USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9374
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Oct 2020 21:47

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
12 Oct 2020 19:32

A useful reminder, if we all needed one, that merchant shipping losses were not caused by German submarines alone.

Regards

Tom
John Ellis had a chart in his Book Of Tables (Brute Force) which separated submarine from air/surface/mines. Unfortunately my copy was purloined some years ago. Cant recall the numbers.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 13 Oct 2020 02:34

Another quote re my thesis that the W.Allies sought to avoid ground combat as much as possible for political - not military/strategic - reasons, from Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II by Mark Stoler:
Political factors in late 1941 further emphasized the pivotal importance of prolonging Russian participation in the war by calling into question whether 215 divisions would ever be created or allowed to invade Europe. The army’s request for
such a force and strategy in the Victory Program ignored domestic realities and
the contrary views of the president. Congress had recently agreed to an extension
of the draft by only one vote and showed no inclination even to enter the war,
let alone send an expeditionary force into another European bloodbath. Roosevelt
held similar views. Appalled by the World War I slaughter in the trenches, he
accepted many of Churchill’s views about the power of indirect warfare, and no
matter what his true feelings as to the inevitability of some form of U.S. belligerency against Germany at this time,

he had no intention of creating or sending to Europe a large army.

Indeed, he appears to have viewed continued Russian belligerency supported by U.S. material assistance much as he viewed continued British
belligerency with similar support—as a substitute for U.S. ground forces and perhaps, even at this late date, for official U.S. entry into the war. The army, on the
other hand, insisted that Britain and Russia were incapable of defeating Germany
alone and viewed all such assistance as a method of extending their military resistance long enough to allow for full U.S. rearmament, entry into the war, and
deployment of major forces into Europe from the English ‘‘launching pad.’’
Granted the above quote is pre-PH. Nonetheless, the strategic precepts on which the W.Allies operated - the decisiveness of strategic air power, the antiquatedness of massive land armies - continued to inform their strategic outlook, their perceived political constraints, and their grand strategy. The unnecessarily long time it took to crush Nazism, the lives unnecessarily lost as a result, trace not to 1942 decisions about Torch/Sledgehammer but to these earlier political-strategic constraints.

Re the bomber delusion that sustained and/or was motivated by combat aversion, a good example from the same book:
To Roosevelt’s advisers the strategic potential of the bombers was almost limitless.
Stimson concluded on September 12 that they ‘‘completely changed the
strategy of the Pacific’’ and allowed U.S. power into the Philippines ‘‘in a way
which it has not been able to do for twenty years.’’ Indeed, those islands could
now become ‘‘a self-sustaining fortress capable of blockading the China Sea by air
power.’’ It was a ‘‘reversal of the strategy of the world,’’ he informed Roosevelt
and the cabinet. On October 21 he told the president that U.S. strategic possibilities had been ‘‘revolutionized.’’
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 13 Oct 2020 09:14

Tom from Cornwall wrote:the British First Sea Lord and CIGS... recommended ... resources to be deployed to the Far East
I have two big issues with your reasoning:
  • 1. The "Far East" is a big area - Karachi to Christchurch is 50% farther than London to Los Angeles. A commitment to an exceedingly cheap defense of India is nothing like a commitment to the exceedingly expensive offensives that America launched in the South/Southwest Pacfic in '42-'43. It's like saying Pershing's Mexico expedition was part of the Western Front. A commitment to defending Australia's LoC is closer to the mark but defense is far afield of the aforementioned offensives.
    .
    .
    .
  • 2. British leadership opposed OTL American deployments in the Pacific. The historical record is absolutely, 100% clear here:
    By this time [Sept '42] the British were deeply concerned over not only what Dykes [secretary to British COS] labeled
    ‘‘the continuous drain of US air forces to the Pacific, which Arnold is apparently quite unable to withstand,’’
    but also the future of the entire Germany first approach.
    The cos even considered placing ‘‘on record’’ its belief that this
    strategy still held. Marshall apparently convinced the British chiefs that this would
    be counterproductive, but after listening to King at the August 22 ccs meeting
    Dykes concluded that ‘‘a fundamental difference of opinion on grand strategy’’
    clearly existed and might require direct correspondence between Churchill and
    Roosevelt.
    From Allies and Adversaries

    And American Pacific strategy was in splendid isolation from British desires, if you consider lying splendid. Here's O'Brien narrating an illustrative exchange at Casablanca:
    King then stepped in with his whopper.

    ADMIRAL KING said that according to his estimates we were at
    present engaging only 15 percent of our total resources against the
    Japanese ...34

    Of course, at the time, the United States was, if anything, spending
    slightly more than 50 percent of its resources against Japan, and when
    it came to the United States Navy in particular, this figure was well over
    two-thirds. Even adding in the British, this percentage would have been
    far too low. King had to know this, though interestingly this percentage
    was never challenged either by the British or by Marshall or Arnold. In
    fact, Alanbrooke and the British, who were worried by the thrust of
    American thinking, moved the talk away from hard percentages to
    general concepts.35 As the conference went on, the British chiefs
    seemed reluctant to challenge King on the Pacific question at all, and
    focused on attacking Marshall’s plan for an invasion of France in 1943.
    King was kind of bastard (though brilliant) but there's no reason to lie to your allies about what you're doing unless you think they'd oppose what you're doing.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:charts for US Army personnel and cargo shipping
Don't forget about logistics...

Again, shipping the men and cargo to Oz required ~twice as much shipping capacity, per unit, as did Bolero. Shipping capacity was the operative constraint on W.Allied activity in our period.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2862
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 13 Oct 2020 19:52

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
13 Oct 2020 09:14
I have two big issues with your reasoning:
No problem, although I'm not so sure I was reasoning...at least we are now talking about strategic choices though. :wink:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
13 Oct 2020 09:14
A commitment to an exceedingly cheap defense of India is nothing like a commitment to the exceedingly expensive offensives that America launched in the South/Southwest Pacfic in '42-'43.
You'll notice I was talking about strategic assessments made in March 1942 - with the information to hand at the time. Once Singapore had fallen the British talked about defending "core interests" in the Far East (and yes, it's a big place and includes more than just India... :) ). I'm not sure the British COS would agree with your comment about the cheapness of the defence of India either.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
13 Oct 2020 09:14
British leadership opposed OTL American deployments in the Pacific. The historical record is absolutely, 100% clear here
That's great, thanks, and I would certainly mainly agree. But the quote you provide is dated Sep 42, whilst the appreciation I offered was dated Mar 42 and clearly impacts on your "100% historical record" statement. Clearly the situation in Sep 42 was not the same as in Mar 42, so the fact that strategic choices were not identical between those dates is hardly surprising IMHO.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
13 Oct 2020 09:14
And American Pacific strategy was in splendid isolation from British desires
I'll leave judgements on American strategy to those who are more deeply read into the US primary sources, but can offer some indication that the British government couldn't ignore the indications of its dominions in the series of telegrams that Churchill sent to the President of South Africa, and the PMs of Australia and NZ on 2 Dec 42 which record [Churchill Papers 1942 volume, pp.1470-1471]:
WSC to Smuts: We were rather surprised by your decision to bring the whole 1st South Africa Division back to South Africa for leave and reorganisation...Shipping them back will be a further strain on our resources. Australian 9th Division has been recalled and probably New Zealand Division will follow [after considerable persuasion by UK and US this didn't in the event happen]. We shall have to cannibalise at least one of the British divisions owing to reduction in WS convoys...
WSC to Curtin: I and my professional advisors are very sorry that you continue to press for the move of the 9th Australian Division, which we do not consider is in accordance with the general strategic interests of the United Nations.
2. Nevertheless, in accordance with your wishes, I shall recommend to the President that the 9th Australian Division returns to Australia as soon as shipping can be provided. This will probably be early in the New Year. I may say that it will involve a loss to us in personnel shipping lift of 10,000 men in the WS convoys and 20,000 in the trans-Atlantic build-up for the invasion of the Continent...
[...]
4. You will like to know that in response to an urgent request by the Americans for naval help in the Pacific, we are proposing to offer them the two modern armoured aircraft carriers Victorious and Indomitable under the command of a British admiral, for service under American orders in the Pacific. These are among the most vital units we possess. We have only four of this class. We are asking for Ranger from the Atlantic in exchange. I hope this movement will provide an additional and important reinsurance for the safety of Australia.
Re grand-strategic choices in 1942 and how the appreciation of where priorities should lie changed (at least for the British) through the year, I would point you to the note produced by Churchill for the British COS on 3 December 1942 (COS Paper No. 429 (O)). After a discussion of the strategic choices made through the year which covers the 'Bolero', 'Sledgehammer', 'Round-up' and 'Torch' decisions, shipping losses, etc, he makes the statement:
Recent most important events have altered, and are altering, the data on which thought on both sides of the Atlantic has hitherto proceeded.


and goes on to argue that due to these actual (and likely further) changes in circumstances:
I am therefore of opinion that the whole position must be completely resurveyed, with the object of finding means of engaging United States and British armies directly upon the Continent.
One question - when you state that your thesis is:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
13 Oct 2020 02:34
the W.Allies sought to avoid ground combat as much as possible for political - not military/strategic - reasons,
Do you include the period from June 1940 to June 1941 when the British had plenty of military/strategic reasons not to try to launch large scale operations in NW Europe?

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2862
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 13 Oct 2020 19:58

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Oct 2020 01:28
It was a farcical (and racist) under-estimation of Japanese capabilities, after all, that led to the strategic crisis addressed in the two papers.
I'm rather surprised that you offer such a one-dimensional and simplistic interpretation of pre-war British assessment of Japanese capabilities. There is a considerable body of scholarship which offers a much more nuanced view. I'd be happy to point you to some of that if you are interested.

Regards

Tom

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 01:24

Tom from Cornwall wrote:You'll notice I was talking about strategic assessments made in March 1942
Yes, I noticed that you've not been addressing the later efforts in the Pacific. My point is that you've been using statements regarding limited defensive efforts in early-42 to justify (or ignore) the massive Pacific efforts in later '42 and '43 that were the real drain on W.Allied efforts in Europe.
we are proposing to offer them the two modern armoured aircraft carriers Victorious and Indomitable under the command of a British admiral, for service under American orders in the Pacific.
Do we have more information on this proposal? I can see King having a massive problem with it, given his ridiculous hatred of the British (he seems a very hateful man).

Had the Americans operated with a couple more CV's in the Southwest Pacific after Midway there'd have been no chance of the Japanese getting anywhere. W.Allies could have sat tight there without large commitments of land/air forces, trusting that they owned the seas. With Allied control of the seas, Japan would have posed no more threat Australia than Germany did to the Falklands.
I'm rather surprised that you offer such a one-dimensional and simplistic interpretation of pre-war British assessment of Japanese capabilities.
I didn't offer a comprehensive review of British strategy. Nonetheless, two facts can't be denied IMO: (1) British 1941 Pacific strategy failed spectacularly and (2) racism played a role.
Winston Churchill wrote:Recent most important events have altered, and are altering, the data on which thought on both sides of the Atlantic has hitherto proceeded.
This is no doubt true - strategy was constantly in flux and always is as events happen. IMO you're continuously invoking strategic flux without looking deeper at the causes of strategy.

Strategy is always in service of goals.

Had the W.Allied goal been to liberate Europe ASAP, the strategy would have been different at each historical point.

In fact the only high W.Allied leader deeply committed to fighting the Germans on land was Marshall - and most of the U.S. army. The British were nearly unanimously against it, FDR vacillated, Arnold was against it, King briefly favored it.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 14 Oct 2020 03:54, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 7544
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Michael Kenny » 14 Oct 2020 03:16

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Oct 2020 01:24


Do we have more information on this proposal? I can see King having a massive problem with it, given his ridiculous hatred of the British (he seems a very hateful man).
Been covered here many times over the years. USS Batman or something like that......................

viewtopic.php?f=113&t=109705&

viewtopic.php?p=929046#p929046

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 03:44

Michael Kenny wrote:
14 Oct 2020 03:16
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Oct 2020 01:24


Do we have more information on this proposal? I can see King having a massive problem with it, given his ridiculous hatred of the British (he seems a very hateful man).
Been covered here many times over the years. USS Batman or something like that......................

viewtopic.php?f=113&t=109705&

viewtopic.php?p=929046#p929046
Thanks but this relates to mid-'43. Were there discussions related to '42 deployments of British CV's to South Pacific?

(edited to reflect mis-dating of Churchill's message to Australia)
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 14 Oct 2020 10:31, edited 1 time in total.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 3772
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Takao » 14 Oct 2020 08:46

A post who held several personal insults was removed. Behave or I lock the thread for any more discussion. Read the AHF rules if you have problem with that. We want this to be a nice Forum to visit.

//Georg

User avatar
Terry Duncan
Forum Staff
Posts: 6070
Joined: 13 Jun 2008 22:54
Location: Kent

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Terry Duncan » 14 Oct 2020 14:53

Takao,

Please avoid making personal comments about other members. There has been a tendency for feelings to run higher than normal lately so a period of quiet reflection and strict observance of the rules will hopefully avoid any unpleasantness.

Terry

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 3772
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Takao » 14 Oct 2020 15:04

Sorry Terry, that was not my intention.

Let me rephrase so as not to offend any one.

Mr. Marcks is in error concerning HMS VICTORIOUS. The request for a British aircraft carrier was made by Admiral Stark on October 28, 1942 - fitting with his post-Midway & Mr. Cornwall's Churchill quote from December, 1942. The British initially decline, since they only have 4 operational fleet carriers, and 3 of those are scheduled for Operation Torch. After much back & forth, the British finally agree to the American request in early December 42. The HMS VICTORIOUS sails to the continental US for refit & upgrading. Then, it is on to Pearl Harbor for a minor refit, and several months of training. It is May, 1943 before HMS VICTORIOUS arrives in the area of operations - 7 months after the original request. Thus, following a similar timeline, with an American request, immediately following Midway(June, 1942), one or more British carriers would join the American fight in the Pacific sometime in early 1943.

Mr.Marcks seems to be under the misguided belief that the British will immediately transfer one or more of their few fleet carriers to the US Navy. He is also under the misguided belief that the British carriers will be able to immediately fight alongside American carriers without any working up period & training so that the carriers from two different navies with different operating procedures will be able to effectively fight their Japanese opponents.

Hopefully, I have not offended anyone this time around.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Banned
Posts: 3255
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 14 Oct 2020 15:18

Takao wrote:
14 Oct 2020 15:04
Sorry Terry, that was not my intention.

Let me rephrase so as not to offend any one.

Mr. Marcks is in error concerning HMS VICTORIOUS. The request for a British aircraft carrier was made by Admiral Stark on October 28, 1942 - fitting with his post-Midway & Mr. Cornwall's Churchill quote from December, 1942. The British initially decline, since they only have 4 operational fleet carriers, and 3 of those are scheduled for Operation Torch. After much back & forth, the British finally agree to the American request in early December 42. The HMS VICTORIOUS sails to the continental US for refit & upgrading. Then, it is on to Pearl Harbor for a minor refit, and several months of training. It is May, 1943 before HMS VICTORIOUS arrives in the area of operations - 7 months after the original request. Thus, following a similar timeline, with an American request, immediately following Midway(June, 1942), one or more British carriers would join the American fight in the Pacific sometime in early 1943.

Mr.Marcks seems to be under the misguided belief that the British will immediately transfer one or more of their few fleet carriers to the US Navy. He is also under the misguided belief that the British carriers will be able to immediately fight alongside American carriers without any working up period & training so that the carriers from two different navies with different operating procedures will be able to effectively fight their Japanese opponents.

Hopefully, I have not offended anyone this time around.
Mr. Marcks thanks you for pointing out the correct date of Churchill's letter and for providing additional information about the proposed CV deployment - the information that Mr. Marcks specifically requested.

These facts still reflect an underlying strategy that was not committed to fighting in Europe as an urgent priority - especially on the British side: Torch tied up three British carriers, Torch was a diversion from a focus on landing in France ASAP.
https://twitter.com/themarcksplan
https://www.reddit.com/r/AxisHistoryForum/
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 7544
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Michael Kenny » 14 Oct 2020 15:41

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Oct 2020 15:18

Mr. Marcks thanks you for pointing out the correct date of Churchill's letter and for providing additional information about the proposed CV deployment - the information that Mr. Marcks specifically requested.
I had (mistakenly it seems) assumed that interested parties would use the info I gave to do a bit of research of their own and would have found the dates. However it appears that the limited info in the links fitted an agenda and so was immediately dismissed and discarded.

Also this 'third person' way of posting is distracting.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9374
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Oct 2020 17:10

Michael Kenny wrote:
14 Oct 2020 15:41
...

I had (mistakenly it seems) assumed that interested parties would use the info I gave to do a bit of research of their own and would have found the dates. However it appears that the limited info in the links fitted an agenda and so was immediately dismissed and discarded.

Also this 'third person' way of posting is distracting.
Which is why a increase in the people claiming to ignore. Traditionally there are only two ways to to respond to posts with the behavior you describe. One is to dispationatly, clearly, and rigorously document/describe the errors, misstatements, distortions, resurfacing of disproven evidence, ect... That is time consuming & demanding of a lot of self discipline. Any personal references ect... will distract & even discredit the scholarship. The alternate is to ignore the suspect posts and focus on more productive dialogue here. That also requires a bit of self discipline, tho not at the Zen like levels needed for the first option. About anything else is likely to drift into emotional responses, personal disrespect & other baggage not needed here. Hopefully folks will make better choices.

For a variety of reasons there is no consensus among the moderators for finding or enforcing a scholarship standard on AHF. So its necessary we exercise some self discipline in dealing with poor practices from amateurs like myself or from people who claim know better.

Thanks for your cooperation

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 2862
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

Re: USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 14 Oct 2020 19:42

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Oct 2020 01:24
Yes, I noticed that you've not been addressing the later efforts in the Pacific. My point is that you've been using statements regarding limited defensive efforts in early-42 to justify (or ignore) the massive Pacific efforts in later '42 and '43 that were the real drain on W.Allied efforts in Europe.
Well, you posted these charts: :D
Flow of US Army tps and Cargo - Dec 41 - Apr 43.png
And from your opening statement in the OP, I'd assumed that early 1942 was the period in question:
What if the U.S. had devoted, say, twice as many resources - 40% instead of 20% - to building up its army for large-scale invasion of Europe ASAP?
Or by ASAP were you actually talking about building up forces in the UK in later '42 and '43. I wish you'd made that clearer. :)

it's also worth pointing out that I never claimed to be addressing "later efforts in the Pacific" nor trying to "justify (or ignore)" anything. In fact I must just pop off and check the definition of a STRAWMAN again.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Oct 2020 01:24
I didn't offer a comprehensive review of British strategy.
Nor did I suggest that you had. Another strawman. What I suggested was that your description of alleged underestimation of the Japanese threat as "farcical and racist" was a gross simplification. You seem to recognise this now and I would agree that 'racism played a role' in some of the intelligence assessments but there was much more to it than that.

I note your opinion that:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
14 Oct 2020 01:24
(1) British 1941 Pacific strategy failed spectacularly
but wouldn't necessarily agree. Do you mean British Far East strategy as articulated in early 1941, during the summer when plans were being made to reinforce the Far East in response to the Japanese move into French Indo-china or late 1941 strategy when the imminence of war became undeniable but Russia was still fighting and after Lend Lease and Anglo-US staff talks about co-ordination of defence against Japan?

Name a date and then we can debate further. :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Return to “What if”