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troop effectivness in Wars

Discussion in 'Military History' started by bronk7, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    sorry, I meant to post this long ago while I was reading a book on the subject....we know the turnover for troops in Nam was great compared to WW2...just when you got the experience needed, you went home......for some officers, the turnover was greater, as the book stated.....and the officers are key figures in the command structure!!! .critical camaraderie hard to develop, ....makes it seem like it was not an ''important'' war--we needed to win...??
    what are your general thoughts?...would you agree, their effectiveness was not as good as WW2?? would you put any blame for deaths on whomever set up the rotation system?? other aspects?
    if I did post this subject before--I'm out of my mind ...thanks all replies
     
  2. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Think the problem with 'Nam was the mindsets involved, ie we're only here to hold the fort until the ARVN can fend for themselves, so just kill as many VC as possible. Think I'm right in saying the relatively short tours were designed to rotate as many troops as possible through the theatre to gain valuable combat experience, and create a massive reserve force blooded in the latest techniques in case of another major confrontation erupting. What they would call transferrable skills these days.
    The other one was the idea that it was a war by proxy; the superpowers weren't daft enough to face each other head-on, so the only way to see how effective the other side was would be to teach your own latest doctrines to your allies, send them out to fight and see how the other side reacted/coped.
    But I'm just a layman; roh-gews that have been uniform will probably give you a better idea.
     
  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    excellent point Historian on ''holding' the fort.....and you mean officers getting ''blooded'' ?.......any experts out there on other post WW2 wars on rotation policies??
     
  4. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Well, I actually meant all arms and services as well as all ranks. Training is essential, but so is practical experience.
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    aren't the majority of lower ranks getting out after their time is up??..we're talking a lot of draftees.....by the time they'd be in another war, they be out of the service?? even with reserve service?
     
  6. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    That's true, but they would still form an experienced core that could be utilised in the short term in event of an emergency. This was the height of the Cold War, and no-one knew for sure if WW3 was going to be tomorrow or the day after.
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZCPrnmI4d4
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The US Army did not think so and indeed was rather critical of infantry effectiveness in WW2 as well. This was the eras when SLA Marshal was in favour and self flagellation about American unit performance compulsory and worship of German methods backed by HERO statistics.

    The US Army moved to a volunteer long service force. They re-instituted/ or invented regimental traditions and supported the warrior ethos raising the profile and status of combat arms. The US Army became champions of ethnic diversity such that within a couple of decades Colin Powell rose to the top of the US Military.
     
  9. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Kai, ..no victory, an ''unpopular'' war, no one knew exactly what the fighting was for, etc......

    Sheldrake---is/was it not obvious when you rotate so much, especially critical leadership positions, effectiveness would not be as good as WW2? did not US airpower, mobility, better logistics, etc make up for poor troop effectiveness?
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..reading a lot about Vietnam, and saw this in wiki on Westmoreland.....the rotation system was totally wrong....any bootcamper could see that
     
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The key issue in Vietnam (in my mind) was replacing individuals but leaving the division/regiment in place. It would have been better to rotate a division in for a year then rotate them back out and replace them with another division, even if that new unit was green. When you are constantly replacing individuals you destroy unit cohesiveness. Better to send in a green division that has trained together than to constantly pull people out after a tour and then rotate back at a later date into a new unit - especially true among the NCO and junior officer ranks where the rubber really hits the road, or even their old unit that they have been away from for a year or two. No continuity, no cohesiveness.

    You might see most of the younger enlisted draftees drop out before the division rotates back into the combat zone, but those who stay (within that same unit) will be the next junior NCO people when the unit rotates back into the combat zone, those who were junior NCOs will now be more senior NCOs. The younger platoon lieutenants will now be more senior - perhaps company commanders, etc. You create a cadre of leadership who are not only blooded but have worked together in combat before. The green people at the bottom (draftees, mostly) have confidence in leaders who have "been there and done that."
     
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  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    WWII was a total commitment. Essentially every able-bodied man was in for the duration (with some exceptions for reserved occupations etc.) - 16 million from a population of 130+ million. In Vietnam of course we had a much smaller commitment, but the war, even just considering the period of large-scale US troop commitment, actually lasted longer than WWII. It would hardly be acceptable to draft a small proportion of the eligible men and expect them to serve indefinitely while everyone else stayed home - a tour of duty/rotation system was inevitable.

    That said, it could have been done much better, mainly be a unit rotation system such as KodiakBeer (like a lot of other people) suggests. Let's stick with the two-year term of service and one-year tour in Vietnam. A unit could spend a year training together, then deploy for a year, then come home and discharge the draftees those whose enlistments were up, and people transferring to other duties. At the beginning of the cycle, the unit would have a reasonable number of experienced/career soldiers and officers and fill up with the requisite draftees, second lieutenants, etc.

    One concern would be the replacement of casualties during the unit's tour in-country. We all know the horror stories about "repple depples" and FNGs. One option might be to organize them into provisional platoons or companies which would train together - the same length and intensity of training as everyone else - then deploy together and be assigned to a particular battalion or division. Then they'd have to be assigned as needed, but at least they'd have the feeling of being part of a unit and have a few familiar faces around.

    I've read that someone in WWII said that if the Germans had designed our replacement system, they couldn't have come up with one that would serve their purposes better than the one we had. One might say the same about the enemy in Vietnam.
     
  13. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    yes, you can see the big difference between WW2 and Nam here.....and the Brits and Germans--generally speaking-- did it for a longer time .....don't they rotate units in Afghanistan?
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think Bearly Kodiak hit it on the nail. Instead of a team that had trained together before deployment we had a collection of guys who were interested in their rotation date. Not conducive to unit cohesion.
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    We do rotate troops/units in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, you hear of people being on their third or fourth or more tour. In prolonged wars like these, units coming home can expect to rotate back in a year or two, hoepfully that's reflected in their personnel assignments, unit training, etc. I expect someone here can provide more detail on how it's being handled these days.
     
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Not really.

    It is a fallacy to think that air power logitiscs etc can make up for it. Ultimately warfare is about what a French officer called the "battle for the last 100 metres" which comes down to someone willing to mix it at close range, if necessary with cold steel.

    This becomes a vicious circle started in WW2 when the infantry received the leavings of the drafted material. Vietnam was counter insurgency and you canto win hearts and minds from 30,000ft.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Well, bronk7, you're right about rotation etc., but as for airpower, mobility, etc.I think the results of Vietnam speak for themselves.

    It is sad and ironic that the people at the tip of the spear tend to be those who can't qualify for anything else, particularly in mass/draftee armies. We never hear of a sergeant saying "you're too ****ed up to be a rifleman, go back to HQ and be a clerk". Another argument in favor of the volunteer, professional army - who'd want to be in foxhole with somone who doesn't want to be there?

    "want to" is a relative term, of course, but fortunately there are a proportion of people who are willing to step up and do their duty.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    US troops in Vietnam were more effective by any reasonable measure than the VC or NVA. The US was not defeated militarily in Vietnam it was if anything a political defeat where US populace loss the will to continue to support the South.
     
  19. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    I thought at Ia Drang Kinnard thought he was about to be over run so he called Broken Arrow meaning all available aircraft were routed there? why bring in air?? my 'Uncle'' died 2 July at Operation Buffalo where the USMC had their greatest 1 day loss, before air was on station........air brought in mucho ordnance, ''90 tons in first few hours'', napalm as close as 50 meters.....if it wasn't for Marine Air at East Chosin, the army would've been over run much quicker...close air support doesn't make that much of a difference??? choppers bringing in ammo, men, etc is not that big of a difference? at Buffalo, all of 1-9 was committed and situation critical--they helo-lifted 3-9 into the battle....3 companies by helo....they would not have had the succes they had after 2 July if it wasn't for the air power and helos...and the navy helped with 5 inch fire
    the NVA ambushed 1-9, and wiped out B company....without air and helos, it would've been much worse
     
  20. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    -You should note that the tour of duty for a Marine in Vietnam was 13 months, in the US Army 12 months. The US landed at Normandy on 6 June, 1944 and Germany surrendered on 7 May, 1945, sooo, a soldier in a unit that first saw action in Normandy and fought all the way through to Germany's surrender had less time in the combat zone than those that served one tour in Vietnam.
    -In WWII, 61.2% of soldiers were draftees (from National WWII Museum, other sources state as high as 66%), in Vietnam 75% were volunteers, soooo, when you keep referring to the draftees in Vietnam you are propagating a myth, they were a distinct minority.
    -In WWII two of the problems were wounded personnel not being returned to their unit, and piecemeal feeding of replacements into units. Considering the latter situation, feeding individual replacements into units during Vietnam was a poor decision, but it just continued a problem that had existed during WWII.
    -A soldier in an infantry unit in Vietnam saw an average of 240 days in combat during their one year tour (source History.com), in WWII in Europe it was around 150 days. I have seen an argument that this was partially due to higher attrition during WWII, which would skew the numbers. However, the overall casualty rate in Vietnam was 2 1/2 times greater than in WWII so that makes that argument less plausible.

    What do you base your assumption that combat effectiveness was less? There was a drop in combat effectiveness in Vietnam during the last couple years of the war, and an increase in disciplinary problems. This was primarily due to two factors. First, in the latter days of Vietnam we were withdrawing and buying time. Nobody wants to be the last soldier killed in a lost cause. I think if you look at historical situations where armies were in a similar position, you'll see that most did not fight to their full potential. Once, the handwriting is on the wall troops are much more prone to desertion and surrender, in Vietnam during the end (1970 on) it was try not to get killed before you rotated home. The other factor was President Johnson's (through Robert McNamara) Project 100,000. Part of his war on poverty, he directed the services to accept a certain percentage of mentally deficient recruits in order to give them training and vocational opportunities once their service was completed. Most officers that served during the period state that 90% of their disciplinary issues came from this small percentage of personnel. The numbers peaked in late 69 and the program was ended in 1971.
    -During the recent GWOT Marines in combat units do a seven month deployment with an intense 6 month pre-deployment workup. Non combat Marines deploy for a year. US Army deployments were initially for one year, but when they started having manpower problems and an increased operational tempo with the Iraq surge they extended the deployment time to 15 months (late April 2007), in january 2008 they reduced them to a year and in August 2011 to nine months. They had a similar pre-deployment workup period. The percentage of time an infantryman is actually engaged in combat has increased over the Vietnam figures.


    Actually during the recent wars getting into infantry was a preferred assignment. The Marine Corps had a one year wait for poolees that wanted a guaranteed infantry contract, most other MOS' could ship in as little as a month.
     

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