Evaluation of the Performance of the U.S. Army

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 23 Aug 2005 05:41

If it was the final attack, that would be by Panzer Leahr, yes?

RichTO90
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Post by RichTO90 » 23 Aug 2005 14:35

imad wrote:
leandros wrote:While it is true that the U.S. airborne units generally performed very well during WWII, another unit deserves much of the credit given to the 101st in the Battle of the Bulge. That is the U.S. tank destroyer squadron that operated in the Bulge. Without it the final tank-heavy German attack might well have succeded.
I wonder which unit you are referring to? Are you referring to the attack by the 2nd Panzer Div. at the Bulge? If so, I have a few things to say about that.
Imad
The unit being referred to is the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion (-), which was attached to VIII Corps from Ninth Army early on 17 December, and which then traveled about 270 miles to arrive at Bastogne late on 18 December (elements were diverted to Neufchateau and were not encircled).

And the action referred to is probably the Christmas Day attack by 15 Panzergrandier Division and elements of Grenadier Regiment 77 of 26 VGD at Champs, which was defeated with heavy losses by the combined actions of the 705th (principally 12 M-18 from B and C Company), the 454th and 463rd PFA Battalions, the 327th GIR (principally A Company and then later the 3rd Battalion) and the 502nd PIR (principally the 1st Battalion with parts of the 3rd Battalion engaged).

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Post by fredleander » 23 Aug 2005 22:16

RichTO90 wrote:The unit being referred to is the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion (-), which was attached to VIII Corps from Ninth Army early on 17 December, and which then traveled about 270 miles to arrive at Bastogne late on 18 December (elements were diverted to Neufchateau and were not encircled).

And the action referred to is probably the Christmas Day attack by 15 Panzergrandier Division and elements of Grenadier Regiment 77 of 26 VGD at Champs, which was defeated with heavy losses by the combined actions of the 705th (principally 12 M-18 from B and C Company), the 454th and 463rd PFA Battalions, the 327th GIR (principally A Company and then later the 3rd Battalion) and the 502nd PIR (principally the 1st Battalion with parts of the 3rd Battalion engaged).
First, let me correct myself. When I used the term "Battle of the Bulge" I really meant to say "Battle of Bastogne" - which was only a confined part of the real Battle of the Bulge.

Yes, I meant the 705th. They were crucial in the above-mentioned action but if you read through the whole story they were almost always present where the action was hot - always doing their thing with the utmost precision.

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Post by Andreas » 16 Nov 2005 07:59

A post by Graeme Sydney and reply by Edward_n_kelly have been split out and can be found here:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=89965

Graeme - you can edit the thread title, I am not sure my title does your post justice.

A discussion on Patton vs. Monty was also split out, and locked.

This thread here is about the performance of the US Army and how itn developed. Last I checked Monty was not a general in the US Army, and Patton was a single general in that army. So let's stick to topic here, and conduct Patton vs. Monty matches in the numerous threads that no doubt already exist on the topic.

Thank you.

Andreas

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Post by PaulJ » 19 Nov 2005 21:55

You wouldn't necessarily guess it from much of the ranting back and forth above, but the question being asked in this thread is actually the dominant question in the historiography of the war.

A few years ago I published a piece on this in the Canadian Army Journal at
http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj/search.asp?authid=115

The major debate amongst historians of the Normandy campaign has been why it took the Allies so long to break out and what this says about the relative quality of the German and Allied armies.

The literature on this issue is considerable. Max Hastings, for instance, argues that “the German army was the outstanding fighting force of the Second World War, and it could be defeated by Allied soldiers only under the most overwhelmingly favourable conditions.” [in OVERLORD: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy p 12.] These charges are repeated more generally by John Ellis in Brute Force a study of the Allies’ overall war effort which concludes that it was only by weight of firepower and material that the Allies were ever able to push back the German military. Retired US Army Colonel Trevor DuPuy has even gone so far as attempt exhaustive mathematical modeling of German and
Allied battlefield performance, concluding that the Germans were 20-30 percent more effective man for man. [Trevor N. Dupuy, A Genius for War: The German Army and the General Staff, 1807-1945, p. 4.]

In a similar vein, noted Israeli military historian and theorist Martin van Creveld has argued that the German Army was organized from the ground up for generating what he terms “fighting power,” as compared with Western armies (in particular the US Army), which were organized simply to marshal men, materiel, and firepower. [Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power: German and US Army Performance 1939-1945, 1982]

A perhaps contentious but certainly fascinating survey of this whole issue was attempted in the series Military Effectiveness, edited by Allan Millet and Williamson Murray. Volume Three, The Second World War, gives high marks to the Germans and mediocre ones to the Allies. It would not be an exageration to state that the conventional interpretation amongst military historians is (or at least generally has been) that, man-for-man, “the Germans consistently outfought the far more numerous Allied armies that eventually overwhelmed them.” [Dupuy, A Genius for War, pp. 234-6.]

Recently, something of a countermovement has developed, arguing that Allied performance was no worse than
the German. Pointing out that in Normandy both sides suffered heavy casualties for paltry gains whenever attempting offensive operations, this school of thought argues that it was the simple fact that the Allies were the ones doing most of the attacking that makes them look less tactically elegant.

Happy reading,

PaulJ

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Post by Smileshire » 19 Nov 2005 22:26

And i think you should stop listening to sensationalists. Or is it you have national links to the Krauts? Maybe it escapes your notice that the Germans were defending, and attacking manpower requests 3-1 for success? The Germans are not 'man for man' a superman one bit. In fact i don't rate them that highly when in attack. It's been proven they can be pretty average. And this goes beyond WWII. Try Tell it to the Belgians, Dutch, British, Americans, even the French and they will tell there experiences to back it up.

There was a statement from an American regarding his division on a local level when he said "They didn't beat us in world war one and they ain't gonna start now" and they never did. In fact that can go for a few Allied divisions.

You're showing direspect and i don't wanna start delving into my repertoire to prove it.

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Post by Andreas » 19 Nov 2005 23:28

Smileshire

A) Paul's post is well-sourced, and written in a reasonable tone.

B) Neither of the above applies to your post. There is no need for this sort of bluster and faux outrage you are displaying. It is counterproductive to the exchange of ideas.

C) If you want to continue posting in this thread, do it along the lines of A, not B, otherwise I am going to start deleting your posts.

Consider this your warning.

Thank you.

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 20 Nov 2005 00:08

With that out of the way - welcome to the forum Paul.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Smileshire » 20 Nov 2005 10:33

Well first of all the original topic is supposed to be about the evaluation of the US Army. Secondly, HE said man for man better which is only his own personal viewpoint. That's what i was referring to. Staying on track of Germans being better organized during most of the war i can agree with.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 20 Nov 2005 13:01

Smileshire wrote:Secondly, HE said man for man better which is only his own personal viewpoint.
Well, no. He said that was the opinion of professional historians and provided citations to illustrate the point.

Perhaps though the problem is your not understanding what "man for man" means in this context? My reading is that if you take the combat power of any unit, whether it be a squad or a division, or anything else, and divide that by the number of personnel in that unit, you get the combat power per man. It is a purely techinical term and nothing to be offended by.

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Post by Smileshire » 20 Nov 2005 14:36

He was comparing the relative quality of the German and Allied armies. From that i formed the impression that he was stating German units at any level were superior to the allies. Which can include tactics, strategy, command and its structure, training, experience, terrain, disposition of forces and fighting prowess. A lot of things have previously been discussed in other posts that have proved otherwise.

Pauls contradiction:

Recently, something of a countermovement has developed, arguing that Allied performance was no worse than the German. Pointing out that in Normandy both sides suffered heavy casualties for paltry gains whenever attempting offensive operations, this school of thought argues that it was the simple fact that the Allies were the ones doing most of the attacking that makes them look less tactically elegant.

Which brings me to Operation Jupiter - Hill 112 that changed hands many times.

"The Division was therefore about to assault a position of great strength which gave every advantage to the defender. Until the high ground east of the Orne was captured the enemy could manoeuvre his Tigers and Panthers unseen south of the ridge and observe our every movement south of the enclosures between Fontaine Etoupefour and Baron."

Major-General H.Essame - The 43rd Wessex Division

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Post by PaulJ » 20 Nov 2005 22:51

Wow-ah. Smileshire, please.

Grease_Spot is exactly correct -- I was outlining what is, whether you agree with it or not, the debate in the academic literature on this subject. And because that was my aim -- to outline the two competing schools of thought -- I outlined some of the more prominent examples from both sides. Hence what you termed my "contradiction."

Presumably Smileshire would agree with the new school of thought which argues that the Anglo-American performance was quite commendable. So let me suggest some readings in that vein:

Terry Copp, Fields of Fire, 2003
Also, see the website http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/ww ... fault.aspx

For myself, I must confess that as a younger man I was as much a Teutonophile as many others in the maneuvre-warfare school of thought, and had my copy of Guderian's Panzer Leader and Van Creveld's Fighting Power. Since then, I have mellowed somewhat. I do think that the Germans had some undoubted brilliant strengths (in particular an outstanding flexibility and a truly astouding capacity to generate strong leadership at the unit level, even with less than remarkable manpower and highly constrained training opportunities). I also continue to believe that there were some real issues in the Anglo-American armies. But I have come around to a more balanced view.

What I'm trying to suggest is that there is very definately two schools of thought on this issue -- indeed, it remains the current issue of debate in the academic military history community vis-a-vis the Normandy campaign (academics have to debate something, they can't just keep publishing accounts of how it turned out). If you wish to take up cudgels in this debate (on either side), it behoves you to be familiar with the literature.

Happy reading,

PaulJ

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Comparing the German and US Armies in WW2

Post by taylorjohn » 20 Nov 2005 23:29

One factor needs to be borne in mind when evaluating the performance of the German and US armies on the western front between 1943-45. The US army which fought on the European continent was made up of some of the best of America's youth and was in general, well equipped and supplied. By contrast, the German Army was, at this stage, only a shadow of the force that had overun Europe between 1939 and 1941. The huge losses sustained by the Wehrmacht are evident from the large number of foreign nationals in the German armed forces during this time. Yet, inspite of this, the German Army was still able, in places, to put up prelonged resistance against the Allies over a considerable period of time.

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Why the German Army is held up as a gold standard -

Post by taylorjohn » 21 Nov 2005 00:45

poor_bloody_infantry wrote:I'm always baffled as to why the German Army is always held up to be some form of gold standard when discussing military effectiveness? A discussion of German military effectiveness always boils down to an extolling of German small unit proficiency and training, as if that alone compensates for the mishandling of these units on the field of battle - it doesn't.
The German Army was an instrument that was engaged upon the field of battle and thoroughly thrashed by the Allies. The hoary argument that the German armed forces were crushed merely by superior numbers fails to account for the sheer stupidity of willfully taking on those superior numbers in the first place. It doesn't explain the monumental idiocy of attacking Russia in 1941 without adequate winterization, or the ludicrous decision making done when it became apparent that Germany could not defeat it enemies by force of arms.
To answer the point you made. Between 1939-41, the German armed forces gained victories that were unprecedented in the annuls of military history. The method of warfare which the Germans pioneered to achieve this - combined all arms mobile operations - formed the basis of modern warfare today we see today.

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Post by Smileshire » 21 Nov 2005 23:49

He also pointed out that German units routinely inflicted around 50% more casualties than they received. An interesting statistic which I understand was true of the first world war as well as the second.
Not true. The BEF of 1914 inflicted more casualties on the Germans than recieved. And that as only a smaller force. The 'Fire and Move' tactics was highly effective. Then came the citizen army.
Between 1939-41, the German armed forces gained victories that were unprecedented in the annuls of military history. The method of warfare which the Germans pioneered to achieve this - combined all arms mobile operations - formed the basis of modern warfare today we see today.
The German High Command was sufficiently disappointed with the performance of their own army in both Poland and France to institute a fairly substantial and wide-ranging retraining program across the board between the fall of France and the invasion of Russia.

Anyway if you're referring to the Blitkrieg then fair enough. But Combined Arms doesn't have to mean the unison of infantry, artillery, tanks and AT guns etc.

Blitzkrieg, from the German for "lightning war", was an operational-level military doctrine which employed mobile forces attacking with speed and surprise to prevent an enemy from organizing a coherent defense.

Maj-Gen Percy Hobart experimented with this with the worlds first permanent tank brigade in the 1920's. A forerunner to Blitkrieg had been employed successfully in WWI by Capt Fuller.

One of the examples in 1918 at Hamel in a way roughly similar:

Some 500 tanks were massed at one point and committed after a coordinated air and artillery bombardment. Light tanks and cavalry achieved a breakthrough to eight miles and caused disruption in the rear areas. Plans were additionally made for a large-scale breakout and exploitation by tank forces, though not implemented because of Germany's surrender.

Advocating Fuller was Gen Guderian

General [[Heinz Guderian, a theorist key to Germany's development of blitzkrieg.]] It was Germany which developed further the concepts originating in Fuller and Liddell Hart's writings. Heinz Guderian, an officer in the Heer, translated Fuller and Hart into German, and advocated the concepts to the German General Staff

Guderian also studied and recieved operational reports on Hobart's exercises as a significant influence.

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