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Old 04-09-2011, 02:01 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by beloved_ltd View Post
I think Wamy is much better informed than Adam, WWI had perfectly established and proven tactics and strategy which were a long way away from being based on just brute force set pieces.

In several wars and armed engagements prior to WWI the same strategy and tactics worked perfectly - the military ineptitude on display wasn't to do with what they did; it was because when it was clear that the old established strategy wasn't working there was a lack of any 'great' leaders who could work out 'new' strategies.
I can't make sense of this. It seems like you state that the tactics employed were just fine until it was proven they were not fine. Failing to overcome this and develop more effective tactics, they just continued using the old ones?

This seems to be the point Adam was making.
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Old 04-09-2011, 02:32 PM   #47
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Re: The First World War

The point was coupled with the technology gap.

The tactics and strategy were fine, just didn't take into account the technological improvements.

That's not a complete disaster - plenty of generals have been caught out with temporary setbacks, it's not being able to adapt your strategy that's the problem.

I thought the point Adam was making was that he thought the strategy was just line up both armies against each other and have them duke it out? Which was never the idea. It ended up looking a bit like that only because of the previously mentioned failure to adapt to new technology.
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Old 04-09-2011, 03:31 PM   #48
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The point was coupled with the technology gap.

The tactics and strategy were fine, just didn't take into account the technological improvements.

That's not a complete disaster - plenty of generals have been caught out with temporary setbacks, it's not being able to adapt your strategy that's the problem.

I thought the point Adam was making was that he thought the strategy was just line up both armies against each other and have them duke it out? Which was never the idea. It ended up looking a bit like that only because of the previously mentioned failure to adapt to new technology.
If there was a failure to adapt to new technology and the same tactics and strategy were employed in the face of this means that the tactics and strategy were a failure.

That was Adams's point. it was proven that such tactics and strategy were a failure as stalemate set in which was not unlocked until U.S. troops showed how to properly implement tanks and increase mobility.

This is not an argument that the U.S. Troops were better; they were not - in fact they were exceptionally green. However, the active participants had stagnated in their approach to battle and demanded a new perspective. That happened.
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Old 04-09-2011, 03:46 PM   #49
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Re: The First World War

I didn't really see that level of sophistication in Adam's analysis

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... WWI was all about both sides using brute force mano-a-mano. No movement, no surprise. Nothing.
That was the point I thought was wildly over simplistic. To me Adam was seeming to suggest that the stalemate was basically the strategy - whereas like you've suggested it was as a result of the failure of strategy.
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:27 PM   #50
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Fair enough. I see what you are saying now. I suppose Adam rightfully should be the one to explain his point.
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:09 PM   #51
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Re: The First World War

Its not as simple as that, there's a strong argument that general Haig had a plan and it was working. The major criticism is the human cost not the strategy.
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:52 PM   #52
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Re: The First World War

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Its not as simple as that, there's a strong argument that general Haig had a plan and it was working. The major criticism is the human cost not the strategy.
If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to read that argument. Or, perhaps you can provide some links, or something.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:22 PM   #53
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Re: The First World War

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If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to read that argument. Or, perhaps you can provide some links, or something.
Wish I could provide more but cant recall where I read a fairly detailed account some years ago.

The basic argument is that the stategy was a war of attrition and that Germany was losing that war (albeit slowly), and would have lost despite the unforseen collapse of the Eastern front even if the USA hadn't joined in.

I'm not claiming to be convinced this is the case but even less convinced by the claim that somehow if the USA hadn't joined in WW1 would still be going on. There is room for an analysis on who was winning the war of attrition and whether that was the general strategy or itself a post hoc justification.

Also Haig was correctly an easy target because of the saverge butchery under his command but so much of the (at the time) revisionism against him was led by politicians like Lloyd-george and Churchill. Not something we should just believe too easily.

[OT but probably my favorite comic moment of all time is the scene of Haig in Blackadder goes forth playing with his toy soldiers while on the phone]
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:15 PM   #54
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Re: The First World War

I have the impression from someplace that a major failure in tactics was the use on both sides of artillery. They would precede any offensive with days of massive artillery fire which was suppose to soften up the enemy as well as flatten or destroy the barb wire. Trouble was it did neither. It barely touched the soldiers in trenches and had little impact on the barb wire. If anything it made no-man's land more treacherous to cross. And it tipped off the enemy that a major offensive was on the way.

What made the machine gun especially deadly was the barb wire. They should have recognized the ineffectivenss of their artillery barrages early on and concentrated on developing something to get them past the barb wire. I believe that turned out to be the highest use of tanks in the theatre when they finally got some. Tanks could roll over the barb wire and allow advancing soldiers to walk through the breach. Had they not so stubbornly stuck with their artillery tactics and instead concentrated on finding a way to solve the barb wire problem the war might have gone a lot differently.


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Old 04-11-2011, 12:48 PM   #55
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
That was Adams's point. it was proven that such tactics and strategy were a failure as stalemate set in which was not unlocked until U.S. troops showed how to properly implement tanks and increase mobility.

This is not an argument that the U.S. Troops were better; they were not - in fact they were exceptionally green. However, the active participants had stagnated in their approach to battle and demanded a new perspective. That happened.
This is not clear at all. The Americans barely even had a tank core in WW1, let alone any of their own tanks, and on French and British tanks they only appeared on the battlefield in mid to late 1918, and when they did it hardly created a 'breakthrough'. See here for more details.

No one knew how effective tanks were/could be for basically the whole of WW1. Many of the tank battles ended in total failure and no one could work out how to sustain attacks with them - thus still not allowing them the break in the lines that everyone dreamed possible.

Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and moral problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:44 PM   #56
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Re: The First World War

Should read 'morale' above in last paragraph.

Just to expand on troop mobility etc - the Allies made many daring and 'mobile' infantry attacks during WW1. Gallipoli, The Somme - even Paschendale could be considered a daring and highly mobile plot.

It's highly unlikely the Americans would have faired little better than any other nationality in any of these, and it seems a quite simple point to show that they had little more success on the Western Front late on than the rest of the Allies - and using near identical tactics - something that would suggest it had much more to do with a German internal collapse (which was pronounced and huge) than any single sudden military breakthrough in tactics or technology.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:48 PM   #57
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Re: The First World War

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Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and morale problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
So was the German army "stabbed in the back"? Could Germany have fought on to a cease fire and more equitable peace agreement? Did Germany quit because German bankers were refusing to extend more credit to the government? And/or because of social unrest on the home front stirred up by communists? Why did Germany decide to surrender subject to such onerous terms for peace? Could they have practically done otherwise?


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Old 04-11-2011, 07:07 PM   #58
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Re: The First World War

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A painting of gas victims by Constance Oliver:

Sorry to come to this thread so late and be a nit, but this painting is by John Singer Sargent, not Constance Oliver.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:44 PM   #59
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
This is not clear at all. The Americans barely even had a tank core in WW1, let alone any of their own tanks, and on French and British tanks they only appeared on the battlefield in mid to late 1918, and when they did it hardly created a 'breakthrough'. See here for more details.

No one knew how effective tanks were/could be for basically the whole of WW1. Many of the tank battles ended in total failure and no one could work out how to sustain attacks with them - thus still not allowing them the break in the lines that everyone dreamed possible.

Even in the period where we did make sharp progress right at the end of 1918, it has much more to do with logistic and moral problems with Germany, than it did with any kind of other troop/technology factor as far as nearly all respected historians are concerned.
From the article you cite:

Quote:
II. About the Early Tactical Doctrine of the War's Participants

The French saw the tank as mobile artillery. So they used their light tanks to accompany the infantry, moving forward with the infantry in the assault artillery role, while the heavier vehicles provide fire support instead of going forward to bread the wire.

The British envisioned using the heavy tank alone, although, later they employed the Medium A Whippet, and J.F.C. Fuller began to think more and more about using the Medium D for breakthrough and penetration. The British idea was to send the heavy tanks forward in advance of the infantry to destroy the wire. The, with the infantry following through the gap they made, the tanks were to fan out behind enemy lines to exploit the breakthrough.

The Germans had similar ideas about the use of heavy tanks. They didn't think at all about light tanks.

The Americans planned to send the heavy tanks forward to break the wire while the light tanks accompanied the infantry and provided suppressive fires for taking out machine guns and other strongpoints. And that is how [the US Fist Army] tried to use the tanks in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.
Which comports with this:

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Originally Posted by Oski View Post
True, but for much the war the tank was improperly employed. It was often seen as an "end in itself" as a stand alone weapon. Later, it was properly used as a battlefield tactical piece used in conjuction with troops. The proper idea was to use the tank in a manner to escort and shield the movement of troops over the battlefield.

I've already stated the Armerican troops were inferior to their Allied counterparts, so its not about that. Americans did bring a new way at looking at things which came to bear in reducing the St. Mihiel salient. I did not state or imply that the U.S. used its own tanks or operated on their own. For the most part, they did not.

As for providing a difference, it certainly mattered that the U.S. was brought into the fold. The eastern troops of the Germans were available to fight on the western front after the armistice with Russia. If the U.S. was not there (and you are free to insert troops from "x" country here) the Germans may have had an advantage or at least could have held out much longer.

Last edited by Oski; 04-11-2011 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:51 PM   #60
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Re: The First World War

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Originally Posted by Wamy Einehouse View Post
Should read 'morale' above in last paragraph.

Just to expand on troop mobility etc - the Allies made many daring and 'mobile' infantry attacks during WW1. Gallipoli, The Somme - even Paschendale could be considered a daring and highly mobile plot.

It's highly unlikely the Americans would have faired little better than any other nationality in any of these, and it seems a quite simple point to show that they had little more success on the Western Front late on than the rest of the Allies - and using near identical tactics - something that would suggest it had much more to do with a German internal collapse (which was pronounced and huge) than any single sudden military breakthrough in tactics or technology.
Both of these were coincidental. The fact remains that the Allieds employed new tactics and were working them to an advantage. Germany's internal problems certain brought a quicker end to the war, but prior to that, the outcome was in little doubt as the Allied were holding a knife at their throat. This explains why Germany accepted such one-sided terms.

Also, I appreciate why you may be interpreting my statements as "rah rah Americans," but I'm not. In any event, I think it odd that the Allied generals insisted on fighting the war a certain way for 3 1/2 years then changed up once a new element was introduced (the U.S.), and then one does not want to acknowledge this profound change. Also, the French and the English played the U.S. troops as a political football hoping to be the ones to use them to help them achieve the breakthrough and grab the glory.

The fact is that the French and English generals were not very good and were mostly political puppets or sought to use the War to their own political ends. They are quite responsible for millions of uneccesary casulaties that served no tactical advantage.

Last edited by Oski; 04-11-2011 at 08:12 PM.
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