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RE: Test Question - 6/12/2010 12:12:29 PM   
ComradeP

 

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When Marshall agreed with the ~90 division Army concept, it was not clear whether the Allies would win the war and if so: when. A 90 division army was an army for a few years of war, as otherwise its manpower would run out. The first problems were already noticeable a year after the plans were finalised.

Marshall could not have foreseen that the German army would more or less implode on the Eastern Front in that same year, or that Japan would be defeated to such an extent that, due to the strategic bombing campaign and the use of nukes, an invasion of Japan would not be necessary. Given the uncertain future, Marshall's plan was, as you said, a gamble, the success of which doesn't make it a good plan or Marshall a good general.

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RE: Test Question - 6/12/2010 4:33:43 PM   
PyleDriver


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ComradeP...You said the two key words about Marshall, gamble and success...Patton is my main man, he played that same dice roll...

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RE: Test Question - 6/14/2010 12:57:47 AM   
Zorch

 

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My $0.02:

Marshall was a great strategist and diplomat, and would have been a good operational commander. I think he would have been more inclined to take risks then Ike was in the fall of '44. He would not have lost focus like Ike did, in letting Monty postpone clearing the approaches to Antwerp and take the lion's share of supplies for his Arnhem fiasco.

It's interesting to compare the WWI records of Marshall, Ike, and Patton...

Some historian said that Monty was 'the best WWI general in WWII'. Too bad for the Brits that he was fighting the wrong war.


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RE: Test Question - 6/14/2010 9:08:00 AM   
Flaviusx


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Ike was committed to making the alliance work in a way that I'm not sure Marshall would've been. In seeking a more optimal strategy from the operational standpoint, Marshall could've committed a political and diplomatic blunder with the British. If he had fired Monty, for example, as Ike was very tempted to do at several points but refrained from doing, I don't think this would've been such a wonderful thing in terms of the alliance. The British, for their part, have long criticized Ike from the strategic standpoint for not concentrating all resources up north in Monty's area and in effect shutting down the 2/3 of the front held by the US, which again was hardly feasible from a political standpoint and would've been quite unacceptable to the American public. (And Ike went pretty close to doing this as it was for Market Garden.)

Ike had to keep everybody on board. He did that, probably better than anybody else could have. In doing so, he proved his own greatness in his particular job. Once again, a different type of generalship.

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RE: Test Question - 6/14/2010 1:52:07 PM   
Rasputitsa


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Monty nearly got fired, so did Patton and so finally did Guderian, Manstein was relieved, as was Rommel, is that one of the measures of a good General, maybe ?

Brooke held his postion throughout the war, he had frontline and staff experience, in good and bad times, and had a significant part in amphibious operations (both ways - out at Dunkirk, in at Normandy). The toughest enemy is always your own political leadership, which he seems to have handled well.

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RE: Test Question - 6/15/2010 7:06:54 PM   
Capt Cliff


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Ok, how about another question to pass the time? Who was the best Corp comander or Army Co if we want to work our way down from Marshall. We probalbly need to say east or west front and leave the pacific out of it.

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RE: Test Question - 6/15/2010 8:19:36 PM   
PyleDriver


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Not sure about corps commanders... But I think the boldest move in modern history goes to MacArthur. He pulled off Incheon Bay, what a gutsy move...

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RE: Test Question - 6/15/2010 8:33:35 PM   
Neal_MLC

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: PyleDriver

Not sure about corps commanders... But I think the boldest move in modern history goes to MacArthur. He pulled off Incheon Bay, what a gutsy move...


The problem with Dugout Doug was his ego, He believed himself to be much smarter than everyone else. This was also the guy that said Peleleiu (sp) was essential for the invasion of the Phillipines, did not transfer supplies to Bataan when he was able and had no respect for the office of the president. Lets not forget that he advocated nuclear war with China. Sorry I just can't go with MacArthur.

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RE: Test Question - 6/15/2010 8:40:35 PM   
PyleDriver


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I dont like Doug either, I just said it was the boldest move...I like to go on the edge when playing and that was the edge... I'm sure people in S.Korea like him...

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Post #: 39
RE: Test Question - 6/15/2010 9:26:15 PM   
Neal_MLC

 

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I can go along with boldest move that was successful, Monty's Market-Garden was pretty bold too.

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RE: Test Question - 6/15/2010 10:11:24 PM   
ComradeP

 

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I don't quite follow what makes the landings at Incheon so "bold", and I certainly don't understand how you could consider it the boldest military move in modern history, especially concerning that you're testing a game centered around Barbarossa, which was far more ambitious and bold than anything MacArthur ever did.

The North Korean Army was already around breaking point due to shaky logistics, running out of tanks and being exhausted and was for the moment incapable of mounting an offensive (realistically, they were never going to capture Pusan soon after the first attacks failed), when the landings took place 350 kilometres to their rear.

That's like calling Overlord "bold" when the nearest concentration of Germans is between Paris and Reims, or calling Avalanche "bold" with the nearest concentration of Germans around Rome. From a geographical perspective and considering the state of the terrain, the landings were bold, but absolutely not from a military perspective. There were more or less nothing the North Koreans could do to stop it. They had lost the battle in a strategic sense before the first Marines boarded their landing craft.

MacArthur was also, in a military sense, sort of a dud. Yes, he did have his moments, but his serious mistakes don't compensate for it.

To me, Marshall or MacArthur are certainly not the best military commanders to have walked the earth.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 6/15/2010 10:12:08 PM >

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 2:14:53 AM   
Berkut

 

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MacArthur might win an award for most over-rated commander of all time, except that Monty has a death grip on it already.

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 2:45:48 AM   
Flaviusx


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Among Americans, I'd say Collins gets the nod for best corps commander. Among the Sovs, I'd pick out Chuikov and Rybalko (Soviet Armies being equivalent to western Corps.) Possibly Chernyakovsky, although he went on to Front command later on.

None of the British corps commanders particularly stand out in my mind. The Germans had lots of good corps commanders, but most of these got promoted so it's hard to judge them on that basis alone.

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 4:59:34 AM   
Sabre21


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I wanna know who the best cook was..to heck with the generals

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 7:10:20 AM   
Rasputitsa


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Horrocks was a Corps commander, respected by both the British and the US commanders, which is quite an achievement.

Monty's reputation has been tainted by his own personality (command was never a popularity contest) and the battle between all the Allied generals for the glory of winning the war. However his record is as good as any of them, taking into account that any general can only be as good as the resources he fights with. In 1944 Monty was aware that he was fighting with the last personel resources that Britain had, requiring that any conmmander would have to be cautious. Ask the men who where thrown into the Hurtgen Forest, whether a more cautious strategy might have been better.

In the desert, he took over an Army well used to defeat, the main priority had to be no more defeats, resulting in one of the longest, if cautious, advances in military history (from EL Alamein to Tunisia). Monty insisted that Overload be expanded from a 3 Div frontage into a 5 Div effort. Omaha Beach shows how D-day could have been a tragic failure, without a wide front approach.


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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 7:36:46 AM   
Flaviusx


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I give Monty props for Normandy, but it seems to me he rather dropped the ball in Market Garden. Even Brooke felt he made a mistake in not securing Antwerp.

Monty also never seemed to understand that the United States wasn't going to reduce itself to a mere appendage of the British army at a time when the USA was contributing the overwhelming amount of forces in Western Europe. And Brooke and Churchill both tended to encourage him in this delusion; Monty had no political sense whatsoever, but they should've known better.


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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 9:25:09 AM   
Rasputitsa


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

I give Monty props for Normandy, but it seems to me he rather dropped the ball in Market Garden. Even Brooke felt he made a mistake in not securing Antwerp.

Monty also never seemed to understand that the United States wasn't going to reduce itself to a mere appendage of the British army at a time when the USA was contributing the overwhelming amount of forces in Western Europe. And Brooke and Churchill both tended to encourage him in this delusion; Monty had no political sense whatsoever, but they should've known better.




Everyone dropped the ball in late '44, thinking that the Germans were beaten and that the War would be over that year. The Allies were still being supplied through one Mulberry (the British) harbour, the British PLUTO fuel line and with extended supply lines, it wasn't just Monty, everyone came to a stop at, or near, the West Wall. The US Army had effectively lost its independent supply line into Normandy and was reliant on the British beachhead for landing supplies, a source of much friction.

Many generals lack political sense (which, however, may be a good thing in a democracy) and lose sight of the overall goal. Clark going for Rome and not killing Germans, MacArthur wanting to Nuke the Chinese, etc.. It was no delusion that Overlord could not have succeeded without either the British, as well as the American contribution and whether a quick strike into Northern Germany might have ended the War quicker than a strike into Southern Germany. The Broard Front approach was the neccessary political solution, but was it the best military solution, I suppose we will never know.

A lot of the frustration of late 1944 has been heaped on Monty, but there was no easy solution for the political and military difficulties the Allies encountered after September, with all forces (US and British) running out of steam after the huge advances following the breakout.

I repeat, whatever mistakes Monty made at Arnhem, they were dwarfed by the tragedy in the Hurtgen Forest, in terms of useless waste of human life.

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 11:18:58 AM   
ComradeP

 

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If any general thinks it's a good idea to more or less supply an entire corps over a single good road, whilst knowing next to nothing about enemy strength in the area, he's not really a good general. Monty's war record is, to me, not all that special. He had the means to do what he did, and the staff and men to do what he did. He was still learning about modern war in 1942, and his advance from El Alamein was too cautious. His record in Italy wasn't too stellar (French colonial forces did more to move the front forward than anything Monty did or planned to do), not to mention his late 1944 record.

Gambling and winning or being bold and being lucky doesn't make you a good general. Proper operational planning and a good understanding of how a war should be fought in your time makes you a good general. Marshall, MacArthur or Monty don't really qualify as good generals in combat. If you win a wargame because you get good rolls, that's much less of a win than winning due to a good strategy.

There was an easy solution to the problems the Allies faced in Belgium: don't attack the Siegfried line anywhere, but dig in and rest the US troops. Prevent any retreat from the forces around Antwerp and in the Dutch Zeeland province. Prepare the Commonwealth and minor Allied forces for an attack into the Netherlands along a broad front either later in the fall or in the winter. The Ardennes offensive would hit entrenched forces and be stalled more or less immediately, and the Allies could drive into central Germany in 1945 with far less casualties than they suffered historically. The idea that Allied commanders knew they were scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel doesn't match with the ambitious and risky operations they planned in 1944.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 6/16/2010 11:21:32 AM >

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 1:50:57 PM   
Flaviusx


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Ultimately I think it's hard for us Americans to look at Monty with any kind of enthusiasm. There's something about the guy which just pisses us off. He rubs us the wrong way.

His reputation rests on Normandy and Alamein. Those will stand him in good stead despite his boners elsewhere. He was a master of the set piece battle and an excellent trainer of troops. His military monasticism was probably a useful corrective in a British army whose beau ideal for generalship tended to the Alexander type. (A type who is even less comprehensible to the American mind than Monty, come to think of it. Ike liked him, I guess.)

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 3:20:13 PM   
BigAnorak


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"The Moral is to the physical is as three is to one" - Napoleon.

Monty's greatest achievement was rebuilding the morale of Eighth Army from absolute rock bottom, into an army that could more than hold its own from Alamein, through Tunisia, Sicily and Italy. His troops adored him because they knew he would make the very best efforts to minimise casualties. Likewise the planning for D-day included the use of a variety of "funnies" - armoured engineering vehicles designed to get the troops off the beaches and out of the killing zones as soon as possible. These were offered to the US Army, but they chose not to use them.

I don't want to see this discussion split along nationalistic lines, but I think it is fair to say there was a "culture clash" between US and British generals, mainly caused by the British feeling that they had fought alone against the Axis for a long time, and that their experience of combat compared to the US generals demanded respect - maybe Monty was a little too demanding.





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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 4:03:47 PM   
ComradeP

 

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There's still the problem of exactly what that "experience of combat" was worth in terms of combat effectiveness or in terms of the effect it had on British generals.

For starters, the majority of the British army had, by the time of Torch and the arrival of the Americans, seen little to no serious combat nor had they been involved in a prolonged operation or campaign. British forces in Norway were too few to do anything substantial, the BEF started their withdrawal to the coast before they could do much, the British landing in Greece was nice from a PR perspective but a fiasco from a military perspective (in Belgium/France and Greece they were very lucky that they could pull their troops out) and the campaign in the desert was inconclusive at best, and a disaster at worst. Aside from some short campaigns against the Italians and the Vichy French, that was it for commanders outside of Asia.

Monty himself had, in WWII, only been in combat in Belgium with the BEF prior to taking command of 8th Army. An 8th Army which had already stopped the German advance under Auchinleck.

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 6:18:05 PM   
BigAnorak


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Like I said - culture clash. I don't want to get into definitions of "serious combat", because I think you are getting on very thin ice, trying to down-play or trivialise the efforts of our grand-parents. Whatever the degree of combat, for 18 months the British and its displaced allied forces in exile were the only ones fighting the Axis.

So I'll leave it there.




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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 6:42:03 PM   
ComradeP

 

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Now you're trying to pin a certain sentiment on me. I'm not trying to trivialise anything, I'm saying the difference in combat experience between British and US forces was not as substantial as some historians like to claim. Rather than trivialise the achievements of your (grand)parents, I'm trying to introduce a little perspective into some of the statements you and others make about certain generals.

As to "serious combat": that's not as "thin ice" as you seem to think it is. Today's combat intensity in Afghanistan (for example) is much higher than it was throughout most of WWII. A NATO soldier in Afghanistan now will experience more combat or more intensity in a war zone in about two months than the average European Allied soldier did between the start of WWII and the Torch landings 3 years later. There's a perspective to everything.

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 7:00:19 PM   
Capt Cliff


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I'd say for "Gusty playing" that would be Halsey at Guadalcanal. Gusty move to send his only 2 carriers into the Battle of Santa Cruz against 4 Jap CV'c and then Norm Scott and Dan Callaghan into Iron Bottom sound, then the following night with "Ching" Lee with the South Dakota and Washington to finish'm off. The movie Gallant Hours is one of my favorite.

As for Corp Command ... Truscott or Collins or Hube

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 7:17:21 PM   
Flaviusx


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I''m not quite sure the 8th army was at rock bottom when Monty inherited it, BA, it had after all stopped Rommel at Alam Halfa. Auchinlek wasn't so terrible as all that. But he had exhausted his credit with Churchill and had to go.

I've always thought that given a chance he could've won Alamein. I'm less sure he would've been the right guy for Normandy, though.


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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 7:31:27 PM   
warspite1


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I've missed this thread until now and just read through the posts - a real interesting debate guys.

For my 2 cents Field Marshall Lord Alan Brooke takes some beating. Working with the great man Winston Churchill cannot have been a walk in the park. He also performed very well in France in 1940.

As for Montgomery, I can fully understand why Americans find his insufferable peronality hard to stomach - but that should not deflect from his achievements in the field. To say that he was only successful at El-Alamein and Normandy is rather unfair. The point was made earlier about his [ultimately vital] contribution to the Normandy planning.



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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 8:06:21 PM   
Flaviusx


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I count the Normandy planning as part of the Normandy campaign. I didn't say Monty was only successful there and at Alamein, rather that these are the two battles that make his reputation, not quite the same thing. They were very much the most important things he did. (And if he had got them wrong, it almost wouldn't matter how well he did elsewhere. He got them right, happily for him.)




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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 8:25:38 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

He got them right, happily for him.


Warspite1

You mean happily for the free world - particularly in the case of Normandy.....

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 9:06:24 PM   
Rasputitsa


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My point is not necessarily that Montgomery was the best commander, but that his record should not be dismissed, as it often is. One of the features of command is self-belief and if that makes people insufferable, then that applies to many, if not all successful commanders.

There probabily is no real answer to who was best, as all commanders had good and bad days, you can point out successes and failures in all of them. However, I would still rate Alan Brooke highly, with a record from 1940, organising a successful withdrawal can be more difficult than organising a successful advance, through to the highest levels of command. Russian commanders achieved success, but at a huge cost, as that was the nature of their war. Allied success later in the war was won with overwhelming air, artillery and naval support. Kesselring and Manstein fighting against all the odds must count somewhere.

But, going back to the start of the thread, PyleDriver is about to capture Moscow, how high does that rate.

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RE: Test Question - 6/16/2010 11:53:46 PM   
IronDuke

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

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.


I think the 90 division decision did cost the United States. Given American industry was pumping material into the British and Soviet war effort, I don't see production as an issue.

With relatively few divisions, it wasn't easy for the US to give units a sizeable break. This was (in mild part) responsible for the US's relatively high pschycological casualty rates and also caused issues in places like the Ardennes in late 44, where tired, battered divisions were put into quiet parts of the front rather than rotated out for a rest.

It also meant existing units had to be kept at the front and up to strength which meant a steady stream of green replacemnets diluting the combat effectiveness.

Regards,
ID

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