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10/25/2018

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Esli

Always one of my favorites. Now that I'm back in Germany I think I will take another trip to D'Azincourt and walk the ground again. Last time, I was in a big rush. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the French have not made a big deal of this battlefield but the treelines are still relatively accurate and there is a small museum and a couple of markers there.

timactual

I have never been as sanguine (I finally get to use that word!) about our prospects in a European war as everybody else seems to be. I have read numerous books, articles, etc. on WWIII and all but one had a happy ending; a week or two of fighting and the Reforger cavalry arrives to save the day.

The question that always pops into my head is "When do they sleep?". Soviet doctrine does not allow for its opponents to get much free time between engagements. That 9 to 1 ratio you mention is in series, not parallel. Stop the first wave, the second wave attacks through or advances on the flank. Send out that brigade to flank the Soviet advance and it is flanked in turn by the following Soviet formation (just like Patton told his subordinates during his advance across France).

Air? The Soviets had plenty of helicopters, aircraft, artillery, and anti-aircraft weapons of their own. Plus a lot of missiles to use on airbases.

Maneuver? Without GPS and radio can a PFC or SP4 supply truck driver find his destination in a timely manner in a changing environment?

The Soviets were not idiots. Their doctrine and force structure were different, but that does not mean they were wrong. Like Grant (and unlike McClellan, etc.) they know how to use superior numbers effectively against even well-handled but numerically inferior opponents.

Casey

timactual, you forget a major lesson of history: the Russians generally start every war with great incompetence. They even sucked at offense; a good example is the Winter War with Finland. A smaller, less powerful opponent humiliated the Red Army. Now, the Soviets did learn from that, and applied the lessons learned against Germany a few years later, but not before the Germans had a chance to romp through western Russia.

So while they may have outnumbered allied forces, by all accounts they would have demonstrated a low level of ability. In that sense Desert Storm was a vindication of the AirLand Battle doctrine. The Iraqi Army was widely referred to as the "fourth largest army in the world," and "battle hardened," and it was true they had experienced combat against Iran just a few years before. Usually such experience is a force multiplier, and there were widespread predictions ranging from quagmire to disaster for the coalition.

The problem (for Iraq) is that the US armed forces had spent the previous 20 years practicing against the tactics & doctrine the Soviets had taught Iraq. As you know, Storm was one of the most lopsided drubbings in military history. I don't doubt both Russia and China spent many late nights thinking of ways to deal with the new paradigm.

The problem these days is a variation of Victory Disease. US armed forces are just that good, and it becomes easy to think you're unbeatable. Add to that no fights with a near peer in, well, decades, and the armed forces could be setting themselves up for failure. At least some folks are sounding the alarm, but things like minesweepers and anti-sub warfare isn't as sexy as the LCS. That's not to mention we as a nation suck at cyber-war. I expect the majority of surprises in the next kind of war to be cyber-based. I doubt actual hacking will be involved, but look for disruption if not elimination of allied networking advantages. We might even have to resort to compasses and paper maps. God pity the men of a butter bar whose GPS just got scrambled...

timactual

"a major lesson of history: the Russians generally start every war with great incompetence."

As have we.

I don't think the Iraq war was any great validation of our doctrine, more a demonstration of the result of absolute aerial dominance and a generation or two more advanced weaponry and technology. And having six months to prepare, gather intelligence, and acclimatize, didn't hurt.

Quartermaster

Beyond "victory disease" the US, and other western powers, have feminized the military. Our most likely opponents have not given into the SJWs. If anything, they were, at the least, marginalized, if not sent to the wall.

Casey

Nope. Desert Storm was an excellent example of getting it right during the first battle of the war. The changes wrought after Vietnam have been validated.

Now, before that US troops probably needed some OJT, but even then Federal troops performed much better than local levies. In fact one of the dirty secrets of our history is that the militias have been fairly worthless in a stand-up battle. The problem has always been that we didn't have enough Federal troops at the beginning of a war. The fear of a standing army kept troop levels very low until the Cold War.

One anecdote from Flying Forts! by Martin Caidin; we sent an observer to Europe during the German invasion of Poland. His report? The Germans put more planes in a single raid over Poland than we had in our entire air force at the time.

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