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Tactical bias in generals popularity?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 09:04
Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

Koit,

He was a commissioned officer of the U.S. Army when the civil war started. He had just been promoted a few weeks before he deserted to aid the enemy. In other countries, after the war, he would have been hanged for treason. It is outstanding about the U.S. that the victors didn't do this.

But if we want to explore more this issue, we can start a new thread
 
Not counting the posts below which show already you are wrong, please tell me if all the commissioned officers who were in the Imperial Russian army committed treason when they joined the Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Ukrainian national forces against the Russians?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Emperor Barbarossa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 18:30
Rider, Lee led an armed insurrection against the Constitutional Government of the United States of America. This is in its very definition treason. The Confederate "government" was not formed constitutionally, and sought to largely deny blacks their simple Constitutional right to not be slaves. Fighting in the army of that illegitimate government is by definition treason.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 19:56
Lee resigned his post, his state where he was a member of its militia seceeded from the union officially and responded to the invasion of the US government forces by fighting it. There is no law to my knowledge preventing a state from seceseding from the union which means the guy was not a traitor.
 
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Actually, it would seem that today a state does not have the right to secede, but just as well, every citizen must be guaranteed his chance to happiness. Therefore, I'd argue that the CSA had the right to secede based on it doing what it's citizens wanted and since their constitutional rights could not be fulfilled in the Union.
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Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Lee resigned his post, his state where he was a member of its militia seceeded from the union officially and responded to the invasion of the US government forces by fighting it. There is no law to my knowledge preventing a state from seceseding from the union which means the guy was not a traitor.
 
Al-Jassas
 
As far as I am aware, no charges of treason were brought against any Confederate official or officer.  Such action would have been contrary to the approach President Lincoln wanted to take toward the post war South.  It has been said that his articulation of how the nation should act in peace was to give validation to his chosen approach in order to head off the Radical Republicans (and others) who wanted revenge on Southerners.
 
Davis and Lee and Longstreet were denied the return of their citizenship (Lonstreet was restored later), but there were no firing squads or any of that.  I am sure there were bitter persons who looked upon Confederate officers as traitors, but that passed.  Also, so many of these men had friends in high places in the North, particularly the army.
 
  


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 31 Jul 2009 at 20:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 20:12
Originally posted by rider rider wrote:

Actually, it would seem that today a state does not have the right to secede, but just as well, every citizen must be guaranteed his chance to happiness. Therefore, I'd argue that the CSA had the right to secede based on it doing what it's citizens wanted and since their constitutional rights could not be fulfilled in the Union.
 
Well, a war was fought over that, and it only cost 2% of the population of the country.  It was a pretty definite decision.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 31 Jul 2009 at 20:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 23:41
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Originally posted by rider rider wrote:

Actually, it would seem that today a state does not have the right to secede, but just as well, every citizen must be guaranteed his chance to happiness. Therefore, I'd argue that the CSA had the right to secede based on it doing what it's citizens wanted and since their constitutional rights could not be fulfilled in the Union.
 
Well, a war was fought over that, and it only cost 2% of the population of the country.  It was a pretty definite decision.
 
Not so fast there, pilgrim. Even today, the concept of "secession" remains a possibility (specially if one resides in Texas)Wink Even the Constitution presupposes the elemental right of the people to call for a "convention" to resolve political issue. Recall, that ultimate sovereignty resides not on any institution or charter but in the "people" themselves. Now you know why most current politicians defecate in their pantaloons whenever someone utters the possibility of a "convention" to amend the Constitution! After all, the current document did enter by the "back door" so to speak since the pols that gathered in Philadelphia back in the summer of 1787 were only charged with the "correction" of the Articles of Confederation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 01:15
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Originally posted by rider rider wrote:

Actually, it would seem that today a state does not have the right to secede, but just as well, every citizen must be guaranteed his chance to happiness. Therefore, I'd argue that the CSA had the right to secede based on it doing what it's citizens wanted and since their constitutional rights could not be fulfilled in the Union.
 
Well, a war was fought over that, and it only cost 2% of the population of the country.  It was a pretty definite decision.
 
Not so fast there, pilgrim. Even today, the concept of "secession" remains a possibility (specially if one resides in Texas)Wink Even the Constitution presupposes the elemental right of the people to call for a "convention" to resolve political issue. Recall, that ultimate sovereignty resides not on any institution or charter but in the "people" themselves. Now you know why most current politicians defecate in their pantaloons whenever someone utters the possibility of a "convention" to amend the Constitution! After all, the current document did enter by the "back door" so to speak since the pols that gathered in Philadelphia back in the summer of 1787 were only charged with the "correction" of the Articles of Confederation.
 
The Constitution is silent on secession.  The Civil War established the precedent, confirmed by the result, that secession is not a constitutional principle.  Neither you nor I want to go through the process again. 
 
In 1787 the "political nation" consisted primarily of the personages who "corrected" the Articles of Confederation.  It seems the political nation knew best.  The people in the late 18th century were those who were in a position to deal and compromise.  It was not 1860.  The backwoodsman and the farmer in 1787 didn't know the difference between confederation and confection.  A half century of available schooling began to change that.
 
In the modern era, the political nation includes 24 hour news programs that afford viewers the opportunity to "vote" on whether someone on trial is guilty, or whether the US should abandon it's position on top of a sizeable portion of the world's oil with all the leverage that affords.  As if......
 
So you would be in favor of a constitutional convention that would have pressure to.....ban flag burning; sanctify a biblical definition of marriage; institute pro-life? - all those really weighty vital national interests.    Or...balance the budget?  If we tried to do that, the economy would totally collapse.  You know and understand the single-interest pin heads who don't see past their current fund raising.  No, too many problems with a constitutional convention.  We are better off as is. 
 
   
 
  


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 01 Aug 2009 at 01:34
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 01:32
We are getting away from hugo's topic (which I think deserves better).  Let's think more about the tactical vs the strategic general.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 01 Aug 2009 at 01:41
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In an era of universal conscription and mass armies (roughly 1870 to 1970)  How many really successful tactical generals have there been?  Mass armies tend to take up virtually all available area in a theater of operations leaving little room or opportunity for strategic maneuver.  Flanking movements are difficult if not impossible; strategy has tended to be reduced to war by means of attrition - the one with the most resources wins.  This has been one of the reasons for the enormous casualties in modern war.  The tactician has little influence in this type of warfare. 
 
Frederick the Great might win battles against numerically superior forces; Bonaparte might annihilate huge armies that should have been better able to stand against him.  Jackson could move with speed and appear in force at places that surprised an enemy.
 
In the successful stages of the American Civil War, the US army put itself against the enemy by taking casualties, because it could, in restricted geography in eastern Virginia and won with tactics that were in large measure by frontal assault.
 
In the Franco-Prussian War, German casualties were remarkably high in a decisive campaign that lasted one month.
 
In the First World War, there basically was no strategic maneuver possible.  Stalemate and frontal assault were the order of the day.
 
In the biggest of the two biggest land campaigns of WW II, the Red army fought on an almost continuous front from the Baltic to the Black Sea with very little opportunity to outflank it's emeny strategically.  The cost was 10 or 11,000,000 dead.  In France, Normandy has been referred to as an indirect approach to invading Europe.  I disagree.  Overlord was a frontal assault with massive resources, and the following 10 months were attritional warfare although less murderous than in the East.
 
Because of the enormous sizes of these armies (even in the later 19th century), the organizer was the more successful general.  Strategy had become a matter of management.  The tactical commander could not control such large forces to as much advantage as had Frederick or even Napoleon.
 
I know it is heresy in some quarters, but R. E. Lee imo cannot be considered a successful tactical general.  In very costly battles from Antietam to Gettysburg, Lee fought napoleonic battles that resulted mostly in the unacceptable loss of precious, experienced Confederate troops.  By 1863, the Confederate leadership (including Lee) should have been seeking the best peace terms they could get.
 
Tactical leadership in the Franco-Prussian War tended toward recklessness (Prince Frederick Charles), insubordination (von Steinmetz) and over caution (von der Tann).  The French did little of note except prolong the war with the nation refusing to give in.
 
The tactics of the First World War seem to be concentrated in the delivery of high explosives by increasingly huge amounts of artillery.  By the second war, losses did not seem to matter to the larger belligerants (except Britain) after the first year or two, so strategy devolved into attritional warfare characterized by repeated frontal assaults.  The most successful tacticians were those who were able to conduct withdrawals in the face of strong offensives (Kleist; Manstein).
 
Tactics seems to have been reduced to company and battalion level leadership, and higher military art became the successful application of overwhelming force in attritional warfare.
 
A number of the campaigns of the Israeli army might be exceptions in some degree because they had to be accomplished quickly with economy of casualties.
 
Thoughts?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 01 Aug 2009 at 02:40
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 10:11
Hmmh. Would you not consider the flanking manouvers carried out by anyone in the First and Second War against not the entire enemy army but a portion of it (a division or ten) to still be a successful example that flanking is possible? The only difference is that the flank won't fold (since it has no where to fold, flanking becoming essentially an envelopment) but collapse completely.
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My favorite overrated (because of battles) general is the famous but not particularly good Frederick the Great....  Rather a butcher of his own troops; fought battles whenever he could.  Had he not gotten very lucky, he would have finished Prussia off for good...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 15:13
rider,
 
Of course you can make a case for flanking maneuvers in a few cases, but once the nature of modern military operations became established (at least in the first half of the 20th century), either 1) the size of forces deployed to a theater, or 2) restricted geography resolved themselves into attritional struggles with minmal tactical options.
 
The Marne in 1914 may of course be a tactical flanking example, but it's result was the stalemate of the Western Front and four years of attritional warfare.  The size of the armies involved reduced tactical flexibility.  
 
On a strategic level, Gallipoli was conceived as an outflanking of the Central Powers, but the restricted geography did not allow sufficient flexibility for maneuver on the part of troops disembarked, and amphibious capability was not yet well understood or developed.  (The same was true in the Crimea in the 1850s - restricted geography and pre-modern naval doctrine.)
 
In Poland, where there was more room for maneuver, after Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes and Lodz in 1914, the front settled mostly into stalemate.  Yes, there was an Austro-German breakthrough in spring, 1915, but there was no decisive result and 1915 cost about 3,000,000 casualties (all sides) in the east for no real results - attritional warfare.  All summer in 1916 the Russians battered the Carpathians and lost another 1,000,000 men.
 
In the Second War, there seemed to be a move toward a war of movement in Poland and in France in 1940, and up until Moscow in 1941.  However, after outrunning of their supply capabilties and exhausting their manpower, the Wehrmacht was doomed to an attritional war in the east that it could not win.  The Red Army took casualties because it could.  As in the First War, flanking movements were difficult because of the size of the forces involved (and the primitive state of roads in many areas).
 
Italy was attrition from the beginning, and really so was northwestern Europe in 1944-45. 
 
Well, we can go on, but that is my point.  Tactics had been delegated down to lower echelons, and general staffs had become so occupied with providing food, fuel and ammunition to their millions of troops that they had little time to give attention to tactical ops.  An exception might well be Inchon in 1950, but only the US had the amphibious capability, and the recent experience, to do that.
 
 
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Originally posted by DSMyers1 DSMyers1 wrote:

My favorite overrated (because of battles) general is the famous but not particularly good Frederick the Great....  Rather a butcher of his own troops; fought battles whenever he could.  Had he not gotten very lucky, he would have finished Prussia off for good...
 
I am more favorably disposed toward Frederick than you are, but he was something of an anachronism in the later 18th century.  Some of his foibles seem to be in the precarious situation of Prussia and the other Hohenzollern territories.  Of course he had made an enemy of Austria by 1740 and was doomed to walk a tightrope for the rest of the reign because of all his more powerful neighbors.
 
The decline of the Prussian army began not long after the Seven Years War.  It was Frederick's army, not the state's.  When he had an army of 80,000 men, he could personally approve the senior NCOs in his regiments.  Once the army was several times that size, it started to outstrip his abilities.
 
The "oblique order" required iron discipline, not initiative; many better educated bourgeois officers were dismissed from the army.  So while Austria and France were modernizing their armies (especially the French), Prussia's was a mirror of an ageing, misanthropic king who controlled most everything himself.  The regiment was what he understood, and there were no mechanisms for anything other than very temporary higher formations, unlike the 1770s reforms in France.
 
The cantonal system of recruitment began to work against Prussia as well.  Furloughing large proportions of the army for 10 months of the year suited the state since it was poor, but over time, the erosion of readiness was beginning a slow rot.  The army in the 1790s and at Jena reaped the effect.
 
So, I guess he doesn't look that good from this, but from 1740 til 1760, he was the best tactical commander in Europe, no doubt.  (Possible addition - Maurice de Saxe)
 
    


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 01 Aug 2009 at 16:48
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Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

So, I guess he doesn't look that good from this, but from 1740 til 1760, he was the best tactical commander in Europe, no doubt.  (Possible addition - Maurice de Saxe)


And that is my point.  An excellent tactical commander, but a weak strategic commander... He hazarded battle at every opportunity.  He very nearly destroyed Prussia by throwing her army into the meat grinder battle after battle.  Victories, yes, by Pyrrhic ones once they started adding up.  If the Empress hadn't died....
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Originally posted by DSMyers1 DSMyers1 wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

So, I guess he doesn't look that good from this, but from 1740 til 1760, he was the best tactical commander in Europe, no doubt.  (Possible addition - Maurice de Saxe)


And that is my point.  An excellent tactical commander, but a weak strategic commander... He hazarded battle at every opportunity.  He very nearly destroyed Prussia by throwing her army into the meat grinder battle after battle.  Victories, yes, by Pyrrhic ones once they started adding up.  If the Empress hadn't died....
 
I can agree with that.  Some people are lucky.  The chief asset of Prussia was it's (the king's) army, before the 1840s Prussia was really, really poor - hence the larceny of Silesia.  But, as said, while it benefitted the king's treasury, it made an enemy of a vastly more durable and wealthy power that always had more leverage in European affairs.
 
Had it not been for the Emperor, there would have been no "King in Prussia" in 1701.  Had Frederick not been a consummate tactician when he did fight battles (with the only asset he had) there would likely have been no King of Prussia after 1763.
 
 
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DSMyers1,
 
Just a comment on Frederick's hazarding of battle.  Actually he did not fight a battle after 1762.  The "Bavarian Succession" war was more posturing than anything, and the annual reviews of the Prussian army up to 1786 were more for deterrant effect than anything else. 
 
Again, part time soldiers were becoming an anachronism, and mercenaries were harder and harder to find.  Prussia was falling behind in terms of military proficiency and could not afford to reform important arms such as the artillery as did the French and Austrians.
 
 
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 01 Aug 2009 at 16:13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 17:27
I don't think France and the Low Countries in the second half of 1944 represented a war of attrition. Not many wars have seen so much territory gained in so short a time - without the surrender of the enemy.  
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Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

I don't think France and the Low Countries in the second half of 1944 represented a war of attrition. Not many wars have seen so much territory gained in so short a time - without the surrender of the enemy.  
 
There was not so much maneuvering on the "broad front" in France/Belgium as there was head-to-head battering of the Germans, and them giving it back into 1945.  The big tactical conception to turn the flank of the Siegfried Line was Market Garden, which did not work, and the Siegfried Line was penetrated at Aachen by US First Army after very heavy fighting.  No outflanking there.   
 
There was little or none of that "pussyfooting" we mentioned before.  It was hard fighting all the way, and the nearer to Germany it got, the harder they fought.  After Christmas, 1944, they had almost nothing left to fight with, and they kept it up for some months.
 
I don't know how you want to look at it, but that 10 months of warfare was pretty intense, and after the breakout from Normandy in late July, the German army didn't give up ground easily.
 
As far as territory gained, etc., Russia from June to December, 1941 easily rivals the campaign in NW Europe, and probably surpasses it in terms of troops, etc. 
 
  


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 01 Aug 2009 at 18:13
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Hello to you all
 
The reason why modern warfare lacks large scale tactical operations is because its modern warfare!
 
In the olden days, the lack of mobility and numbers meant that enemies had to fight in set piece action to end the war. Wars were simply a series of major battles and almost the entire war can be attributed to such battles.
 
However since the American civil war and especially the Russo-Turkish war, things changed dramatically. The massive number of troops (800k Russians and 1 milion with Serbian and Romanian allies vs 400k Turks and militia) was too big. Now all bases could be covered and thus tactical maneuvers were limited. War became just one single front. It took the Russians almost 5 months to break the Turks at the Danbube and finally commense the march and use the numbers to their advantage. The Russo-Japanese war of 04-05 demonstrated how bloody the modern wars can be yet people didn't realise this until WWI came.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 21:12
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

I don't think France and the Low Countries in the second half of 1944 represented a war of attrition. Not many wars have seen so much territory gained in so short a time - without the surrender of the enemy.  
 
There was not so much maneuvering on the "broad front" in France/Belgium as there was head-to-head battering of the Germans, and them giving it back into 1945.  The big tactical conception to turn the flank of the Siegfried Line was Market Garden, which did not work, and the Siegfried Line was penetrated at Aachen by US First Army after very heavy fighting.
I don't know why you call Market Garden a 'tactical' conception. It certainly came under the heading of strategy when I was in the army. It certainly wasn't based on the concept of attrition, nor did it depend on attrition.
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No outflanking there.   
It's what you are trying to do that makes it a strategic or tactical concept, not whether you succeed or not.
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There was little or none of that "pussyfooting" we mentioned before.  It was hard fighting all the way, and the nearer to Germany it got, the harder they fought.  After Christmas, 1944, they had almost nothing left to fight with, and they kept it up for some months.
 
I don't know how you want to look at it, but that 10 months of warfare was pretty intense, and after the breakout from Normandy in late July, the German army didn't give up ground easily.
I specifically cited the six months July-December 1944: 1945 isn't relevant to my point. Arnheim may have been a failure but Eindhoven and Nijmegen weren't: and the fact that Arnhem failed doesn't make it a war of attrition: it was a splendid strategic move that failed. In addition the advance up the coast of France and Belgium to neutralise the V-2 launching sites was purely strategic, involving the defence of London itself. So in fact were the landings in the south of France, and the decision to ignore, not deal with, the various pockets of German resistance in the west and noth-west.  
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As far as territory gained, etc., Russia from June to December, 1941 easily rivals the campaign in NW Europe, and probably surpasses it in terms of troops, etc. 
I only said it was a rare occurrence, not that it was unique.  As well as those six months in Russia, the six month period December-June 1941/2 in the Far East is also in the same league: and neither of those periods were wars of attrition either.
 
Moreover they were in the same war: and what I said was 'there are not many wars that have seen ...'.
  


Edited by gcle2003 - 01 Aug 2009 at 21:19
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2009 at 21:26
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello to you all
 
The reason why modern warfare lacks large scale tactical operations is because its modern warfare!
I think what you are talking about as 'modern' warfare is in effect 'pre-modern' or at least pre-contemporary. Aircraft, fixed-wing and helicopters, tanks and other armoured vehicles, missiles and above all nuclear weapons have kind of changed things.
 
Contemporary actual warfare is usually a matter of fast outward success of one side turning into almost eternal asymmetric warfare where the concept of territory 'won' is somewhat fragile.
 
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Graham,
 
Market Garden was as close to an outflanking movement as occurred in northwest Europe in 1944.  The attempt at outflanking the Siegfried Line was a tactical operation in an overall strategy.  The non-success of Market Garden returned northwest Europe to a strategic theater of attritional warfare where the weight of resources was the determining factor.
 
Market Garden was worth the chance, but as it did not work, resources were redirected to more direct frontal assault into Germany and then on to the Rhine.  The conception of the landings in the south of France, while reasonably well conceived, did not really impact the result of the European theater.  The major campaign in the west, with the hardest fighting, was in France/Belgium and west of the Rhine.
 
  


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 02 Aug 2009 at 01:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 04:40
The more I read some of these posts the more I want to pull my hair out. You've all denatured the whole point of tactics in modern warfare. Large scale or small scale. Every war, modern or ancient made use of tactics. World War Two was no exception and the use of tactics not only exists in the realm of a flanking maneuver.

Attacking by Stratagem. Defending existing positions until you can advance them and how you must recognize opportunities. Maneuvering. Openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of an enemy in a given area. Flexibility of your military's responses. Use of terrain and spies. Compliments of Sun Tzu, these tactics never get outdated.

Tactic- a method of employing forces in combat
         -
a plan, procedure, or expedient for promoting a desired end or result.
         - a system or a detail of tactics.

WWII examples.

 Operation Cobra and Goodwood were all allied attempts to dislodge panzer divisions that had stalled their advance after Normandy. Being pinned in the hedgerows the allies needed a diversion and got it with the bombing of Cannes. Freed them up when the majority of panzer divisions in the area fell for the bait and moved in on Cannes. A diversionary tactic!

Kursk was a method in tactical defense and resistance followed by Soviet counterattacks.

German Platoon and Tank formation tactics - Picure the German tank platoon as a triangle. When in defense two tanks, for example, were up fron and one in back. This present the majority of force up front with a reserve out back. Tactic!

Also, what is the bliztkreig if not one big coordinated land and air offensive strategy that turned tactic on a smaller scale every time a platoon needed air support?

American Pacific tactics - The US Navy kept her carriers within supporting distance.  At Midway, the two carrier task forces were kept 25 miles apart - far enough away to make it unlikely that they would be be detected by the same scout plane, but close enough so that each group's fighter screen could support the other. In contrast, the Japanese would sometimes spread their carrier task forces out over vast stretches of ocean. Submarines were seen as important screening vessels for the carrier fleet, as were destroyers and battleships. And there is always the winged formations of aviation. Air tactics were shaped by the war as well. the distance between you and your wing man was of prime importance. Also, the Kamikaze was a suicidal tactic.



Edited by Seko - 02 Aug 2009 at 04:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 14:19
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Graham,
 
Market Garden was as close to an outflanking movement as occurred in northwest Europe in 1944.  The attempt at outflanking the Siegfried Line was a tactical operation in an overall strategy.  The non-success of Market Garden returned northwest Europe to a strategic theater of attritional warfare where the weight of resources was the determining factor.
 
Market Garden was worth the chance, but as it did not work, resources were redirected to more direct frontal assault into Germany and then on to the Rhine.  The conception of the landings in the south of France, while reasonably well conceived, did not really impact the result of the European theater.  The major campaign in the west, with the hardest fighting, was in France/Belgium and west of the Rhine.
 
I don't see the relevance of how important something was, or whether it succeeded or failed to the general point. Also I think you're ignoring the essetial relativity of the terms strategic and tactics. Tactics are what you adopt within a strategy: in order to achieve a strategic goal you pose a series of tactical goals. That view applies all the way down the hierarchy: one person's tactic is his subordinates's strategy.
 
Deciding to fight a campaign of attrition is in itself a strategic decision. It is in effect a decision that any commander can make depending on how great a scope you give the word 'campaign'.
 
You can blockade Germany or you can besiege a fort. Both are campaigns of attrition.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 14:51
While Seko is not wrong in his observation (and criticism), I doubt it is possible to carve out a meaningful World War II delineation between tactics and strategy at the level of a commanding general - the topic hugo brought up.  It also is difficult to satisfy opinion on an Internet site where a lot of communication is one liners.
 
Of course tactical methods were (and are) still employed, but moreso at lower echelons than that of a commanding general.  The point has been, I think, that in warfare since the advent of mass armies, tactical initiative has been relegated to, and tactical expertise expected from, the leadership of smaller units that are more efficiently controlled because of their more manageable size.  Battalion, brigade and even divisional size units have more flexibility, and can respond more quickly than army formations of multiple corps, or army groups of multiple armies.
 
Gustav Adolf or Frederick II or even Bonaparte (a special case) could still dominate a battlefield tactically or a theater strategically, but the former two rarely led armies on a battelfield larger than 50 or 60,000 - often smaller.  All these "great captains" had an advantage strategically in that they were not only the commanders of their armies, but the sovereign authorities of their states.  Different issue, but still...
 
Even in the ACW, the resource advantage of the Union led to new and unfamiliar issues of how to utilize 100 - 120,000 troops in a single operation.  Perhaps the tactical flexibility of the CSA had something to do with the smaller size of their armies.  However, even Lee had to fight enormously costly battles that would often have been avoided a century or two before. 
 
A great part of that was the new firepower - rifled musketry and artillery with deadlier effect at longer range.  The advantage to a defensive position caused any offensive tactic to result in large losses.  Gettysburg for the CSA and Cold Harbor for the Union were examples.  The issue had to be decided by a frontal assault.  Unknown to the theorists as yet, warfare was becoming a butcher's yard.  The best chance for a tactical movement on a battlefield, such as turning a flank, was only possible for the side that could absorb the losses required of modern war.
 
Aside from the effect of ballistics and firepower, the social-political nature of war had changed as well.  Frederick or Napoleon could effectively make war, fight and make peace as he chose.  By the latter half of the 19th century, and going forward, the nation state demanded success, no matter the cost - in order to justify that cost.
 
ACW     618,000 dead in 4 years.
 
WW I    10,000,000 or so in 4 years
 
WW II   20-25,000,000 (not counting civilians)
 
It is hard to wrap this stuff up in a few paragraphs.
 
 
 
  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 14:55
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Graham,
 
Market Garden was as close to an outflanking movement as occurred in northwest Europe in 1944.  The attempt at outflanking the Siegfried Line was a tactical operation in an overall strategy.  The non-success of Market Garden returned northwest Europe to a strategic theater of attritional warfare where the weight of resources was the determining factor.
 
Market Garden was worth the chance, but as it did not work, resources were redirected to more direct frontal assault into Germany and then on to the Rhine.  The conception of the landings in the south of France, while reasonably well conceived, did not really impact the result of the European theater.  The major campaign in the west, with the hardest fighting, was in France/Belgium and west of the Rhine.
 
I don't see the relevance of how important something was, or whether it succeeded or failed to the general point. Also I think you're ignoring the essetial relativity of the terms strategic and tactics. Tactics are what you adopt within a strategy: in order to achieve a strategic goal you pose a series of tactical goals. That view applies all the way down the hierarchy: one person's tactic is his subordinates's strategy.
 
Deciding to fight a campaign of attrition is in itself a strategic decision. It is in effect a decision that any commander can make depending on how great a scope you give the word 'campaign'.
 
You can blockade Germany or you can besiege a fort. Both are campaigns of attrition.
 
Well I did say Market Garden was a tactical operation in an overall strategy.  The strategy was to access and control the industrial areas of Germany and to destroy Germany's ability to make war.  The Siegfried Line, regardless of it's strength or weaknesses, had to be crossed.  The turning of it's flank didn't work out, so it had to be done head on.
 
Allied resources were far stronger and the decision for attrition was favored by the US generals partly because of that, and partly because they thought it would shorten the war.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 02 Aug 2009 at 14:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 15:38
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

While Seko is not wrong in his observation (and criticism), I doubt it is possible to carve out a meaningful World War II delineation between tactics and strategy at the level of a commanding general - the topic hugo brought up.


Glad you agree with the observation. Now if we are to delineate between the actions of a  general's strategic versus tactical abilities then we probably would be better off making a list of examples for each.

Lee at Gettysburg. His strategy was to initially to invade Penn. and stir up sympathy, or at least make the Union lose popular support. Plus, he wanted respite from pressure on Virginia. He could have ignored Brandy Station for what it was. Once the skirmishing started, Lee's lack of clear orders (tactical mistake?) made Pittigrew nervous. When the Federalists were stationed on hills (Culp to Cemetery) for prime defensive positioning, Lee was screwed. He threw in attack after attack to dislodge an enemy that kept getting stronger in number, climaxing with the disaster of Pickett's charge. Instead of stubborn tactics, he could have withdrew towards Washington. The Feds would have but no choice to follow and lose the upper hand. Anyway we all know what happened. Lee didn't listen to Longstreet and this plan. He could have used a flanking maneuver, feigned retreat and dug in at his own choosing instead of suicidal direct assaults.

Whether by local command or higher up at HQ tactics will never go out of style.

Vietnam. Le't examine a few tactics from both sides. Westmoreland versus Nguyen Giap.
The Viet Cong were adept at ambush, hit and run, hunkering down, deception, and guerilla insurgencies tactics to where the US was winning most of the individual battles but were losing hearts and minds and land. America responded with search and destroy tactics. Then Giap responded with tunnels, ambushes and fighting on his own terms - timing of counterattacks. The US would carpet bomb or call in firepower to a designated area of attack. This gave a heads up to the Cong so they had a choice to fight back or hide out some more at their own choosing. Whatever, since the locale was telegraphed there was no surprise of being overrun without warning.

In Vietnam the Strategic goal was to break the will of the enemy. Looking back we all know who flinched and eventually had to pull out. The field general and commander will always have numerous uses for diverse battle tactics. Another example, the Tet offensive was one big massive diversion away from Khe Sanh (even though it got hit), every other major stronghold was under attack. Tactic - deception!. In this case direct attacks were good for engagement but indirect attacks at numerous locations were good for surprise and chaos.

Overall, whatever the strategy in war there is room for the creative commander to make the best use of his forces at any given time and place.


Edited by Seko - 02 Aug 2009 at 15:52
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 16:37
Hello to you all
 
Actually the last real war between two equal enemies was the Iraqi-Iranian war. Ever since the big powers picked on little countries or countries with no will to fight where the only way to fight is to fight asymmetrically.
 
Also some wars have actually been dubbed asymmetric while they were not like the 2006 summer war where there were real lines and attacks and counter attacks albeit on the battalion level but set piece battles did occure.
 
The idea that asymmetric warfare is the "new wave" of warfare is untrue. Asymmetric warfare has always been the case when big powers fight little ones from the time of the Egyptian invasions of the levant until today.
 
I think here a good explaination between what is strategic and what is tactical should be done because an operation like Market-Garden can be seen as both according to the perspective you apply to see the operation through it (wether it be an attempt to circumvent the sigfried line or End the war by christmas).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2009 at 17:44
The "tactical" within the concept of contemporary warfare--and for that matter the strategic outside the context of foreign policy--have been rendered anachronistic by modern technology. Asymetric Warfare is possible absent the presence of the nuclear expedient. The term "war games" has more resonnance today than when employed at military colleges. Be scared, very scared.
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