Tunisia is rectangular, with its northern and much of its eastern boundary on the Mediterranean coast.
Most of the inland western border with Algeria is astride the western line of the Atlas Mountains which run from the Atlantic coast of Morocco, 1,900 kilometres (1,200 mi) east to Tunis.
However, planners had to assume the worst case regarding the extent of Vichy opposition at Algiers and the invasion convoys were assault-loaded with a preponderance of infantry to meet heavy ground opposition.
Large quantities of supplies became available to the British from the United States and the supply situation of the Eighth Army eventually resolved.
With the Eighth Army no longer constrained, the Axis were driven westwards from Egypt following the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942.
Because of the nearness of Sicily to Tunisia, the Allies expected that the Axis would move to occupy the country as soon as they heard of the Torch landings.
To forestall this, it would be necessary to occupy Tunisia as quickly as possible after the landings were made.
This would ensure the success of the initial landings in spite of uncertainty as to how the incumbent French forces would react.
Once Algiers was secured, a small force, the Eastern Task Force, would be projected as quickly as possible into Tunisia in a race to occupy Tunis, some 800 km (500 mi) distant along poor roads in difficult terrain during the winter rainy season, before the Axis could organise.Smaller ports at Benghazi and Tobruk were 1,050 km (650 mi) and 640 km (400 mi) west of Alexandria on the Litoranea Balbo (Via Balbia) running along a narrow corridor along the coast.Control of the central Mediterranean was contested by the British and Italian navies, which were equally matched and exerted a reciprocal constraint supply through Alexandria, Tripoli, Benghazi and Tobruk, although the British could supply Egypt via the long route through the Atlantic around the Cape of Good Hope and by the Indian Ocean into the Red Sea.The Western Desert Force (WDF) fought a delaying action as it fell back to Mersa Matruh (Matruh), then began Operation Compass, a raid and counter-attack into Libya.The 10th Army was destroyed and the WDF occupied El Agheila, some 970 km (600 mi) from Alexandria.The first two years of the war in North Africa were characterised by chronic supply shortages and transport problems.