Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

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Mori
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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Mori » 23 Oct 2021 09:46

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Oct 2021 18:42
One idea for exploring: impact of higher Canadian/Aus/NZ living standards on Empire unit's performance in WW1. Each Dominion had significantly greater average height than the UK. I don't know a ton about WW1 but it seems likely that the training/doctrine of Imperial units was fairly consistent across UK-Dominions (even if varying by among units of national contingent)? If so, that might be a good candidate to isolate the effect living standards (proxied by height) ----> raw human material capabilities -----> military system ------> combat effectiveness. The Canadian/ANZAC seem to have been the shock troops of Empire, seemingly of higher combat effectiveness than British. Seems a decent candidate to isolte the effects of raw human factors from human factors added by military systems.
Leaving aside "living standards" as a parameter - just think of viet-cong successively beating French and US armies -, and only talking about what I don't utterly ignore (ie: WW2), training and doctrine did vary across Dominions. Australia, NZ and Canada couldn't see much threat on their home countries and did not invest in their land armies. Take Canada: they didn't have a single tank until the late 30's (AFAIR), and what they received were vintage British tanks. Go learn modern warfare with that. Dominion navies were also of limited size and scope (no battleship, no carrier, and I wonder whether any had submarines).

Although some circulation of ideas existed thanks to handed-picked officers attending advanced courses in the UK, it didn't change home habits in the Dominions.

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Oct 2021 10:06

Mori wrote:Leaving aside "living standards" as a parameter - just think of viet-cong successively beating French and US armies
Combat effectiveness isn't even necessarily a measure of winning battles, let alone of winning wars. So that's transparently inapposite.

By your logic the Red Army was more combat effective than the Finns during the Winter War. I guess Stalin was right and all those purged generals really were anti-revolutionary wreckers; the relative casualty figures must be a capitalist conspiracy.
Mori wrote:training and doctrine did vary across Dominions. Australia, NZ and Canada couldn't see much threat on their home countries and did not invest in their land armies.
If the highlighted text is supposed to justify what precedes it, I don't see any logical connection. In fact it suggests the opposite: lacking investment in prewar armies, it seems likely that fresh Aussies/Kiwis/Canucks grabbed what doctrine/training the British had already developed.

But I don't know, which is why I'm asking whether Dominion forces in WW1 generally aped British doctrine. Anybody know?
Mori wrote:Take Canada: they didn't have a single tank until the late 30's (AFAIR), and what they received were vintage British tanks.
Aside from not relating to WW1 question, this would suggest that Canada probably received its armored doctrine from Britain along with its armor. It's generally suboptimal to create a doctrine for employing a thing until one can actually employ a thing at least in drill...
...Leaving raw human factors as potentially fruitful grounds for testing a "natural experiment."

...but WW2 seems less ideal than WW1 for that natural experiment. Dominion army experiences (distribution by theater, relative commitment to the war, national cultures) seem to diverge more from British army experiences in WW2 than in WW1.

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

Guys I'm asking a question here. Most here are programmed to be mad at me for whatever reason, but that's all it is - an extremely tentative hypothesis ("one idea for exploring") for a research program (to be done by somebody else or perhaps by a retired TMP around the 100th anniversary of VE day).
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Oct 2021 11:25

Aren't the best combat soldiers in the US largely from financially "more poor" and "less educated" Appalachia ? (many of Irish-Scott heritage?) Tennesee manned the US 30th Infantry division, which was the top rated inf division of WW2..

The high IQ people got transferred to a lot of units in the Ardennes that got battered or surrendered.

There is probably a positive correlation between country people and effectiveness in the infantry, this stereotype was also held by the Germans. (The early-pre war Waffen SS)

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Oct 2021 11:38

Cult Icon wrote:
23 Oct 2021 11:25
There is probably a positive correlation between country people and effectiveness in the infantry, this stereotype was also held by the Germans. (The early-pre war Waffen SS)
Probably but don't equate "country" and "poor", "urban" and "richer" - especially for the period we're discussing. Poor rural folk often were far better off than urban proletariats in nutritional terms. American height decreased significantly during the 19th Century as urbanization increased, for example. We began to run out of "unused" land, started to converge with Europe. During the Revolutionary War, our soldiers were three inches taller than the British.

To illustrate the distinction I'm making between human factors related to military systems and those of "raw" human capacity: note that the British system in the RW was so much better than what we backwards provincials could muster that the British - with much smaller soldiers - dominated us on the battlefield until the French gave us our freedom.
Cult Icon wrote:Aren't the best combat soldiers in the US largely from financially "more poor" and "less educated" Appalachia ?
Maybe but be careful to distinguish inter-country from intra-country comparisons. Even if a country's poor farmers make its best soldiers, it's nonetheless generally true that a wealthier country's poor farmers eat better than a poor country's poor farmers.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Oct 2021 12:13

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 11:38
Cult Icon wrote:
23 Oct 2021 11:25
There is probably a positive correlation between country people and effectiveness in the infantry, this stereotype was also held by the Germans. (The early-pre war Waffen SS)
Probably but
That's actually a lazy answer by me, let me revise to...

...it definitely depends and I definitely don't have a complete answer, which is why I began this thread asking whether it's been studied and have been asking similar questions elsewhere.

The direct question I'm interrogating in this thread - measurable demographics like height, weight, and IQ - relate to living standards generally, as generally known and already linked.

When agriculture is primitive, being a farmer means being very poor (e.g. wartime SU). When agriculture is advanced and capital-intensive (e.g. wartime USA), being a farmer means a decent wealth/income level and nutrition levels probably even higher.

Height is an imperfect proxy for childhood nutrition, which is an imperfect proxy for wealth.

Childhood nutrition is an imperfect proxy for general development/impairment, including cognitive/psychological factors that might contribute to one's effectiveness at innumerable military tasks.

AHF loves to talk about logistics - it's the rage among amateurs since that USMC guy's aphorism. So why focus so much on the 3-5% of soldiers in the infantry (American case IIRC)? Maybe US's combat effectiveness traces to the supply chain management skills of city boys quick with a spreadsheet.

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

On the city/rural thing... You're right that the Nazis had the stereotype of the virtuous, brave country boy. And you're right that Americans sometimes have this same stereotype - Confederacy and its admirers loved this one.

I'm not trying to tar you or the idea by association - I initially said "probably" after all. But there's vast ideology/propaganda behind the stereotype and I'd want to see some data before, on reflection, I'd accept it as true.
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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Mori » 23 Oct 2021 13:45

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 10:06
Mori wrote:Leaving aside "living standards" as a parameter - just think of viet-cong successively beating French and US armies
Combat effectiveness isn't even necessarily a measure of winning battles, let alone of winning wars. So that's transparently inapposite.
"Combat effectiveness", when it comes to WW2 at least, is a shallow concept to start with... But I think this has been discussed at length in other threads.

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Mori » 23 Oct 2021 14:01

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 10:06
Mori wrote:training and doctrine did vary across Dominions. Australia, NZ and Canada couldn't see much threat on their home countries and did not invest in their land armies.
If the highlighted text is supposed to justify what precedes it, I don't see any logical connection. In fact it suggests the opposite: lacking investment in prewar armies, it seems likely that fresh Aussies/Kiwis/Canucks grabbed what doctrine/training the British had already developed. {/quote]
Mori wrote:Take Canada: they didn't have a single tank until the late 30's (AFAIR), and what they received were vintage British tanks.
Aside from not relating to WW1 question, this would suggest that Canada probably received its armored doctrine from Britain along with its armor. It's generally suboptimal to create a doctrine for employing a thing until one can actually employ a thing at least in drill...
I didn't mention Canada out of thin air. I actually researched the matter a few years ago as I was working on Crerar and whatever military forces / activities there were in Canada.

There weren't many Canadian officers going for training in the UK. Those who did went to the most advanced training, which was much more about about global diplomacy and international relationships than military doctrine for land warfare. That said, that some people in Canadian's war ministry probably had the crux of the UK doctrine explained to them at some point. Yet it didn't have more impact than whatever printed books the war ministry library bought and shelved... Adapting doctrines / practices / SOP / training without any equipment and without any sense of a threat of a war on land is certainly not what happened.

PS: apologies for not being a scholar of WW1

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Oct 2021 14:32

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 11:38
Cult Icon wrote:Aren't the best combat soldiers in the US largely from financially "more poor" and "less educated" Appalachia ?
Maybe but be careful to distinguish inter-country from intra-country comparisons. Even if a country's poor farmers make its best soldiers, it's nonetheless generally true that a wealthier country's poor farmers eat better than a poor country's poor farmers.
Traits that are more useful for the infantry: borne hunter/outdoorsman, good marksman, experienced in blue collar work and manual labor, athletic body, can endure a lot of physical suffering/high willpower, brave/masculine attitude, and a true believer in nationalism/patriotism/political agenda etc..

And yes, the people from rural stock are taller/larger due to their proximity to food sources.

The glasses-wearing intellectuals from the cities/towns with soft bodies don't really fit here as well, better off being placed in service/support functions doing intellectual labor.

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Oct 2021 14:43

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 12:13

On the city/rural thing... You're right that the Nazis had the stereotype of the virtuous, brave country boy. And you're right that Americans sometimes have this same stereotype - Confederacy and its admirers loved this one.

I'm not trying to tar you or the idea by association - I initially said "probably" after all. But there's vast ideology/propaganda behind the stereotype and I'd want to see some data before, on reflection, I'd accept it as true.
Note that I said "infantry", an army has many departments other than infantry where people with more technical and intellectual training would be more suited for.

Perhaps these haven't been measured, probably because doing such macro-analysis does not fulfill a need?

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Oct 2021 19:06

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 10:06
But I don't know, which is why I'm asking whether Dominion forces in WW1 generally aped British doctrine. Anybody know?
Yes, to a great extent I think they did but, as always, unless you are satisfied with extrapolating from the divisional to the army to the national (or the other way round and from the divisional to the platoon to the individual), the picture if you want to assess "combat effectiveness" is clouded by the complications of the circumstances.

Were the "Dominion forces" in WW1 conscripted or volunteer? Were they to a differing extent across the Dominions actually first generation British settlers? Were many of their commanders and senior staff officers British? Were they significant differences in the structure of Dominion divisions (after early 1918 at least)? Were the Dominion divisions kept together in "national" Corps thus allowing the senior commanders and staff officers to form useful command relationships? Were the key "Dominion" successes achieved later in the war once the "bite and hold" doctrine (and sufficient heavy artillery to batter in the German front lines) had evolved. Did British army doctrine evolve during the war? Did the Dominion Forces "ape" British doctrine unchanged or did they modify that according to the peculiar circumstances that faced them? Did the average British Division/Corps/Army do likewise to the same extent or were they constrained by the command system of the BEF?

The best comparative analysis of the British Army in WW1 that springs to mind is Jonathon Boff's "Winning and Losing on the Western Front: The British Third Army and the Defeat of Germany in 1918". If you read that in conjunction with his later book on Crown Prince Rupprecht I think you'll get a useful perspective on the British Army in WW1. I'd also recommend Andy Simpson's "Directing Operations: British Corps Command on the Western Front".

Happy reading! :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Oct 2021 19:44

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Oct 2021 12:13
On the city/rural thing...
There was quite a bit of angst in pre-WW1 British Army about the "fitness" of the British industrial working class in the event of a mass war - lots of crusty old Field Marshal's arguing about the inherent military skills engendered by rural life. There's plenty in the literature about it...

There is also a study by an Australian historian who completely debunked the notion of the Aussie soldier as being a product of the outback - most, apparently, being from the under-employed working class of Australian cities. It makes sense from a volunteer army thing I suppose. My understanding is that it was much the same in the Australian army in WW2 - I've seen some rather ungracious contemporary comments on the background of many of the volunteers who made up the 6th Australian Division.

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Oct 2021 21:45

Related to Appalachians and MOH winners (I recall that a disproportionate number were awarded to these residents in America's wars). I have heard/read that there are a lot of them in special forces units as well.

http://myappalachianlife.blogspot.com/2 ... value.html
John Alexander Williams, in his classic work, "Appalachia, A History" presents in graph form, on pages 384 & 385, the distribution of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients from Appalachia in contrast to the entire rest of the country and also shows figures of the representation of the total male population in Appalachia. In World War II, 58 of 440 Congressional Medals of Honor went to Appalachians for a total of 13.2% while Appalachian males over the age of 14 represented only 12.4% of the US male population. During the Korean War, Appalachians were awarded 26 of 131 Medals of Honor which totaled 19.8% of medals while male Appalachians over the age of 14 represented only 11.4% of the US male population. During the Viet Nam War, Appalachians were awarded 32 of 239 Medals of Honor which amounted to 13.4% of the medals. At that time, Appalachian males over the age of 14 only represented 8.7% of the US male population. As of the 2002 publication of Williams' work, Appalachians had been awarded 116 of 810 Congressional Medals of Honor for a percentage of 14.3%.

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Oct 2021 21:54

In the fall of 1945, Colonel SLA Marshall was ordered by Eisenhower to conduct a rating of ETO divisions.

He and 34 other GSC historical officers studied the issue of "best infantry division" of the ETO and concluded that the 30th Infantry division was the best.

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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Oct 2021 02:47

Mori wrote:
23 Oct 2021 13:45

"Combat effectiveness", when it comes to WW2 at least, is a shallow concept to start with...
If combat effectiveness as defined by TDI, for example, purported to encompass everything about war then it would indeed be shallow. That's generally not what they mean, however, I've seen TDI specifically correct folks using "military" and "combat" effectiveness interchangeably on Twitter. Anybody so employing the concept is being shallow but I'm certainly not using it in that fashion here - as I say the British in the American Rev War were qualitatively dominant in combat but still lost. Same with America in Vietnam, late Roman Empire against the Germans et al.

To discard a concept because it isn't all-encompassing seems at least as shallow. Concepts like logistics and grand strategy also leave out large portions of warfare but are useful nonetheless.
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Re: Quantitative research on demographic measurables and combat effectiveness?

Post by Michael Kenny » 24 Oct 2021 04:08

Cult Icon wrote:
23 Oct 2021 11:25
Aren't the best combat soldiers in the US largely from financially "more poor" and "less educated" ......................... ?
McNamara's Morons?

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