WWII: Allied and Axis strategy in Western Europe

Oct 2011
7,645
MARE PACIFICVM
#11
Given the massive allied numerical and equipment superiority, I would actually argue that Eisenhower's broadfront strategy was the most sound. Yes, it would be slower than a direct thrust into the German heartland, but would involve virtually zero strategic risk, and would take maximal advantage of allied superiority in numbers and industry. The slow pace of the advance would actually be an advantage, because the longer the war lasted the greater disparity in allied vs. axis industrial and logistic capacity.
 
Likes: Menshevik
Sep 2014
1,121
Queens, NYC
#12
Given the massive allied numerical and equipment superiority, I would actually argue that Eisenhower's broadfront strategy was the most sound. Yes, it would be slower than a direct thrust into the German heartland, but would involve virtually zero strategic risk, and would take maximal advantage of allied superiority in numbers and industry. The slow pace of the advance would actually be an advantage, because the longer the war lasted the greater disparity in allied vs. axis industrial and logistic capacity.
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The trouble is that the longer a war lasts, the more time your enemy has to kill your soldiers.
 
Oct 2011
7,645
MARE PACIFICVM
#13
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The trouble is that the longer a war lasts, the more time your enemy has to kill your soldiers.
More time, but less opportunity. In a single thrust you expose a large force to potential encirclement and destruction. It's a high risk, high reward strategy. But I would argue that the allies had no reason to take risks on the Western Front as such, but of course in the reality of the thing there were post-war considerations at play.
 
Likes: Menshevik

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,121
#14
The whole point of concentration is to exploit the strength by forcing a breakthrough and consequent advance into the enemies rear - such an unfortunate phrase - thus if you're going to do that you do it soon. Because otherwise the enemy will realise what you're about to do and will act against you if they have sense, and also because it's harder to supply forces in great numbers when packed into one area. You might think the opposite given the convenience of supply, but remember that concentrated forces require concentrated logistics, with the risks of vulnerability, chaos and jams in traffic, or simply because the the lack of forage makes supply on that scale impossible - just ask Goering during the siege of Stalingrad.
 
Jan 2015
3,047
Rupert's Land ;)
#15
The success of the "narrow thrust" was contingent on German disarray after the disaster they suffered in Normandy, and assumed they would be unable to make the flanking attacks noted by Chlodio.
You have that reversed.
The Broad Front strategy would only work if the Germans were in disarray, otherwise all 3 attacks would fail.
Monty believed (correctly) that the Germans were reconstituting their defenses, therefore a single powerful thrust to seize a Rhine crossing was the best option.


That is what influenced Eisenhower to commit to the "Market Garden" plan (along with the need for ports, air bases and to halt "V-weapon" attacks.


No, Ike pushed the Market Garden plan forward as he thought it was a good option, and because he was being pressured to use the Airborne Army.
 
Jul 2018
231
London
#17
I think we can also note that, from a doctrinal point of view, the US Army at the time favored attrition over maneuver. Patton was just a notable exception. So a large front strategy made sense in this context.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
8,852
The People's Republik of Kalifornia.
#19
You have that reversed.
The Broad Front strategy would only work if the Germans were in disarray, otherwise all 3 attacks would fail.
Monty believed (correctly) that the Germans were reconstituting their defenses, therefore a single powerful thrust to seize a Rhine crossing was the best option.




No, Ike pushed the Market Garden plan forward as he thought it was a good option, and because he was being pressured to use the Airborne Army.
I, too, may have it backwards. I'm still under the impression that the broad front strategy was the safer option. Monty was pushing for the single thrust precisely because he DID NOT believe the Germans were reconstituting their forces. He thought the Germans were still reeling and in a rout.

The whole Market Garden plan was predicated on the premise that German forces in Holland were very weak and disorganized. When low level intelligence reports suggested otherwise (more specifically intel that suggested that elements of the 2nd SS were refitting in the area) was presented to the top brass, including Monty and Ike, it was largely ignored.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
8,852
The People's Republik of Kalifornia.
#20
And thank you to everyone for their responses. But could someone address the 2nd part of the OP?

"Rundstedt wanted to hold back the tanks from Normandy and other possible landing areas. Rommel thought all tanks should be pretty much on or very near the beaches. Hitler agreed with von Rundstedt and the tanks were held back. And we all know what happens then. But, had Rommel had his way, would the tanks have actually defeated the Allies on the beaches? Or would the Allies overwhelming air and naval support have simply destroyed the panzers sooner rather than later?"
 

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