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troop effectivness in Wars

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

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yes, certainly the Marines are more than "decent" light infantry! He makes some solid points though on the stultifying effect of military indoctrination, especially among the higher echelon who dictate strategy. Innovation is generally punished rather than rewarded. The other thing he leaves out, is that the military doesn't choose to start wars or even (in today's world) how to fight them. The political class dictates the strategy and rules of engagement now, and certainly the highest echelons in the military (the Joint Chiefs, etc) are appointed on political considerations rather than their background in warfare.
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I didn't read the article...but in my 15 years working as a civilian for the ADF, I was almost daily surprised at the lack of basic knowledge on war and warfare...especially weapons...I was known as the weapons expert...and im NO expert!
    I could barely spark up a conversation about previous wars because the soldiers knew so little about them...However, if we are talking troop effectiveness, knowledge on previous wars and who fires what is not essential.
    Knowing your own weapon, your tactics and be a communicator are far more sought after for todays soldiery...still I would expect some "professional" inquisitiveness about past wars and the weapons of other countries, there uses and whats on the drawing board for the future...But...no.
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I read http://fredoneverything.org/reviving-napoleons-army-cry-havoc-and-let-slip-the-frogs-of-yore/

    It is as described: Scurrilous Commentary. It is also trite bollox. He trots out the "psychology of military incompetence" line on the US Civil War and WW1, but a very one sided view.

    Predicting the future is difficult . Soldiers fighting the next war only have the past as guide;lines. While there are some underlying truths about the realities of war, the characteristics of each war is different. The rules subtly change between wars. #1 technology changes #2 the victory conditions change with political circumstances. In 1940 the French thought they were playing to the rules of 1918 when there was always time to head off an enemy breakthrough and the Ardennes were impassable. In Korea, MacArthur thought he was fighting a war to the 1945 victory conditions.

    This is why the study of military history is important. It is not enough to have had experience in the last.

    Modern armed forces understand and spend time studying military history. The British Army pay me and my fellow historians and guides to help them to explore the past, extract lessons for the present day and project how they will apply them in the future. Check out the case studies on my website http://www.staffrideservices.com/
     
    RichTO90 and GRW like this.
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    By 'them' do you mean the officers or ORs also?
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    most 'kids' don't like history and do not read about the 'old' wars....I believe it would be good for at least officers to know as much as possible about any and all military conflicts....great points Sheldrake.....--battles are dynamic....
    yes CAC, must know their weapons, tactics, communication, re-supply, logistics, etc.....and the US military does this well.....
    great points all...as Kodiak and others, stated, Korea, Nam, etc were not 'total' wars....politics more involved.....
    we saw in Afghanistan laser guided bombs do tremendous physical and mental damage....the special forces did a lot with little.....very different than Nam....Somalia different than Nam or Afghanistan with different political problems, etc....I thought the US did well in Somalia, especially considering the difficulties
    this is a 'tough', deadly and dangerous 'job'.....it's definitely not easy...humans trying to kill other humans.....and continuously trying to find better ways of doing it.....sneaky ways....
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Fred is a jaded human, but he makes some solid points (in between the scurrilous commentary). In the past, the commanders in the field made the tactical decisions and their reputations and careers were dependent on the results. In the US Civil War, generals faced a new type of warfare. The rifled musket, the Minie ball, rifled artillery, etc. The old Napoleonic tactics that worked in Mexico were no longer effective. Generals who failed to adapt were replaced and their names are lost in obscurity. We remember Grant, Lee, Sherman, Longstreet, precisely because they learned and adapted to the new tactical situation.

    I have every confidence in the effectiveness and training of the fighting men in the US forces. I have much less confidence in the upper echelons precisely because at the top it becomes a political situation. The ability to schmooze politicians becomes more important than tactical prowess and experience. I think this has always been true, and I think it's also true in the military forces of every country. In most cases it is only war itself the separates the wheat from the chaff. How many Brit leaders fell by the wayside before Monty rose to the top? Bradley's story is similar.

    This will all be repeated in the next major war.
     
  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I think Fred ain't got a clue and misses the mark on virtually every point he tries to make. It is obvious to me he has only a cursory understanding of how the conflicts he mentioned unfolded and why certain actions or lack thereof took place.

    More often than not officers and commanders were placed in their positions for political reasons and often could not be removed due to political ramifications unless they screwed up really bad.

    A common argument not supported by the reality or tactical restrictions in place at the time. Most people don't realize that during the early part of the war, more units were equipped with smoothbores than with rifled muskets. The Union Army in the east still had units equipped with smoothbores at Gettysburg (mid-war) and there supply situation was better than the souths. In the west the situation was worse and smoothbores were still found in units much later than in the east. The further west the worse the situation. At Chickamauga many Federal units preferred to fire buck and ball feeling it was more effective at common engagement ranges, negating the improved accuracy of the conical ball (minie). The reason troops fought in battleline, what many use to infer Napoleonic tactics is that while the rifled musket had increased range, it had a similar rate of fire to the smoothbore. In order to get sufficient volume you needed numbers, numbers that had not changed. Also, all commands were by voice, field music (drum or bugle) or visual cue. Commanders had to keep their units fairly compact in order to control the tactically. Also, most people are not aware that there were elaborate firing sequences used by these formations to control volume of fire and sustainability. Volley, fire by rank, fire by file, fire by battalion or company, etc. Also, rifled cannon greatly increased the ability of artillery to take out other artillery, but it never matched smoothbores for effectiveness against infantry. That's why the 12lb "Napoleon", a smoothbore, was the most widely used and overall most versatile piece in service during the war.

    And each fought their armies using Napoleonic tactics though Grant, Lee and Sherman (and Jackson), took the operational and/or strategic art of war to new levels.

    Here I'll agree on this point, and Bradley is a case in point. During the post war budget cutting, as Army Chief of Staff he testified (in 1948) that "the Army of 1948 could not fight its way out of a paper bag." Unless they had sufficient funding for reorganization, equipment and training. Truman and his SecDef Louis A. Johnson dangled the plum of First Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before him and he changed his opinion into one of support for their draconian military budget cuts. He stated it would be "disservice to the nation" to ask for the force the US Army felt America needed. He even attacked officers that went against the political current to tell the administration that they were cutting critically needed capabilities. That's why, when North Korea rolled across the border with South Korea and Truman ordered the Navy to put a naval blockade of the North in place they had to tell him they lacked sufficient ships. That's why the US Army suffered defeat after defeat, embarrassing, crushing defeats, during the first six months or so of the war, and came within a hairs breadth of being run off the peninsula.
     
  8. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Im happy to say that the Australian Defence Force is a separate entity to the Australian Government and has its own ethos and values...Rather than schmoozing generals, we've had many CDFs who put the ADF first and have had some doozy arguments with government in the past...they stick up for themselves but realise that their "master" must ultimately be obeyed...
    I have noticed a subtle change in the last 15 years however...I think CDFs may be chosen for their political acumen (sp?) more and more these days...Some proof of this is what the ex CDFs have gone on to do after the Army...Our current Governor General (The Queen's representative - Chosen by Australia) - Is an ex CDF...presided over the very successful East Timor operation - every time I passed the man he would look you in the eye and be the first to say g'day...I great and much loved bloke - hence his appointment to GG...
     

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