having the time or funds to mine original material Atkinsons 'Army at Dawn', Hyperwar', & a few other scraps will have to serve. Summarizing; I'm not seeing anything really huge emerging in Freda's history previous to January 1942. There are warning of fundamental weaknesses of character, but those are masked by his performance in assorted staff and command slots along the way. Also there are warnings of weakness of character for about every WWII General officer of the US Army. Its easy to nitpick the bulk of them. I'l return to the man individually later. for the moment a look at the context may be useful.

Doctrinally things were not as the US Army supposed they would be. Specifically the fragmentation of Allied formations and reconfiguration into over mixed units of multiple nationalities. This went on to the point where US tank platoons and AT gun sections were dispersed among French infantry regiments. I imagine all that may have made sense to the commanders on the spot, but it created a condition contrary, anathema even, to what the command group of II Corps and the subordinate divisions were used to. Along the way I've run across Allen having vapors over his battalions detached & off to foreign command. Ward was much the same. I'm suspecting the staff of II corps was both tense and confused by the increasingly unfamiliar command situation. A second source of cognitive dissonance may have come from the cancellation of of Operation SATIN. The replacement of one complex operation with another of fundamentally different goals can if not properly handled create tension/confusion within a cmd staff. I've seen it happen & drag on past all belief when the commander or staff chief did not work to alleviate it. Another clear source of dissonance in Jan-Fed came from the failure to read the intelligence properly. First the judgement was made the Axis were both unable and without intention to take a general offensive. Second when that offensive, or series of offensives came there was a failure to recognize its real strength. This was in part over reliance on ULTRA, part lack of combat experience among the lower level intel staff, part the enemy deception ops, and part many of the commanders not applying critical thinking to what the intel officers were briefing them. That the picture II Corps, 1st Army had of the enemy was a bad facade is a given.

Systemic Bias & systemic failure are a couple terms I've seen used by the management gurus in the past decade. The context of situation surrounding Fredendal from mid Feb to mid Jan was progressively out of his control. Units abruptly taken from his command, a horribly bad intel picture, attention to preparation for complex operations, abruptly replaced with new complex ops did nothing to leave a stable base under his feet. Some men could handle these things better. Patton had a taste for confusion & a elevated situational awareness. He also knew how to handle a cmd staff & keep his G sections on track. Many others I suspect would have done little better than Fredendal perhaps better or worse in specifics.

There was of course one other source of dissonance behind the false intel facade. Most folks exclaiming over the 'failure of the Americans', or more specifically the 1st Armored Div do not look at the relative combat power arrayed against CCA & the 168th Inf at Sidi bou Zid & Sbeitla. The 10th & 21st Pz Divs, with supporting units operated together vs what amounted to a enemy screening force. Even massed together the three US tank battalions & misc supporting units were out numbered better than 3-1 by what amounted to a armored corps. In terms of combat power ratios of 5-1 or 6-1 don't seem out of line. Particularly since the US Army battalions were not massed, but entered the battle seperately & poorly coordinated.

As I pointed out earlier Anderson offered his resignation 24 December & Ike did not accept it. That was for a failure of far larger strategic import than what happened in February. Perhaps Ikes patience had worn thin in the intervening seven weeks? Perhaps he had recalled the lessons of the Fox Connor years & seen their value. Perhaps it was Harmons recommendation?

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Aber » 26 Mar 2020 18:33

Immediately after Harmon left Fredenall's HQ, Bedell Smith and Bradley arrived. From Beetle:
Fredenall and his staff blamed the British for everything. Bradley reported them "rabidly, if not obscenely, anti-British and especially anti-Anderson". Smith left convinced that Fredenall was either "incompetent or crazy or both".
Earlier:
"Fredenall has kept entirely out of the battle" Harmon reported to Smith on 26 February "and has slept for the last 2 days. I know this because twice I sent my aide to tell him of the battle progress and he was asleep at 11am both times".
It looks as if it was his failure to respond to a crisis, and not seeing it coming, and not being able to work with Allies, and falling out with subordinates, and...

There may be similarities with Hodges apparent collapse during the Ardennes.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Mar 2020 20:13

Aber wrote:
26 Mar 2020 18:33
Immediately after Harmon left Fredenall's HQ, Bedell Smith and Bradley arrived. From Beetle:
Fredenall and his staff blamed the British for everything. Bradley reported them "rabidly, if not obscenely, anti-British and especially anti-Anderson". Smith left convinced that Fredenall was either "incompetent or crazy or both".
Earlier:
"Fredenall has kept entirely out of the battle" Harmon reported to Smith on 26 February "and has slept for the last 2 days. I know this because twice I sent my aide to tell him of the battle progress and he was asleep at 11am both times".
It looks as if it was his failure to respond to a crisis, and not seeing it coming, and not being able to work with Allies, and falling out with subordinates, and...

There may be similarities with Hodges apparent collapse during the Ardennes.
This is at the core of it. Its hard to see in Harmons remarks tho. The main crisis of the battle occurred at the start, the battles around Sidi you Zid 14-15 Feb and Sbeitla 16 & 17 Feb. Harmon did not show up until 23 Feb. My notes from Atkinson and Hyperwar also are making it look as if the narrative of Fredendl hunkering down in his bunker is a myth. Theres a couple references to him being in the field before Harmons visit. On the 17th Feb the was at Thala meeting Robinette.
Aber wrote:
26 Mar 2020 18:33
... There may be similarities with Hodges apparent collapse during the Ardennes.
Hodges was clearly relying too much on ULTRA. Or rather his intel chief. The tension between the 1st Army G2 & the Corps G2 officers has been commented on across the literature. 1st Army G2 was unique in rejecting assistance from the OSS. The liaison section that showed up in September 1944 was told to leave in October. All the other US Army commanders in 6th& 12th AG made use of their OSS liaison. Fredendal & Anderson both were failing to see the strength of the German attack in the south through the 17th Feb. Anderson was understandably focused on the British sector, where a German deception operation/s was underway. I suspect Fredendal & his G2 were badly misreading their data up to the 18th. From then it was something of a full reverse with the view of the enemy as a unstoppable fleet of tanks and covering the desert in infantry battalions.

Working with Allies is something that jumps out all over the narrative. Theres more than Bradleys testimony about the attitude within II Corps Staff. In this aspect theres something of a chicken & egg question. The negative attitude of the Staff at 1st Army is also a common actor in the narrative. The quote casting the US Army as "Our Italians" is attributed to a 1st Army staffer. Neither Anderson nor Fredendal gain any credit for allowing this to develop.

One final point, Fredendals removal from command occurred long after this battle was settled. The popular narrative of the 'Kasserine Pass battle' of of a US Army defeat of a catastrophic sort. The reality is Rommels MORGANLUFT operation failed & the offensive was defeated. Another point is the operation was no blitzkrieg. It took the panzer corps from the 14th through 17th to cover the 52km between Faid station & Sbeitla station. The next jump to the Kassirene Pass position, about 25 km took till the 20th, ditto for the advance to the Sibiba position of 20 km. The advance to Thala & Dj el Hamra positions & battles of the 21st show just over 100 km covered in 6-7 days. Respectable, but not a walk in the park, which the Axis casualties can confirm. By any standard II Corps won this battle. The problem here seems they did not win it well. Historian Walter Lord once wrote that the Americans expected their Generals to win battles and had not patience for them when they lost (MacAurthur gets a pass here). It looks rather as if in WWII Americans expect their Generals to not just win, but make it look easy by winning with aplomb, dash, a smile, and hot meals everyday. Fredendals contribution between the 14th and Harmons arrival was messy, or ugly. Not what the US public wanted, which was represented in leaders like Eisenhower and Marshal.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Aber » 27 Mar 2020 14:03

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Mar 2020 20:13

This is at the core of it.
I think you may be concentrating too much on the functional issues, rather than the personal or cultural issues. Warning: post may include very broad brush generalisations.

First - what was expected of a WW2 general, with British examples:

On the offensive, commanders needed clarity of purpose and a judgement of what was realistic to achieve eg Cunningham during Operation Crusader who lost confidence and wanted to stop the battle early, versus Auchinleck who had the willpower to continue. On the other hand you have Auchinleck who continued First Alamein for too long running up unnecessary casualties; Andersen probably did the same during December 1942 in Tunisia.

On the defensive, commanders needed resilience to cope with things going wrong for an extended period. Some coped well eg Slim in Burma, but others didn't - Barker was the Corps Commander due to command the rearguard at Dunkirk but got replaced by Alexander as he was not up to it.

First experience with combat was also critical, but there were few British commanders without WW1 combat experience.

Building an effective team below you - the best British example of this not happening is Ritchie before Gazala who doesn't seem to have got a grip on his Corps and Divisional commanders.

Second - some American issues

Working with Allies - there seems to have been a general distrust of being under non-American command, certainly dating back to WW1.

Command style - generally commanders seem to have gone back to meet their superiors, rather than the superiors going forward, which might lead to a lack of understanding of conditions at the front.

Mentoring - American style seems to have been a bit "sink or swim" - give your subordinate an objective and tell him get on with it. May be problematic if the objectives are not realistic, or it's the first time the subordinate has seen combat - see high rate of replacement of divisional commanders under Bradley in NW Europe.

Culture - IIRC II Corps morphed into First Army and was always seen as difficult to work with by higher commanders.

Factionalism - not sure how much this was an issue in the pre-war US Army, but looking at a Patton biography which highlights earlier friction with Fredendall before they went overseas.

Offensive attitude - "everybody attacks" and lack of reserves. An expectation that the US Army would always be attacking, rather than attacked. Getting this wrong would be a huge mental shock, which I think affected Hodges during the Bulge.

Overall I accept your view that there are few specific examples of what Fredendall did wrong, and that he was working in difficult circumstances. I'd add that I think these were exacerbated by cultural issues within the US Army outlined above. Also I think the slow transition to wartime thinking is shown by how long it took Eisenhower to actually relieve him, after the multiple negative reports.

EDIT: I think "our Italians" dates to after Kasserine, before I think there was a view of naivety and unwillingness to listen to British experience.

EDIT2: Re relationship between Andersen and Fredendall - I think there was a difference between the US and UK about the ability of subordinates to query orders they thought were unrealistic.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Mar 2020 15:18

Aber wrote:
27 Mar 2020 14:03
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
26 Mar 2020 20:13

This is at the core of it.
I think you may be concentrating too much on the functional issues, rather than the personal or cultural issues. Warning: post may include very broad brush generalizations. ...
There has been a ongoing debate in management theory between the importance of system (cultural, doctrinal, structural) over individual leaders in organizational function. The pop histories of course make no useful examination of any of this & even guys like Atkinson who make a effort at critical thinking don't get to deep in the weeds on this subject. My take is the two overlap & both need to examined together.

The rest of the devils details can be picked apart in several directions. Bottom line is 1st Army & II Corps won against Kesselrings spring offensive, but looked ugly doing it. Fredendal was not the only officer replaced after this battle in a effort to fight a better war.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Aber » 27 Mar 2020 15:23

My final thought was going to be:

Would any other US commander have done better before and during the battle? - Probably not many given the cultural factors, and lack of modern combat experience.

Would other US commanders have managed the aftermath better? - Probably yes, and this is what got him relieved.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by EKB » 28 Mar 2020 05:52

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
27 Mar 2020 15:18
There has been a ongoing debate in management theory between the importance of system (cultural, doctrinal, structural) over individual leaders in organizational function.
No doubt about it. The field commander of a large army does not have the power to suddenly eliminate bureaucratic and cultural behaviors that might interfere with making progress, especially if those behaviors are deeply entrenched. Big changes must be approved and implemented long before the troops enter battle, ideally during indoctrination of officers and other ranks.

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
27 Mar 2020 15:18
Bottom line is 1st Army & II Corps won against Kesselrings spring offensive, but looked ugly doing it. Fredendal was not the only officer replaced after this battle in a effort to fight a better war.
After Sicily, it appears to me that Terry Allen Sr. was punished as a warning about freebird generals who won’t toe the line of corporate culture. This guy was probably the best division commander in the U.S. Army. There is disagreement about the exact reason why he was fired from 1st Division but fortunately, Eisenhower soon realized that Allen’s dismissal was unjust.
Last edited by EKB on 28 Mar 2020 05:57, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 28 Mar 2020 06:33

Aber wrote:
27 Mar 2020 15:23
My final thought was going to be:

Would any other US commander have done better before and during the battle?
Short answer would be yes, tho the debatee over exactly who would be long. Patton despite his flashy rep did know something about running a cold staff, discipline was another item not lacking in his I Corps. more important he was well above average in understanding how to use intelligence & may not have been blindsided by the attacks at Faid Pass * Sidi you Zid
- Probably not many given the cultural factors, and lack of modern combat experience.
Stilwell did not have combat experience in China in the usual sense. During his stints as intelligence officer in the 15th Regiment he did get out of the office and spent a fair amount of time with the warlord armies. His observation of the effects of bad leadership, planning, staff work, logistics, disciplince & everything else in terms of dead bodies and defeated battalions was about as immediate as it gets for any senior commander. That experience had something to do with the refinement of his long reputation as a disciplinarian and demanding his staff do their job vs backstabbing games.

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 28 Mar 2020 06:50

EKB wrote:
28 Mar 2020 05:52
... After Sicily, it appears to me that Terry Allen Sr. was punished as a warning about freebird generals who won’t toe the line of corporate culture. This guy was probably the best division commander in the U.S. Army. There is disagreement about the exact reason why he was fired from 1st Division but fortunately, Eisenhower soon realized that Allen’s dismissal was unjust.
Bradleys specific reason was that Allen had committed the corps reserve to combat in contravention to the corps battle plan & concealed this from the command. Allen might have gotten away with this had the results been satisfactory, but the 1st divs attack failed in its objective. So, after screwing up the II Corps attack Allen could no longer work for Bradley. Patton as 7th Army commander did not second guess this one (he seldom did so without good reason).

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Nickdfresh » 28 Mar 2020 17:24

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
23 Mar 2020 12:38

Which one. Are there not three or four biographies of Eisenhower.
Hi Carl, pardon my delayed response. From the bibliography: D'Este, Carlo, Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life, Orion Publishing Group Ltd. (2003), ISBN 0-304-36658-7, ISBN 0-304-36658-7

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 28 Mar 2020 18:42

Nick. Thanks

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Duncan_M » 05 Apr 2020 02:08

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
28 Mar 2020 06:50
EKB wrote:
28 Mar 2020 05:52
... After Sicily, it appears to me that Terry Allen Sr. was punished as a warning about freebird generals who won’t toe the line of corporate culture. This guy was probably the best division commander in the U.S. Army. There is disagreement about the exact reason why he was fired from 1st Division but fortunately, Eisenhower soon realized that Allen’s dismissal was unjust.
Bradleys specific reason was that Allen had committed the corps reserve to combat in contravention to the corps battle plan & concealed this from the command. Allen might have gotten away with this had the results been satisfactory, but the 1st divs attack failed in its objective. So, after screwing up the II Corps attack Allen could no longer work for Bradley. Patton as 7th Army commander did not second guess this one (he seldom did so without good reason).
Can you expand on this story about Allen committing the corps reserve?

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Re: Lloyd Fredendall Behind the Failure

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Apr 2020 14:31

Its seems to have occurred at the attack by 1st ID to take Troina Sicilly. 3rd ID attacked east along the coast & 1st ID advanced parallel inland with a paved highway on its axis of movement. Atkinsons 'Day of Battle' has the most detailed account of this battle, tho its still not a lot. Enough to make it look like the series of regimental attacks degenerated into a mess. After five days the German commanders decided the center of the defense around the town of Troina was out flanked and they needed to cut their losses. Atkinsons narrative describes the 39th ID (of the 9th ID) opening the attack straight at Troina 1 August followed by the 26th regiment on the 39th left 2 August. The attack did not go as expected & the 16th & 18th Inf Regiments were committed on the right flank 3 August. A final reinforcement was the 60th Inf (9th ID) far out on the left on 5 August to secure a Mount Pelato that overlooked the Troina area & was near the boundary between the 1st & 3rd ID.

What this looks like is the initial frontal attack went to slowly & someone was subsequently trying to flank the defense over the flanking high ground. Bradley in his biography states he had to take over tactical direction of this battle, but does not give a date. Flanking through the high ground was more Bradleys MO. He successfully pulled that off in the waning days of the Tunisian campaign to get to Bizerte. Atkinson notes Bradleys postwar statement but in his narrative of the battle ascribes all the decisions to Allen.

A single regiment as corps reserve makes sense where two divisions are present, in the context of the paralle attacks of the 2st & 3rd ID. However the exhausted 45th ID had just been replaced by the 3rdID & the fresh 9th ID was arriving at Palermo. So technically there were two divisions to act as corps reserve. Atkinson does state the 39th Inf was attached under 1st ID command, which confuses things at bit more in terms of where reserves might be. Atkinson also states the corps plan was for the 9thID to pass through the 1stID after Troina was captured. In the contest having the 39th Inf lead the attack make less sense. However Atkinsons narrative also note II Corps G2 was unaware the Germans intended to make a stand in front of Troina & Acquedolci. Bradly expected a series of delaying actions & abandonment of Troina after the 1st August.

Theres a couple ways to square this circle. One is there was no regiment in reserve & Bradly was simply pissed Allen wasted two regiments (39th & 26th) in a direct attack straight at the strong center of the German defense. Both suffered heavy casualties 1-3 August. The other is the 39th was not expected to lead the attack, but was to follow lead attacks by the other regiments of the 1stID & act as the first element of the 9th ID passing though & taking over the sector from the 1st. Atkinson states Allen assured Bradley the 1st ID would take Troina posthaste clearing the way for the 9th ID. In that context Bradley might be pissed to find a third of the following forces combat power pinned down in a losing attritional battle & taking heavy casualties for two days while two thirds of the 1st ID regiments sit back uncommitted.

I participated in enough tactical exercises that I saw more than a few made a hash of by overly complex plans & plans that had too little relationship to the goals or objectives. In that context Allens plan as described by Atkinson looks wrong. One can point to the bad intelligence from the II Corps, but thats not quite a excuse for not making a through reconnaissance & local analysis by 1st ID.

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