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Old 10-27-2012, 07:07 PM   #276
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post

If you study the documented history, you should know that Montgomery was more popular with his men than Patton was with his. I take it you are not familar with the cartoons of Sgt. Bill Mauldin.

Patton doesn't belong in the top 100. He never did anything important with independent command.

And that statement alone should give you an indication of how poor a leader he was and how one-dmensional was his approach. Consider in contrast Sun Tzu
Montgomery being more popular with his men has no relevance on capability. Georgy Zhukov was not popular with his men but that did not neuter his effectiveness on the eastern front.

Montgomery like Lee was cautious trying to line up all his ducks..... Patton has a famous quote that describes my feeling about that quality in a military commander.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

That said these guys are all minor leagues compared to some of the other people I posted about. That said Patton would be a far more dangerous opponent then Lee or Montgomery thus belongs in my Top 50.
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:11 PM   #277
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
Consider in contrast Sun Tzu
I am a huge fan of Sun Tzu, and I am confident I spent more time studying the material then all but a few individuals.

That said, sometimes it is necessary to impose your will on others. Some people don't understand that they are beaten.

For example in the 2008 South Ossetia War. Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory from Russia. There were military leaders dumb enough in Georgia thinking they had a chance to win the war militarily. It would be like Cuba trying to retake Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and actually thinking they had a chance to win with superior military tactics. Sun Tzu is amazing bit some people just don't understand the war is lost before the first shot is fired.
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Old 10-28-2012, 12:06 AM   #278
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Originally Posted by Honey Badger View Post
Montgomery being more popular with his men has no relevance on capability. Georgy Zhukov was not popular with his men but that did not neuter his effectiveness on the eastern front.
You are the one who brought up the issue of the men's impression of their general, and first used it to disparage Lee and then suggested incorrectly that Patton's men would not criticize him but Montgomery's would. I merely refuted that argument. If you don't think the men's view of their leader is relevant, why did you bring it up?

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Montgomery like Lee was cautious trying to line up all his ducks..... Patton has a famous quote that describes my feeling about that quality in a military commander.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
Funny you should reference that in a discussion about Patton vs. Montgomery. Montgomery designated Cobra to begin the day after Goodwood. Goodwood was to be a diversion and holding action (with allowances for the possibilty of a breakthrough) that was to set the ground for Cobra, which was the intended breakthrough. But the US forces delayed their attack by nearly a full week, well after the diversionary effect of Goodwood had been lost.

Can you cite one instance of where a strategic opportunity was lost in the Normandy campaign because Montgomery was slow to act? No. But there are multiple instances of the US forces not acting fast enough or decisively enough. Generally however, that was not down to Patton. Being slow to act was not a problem Patton had, but to suggest that it was a problem Montgomery had needs more than the bald assertion.

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That said these guys are all minor leagues compared to some of the other people I posted about. That said Patton would be a far more dangerous opponent then Lee or Montgomery thus belongs in my Top 50.
You just don't have the evidence to back that up. Montgomery actually defeated Rommel twice. Patton was a bit player coming in at the end of each case.

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Originally Posted by Honey Badger View Post
I am a huge fan of Sun Tzu, and I am confident I spent more time studying the material then all but a few individuals.

That said, sometimes it is necessary to impose your will on others. Some people don't understand that they are beaten.

For example in the 2008 South Ossetia War. Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory from Russia. There were military leaders dumb enough in Georgia thinking they had a chance to win the war militarily. It would be like Cuba trying to retake Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and actually thinking they had a chance to win with superior military tactics. Sun Tzu is amazing bit some people just don't understand the war is lost before the first shot is fired.
Here you seem to miss the point entirely. The point that Sun Tzu makes primarily is that the achivement of the policy objective is the correct goal. His secondary point in the passage which the quotation begins is that the expenditure of military force to acheive the policy objective is only appropriate if other means will not succeed, and the direct application of military force is inferior to the indirect appliction, which is tiself inferior to acheivement of he goal without application of military force. Sun Tzu understood that sometimes there was a need to crush one's enemies completely. The reason why Patton reached his ceiling at Army Commander within an Army Group is because he never understood that the policy objective is foremost and that crushing the enemy in battle wasn't always the best course.

If you need somebody to crush your enemy through the application of mobile force on the attack, Patton is your man - probably the best the Allies had. But that's just about all he proved himself good at, and being a top military leader requires a lot more.
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Old 10-28-2012, 05:36 PM   #279
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
You are the one who brought up the issue of the men's impression of their general, and first used it to disparage Lee and then suggested incorrectly that Patton's men would not criticize him but Montgomery's would. I merely refuted that argument. If you don't think the men's view of their leader is relevant, why did you bring it up?
This made me laugh. Yes, you're missing my point. I was only exploring that Lee like Montgomery had a default cautious nature. In studying military history extensively one of the few absolutes I have learned whether it be Sulla, Caesar, Khan..... I could go on and on..... is an aggressive audacious opponent is the most difficult to deal with. You're misinterpreting one bit of evidence that demonstrates that point well, as an overall principle of effective military leadership. I think the men's attitudes towards their "commanders disposition" is one thing, and very far from the question of how well they were liked by their men.

If you are trying to make the point that Montgomery was one of the greatest military leaders of all time you are going to have a hard road ahead. Monty might be one of the great case studies of how to be an average military leader. Not incompetent, but certainly not great.

My Op asked who was the GOAT not the guy who didn't just didn't screw things up badly.
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Old 10-28-2012, 11:16 PM   #280
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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]... In studying military history extensively one of the few absolutes I have learned whether it be Sulla, Caesar, Khan..... I could go on and on..... is an aggressive audacious opponent is the most difficult to deal with. ...

If you are trying to make the point that Montgomery was one of the greatest military leaders of all time you are going to have a hard road ahead. Monty might be one of the great case studies of how to be an average military leader. Not incompetent, but certainly not great.

My Op asked who was the GOAT not the guy who didn't just didn't screw things up badly.
I think you have a far too narrow view of the sort of accomplishments that go into being a great military leader. You are focussed far too much only on the conduct of battle.

The notion that Montgomery was merely average is patently ridiculous. You must believe that the results in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy, all of which Montgomery was responsibile for, were inevitable, on the timeline achieved. Nobody thought so at the time, and I don't know of any major military historian or theorist who has proposed this since.

I certainly don't think Montgomery is the GOAT. In terms of actual accomplishments, there is a case to be made that he should possibly be graded in the top 100. However, my point was he should be above Patton. Patton didn't even sit the exam.

On the basis of actual accomplishments, Montgomery ranks a lot higher than Patton. You should remember that Montgomery was directly responsible for creating the circumstances and developing the plans that put Patton in the role of cavalry flank sweeper that he performed so well in Sicily and in Normandy. Patton performed the role designated for him, as laid out in Montgomery's concept. Patton is "the guy who just didn't screw up" the opportunity. Montgomery is the guy who created the opportunity. Montgomery is also responsible for the training of many of the formations in 21st Army Group, which had a higher median standard of performance than the formations under Patton's command, though in the latter case, perhaps much of the fault can be laid at the feet of Gen. McNair*.

Was Patton more aggressive that Montgomery? It seem so. However, in war, as in poker, while aggression is necesary, it is selective aggression that is best, not constant, inevitable, instinctive, uncontrolled aggression. Maniacs lose to good TAGs. Where is the evidence that Patton was a TAG, not a maniac?


* Highest ranking US officer to be killed in action in WW II, Commander of US Army Ground Forces - meaning he was responsible for training soldiers. Ironically he was killed in Normandy by friendly fire, while observing the start of Operation Cobra.
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Old 08-20-2016, 01:08 AM   #281
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Mmm interesting point Mason, i had never thought of putting him in there. Certainly a great organizer and a master of logistics. His track record is certainly impressive, facing many invaders. I know he had some struggles in Poland, but that aside, he certainly is a king of grand strategy.

I think the reason he's not considered a general is because of his lack of involvement at the tactical level, as opposed to the 19thcentury and earlier generals. Post Napoleonic armies saw the rise of the ''Chief of Staff'' as opposed to field generals. This is why Eisenhower, Bismarck and Trotsky didn't make the list. However reviewing his civil war campaign, trotsky was more involved at the tactical level then Stalin or Eisenhower. I think im gonna find a spot in the top 100.

I have to add that ''the famous generals'': Robert Lee, Rommel, Hannibal, Napoleon and Frederick II were all VERY well versed at the tactical level. In fact i believe in pure tactics(opposed to broader scoped ''strategy''), no one can top Napoleon and Hannibal. However war and conflict is much more about Strategy and Logistics then tactics. Napoleon, Frederick and Hannibal are perfect examples. They won more battles then they lost, but they ran out of resources and ended up on the losing side. This is why Genghis Khan one of the greats; he saw the big picture, organizing the tribes and having a solid supply chain, as well as being able to face the tough climates of the steppes. It isn't about the battles, its about being ready.(enter sun tzu quote).
Bringing up Trotsky makes me want to ask about someone like Louis Antone Saint-Just who I was just reading about during the French Revolution.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:05 PM   #282
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Originally Posted by SenorKeeed View Post
Would love to see you guys do a draft on military leaders.
Using WWII as the pool to draw from:

1. Eisenhower. To handle all the personalities I would subsequently draft, and figure out how to best use their egos to build an overwhelming fighting and occupation force. He is the Phil Jackson of Generals.

2. After him, you have a bunch of Michael Jordan's and Magic Johnson's to choose from.

Tacticians: Von Manstein, Guderian, Rommel, Hoth, Patton, Felix Steiner, Alexander, LeClerc, Zhukov.

Holders/administrators: Bradley, von Rundstedt, Smith, Marshall, Beck.

Egos: MacArthur, Montgomery, Stalin, Hitler.

Intelligence: Canaris, Dulles, Donovan, Stewart Menzies

That was a talent pool the world had.
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:52 AM   #283
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Yes, Lee had his moments of aggression..... with some success, but Lee's decision on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, against the sound judgment of his best corps commander General Longstreet, to launch a massive frontal assault on the center of the Union line was disastrous. The assault known as Pickett's Charge was repulsed and resulted in heavy Confederate losses. The general rode out to meet his retreating army and proclaimed, "All this has been my fault."
Hi HoneyBadger:

Yet that same General Longstreet at the Battle of Chickamauga launched a massive frontal assault that crushed the Union Army (which had a hole in its defensive lines). Obviously no two battles are the same, but I've always wondered by Longstreet saw things so differently at Chickamauga than he did at Gettysburg.

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Old 06-07-2017, 02:36 PM   #284
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Yet that same General Longstreet at the Battle of Chickamauga launched a massive frontal assault that crushed the Union Army (which had a hole in its defensive lines).
The gap in the lines is the key difference.
Poor generalship and conflicting orders by Rosecrans opened a gap in the Union front. Longstreet took advantage of this and broke the Union army in two.

At Gettysburg, the Union line was unbroken and entrenched behind a stone wall on high ground with over a mile of open fields in front of them.
Perfect conditions for an artillery killing field.

Added to this, at a council of war the previous night Meade forecast the attack on his centre and the Union infantry and artillery commanders were fully prepared for the advance.

Longstreet had tried to dissuade Lee from launching the attack but was overruled. He was so distressed by this that he delegated Alexander (commanding the Confederate artillery) to give the order for the assault.
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:02 PM   #285
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Right, thinking that Longstreet saw things differently at Chickamauga and Gettysburg is an error. He didn't want to attack on day two at Gettysburg, let alone day three! He wanted Lee to withdraw to the southeast to try and find better ground where the Union army might be goaded into attacking them.
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:53 AM   #286
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Originally Posted by SqredII View Post
Using WWII as the pool to draw from:

1. Eisenhower. To handle all the personalities I would subsequently draft, and figure out how to best use their egos to build an overwhelming fighting and occupation force. He is the Phil Jackson of Generals.
I totally agree. He was a poor tactician and an indifferent strategist, but his personality was absolutely key to the Western Allied war effort.

I also like that you recognize that there are different types of miiltary leadership as exemplified by your various lists.

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Originally Posted by SqredII View Post
2. After him, you have a bunch of Michael Jordan's and Magic Johnson's to choose from.

Tacticians: Von Manstein, Guderian, Rommel, Hoth, Patton, Felix Steiner, Alexander, LeClerc, Zhukov.
For various reasons, I really don't think Rommel, Patton, Hoth, Steiner. Alexander or LeClerc belong in the same list as von Manstein, Guderian, and Zhukov. To that list I'd consider adding add Chuikov, Konev, Model, Montgomery, and Rokossovsky.

Rommel and Patton are off for being one trick ponies. Hoth, Steiner and LeClerc for being not particular distinguished from any number of similar candidates, and Alexander because he belongs on your next list.
If you want to consider lesser level commanders like LeClerc or Steiner, you might want to also add Dormann-Smith, Horrocks, Lawton Collins, Middelton, O'Conner, and Simmonds from the Western Allies, and about 50 names from the eastern front.

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Holders/administrators: Bradley, von Rundstedt, Smith, Marshall, Beck.
Brooke belongs here. Why Beck?
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:37 PM   #287
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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The gap in the lines is the key difference.
Poor generalship and conflicting orders by Rosecrans opened a gap in the Union front. Longstreet took advantage of this and broke the Union army in two.
While true, I don't think Longstreet knew there was a gap in the Union line when he gave the orders to Bushrod Johnson to start the charge.

Quote:
At Gettysburg, the Union line was unbroken and entrenched behind a stone wall on high ground with over a mile of open fields in front of them.
Perfect conditions for an artillery killing field.
Just a thought, I watched a show on PBS a couple of years back that made the argument that real difference maker in the charge at Gettysburg was the wooden fence that Lee's troops ran into before they made it to the stone wall.

Quote:
Added to this, at a council of war the previous night Meade forecast the attack on his centre and the Union infantry and artillery commanders were fully prepared for the advance.
I agree. Meade did a pretty good job at Gettysburg.

Quote:
Longstreet had tried to dissuade Lee from launching the attack but was overruled. He was so distressed by this that he delegated Alexander (commanding the Confederate artillery) to give the order for the assault.
So this brings us back full circle. Why did he think that a strategy was negative at Gettysburg but positive at Chickamauga?

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:41 PM   #288
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Right, thinking that Longstreet saw things differently at Chickamauga and Gettysburg is an error. He didn't want to attack on day two at Gettysburg, let alone day three! He wanted Lee to withdraw to the southeast to try and find better ground where the Union army might be goaded into attacking them.
While it may be an error to think this way, it sure seems like that's exactly what happened. The way I understand it, his troops arrived by train the morning of Day Two at Chickamauga, Longstreet lined them up in two columns, and then Johnson's Charge began.

I've never seen where in had consultation with Brag and he was acting under Brag's instructions. The decision, as far as I know, was completely Longstreet's.

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Old 06-10-2017, 04:42 AM   #289
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Just a thought, I watched a show on PBS a couple of years back that made the argument that real difference maker in the charge at Gettysburg was the wooden fence that Lee's troops ran into before they made it to the stone wall.
Is this from the Civil War series that was on PBS? Just watched it recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sad to hear that Shelby Foote is no longer with us.
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:07 AM   #290
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Is this from the Civil War series that was on PBS? Just watched it recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sad to hear that Shelby Foote is no longer with us.
I don't think so. I think it was a different program, perhaps a Secrets of the Dead or a Nova.

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Old 06-11-2017, 04:41 AM   #291
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

GM Bobby Fischer. Nobody moved more military forces around than Bobby in his time, and his accomplishment of defeating the entire Russian system is unmatched. GM Bobby Fischer makes Napoleon look like a rube.

Last edited by leavesofliberty; 06-11-2017 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 06-11-2017, 03:09 PM   #292
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I'm going to go-out on a limb and assume all historical generals were terrible in many respects and would be thrashed by anyone with leadership qualities coming out of Virginia. Look at chess. Look at how horrible Napolean played chess! One can only assume that parallel advancements in warfare theory and strategy have been made.

I defy anyone examining the known games of Napolean and think of him as a General in the same way. I know, chess =/= war, and I get that, but seriously! If Napolean is top ten then so is GM Bobby Fischer.

Besides that there is the side argument about the Art of War where Sun Tzu aimed to perfect the art of winning without war.

Negotiation and war are two topics that are entirely inseparable. But, I digress.
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Old 06-12-2017, 06:54 AM   #293
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

I'd tend to believe it comes down to time and circumstance.

At Gettysburg, Longstreet had been in place during the previous 2 days hard fighting where the Confederate attacks had failed to achieve their objectives.
He had surveyed the ground with Lee before the attack and had time to express his opinions - see quote below.

At Chickamauga, Longstreet was virtually 'parachuted' in, arriving on the scene around 11pm on the first day of battle. He had no time to amend or question Bragg's plans before needing to execute them.

The terrain at Chickamauga was also vastly different, marshy woodland, so enabling an advance to be made under some cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
While true, I don't think Longstreet knew there was a gap in the Union line when he gave the orders to Bushrod Johnson to start the charge.
True, Longstreet got lucky, and his advance struck the Union lines at exactly the right point. Without the gap, the outcome may have been different.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Just a thought, I watched a show on PBS a couple of years back that made the argument that real difference maker in the charge at Gettysburg was the wooden fence that Lee's troops ran into before they made it to the stone wall.
Pickett mentions the fences in his letters, so they were definitely a factor.
IMO, the real deciding factor was the Union artillery. They opened fire at 700 yards and, ignoring the Confederate counter battery fire, concentrated on the infantry lines till they were almost on the Union lines.

QUOTE
Lee said that he was going to attack the enemy’s centre.
Great God, said Longstreet, Look, General Lee, at the insurmountable difficulties between our line and that of the Yankees, the steep hills, the tiers of artillery, the fences, the heavy skirmish line and then we’ll have to fight our infantry against their batteries. Look at the ground we’ll have to charge over, nearly a mile of the open ground there under the rain of their canister and shrapnel.
The enemy is there, General Longstreet, and I am going to strike him, said Lee.

ENDQUOTE
Extract from: A History of the Civil War, 1861-1865 – James Ford Rhodes
Original source ‘Picketts Letters’


It's worth mentioning that the charge gained the Union lines at several points, but in too small numbers to dislodge the defenders.
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Old 06-18-2017, 02:58 AM   #294
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

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Genghis Khan

His understanding of warfare far surpassed anything / anyone during his time. His preparation for each battle left the enemy no chance but to lose.

He trained the majority of his army to be horsemen / archers as well as knights. His armies would completely frustrate the other opposing army by having having horsemen / archers repeatedly raining down arrows while retreating.

They constantly did this until the opposing army was forced advance and be attacked / flanked from horrible positions.


Not only did his entire army consist of horsemen. But before the battles they would set up a large "fueling depot" with another fresh batch of horses for each horse rider.


Nobody stood a chance. If it wasn't for the black plague, Genghis's army would have invaded Europe and change the course of humanity forever. He was already close, destroying the Germanic alliance armies twice by that point.
My understanding is that the Mongolian army did invade Europe into Eastern Europe twice. The first was a smallish scouting operation that returned and the second was recalled when Ghengis Khan died (or maybe it was later and it was his son). The Mongolians required a giant meeting to decide who the successor would be and that is what saved Europe from being conquered. By the time they were in a position to return they were falling apart through internal disagreements.
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Old 06-19-2017, 11:45 AM   #295
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Re: GOAT Military Leader

Regarding this topic, SiliconIndia portal has made a ranking:

1-Alexander the Great

2-Napoleon Bonaparte

3-Genghis Khan

4-Skanderbeg

5-Attila of Huns

I think it's a fair evaluation for the first five GOAT military leaders.

Last edited by tirtep; 06-19-2017 at 12:00 PM.
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