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equivalent man power

Discussion in 'Military Training, Doctrine, and Planning' started by UncleJoe, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    I remember reading in some library book over 10 years ago, a remarkable and scandalous claim. In very simplified terms,

    100 Germans = 250 Russians = 120 Western allies (no, I'm not talking about money! and the number dropped to 180 Russians by the end of the war)

    I forgot the book, but I think the term used was equivalent man power. Has anyone else heard about this and know what the primary source was?

    Please, I'm not trying to spread any myth of German invincibility that Wikipedia has been accused of. I'd like to know how this changed under various scenarios.

    First, I don't know how these numbers were even calculated. I'm guessing that number is the attrition rate per soldier (kills/minute for BF4 players). Near the end of the war, when the Germans were dug in, on the defensive, and out numbered, these numbers seem to make sense since the attackers usually have a higher casualty rate (think of those 10:1 kill ratios for Tiger tanks)

    But early in the war, wouldn't the situation have been reversed? But I can think of a counter example. If you had a perfect case of the Lanchester square law, where casualty rate = armySize2, then each soldier in the larger force would be doing more damage/minute. But then how do you explain these 2 seemingly contradictory cases?
     
  2. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    depended on the units also.....and type of battle, such as Crete where the German Fallschirmjager suffered high casualties....and the Rangers lost at Anzio.....but then you have the 101st with assorted units in defense of Bastogne that came out on top....very complicated equations here....
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    As bronk7 states a complicated issue. This often comes up in war game scenario's, especially the paper kind. How do you evaluate the relative merit of each side. Unquestionably in the first half of the European conflict (1939-1942) German ground forces operated at a higher level of competency than either the Western Allied or Soviet forces. This was due to several factor's such as training, doctrine, organization, leadership and to some limited degree equipment (German land and air forces while not always better tended to be optimized for working together as a whole, something both the Allies and Soviets had to learn).

    Conversely, flaw's in Allied/Soviet ground forces helped to magnify the issue to some degree. This however was not universal Commonwealth ground forces on the defensive, and on good ground could savage the best Germany had to offer in the early going all things being equal. Soviet forces, while at a severe disadvantage in the summer of 1941/42 proved a nightmare to German forces in winter conditions generally.

    Over time these imbalances tended to reverse with German abilities in the decline and Allied abilities gaining. Again this was not universal as some German formations retained very high standards while others declined sharply. On the other hand some Allied formations failed to preform well, often due to the infusion of 'green' troops or poor leadership.

    As I mentioned war games at the top of this post it is good to remember that these usually employ a set value for each type of unit when of course there is no such thing, Leadership, experience, battle history and other factors lead to a slightly (sometimes no so slightly) difference between what should be otherwise identically organized and supported units.

    Sometimes authors try to find ways to boil down these complex equations into easily digestible equations, but as bronk7 noted when exactly do you compare values and equally important, under what conditions, is the critical key. A case in point is Overlord, at no point could Germany ever execute a operation of either its size or complexity. Operation Wessrubrung, the invasion of Norway, was the closest and it pales in comparison. This is more telling in that the Allies executed dozen's of similar operations in both Europe and the Pacific that either roughly equaled or surpassed Wessrubrung.

    Certainly Greman ground forces were masters at tactical operations, but not super men, whatever their delusions.
     
  4. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Nonsense.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Exactly.
     
  6. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget the pure methamphetamine taken by German soldiers during the blitzkrieg that enabled them to stay up for days as intense and focused as ever.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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  8. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    There is also the fact the Germans allocated a higher percentage of the "top quality" manpower to the front line fighters, while the western allies usually sent the best recruits to the more technical support units, this initially produced a German advantage but as attrition took it's toll the Germans were hard pressed to find high quality replacements.

    The skewed manpower allocation system allocated far too much manpower to the Luftwaffe, that was limited in the number of planes it could field by production and fuel, so it ended up forming a number of infantry divisions. The comparison between the LW units and the Army's ones is eye opening, the LW had possibly better "human raw material", as by 1942 the Army was feeling the manpower shortage, but poor NCO and officer training, they also where short of heavy equipment and many ended up using 88mm Flak guns as field artillery as those where the only heavy guns the LW had access to. Their performance went from barely adequate to really bad, the difference was not "being German" it was training, doctrine and equipment.
     
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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The German replacement policy tried to match people up from the same area didn't it? From what I recall reading the US system tended to treat soldiers like mechanical parts. The result was it took longer for replacements to fit into experianced units and they tended to suffer more for it.
     
  10. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    "The German replacement policy tried to match people up from the same area didn't it?"

    I don't know that the geographical origin of the replacement had any effect positive or negative, with regards to US troops. I think the biggest issue with the US Army replacement system was that they had a tendency to feed individual replacements into units in combat in order to keep the unit in action. These new replacements had no opportunity to form bonds with the veteran troops that had trained and served together. The veterans who had been in the units tended to not readily embrace the new arrivals feeling that there was no need to form a bond with someone that would soon become a casualty anyway.
    Another issue was that there was no provision for returning soldiers that had been evacuated from their units because they were sick or wounded. They were sent to replacement depots and assigned to the first unit needing that particular MOS. A better option would be to return them to the unit that had lost them. I do think the Army modified the system late in the war.

    "From what I recall reading the US system tended to treat soldiers like mechanical parts."

    This is correct, but was really only an issue for soldiers being returned to units. The other issue, as touched on above, was that units should have been pulled out of combat, replacements taken in, small unit training undertaken to acclimate the newbies to the unit and to allow for bonding with the veterans. Then return the unit to the line. If veterans had been returned to their original units once they had recovered/healed, it could have been done while the unit was still engaged because they were familiar and had an existing bond.

    I think one factor that is being missed here is that the numbers the OP is looking for would vary by unit more than nationality. There would not be one homogenous value that could be applied across the German forces in general. They had some very good units, but also lots of mediocre and really bad units. I'd say that allied units, especially US and British Commonwealth, were more homogenous and there was less variance between the best unit and the worst units with many more falling into the average category. When comparing the best units, I'd say elite US-British/Commonwealth were every bit as good as the best German ones. The Germans had to use their worst units, the US-British/Commonwealth didn't have to deploy theirs.
     
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  11. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Member

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    Good insights guys. I'm going to buy that book. I will resist the urge to think in terms of numbers like W. Mcnamara or M. Romney - seems he had no concept of focus fire (Lanchester square law) when he said it was appalling that the U.S. navy had ~280 ships.


    I think that practice dates to the founding of West Point. I read a George A. Custer biography and it said the top 5 graduates for each class (e.g. Robert E. Lee, George McClellan) all became engineers. The next ~10 went into artillery. The middle went into infantry, and the bottom like Custer went into cavalry and dragoons (better to be last among the best than best among mediocre he said). Seems very one dimensional thinking to shaft the non-intellectuals by sending them to the front lines, even though that worked out so well for Custer who ended up a 1 star general by 23. It seems this age of enlightenment/Napoleonic idea the US army adopted had the opposite effect it intended by decreasing moral.

    Even though you claim the Heer was more egalitarian in mixing veterens and new recruits, it seems Hitler interfered with this by not reinforcing existing units and creating new ones instead (1)


    Sounds disturbing. Seems the Navy in the Pacific did a lot better job of rotating experienced pilots between combat and training new recruits, unlike the Japanese, who didn't rotate (2)


    OK, I think I can explain the seeming contradiction between

    A. big force -> higher damage inflicted by each soldier (Lanchester square law)
    vs.
    B. big offensive force vs. small defensive force -> higher damage inflicted by each soldier on defense

    To me, it seems B would only happen if the larger force isn't able to throw everything they have against the enemy, either because the other side has chosen very well defended ground (e.g. tanks behind a hill) or because of incompetence.

    But the Heer & Luftwaffe were able to bring to bear everything they had early in the war (through maneuver), so B, a WW1 reality, was avoided. I think that's exactly why the navy has reduced the number of ships so much. The missiles have very long range and no obstacles.


    1. said on the PBS Battlefield (series 1): Battle of Berlin episode

    2. also from the Battlefield: Leyte Gulf
     
  12. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Bad analogy and despite what the Custer biography said, ends up being inaccurate. Lee did go to the Corps of Engineers, good thing because it was a highly technical posting. He, early in his career oversaw the building of coastal forts and rerouted sections of the Mississipi River. Good math skills were a must.
    He surved as Superintendant of West Point and one of the changes during his tenure was to stress equestrian skills and his time there produced many notable cavalry officers including J.E.B. Stuart.
    He was later a Lt. Colonel in the 2d US Cavalry.
    Lee's early Engineer training enhanced his eye for terrain which he used to his advantage fighting his army. He also made heavy use of field fortifications which led to one of his early nicknames, "King of Spades" because early war many of militia soldiers wanted to fight not dig. Later in the war soldiers on both sides had taken to making hasty field fortifications.

    George Pickett and Henry Heth, both later confederate generals were last in their respective classes, 1846 and 1847, both were infantry officers. Heth's first posting after graduation was to the 1st Infantry Regiment, and was later a quartermaster. Pickett's first posting was to the 8th US Infantry. So last=cavalry is not so.

    Part of the reason that it appears that it was US Army policy is that West Point was established as an engineering school, in fact until the mid-19th century was the United States only engineering school. Until 1866 the West Point Superintendant was alway held by a member of the Corps of Engineers. Class standing was highly dependent on academics, and strong mathematics skill is a requirement to be an engineer. Lastly, if you look through a list of "Top of Class" West Point graduates, you won't recognize many names, class standing apparently does not directly equate to command skills.
     
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  13. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Very interesting interesting info in West Point there, but I was thinking more happened with soldiers than with officers, German had very high quality NCOs and junior combat unit officers as their low level initiative doctrine required that, the US "90 days wonders" stories may be sometimes exaggerated but shown a different approach.
     
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Ratios like this come up if you start looking at overall loss statistics. Trevor(?) Dupuy and Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO) made this famous, but the methpodology has been under attack ever since. Neill Ferguson uses similar arguments in "The Pity of War"
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  16. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    About West Point, it was my understanding that the top cadet's got their choice of postings, depending upon availability openings. It was also my understanding that Engineering was the most prestigious choice, and I suspect it offered a lucrative post military career to those who went that route as promotion was glacial in peacetime and pay was pitiful in war or peace. McClellan was a good civilian engineer, a great organizer and a abysmal field commander.
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    That's was my understanding as well, but I wasn't 100% sure if that had always been the policy so I didn't bring it up. Thank you for doing so. You are also correct that Corps of Engineers was the most prestegious assignment so those that could opt for it, generally did.
    Your assesment of George B. is also spot on, in my opinion.
     
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it was primarily the work of Trevor N. Dupuy. No, they are not ratios that come up from looking at overall loss statistics. What Uncle Joe is referring to is the Combat Effectiveness Value or CEV, which essentially is the calculation of the difference between predicted wins and actual wins in different engagements, all things being equal. It is derived by calculating similar values for weapons systems and strengths and then factoring in variables such as terrain, defense preparations, and the like. The database originally was some 80 engagements in Italy, Northwest Europe, and the Eastern Front of various scales of size and duration, but the findings were applied to more cases cover the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Ardennes, Brest, and Kursk engagements, as well as numerous others and remained consistent. NPW, Understanding War, and Understanding Defeat are the fundamentals, but the TDI website also has numerous articles and forums posts detailing the concepts - as well as the arguments for and against.

    Cheers!
     
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  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The CEV methodology has come in for criticism. British historians have picked apart the British Fifth army engagements in Italy. Dupuy did not pick a representative sample. These included a disproportionate number of German mechanised formations, unrepresentative of the German army as a whole.
     
  20. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it has, usually by those who have no idea what it encompasses, but who have a knee-jerk reaction to its implications. Those who have "picked apart' the engagements in Italy usually focus on inanities like "there was no 1st US ID" at Anzio, missing it was actually the 1st British Division...and so on. I've reviewed the engagements for the 46th and 56th Divisions myself, comparing the data to the X Corps and division records from the PRO, so I am curious what had been "picked apart".

    The "representative sample" is a red herring of the worst sort. 10. AOK during the period consisted primarily of "mechanised formations", but few seem to actually have a clue what they were actually comprised of, or what the German evaluations of them were.
     

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