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Old November 11th, 2012, 01:49 PM   #1

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Casualty rates


Why do you think the casualty rates were so much higher, and the fighting was so much more heavy and intense in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam War than it is in modern war?

Different circumstances, different tactics?

What are your opinions?
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Old November 11th, 2012, 01:56 PM   #2

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Casualty rates in WWI were far heavier than in WWII, which in turn were heavier than Korea or Vietnam. The weapons and tactics were changing, mass engagements were/are becoming rarer and todays sophisticated weapons allow for much more precision in targeting and less exposure for the user.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 02:08 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belgarion View Post
Casualty rates in WWI were far heavier than in WWII, which in turn were heavier than Korea or Vietnam. The weapons and tactics were changing, mass engagements were/are becoming rarer and todays sophisticated weapons allow for much more precision in targeting and less exposure for the user.
Agreed. Instead of two groups charging head on, two large groups would instead skirmish with eachother until one side won.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 04:18 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Currahee View Post
Why do you think the casualty rates were so much higher, and the fighting was so much more heavy and intense in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam War than it is in modern war?

Different circumstances, different tactics?

What are your opinions?
It would be interesting to see a comparison between the casualty rates of US/ISAF troops and Taliban. Or between Iraqi and US/UK soldiers in the Gulf war.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 05:59 PM   #5

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Nice assessments. So much of land warfare has become that of small unit engagements integral to broader strategic goals. The number of troops in an offensive may be close to those of, say, WWII or Vietnam, but the fighting is done with small units on a much wider scale, backed up with often scalpel sharp air and artillery support. I think this allows for more flexibility in operations, and lessens casualties in comparison to rigid massed front offensives of the past.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #6

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Technology has a lot to do with it. Magnification of force, combined arms. In the 1800s combined arms was guys standing in tightly packed groups in the middle of fields shooting at one another. Not so nowadays.

A good book.

Technology and War: Martin van Creveld: 9780080413174: Amazon.com: Books
Technology and War: Martin van Creveld: 9780080413174: Amazon.com: Books

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Old November 12th, 2012, 12:28 AM   #7

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The whole issue of war has been to mass firepower at decisive points.
In the old days this was done by massing men each with muskets or shock melee weaponry in closely packed formations to magnify the overall effect.Now firepower technology has progressed so much u don't need to get a hundred men with guns to get desired forepower,especially with the aircarft and helicopetr now available.
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Old November 12th, 2012, 12:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangas Coloradas View Post
Technology has a lot to do with it. Magnification of force, combined arms. In the 1800s combined arms was guys standing in tightly packed groups in the middle of fields shooting at one another. Not so nowadays.

A good book. Technology and War: Martin van Creveld: 9780080413174: Amazon.com: Books
You are right!!!
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Old November 12th, 2012, 07:44 PM   #9

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The Second World War was a total war which by definition makes it a war of survival, particularly in the Soviet Union and China where most of the 50-60 million people died as a result of extreme ideologies facing each other.

Near the end of the war many Germans and Japanese died trying to force terms of surrender that would not see their homelands occupied by the Allies... both failed.

Today, casualties are really avoided like the plague and most modern armies will not run troops against automatic fire... they would rather stand back and use high tech weaponry on the position. Most wars are also quite lopsided now, as the well trained and developed militaries only rarely fight each other and those who only purchase high tech weaponry are usually less well trained or the weapons are usually of a superceded variety.

An example of this was the "Thunder Runs" where US tanks ran a line directly through Baghdad to both the airport and two days later the Government precinct (now called the Green Zone) without losing a tank. This was mainly because most RPG-7 rounds bought from Russia were not sufficient to penetrate the US main battle tanks frontal armor and those that were sufficient were obviously not used properly.

Last edited by rehabnonono; November 12th, 2012 at 08:03 PM.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 12:57 AM   #10

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Democracy has allowed social evolution towards more aware individuals. Generally in this evolution armies have become more and more socially connected and politically important [the families of who went in battle voted ... while in the past ...] and then more and more professional.

A professional soldier costs to the state to be trained and equipped, the professional soldier is no more a unit in a mass force. And to keep military life in some way convenient [also for poor persons without any other perspective to gain enough money, so that they make the choice of the army], the strategies and the tactics have to grant a certain "security" to soldiers [it's clear that a soldier has to accept the idea to die in battle, anyway!].

Extreme tactics like no return missions are very rare today in Western Armies.

On the other hands, democracies don't stand massacres of civilians or high level of "collateral damages". This is the main reason why today in case of a war the rate of casualties among civilians is well inferior to the one recorded during the wars of the past. Today a bombardment of a great city in a perfect "WW II style" would be so not politically correct to be impossible to plan for politicians.
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