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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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    roger that Kodiak...

    bold mine

    http://www.historynet.com/vietnam-war-the-individual-rotation-policy.htm this goes a little into why they went to rotation and some pros for it
     
  2. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    Not necessarily. Trauma is trauma. War is killing and that is traumatic. Being welcomed home as heroes was actually part of the problem. The real reason they didn't talk was because they didn't feel what people were saying they were. The were terrified, not John Wayne. Many of them in combat live/lived with the thought that something they did or didn't do led to the injury or death of a buddy. That is why they didn't talk much.

    On the subject of heroes welcome, I did notice those who participated in the 82nd AB parade in NYC do seem to smile more...but if in combat that smile is a bit fake. Those in the 101 that came in when the siege of Bastogne was over were the one's mostly in that parade. The other guys went home with groups of soldiers on ship but oft didn't know anyone. I really got to know a number of guys that fought all they way through. A number of them died haunted deaths as elderly men.
     
  3. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    he 101st Airborne in General and the 327th Glider Infantry in particular are not really representative of the USA Infantry experience. The 101st were the very best of the US Infantry. Volunteers, selected and trained for the standards of an airborne units where there was a premium on individual motivation. Despite being in the thick of the fighting and taking heavy casualties in the D Day drop, the 101st's casualties were less than half those of regular infantry Divisions. The 101 deployed for specific operations for limited periods. They were taken back to the UK after D Day and out of the line before Bastogne. They did get time off to recover, retrain and integrate new recruits, a luxury for the infantry of the divisions needed to hold the line.

    You left out sloshing through the mud for two months at Opheusden and the invasion for three weeks prior. In France I'm not going to disagree, but some companies had pretty heavy casualties in France. Some not so much. The heavy fighting was over after 3 weeks. In Holland...it was long and drawn out and they were fighting armor without proper support. Bastogne limited? 40 days of pretty hard corp fighting for the 327. Granted the 506 not so much.

    Much of std infantry weren't holding the line. They were moving forward a lot of it. Opheusden was holding the line. After Opheusden they did get about 2.5 weeks of recovery, but not replenishing.
     
  4. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    The 101st much to the surprise of many was pretty standard infantry training plus the airborne portion. They didn't train with armor which was a real problem. The paratroopers were volunteers and draftees, not really much different than standard infantry. Once in they had to volunteer for jumping. You couldn't volunteer for glider. You were put there.
     
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Not so much... My father was 101st until an incident in England involving a Dear John letter, a stolen jeep, a drunken spree and a hospitalized MP in the spring of 44. He went to the brig, got busted down two grades in rank then was transferred to the 30th Infantry Division as a private - E2. The story could get long and involved, but the short version is that his company commander (D - Heavy Weapons), a Lt. Easlick, recognized that he had skills that regular enlisted infantry lacked. For instance he was a trained artillery spotter (as were all US Airborne enlisted personnel from that original cadre), He could repair most ordnance, radios and other vital equipment as well as most specialists. He could read and decipher maps and plot coordinates as well as any of the officers and senior NCOs (privates in the Infantry only had a rudimentary understanding of that sort of thing).
    Easlick got promoted to Captain early in Normandy and became battalion ops, then assigned my dad as his personal liaison because he had those skills and could be used anywhere. A guy who couldn't even get promoted to PFC (even with a Silver Star!) until January, 45 (because of the arrest in England), was the best friend and trusted advisor of the BN ops officer, mostly because he could be used anywhere for anything. They were both from Michigan and were still beer drinking and deer hunting buddies until my father died in 1972.

    I've been digging into this for years, so I think I have a handle on it. Possibly, those paratroopers who came in late did not get all the specialty training, but that original group did nothing but rotate through specialty schools that were far more technically advanced than the normal infantry.

    I do want to add that I'm not a fan-boy of the WWII Airborne. If you compare their combat time and experience to some of the infantry units (1st, 29th, 30th IDs would be good examples) the Airborne come off looking like part-time soldiers. They were fine soldiers, but when you consider that they fought for a couple of weeks in Normandy, then sat in England until Market Garden, then were relegated to the rear until the Ardennes, then to the rear or soft locations until the war ended they really didn't have much combat time compared to the front line Infantry. They were light infantry after all, who weren't equipped for heavy fighting in the advance.
    The Infantry Divisions I mentioned above fought every day of the war in the roughest part of the advances. They had far higher casualty rates, killed and captured far more enemy soldiers and took far more ground. The 30th ID had over a 200% casualty rate and were still commended at the end of the war for the relatively low "wastage" of men compared to other front line divisions.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Sorry, but "standard infantry training is what most soldiers get. The "airborne potion" makers a difference.
    #1 Soldiers have to volunteer to be Airborne and can say no thanks at any point
    #2 There are higher standards of physical fitness and mental robustness for which soldiers can be Returned to units.- even glider infantry.
     
  7. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    Sorry, but I've been studying this for a long time. Maybe you are watching BoB too much? Later guys for sure didn't get as much training.

    Soldiers were moved around for behavior. Later in the war it didn't matter. The statement of "some" again is silly. Every unit had elements that saw more...did more.

    Technically advanced, yes there was a lot of ID training, but as far as physical, it depended on the unit and leaders. For some units, Alsace had some pretty harrowing fighting. Dusseldorf wasn't just fun. Technical training was different. They had no training with working with armor and little with artillery. They were to go behind enemy lines and hold for short times...which never happened in length of time. A full force infantry division would plow right through airborne if each was doing their job as designed. War rarely goes as designed though. Needless to say, they were super men. They were normal young men. You also leave out Opheusden which wasn't really market garden and for sure not rear. Perhaps you should read about the west perimeter fighting in October.

    This statement : the Airborne come off looking like part-time soldiers... wow what a statement. Last I knew, going into Holland with 200 and after taking 75 replacements walking out of Bastogne with 42 is pretty high casualty rate, albeit some was from freezing.
     
  8. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Look up the stats. At St. Barthelemy, A company, 117th, 30th ID, had twelve men left and still held the line until ordered to withdraw. C Company had 33 men left and held - this in 4 to 5 hours. The entire 1st battalion had a 66% casualty rate and held. That's just one day in one battle. Elements of the 120th just south were completely surrounded and held for five days without giving an inch despite catastrophic casualties.
    Along the Ambleve, the 30th annihilated the 1st Waffen SS on the north side while the 82nd who were only supposed to prevent the LAH from escaping south across the river panicked and withdrew allowing the remnants of KG Peiper to escape.
    Other Infantry Divisions (1st, 29th) fought through Africa, Sicily, Italy and then landed in Normandy and fought all the way to the Elbe in the very spearhead of the advance in every operation. They had no breaks from combat.
    When you back off from the Hollywood version of the war, the airborne, as well trained and gung-ho as they were, were just light infantry. They were used for operations that called for their specialty then withdrawn. The heavy fighting , the breakthroughs, were performed by a limited number of Infantry and armored divisions who rarely got a break.
    You can google around and get actual stats on casualties, prisoners taken, estimated kills, etc. The airborne doesn't look very good when you crunch the actual numbers.
     
  9. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    The discussion isn't about AB v. infantry. And I've pretty much already made the point that they were just light infantry with specific purpose. That was my premise. That was in response to special training. It depends on the definition.

    And, I'm not arguing about KIA stats. One could make the point that very few soldiers fought "all the way through" especially with such high casualty rates. However, some companies in the 101 did suffer higher casualties than others. Sometimes some officers got assignments because they wanted it and/or were deemed a better choice. Sometimes it was simply luck of the draw. 101 command stretched the 327 over more than 1/2 of the perimeter thinking the enemy was less likely to attack in those areas, which turned out being a major miscalculation, but one wouldn't know this due to various books/movies.

    The discussion is about combat readiness which got into Nam and WW2 soldiers being in worse conditions (paraphrased). My point was/is 1) that you really can't compare the 2 situations. They are completely different situations. 2. Much of modern theory about WW2 vets and trauma suffered are wrong. 3) War is hell. Comparing the 2 is like asking which is better...being mauled and killed by a bear or by a lion. Or a grizzly v a black bear. One just kills you the other may also eat you once he's killed you.
     
  10. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    No idea where that comment really comes from. It's like you tried to make an argument not being made. Who said WW2 or Nam soldiers weren't brave? Is a Iraq vet who posts something they were involved in or write about not as brave or tough?

    The down playing wasn't about any of that. The downplaying came from the fact that they themselves didn't see themselves as heroes. They were traumatized and didn't want to talk about it. That I got from years of interviewing and getting info out of soldiers that family never could. If you want to get a typical WW2 vet not to talk, start by saying how heroic they are. Talk about the emotional trauma and they will open up if one takes the time to listen and work through the process.
     
  11. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yeah, we're getting off track and off topic. My fault. Mea Culpa. I just wanted to make that one point about how BoB made so many people into fanboys of the Airborne. The Infantry aren't nearly as sexy, but those poor, dirty, miserable bastiches were the ones who won the war when all is said and done. And they paid the highest price for that victory.
     
  12. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    Don't underestimate the fact that with high casualty rates, a number of officers wanted officer capable men in regular duties to strengthen effectiveness when green horns were brought in. I would guess he led patrols/maneuvers w/o the stripes. Happened a lot.
     
  13. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    George Koskimaki, author of Hell's Highway, D Day with the Screaming Eagles, and Battered Bastards of Bastogne did tell me that the 327 guys didn't respond to his requests for information compared to the paratroopers. They didn't respond much at all.

    Here was the take both of us had. Glidermen were ol ave about 26 yo. Paratroopers were much younger. Age likely had something to do with it and how the brain by age processes trauma. Interestingly when I checked the 327 guys who did respond, they were typically the younger ones.

    Side note. I didn't study the 327 and write about them because of pop culture. I did it as a favor to my dad's best friend in high school who helped my dad out a lot as my dad was dying. What I expected was a short story to give to his family. What I got was a book published by TAMU Press.

    If I get defensive about these guys it's because I did get their stories....not so much the glory, but the trauma. They didn't feel like heroes and not because of soldier gentlemen humility. They were traumatized and didn't feel they could tell their story and that people would listen. I interview a lot of them. Only one I could not get to talk at all. He was a Silver Star recipient and was in the company that had the least casualties in the 327.

    I also have an uncle who was severely wounded at Tay Ninh. As a boy I was afraid of him because of stories my grandmother told about his night terrors. His face was disfigured and he couldn't hear well, missing an ear. He killed an old woman who opened up a mg on their patrol. He tried to shoot a Viet Cong soldier who stumbled across him, but his rifle jammed. The Viet Cong soldier raised his rifle to shoot and then lowered it and walked away. At Tay Ninh he hid in reeds while their over run outpost was over run. The enemy went through the reeds and bayoneted survivors. He dragged a guy who lost his legs and held his mouth shut.

    Today, my uncle seems better adjusted now than some of the WW2 vets in the last stages of life.

    War is hell. Nam, Korea, WW2, WW1.

    Also my favorite uncle was an armored Calvary colonel when the Chinese came over the border. The guy finally started talking to me months before his death. The guy could never sit down and relax. He was a mess.

    The ww2 guys I've watched die and my uncle seemed to have one thing in common. They fought death like they were going to win. Never give up. Frankly it was disturbing.
     
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    That's the way what you wrote could reasonably be interpreted.

    Most were brave, most were tough. The fact they don't come out and "toot their own horn" is normal and a trait shared by most combat veterans, if you run across someone telling you about how brave and tough they are, chances are they are lying, were a rear area soldier or never even served. I stated as much in my reply:

    IIhawk wrote:
    Exactly, that is what I stated in my initial reply.

    Possibly, most times combat veterans don't talk to their families because they have no frame of reference to understand what they are trying to say, it is frustrating. Now, put them with another vet and they tend to open up because they know exactly what each other is talking about. It is also generally not conflict or theater specific, a Roman Legionary could sit down and talk to an Afghanistan War vet and they would understand each others experience.That's just the way it is.

    No the discussion is about combat/troop effectiveness, something totally different.
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    You are correct, and Easy Company pulled 90% of the combat load. Look at the reenactor community, you'd think 75% of units were Airborne, and from the looks of a lot of them you couldn't drop a stick from a C-47, it would take at least a C-130 and they'd have to substitute cargo chutes for the T-5/T-7's.
     
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  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, a C-46 anyway.
     

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  17. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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  18. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    USMC Price Wrote:




    Possibly, most times combat veterans don't talk to their families because they have no frame of reference to understand what they are trying to say, it is frustrating. Now, put them with another vet and they tend to open up because they know exactly what each other is talking about. It is also generally not conflict or theater specific, a Roman Legionary could sit down and talk to an Afghanistan War vet and they would understand each others experience.That's just the way it is.


    That's a simple way of putting it if that is what you want. You are simply arguing for the sake of arguing.
     
  19. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    Not going to disagree with the first part, except it should say Easy Company 506 possibly broadened to PARATROOPERS. The 2nd part, last I knew it was a team effort. Except for maybe the bomb...but we already spent a lot of time arguing about that. :eek:
     
  20. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    No, not interested in arguing, I prefer discussion.
     

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