Worst Armchair Generals

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,277
#91
So pray tell, how was that solved prior to WW1?
Taking the opposing first trench line was not the great problem in ww1, it was reliable communication and information. How do you know the war was cut, the enemey trench supressed, how far your troops had gotten.

It was the lack of communications that Generals could not get almost any accurate information and how artillery could be co-ordinates. Without artillery co-ordination you were very very vulnerable. It gave the defender great advanategs as his information was normally better, if he knows how far teh enemy have advanced, dumping artillery fire on his former trenches is often really easy.

Not disagreeing, though the next one was even more so.
Depends how you look at it.. Tanks, Aircraft, submarines, emerged from very primiative technogloes to workable ones. Tactics and doctrine went through advance, counter advanace quite qucikly I would say more than in ww2.

It is not the scale. It is the issue of having encountered problems (assailing entrenched/hidden enemies) without really coming up with a solution.
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No the type of warfare was so different as to make any parallels mostly meaningless. The US Civil is a lot close to the Napoleonic period than WW1. Napoleon could have recognized the civil war, he could not have ww1. Minnie Ball muskets were an advance but compare to magazine rifles it's not close.
 
Jul 2016
9,562
USA
#92
But most of the senior commanders, including the overall commander Raglan hadn't seen active wartime service since around the time of tje Napoleonic Wars. Colin Campbell did rather well, and George Catchcart (? I think), the commander of the Heavy rigade too, despite being ridiculously short-sighted.
The problem with Churchill's service wasn't lack of combat command experience, it was that he was a cavalry officer that barely served in any official capacity with his own cavalry regiment, going off on temporary duty assignments to pursue other things, gained no doubt by the fact that he was a peer. This continued throughout his military career, which he cut short to run for office.

In 1916 there were better candidates for aninfantry battalion command slot. Like a high performing captain or major, having previously successfully commanded a company or 2IC of battalion at the Front. But those guys werent very poweful politicians with all sorts of connections and favors owed.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,277
#95
Sorry, he didn't actually have the title as it passed to his uncle. But he was a member of the nobility, a very famous family at that.
It a very minor piont I was Just interested in the facts.

A famous family but his father was more in less in disgrace, his later career was sad. Churchill was hardly wealthy ealry in life, while I agree his appointment to a battalion command was due to his status, that was more or less a self made man to a large degree. He would not have been appionted if he had done nothing since leaving the army.
 
Jul 2016
9,562
USA
#96
It a very minor piont I was Just interested in the facts.

A famous family but his father was more in less in disgrace, his later career was sad. Churchill was hardly wealthy ealry in life, while I agree his appointment to a battalion command was due to his status, that was more or less a self made man to a large degree. He would not have been appionted if he had done nothing since leaving the army.
Wealth comes and goes but in a country like the United Kingdom of Great Britain, names, heritage, and family matter. And his mother was an American heiress, as did the rest of the men of the family, dad married a daughter of an American industrialist, who were looking to legitimize themselves by marrying into top British families, while the British nobles were looking for money. Churchill's father put himself into every bad situation he was in, he was a drunk and womanizer who likely died of syphilis that he didn't get from sitting on a toilet seat.

When in military service Churchill was a cavalry officer, not infantry. When in military service, Churchill had not climbed the ladder in any traditional way, and had not held any commands in line units. One doesn't start as a cavalry lieutenant, then spend years on detached duty, then be a war correspondent, then go inactive because running for office, then transfer branches and take over a battalion. That happens sometimes. Because Winston Churchill was more than his military experience, he was a powerful politician having just ended years as 1st Lord of the Admiralty. When somebody like that "asks" for a command in the Western Front, one does not tell him no.
 
Jan 2015
5,528
Ontario, Canada
#97
This is the Higher command environment Hitler created. Promoting non -entities and yes men, rewarding those who thumbed the chain of command, favoruitism, political appointments.
This is the situation that Hitler created for the OKH because it was easy to keep the Wehrmacht under his control if they were constantly squabbling. Not that he actually needed to encourage them, they did so on their own. He got rid of Fritsch and Beck for the more malleable Brauchitsch and Halder. The OKW which Hitler used as the actual decision making organ was nothing like this.

But this doesn't explain why all the more experienced commanders on the Eastern Front didn't back the Bomb Plot. This is because the conspirators sabotaged themselves with their rivalries. All of these ganged up on Manstein at the end of 1942 and blamed him for Stalingrad. Even Kluge who knew about the conspiracy since about 1941 refused to join. Large part of the reason their scheme failed was because they couldn't get the support of OB West.
 
Jul 2016
9,562
USA
#98
But this doesn't explain why all the more experienced commanders on the Eastern Front didn't back the Bomb Plot. This is because the conspirators sabotaged themselves with their rivalries. All of these ganged up on Manstein at the end of 1942 and blamed him for Stalingrad. Even Kluge who knew about the conspiracy since about 1941 refused to join. Large part of the reason their scheme failed was because they couldn't get the support of OB West.
Assassination plots and coups as a whole have to be heavily compartmentalized, they cannot recruit everyone that might be interested for fear of the plot being exposed. They just need enough people to carry it out. What are the major army group and army commanders on the Ostfront going to do to support a coup in Berlin? Nothing. The few very senior individuals, like Speidel (Rommel's CoS) knew because he was a ringleader.

So for many the first time they knew a legit plot existed was after it failed. At that point they could support it and earn a death sentence, or condemn it to try to protect themselves. Overall, the plot was very hated by the military as a whole, who saw it as egotistical and traitorous on the part of the officer corps to launch such a plot in the middle of total war, only because they were losing.
 
May 2018
782
Michigan
#99
That is a common fallacy, often used when criticisms are correct. If the plumber has been fixing your toilet and it still leaks, he hasn't done his work properly. You don't need to point out an alternative.
Besides the main alternative to attacking in the mud in Flanders is fairly obvious, isn't it? Not attacking.

I cant remember which British general it was that said that it was good that the public didn't know what a danger Churchill was to the military planning. A lot of time got lost with discussing (basically explaining why it is bogus without insulting him) his military fantasies.

Or Dardanelles and Austerlitz?
No, it is a valid observation that doesn't entirely absolve Churchill. Further, plumbing is a far cry from the chaos of war. Numerous times, the Dardanelles invasion nearly did succeed (ironic that Neidell points this out as well). At one point, only a rally by Ataturk prevented the Ottoman positions from being overrun.

Not attacking? What a joke. The problem was not attacking in a tactically sensible manner. It was the Hundred Days Offensive that finally ended the war. Lloyd George offered zero tactical insight in how to break the stalemate, and as Saul Alinsky says, "The most amoral means of all is the non-application of any means." Churchill, on the other hand, was one of the first to recognize the importance of tanks in warfare.

It is better that Churchill tried, and failed, than did nothing at all. While Lloyd George wasn't quite "doing nothing," he wasn't really offering any tactical alternatives.

If we are going to go with the highly flawed plumbing analogy, Churchill would have been an executive manager at a theoretical plumbing company, fairly far removed from supervisors in the field. Further, the type of plumbing equipment that the field techs are using would have to have never been used extensively before, and all previous plumbing knowledge would be obsolete. Lastly, we would have to add the fog of war: Historian Rory Muir comments that while war is often compared to chess, this analogy is incomplete. In order for chess to more accurately parallel war, one in three pieces (at random) either would not move as ordered (or not move at all), moves would have to be planned several turns in advance, and the player would only get an occasional glimpse at the board.

So yeah, given those circumstances, the pipes might still be leaking after a few service calls.
 
Jul 2016
9,562
USA
No, it is a valid observation that doesn't entirely absolve Churchill. Further, plumbing is a far cry from the chaos of war. Numerous times, the Dardanelles invasion nearly did succeed (ironic that Neidell points this out as well). At one point, only a rally by Ataturk prevented the Ottoman positions from being overrun.

Not attacking? What a joke. The problem was not attacking in a tactically sensible manner. It was the Hundred Days Offensive that finally ended the war. Lloyd George offered zero tactical insight in how to break the stalemate, and as Saul Alinsky says, "The most amoral means of all is the non-application of any means." Churchill, on the other hand, was one of the first to recognize the importance of tanks in warfare.

It is better that Churchill tried, and failed, than did nothing at all. While Lloyd George wasn't quite "doing nothing," he wasn't really offering any tactical alternatives.

If we are going to go with the highly flawed plumbing analogy, Churchill would have been an executive manager at a theoretical plumbing company, fairly far removed from supervisors in the field. Further, the type of plumbing equipment that the field techs are using would have to have never been used extensively before, and all previous plumbing knowledge would be obsolete. Lastly, we would have to add the fog of war: Historian Rory Muir comments that while war is often compared to chess, this analogy is incomplete. In order for chess to more accurately parallel war, one in three pieces (at random) either would not move as ordered (or not move at all), moves would have to be planned several turns in advance, and the player would only get an occasional glimpse at the board.

So yeah, given those circumstances, the pipes might still be leaking after a few service calls.
Why do you keep quoting one of the most unethical politician scientists in American history?
 

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