Yeah just TMP riffing on a KDF theme.KDF33 wrote:I meant
On the theme of greater combat manpower generally, and its relation to combat power...
I've been trying to develop a framework for analyzing combat power vs. manpower and material, such as here.
The basic idea seems straightforward and sort of obvious to me: material production has diminishing marginal returns to combat power, holding manpower constant (in land warfare). WW2 armored div equipment, for example, cost ~5x as much as Inf.div equipment but armored divisions aren't worth 5 infantry divisions each. The same concept would go for increased logistical support (beyond a minimum to ensure basic survival and mobility) because the 101st shell fired generally has lower marginal value than the 100th, and so on. Likewise fuel for maneuvers that you need to do is more valuable than fuel for everything you'd like, ideally, to do.
Oil is particular instance of diminishing marginal returns. That the Allies had ~80x the oil resources of Axis certainly didn't equate to 80x the combat power (just imagine conquering 80 Germany's). The 1,000th hour of pilot training isn't getting you a pilot twice as good as one with 500 hours.
To determine where a nation/military is, broadly speaking, on the marginal returns curve, we'd have to look at combat munitions (and other supplies) per soldier. Harrison gives rough figures per soldier in Resource Mobilization for World War 2:
So Germany was always at higher points on the marginal returns curve than its opponents (except SU towards the end). This makes intuitive sense: it's easy to see another 1,000 tanks being a big deal in Barbarossa, very difficult to see those tanks changing the war's course if given to the Allies in, say, 1943.
By contrast, US soldiers had 3-6x as much weaponry per soldier (and similar numbers of soldiers) but, again, try to imagine the US conquering 3-6 Germany's at once. Obviously it saw diminishing returns to all that weaponry.
A lot WW2 economic reductionism ignores or fails to recognize diminishing marginal returns. Philips O'Brien and, e.g., historygeek seem simply to equate production/GDP and combat power. I've listed other reasons why that's not true above, held off on raising the marginal returns issue to do something else and because folks don't seem to pick it up when I raise it.