Most Overrated Militaries

Mar 2019
1,623
Kansas
#81
Yeah, because in WW2, Germany didn't defeat anybody (cough France). The Germany army in WW2 man-for-man outperformed any other army in terms of kill ratios. I also feel a bit of that post-war hindsight shining through, "x won and beat y, therefore x > y in a vaccum."
The thing is belief is a very important element. German soldiers had no doubt about their ability, extremely strong self belief in their cause etc. The French were exactly the opposite. It was almost oh no here we go again. Even the German leadership was surprised how well they did in France.

The one thing the French didn't have was time. Time to figure out how to combat these new German tactics. Even the US the first time they fought head to head with the Germans got their butt handed to them. Once people had time to understand what the Germans were doing and how they were doing it, the inherent weaknesses that were the German army became more obvious
 
Sep 2016
1,215
Georgia
#82
Regardless, you cited Germany as a whole specifically, "Prussia as a whole, including the German Empire and Nazi Germany."; as being incapable of even qualifying for 'greatest military' due to one campaign. I agree that Prussia on the whole is overrated, but I think you're being too extreme here. Germany always has and always will be a nation with great military traditions and history.
Should we count Holy Roman Empire days ? Reign of Frederick Barbarossa, for example ? Wars and battles of German principalities ?

Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany Frederick Barbarossa was defeated at Battle of Legnano in 1176 by Lombard League and lost the war. Armies of Frederick II were also defeated at Parma in 1248 and destroyed at Fossalta in 1249.

Otto IV was defeated in Battle of Bouvines 1214 against the French King Philip II.

Holy Roman Empire was defeated by France in the Dutch War. In the Nine Years War ( 1688 - 1697 ) French constantly defeated HRE armies with their allies.

Swedish and French armies achieved victories in Thirty Years War.

Yeah, because in WW2, Germany didn't defeat anybody (cough France). The Germany army in WW2 man-for-man outperformed any other army in terms of kill ratios. I also feel a bit of that post-war hindsight shining through, "x won and beat y, therefore x > y in a vaccum."
I'm sorry, but France defeated far more countries during years of Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. France also successfully managed to force British to sign Treaty of Amiens in 1802, at least. Not to mention, that France fought for more than 20 years.
 
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Apr 2014
388
Istanbul Turkey
#83
I agree Ottomans are overrated after mid 16th Century. They were facing and defeating reasonably small or medium Balkan or Eastern European princedoms or states in West and winning battles but not decisevely against Iran and Akkoyunlu in East and only decisely smashing Memluks and conquering Egypt till then with reasonable sucess of one season campaigns. After they faced centrally controlled and revisioned European kingdoms and Empires (Austria Holy Roman Empire, newly created Russian Empire , Polish , Prussian kingdom , Venetian state and Genoan kingdom) especially after they united ibn common strategic goal in an Alliance , once each sides took a measure of opposite sides , Ottoman military sucesses became fewer and and fewer with much less decisive outcomes till defeat in Second Siege of Vienna.

French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic Wars era French Army is also too overrated and romanticised (like German Empire and Third Reich afterwards). French had a few novel revolutionary revisions like mass mobilisation (Lazerne Carnot is the architect more than Napoleon for French military expansion and triumphs between 1793-1814) , meritocracy in officer corps borne out of desperation against numerically superior enemy coalitions. The new artillery tactics of Baron du Tot existed before revolution. Until rest of Europe (mostly Austria Hungary , Prussia and Russia) trying to understand , learn and catch them in these new methods , tactics and organisational methods , relatively easy French victories again in one season campaigns created a romanticised triumphal image of French military in shape of Napoleon.

Same with Germans. Just because they knocked down Austria in 1866 and then France in 1870-1871 in relative ease and quick one year long campaigns made Prussian based methodical organisation of Second Reich military seem on top of world in all things militarily. That over confidence caused German rash decision to blunder into war in two fronts in 1914 without anything other than a short one season campaign strategy plan (Sclieffen Plan) and once that failed they had no idea what to do and constantly changed their strategic priorties accordingly. That did not end well in 1918. When newly formed revitilased Wehrmact with support of best organised air force again in one season campaigns after another run amok between 1939-1941 (in 1939-1940 five of the eight countries were neutrals with weak military , smaller economies and resources and caught complately in suprise under German onslaught without decleration of war same with Balkan countries in 1941) with best operational and organisational methods so far , it created a myth of invincbility with an auro of Teutonic war deity in shape of German military prowness and National Socialism. Same problems from 25 years ago persisted though. No proper long term strategy , inefficiency to use existing resources or technologies , inability to prepare for a Total War until too late etc. Once they blundered into snowly plains of Russia , limits of German methods of operational efectiveness no matter how good they had been , were plain as well as limits of German resources. Once "one-campaign-to knock out opposition and force them to surrender" strategy failed , again German political and military leadership were at loss what to do except repreat same strategy over and over again after 1942 only to fail each time. (this is the definition of madness in strategy , trying to do same thing over and overe and expecting outcome different without changing the varibles) Only huge depth of strategy defence territory they conqured until 1942 from shores France to Caucaus (which took time and enormous resources to re capture for Allies but also caused over extension , dispersion of German military resources and made German defence efforts harder) and faster rate and increased fireppower of modern weaponary delayed inevitable fall of Third Reich till 1945. After that just like Napoleonic France a century ago , wartime propaganda and post war romanticised military effectivess myth by literature for Cold War priorties crearted a super invincible German military legend.
 
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#84
I would put Rome as a whole, including the Republic and Imperial Rome. They are often held as some sort of discipline and military innovation and there is some truth to this, but they are vastly overpraised and I would argue that just Adrianople, where their army was effectively crushed with the Roman emperor killed by a band of wandering primitive horsemen, disqualifies them from any form of place as the ''greatest military.''
One could find arguments that support the case that the Roman army is overrated, as indeed one could find such arguments about any famous historical army, but a mishandled army at Adrianople is not a strong argument, since you can find notable blunders in the history of any army. Overconfident leadership and the failures that follow are a part of the human condition. It has been argued on this forum that the most successful army of the last milennium was that of the French. Their military record didn't prevent blunders at e.g. Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt. And indeed, in the vast majority of instances of Roman vs Germanic army, the Romans came out on top, thus why Germanic forces tended to avoid pitched battle.
 
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Aug 2018
161
America
#85
One could find arguments that support the case that the Roman army is overrated, as indeed one could find such arguments about any famous historical army, but a mishandled army at Adrianople is not a strong argument, since you can find notable blunders in the history of any army. Overconfident leadership and the failures that follow are a part of the human condition. It has been argued on this forum that the most successful army of the last milennium was that of the French. Their military record didn't prevent blunders at e.g. Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt. And indeed, in the vast majority of instances of Roman vs Germanic army, the Romans came out on top, thus why Germanic forces tended to avoid pitched battle.
I was being sarcastic and parodying your argument.
 
Aug 2018
161
America
#87
My argument? This is my first contribution to this thread. In any case, if you're only being sarcastic, fair enough.
Sorry, I thought you were the same person I replied to originally.

Still one has to argue how overwhelming and superior the Romans really were in comparison to Germanics. Germanics reached far deeper into the heart of Rome than the Romans ever got into the heart of Germanics (Scandinavia), and in fact did so twice before the third century (the Cimbri invasion and again with the Marcomannic invasion). They also did not conquer the Germanics while the Germanics were the ones who ended up conquering them, including even the Eastern Roman Empire for half a century.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,852
Blachernai
#90
I guess that you don't consider Crusaders that identified as Franks and included also a few Lombards, Normans and Germans as "Germanics". Heck, the Byzantine sources called the period the Frankokratia.
I'm well aware of what the sources say. To equate the crusaders who took Constantinople to the Germanic peoples of antiquity is a bit extreme. Social systems and identity had changed massively in the eight-ish centuries that elapsed between Adrianople and 1204. Labelling both as "Germanics" obscures far more than it helps explain.
 

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