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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:17 AM   #1

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Greatest Commanders Since 1945


Who were the best generals of the post WW2 era? It seems like something no one ever discusses.

My list:

1) Vo Nguyen Giap: Hands down one of the, if not the greatest commander of the 20th century. He held off the Japanese (fine that's WW2), and defeated the Americans, South Vietnamese, and French. He also established a general staff that managed to conquer Cambodia and hold off against the massive armies of its northern neighbor, China. Not to mention that Dien Bien Phu was one of the most brilliantly executed battles ever.

2) Moshe Dayan: As Sharon said, he'd wake up with 100 ideas every morning, 98 of which were dangerous and 2 which were brilliant. Despite defining the word lunatic, Dayan was an incredibly competent commander, mastering the art of tank warfare like no other ever has. Leading Israeli forces in 1956, 1967, and 1973, time and time again he crushed much larger, and often equally well equipped armies.

3) Gerald Templer: The man created modern counterinsurgency tactics, shouldn't that be enough? He defeated what was once a seemingly unstoppable Chinese communist rebellion in Malaysia, giving Britain some semblance of dignity when it relinquished the Empire, not to mention that it halted the seemingly unstoppable expansion of Chinese influence in East Asia. He also advised the government during the Suez Crisis, which could have turned out a lot worse.

4) Ahmad Shah Massoud: Even though Che Guevara is more famous, Massoud is truly the greatest guerrilla fighter since the end of WW2. He held off the Soviets for an entire decade, then fought the Taliban until his assassination, which was part of the preparations for 9/11. Outnumbered and always outgunned, Massoud used the terrain to his advantaged like one has in recent history. He also turned the North Alliance into a formidable fighting force that managed to conquer much of Afghanistan with U.S. aid in 2001. If Massoud hadn't been murdered, who knows if the Taliban would still be here today.

5) David Petraeus: Basically the American version of Templer, he used very similar counterinsurgency tactics to turn around what seemed like a stunning defeat in Iraq into a marginal victory. He understood that simply killing off insurgents wasn't good enough and realized that intrigue can be just as effective in war as shooting. The troop surge was an ingenious idea that finally destroyed opposition to American forces. He then went on to export his ideas to the conflict in Afghanistan, which have seemed to turn that war around as well, though only time will tell.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 05:02 PM   #2
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Choices 1,2 and 4 for me.
Outnumbered and just fighting for survival makes these commanders have an edge.
And while true that 3 and 5 are competent leaders they had more resources than say Dayan, he had no choice but to win he literally fought for the existence of Israel, plus his eye patch made an impression on me when I was a small child, made him more "mysterious" I should say.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 05:17 PM   #3

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Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:38 PM   #4

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HR McMaster basically won two wars in the Battle of 73 Easting. I think he's America's best, and most underrated, military leader in decades. The battle saw the complete and total destruction of Iraq's best armored division and wreaked havoc on the morale of the Saddam-era Iraqi army. I'd put him in the running, at least.

Stormin' Norman is also great, though. Good call on that.

I do disagree on Petreaus, however. He was good, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't put him in the same category of American military leadership.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:44 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesman View Post
HR McMaster basically won two wars in the Battle of 73 Easting. I think he's America's best, and most underrated, military leader in decades. The battle saw the complete and total destruction of Iraq's best armored division and wreaked havoc on the morale of the Saddam-era Iraqi army. I'd put him in the running, at least.

Stormin' Norman is also great, though. Good call on that.

I do disagree on Petreaus, however. He was good, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't put him in the same category of American military leadership.
Stormin' Norman certainly deserves a place. I would say Petraeus deserves a spot simply because he was the right man for the job. After Desert Storm there weren't a lot of US Generals who continued to focus primarily on COIN operations.

While everyone else thought that future wars would be all quick and clean like Desert Storm, Petraeus stayed focused on the same thing he had written his 1987 Princeton Dissertation about: The lessons that can be learned from Vietnam and the future of Counterinsurgencies.

Last edited by Pacific_Victory; December 6th, 2012 at 08:54 PM.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:49 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesman View Post

I do disagree on Petreaus, however. He was good, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't put him in the same category of American military leadership.
Petreaus was very media savvy. I admit, i was impressed with his performances from the last decade and was concerned when he was posted to the "political" post of CIA chief that he may have inadvertently trapped himself and sure enough....
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Old December 7th, 2012, 12:35 AM   #7

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Difficult question, since the nature of modern warfare depends so much on technology and external "support" there is little scope for individual achievement. Wars are conducted more by committees than individuals, Generals tend to be more figureheads than commanders.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:05 AM   #8

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Stormin' Norman was certainly in my top 10, but I wouldn't put him in my top 5. Except for Templer, all the generals commanded in multiple conflicts, and all of them did so over long conflicts. While I'm sure Stormin' Norman could have repeated his success in another war, we simply do not know.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:44 AM   #9

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Hassan Djamous Chadian commander fought the Lybians in the Chadian–Libyan conflict, his tactic of using high mobile pick-up ruses and surprises against the Lybian conventional army was incridble.
His materpiece is the Battle of Maaten al-Sarra
a raid in a Lybian airbase aiming to destroy the Libyan aircrafts
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:59 AM   #10
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Koko,
Templar was also a very successful WW2 general, commanding the 56th division in Italy, especially at Anzio, where they held the German advance that could have destroyed the bridgehead.

And I used to get the bus to school from outside his mum's front gate, in N.Ireland!
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