Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


This is coolbert:

In his memoirs, Douglas Mac Arthur has describe the allied campaign in Europe [ETO] against the Nazi forces as "timid".

Now, Eisenhower was commander of the ETO and did oversee the campaign to defeat the Nazis.

Eisenhower did decide to run a campaign that was conservative in nature. NO bold strokes of genius here [bold strokes could be defined as very risky military operations, offering the possibility of spectacular victories and advances. Also offer the possibility of unmitigated disaster].

There were several reasons for this.

Eisenhower, in the thirties had studied the campaigns of Napoleon and was the acknowledged expert on the subject within the American Army.

From his studies of the campaigns of Napoleon, Eisenhower gained and appreciation that part of the success Napoleon enjoyed was due to the fact that he fought coalition forces.

Coalition forces do not make for successful campaigns. Dissension among the coalition partners makes for poor plans and eventual defeat.

Eisenhower was running a coalition between mainly the British and American allies, and others as well. Eisenhower made the conscious decision that harmony among the allies and the anti-Nazi coalition was to be paramount. Decisions would have to be made with regard as to how well any decision would play among the coalition partners. A major consideration in all planning was whether or not decisions would create harmony or disharmony. This was always a major consideration for Eisenhower. Create a harmonious coalition and keep it that way. Bold strokes do not fit in with harmony.

Secondly, Eisenhower had great respect for the German generals.

He knew that bold strokes had little chance of succeeding against the superior generalship of the German generals.

This superior generalship manifested itself in two ways during WW2.

One was the German generals could take a disintegrating, chaotic situation, such as the breakthrough [rupture of defenses by an attacking force] of their front, contain, stop and stabilize the situation. And inflict just enormous casualties upon the attackers. This was done to the attacking Russian forces on the Eastern Front on many occasions.

The second was that the German generals were very good at taking ad hoc units and making combat units out of these ad hoc units that would acquit themselves very well in battle.

A mix of troops in a divisional size unit might consist of an several understrength combat regiments, a battalion of overage, out of shape reservists, a company of Hitler Youth, a battalion of ground crews from Luftwaffe fighter interceptor units that had aircraft that could not longer fly, etc. Comb out units of dubious ability.

The German generals were very good at taking such units, combining them into ad hoc combat units, deploying and commanding them so that they were effective combat units. Eisenhower realized that given the superior German generalship, bold strokes would just not work against the German defenders in WW2. Better to pursue a conservative strategy that would guarantee success. No spectacular results, just slow but steady progress toward eventual victory.

It has also been suggested that there are even more sinister motivations behind the "timid" campaign waged by the allied forces in the ETO.

That the striking power of the 1 and 1/2 million allied troops was severely underestimated and their ability to advance into Germany and beyond was retarded by policy established at the highest level of the allied governments.

More specifically, Soviet agents of influence had sway over the policies of primarily the U.S. government, and wielded undue influence over President Roosevelt, making the post war environment more favorable for the Soviet side, less favorable for the allied side.

NO real conclusions have ever been reached regarding this matter, as far as I know.