Create Your Own All-Star Military

May 2018
646
Michigan
#11
National Leader: Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln
Chief of the General Staff: Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Supreme Allied Commander: Wellington
Foreign Secretary: Talleyrand or Kissinger
Secretary of the Navy/First Sea Lord: Theodore Roosevelt

1st Army (Expeditionary force, deployable globally)
Commander: Napoleon Bonaparte
An aggressive force interested to be rapidly deployable and achieve annihilation victories. His corps commanders would likely be his Marshals, with the addition of Marlborough.

2nd Army (Occupation follow-on forces, made for holding ground)
Commander: Scipio Africanus
An occupation force trained in Counter-Insurgency tactics. The 2nd Army commander will have some limited diplomatic powers that the 1st Army commander would not. Many battalions are detached to occupy going Imperial holdings.

3rd Army (Reserve or Territorial Army)
Commander: Dwight Eisenhower
The nation's home defense and reserve component, led by a competent administrator with political acumen to deal with domestic politicians.

Expeditionary Fleet (global deployment)
Commander: Horatio Nelson
This fleet (probably multiple fleets) conducts global patrols, war fighting and supports the 1st Army's Expeditionary efforts.

Home Fleet (home waters defense)
Commander: Yi-Sun Shin
Protects the US coastline or English channel. Yi demonstrated a naval talent for defensive battles.

Special Ops/Intelligence
Commander: Ian Fleming/Sir Francis Walshingham

Political/Military advisors (staff officers or civilians):

Julius Caesar - liason to legislative body, also will write the official history of the war. Will serve, off and on, as Chief of Staff to various Army commands in the spirit of the Prussian General Staff.

Mark Antony/Boris Johnson: Head of MWR, and procuring willing, volunteer prostitutes for troops.

Lord Raglan: Person to blame if things go wrong.

Inspector General: Baron von Steuben
 
Likes: sailorsam
May 2018
646
Michigan
#12
Infantry: Germany in the first half of the 20th century (both World Wars)
Cavalry: Alexander's Companion Cavalry
Armour: Germany in the Second World War
Engineers: Roman legion engineers
Artillery: French Napoleonic artillery
Leadership: German high command of the First World War
The first five are good, plausible choices. However, German WWI leadership, while superior to most Allied leadership, made some serious strategic errors which cost them the war. Tactically, the Germans were superior, so if we are talking the Army level and below, good choice. More senior positions, particularly at the level that Hindenburg and Ludendorf historically held, I would choose a more strategically-minded German like Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.
 
Mar 2016
911
Australia
#13
National Leader: Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln
Chief of the General Staff: Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Supreme Allied Commander: Wellington
Foreign Secretary: Talleyrand or Kissinger
Secretary of the Navy/First Sea Lord: Theodore Roosevelt

1st Army (Expeditionary force, deployable globally)
Commander: Napoleon Bonaparte
An aggressive force interested to be rapidly deployable and achieve annihilation victories. His corps commanders would likely be his Marshals, with the addition of Marlborough.

2nd Army (Occupation follow-on forces, made for holding ground)
Commander: Scipio Africanus
An occupation force trained in Counter-Insurgency tactics. The 2nd Army commander will have some limited diplomatic powers that the 1st Army commander would not. Many battalions are detached to occupy going Imperial holdings.

3rd Army (Reserve or Territorial Army)
Commander: Dwight Eisenhower
The nation's home defense and reserve component, led by a competent administrator with political acumen to deal with domestic politicians.

Expeditionary Fleet (global deployment)
Commander: Horatio Nelson
This fleet (probably multiple fleets) conducts global patrols, war fighting and supports the 1st Army's Expeditionary efforts.

Home Fleet (home waters defense)
Commander: Yi-Sun Shin
Protects the US coastline or English channel. Yi demonstrated a naval talent for defensive battles.

Special Ops/Intelligence
Commander: Ian Fleming/Sir Francis Walshingham

Political/Military advisors (staff officers or civilians):

Julius Caesar - liason to legislative body, also will write the official history of the war. Will serve, off and on, as Chief of Staff to various Army commands in the spirit of the Prussian General Staff.

Mark Antony/Boris Johnson: Head of MWR, and procuring willing, volunteer prostitutes for troops.

Lord Raglan: Person to blame if things go wrong.

Inspector General: Baron von Steuben
Great list, and I agree with pretty much all of it.

Mark Antony/Boris Johnson: Head of MWR, and procuring willing, volunteer prostitutes for troops
This got a genuine chuckle from me.
 
Likes: frogsofwar
Mar 2016
911
Australia
#15
The first five are good, plausible choices. However, German WWI leadership, while superior to most Allied leadership, made some serious strategic errors which cost them the war. Tactically, the Germans were superior, so if we are talking the Army level and below, good choice. More senior positions, particularly at the level that Hindenburg and Ludendorf historically held, I would choose a more strategically-minded German like Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.
Yeah, I was thinking specifically of tactical leadership rather than larger political/strategic leadership, in which case I would definitely either go with Moltke the Elder or perhaps a different country entirely. I'm considering the Mongol leadership during Genghis and Ögedei's reigns.
 
Likes: sailorsam
May 2018
646
Michigan
#17
Great list, and I agree with pretty much all of it.



This got a genuine chuckle from me.
The Antony/Johnson bit is only half-serious. However, as long as all parties are consenting (no human trafficking tolerated), we can acknowledge what is "politically incorrect": soldiers like getting laid, moreso than the average male. As a former soldier, I can attest to this personally, and the way I see it, having prostitutes on a semi-formal basis mitigates the following:

-The spread of STDs, which reduces combat effectiveness.
-Reduces the chance that less-moral soldiers will commit rape.
-Reduces the chance that troops will visit brothels that actually do practice human trafficking.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,770
At present SD, USA
#18
The first five are good, plausible choices. However, German WWI leadership, while superior to most Allied leadership...
But they weren't superior in ANY way. The Allies tend to get a bad rep for many of the battles of World War I with regard to the offensives by the French and the reputation of Haig's command with the British. But when looking at the Western Front after the Battle of the Marne, one must note that the Germans retreated to positions that it really wouldn't take much to defend those positions. They were often on the top of ridges and where possible had to cross rivers before going up hill just to get to the German lines, both of which are very basic defensive tactics, as it makes assault more difficult. Add in that when WWI neither the French nor British had either the heavy guns nor the factories that were equipped to produce the guns and shells they needed. Lloyd George worked hard to try and get Britain's industry better organized early in the war, and I have no doubt his French counterpart did something similar, but a lot of this tended to relate to measures the Germans took in peacetime and often with workers not familiar with the armaments industry. Which in turn lead to many shells coming from the Allied factories proving to be duds for various reasons, which gives the Germans a further defensive advantage. And even if the shells were all functional, because French and British units wouldn't begin to get substantial numbers of heavy artillery until 1916, that would make any attack on the German lines, particularly prior to 1916 more difficult.

But this doesn't make Germany's leadership better...

Moltke the Younger: The Schlieffen Plan was probably never going to work as written to begin with. It pushed German logistics beyond what they were capable of and was to set on a rigid timetable. This means that if the advance is delayed or if the French refuse to surrender on schedule, the entire operation is in jeopardy. And the logistical strains that that the Schlieffen Plan put on the German army would even make their ability to force that on the French on time would be questionable. To have any chance of success, the Germans needed their commander to hold his nerve and not waiver and stick to the plan as it was originally devised, so that a strong German wing could then cross the Seine, take Paris, and pin the French army against their own forts on the border, if they do not abandon the forts to rescue their capital. However, Moltke the Younger was that that sort of general. He constantly fretted and worried over other fronts, thus diverting troops needed for the advance to Russia in case the Russians mobilize sooner or to Alsace in case the French decide to retake their lost provinces. On the surface these are sound fears... but given Russian logistical issues and the fact that Plan XVII really had no goal beyond advancing into its lost territory and was not prepared to deal with heavy fortifications, these diversions were unnecessary and weakened the principle arm that was to be depended on to carry out the blow against the French.

And then the battles of 1914 began. And here, Moltke proved his nerve was not up to it. He panicked and diverted troops east when the Russians won a series of border skirmishes and bowed to pressure from other field commanders after the Battle of the Frontiers looking for a double envelopment of the French lines. This again served to weaken the German forces that were supposed to strike the main blow. And some of it was for nothing. As while Ludendorff made it East, the victory at Tannenberg was won by the forces that were already there and Rennenkampf's army largely stayed where it stopped when Moltke first ordered the transfer. This meant that as the Germans approached Paris at the end of August 1914, they were understrength, on over-extended supply lines, falling behind schedule, and with a commander who was a bundle of nerves. In contrast, while Joffre's Plan XVII didn't have the Schlieffen Plan's elegance, or even a clear vision on how to truly defeat Germany beyond recapturing France's lost provinces, and the Battle of the Frontiers did expose these problems, Joffre was the more calm individual. In this, Joffre wasn't as prone to panicking as his German counterpart and that helped hold the French Army together in 1914, as seen by the victory in the Battle of the Marne.

To be Continued...
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,770
At present SD, USA
#19
The first five are good, plausible choices. However, German WWI leadership, while superior to most Allied leadership...
But they weren't superior in ANY way. The Allies tend to get a bad rep for many of the battles of World War I with regard to the offensives by the French and the reputation of Haig's command with the British. But when looking at the Western Front after the Battle of the Marne, one must note that the Germans retreated to positions that it really wouldn't take much to defend those positions. They were often on the top of ridges and where possible had to cross rivers before going up hill just to get to the German lines, both of which are very basic defensive tactics, as it makes assault more difficult. Add in that when WWI neither the French nor British had either the heavy guns nor the factories that were equipped to produce the guns and shells they needed. Lloyd George worked hard to try and get Britain's industry better organized early in the war, and I have no doubt his French counterpart did something similar, but a lot of this tended to relate to measures the Germans took in peacetime and often with workers not familiar with the armaments industry. Which in turn lead to many shells coming from the Allied factories proving to be duds for various reasons, which gives the Germans a further defensive advantage. And even if the shells were all functional, because French and British units wouldn't begin to get substantial numbers of heavy artillery until 1916, that would make any attack on the German lines, particularly prior to 1916 more difficult.

But this doesn't make Germany's leadership better...

Falkenhayn: Falkenhayn seemed calmer than Moltke, but he also came off as more political and obsessed with his own ideas. He is noted as a more Western Front focused commander, and just as generals like Haig would get lambasted for actions on the Somme or Passchendaele, Falkenhayn was not above pushing an offensive beyond the point with which it could succeed. This is shown in both the First Battle of Ypres and the Second Battle of Ypres, in which there was the hope to break the Allied lines and securing the Belgian coast, and potentially the northern French ports. These efforts failed and many German soldiers remembered them...

And while much of Falkenhayn's rise to Chief of Staff had played to his own political acumen, he also seemed unable to get the Eastern Generals to accept his Western Front focus. Now, with the problems that Austria suffered at Russian hands in 1914-1915, some of that is understandable, but the fact remains that the Western Front was Falkenhayn's focus and yet he was forced into abiding by a more Eastern Front strategy. It's only after Gorlice-Tarnow succeeded that he was able to turn to the offensive he really wanted. Verdun. And here there are problems...

For one, the only real "strategic" importance Verdun had was that of pride. That they would fight for the fortress city over all else. Beyond that, it was of little value. it had no sizeable population or industry and Germany already held positions closer to the French capital than Verdun in December 1915. Yet, Falkenhayn chose Verdun, hoping the French would fight for it. Now, Joffre and de Castelnau proved more than willing to do this. But Petain didn't and even urged a phased withdrawal, and shelling the exposed German flank as they advanced. Which means an officer not yet in command over the French military was able to deduce what Falkenhayn had intended at Verdun.

The second was that the attack was sloopy in nature. Falkenhayn ordered the attacks ONLY be on the east bank of the Meuse. Crown Prince Wilhelm warned him that doing so would cost more German lives than was necessary, and Falkenhayn ignored this, until French cannon on the west bank began shelling German troops advancing. While Mort Home and Cote 304 would be taken, they weren't the ONLY hills the French were firing from. And Falkenhayn pressed the offensive, well past the point that the Germans were gaining sustainable returns from the battle. When the battle ended the German lines were pushed back close to their start positions, and while the French had suffered heavier losses... the casualty ratio was nearly 1:1, not enough for Germany to have gained anything of note at Verdun. In this, Phillipe Petain defeated the German Chief of Staff's plan for 1916.

And given the other battles of 1916, and their affect on the Central Powers, the case could be made that Joffre's proposed Chantilly plan from 1915 to attack at once in 1916 came closer to knocking out the Central Powers than anything Falkenhayn intended.

Hindenburg and Ludendorff: The two as a team were good, and recognized the flaws in Falkenhayn's efforts in the west. However, by the time they took over the German army as a whole, the situation was becoming desperate. Their defensive strategy in the west for 1917 would only buy time and would depend on the Allies launching suicidal offensives at the Hindenburg Line. This actually didn't happen. They attacked, yes, and the French were driven to mutiny, yes, but French losses in the Nivelle Offensive were lower than those they'd suffered at Verdun the year before, and much of the commentary from the mutineers would indicate that much of their issues had more to do with the situation behind the lines than with the losses they'd taken assaulting the German lines. And at the same time, the new defensive lines were not quite the impediment to the British that they were hoped to be. The British made gains at Arras and Vimy Ridge and cracked the Hindenburg Line at Cambrai in late 1917. They weren't huge breakthroughs, but the bite and hold method seemed to work in a way that frustrated the new defensive system.

And in the bigger picture, the two recognized how desperate the German situation was and gambled in desperation in the hopes of some miracle that would tip the war in their favor. They urged and got the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare and a diplomatic note in the hopes that America would be lead into a war with Mexico that would keep them out of Europe. Mexico never responded to the Zimmerman Note in the affirmative and the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in combination with that would bring America into the war, presenting them with an ally with the manpower and potential to offset the fact that the gamble in Russia did pay off. And while the gamble to send Lenin back to Russia worked to lead Russia out of the war... it unleashed a threat that would hang over Germany and would eventually prove to serve as part of the scapegoat for the "stab in the back." And even with Russia dropping out of the war in 1917, large numbers of German troops had to stay on the Eastern Front to loot the Ukraine to try and offset the effects of the British Blockade.

And then there was the Spring Offensive... Sold as a last ditch effort to knock Britain off the continent, the Germans attacked with fury and frenzy. However, the attack ran into problems as Ludendorff had listed no set objective to attain beyond the next British trench line, betraying that there was little to no expectation on where it might expected that the British would be split off from the French. And at the same time the German offensive was slowed by the Germans themselves as they stopped to loot British trenches, resulting in there being motivation issues that Hindenburg and Ludendorff had no answer for. As their armies approached Amiens, they finally picked Amiens as a target, but by this point Foch had taken over as Allied Supreme Commander and placed French reserve units to support the British at Amiens. The lines held and the German advance was stopped. There followed a series of distraction efforts, hoping to either pull British troops away or French troops away. All of which failed in the strategic sense, and with regard to the advance south, Ludendorff failed to take the logistical centers needed to take Paris that would make things such that even if the French capital was a target, it was unlikely the Germans would have the material with which to take it. And Foch correctly guessed as much... And with the defeat of the Spring Offensive, Germany was doomed.
 
May 2018
646
Michigan
#20
Its late, and I may expound upon this tomorrow: Niall Ferguson in The Pity of War shows, through good analysis, that the German Army was far better at killing enemy soldiers than the allied nations: on the order of 38% better. In light of Haig, and other allied generals alleging a "war of attrition", the Allies weren't doing a very good job of killing Germans, or at least the Germans were better at killing Allies than the Allies were at killing Germans.

Now, Ferguson is an economic historian, and "kill ratio" isn't necessarily the best way to measure "military acumen." However, he makes a good case that Germany was not only tactically (certainly, not strategically) superior to the Allied armies, but also managed their limited economic resources better than the allies managed their vast economic resources.

Certainly, the Hindenburg/Ludendorf team made some serious strategic blunders: such as unrestricted submarine warfare, and their estimates on how quickly the Americans could send troops to the Western Front. Ludendorf has been aptly described as "tactically gifted, but strategically bankrupt." Hence why I believe German leadership in WWI would work well at the Army (in terms of Army, Corps, Division etc...) level would be very good, but at the strategic level, Moltke the Elder of Frederick the Great would be a better choice for the most senior military commands.

However, I would actually agree with "WhatsAnArtist", a poster whom I've had "heated" debates about the Confederacy with, that the German Army was quite good, and its leadership performed very well in WWI. Their blunders, however, were big ones that cost them the war. Bear in mind that Napoleon Bonaparte, a general considered by some to be the greatest general of all time (you know who you are, lol) made a bigger military blunder than Cardigan and the Charge of the Light Brigade: the disastrous invasion of Russia. In line with the quote about Erich Ludendorf, Napoleon was "tactically brilliant, strategically middling, and diplomatically bankrupt."

I would also allege that Douglas Haig, although far from being a "great general" (certainly not on the level of Wellington, Scipio, Caesar, Napoleon, Hannibal, Marlborough, Moltke or Davout) is actually underrated: he made some bloody mistakes, such as the Somme, but also saw successes such as the Hundred Days. While he didn't necessarily learn from the mistakes of others, he learned from his own mistakes. This is in line with the quote that "Great men learn from the mistakes of others, good men learn from their own mistakes." Haig was, by no means, a Conrad or Cadorna, who were fully the cliche of "donkeys" any more than he was a Wellington.
 
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