The commander of Allied forces in Italy, General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, already had indicated how the Fifth and Eighth Armies were to capitalize on the early successes of the offensive. While the Eighth Army and the bulk of the Fifth were to continue to push northwestward in the general direction of Rome, the VI Corps from the Anzio beachhead was to strike northeastward to seize the town of Valmontone, astride Highway 6, the line of communications to the German Tenth Army, which was opposing the main Allied attack farther south. Thus the VI Corps was to block the Tenth Army's logical route of withdrawal, possibly trapping the main body of the enemy, but certainly embarrassing further enemy operations on the southern front. This strike to Valmontone, General Alexander believed, was the most rewarding possibility open to the VI Corps for making a sizable contribution to the big offensive.
Dave Saxton wrote:When I was in secondary school one of my instructors used the term "Mark Clark the Stupid". I then made the mistake of repeating this phrase in front of my uncle who served under Clark in N Africa and Italy. Boy did I get chewed out! I was told how Clark actually fought in the fox holes with his men and what a stand up guy he was. He probably blundered there, but his men loved him. It did not hurt his career and he did a good job in Korea.
The commander of the U.S. Fifth Army, Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, whose command included the VI Corps, was not so sure. General Clark's doubts about the Valmontone maneuver dated back to the period of planning before the start of the offensive when the Allied commander first had indicated his broad concept of the operation. Unlike Alexander, Clark had believed that the decisive role would fall, not to the Eighth Army attacking frontally against the main enemy defenses in the Liri Valley, but to the Fifth Army, attacking through mountainous terrain west of the Liri and thereby outflanking German strength in the valley. Clark also disagreed with Alexander's estimate of what the VI Corps, with limited forces, could accomplish by a strike into the enemy's rear and flank. In keeping with his doubts, Clark early had instructed the VI Corps commander, Maj. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, to draw up alternate plans. Now, on the morning of 25 May, as forces from Anzio and from the south made contact and as the VI Corps reached positions from which the strike to Valmontone might be launched, the time for a final decision on the form and direction of the VI Corps exploitation was at hand.The decision facing General Clark was no ordinary command decision. Indeed, since the views of the army group commander, General Alexander, had been spelled out so specifically, some army commanders would have considered that there was no room for decision at an army level at all. Yet Clark was determined that the action of the VI Corps should not be compromised by some predetermined concept but that the corps should be utilized in what he considered the most advantageous manner in keeping with the situation at the time.