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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar

 
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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 11:16:30 AM   
marky


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in At Dawn We Slept, its said that instead of a sword being dangled with the US fleet at Pearl, it was a carrot, and ironically, if more of PacFlts ships had been sent to the Atlantic, that Yamamoto wouldnt have been so dead set on it, and Pearl might not have happened

so the "deterrent" actually worked in reverse

makes sense doesnt it?

dangle a big stationary carrot long enuff and sum1 will go for it

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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 3:23:02 PM   
morganbj


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quote:

If Why We Fight wasn't propaganda - I don't know what is,


I wasn't talking about Why We Fight.  There are dozens of post-war documentaries about the pre-war era that use pre-war footage about military preaprations.  Sure some of the same footage appears in both, but some doesn't.  There's a lot more out there than WWF.

But, just because some of the footage is the same doesn't mean the message is the same.  That depends on the other context of the footage, doesn't it?  I was referring to old footage with new voice over.  Why We Fight was clearly propaganda.  What I'm talking about isn't.  Most are a reasonably objective retrospective on how internal politics and societal pressures affect the military.

So, are you saying that we were ready to go in 1940?  The army had thousands of first line tanks, weapons out the wazoo, and highly trained soldiers?

The facts are otherwise.  Seek them out.  They are there to be found.


< Message edited by bjmorgan -- 4/18/2008 5:08:22 PM >

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Post #: 92
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 4:47:34 PM   
mlees


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Lots of great points are being made here, thanks!

(in reply to morganbj)
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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 5:46:41 PM   
morvwilson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: marky

in At Dawn We Slept, its said that instead of a sword being dangled with the US fleet at Pearl, it was a carrot, and ironically, if more of PacFlts ships had been sent to the Atlantic, that Yamamoto wouldnt have been so dead set on it, and Pearl might not have happened

so the "deterrent" actually worked in reverse

makes sense doesnt it?

dangle a big stationary carrot long enuff and sum1 will go for it

the problem with this marky is that the Japanese high command only planned to attack the Philippeans and Wake. The Pearl Harbor attack was Yamamoto acting on his own. He never had approval for that attack.

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Post #: 94
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 5:53:29 PM   
Joshuatree

 

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The Pearl Harbor attack was Yamamoto acting on his own. He never had approval for that attack.

.... you got to be kidding... he acted on his own? I never knew that.

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Post #: 95
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 7:22:13 PM   
AW1Steve


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I hate to sound touchy -feely, but is it possible that both sides were right? That the US felt moving the fleet to Pearl Harbor was a reasonable move, and that the Japanese saw it as a dagger at their throats? Here's my thinking; There is a concept in Anglo-American law called "the reasonable man doctrine". When considering a question a judge will consider "What would a reasonable man do in this circumstance". Many of  FDR's advisors were lawyers. I'm sure they fully felt , that by moving the fleet closer , you were simply saying "This we will defend".They moved it to US territory , mid-Pacific. Not to Guam , not to Cavite (the Phillipines). Nations had been making "shows of force" as long as there have been nations. The Great White fleet was a far greater provocation.  An example of how NOT making a statement lead to war was the Korean war. In the year before Korea , the US state department listed a number of countries that it would go to war to defend....through an oversight South Korea was not on the list. Added to the fact that we were downsizing our forces in Korea at the time, Stalin assumed that the US would ignore a push from the north to take over the south.

The Japanese leadership at the time ,having overthrown the civilian government (in fact if not in name), was not made up of lawyers , or statesmen. It was made up of military , or former military men. Reason consisted more of a "I'd do it , so they must be planning to do it!", than "what would a reasonable man do"?   Added to the fact that almost all of Japan's gains on the world stage since the Meji restoration had  been through  military action , (as a good friend of mine frequently say's "if the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like nails".) The Sino-Japanese war , the Boxer rebellion, the Russo-Japanese war , the territory gains in China and from the Mandated islands against the Germans in WW1.

It seems to me that the two sides were talking at cross purposes.

And as far as the USA inviting attack by poetentially having a bigger fleet , I'd like to point out that Great Britian had a much greater fleet during most of that period. Japan not only didn't attack Britain , it signed an alliance with her in 1902.


(in reply to Joshuatree)
Post #: 96
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 7:23:34 PM   
AW1Steve


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joshuatree

The Pearl Harbor attack was Yamamoto acting on his own. He never had approval for that attack.

.... you got to be kidding... he acted on his own? I never knew that.


No he got approval , but only by threatening to resign if his plan were not put into operation.

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Post #: 97
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 7:29:10 PM   
panzers

 

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That's not nesessarilly entirely true. He trained and went to school in the US before and during the war years, believe it or not and saw everything.The Japaneese high command was well aware of this and took everything he said to heart and allowed him the free reign to do as he pleased.
The recomandation to attack pearl harbor was not his, it was the brainchild of the Japaneese High command. All the information Yammamoto knew about the US was good enough to know that it would've been suicide to do such an act for he was all too aware of the military capacity of the US even though at the time it was very meager. He went along with the plans anyway because he was a soldier and he was a Japaneese soldier or naval officer, whatever you want to call it, and even though he knew this, he went along with it because it was simply the right thing to do according to the Japaneese military code. As it was he knew more than the United States themselves that it was a plan that would seal the fate of the Japaneese military. He was the Rommel of Japan, so they had very high respect and expectations from him.
So knowing everything that he knew, he accepted the reality it was and was made Admiral of the Japaneese navy and using all the tools he had at his disposal he set out a plan with knowledge in hand to devestate the US navy and it's carriers. Unfortunately for Japan, the carriers just happen to be out at sea near Midway at the time and didn't know that, which of course, would come back to haunt them at Midway thus comfirming to Yammamoto what he, alone know about the upcoming disaster for his beloved Japan.
An irony of all this was that at the time, Yamamoto was close to the US despite the tensions between the two nations and it was the Americans that set out the plans to destroy him from the air because the US finally got the message that this man was very dangerous and knew everything.

< Message edited by panzers -- 4/18/2008 7:31:46 PM >

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Post #: 98
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 7:29:22 PM   
morvwilson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joshuatree

The Pearl Harbor attack was Yamamoto acting on his own. He never had approval for that attack.

.... you got to be kidding... he acted on his own? I never knew that.

Yep
He did not want to go to war against the US.
The threat to resign was to keep some of his own in line not the high command.
The problem was in the Japanese government of the time.
Not nearly as well organized as it is today. Not even Japanese officials of the time could tell you how it worked.
The reason Yamamoto did not have approval for the attack is because he never asked.

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Post #: 99
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 9:56:25 PM   
anarchyintheuk

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: panzers

Actually, the Swiss army was quite strong and with their terrain and the way they trained their troops to accommadate the terrain from which they lived in was a good enough reason for Hitler to take the diplomatic approach with them. There were a lot of things the swiss did on both sides that could easily have provoked an attack, but by the time that happened, everyone was now too occupied to start thinking about their flanks. It was bad enough for Germany to build the Atlantic wall, let alone the possibility of fighting in one of the most difficult terrains in the entire world which, by the way, also happens to border the soft underbelly. The Swiss made sure it stayed that way for their entire focus was mountain training.


Hitler would never have attacked Switzerland. Tough army/terrain and world opinion aside, Switzerland was too important to him for . . . um . . . financial reasons, to invade.

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Post #: 100
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 9:58:29 PM   
Terminus


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The invasion was planned. It was called Operation Tannenbaum.

< Message edited by Terminus -- 4/18/2008 10:00:10 PM >


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Post #: 101
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 10:04:14 PM   
anarchyintheuk

 

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I thought that was only a contingency plan for use if the Swiss stopped providing financial services.

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Post #: 102
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 10:06:30 PM   
Terminus


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Still a full-fledged invasion plan, albeit not a very good one.

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Post #: 103
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/18/2008 10:14:28 PM   
mlees


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quote:

ORIGINAL: AW1Steve

It seems to me that the two sides were talking at cross purposes.

And as far as the USA inviting attack by poetentially having a bigger fleet , I'd like to point out that Great Britian had a much greater fleet during most of that period. Japan not only didn't attack Britain , it signed an alliance with her in 1902.


The alliance between Great Britain and Japan ended in 1923, just after the Washington Naval Treaty had been signed.

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Post #: 104
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/19/2008 12:45:53 AM   
panzers

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: anarchyintheuk


quote:

ORIGINAL: panzers

Actually, the Swiss army was quite strong and with their terrain and the way they trained their troops to accommadate the terrain from which they lived in was a good enough reason for Hitler to take the diplomatic approach with them. There were a lot of things the swiss did on both sides that could easily have provoked an attack, but by the time that happened, everyone was now too occupied to start thinking about their flanks. It was bad enough for Germany to build the Atlantic wall, let alone the possibility of fighting in one of the most difficult terrains in the entire world which, by the way, also happens to border the soft underbelly. The Swiss made sure it stayed that way for their entire focus was mountain training.


Hitler would never have attacked Switzerland. Tough army/terrain and world opinion aside, Switzerland was too important to him for . . . um . . . financial reasons, to invade.

It served as a sort of spy and money laundering site for both sides, so it could have happened albeit much more so for Germany because of it's location

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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/19/2008 2:06:39 AM   
engineer

 

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The strength of the army is obscured by the National Guard strength.  Back before WW1, the state militias were federalized into the National Guard.  After WW1, the regular army maintained a handful of divisions while the bulk of the strength was demobilized or dispersed to the National Guard.  The bulk of the difference in strength between 1939 and 1941 was that the Guard divisions had been mobilized, the units were being brought up to strength with draftees, and a generation of new weapons were being incorporated into the divisions.  Terminus is right that the units largely weren't ready for combat on December 7, 1941.  Still, the two year head start on rearmament that the US neutrality offered between Poland and Pearl Harbor wasn't squandered.  Without what happened then, the combat power that was deployed in large measure in 1943 and 1944 wouldn't have been available until much later or with much higher casualties on the learning curve, ala the USSR. 

(in reply to rtrapasso)
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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/19/2008 2:53:11 AM   
Big B

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL:
So, are you saying that we were ready to go in 1940? The army had thousands of first line tanks, weapons out the wazoo, and highly trained soldiers?
The facts are otherwise. Seek them out. They are there to be found.


I never said any such thing - in fact if you re-read my original post (#38) I emphatically said the US Army was very small and unprepared for war in 1939 and had virtually no tanks and modern vehicles...as well as the Army Air Corps being under equipped- IN 1939.

What I said was propaganda was the standard impression that the USA was disarmed in 1939. The photos of men training with broomsticks as seen in "Why We Fight" has left a David and Goliath impression for 60 years now. When it was pointed out that the USA had exactly 93 mortars in 1941 - I said that gives an unrealistic appreciation of how things actually stood. What they lacked were quantities of the new weapons that they wanted, but it was hardly the case that the USA was unarmed. The Army, while starting at 200,000 active in 1939 and growing to around 1.5 to 2 million by the end of 1941 - actually had millions (rtrapasso quoted 2.5 million) rifles on hand (M1903 and M1917, rifles as good as anyone else was using in WWII)...more machine guns than the army could man if they assigned virtually everyone to a machine gun crew in 1939. They may have had 93 new model 81mm and 60mm mortars in 1941 (maybe not) but they still had thousands of 76mm WWI Stokes mortars in the arsenals.
That is what I am saying is a propagandistic false impression of the state of the US Army in 1939-1941. They had weapons - just not the new Garands and such that they wanted to equip everyone with. The USA had also activated no less than 30 Infantry divisions by 1940 and were training over 60 more in 1942.

As I said earlier - they had almost no tanks, new 105mm arty, and a host of other weapons and new vehicles...but they weren't reduced to issuing infantry brooms instead of rifles - that IS propaganda, and it fits in well with "look how unprepared we were" mind set.

As to the state of training, it certainly was not as up to date as it could have been - but it wasn't so poor that the War Dept was dissuaded from trying to talk the British into a cross-channel invasion in 1942. Were the Germans and British better trained in 1941? Well you would have to say yes - but much more importantly they were combat experienced and the USA was not...major combat in 1942 would have been bloodier for the USA than it might have been with better training - but the key element missing was combat experience, and no matter how well trained - actual combat experience is a learning curve that comes the hard way - no matter when the USA would have joined in major combat.

I think it's important to understand that when we talk of lack of training and tactics we should realize that "infantry tactics" were worked out and basically perfected in WWI. German infantry and Stosstrupp tactics, French infantry tactics, British infantry tactics, and American infantry tactics were all well advanced in practice by late 1918. Very little "new" battlefield tactics were coming after that - the basics (and advanced courses too) were all being employed by the late days of 1918. It was all very methodical, and learned and developed the hard way by that time.

I have in my possession the "MANUAL for Noncommissioned Officers and Privates of INFANTRY for the Army of the United States - 1917"...notice that is 1917.

In it, on pages 74 through 110, under the headings of 'School of the Squad' and 'School of the Company' - it details deployments, alignments, spacings, skirmishing, advance to engagement, cover and concealment, the importance of changing firing positions during combat, fire control principals, flanking and oblique movements, patrolling, out posts, etc.

There is really nothing new (aside from care for the weapons issued) from 1917 until 1980 when I became an infantryman - as far as the principles of infantry combat are concerned. You could effectively train soldiers today by that manual - accounting for the new weapon cleaning and inspection drills.

So when we say that the US Army was not trained early in WWII - what we are really talking about is that the contemporary soldiers of the US Army were not yet combat experienced, and that the supporting arms were not yet fully equipped and trained with their new weapons and support equipment. This is not the same as saying that they were not trained in proven infantry combat techniques nor had a proper combat doctrine. Of course green troops still had much to learn the hard way - that unteachable experience of learning combat instinct and timing under fire - but as I said earlier, that last step always comes only when actually under fire.

So - No I never said that the USA "had thousands of first line tanks, weapons out the wazoo, and highly trained soldiers" in 1939/41 - but I do hold that they weren't as bad off as some films and histories have made out either.

B




< Message edited by Big B -- 4/19/2008 5:24:36 AM >


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RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/19/2008 5:45:43 AM   
morganbj


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I actually think we agree on more than you think. And no, the soldiers weren't bad, they were just outclassed. This is basically my point from above. The soldiers were individually of pretty good quality. Small units were generally pretty good also. But at the regiment level on up, we were woefully unprepared as a general rule. While there were some commanders who understood what the "next" war would be like, as demonstrated by Patton's performace in the Louisana maneuvers, most were clueless. We had to drastically change the operational "culture" so that we could get those trained soldiers in the right place at the right time so they could do their thing. Look at all the division commanders at the beginning of the war. Most were not commanding units of any size at the end. They were replaced along the line by more adept commanders who understood how to fight a mobile war. (And yes, there were exceptions, but take a look at the general's list from 1939 and see how many were army, corps and division commanders in 1944. Some were just too old to perform well (a problem in the peacetime army of the time for noth officers and NCO's. By uncle's company commander was a fifty-year old captain in 1938 or 39. That just does not happen anymore.) But, most were too married to the "old" ways. Sharp, violent, mobile (not necessarily mechanized) warfare put them out of business. That's what hurt us the most.

By the way, the same was true after Vietnam. We were so married to "search and destroy" we would have been easy pickings for a rapid soviet advance in central Europe. My Cavalry Squadron commander in 1974 had been an observer during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. When he came to our well-trained and ready-to-go unit, he saw how poorly we would perform with a well-prepared enemy. So, he completely rewrote the US Army Operations manual in a year. He taught us to fight in a completely different way. Sure, our troops were of pretty good quality, we were pretty well trained, but everytime we fought the Germans in exercises, they haded us our lunch. But, we were following the old doctrine. It stunk.

DA let him train us a new way to demonstrate the new "tactics" (actually operational level, not tactics) to test the proposed change in doctrine he and some others had brought back from that war, and after a year we took on the Germans and other US units and ran them from Hof to Munich in about four days. We were using Israeli inspired operational techniques. These were later adopted by the army and by 1978 all the operations manuals had been updated and the new doctrine adopted. By that time, we could have handled ourselves quite well. (Of course, had it really happened, we probably still would have been overrun in Europe, but that was due to raw numbers until help could deploy from the States. That's essentially the second point I was making. Our doctrine was simply out of date in 1939 and 40. Yes, it had begun to change, but it took combat to make the transition complete.

But, still, back to the original point, the training was done with minimal equipment. We really didn't have that many units equipped with decent vehicles, weapons, and the like. One reason was the rapid expansion of 1940-41. We could mobilize units, but not properly equip them very fast. By learly fall, 1942, there was considerable improvement. But not before except in a few "high piority" units. And while it's true that it was not David and Goliath, our industrial base alone made that scenario unlikely, we were at a great disadvantage due to insufficient funding from an isolationist dominated congress.

I'll conlude with another story. My wife's unle was a commo sergeant in an engineer battalion attached to the 1st ID. They trained laying and picking up catgut string for several months, because they had no commo wire. They only had two old field phones to wire together. That doesn't mean the training was bad, but it does demonstrate how little equipment we had during the expansion. By the way, they had just a few days to see the new field phones before they boarded ships to head for North Africa. The first time they got them working "over dirt," as he says, it was "over sand."

You know, now that I think about it, David and Goliath may be exactly how we started out. But we were Goliath. Large, not prepared to fight the new technology held by a smaller foe, and not willing to accept the fact that we might lose. And, like Goliath, we took it right in the head. The difference is that we got up, strapped our helmet back on, rearmed, retrained, and then went to look for David and his buddies.




< Message edited by bjmorgan -- 4/19/2008 6:08:31 AM >

(in reply to Big B)
Post #: 108
RE: OT: question: US military size, prewar - 4/19/2008 6:16:24 AM   
Big B

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: bjmorgan
I actually think we agree on more than you think....


Cheers and peace .

Yeah, I think we agree more than appeared.

I was just saying that we weren't that hopeless and defenseless.

B

< Message edited by Big B -- 4/19/2008 5:51:58 PM >


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