Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

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Ironmachine
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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Ironmachine » 27 Feb 2022 08:39

daveshoup2MD wrote:The sum total of Germany's experience in amphibious operations during the war by 1942 was Norway and Crete. The sum total of Italy's experience at the same point was nil.
No, that's simply not true.
For the Germans,off the top of my head, there were also landings in Denmark in 1940 and Operation Beowulf II in the Baltic in 1941.
For the Italians, of course there was Crete, where they actually finally managed to land forces, but there was also a small operation at Kastelorizo against the British in 1941.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Peter89 » 27 Feb 2022 08:55

daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Feb 2022 08:03
Peter89 wrote:
26 Feb 2022 14:23
daveshoup2MD wrote:
26 Feb 2022 06:40
Peter89 wrote:
25 Feb 2022 09:01
Ironmachine wrote:
25 Feb 2022 08:38

Maybe this one? The Axis and the intended invasion of Malta in 1942: A combined planning endeavor:
https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/AD1003811.pdf
Yes exactly. This is basically the most read paper on the subject these days.
Peter89 wrote:
25 Feb 2022 07:31
daveshoup2MD wrote:
25 Feb 2022 05:59

Concur; it's very challenging, as history makes clear. The point in this posited case, of course, is that examples of successful Italo-German cooperation in an amphibious assault against a strongly-defended objective by Q2 1942 are ... limited, to be charitable. Losing the seaborne elements of MERCURY on their way to Crete, and ... what else?
The Italo-German cooperation was actually pretty good at the planned invasion of Malta in Q2 1942. I think someone quoted a paper about it which leads to various other interesting sources
Planning an operation and executing are different things.
I never said they could execute this plan, especially with the strategic environment they were in.
But they started to work on many aspects they ignored before. Crete and other examples were nothing like the Maltese operation in terms of CCC, training, tactics, combined arms planning, etc.

I am most familiar with Fallschirmjägers, and indeed they were more many times more effective on every level of combat than in 1941.

It is also undeniable that the Axis cooperation was at its high point in the summer of 1942. This was the year when German victory seemed plausible for all allies of Germany, and Germany became a bit more humble in the light of their repeated defeats. In 1943, when no one believed in a German victory anymore, Germany did not really cooperate, it dictated.
The sum total of Germany's experience in amphibious operations during the war by 1942 was Norway and Crete. The sum total of Italy's experience at the same point was nil.
This is not true.

There was the Westfeldzug and the Corinthian Isthmus for air assaults and a number of other missions for airlifting and air landing.
Italian amphibious experience was also not zero, starting from Corfu in 1923.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by glenn239 » 27 Feb 2022 16:00

daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Feb 2022 08:00
Amphibious warfare is challenging, to put it mildly; amphibious warfare in a coalition even more so. The Axis record in both was poor, at best. The IJN suffered not one, but two defeats in opposed landings in 1941-42
If amphibious assaults were so difficult and perilous history would have more examples of those that failed. You mention 1st Wake. This was a slap dash affair conducted in a rush by literally whatever 3rd rate units were lying around. The idea that this constitutes an "Axis" standard of amphibious assault is ridiculous. 2nd Wake, which was done with better planning, air support, and execution, took Wake in less than a day.

In fact, the evidence suggests that defense against amphibious assault is the extraordinarily difficult art of war. This is because the attacker has the advantage, almost invariably, of surprise, can pick its point(s) of attack from in many cases a long list of threat vectors in which the approach of reserves to the landing zones is along difficult lines of communications. The attackers usually have at least air superiority, and strong artillery support in the form of naval gunfire, and in most cases can bring more logistics to the party.

Malta was a tough nut to crack, to be sure. The main point, I think, is that by the time of Herkules in mid-1942 Torch was already inevitable; the importance of Malta in the Mediterranean war was over.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Feb 2022 00:34

Ironmachine wrote:
27 Feb 2022 08:17
daveshoup2MD wrote:It's not evidence that any future amphibious assault is going to succeed, is it?
It is not evidence of any future amphibious assault's result, either success or failure. You seem to fail to understand what "evidence" means.
Nah, pretty good idea, actually - Rule 406 of the U.S. federal rules of evidence, actually:

Rule 406. Habit; Routine Practice
Evidence of a person’s habit or an organization’s routine practice may be admitted to prove that on a particular occasion the person or organization acted in accordance with the habit or routine practice. The court may admit this evidence regardless of whether it is corroborated or whether there was an eyewitness. As an example, Whittemore v. Lockheed Aircraft Corp., 65 Cal.App.2d 737, 151 P.2d 670 (1944), upholding the admission of evidence that plaintiff's intestate had on four other occasions flown planes from defendant's factory for delivery to his employer airline, offered to prove that he was piloting rather than a guest on a plane which crashed and killed all on board while en route for delivery.

Pattern of behaviour is a pretty standard measure of evidence, in history and the law.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Feb 2022 00:41

Ironmachine wrote:
27 Feb 2022 08:39
daveshoup2MD wrote:The sum total of Germany's experience in amphibious operations during the war by 1942 was Norway and Crete. The sum total of Italy's experience at the same point was nil.
No, that's simply not true.
For the Germans,off the top of my head, there were also landings in Denmark in 1940 and Operation Beowulf II in the Baltic in 1941.
For the Italians, of course there was Crete, where they actually finally managed to land forces, but there was also a small operation at Kastelorizo against the British in 1941.
The unopposed administrative landings in Denmark are evidence of being able to operate a ferry route. Beowulf is a better example; there's one. Kastelorizo was a raid and counter raid.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Feb 2022 00:47

glenn239 wrote:
27 Feb 2022 16:00
daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Feb 2022 08:00
Amphibious warfare is challenging, to put it mildly; amphibious warfare in a coalition even more so. The Axis record in both was poor, at best. The IJN suffered not one, but two defeats in opposed landings in 1941-42
If amphibious assaults were so difficult and perilous history would have more examples of those that failed. You mention 1st Wake. This was a slap dash affair conducted in a rush by literally whatever 3rd rate units were lying around. The idea that this constitutes an "Axis" standard of amphibious assault is ridiculous. 2nd Wake, which was done with better planning, air support, and execution, took Wake in less than a day.

In fact, the evidence suggests that defense against amphibious assault is the extraordinarily difficult art of war. This is because the attacker has the advantage, almost invariably, of surprise, can pick its point(s) of attack from in many cases a long list of threat vectors in which the approach of reserves to the landing zones is along difficult lines of communications. The attackers usually have at least air superiority, and strong artillery support in the form of naval gunfire, and in most cases can bring more logistics to the party.

Malta was a tough nut to crack, to be sure. The main point, I think, is that by the time of Herkules in mid-1942 Torch was already inevitable; the importance of Malta in the Mediterranean war was over.
2nd Wake? Remind us all of the RM's 1942 equivalent of Soryu and Hiryu...

As far as more examples?

Tanga, Gallipoli, Drøbaksundet/Oslofjord, 1st Wake, Milne Bay...

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Ironmachine » 28 Feb 2022 08:37

daveshoup2MD wrote:Nah, pretty good idea, actually - Rule 406 of the U.S. federal rules of evidence, actually:

Rule 406. Habit; Routine Practice
Evidence of a person’s habit or an organization’s routine practice may be admitted to prove that on a particular occasion the person or organization acted in accordance with the habit or routine practice. The court may admit this evidence regardless of whether it is corroborated or whether there was an eyewitness. As an example, Whittemore v. Lockheed Aircraft Corp., 65 Cal.App.2d 737, 151 P.2d 670 (1944), upholding the admission of evidence that plaintiff's intestate had on four other occasions flown planes from defendant's factory for delivery to his employer airline, offered to prove that he was piloting rather than a guest on a plane which crashed and killed all on board while en route for delivery.
It may help if you try to understand what is actually written:
Evidence of a person’s habit or an organization’s routine practice may be admitted to prove that on a particular occasion the person or organization acted in accordance with the habit or routine practice.
"acted", as in the past. Nobody (or at least nobody in his right mind) will accept it as evidence of future events.
daveshoup2MD wrote:Pattern of behaviour is a pretty standard measure of evidence, in history and the law.
Pattern of behaviour is a good tool to explain why something happened in the way it happened. It may also help study how a future case could develop, but it is no evidence at all that in the future something is going to happen just the same way that similar events happened in the past,which was my point when I posted:
It is not evidence of any future amphibious assault's result, either success or failure. You seem to fail to understand what "evidence" means.
Anyway, given the very small number of German and Italian amphibious operations actually carried out by Q2 1942, and the great differences among them, IMHO you will be hard-pressed to produce a pattern of behaviour may have some value for the case of this thread.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Ironmachine » 28 Feb 2022 08:58

daveshoup2MD wrote:The unopposed administrative landings in Denmark are evidence of being able to operate a ferry route.
Only if you can prove that the Germans didn't expect any resistance. What the Germans planned for, not what they actually found, should define what was carried out.
daveshoup2MD wrote:Beowulf is a better example; there's one.
So there's one and it was a success. Care to establish a pattern of behaviour?
daveshoup2MD wrote:Kastelorizo was a raid and counter raid.
AFAIK, Operation Abstention (the British invasion of Kastelorizo) was carried out with the goal of keeping the island and placing there a torpedo-boat base so no, it was not simply a raid. The Italian operation had the goal of retaking the island and expelling the British forces, so it was not a raid either.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by glenn239 » 28 Feb 2022 18:14

daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Feb 2022 00:47
2nd Wake? Remind us all of the RM's 1942 equivalent of Soryu and Hiryu...
I believe that was called "Sicily".
As far as more examples?
Of failed Japanese amphibious ops? Nope, I think you covered them both. At Corregidor the Japanese 4th ID assaulted a 10,000 man fortress garrison. Who won that one?

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Mar 2022 04:04

daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Feb 2022 00:47

2nd Wake? Remind us all of the RM's 1942 equivalent of Soryu and Hiryu...

As far as more examples?

Tanga, Gallipoli, Drøbaksundet/Oslofjord, 1st Wake, Milne Bay...
Operation Reservist can be added to the failed assault list. There were a couple failed Red Army landing Operations.
Ironmachine wrote:
27 Feb 2022 08:39
... For the Germans,off the top of my head, there were also landings in Denmark in 1940 and Operation Beowulf II in the Baltic in 1941.
For the Italians, of course there was Crete, where they actually finally managed to land forces, but there was also a small operation at Kastelorizo against the British in 1941.
The Italians made some small landings to turn the Greek flank on the Adriatic coast.

Guadacanal was not a assault operation for the Japanese, they never charged across a beach. But, I was trained to think in terms of amphibious or Littoral operations in a broader sense. Charging the beach was a small part of a littoral operation & its debatable that its the most important or difficult part. The USN placing a landing force on Guadalcanal took advantage of the lack of meaningful defense & reversed the operational situation on the Japanese. Tactically & operationally the US forces became the defense & it was the Japanese conducting a combined services offensive as a littoral or amphibious operation. In that sense the Japanese effort to retake Guadalcanal was a large scale failure as a amphibious operation.

Earlier it was remarked how the first landing on Wake island was a ad hoc and poorly planned affair. That is correct & reflects on how most failed assault, amphibious, or littoral operations that fail are usually poorly planned and prepared. Thats the common reason they fail. Most of the examples we could cite here failed because they were illconceived and executed.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by T. A. Gardner » 01 Mar 2022 21:34

Japanese landings were, for the most part, semi-improvised affairs rather than well planned operations. That is, they often used whatever was at hand to land their troops and frequently ran ships aground to get their troops ashore. When opposed, most Japanese operations suffered unacceptably high--at least by European standards--casualties in the process. These were often near-run things too.

Guadalcanal was a failure for the Japanese as they were never able to place sufficient troops on the island to overcome those the US had there. Initially, the Japanese were thinking in their own terms of what would have been landed and responded in kind to that, not having any solid intelligence on the enemy's dispositions. That is, they figured the US had landed one or two thousand troops at most and that a like number of their troops could overcome that defense.
When that failed, they improvised a second, larger, attempt that failed in turn too. That led to their putting a max effort in finally--at least in terms of what they could manage--and sent a division reinforced by detachments coming close to parity with US numbers. That too was insufficient as their troops were poorly supplied and lacked regular replacements for losses that the US forces were now getting.

Japan also failed to do anything about the US Navy port operation across the channel from Guadalcanal on Tulagi / Florida Island. That gave the defense a big advantage in regular supply that the Japanese didn't have for their forces on Guadalcanal.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Mar 2022 22:48

T. A. Gardner wrote:
01 Mar 2022 21:34
Japanese landings were, for the most part, semi-improvised affairs rather than well planned operations. That is, they often used whatever was at hand to land their troops and frequently ran ships aground to get their troops ashore. When opposed, most Japanese operations suffered unacceptably high--at least by European standards--casualties in the process. These were often near-run things too.
Which connects to the point they take bit more preparation than the average infantry attack. That its a combined fleet, ground force operation adds another layer. Aircraft can complicate it further.
T. A. Gardner wrote:
01 Mar 2022 21:34
Guadalcanal was a failure for the Japanese as they were never able to place sufficient troops on the island to overcome those the US had there. Initially, the Japanese were thinking in their own terms of what would have been landed and responded in kind to that, not having any solid intelligence on the enemy's dispositions. That is, they figured the US had landed one or two thousand troops at most and that a like number of their troops could overcome that defense.
When that failed, they improvised a second, larger, attempt that failed in turn too. That led to their putting a max effort in finally--at least in terms of what they could manage--and sent a division reinforced by detachments coming close to parity with US numbers. That too was insufficient as their troops were poorly supplied and lacked regular replacements for losses that the US forces were now getting.

Japan also failed to do anything about the US Navy port operation across the channel from Guadalcanal on Tulagi / Florida Island. That gave the defense a big advantage in regular supply that the Japanese didn't have for their forces on Guadalcanal.
All that goes straight to the point of amphibious ops being more than organizing boat teams and charging a beach. At the operational level the whole campaign was a poorly conceived and executed littoral/amphibious operation. As sloppy in many ways as the attacks on Wake, or the fiascos of the attempts to flank the Battan defense by sea. One of the understudies details was the late and under resourced effort to establish a intermediate airfield that would have allowed useful fighter cover in the air above Henderson Field. That they had not executed that item or even started it in the original June-July construction says something about lack of depth in their thinking.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by glenn239 » 02 Mar 2022 00:12

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
01 Mar 2022 04:04
Earlier it was remarked how the first landing on Wake island was a ad hoc and poorly planned affair. That is correct & reflects on how most failed assault, amphibious, or littoral operations that fail are usually poorly planned and prepared. Thats the common reason they fail. Most of the examples we could cite here failed because they were illconceived and executed.
I'd have to review, but my impression of 1st Wake was that the first cause of failure was that the invasion force ignored IJA amphibious doctrine, which often called for night landings. Not to say that if they'd landed at night 1st Wake would have succeeded, just that the things that actually caused it to fail were not as likely to play at night.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Mar 2022 16:30

Not following doctrine can be evidence of bad decisions/planning, or a good decision. Context is everything & the difference can be reflected in results. The Japanese approached during the night of 10-11 December, commenced firing before dawn. The shore defenses are recorded as opening fire at 06:10, possibly two hours after the Japanese opened fire. 06:10 would have been a little before or at sunrise. Nautical twilight was the term we used. So, had it occurred the landing party would have crossed the beach after sunrise.

Some argue the first attack on Wake does not count as the landing force never disembarked. A rather weak claim in my mind. What the 11 December attack illustrates is how the beach assault is only a small part of amphibious/littoral operations. In this case the attack was defeated before it reached the water line. That is it was a whole force defeat that included ships vs a defat of the SNLF men wading through surf. This full picture view would suggest the first Japanese attack on Miline Bay can also be counted as a failed landing. It was canceled when the Japanese lost confidence the covering force, the aircraft carrier group, could cover or protect the amphib force. Defeated at the operational level might be the argument.

A lot of details of the Japanese side are missing from the accounts of the Wake island battle.

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Re: Taking Gozo as a siege warfare alternative to C3/Herkules

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 03 Mar 2022 23:20

My OP phrased this one as an “interrogation of an idea.” Unlike my main Eastern Front ATL (where Germany likely wins with my PoD and I haven’t seen good arguments otherwise), I’m not certain on the judgement here yet. I’m not convinced by the objections, however, which are mostly of low empirical and logical/analytical quality. Many of you have suddenly become experts on Axis amphibious capabilities despite not having read (at least nobody’s cited) works like Operazione C3. I will also discuss a good objection further below.

Let’s go through some illustratively bad objections:

AHF: “You can’t use any harbors/beaches for unloading because two 9.2in guns can hit northern Gozo”

This is a bad argument and as an assumption (because it’s not backed by any further argumentation) it’s even worse. By this logic, the Allies were lucky that Axis forgot to have >1 guns in Normandy/Sicily/Salerno/Okinawa/etc. Obviously it was possible in WW2 to unload amidst some shelling.

This bad assumption is even worse here. Given Axis air superiority and because Gozo is not flat, you can’t spot shell fall on Gozo’s northern beaches/harbors. Upthread it’s extensively argued that the guns can be located via, e.g., shell crater analysis – fine but that’s besides the point of whether you can spot your shells. Artillerists want to know where to shoot and where they’ve shot; the second requirement somehow disappears in service of attacking this proposal (suggesting the rhetorical strategy is barrage fire hoping something is on target).

The argument also assumes that Axis can’t do – or doesn’t even try to do – anything about the two superguns. With air superiority and naval dominance for at least a few days (or for however long it takes to assemble the Allied naval death ride to Malta), the guns can probably be destroyed or at least suppressed (cue replies stating that destruction of the guns is assumed to be the case and is essential to TMP’s proposal, despite everything else you’ve read).

The argument also ignores ammo supply.

AHF: “Gozo’s guns can’t move”

Somebody also claimed, IIRC, that Gozo’s heavy guns couldn’t be moved around Gozo or something – presumably because they’re heavy (?). They’re heavy field pieces. How long do you think it takes to emplace a 17cm gun? Even a 24cm can probably be moved overnight from one emplacement to another. Is the assumption that Germans/Italians too dumb to understand the benefit of not staying in one place?

AHF: “RN to the rescue!”

As Histan notes and as I’ve said upthread, in early 1942 the RN and USN have their hands full elsewhere.

Even granting that the Allies somehow assemble a massive naval armada, the idea assumes they’d be willing to sail it into waters dominated by hundreds of shore-based aircraft, powerfully mined, and teeming with light torpedo boats. This completely ignores historical facts, such as the RN’s heavy units rarely (never?) sailing near Malta during convoy operations. Neither was the USN willing to confront strong land-based power with carriers at this time – they remained trepidacious even much later in the Pacific with far greater naval resources. They MIGHT be willing in early/mid-1942, given the stakes, but it doesn’t seem wise. The naive manner in which internet warriors dispatch the fleet into these dangers again raises questions.

The possibility of RN counterattack is one huge reason FOR doing this: Use Gozo as bait to inflict devastating losses on Allied navies. Given the RN’s results when trying to operate in the Central Med in this period, it’s a predictable bloodbath. In the worst imaginable Axis case (everyone on Gozo killed/captured somehow), that’s worth sacrificing a parachute brigade and some artillery.

AHF: “But you haven’t even considered an Allied response.”

Just noting that people have said this, despite extensive discussion of Allied responses in the OP and thereafter. Of course they have - c’est l’AHF.

AHF: “Bombarding the airfields won’t work because Henderson Field”

Again, an obviously bad argument/analogy. The difference between a couple drive-by, night-time bombardments and sustained shelling from observed artillery needn’t be explained.

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Most of you are also missing the “siege” factor in the thread title and discussion. Two guns on Malta turn all Gozo’s beaches and harbors into roiling cauldrons of death but dozens of guns on Gozo have no implications for Malta’s harbors and therefore its supply?

Does nobody even notice the difference between a small MFP unloading a few artillery pieces/components versus a large ship sitting in a harbor for days while being unloaded?

And that’s entirely separate from the difference between observed/unobserved fire, the difference between two guns and dozens.

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One good objection raised so far invokes the RAF’s use of blast pens around the airfields. I will concede that this makes shutting down the airfields more difficult than initially imagined.

I cannot, however, follow the assumption that it ensures that air operations are invulnerable to being seriously impeded by artillery fire. For one, the blast pens can’t take a direct hit. For another, bombardments would of course be coordinated with air operations in which RAF planes would be predictably using runways and therefore exposing themselves to shell splinters and blast.

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Highly relevant fact: Axis C3 plans intended to use Gozo as a “logistics hub.” No further details given in that link. Odd they’d plan this role for an island with completely unusable beaches and harbors…

Another fact: RM’s C3 plan envisioned 32 guns landing in the first wave of C3. Again, odd they’d plan that when they lacked capability. Although Seeschlangen are sufficient to land artillery on Gozo after the initial assault, it’s almost certainly the case that Axis could have landed artillery over the beaches as well.

Now of course, because this is the internet, some of you will invoke the principle that all Axis plans were stupid and are not indicative of actual capabilities. My only response is we’re lucky a few Allied guys (Ike, Monty, etc.) didn’t run the war the way modern internet warriors run their heroic crusades.

I would greatly appreciate anyone reading this sharing more details from Italian sources like Operazione C3 (even if years after this post and/or I’ve been banned – contact me on twitter, I’ll Venmo you for translations).

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I’m not going to continue tracking individual responses, partially because the moderators usually object to my true feelings. I’ll check in periodically with summary responses to the general drift of AHF commentary and address constructive posts individually. I look forward to further discussions based on good-faith analysis and evidence. Thank you as always to those posting helpful information.
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