USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Apr 2020 16:50

Sheldrake wrote:
07 Apr 2020 08:37
T. A. Gardner wrote:
07 Apr 2020 01:00
One of the weirder aspects of British tank production is the Covenanter. The British produced about 1400 of these tanks but well before production ceased, considered them unfit for combat. Yet, they produced four different 'Marks." Clearly, producing a tank unfit for combat in sufficient numbers to equip several armored divisions is little short of insane.
It is what can happen if you appoint an influential "can do political figure" as a production czar with a target of maximising an arbitrary number.
That was a factor, but none the sole or even primary reason. The real reason the Covenantor was built, and why 1,728 of them in four nearly identical marks were built was because the War Office and 10 Downing Street felt they had no other real option in terms of the numbers they felt needed to be built in order to defend Britain from a German invasion. It was the same reasoning behind delaying the 6-pdr AT and continuing full production of the 2-pdr. It was a case of them hoping that it was true that quantity had a quality all its own. In any event, it was planned to rework all of them to do a comprehensive fix to correct the problems, but by the time the fixes were ready to implement in February 1942, American Lend-Lease provided a simpler solution.

Again, I highly recommend Coombs' work for a complete understanding of these dynamics.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 07 Apr 2020 19:38

TMP.

In addition to offering an understanding of the behaviour of the Italian and Japanese empires in this scenario, could you also confirm that when you say:
Military spending and doctrine favors control of sea communications, securing air superiority, and cumulative army combat power over strategic bombing and peripheral operations.
That you are also including long-range ASW aircraft in your assessment of what military equipment would have to be dropped in order of priority? Wasn't that mostly derived from long-range bomber aircraft specifically designed and built to support the strategic bombing campaign and then diverted against much opposition to long-range convoy escort?

And can you define what, in 1940-1943, were those "peripheral operations" that would have had to be dumped, what impact their abandonment would have had on the Allied global position and what impact their abandonment would have had on Axis strategic decisions.

It's also worth noting that from Feb 42 to Jun 43 (apart from 'one short interruption' in Dec 42 - Jan 43), B-Dienst were reading a 'large proportion' of 'the cypher which carried the bulk of Allied communications about the north Atlantic convoys'. Very unlikely then, that the build-up for a 1942 or 1943 cross-Channel invasion would have been as equally poorly assessed by German intelligence agencies as 'OVERLORD' was in the historical reality.

Regards

Tom

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Apr 2020 22:21

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
07 Apr 2020 19:38
...

It's also worth noting that from Feb 42 to Jun 43 (apart from 'one short interruption' in Dec 42 - Jan 43), B-Dienst were reading a 'large proportion' of 'the cypher which carried the bulk of Allied communications about the north Atlantic convoys'. Very unlikely then, that the build-up for a 1942 or 1943 cross-Channel invasion would have been as equally poorly assessed by German intelligence agencies as 'OVERLORD' was in the historical reality. ...
Indeed. Cant make the classic mistake of leaving the enemy unreactive. It has to be recognized that even with the multiple deception operations going on in 1944 the core German assessment was correct at the strategic level. They recognized a invasion was oncoming in the late Spring or early Summer, & that would be the west Allied main effort. German miscalculation was more towards the small strategy or operational level. The actual location/s, the nature of preiphrial operations, ie: Norway, Bordeaux, Genoa were deception targets taken seriously by the senior German leaders. Timing of course. But at the bottom line its difficult to see anything that will mask general preparation for a 1943 cross Channel attack. So we'd have to expect a larger German ground force in the west than is usually attributed in discussions of such a 1943 operation. Or at least a better equipped, trained & hence more capable field army in the west.

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

Post by Terry Duncan » 07 Apr 2020 22:53

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
07 Apr 2020 22:21
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
07 Apr 2020 19:38
...

It's also worth noting that from Feb 42 to Jun 43 (apart from 'one short interruption' in Dec 42 - Jan 43), B-Dienst were reading a 'large proportion' of 'the cypher which carried the bulk of Allied communications about the north Atlantic convoys'. Very unlikely then, that the build-up for a 1942 or 1943 cross-Channel invasion would have been as equally poorly assessed by German intelligence agencies as 'OVERLORD' was in the historical reality. ...
Indeed. Cant make the classic mistake of leaving the enemy unreactive. It has to be recognized that even with the multiple deception operations going on in 1944 the core German assessment was correct at the strategic level. They recognized a invasion was oncoming in the late Spring or early Summer, & that would be the west Allied main effort. German miscalculation was more towards the small strategy or operational level. The actual location/s, the nature of preiphrial operations, ie: Norway, Bordeaux, Genoa were deception targets taken seriously by the senior German leaders. Timing of course. But at the bottom line its difficult to see anything that will mask general preparation for a 1943 cross Channel attack. So we'd have to expect a larger German ground force in the west than is usually attributed in discussions of such a 1943 operation. Or at least a better equipped, trained & hence more capable field army in the west.
There would also be larger German reserves available too, and Citadel may well not even be considered if the threat of an invasion is obvious to the Germans.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 07 Apr 2020 23:16

Tough call. Op CITADEL was run despite the very recent collapse in Tunisia, the impending invasion of Sicilly & Sardinia (the Germans thought Sardinia was the primary target that summer). Plus the rapidly weakening Italian morale and government. Hitler was consistent in trying to have it both ways. So, he might have still tried to execute Op CITADEL & then canceled it were a invasion to start. Its what he did with the situation developing the the Mediterranean. A third possibility is he orders a attenuated early CITADEL operation to go forward in April or May, hoping for a successful tho smaller spoiling attack, & then turns to reinforcing the west. Either of the second two falls between two stools, something Hitler was good at. A fourth scenario has Allied deception ops turning Ops BRIMSTONE & HUSKY into a deception, drawing German reserves in yet another direction.

But, we'd still have to count on more than token reinforcements to the ground forces in France whatever else happens on other fronts.

Of course the strategic & operational situation was very different in the air, but there seems to be a allergy in all these discussions against including that in calculation of strength and outcomes.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Apr 2020 03:25

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
07 Apr 2020 16:28
TMP,

Could you add to your initial sketch a bullet point to show what you are presuming Italy and Japan do in your ‘What If’. Do they follow their historical path, invasion of Egypt and Greece in 1940 for former and attack on British and American empires in Dec 1941 for latter, for example?

BTW thanks for book review with which you started and sample pages. It’s now on my ever-increasing list.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
07 Apr 2020 19:38
TMP.

In addition to offering an understanding of the behaviour of the Italian and Japanese empires in this scenario, could you also confirm that when you say:
Military spending and doctrine favors control of sea communications, securing air superiority, and cumulative army combat power over strategic bombing and peripheral operations.
That you are also including long-range ASW aircraft in your assessment of what military equipment would have to be dropped in order of priority? Wasn't that mostly derived from long-range bomber aircraft specifically designed and built to support the strategic bombing campaign and then diverted against much opposition to long-range convoy escort?

And can you define what, in 1940-1943, were those "peripheral operations" that would have had to be dumped, what impact their abandonment would have had on the Allied global position and what impact their abandonment would have had on Axis strategic decisions.

It's also worth noting that from Feb 42 to Jun 43 (apart from 'one short interruption' in Dec 42 - Jan 43), B-Dienst were reading a 'large proportion' of 'the cypher which carried the bulk of Allied communications about the north Atlantic convoys'. Very unlikely then, that the build-up for a 1942 or 1943 cross-Channel invasion would have been as equally poorly assessed by German intelligence agencies as 'OVERLORD' was in the historical reality.
As said my OP was a "sketch and invitation to discussion" about the particular land strength that the Wallies could have deployed in Northwest Europe given the strategic orientation specified. This forum tends away from discussion and towards partisanship of different flavors (though mostly Wallyboo) but maybe we can change that.

So to answer your question about filling out what I mean, I'll present one version of filling out and invite you or others to revise/critique and/or present alternatives.

At the highest level of "earlier European invasion" there are two broad flavors - 1942 (Sledgehammer) and 1943 (Roundup). Either results in Hitler dead by Spring '44 IMO.

For this stab at the discussion, let's look at a May '43 Roundup and one version of peripheral ops foregone to achieve it:

Gymnast?

IMO Gymnast is probably still compatible with May '43 Roundup given (1) less forces sent to the Pacific and (2) my strategic-production orientation. Instead of digging into that topic now, however, let's just scrap Gymnast and therefore Husky as well. Italy remains in the war and behaves as OTL.

Britain goes ahead with the Alamein buildup as in OTL. Probably after the landings in France, a weak Allied taskforce can swing the Vichy forces in North Africa onto the good side. Either way, Rommel's not going anywhere and if the DAK surrenders Tripoli with Berlin in '44 it's not a massive strategic difference. Most likely they'd try to evacuate before then, once the Wallied armies are firmly established in France.

Pacific peripheral operations

As already mentioned, most U.S. Army troops went to the Pacific in the first half of '42. For the purposes of Roundup '43 that's not a huge factor but it would be regarding Sledgehammer '42.

I'd include basically all Pacific land-based operations as "peripheral" for the purposes of this discussion. Admiral King was paranoid about the Japanese conquering Australia ("A white man's country" and therefore intolerable to lose) but it was insane to believe that the Japanese could have done so. Given that King was a strategically brilliant - if duplicitous - man, I doubt he really believed Australia might fall and instead used inflammatory language to convince Roosevelt to prioritize his Pacific domain.

The U.S. sent several divisions to Australia IIRC, plus the forces on Guadalcanal. Also beefed up Alaska to a seemingly unwarranted degree and, despite that, still lost some Aleutians. As cargo turnaround times to the Southwest Pacific were far greater than to the UK, each ton of supplies/equipment/troops sent there cost about twice as much in shipping capacity as an equivalent amount sent to the UK. So removing, say, 250k troops from the Southwest Pacific means you can ship 500k to UK.

What does that mean in concrete terms for the Pacific? As with Gymnast, instead of digging into the dirt too much, let's say the U.S. adopts an almost purely naval-based holding strategy in the Pacific. We land a weak force on Guadalcanal, don't reinforce Australia to such a large degree, and just hold the line at sea during the first half of '43. None of the victories in the Southwest Pacific had any deep strategic value; the Central Pacific campaign that kicked off in early '44 was when things really got moving. With a landing in Europe in '43, that Central Pacific drive can probably use most of the landing craft redeployed from Europe.

--------------------

Re ASW aircraft: Yes, some of the long-range capability came from B-24's redeployed from anticipated strategic bombing. But not that many. On January 1, 1943, Coastal Command had 40 Liberators assigned to ASW. Some limited production of heavy bombers would continue, just in the hundreds instead of the thousands. The Catalinas almost certainly contributed more to ASW than the heavies due to greater numbers.



In my next post I'll try to put some more numerical analysis to the possible strength of ATL Roundup.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Apr 2020 04:56

How big a force could the Wallies have landed in May '43 under my strategic orientation?

First, let's look at the economics of landing craft production and consider the impact of doubling OTL landing craft production up to mid-43. Here's a chart of OTL US landing craft production:

Image

As you can see, landing craft production ran high in latter '42 when Roundup was still on the planning horizon but ramped down in the first half of '43 after Casablanca and Roundup's deferral. The trend is somewhat obscured by the high nominal numbers and upward trend in the LCVP category (Higgins Boats) but these were the smallest of the listed craft. One LST had the landing capacity of hundreds of LCVP's by weight (not sure about the price ratios - anybody have data?).

Per O'Brien, the U.S. spent $416mil on landing craft in the first half of '43. p57. That's about 1.8% of total U.S. military production of $22.6bn in the first half of 1943:

Image

How much would it cost to produce landing craft sufficient to land 10 divisions on D-Day in May '43? I'm framing that landing force size - 67% larger than OTL D-Day - to give the widest birth in addressing member's points about German reinforcement of France in '43, btw.

To answer my question we could do a lot of work converting troops and tonnage into specific landing craft but instead let's use a shortcut: Upthread O'Brien says a 5-division landing in France was possible had the U.S. concentrated its extant landing craft lift. From that basis, we can estimate that twice OTL U.S. landing craft production by mid-'43 would be required to land 10 divisions.

Given that first-half '43 production cost $416mil, I estimate that all U.S. production up to that point cost no more than $1.2bn: In nominal terms, 1Q2Q '43 production was ~40% of all production in nominal terms. Pro-rating from nominal to total would gives us ~$1bn expenditure. But as discussed already, cheaper LCVP's inflated '43 nominal landing craft production over its true value, so $1.2bn seems like a better estimate.

Whether it's 1.2 or 1.5bn to double total pre-May '43 landing craft construction, that's not quite 5% of OTL U.S. armaments spending up to mid-43 (>$31bn total). Maintaining a uniformly high level of landing craft production through mid-'43 would also have been more efficient than the OTL path of surging production in '42, slashing it in '43, then frantically ramping back up in advance of the '44 campaigns.

Note also that $1.5bn is the exact amount shifted in American procurement budgets to greater escort construction during latter '42, due to the trauma of the disaster in U.S. waters in early '42. Because the U.S. avoids that disaster by focusing on the Atlantic in this ATL, the additional landing craft can be largely "free" for the purposes of our ATL military budget and priorities.


So it seems pretty clear to me that the U.S. could easily have managed to mount a massive landing in '43 at scale far larger even than OTL D-Day.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 08 Apr 2020 05:14, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Apr 2020 05:08

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Apr 2020 15:49
Gee, I wonder why "American personnel deployment to the Pacific far exceeded that to Europe" from 7 December 1941 to about 7 June 1942? I guess I'll have to look that up and get back to y'all. :roll: :roll: :roll:
Does anyone else share the opinion that passive-aggressive, non-quoting, emoji-using subtweets of a post are less useful than engaging substantively the analytical/strategic arguments presented?

Mr. Anderson implies that Pearl Harbor compelled the U.S. to commit disproportionately to the Pacific in early '42 despite its publicly-stated "Germany First" position. But he makes no argument for why that's so. Like what strategic disasters would have befallen the U.S. had it not dispatched most of its forward-deployed land forces to the Pacific in early '42? Had it kept a dozen or so destroyers in the Atlantic to protect its vital sea lanes?

My guess is there is no such argument presented because we all know there is no such argument possible. Emojis are no more a substitute for strategic analysis than are acronyms.

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

Post by Terry Duncan » 08 Apr 2020 10:19

Maybe you can both cease with the need to make personal comments, either via emoji or directly? We can all get tempted into sarcasm or worse at times, but when it becomes more than the odd time it starts to become a problem. With everyone locked down at present we really do not want to see flame wars breaking out here, and the time people have on their hands can be more profitably spent creating an actual refutation of a point you disagree with.

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

Post by Sheldrake » 08 Apr 2020 14:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Apr 2020 05:08
Mr. Anderson implies that Pearl Harbor compelled the U.S. to commit disproportionately to the Pacific in early '42 despite its publicly-stated "Germany First" position. But he makes no argument for why that's so. Like what strategic disasters would have befallen the U.S. had it not dispatched most of its forward-deployed land forces to the Pacific in early '42? Had it kept a dozen or so destroyers in the Atlantic to protect its vital sea lanes?
1. The USA was not a single entity capable of acting like a single rational human

Let us start with the assumption that there is a single entity called the USA and it makes rational decisions as if it were a single rational person. This is called the rational model of strategy formulation. It is a commonplace in casual discussions about business, history and international affairs. This is flawed as countries are made up of individuals with their own personal goals, who belong to institutions their their interests procedures and culture. Furthermore the interpersonal relationships between the key decision makers makes a difference. The key reading is Graham T Allison's study of the Cuban Missile Crisis "Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis"

The USA was a democracy. His Republican opponents would be keen to challenge FDR on any weakness. Within the country there were important political interests in the pacific and China. The Army and the navy had different institutional interests in the war in Europe, which the army would lead and the Pacific, where the Navy would lead. The President had limited powers to fore the Navy to carry out tasks which Admiral King did not want to do. King could not disobey a direct order, but could find very good reasons why such and such was impossible to fulfil. The Army Air Corps and aviation lobby seriously believed that war could be won by strategic bombing. A heavy handed strategy that did not take the institutions with FDR might have led to Douglas Macarthur elected President of a Republican administration on a Pacific First ticket.

If you have ever tried to persuade an organisation to do something how learn to compromise and steer a strategy through what could be described as corridors of indifference. Whatever clever single minded strategy had been proposed it was very unlikely to be adopted wholeheartedly and implemented with the ruthlessness proposed in the OP

2. Events

Harold MacMillan a British Prime Minister was once asked what was the most difficult part of his job. His reply was " Events, dear boy, Events." The results of the ABC conferences was a rational choice of a Germany First Strategy. The events of the first half of 1942 made a nonsense of offensive strategy. As Brooke wrote of Marshall's proposals for offensive action in Europe in 1942 in his 14 April 1942 diary entry.
"They have not begun to understand the implications of this plan and all the difficulties that lie ahead of us!"
He subsequently noted against this diary entry,
"It must be remembered that at that time we were hanging on by our eyelids! Australia and India were threatened by the Japanese, we had temporarily lost control of the Indian Ocean, The Germans were threatening Persia and our oil, Auckinlek was in precarious straits in the desert, and the submarine sinkings were heavy. Under these circumstances we were temporarily on the defensive."
There was no option to simply ignore the Japanese.

3. Allies

The USA did not wage war alone, but as part of an alliance created with the British called the United Nations. The author of the work may have convinced the OP that his ideas were sound, but he would need to obtain the agreement of the Joint Combined Chiefs of Staff including Brooke, a professional staff officer with a first rate brain backed by a well trained staff. Brooke believed that
"We were desperately short of shipping and could stage no large scale operations without additional shipping. This shipping could only be obtained by opening the Mediterranean and saving a million tons of shipping through eliminating the Cape route.
Unless the work promoted by the OP can solve this problem to the satisfaction of Brookie it would be doomed. How does the plan to invest a greater proportion of effort into the US Army create an additional million tons of merchant shipping?

The allied strategy for |WW2 worked quite well, given that the broad strategy followed was Europe first.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 08 Apr 2020 17:05, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 08 Apr 2020 16:03

TMP wrote: As said my OP was a "sketch and invitation to discussion" about the particular land strength that the Wallies could have deployed in Northwest Europe given the strategic orientation specified.
Indeed, but your initial sketch left the details of transporting this land strength to NW Europe and assaulting a ATL German defence extremely vague.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Apr 2020 03:25
For this stab at the discussion, let's look at a May '43 Roundup and one version of peripheral ops foregone to achieve it:

Gymnast?

IMO Gymnast is probably still compatible with May '43 Roundup given (1) less forces sent to the Pacific and (2) my strategic-production orientation. Instead of digging into that topic now, however, let's just scrap Gymnast and therefore Husky as well. Italy remains in the war and behaves as OTL.
OK, so what impact on German strategic planning does the scrapping of any Allied threat to southern Europe have? No Gymnast, no potential for Husky, no chance of strategic deception shielding intention of US to launch an invasion across the Channel. Do you agree with that? So absolutely no need for German forces to be as weak as in OTL in NW Europe.

Additionally, you argue that "Britain goes ahead with the Alamein buildup as in OTL" - I take it that this British Empire build-up is without any US support - no Shermans, no SP guns, no ammunition, no explosives, no aircraft, no tins of peaches? Have you considered how the Australians would react without US troops being deployed in Australia. In the OTL they withdrew most of their forces in the Middle East, in your ATL it should be expected that they would remove all of their forces (land, sea and air).
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Apr 2020 03:25
Either way, Rommel's not going anywhere
Well maybe, but maybe he goes to Cairo and Alexandria against a resource starved Eighth Army and Mussolini would have been able to ride into the city on his white horse. Would that cause any diversion of American resources?
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Apr 2020 03:25
Admiral King was paranoid about the Japanese conquering Australia ("A white man's country" and therefore intolerable to lose) but it was insane to believe that the Japanese could have done so.
Why? What (or should that be who?) was to stop them trying in your ATL?
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Apr 2020 03:25
Re ASW aircraft: Yes, some of the long-range capability came from B-24's redeployed from anticipated strategic bombing. But not that many. On January 1, 1943, Coastal Command had 40 Liberators assigned to ASW. Some limited production of heavy bombers would continue, just in the hundreds instead of the thousands. The Catalinas almost certainly contributed more to ASW than the heavies due to greater numbers.
OK, so the B-24 programme would have happened in your ATL then? Despite the low priority given to strategic bombing and the fact that the B-24 was developed through a pre-war strategic bombing concept? The Catalinas were good, true, but it was the Liberators (despite their relatively small numbers) who closed the Atlantic Air-Gap due to their longer range and ability to remain on station at VLR for much greater time. By Oct 42, two U Boat wolfpacks were permanently stationed in the "Air Gap" (and therefore out of reach of other land-based aircraft) and it was the VLR Liberators which played a key role in the defeat of the U-boats in May and September 1943.

I'm not entirely sure that you have thought through the air power argument over NW Europe either to be honest. An Allied invasion in either 1942 or 1943 would have faced a much more challenging tactical air situation - and there are plenty of examples of the challenges that naval forces face when operating in less than total air superiority for there to be concern about the ability of the Allied navies to provide similar levels of naval support to any landing forces.

Finally, I seem to recall that FDR squashed the cancellation of TORCH by pointing out that it was simply not acceptable for US troops not to be fighting against the Germans until 1943 - both for public opinion in USA and also in light of Soviet sacrifices. Is there anything in your ATL that would overcome that challenge?

Regards

Tom

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Apr 2020 17:23

Sheldrake wrote:
08 Apr 2020 14:08
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
08 Apr 2020 05:08
Mr. Anderson implies that Pearl Harbor compelled the U.S. to commit disproportionately to the Pacific in early '42 despite its publicly-stated "Germany First" position. But he makes no argument for why that's so. Like what strategic disasters would have befallen the U.S. had it not dispatched most of its forward-deployed land forces to the Pacific in early '42? Had it kept a dozen or so destroyers in the Atlantic to protect its vital sea lanes?
1. The USA was not a single entity capable of acting like a single rational human
2. Events
3. Allies
Beyond that I had a very legitimate question, which apparently got completely misunderstood and dismissed as "sarcasm". So why would I ask such a "sarcastic" question? Well, if it gets answered, then it might be understood.

The OP likes to imply things that simply aren't there, instead of answering simple questions.

1. Did I state that "Pearl Harbor compelled the U.S. to commit" forces?

No, that is the OP's inference, not my implication. My implication is that the Japanese attack resulted in a series of deployment decisions by strategic planners in the U.S.

2. Were those decisions all correct in hindsight?

Probably not, but then that is why hindsight reasoning is called 20:20.

3. Did the U.S. commit forces "disproportionately" to the Pacific in early '42? What are the facts as opposed to the rhetoric?

No. The first divisional deployments after the entry of the U.S. into the war were to secure allies and the routes to those allies. They included.

34th Infantry Division deployed to England 8 January
TF 6814 deployed to New Caledonia 23 January 1942 and there was redesignated the Americal Division 24 May
27th Infantry Division deployed to reinforce Hawaii 28 February
41st Infantry Division deployed to Australia 19 March
7th Marines deployed to Samoa 21 March
5th Infantry Division deployed to Iceland 22 April
37th Infantry Division deployed to Fiji 11 May
1st Armored Division deployed to Northern Ireland 11 May
1st Marine Division deployed to New Zealand 22 June

So three divisions deployed to Atlantic and five to the Pacific.

4. What is the argument for "why that was so?

Well, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the seizure of Hong Kong, the fall of Singapore, the landings on Luzon, the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, and the perceived threat to Australia and the sea lines of communication from Hawaii and the U.S. via Samoa and Fiji to Australia and New Zealand.

5. "What strategic disasters would have befallen the U.S." if it had not so reacted?

Well, probably none. However, frankly the question either is mired in hindsight reasoning or displays an extraordinary failure to understand the reasons for the decision-making at the time. For example, the decision to deploy the 1st MARDIV to New Zealand was based on a request from New Zealand's PM to Churchill asking for reinforcements on 24 March. That the decision was made providentially made the Marines available for an initial counteroffensive after the Japanese defeat at Midway.

6. What about the U.S. apparently not keeping "a dozen or so destroyers in the Atlantic to protect its vital sea lanes"?

This question displays such a lack of knowledge of common facts that I can only refer the poster to Clay Blair's Hitler's U-Boat War, Volume I, The Hunters, 1939-1942, Appendix 12. In fact, as of 7 December 1941 there were 92 DD commissioned in the Atlantic fleet and 54 in the Pacific fleet. From 7 December 1941 through 1 September 1942, 19 DD were transferred from the Atlantic to the Pacific, along with three carriers and six battleships. However, during the same time, 40 new DD were commissioned in Atlantic ports and just 6 in Pacific ports. So a few months after "early '42" there were 79 DD in the Pacific (minus 10 losses) and 109 in the Atlantic (minus 4 losses).

Do you really wonder why I indulged in rather mild sarcasm? As to my use of "smilies", why are they there for posters to use in the "post a reply" frame if we aren't supposed to use them?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 Apr 2020 18:01

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
08 Apr 2020 16:03
Indeed, but your initial sketch left the details of transporting this land strength to NW Europe and assaulting a ATL German defence extremely vague.
Vague? The OP "re-orients" "strategic production" by referring to a table of actual production in a book and declaring he would change it.

Image

The OP's analysis is:

"First, let's look at the economics of landing craft production and consider the impact of doubling OTL landing craft production up to mid-43.
As you can see, landing craft production ran high in latter '42 when Roundup was still on the planning horizon but ramped down in the first half of '43 after Casablanca and Roundup's deferral. The trend is somewhat obscured by the high nominal numbers and upward trend in the LCVP category (Higgins Boats) but these were the smallest of the listed craft. One LST had the landing capacity of hundreds of LCVP's by weight (not sure about the price ratios - anybody have data?)."

And then goes down the rabbit-hole of shifting monies around: "How much would it cost to produce landing craft sufficient to land 10 divisions on D-Day in May '43?"

So yes, isn't it rather remarkable that U.S. shipyards cranked out 470 LCT January 1942-January 1943...and then just stopped doing that for effectively six months? Ditto LCP (L and R) and LCV. Where they just that stupid? Apparently, the OP thinks so, since he has a better idea.

Except, perhaps it might be better to find out exactly why American strategic production planners did that? Well, the reduction in the production of the LCP and LCV is pretty simple and acknowledged by the OP...they were largely replaced in production by the much better LCVP.

However, nothing replaced the versatile LCT, the workhorse large landing craft. LST production continued, but it was not an assault landing vessel. So what gives? Why were planners so obviously stupid when all they apparently had to do was shift "orientation" and the fire hose of money?

Did anyone notice what the actual source for Appendix B-2 was? CPA, Official Munitions Production of the United States, May 1, 1947. The reason is there, p. 346, item "3. Special Programs".

The special programs--landing, vessels and destroyer escorts--constituted the Navy's most difficult problem, in that they were to be met simultaneously with the regular program.

As early as 1936, the Navy, realizing the importance of amphibious operations in modern warfare, had been experimenting with various types of landing craft. Contracts for several types of landing craft were let in 1940 and 1941, and when war actually struck on December 7, 1941 work was in progress on five -types of small landing craft. Moreover, at the request of the British, the Bureau of Ships in November 1941 had begun to develop ocean going landing ships capable of carrying and depositing large numbers of men and heavy equipment on a beachhead. Working with British consultants, the Bureau of Ships developed the landing ship, tank (LST), and let contracts for many of these ships during the first quarter of 1942.

Contracts for the first destroyer escort were let in November 1941. In January 1942, the program was stepped up, and as Germany increased both its actual submarine construction and facilities, the Bureau of Ships increased its contracts for DE's. Because of tremendous shipping losses, DE's were accorded a higher priority than landing vessels but a lower priority than other combatants. During the first quarter of 1943, DE's were being built on a mass scale in 17 yards. It should be noted, however, that by the time DE's were being completed en masse, the allied shipping losses had already dropped substantially and the submarine menace was virtually at an end.

Early in April of 1942, the two major problems facing the Navy were (1) to prepare for the invasion of Africa, and (2) to combat the submarine menace. The first plan called for landing vessels, the second for destroyer escorts. Invasion was considered of first importance and reflected in subsequent changes in ship schedules. As of April 1, 1942, 9 thousand tons of landing vessels, and 2 destroyer escorts (2,600 tons) were to be completed in 1942, but the schedule as of July 1 called for 225 thousand tons of landing vessels and no destroyer escorts due for completion in 1942. During the last quarter of 1942, the landing vessel program was again stepped up, and 6,917 vessels totaling 233 thousand tons were delivered during the year.

The Navy schedules of August 1942 indicated that both the regular and the special program could be realized in 1942, but actual deliveries fell short in both groups. Because of delayed facility expansions and lack of experience by builders, the first landing vessel program fell about a month behind schedule, attaining its peak in February 1943, with 107 thousand tons delivered in that month.

With the completion of the first landing vessel program at the beginning of 1943,the Navy concentrated its efforts on the lagging destroyer escort program; by the end of the year, 306 vessels were completed, 16 ships over the April 1, 1943, schedule. With the growing success against the German U-boats in the Atlantic, the DE program was curtailed from 1,005 authorized vessels to 565. After June 1, 1944, an additional 56 destroyer escorts in process of construction were reclassified to high speed transports (APD); by August 31, 1945, the completed portion of the DE program amounted to 504 ships, totaling 652 thousand tons.

Towards the end of 1943, as a result of' the Cairo Conference, a second and much more ambitious landing vessel program was initiated. Because contracts were awarded late and because some major changes in design for the LST were made, the program ended about20 days behind the January 1 schedule. At the end of May 1944, just before the landing in France, military requirements were practically met or exceeded for all types of landing vessels except for the LVT, which was about 10 percent behind the first-of-year schedule.May deliveries, the peak for landing vessels, amounted to 198 thousand tons.


So not decisions by purblind idiots not responding to their strategic commitments, but real world compromises, industrial bottlenecks, lack of capacity, and a lack of patience. Oh, and a rather distinct lack of prescience.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Apr 2020 20:06

Tom from Cornwall wrote:OK, so what impact on German strategic planning does the scrapping of any Allied threat to southern Europe have? No Gymnast, no potential for Husky, no chance of strategic deception shielding intention of US to launch an invasion across the Channel. Do you agree with that? So absolutely no need for German forces to be as weak as in OTL in NW Europe.
Agreed. Obviously the case for a '43 Roundup-minus-Gymnast will need to involve the strongest Roundup. Of course, no peripheral ops is conducive to the strongest Roundup.
you argue that "Britain goes ahead with the Alamein buildup as in OTL" - I take it that this British Empire build-up is without any US support
No. At least not in my ATL. "Stronger U.S. ground forces" implies weaker LL only if that's the tradeoff. As specified in the OP, my tradeoff is against the strategic bombing campaign and the Pacific. IMO providing LL aid in the form of land weaponry was very efficient for the Allied cause.
What (or should that be who?) was to stop them trying [to invade Australia] in your ATL?
The USN, minus a dozen or so DD's/DE's. Failing that, the Aussies themselves. Japan couldn't get two divisions of reinforcements to Guadalcanal; getting several times that force to Oz is several bridges too far.

The US swung wildly from a mostly-racist underestimation of Japan pre-PH to exaggerated panic in '42.
OK, so the B-24 programme would have happened in your ATL then?
Yes. Considering the ATL starts in 1940 the development cost is mostly sunk by then. In this ATL, the B-24 is more useful than B-17 because there's no plan to push thousands of heavy bombers unescorted through heavily defended skies.
it was the VLR Liberators which played a key role in the defeat of the U-boats in May and September 1943.
Agreed, one good reason we can keep a few hundred B-24's for ASW.
I'm not entirely sure that you have thought through the air power argument over NW Europe either to be honest. An Allied invasion in either 1942 or 1943 would have faced a much more challenging tactical air situation - and there are plenty of examples of the challenges that naval forces face when operating in less than total air superiority for there to be concern about the ability of the Allied navies to provide similar levels of naval support to any landing forces.
What else do you want to hear about regarding the air war?
As stated upthread, the U.S. achieves the requisite air dominance over the landing zone by shifting a small fraction of resources devoted to heavy bombers towards fighters. This is a far more efficient means of achieving air dominance.
Finally, I seem to recall that FDR squashed the cancellation of TORCH by pointing out that it was simply not acceptable for US troops not to be fighting against the Germans until 1943 - both for public opinion in USA and also in light of Soviet sacrifices. Is there anything in your ATL that would overcome that challenge?
That's probably true of the OTL, though one can never take FDR at his word and that proffered rationale may simply have been to get Marshall to shut up about it.

For the purposes of this discussion so far, I have to chosen to assume, arguendo, that Gymnast and a '43 Roundup are incompatible.
Were that the case, then Roosevelt could have explained the case to Stalin. Stalin and Molotov were convinced to temper their '43 invasion calls when Roosevelt/Hopkins told them it would mean less LL support, so they were responsive to sound military reasoning.

Re public opinion, Roosevelt cares primarily about getting re-elected. If I'm right that Roundup '43 means a dead Hitler in Spring '44, he can probably crown himself king.

In any event, the political issues are, for me, secondary. I am focused on the question of whether the U.S. could have won the war at least a year earlier via an Army First strategy.

EDIT- By "secondary" I mean in the temporal sense or in the logical sense of being entailed. What I'm really getting at is that I think it's obvious the Wallies could have won the war by an earlier invasion of Europe; their failure to do so elucidates the political/moral dimensions of the war.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 08 Apr 2020 20:29, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 08 Apr 2020 20:20

Richard Anderson wrote:Did anyone notice what the actual source for Appendix B-2 was? CPA, Official Munitions Production of the United States, May 1, 1947. The reason is there, p. 346, item "3. Special Programs".
Richard you're just quoting a description of what happened with a plainly superficial explanation of why what happened happened - and no discussion of who (individually) made what happened happen.

Are you genuinely surprised that the CPA didn't write, "In 1942 we got caught ignoring much of the Atlantic, suffered crisis-inducing shipping losses as a result, and then over-reacted to that crisis by over-producing escorts"? Should we expect them to continue, "As a result of these bad decisions and our over-commitment to strategic bombing, we failed to invade in Europe in 1943 and end the war a year earlier?" This is like linking to State Television for the real story on Chinese Uighurs.

Anyone who wants to read a truly insightful historian and analyst on this period should read O'Brien. As said in the OP, I don't agree with his highest-level thesis but it's a compelling book written by someone capable of weaving together strands of economic, political, and strategic analysis.

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