Test Question (Full Version)

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PyleDriver -> Test Question (6/11/2010 9:42:07 PM)

Ok guys, who was the best general in WWII. I would love to here your responces. You will be shocked with my answer. But I think I'm correct, bring it on...

Neal_MLC -> RE: Test Question (6/11/2010 10:03:27 PM)


Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/11/2010 10:18:41 PM)

None. No single general was best in all circumstances and situations, given the diversity of theaters, scope, and level of combat ranging from tactical to the grand strategic. Different people fit better in different types of jobs calling for different abilities of generalship. You have to define "best" here more narrowly. Best at what? Generalship in WW2 was too diverse to narrow it down to a single man as being the best general, period.

Mannerheim was a fine strategist and operational level commander, though. He understood his country and theater thoroughly. Yet I wonder how well he'd do in a different place or fighting at a different level of command. We will never know how well he could manage urban warfare a la Stalingrad, or an amphibious assult, or managing a coalition of allies like Eisenhower, or leading a parachute division, or directing a mobile armored breakthrough. The most we can say is: he was very good at what his particular job was.

rubisco -> RE: Test Question (6/11/2010 11:09:42 PM)

William Slim

Alfred -> RE: Test Question (6/11/2010 11:20:00 PM)


ORIGINAL: PyleDriver

Olate wark guys, who was the best general in WWII. I would love to here your responces. You will be shocked with my answer. But I think I'm correct, bring it on...

I wouldn't be surprised if your answer is based on his ability to integrate the civilian leadership into the military realities. If that is so, then leading candidates would have to be:

(a) Brooke for massaging Churchill away from some of his ahem creative fantasies back to reality

(b) Shaposhnikov initially during Stalin's period of self belief that he could give orders countermanding the professionals

(c) Antonov subsequently for actually being able to adhere to Stalins work schedule, manage the semi prima donnas of the late war fronts such as Zhukov

(d) Cavallaro for bringing some order into the Italian structure whilst still having his boss, Mussolini waiting on his white horse


Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/11/2010 11:31:14 PM)

Shaposhnikov wasn't that great at managing Stalin, actually, and most of Stalin's biggest boners occurred under his watch, most infamously the Kiev fiasco. He did about as well in this as Jodl did with Hitler. It's hard to blame Shaposhnikov too much here since Stalin probably had to take his lumps first before being willing to listen and learn from his professional staff, but still. And they had to be big lumps, being Stalin.

Vasilesvky is the better example for this. (And Antonov, of course, as you mentioned, but by the time he got the job Stalin had been housebroken by Vasilesvky imo.)

However, this is all defining "best" as best in managing civilian leadership, which I suspect isn't what Pyledriver has in mind. (It's a completely legitimate metric of accomplishment mind you, it just is a necessarily limited one since it only covers one particular aspect of generalship.)

Slim to me falls in the same category as Mannerheim. A guy who really understood his theater well. He particularly understood how to get the most out of aerial resupply in a theater with poor communications, a fundamental insight that nobody else quite got in that area.

Zorch -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 1:29:38 AM)

I would vote for a general who had to master land, air, and (maybe) sea combat, as well as operational and strategic considerations. Plus logistics, and attack/counterattack/defense/retreat. And leadership / political / managing the boss issues. And treating his men fairly. And adjusting his style to the situation at hand. And choosing & using his staff and subordinates.

Not many generals had the opportunity to do all of these.

Overall, I think logistics is the most underrated aspect of generalship.

PyleDriver -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 1:32:02 AM)

Zorch your getting close, so is he?

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 1:48:00 AM)

Wouldn't this basically disqualify any German or Russian generals? No real amphibious experience. It would have to be a Brit, an American or a Japanese. It might oddly enough not be limited to just generals, either. I could think of a few admirals who had a talent for combined land/sea/air operations.

PD, if you want us to answer the question, you need to tell us your criteria for best. (We can then argue about whether or not that criteria is correct, but that's a different rant. Actually, almost any criteria you select would be valid within its own terms.)

Zorch -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 2:18:29 AM)

PD, is Manstein your man? I think he was good at logisitcs.

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 2:27:26 AM)

But Manstein doesn't even meet your own definition, Zorch.

No amphibious experience. And he wasn't the best in dealing with Hitler, for that matter. He was purely an operational commander with no say whatsoever on strategic questions. (Such questions Hitler reserved strictly for himself. Germany had no strategists worth speaking, actually.)

A case can be made for him as "best" operational level land commander of WW2, but that this is different from the criteria you set forth.

I don't even think he was the best logistician. Slim, mentioned uptopic, I find more impressive and original as a logistician. Nor is German military theory traditionally excessively interested in logistical issues, which bit them in the ass in WW2, as famously noted by van Creveld.

Zorch -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 2:32:24 AM)

I'm not saying Manstein was best; I'm just trying to guess PD's choice.
I agree with you about Manstein...

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 2:41:52 AM)

Well, he could be the best, depending on how you define best. Heh. Which I know sounds like semantic hairsplitting, but really isn't.

Wild -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 4:31:50 AM)

I would pick either Guderian or Kesselring

PyleDriver -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 4:57:32 AM)

OK heres a hint. He wasn't a field commander, however he won WWII...Come on guys you should get it now...

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 5:15:56 AM)

That's not a terribly helpful hint.

That category includes, to wit:

Marshall, Eisenhower, Alanbrooke, and really, most of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Antonov, possibly Stalin and FDR as their effective heads of state and commanders in chief/Generalissimos, and, hell, the King of England. Winston Churchill as Minister of War who liked to wear military uniforms (usually quite badly.) Being on the winning side of WW2 and not being a field commander is a surprisingly crowded field...

Probably missing a few. 

Hard Sarge -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 5:30:45 AM)


think you are missing his hint, who did Monty always complain about ?

PyleDriver -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 5:34:53 AM)

Flav, you hit it with one of those. So which one is my pick?... Alright he saved Western Europe after the war...He was the man...Yes it was Marshall...

PyleDriver -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 5:44:48 AM)

Another note, he was FDR's right hand in the war, and the US pulled off a two front war. Thus my vote, and we did it power and balance...

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 5:54:59 AM)

Marshall is a pretty good pick, actually. At the grand strategic scale, anyways. Although the actual victory program was authored by Wedemeyer.

It's hard to say if Marshall was more important than his opposite numbers in the Soviet Union. I think Vasilevsky/Antonov compare favorably to him in their own ways. Then again, Marshall was far more important after the war than these guys, who never transcended their staff origins to become statesman and politicians. Stalin wasn't going to let that happen...

Alfred -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 5:56:08 AM)

Oh come on...based on the hint given in post #15, it could only be the General in charge of the Manhattan Project (name currently eludes me)[:D]


Montbrun -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 6:11:34 AM)



Oh come on...based on the hint given in post #15, it could only be the General in charge of the Manhattan Project (name currently eludes me)[:D]


Gen. Leslie Groves.

paullus99 -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 9:37:27 AM)

I would agree - Marshall. Novices study tactics, experts study logistics.

Apollo11 -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 10:28:36 AM)

Hi all,


ORIGINAL: PyleDriver

Ok guys, who was the best general in WWII. I would love to here your responces. You will be shocked with my answer. But I think I'm correct, bring it on...

Gotthard Heinrici

Leo "Apollo11"

karonagames -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 10:43:06 AM)

I thought it would be a toss up between Gerneral "Mud" and General "Winter", as these two had , by far, the biggest influence on all military operations during world war 2.

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 11:05:54 AM)

It is interesting to speculate how things would've played out if Marshall had gotten the D-Day appointment instead of Ike. I think FDR made the right call here though and got the correct person in each spot. (Marshall, for all his virtues, didn't have the same touch for coalition politics that Ike did. And Ike didn't have the enormous authority that Marshall had at home in dealing with congress and the president.)

Also, while Marshall was astonishingly good at his job in the realm of grand strategy I really wonder if he could've, say, handled 3rd army in breaking out of Normandy with the same dash and conviction that Patton did.

This also works the other way around: the mind boggles at the idea of Patton as Chief of Staff. 

ComradeP -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 11:15:51 AM)

Marshall is a rather odd choice.

For starters, he missed half the war to begin with, a problem shared by other American generals. As such, any comparison between them and British, Soviet or German generals is at least partially flawed.

We also don't know how Marshall would perform in battle or even in theater, as he spend most of the war in Washington, far away from any actual battle.

The army he created was also fairly small for a country with over 130 million inhabitants, with only 91 divisions, and he couldn't keep that army adequately up to strength to begin with.

There's also a problem with the term "general" if "the best general" is to be taken literally, as by the standards of other countries, he was a Field Marshal at the end of the war, although he was still a general in the US.

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 11:37:49 AM)

Marshall is a good choice at his pay scale. It's all about what sort of generalship we're talking about here. There's a need for organizers of victory and grand strategists. That's why I made such a big fuss about defining best uptopic. 

As for the 90 division gamble, it did work. It wouldn't have worked for a different country, but that's not the point. The United States was never going to make war in the same fashion that the Soviet Union or even Germany did. It could also rely on machines to an extent nobody else could -- and supply everyone else with them at the same time. I give Marshall high marks here, he made a brave and not obvious to choice to emphasize a very American way of war. The replacement system was kind of a mess, though.

ComradeP -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 11:53:13 AM)

Whether a plan "worked" is not the only criteria for it being a good plan. The Allies had a manpower shortage in Europe in 1944, and the blame for that rests to a large extent on the US for not mobilising more forces. Had the German defensive strategy been even slightly different (or, say, the response to Bagration been more capable) it is questionable whether Marshall's system would've worked. The replacement "system" would've meant the overall experience in US units dropped substantially with every setback.

I also feel that Marshall's replacement system would've been inadequate for an invasion of Japan, which would've required numerous Army divisions.

Flaviusx -> RE: Test Question (6/12/2010 12:03:13 PM)

Raising more divisions wasn't the issue, but keeping them up to strength was a problem, I'll agree. I really do not think the US needed to sport some kind of 200+ division monster to accomplish its goals, let alone something the size of the Red Army. (We had the Red Army to be the Red Army, heh. They did the lion's share of the work here. No point in duplicating their effort.)

Such a force would have involved compromises elsewhere in shipping and airpower and industrial output and lend lease.

The idea was always to shift divisions from Europe to Japan for the main event there...which in any case proved to be unnecessary. The atomic bomb being a direct expression of a very peculiarly American choice in political war economy. Nobody else had the capacity or industry to spare on such a longshot project. We did.

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