Evaluation of the Performance of the U.S. Army

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Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 21 Jun 2005 23:03

DIREWOLF75 wrote:Andreas, you fail to see the difference in context and wording.
You claimed i stated "string of defeats", what i wrote, as a quote was " a string of mainly tactical defeats". There is a world of difference.
Feel free to explain how the adjective preceding the word 'defeats' affects the string of them.

This website may help you in your task.

I realise English is probably not your first language, and the same is true for me. However, the way I understand it, the words 'mainly tactical' here only modify the 'defeats', i.e. there were other defeats in this string of defeats, just they were not mainly tactical - probably operational as well. Nowhere do the words 'mainly tactical' do anything to modify or soften the 'string of defeats' though, because they do not refer to the 'string'. Now this may not have been what you wanted to say, but it is in any way my reading of what you said. If in fact you do not believe that the Allies suffered a string of defeats (be they mainly tactical or of a different nature), then that is fine. It does however make the statement you quoted quite wrong, and fairly correct, as you claimed.

The correct statement which I guess you are aiming it is that 'the allies mainly suffered a string of tactical defeats [when they encountered the Germans]'. But that is not what the chap on the other forum said.

I realise I am nitpicking, but I had a two-hour session with my dentist yesterday, and I am not in a good mood. If anyone wants to tell me my English grammar is wrong, go right ahead.

DIREWOLF75
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Post by DIREWOLF75 » 23 Jun 2005 01:28

:roll:
No, English isnt my first language. In this case however, id say youre the one reading things into the statement that causes its meaning to shift incorrectly.

The allies, on the tactical level, had more defeats than wins while fighting the Germans.

Happy with a new wording? The original wording says the same as long as it isnt taken out of context. Sure the original isnt as totally clearcut, but i understood it the first time i read it, and not a single person misinterpreted it where it was originally posted.

Your English grammar isnt wrong in it self, but while context isnt as extremely vital as in chinese or similar languages, it sure still makes a difference.

Personally, i cant even remember the last time i didnt ace an English test. :wink:
The "worst" you can claim is that the quote used a rethorical link rather than a direct. Oh my, how horrible, we just get it like that from the newsmedias and politicians every day. 8)

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 23 Jun 2005 03:24

DIREWOLF75 wrote:The allies, on the tactical level, had more defeats than wins while fighting the Germans.

Happy with a new wording?
I'm not sure that I am. What does that mean? Does that mean that every time an Allied squad or platoon met its German opposite without any outside help it tended to lose more often than win? If so, it's a little hard to grasp the importance of the statement, since it is nearly always the case that one or more often both sides were supported. And usually one side or the other had a preponderance of numbers and/or support. It would be hard to find a case that is laboratory pure enough to test the thesis.

I have no problem with accepting the idea that the Wehrmacht was very good and even superior in a number of areas. They were not so good in others. The same can be said of the Allies. The important point in this case is that the Allies were good enough in enough areas to beat the best that the Wehrmacht had to offer. And at the bleeding edge of combat, where the squads and platoons were, the last two and a half years of the war saw the Allied soldiers advancing and the German soldiers retreating. That, to me, translates that in the end the Allies were winning the fights and the Germans were losing them.

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Post by Larry D. » 23 Jun 2005 12:54

Direwolf and Andreas -

Your proficiency in the English language is beyond excellent - it's outstanding. That goes for both of you. As a native-born American, I feel embarrassment and a sense of guilt every time I encounter someone using English as a second language who has mastered it as thoroughly as you have. When it comes to foreign language instruction, your school systems are far superior to ours and that is unfortunate for us. Perhaps the first or second most important legacy of World War II is the evolution of English as a universal language. It could have been French or Swedish, or any other language for that matter, but at least we have one today.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 23 Jun 2005 13:29

DIREWOLF75 wrote: The allies, on the tactical level, had more defeats than wins while fighting the Germans.
Define 'tactical level'. Probably best if you provide some examples of what you are thinking of, and a concise reasoning as to how it can be separated from the operational level.

Once you have done that, we can get into a discussion of how you can come up with statistics on this matter that show that the allies lost 50+x% of [to be defined in scope]tactical combat encounters.

Thanks for the kind remarks Larry.

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Post by RichTO90 » 23 Jun 2005 15:32

DIREWOLF75 wrote:RichTO90, that is indeed one major reason for my less then stellar expectations about USAs army. Not an inability to learn from experience, but the sometimes active resistance to it.
Actually, it is not "active resistance" - "passive ignorance" is a better term. :D
Compare with what happened early in WWI, after a lot of briefing by the Brits and French on their experiences sofar, the USA personnel pretty much discarded it as the result of those nations being wuzzies and then started off their part in the war with 19th century charges just like what the Brits and French had warned about.
Oh yes, excellent support. The French foisting the Chauchat on American infantry, the French refusal to provide technical specifications for the production of the 75mm in the US, Allied attempts to break up US divisions into component battalions and regiments for attachment as cannon fodder to French and British divisions. To say that the Americans were a little leery of Allied intent is rather a bit of an understatement. :D
The opposite trait is also one of the best parts of the German army.
Yes, at the tactical and tactical-operational level - at the strategic level they remained blissfully ignorant. :D
Hmm? Come again? I expect that is the name of a book?
Sorry, havent read it. I read about that in documentation at US DoD. Was online when i read it some years ago, probably still is.
Also read about it elsewhere but with not so extensive research behind it.
I see. So you are using a source that you have no real knowledge of - you don't even recognize the title or author - to "prove" your assumptions? I think I may have a little bit of a problem with that. :D
Later in the war, and especially in quickdrafted German units, the same can certainly be said. But i would still argue that it was to a lesser extent.
Actually, complaints about the inadequate tactical training in the Landser surfaced after both the Polish and French campaign. They overly relied on the LMG and other supporting arms, lacked initiative, failed to maneuver, and so on. The intense infantry training the assault units underwent for Zitadelle indicates that periodic retraining was apparently considered neccessary and of course the German replacement system - especially when the Feldersatz Abteilung associated with a division were created in 1943 - tended to facilitate that. And as you note the late war collapse - well destruction by Hitler may be a better term - of the Ersatzheer pretty much screwed the system up after fall of 1944.
1, Not enough training, or skimping on training due to more "administrative/logistical matters"... mmm not the best of ideas id say.
I think you miss the point. The "skimping" on training due to "administrative/logistical matters" wasn't something done by choice - it was a necessity. The US Army had no mobilization plan beyond hemisphere defense prior to 1941, had no mobilization infrastructure and was forced to project its mobilized power overseas often to hostile shores. Worse, the changing nature of the war and shifting priorities and requirements quickly made hash of the mobilization planning that was done. A simple example is that it was planned that one year would be required to mobilize, organize, train, and deploy a division overseas, but the actual average time for a division to get overseas was closer to two years - for many reasons. In some cases, divisions ordered for overseas movement waited in assembly areas where there was no space for even physical training for weeks while convoys were assembled, ships broke down or were sunk or deployment plans changed. The old proverb that "haste makes waste" may apply, but in this case it is not obvious that less haste could have been made or that it would have allowed "more" or "better" training.
2, Training doctrine IS doctrinal. And i can say for certain i am no fan of USAs training doctrines at the time. Or to an extent, today either for that matter.
Yep, or rather I agree if you mean that training is done according to doctrine, which is true. But in World War II the US training doctrine wasn't necessarily poor (although early on it was very schematic and based upon poor infantry tactical doctrine, but that isn't necessarily the same thing), but the execution - for many reasons - was.
That is PROBABLY the correct term.
However, the problem i referred to was the practise of doing such without information of this "attachment" being properly transferred upwards. Meaning that commanders sometimes found themselves without troops they THOUGHT they still had in area X or place Y.
Ie. not so much with a higher command assigning units under "him" but by commanders in the field "commandeering" nearby units temporarily.
Granted, that it was often necessary and sometimes very beneficial, but it could have used proper "rules" from the start to avoid the problems it caused.
Okay, at this point I must say - with all due respect - that as far as I can see you have no idea what you are talking about. I have spent much of the last 17 years working with unit journals and after action reports of US Army units in Tunisia, Italy, Northwest Europe and the Pacific, as well as reading the standard official and secondary source histories, and I can simply say that I have never run across that "practice" being common. Attachments and detachments were always specified in full operations orders. I know of a few instances of units being informally attached, perhaps the most famous being the 463rd PFA at Mourmelon on 16 December 1944, but that was almost invariably a case of mutual agreement between commanders and their subordinates.

But if you are talking about the micro-tactical level - the level of a "duel" between individual squads/sections/individuals or "engagements" between platoons and companies - then the reality is that the confusion of modern war meant that often small units became "lost" and "attached" themselves to other units that appeared to know what they were doing. But that was (and probably still is) a common phenomena of modern conventional warfare and is partly a consequence of the "empty battlefield" syndrome.

So unless you can come up with some concrete examples I have to say that I still don't know what you are talking about, nor do I belive that you do. :D
AFAIK, that never or nearly never happened within the German kampfgruppe system.
Uh, sorry, but no - the "kampfgruppe" system (which it wasn't BTW, it was a practice inherent in the command and control doctrine of the Heer - the Truppenfuehrung) did nothing of the sort and German commanders were constantly complaining about the effects of the doctrine, which splintered organizations. "Borrowing" under the kampfgruppe practice was endemic.
Oh, i just held the stupid notion that people might try to be objective once in a while. :roll:
:P
:wink:
I have a problem believing in objectivity when I read posts where statements are couched as absolutes. AFAICS I am being completely objective, whereas you appear to be the one who is being dogmatic and inflexible in your belief. So :roll: :P and :wink: right back at you. :D :D
Heh, well lets see, German campaign against Poland, quite possibly third strongest military in the area at the time (after USSR and Germany), measured in weeks.
Objective ranking means nothing of course. I could as easily compare a campaign by the US Navy against the Chinese. The Chinese may have "quite posssibly" the second "strongest" navy at this time, but it would soon consist of smoking wrecks. :D Your "comparison" is as equally meaningless. :roll:
German campaign running over France, Netherlands and Belgium, also something measured in weeks. And far from easy opposition in either case.
Yes indeed, especially if you look at the levels of intensity. Of course the command and control system of the Allies was greatly overmatched, they were only partly mobilized (especially in terms of equipment) and were doctrinally far behind the Germans. With the result being the disparity in intensity between the first and second part of the campaign, which allowed the French to better make use of their strengths.
The collective strength of USA, UK, Free French, Commonwealth, and all the minor troop contingents and contributors with superiority in most areas, amazingly massive superiority in some, then take almost a year to "go the other way" even though Germany at this time has its main focus on halting or at least slowing down USSR on its main front. In comparison, yeah, definetly snail paced.
Yes, after nearly four years of mutual weapons and tactical developments - it is a give and take.

BTW, isn't the UK part of the Commonwealth?
Hmm, in this case, perhaps context?
Yes, I agree, you do seem to have a problem seeing things in context. :D
Depends of course, the make of such a knife and how it is put to use.
If someone load a blunderbus with a knife, its definetly major ouchtime on the other side of any gunfight. :wink:
Actually, no, since it would be smarter to load the blunderbuss with langridge.... :D

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 24 Jun 2005 04:02

RichTO90 wrote:BTW, isn't the UK part of the Commonwealth?
Indeed it is and was at the time. However...the term as used in our context of describing national forces during WW II is usually taken to mean those of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, and Rhodesia. There were also Empire forces from (primarily) India, as well as East and West Africa, Burma, Malaya, and probably several places I am forgetting or have overlooked.

:wink: :D

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Post by RichTO90 » 24 Jun 2005 14:00

Grease_Spot wrote:Indeed it is and was at the time. However...the term as used in our context of describing national forces during WW II is usually taken to mean those of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, and Rhodesia. There were also Empire forces from (primarily) India, as well as East and West Africa, Burma, Malaya, and probably several places I am forgetting or have overlooked.

:wink: :D
Uh, exactly? So the correct phrase should be "Commonwealth and Imperial" rather than "UK and Commonwealth" right? :D

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 24 Jun 2005 19:40

Please keep this thread focused on the US Army compared to the German forces, thanks.

/Marcus

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Post by Smileshire » 24 Jun 2005 19:46

They have been talking about the tactics of the wehrmacht and the allies. Maybe they should say so instead of beating around the bush.

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 24 Jun 2005 19:48

Smileshire,

If you want to discuss the British Army compared to the German forces, feel free to do so in a separate thread.

/Marcus

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 24 Jun 2005 23:47

RichTO90 wrote:
Grease_Spot wrote:Indeed it is and was at the time. However...the term as used in our context of describing national forces during WW II is usually taken to mean those of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, and Rhodesia. There were also Empire forces from (primarily) India, as well as East and West Africa, Burma, Malaya, and probably several places I am forgetting or have overlooked.

:wink: :D
Uh, exactly? So the correct phrase should be "Commonwealth and Imperial" rather than "UK and Commonwealth" right? :D
I don't know what the official form would be, but in discussions of this type, the reference is usually to B/C/E, meaning British (forces raised in the UK), Commonwealth, and Empire. This abbreviation is generally only used when all three types of forces are present, as they were in the Med. I don't recall any significant quantity of Empire forces in the ETO, so only British and Commonwealth get mentioned there.

It's actually pretty straightforward once you get the sense of it.

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Post by keg007 » 25 Jun 2005 01:15

Compare the performance of the US Army against the Germans at Kasserine, vs their performance at Remagen Bridge.

By 1944/45 the US Army was as good as anyones, and better at exploiting their combined arms than any other army at the time.

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Post by Andreas » 27 Jun 2005 08:19

A post by smileshire on Narvik 1940 has been split and moved to the Kriegsmarine forum under the title "Kriegsmarine performance at Narvik 1940" here:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=80532

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Obdicut » 28 Jun 2005 02:26

To address a topic I do not believe has yet been raised in this thread:

I think the Battle of the Bulge is a great example both of the fauilures and successes of both the German and the American armies, but of course, the final result-- the victory of the US Army-- generally points to the final superiority of the American Army.

This was a situation where the Americans were entirely outnumbered and outgunned, and out-materieled. The German army had done a masterful job of secretely planning the attack, gathering an unprecedented amount of materiel all without the US gaining any hint of it-- the superior British army intelligence group was also fooled. US air power was negated by bad weather.

The beginning of the Bulge saw many green American units crack, most especially at the captain and lieutenant level. However, there were a hugely surprising number of incidents of vastly outnumbered American forces, often a ragtag group gathered from various divisions, holding together and stalling the German advance. And while the Americans had vastly underestimated the German capability for offensive, they-- in particular Eisenhower and Patton-- moved quickly and decisively to support the embattled units in the Bulge, moving more men and material in a shorter period of time than had ever been done before or after in the history of the US army.

Many good books have been written arguing that the exact qualities that made the American soldiers poor troops "fresh out of the basket"-- in other words, the problems with the training of a democratic, non-militaristic citizenry-- made them excellent responsive soldiers. They learned on the fly, quite quickly, and were able to cobble together a defense that was completely out of proportion to their supply situation and numbers. They also performed beyond expectation in holding actions where they were ordered to hold to the last man-- an order that the Germans thought was impossible for Americans to give. There are many anecdotal examples, but many verifiable historical examples, as well, of units, cut off, badly demoralized, and without any materiel support, who nonetheless continued to fight as a unit and did not suffer large-scale desertion or small-unit surrender.

The lack of imagination on the part of Americans that led to the Battle of the Bulge showed a weakness in the high-level command; likewise, I believe that the German belief that the Americans could not possibly hold when outmaterieled, outgunned, and outmanned-- even though traditional military doctrine holds that a defensive position always has a large chance of success (success being defined here as holding, not in causing the attack to withdraw from the field) -- was the result of the Germans "believing their own hype". The German commanders believed that their soldiers, the product of a militaristic, fascist society, would outfight the democratic soldiers, and that the Americans would retreat en masse rather than lose large numbers of soldiers. They also believed the American military command to be unable to respond quickly to a large-scale offensive, which was shown to be untrue-- that, however, is more a credit to Eisenhower's evaluation and Patton's organization, than anything particular to the US army, except in so far as those individuals holding the rank they did makes a statement of the US Army.

In conclusion, the Battle of the Bulge, which was one of the few situations where the Americans were outclassed in every important military aspect, was a failure for the Germans-- the reasons many, but among them included the tenacity of the individual American units, and the individual American fighting man. The offensive was an unreasonably ambitious one with little chance of full-out success, but the successes and penetration achieved by the Germans were far little than they would have been had not the front-line American units, by and large, responded with a great deal of military prowess, ingenuity, and bravery.

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