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Is this true?

Discussion in 'World History' started by onejayhawk, May 21, 2019.

  1. onejayhawk

    onejayhawk Afflicted with reason

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    I was reading a brief summary of US military structure, when a line caught my eye. The last line is certainly a common truism. How valid is the one just before it?

    S-1: Personnel and Administration - This is the equivalent of the Human Resources department at a corporation. The ultimate bureaucrats.

    S-2: Intelligence - These guys are responsible for knowing what the bad guys are doing, what the bad guys think the good guys are doing, what the good guys are doing to hide what they are doing from the bad guys, what the bad guys are doing to hide what they are doing from the good guys - after awhile you have a major headache. Their motto - 'We bet your life!'

    S-3: Operations and Training - If you've got to be a staff officer, be the S-3! These guys are responsible for actually giving the orders when the commander makes a decision. A good turn as the S-3 is critical to becoming an exec or commander somewhere down the pike. During combat ops, the position is often held by a top subordinate unit commander or the exec. Career line officers want to be the S-3. Remember the line from Orwell about all pigs being equal, but some being more equal than others? The S-3 is more equal than the others!

    S-4: Logistics and Supply - Very boring, very critical. Everything you will ever need comes from the supply department. Almost every major military disaster in recorded history has resulted from a general who ignored supply problems. Another popular saying is that amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.
    J
     
  2. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    No. It's an obvious hyperbole, one which becomes more hyperbolic the further back in history you go.

    Yes logistics is an extremely important component of warfare, and has been across all regions and at all times, and logistics has increased in importance as the number and scope of theaters in modern warfare has grown. But are logistics the sole deciding factor in "every major military disaster in history"? No, not really. Cannae, Crécy, Blenheim, White Mountain, Kunersdorf, Pavia, the list goes on. In all of these battles, obviously, logistics played a crucial role, but in none of them could logistics be ascribed as the ultimate, deciding factor. Advantages in training, leadership, equipment, intelligence, and terrain, as well as freak contingencies like bad or misinterpreted communications, insubordination, weather, or outright luck played crucial roles in determining the outcome of these battles.
     
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  3. onejayhawk

    onejayhawk Afflicted with reason

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    It did not say battle. It said military disaster.

    For example Julian in Persia. The so called Battle of Samarra was more of a skirmish with a blocking force. We remember it because Julian got himself killed. How many other invaders have lost the entire expeditionary force without a major battle because their means of retreat is gone? Crusades anyone? Stalingrad?

    Still, it is possible to have a disaster in a single battle. However, most of those battle were decisive defeats, not one in ten returns disasters.

    J
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  4. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    So...you're saying that the crusades and the Stalingrad campaign...didn't involve major battles?

    What history books are you reading
     
  5. onejayhawk

    onejayhawk Afflicted with reason

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    No, I did not say there were no major battles.

    However, take Stalingrad as a the example. It was a campaign more than a battle and characterized by small close quarters fighting rather than large unit engagements. Which begs a question, why did the Germans not use their primary asset--mobility? We saw in many smaller battles that a mobile German force could out match a vastly larger Russian force. Numbers almost did not matter when the Germans had the ability to maneuver. Why Stalingrad?

    J
     
  6. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    If you're implying the Germans were forced to offer a set-piece, rather than a mobile, battle for logistical reasons, you're wrong.

    The German campaign was characterized by ambiguity from the start, with contradictory objectives and an unwieldy, divided command structure. This ambiguity is summarized best in Kleist's later comment that Stalingrad was "only a name on the map for my Panzer group." The objectives and pattern of the plan changed several times, I don't remember the exact sequence, but Hitler kept the whole picture in his head alone due to his mistrust of the officer corps, and gave contradictory orders to different commanders.

    Basically, the whole operation was intended to secure the Caucausus and its oil reserves, and Stalingrad was supposed to be an adjunct to this, a "blocking" position established so that the mobile forces could wheel down to the Caspian and the Caucasus mountains, but the destruction of the Soviet offensive against Kharkov had brought back the fever dreams of world-conquest that had characterized Hitler's worldview since the Munich betrayal, and Alan Clark claims he wanted to retain the freedom to either swing south from Stalingrad to the Caucasus or north, up the Volga, to encircle Moscow in the "greatest annihilation battle in history" (this was never more than wishful thinking obviously and totally ignored the logistics of such a move).

    The unexpected hardening of Soviet resistance in the area of Stalingrad led both sides to fixate on the city in an unpremeditated fashion. The German commander, Paulus, was unimaginative - not a great field commander by any standard - and adopted a tactical approach to the actual battle that resulted in a very high degree of attrition for the attacking forces. Meanwhile since the German high command consisted of a bunch of racist freaks they concluded from the racial superiority of the German soldier that they must be inflicting more casualties on the Red Army than they were suffering, which was false.

    The Russians showed great adaptability and tactical imagination in defending the city. Another major point of difference was the way the Soviet command fed a trickle of reinforcements to the formations defending the city, just barely enough to keep up their combat effectiveness, which allowed them to build a strategic reserve which they then deployed brilliantly to smash in the German flanks. The Germans by contrast allowed Stalingrad to absorb almost the entire offensive/mobile strength of the entire Wehrmacht (for example Luftflotte 4 was, during the Stalingrad campaign, the most powerful air formation placed under a single commander in the entire world). This was again due to the fundamentally racist underestimation of the capacities of the Red Army, and the almost entirely faith-based belief that the Soviets could not possibly have any substantial reserves left.
     
  7. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Those battles all represent monumental disasters for the losing side. Like if Cannae or Pavia aren't to be classified as "disasters" then there is literally no such thing in military parlance.

    Cannae:
    Crécy:
    Kunersdorf:
    Pavia:
    -------------------------
    *ETA*:

    This isn't begging the question.

    This post is though:
    If you define "military disaster" as requiring a logistical breakdown to have occurred, and then assert the conclusion that all military disasters have occurred because of a leader disregarding their logistical situation, that is the exact definition of "begging the question."

     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  8. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Supply problems were not the reason the US lost the Vietnam War. There were many causes, political leadership, military leadership. But not supply.
     
  9. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I would reply that the Vietnam War was much more a political and moral disaster than a military disaster.
     
  10. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    You could make a case for it being a disaster in every sense. But the question was did logistical problems lead to the military aspect of the disaster. And logistics really wasn't the cause of that aspect of the disaster.
     
  11. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    True enough.
     

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