On February 6, 1941 Adolf Hitler ordered Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel to Africa in command of Germany’s nascent Afrika Corps. Consisting of the 15th Panzer Division, and a motorized division, the 5th Light Division, the Afrika Corps was meant to stabilize the Axis position in North Africa against British Commonwealth forces that had spent the winter of 1940-41 decimating Italian forces in the region.
Rommel wasted little time upon his arrival at Tripoli on February 11, 1941. On February 16th Rommel dispatched to the front the only German forces he possessed and immediately available for
In November 1941, a lull in the year long battle between the Axis and British Commonwealth forces fighting across the North African desert finally allowed both sides to recover their strength. German General Erwin Rommel's command fielded 414 tanks, 173 German, and nine divisions (including two German divisions; the 5th Light - renamed the 21st Panzer Division on October and 15th Panzer Division) with 320 aircraft providing direct close air support.