USA executes an Army (and Europe) First strategy

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
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 » 01 May 2020 09:40

Tom from Cornwall wrote:I've read O'Brien's book and can't find any mention of landing craft movements from the Pacific to the Atlantic, perhaps you could point me to a reference for that happening in the OTL.
My statement was "Even if there were [such movements]..."

It goes to what's actually relevant to the strategic issue and what is not.

I don't see a lot of use to our continued engagement on this particular topic; we have very different analytical modes.
BTW I've enjoyed O'Brien's book, so thanks to TMP for suggesting it - certainly plenty of nuggets of useful information and suggestions for further research. I don't agree entirely with his thesis, as usual in these kind of books I think he has overstated his case and probably over-simplified much of it - not surprising in such a wide topic I suppose.
Happy to agree with you here. Way overstates his case and, IMO, is grievously wrong re the land battles.
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: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 01 May 2020 15:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 May 2020 09:40
I don't see a lot of use to our continued engagement on this particular topic; we have very different analytical modes.
That's a shame, researching the distribution of LST and LCT across the world in 1943 and 1944 is remarkably therapeutic in these strange times.

Just a couple of questions, though:

When you posted:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
01 May 2020 09:40
Tom from Cornwall wrote: "I've read O'Brien's book and can't find any mention of landing craft movements from the Pacific to the Atlantic, perhaps you could point me to a reference for that happening in the OTL."

My statement was "Even if there were [such movements]..."
You must have forgotten posting this in post 116:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Apr 2020 22:26
The latter chapters discuss several occasions on which King released landing craft from the Pacific to enable European operations.

I've read the book all through now, and found no such "discussion". So I'll ask again:
I've read O'Brien's book and can't find any mention of landing craft movements from the Pacific to the Atlantic, perhaps you could point me to a reference for that happening in the OTL.
Also I note that you still haven't answered my question:
How many of the Pacific operations by this time included the inclusion of armoured divisions in their force structure, or medium or heavy artillery?
nor provided any evidence to support your statement that:
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Apr 2020 20:48
Ship-shore landing (i.e. Pacific landings) are more craft-intensive than shore-shore landings (i.e. cross-Channel)
After all, it is your 'What if'. :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom

paulrward
Member
Posts: 665
Joined: 10 Dec 2008 20:14

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

Post by paulrward » 01 May 2020 16:51

Hello All :

Mr. TomfromCornwall posted the following comment:
I've read O'Brien's book and can't find any mention of landing craft movements from the
Pacific to the Atlantic, perhaps you could point me to a reference for that happening in the OTL.

Actually there was little movement of landing craft until AFTER VE Day. What happened was
that Admiral King RE-ALLOCATED landing craft that were either to be sent to the Pacific or
Atlantic to the theater where they would be more immediately needed, from the pool of newly
produced landing craft that were coming off the production lines.

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
Information not shared, is information lost
Voices that are banned, are voices who cannot share information....
Discussions that are silenced, are discussions that will occur elsewhere !

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 01 May 2020 17:10

Paul,

Thanks, that's interesting and much as I expected.

I think there might have been a little movement too, but of the larger Landing Ships rather than Landing Craft. I'll have a look and see if I can find any on-line resources which might give us a little more detail.

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 02 May 2020 09:18

In the interest of open debate, I did a little bit of follow up on the allocation of the US Attack Transports and the first ship that I came across was USS Neville which had an interesting and relevant WW2 career:
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
01 May 2020 17:10
I think there might have been a little movement too, but of the larger Landing Ships rather than Landing Craft.
Loth as I am to use Wiki, in this case it proved very easy to find that USS Neville had been used in both European and Pacific theatres - in fact, her use looks to have been remarkably flexible.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Neville_(APA-9)

In summary:

14 Dec 40 - reacquired by USN
18 June 41 - reported for duty with US Atlantic Fleet after reconversion from civilian role.
19 Feb 42 - departed from US East coast for her first trans-Atlantic trip carrying US Army and Navy personnel and equipment to UK, bringing back UK personnel
Apr 42 - underwent repairs and transferred to US Pacific Fleet
7 Aug 42 - took part in landing at Guadalcanal - and then played part in bringing reinforcements to the Solomons from New Zealand.
Jan 43 - back at San Diego
June 43 - sailed from US to take part in Sicily landings in Jul 43
22 Jul 43 - sailed from Oran back to US and transferred back to US Pacific Fleet from late Aug 43
Sep 43 - end of war - took part in major landings in Tarawa (Nov 43), Eniwetok (Feb 44), Saipan (June 44).
Then back to San Diego and a training role until the end of the war.

Regards

Tom

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 04 May 2020 19:56

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Apr 2020 22:26
You're trying to make things more complex than they need be. This is a common proclivity here.
I've been reading Andrew Buchanan's American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II which should be required reading for all those whose argument is based on the thesis that Grand Strategy is simple and easy, and especially for those threads that descend into repetitive 'handwavium' and 'hindsightium'.

He quotes [p.7] the definition that Paul Kennedy uses for grand strategy and that might be useful for those contributing to threads like this to consider:
Paul Kennedy offers a useful working definition of grand strategy, describing it as a "complex and multilayered thing" in which the "nonmilitary dimensions" are as important as the military, and in which the "longer-term and political purposes of [a] belligerent state" are primary.
Buchanan goes on to suggest:
The potentially shocking corollary to this approach is that, contrary to popular belief - and to the early-war thinking of the Joint Chiefs - grand strategic wisdom does not necessarily lie in finding the shortest path to victory.
Food for thought?

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 » 06 May 2020 00:09

Tom from Cornwall wrote:those whose argument is based on the thesis that Grand Strategy is simple and easy
It's frustrating to have to say this, and I considered ignoring, but here goes:

A statement:

"You're making X more complicated than needed"

is NOT the same as:

"X is not complicated"

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

In my IRL life I do complex litigation.
A critical step in any complex litigation is to reduce the complexity: preliminary proceedings/exchanges in which the parties trade interrogatories, admissions, pleading, etc. This serves to narrow and clarify the issues in dispute, discarding irrelevant distractions.

Despite this emphasis on reducing complexity, nobody involved is under the impression that the resulting, simplified proceedings are simple.

A complex thing properly simplified usually remains complex.

Here, I am trying to reduce the complexity of the grand strategic question of U.S. focus on Europe or Asia. Precisely because the question is complex, every effort should be made to discard irrelevancies. That is why, for example, we can abstract from the question of whether the needed ships use turbine or reciprocating propulsion and the need to physically explain inner engine workings. Grand strategy can dispense with those questions as needless complications, on the assumption that the ships can actually get where grand strategy orders them.

You introduced what I view as needless and irrelevant complexity - whether landing craft re-allocated pursuant to strategic decisions made actual physical moves from one theater to another.

I viewed and view this question as irrelevant because:

1) the landing craft were actually re-allocated, so the question of physical movement becomes relevant only if it turned out that the planners were wrong about the availability of craft for this or that operation, due to geographical remoteness. Seeing no evidence that Eisenhower or Marshall forgot to check on that issue and were wrong OTL, I consider this factor irrelevant.

(2) the planning horizon for grand-strategic questions like "Europe or Asia" was sufficiently long - at least 6 months - that it exceeded any conceivable geographical constraint on the ability physically to relocate landing craft.

As it turns out, you have given an example of a landing craft shuffling back and forth between theaters. Thank you for that.

But as said above, I would like to have clarified that issue as irrelevant prior to expending any thought/time/text on whether the event actually happened.

In IRL life, if an opposing party responded to a request to simplify/clarify by imputing a view that the disputed matter is simple, either the judge would reprimand opposing counsel for bad faith or might instruct counsel's client to find a competent attorney.

Let's proceed, if at all, on a shared good faith belief that efforts to simplify a discussion do not imply the view that the discussion is simple.
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: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 08 May 2020 15:07

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
04 May 2020 19:56
I've been reading Andrew Buchanan's American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II which should be required reading for all those whose argument is based on the thesis that Grand Strategy is simple and easy, and especially for those threads that descend into repetitive 'handwavium' and 'hindsightium'.
And Buchanan makes an interesting point early in his book when he notes that before Pearl Harbor both the March 1941 Anglo-American ABC-I agreement on strategy and indeed the US generated Rainbow 5 strategy document of 19 November 1941 emphasized the importance of the "early elimination of Italy".

This is from Ross, ed. U.S. War Plans: 1938 - 1945, p.17.
Rainbow 5, para 12 - Ross, p.138.PNG
Can anyone, therefore, explain what led to the US change of heart in the spring of 1942 and Marshall's mission to the UK to try to persuade the British to take part in the sacrificial Sledgehammer plan?

Regards

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

Aber
Member
Posts: 1141
Joined: 05 Jan 2010 21:43

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

Post by Aber » 08 May 2020 15:27

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
08 May 2020 15:07
Can anyone, therefore, explain what led to the US change of heart in the spring of 1942 and Marshall's mission to the UK to try to persuade the British to take part in the sacrificial Sledgehammer plan?
Off the top of my head, the main focus in early 1942 was a build up in the UK to support a Spring 1943 invasion - Marshall's plan was 30 US divisions in the UK by April 1943.

However this got diluted by events in the Pacific, concerns that the Soviet Union would not survive the Summer 1942 campaign, and a desire to get US troops in action against Germany.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 6396
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 May 2020 16:05

Aber wrote:
08 May 2020 15:27
Off the top of my head, the main focus in early 1942 was a build up in the UK to support a Spring 1943 invasion - Marshall's plan was 30 US divisions in the UK by April 1943.

However this got diluted by events in the Pacific, concerns that the Soviet Union would not survive the Summer 1942 campaign, and a desire to get US troops in action against Germany.
That, plus the lack of prewar mobilization planning, the tiny pool of experienced cadre for expansion, and the lack of real experience in personnel mobilization. Plus, the absolute requirement for early deployment almost immediately took around a third of the cadre pool out of the country, followed by the early commitment of parts of that force to combat, which then required stripping Stateside units of yet more cadre as replacements, further setting back mobilization timelines. The average division was supposed to be deployable 12 to 13 months after activation, but the average turned out to be closer to two years.

Then consider that American wartime males were probably the most exempted persons in the war. In terms of personnel the U.S. was the least mobilized of any of the major combatants.

Now add to that the logistical complications that kept eating American manpower...and odd little realities that kept affecting operations. Like the fact that to get American units combat loaded in American ports...like for TORCH, required negotiating a special agreement with the Longshoreman's Union and the Maritime Commission for the handling of live ammunition and its stowage on board with "passengers", nearly scuppering the timing of the operation. Meanwhile, work stoppages and strikes probably had as much effect on American production output in the end as an enemy bombing campaign would have.

I know, yet more minutia to be ignored because grand strategy is just making decisions and then moving counters on a map.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 08 May 2020 16:21

Aber wrote:
08 May 2020 15:27

Off the top of my head, the main focus in early 1942 was a build up in the UK to support a Spring 1943 invasion - Marshall's plan was 30 US divisions in the UK by April 1943.
Richard Anderson wrote:
08 May 2020 16:05
I know, yet more minutia to be ignored because grand strategy is just making decisions and then moving counters on a map.
Aber, Rich

I obviously failed to make myself clear. In both March 1941 and November 1941, the US seems to be signing up to an EUROPE FIRST strategy which, in terms of land operations, begins with "early elimination of Italy" from the war.

Then, a few months later after the US enters the war, they throw those plans overboard and launch a campaign to persuade their very reluctant allies to lead a GERMANY FIRST strategy through a direct invasion of North West Europe.

What changed, who changed and why the change? :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 6396
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 May 2020 16:30

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
08 May 2020 16:21
What changed, who changed and why the change? :thumbsup:
Oh, I thought was rhetorical on your part. :lol:

To a degree it was concern for what was going on in the Soviet Union. It was also a desire by the U.S. not to get involved in what they were afraid would be Winnie's madcap peripheral schemes. Getting American troops into action became paramount and began overshadowing mobilization requirements and strategic good sense. The really did not the consequences of certain actions until long after they took them...rather the opposite of the way most "what iffery" works.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Tom from Cornwall
Member
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01 May 2006 19:52
Location: UK

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

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 08 May 2020 17:39

Richard Anderson wrote:
08 May 2020 16:30
To a degree it was concern for what was going on in the Soviet Union.
But wasn't that as relevant in November 1941 during the production of the Rainbow 5 plan?
Richard Anderson wrote:
08 May 2020 16:30
a desire by the U.S. not to get involved in what they were afraid would be Winnie's madcap peripheral schemes.
And wasn't that just as likely to be on their minds in March and November 1941?

Sorry, I'm not being deliberately argumentative or obtuse (I may be dumb, but I'm not obtuse - is that a famous quote, if not it should be... :lol: ) but I just don't think I've seen this particular grand-strategy flip-flop very well explained. Most of the grand-strategy flip-flop analysis seems to be concentrated more around the Casablanca - "Round Up" period.

Andrew Buchanan does make a good point when he highlights the fact that the US were dragged into the Mediterranean because of British weakness and ended up with a multitude of long-term benefits, whereas it could be argued that Nazi Germany was dragged into the Mediterranean because of Italian weakness and, fortunately, gained nothing from it.

I'll have a look at my copy of the Eisenhower papers and see if anything in there sheds light. :idea:

Happy VE day from the other side of the pond! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom

User avatar
T. A. Gardner
Member
Posts: 3565
Joined: 02 Feb 2006 00:23
Location: Arizona

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

Post by T. A. Gardner » 08 May 2020 18:36

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
08 May 2020 17:39

Happy VE day from the other side of the pond! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom
Virus in Europe day? Okay, if you say so... :lol: :lol:

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 6396
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

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

Post by Richard Anderson » 08 May 2020 19:31

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
08 May 2020 17:39
Richard Anderson wrote:
08 May 2020 16:30
To a degree it was concern for what was going on in the Soviet Union.
But wasn't that as relevant in November 1941 during the production of the Rainbow 5 plan?
The U.S. was not at war in November 1941 and did not anticipate being at war until sometime in 1942.
Richard Anderson wrote:
08 May 2020 16:30
a desire by the U.S. not to get involved in what they were afraid would be Winnie's madcap peripheral schemes.
And wasn't that just as likely to be on their minds in March and November 1941?
The U.S. was not at war in March 1941 either.
Sorry, I'm not being deliberately argumentative or obtuse (I may be dumb, but I'm not obtuse - is that a famous quote, if not it should be... :lol: ) but I just don't think I've seen this particular grand-strategy flip-flop very well explained. Most of the grand-strategy flip-flop analysis seems to be concentrated more around the Casablanca - "Round Up" period.
I know you aren't, but I think you're missing the trees for the forest. This time the minutia of the hows and whens may be obscuring a rather obvious why.

While it may be true nothing sharpens the mind like a hanging. I suspect that impending event also generates a lot of piss-poor thinking very sharply focused on the prospects of the minutia of that event, rather than the big picture.

Then there is the political aspect...the first course of action for the staff of any major politician is not to fins what the best course of action is, but how best to implement the course of action the boss has expressed he wants to follow, which is a truism both civilian and military politics.

Everything I have seen and read confirms that. The 5th Infantry division convoy must sail for Iceland. We must reinforce Hawaii and Australia and Samoa and New Zealand and new Caledonia. Nothing quite says addled panic thinking like Task Force 6814 must sail from New York for...Melbourne? :lol:
Andrew Buchanan does make a good point when he highlights the fact that the US were dragged into the Mediterranean because of British weakness and ended up with a multitude of long-term benefits, whereas it could be argued that Nazi Germany was dragged into the Mediterranean because of Italian weakness and, fortunately, gained nothing from it.
Very true.
I'll have a look at my copy of the Eisenhower papers and see if anything in there sheds light. :idea:
If you have a reference just shoot it to me, I also have his wartime papers on the shelf, but am working to finish - finally - the draft of For Purpose of Service Test! Yay! In the final draft phase of editing and taking critiques. [/quote]
Happy VE day from the other side of the pond! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Regards

Tom
And to you and yours on that side of the pond...except, haven't you every considered what might happen if on 7 May 1945, Heinz Guderian took charge of the Wehrmacht and Nazi state instead of that dilettante navy wimp, did a double-back-flip over the front to Rheims with Otto Skorzeny's super-sekret team of Brandenburg commando ninjas and took the ENTIRE ALLIED HIGH COMMAND IN EUROPE HOSTAGE? :lol:
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Return to “What if”