Stilwell; the worst US General?

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AnchorSteam
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Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by AnchorSteam » 16 Dec 2021 21:17

This is a very interesting vid on one of the most talked-about Generals of the war, and I think it makes very good points;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBNZqC3h_Y4

The criticism of Tuchman is something I have wanted to say myself for a while.

It makes you wonder why he was held in such high regard in the first place... so there must be more to the story than this.

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Dec 2021 19:26

One thing I would want to look at would be his entire official officers personal record. The OQR in the later 20th Century terminology. That would contain the regular evaluations written by his commanding officers he served under, and and endorsements positive or negative by their commanders review. These performance evaluations were written at a minimum annually, and on other occasion such as when the officer leaves the unit under orders to another command, or school, or when the commander leaves he will write evaluations on his subordinates. These performance evaluations had several parts, one was a list of traits or performance categories where the individual was rated in his ability at the items, second was a written description of his ability of a brief paragraph, the theory was called in my era the "Truth Teller". In this section the commander listed the officer against his peer from best to worst. That is a battalion commander rated all the Captains in his unit from top to bottom.

Individually these performance reviews are difficult to interpret. Promotion boards develop a art to reading single evaluations. In the aggregate they are a powerful tool. In two decades a officer will accurate approximately thirty of these. Looking at the peer rating one sees the best leaders will c regularly fall in the top 10% & the worst losers live at the bottom. There are exceptions & everyone in the course of a couple decades serves under at least one prick, or incompatible commander, but in the aggregate the better men are picked for the upper range of the peer rating.

So, the question here is, where did Stilwell fall out in his performance evaluations? How did the dozen pluss commanding officers he reported to before 1942 rate him? Did they frequently find him deficient in 'Administrative Ability', Personal Courage', Physical Fitness', 'Handling Troops', ect... or was he rated as outstanding over & over by many different commanders? Were there remarks in the written section that indicated a unsuitability not reflected in the performance categories?

The opinions of a long series of commanding officers who observed & depended on Stilwells capabilities would be a interesting read.

To follow this in a different lane for a moment. Interwar the US Army did not have any combat operations from which to evaluate a officers performance. What they were left with as at the core the individuals ability to: Plan, Organize, and Execute tasks. Any task signed the Lt Major or Col, from supervision of painting the street curbs, to planning the annual maneuvers was a significant part of the basis for judging a officers potential. There were many peripheral items and 'noise' added into this, but at the core Planning, Organization, Execution abilities were the standard. The USMC had its ongoing Banana Wars for sifting out the losers, but the Army had nothing similar.

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by OpanaPointer » 17 Dec 2021 21:13

Buddha save me from a person who has only read one book.
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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by AnchorSteam » 18 Dec 2021 04:27

OpanaPointer wrote:
17 Dec 2021 21:13
Buddha save me from a person who has only read one book.
Wasn't it Rommel that said that he never read a book that didn't have something to do with warfare? :milwink:

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by AnchorSteam » 18 Dec 2021 04:40

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Dec 2021 19:26
One thing I would want to look at would be his entire official officers personal record.
....
I disagree.
Generals do not exist to produce paperwork in the form of reviews and evaluations, they exist to lead armies.
The results produced by this General indicate that he was one of the worst, even if he managed to produce volumes of excuses for his performance.

The biggest item that stood out to me was the fact that he was appointed to the entire theater, and yet when the biggest Japanese offensive (ever) kicked off he had no idea and little interest in what was happening. Instead, he was slogging around the India/Burma border with a couple of his favorite Battalions.
And when he did find out, he said "Let 'em stew" as China itself came near to collapse.

That is not the kind of behavior you should expect from anyone qualified for a Theater Command.

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Dec 2021 06:05

AnchorSteam wrote:
18 Dec 2021 04:40
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Dec 2021 19:26
One thing I would want to look at would be his entire official officers personal record.
....
I disagree.
Generals do not exist to produce paperwork in the form of reviews and evaluations, they exist to lead armies. ...
Actually no.Very few get to lead armies. In fact few even reach to command of a corps. In the 20th Century a larger portion were never assigned to any ground combat formations. But, I don't think I understood the rest of your last post at all & can't respond in any way to it.

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Dec 2021 12:17

AnchorSteam wrote:
18 Dec 2021 04:27
OpanaPointer wrote:
17 Dec 2021 21:13
Buddha save me from a person who has only read one book.
Wasn't it Rommel that said that he never read a book that didn't have something to do with warfare? :milwink:
I wonder what his grade school years were like. :lol:
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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by Takao » 18 Dec 2021 14:15

AnchorSteam wrote:
18 Dec 2021 04:27
OpanaPointer wrote:
17 Dec 2021 21:13
Buddha save me from a person who has only read one book.
Wasn't it Rommel that said that he never read a book that didn't have something to do with warfare? :milwink:
Wasn't it Rommel that got thrown out of North Africa?
Wasn't it Rommel that lost normandy?

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by Takao » 18 Dec 2021 15:40

AnchorSteam wrote:
18 Dec 2021 04:40
Generals do not exist to produce paperwork in the form of reviews and evaluations, they exist to lead armies.
The results produced by this General indicate that he was one of the worst, even if he managed to produce volumes of excuses for his performance.
General George Marshall lead no armies in WW2, he won no battles, he won no campaigns. Would this not make General Marshall the "worst" US General? Stillwell at least won some of his campaigns.

AnchorSteam wrote:
18 Dec 2021 04:40
The biggest item that stood out to me was the fact that he was appointed to the entire theater, and yet when the biggest Japanese offensive (ever) kicked off he had no idea and little interest in what was happening. Instead, he was slogging around the India/Burma border with a couple of his favorite Battalions.
And when he did find out, he said "Let 'em stew" as China itself came near to collapse.

That is not the kind of behavior you should expect from anyone qualified for a Theater Command.
Stillwell had no idea about Ichi-go? Where do you get such rubbish? Yeah, that boobtube video...Well, Stillwell knew about Ichi-go, Chennault had been pleading for more resources to stop the Japanese build up for what Chennault thought was going to be a massive Japanese Air offensive, which Stillwell agreed to. Yet, when the offensive turned out to be entirely ground based campaign, Chennault's Air Force was left entirely out in left field.

Odd, that you never ask the question "Why was Stillwell slogging around Burma?" You see, the only open supply route was "the Hump", an air route, which was barely able to keep Chennault's air force supplied(you know - that air force that failed to halt Ichi-go). Stillwell knew that a ground route had to be opened to China, or there would be very little that could be done.

China also was "never near to collapse" during Ichi-go.

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by LineDoggie » 21 Dec 2021 02:09

Takao wrote:
18 Dec 2021 14:15

Wasn't it Rommel that got thrown out of North Africa?
Nope, Rommel was gone 2 months by the time of the surrender

Takao wrote:
18 Dec 2021 14:15
Wasn't it Rommel that lost normandy?
Rommel was CinC West when again? Here I thought von Rundstedt was



Wasnt it Rommel still studied to this day for his leadership
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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by Takao » 21 Dec 2021 03:17

No, Rommel was not thrown out of North Africa? Odd. You just said he was gone 2 months before the surrender...Sounds like he was.

Guess MacArthur was not thrown out of the Philippines in '41 either.

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by OpanaPointer » 21 Dec 2021 03:53

Rommel and von R. were both in the D-Day dance.
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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by AnchorSteam » 21 Dec 2021 08:44

Takao wrote:
18 Dec 2021 15:40
General George Marshall lead no armies in WW2, he won no battles, he won no campaigns. Would this not make General Marshall the "worst" US General? Stillwell at least won some of his campaigns.
If you had actually looked at the vid you would know that Marshal was one of the few people Stilwell respected and seemed to have gotten along with reasonably well.
But you didn't, did you?
Everything that was mentioned was stuff I already knew to be true, and the rest were insights that all added up perfectly well to me.
Takao wrote:
18 Dec 2021 15:40
Stillwell had no idea about Ichi-go? Where do you get such rubbish? Yeah, that boobtube video...Well, Stillwell knew about Ichi-go, Chennault had been pleading for more resources to stop the Japanese build up for what Chennault thought was going to be a massive Japanese Air offensive, which Stillwell agreed to. Yet, when the offensive turned out to be entirely ground based campaign, Chennault's Air Force was left entirely out in left field.
Chenault did indeed make that kind of boast. Funny thing, Airpower was and overwhelming influence on who won or lost Battles in those days. And don't you know, he'd be right in just about another threater of the war.
IMHO; he was right there too, but he was just never going to be able to build up the kind of force that would have made the difference that juch a vast Front demanded. He was never going to get it because of the lack of logistic access to China, and how a lot of that was being dedicated to the B-29s and their strategic bombing campaign agianst Japan itself.
Right idea, wrong place.

And who exactly says that they thought the Jpanases would fight mostly with planes in China, when the campaign to strangle their fuel supplies was in full swing and they were losing hundreds of planes every time they met the USN head-on?

before-
Image

After-

Image

Seems pretty drastic to me.

Stiwell was pretty damn unconcerned if he was fully informed.... or maybe he just didn't care?
He didn't get the nick; "the best 3-star Company commander in the war" for nothing.

THe point is, he spent the vast majority of his time in the Spring and Summer of 1944 slogging around with his boys in Burman, 1,000 miles away from where fighting involving dozens of times as many troops and Japanses progress could be measured in hundreds of miles.
Why was that the correct thing for a Theater Commander to do?
Takao wrote:
18 Dec 2021 15:40
Odd, that you never ask the question "Why was Stillwell slogging around Burma?" You see, the only open supply route was "the Hump", an air route, which was barely able to keep Chennault's air force supplied(you know - that air force that failed to halt Ichi-go). Stillwell knew that a ground route had to be opened to China, or there would be very little that could be done.
Poor judgement on his part, then.
If his personal presence was such a boon to the men fighting under him, he could have prevented the destruction of many Chinese Divisions (with all their eqiopment) and the destruction of 50,000 tons of munitions and other supplies that had already been delivered over that Hump, at such great cost in fuel, planes and aircrew.
The 3 x Chinese Division and one US Regiment with him in Burma were a drop in the bucket by comparison.
Takao wrote:
18 Dec 2021 15:40
China also was "never near to collapse" during Ichi-go.
See above.
in fact, that disaster probably cost the Nationalists the chance to win the war after the war, against the Communists. True, the IJA ran out of blood before Chaing ran out of space, but it was still a terrible thing for China. Stilwell did everything he could to blame "the peanut" for everything and hustled the press so well that US public opinion turned against Chaing, largely thanks to Vinegar Joe and his fellow travelers.
And since we are indulging in Hindsight, it sure would be a better world if China had never been conquered by Communists, right?


hey, I'm not the one that started getting all personal here. 8-)

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Dec 2021 12:51

AnchorSteam wrote:
21 Dec 2021 08:44
...

hey, I'm not the one that started getting all personal here. 8-)
Where do you see personal attacks? Aimed at you, or someone else?

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Re: Stilwell; the worst US General?

Post by LineDoggie » 21 Dec 2021 19:30

Takao wrote:
21 Dec 2021 03:17
No, Rommel was not thrown out of North Africa? Odd. You just said he was gone 2 months before the surrender...Sounds like he was.
Sounds like he was transferred like officers of all armies sometimes are
Takao wrote:
21 Dec 2021 03:17
Guess MacArthur was not thrown out of the Philippines in '41 either.
Ordered out by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a fact so verifiable only a illiterate could not find that out with a minutes googling.
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