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View Poll Results: What's more important: A competent general or a competent army?
A competent general 34 68.00%
A competent army 16 32.00%
Voters: 50. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 13th, 2011, 08:38 PM   #41

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
In all likelihood because it is an inherently biased sampling; i.e. if winning battles is your main criterion for considering any general as good, then the argumentation is circular here.
Very good point.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 11:33 PM   #42

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example 1. the sieges of Metz and Sedan in the Franco Prussian war of 1870-1871
example 2. the battle of France

example 3 that proves for and against this statement, the early battles of the Mahdist war.
Somethimes competent generals were given command on troops that were so demoralized that they were completely useless and the (Egyptian) troops would often run after the first attackwave
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Old December 14th, 2011, 11:39 PM   #43

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For sylla
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...the Classical Roman army was an excellent example for at least some eight centuries; it lost some battles, but never ever any single war. It's evident that the quality of all their commanders couldn't have been universally acme, and in fact there is good evidence of the poor quality of plenty of them.
May I point out one minor flaw in the use of the Romans in this instance. In Europe at least, the Romans fought many of those battles against Celtic foes who could neither read nor write and depended entirely upon the spoken word (which could often get a little exaggerated over a beer or three) to record and analyze the events of a battle. Therefore it is not the best example to use when determining whether a competent army needs a competent commander. That is not to say that the main point is wrong by the way, quite right that each Centurion knew his job and place in the scheme of things and each man of his centuriae ditto.

The Romans had a distinct advantage over their Celtic enemy, even after they lost battles, because they could record and analyze the events of battle and communicate any adjustments needed to other centuriae before the next battle.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 02:12 AM   #44

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I would rather a competent army. When I say this, it is the ''sergeants'' of a competent army that I would want more than a competent general. In the Roman period, its acknowledged that it is was the centurions that kept the discipline and morale during battles and skirmishes. These were career soldiers interested in the best interests of the legion rather than the politics, which a legate or tribune would have more in their mind.

All the best armies in the world are as successful as the ''sergeants'' who are directly in control of the rank and file. In my opinion (which doesn't count for too much ) a general can only be as good as the army that they control but an well ordered and disciplined army can be greater than their general. So in the end it comes down to training and circumstance (luck!)

All the great armies, such as Napoleon's French, Genghis' Mongols, etc. All relied on a good chain of command from top to bottom. It was the micromanagement that is so important for an army to succeed.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 05:43 AM   #45
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Competent generals win battles, competent armies win wars.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 07:11 AM   #46

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it is quite amusing to see that most people who think it is more important to have a competent army have ancient avatars while most people who find competent generals more important monstly have more modern avatars...
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Old December 18th, 2011, 07:18 AM   #47

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I'd say general. You always hear stories of "the head being cut off the snake" whenever a general is killed in battle and his army basically dissolves.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 08:01 AM   #48

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Originally Posted by leakbrewergator View Post
I'd say general. You always hear stories of "the head being cut off the snake" whenever a general is killed in battle and his army basically dissolves.
Nice to see you back, Leak!
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Old December 18th, 2011, 09:27 AM   #49

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Nice to see you back, Leak!
Thanks,Diddy! It's good to peruse the site again. Hard to devote any real time with the new addition to our family.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 10:01 AM   #50

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Quote:
It can depend on a lot of variables besides the quality of the army and of the general. The Roman army, for instance, was generally a fabulous organization in terms of discipline and equipment, while the quality of the men commanding it ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. History attests to Roman armies winning victories in spite of bad generals, and losing because of them.

I think, especially where large battles are concerned, there are so many trivial factors (many of them determined by fate or fortune, rather than the planning or actions of men) that can influence the course of events. Thus rendering most hypothetical ponderings about "who would beat who", "who was better", etc.
Agreed. I say it's more often the Army that makes the general than the other way round though in the end.
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