British Capt. Leith (Richard Burton) knows the Libyan Desert like the back of his hand, but Maj. Brand (Curt Jürgens), who's unfamiliar with the terrain, is chosen to lead a campaign through the area because of his prestigious military credentials. During the mission, tensions build between Leith and Brand, and the latter reveals himself to be a poor fit for the dangerous operation. The power struggle between the officers is only intensified when Brand learns that his wife once loved Leith.