Home / Robert Farley / Some Saturday Evening Links…

Some Saturday Evening Links…


For your pleasure:

  • Long, interesting post from Dmitry Gorenburg on conflict at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences.
  • I suspect that Hamas and Hezbollah will be delighted by the opportunity to bleed Israel of $25000 at will.  Tactically impressive, but quite likely to be a strategic failure.
  • Partially contra Krugman, the US military excelled at lots of different tactical tasks in World War II.  It would be best to say that the US military was an outstanding learner, and became very proficient at many jobs as the war proceeded.


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  • Ian

    “It would be best to say that the US military was an outstanding learner…”

    That would be selling the Navy short.

    • Robert Farley

      Really? USN was not good at ASW or night surface warfare, became extremely proficient over course of war…

      • elm

        Wasn’t their shooting accuracy pretty poor at the start of the war as well? It seems to me that in nearly all phases, the U.S. military started the war quite green, but by the end of the war had become very good.

      • bob mcmanus

        Hey, you know what? The Japanese were never that good at this war stuff, and they knew it. They definitely counted on their own industrial advantage over their Eastern victims, and many like Konoe could count their transport vessels and shipbuilding capacity and knew they were lost in 1941.

        • bob mcmanus

          IOW, if my point isn’t clear, I would not necessarily look at the Pacific War to prove US tactical brilliancy, because I think they were facing a fairly weak and weakened opponent, not the Wehrmacht.

  • Murc

    Jesus, the comments in that danger room thread are disheartening when not disgusting.

    • Malaclypse


      Israel annexed the land. Very legal, war booty recognized by every civilized nation in the world.

      So much fail in so few sentences.

    • joe from Lowell

      I like the comments, from both sides, on the theme of how the story a dry, factual description of move vs. countermove – actually demonstrates a shocking bias against one side or the other in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

      There are people on that thread who would find the owner’s manual in the glove box of a 2004 Civic to be anti-semitic, and others who would swear it’s Mossad propaganda.

      • There are people on that thread who would find the owner’s manual in the glove box of a 2004 Civic to be anti-semitic, and others who would swear it’s Mossad propaganda.

        Stealing that.

  • ploeg

    Well, by the time that the US got into WWII, there was a lot to be learned. Unfortunately, what the Germans knew pretty much from the outset and what the British and Soviets learned the hard way in 1940 and 1941, US troops had to learn all over again in 1943 and 1944. We certainly didn’t have to pay for our mistakes on the scale that the British and Soviets paid, but it doesn’t seem like that can be entirely attributed to our being so much more clever than they.

    It’s also interesting that Mr. D-Squared holds up the Pacific War as the example where “citizen soldiers of a democracy” triumphs over “imperial martial culture”. “US industrial power” didn’t just get our troops to the islands, it prevented the enemy from resupplying and reinforcing their position. “US industrial power” prevented the enemy from moving their troops around except within their tunnel systems, which made it more convenient for the flamethrower crews to get them. Sorry, but the Pacific War is a prime example of how industrial power is decisive, not of how citizen soldiers kick ass.

    • Anderson

      Nobody was forcing the Japanese to forego commerce raiding via submarine, or to keep sending their aces into battle instead of rotating them out to train new pilots.

      As for citizen soldiers, I would suppose that Ploeg would be very, very quiet with such talk around any American survivors from Tarawa, or Iwo, or Okinawa. God knows I wish we’d relied *more* on “industrial power” rather than sending our kids to storm those miserable islands.

      • ploeg

        God knows I wish we’d relied *more* on “industrial power” rather than sending our kids to storm those miserable islands.

        Yes, that’s the problem, isn’t it. You can bomb, blockade, and bypass, but in the end, you have to send our folks to storm those miserable islands. And whatever you think about those other guys and how good they are, there’s always going to be more of them dug in and waiting for you than you would want. I’m glad that our guys had the material advantages that they did, I know that they had a hard time fighting the enemy, and I appreciate their efforts, and you can pass that along to any veteran of Tarawa, Iwo Jima, or Okinawa that you want.

        I am not saying that our guys didn’t train hard, suffer, show valor, and fight well; they did. These things are necessary, but they are not sufficient, and if you forget that, you’ll have your ass handed to you.

  • pts

    I’d also suggest that there is very little reason to suggest that, on balance, Confederate armies and soldiers were superior to their Union counterparts.

    I suppose I could see the argument that Confederate troops were better led, but even that I would accept only grudgingly. Confederates as better soldiers? I don’t think so.


    I think we can take a case like Guadalcanal. American industrial might was not so pronounced as to completely swamp the Japanese. In fact, in the initial few months, there was something pretty close to parity. Did Japanese soldiers perform better than American? It certainly isn’t obvious that they did.

    • ploeg

      I would have to agree that the Japanese did not perform better than the US troops on Guadalcanal. Considering that the Japanese never had numerical superiority on the island, didn’t have air superiority after Henderson Field opened, and therefore had a much more tenuous supply situation than we ever did (destroyers and subs landing reinforcements and limited supplies at night), the Japanese did about as well as could be expected (that is to say, not very well at all). The Marines and Army were smart and aggressive, to be certain, but the playing field wasn’t as level as I think you make it out to be.

  • rea

    “Gentlemen, gentlemen, you can’t fight here. This is the Academy of Military Sciences!”

  • strategichamlet

    “What was really amazing was the speed with which the Americans adapted themselves to modern warfare. They were assisted in this by their tremendous practical and material sense and by their lack of all understanding for tradition and useless theories…Starting from scratch an army has been created in the very minimum of time, which, in equipment, armament and organization of all arms, surpasses anything the world has yet seen.”

    -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

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