I would like to add that in trench warfare like in 18 frontal assaults we’re pretty much the only option.
P.s most US casualties were due to disease not bad combat tatics
I would like to add that in trench warfare like in 18 frontal assaults we’re pretty much the only option.
I’m pretty sure the infiltration teams were created by the Germans b4 their offensive of 17.
I was under the impression that sometime in 1915 (maturing in 1917), officers on both sides began experimenting and coming up with new ideas, is this incorrect? Regardless, the war didn’t stay the same throughout all the actions, technique changed from everything I’ve ever read about it (admittedly just amateur reading).
Besides, the British worked on different techniques, including advancements in counter-battery fire and early combined arms, didn’t they? (Admittedly I’m just having a reaction against the common pop culture vision of WW1 haha)
True, however the infiltration units (just found this out) were inspired by a few incursions by Union soldiers outside Spotsalvania and US units did deploy them to an extent but not widely due to the fact it wasn’t essiental to the column tactic (just realized I should create a game bout WW1 if I wasn’t working on two games already lol)
Really? I’ve always read that his use of frontal assaults in an era of war that made very little use of that costed unnecessary amounts of casualties. I’ll agree, he helped win but I can’t say I admire the way he won.
Don’t get me wrong there were high casualties but not as high as the European front long line charges and let’s not forget there wasn’t really a way around the frontal charge I mean trench warfare is lose lose situation
The luxury of joining a war 3 years in progress is that you can skip all the sad stuff of figuring out how modern war works, by looking at what everyone else is doing.
True not to mention that unlike most of the other major players in the war, the US already had extensive experience in trench warfare with the later years in the civil war.
Jackie boy himself join the army that was fighting the indigenous population for over three decades. Most of the senior officers were Veterans of the Civil War and the Indian Wars. Hen and his fellow officers mostly made their bones during the late end of the Indian Wars, Spanish-American War the Philippines American War and the boxers Rebellion. Most of the General in the Filipinos war in the Spanish-American war where Veterans of the Civil War. Look at MacArthur’s career.
Or Adna Chaffee who got a quite a few brevity promotions but it took 20 years or him to be promoted to major in the regular army and he spend 30 years fighting the plain tribes. Look for a guy that started as a private making Chief of Staff isn’t bad. Of course the same could be said about Nelson A. Miles.
Not the sort of trench warfare that prevailed on the Western Front.
Ultimately, the issue with the Western Front wasn’t necessarily one of tactics, but of command and control. Commanding generals had to stay far to the rear of the front to maintain contact with all the necessary components of their commands, and the practise of coordinating these different components effectively and efficiently was the main hurdle towards being able to effectively break the deadlock.
European armies already had some experience with trench warfare, but in the absence of barbed wire, machine guns, and the ability to shift operational reserves quickly along internal lines, mass infantry rushes still had an acceptable chance of success leading to a strategic breakthrough which could prove decisive if then exploited by horse cavalry. However, a situation where defenders had a vast firepower advantage and the leading edges of an attack could not effectively communicate with their ultimate commanders swiftly enough to exploit a breakthrough before enemy reserves filled the gap created the familiar situation in the Western Front.
It took the British, French, and Germans three years to find a way to break that deadlock. The Allies did it through a combination of small-scale trench raiding, and more effective coordination between infantry and artillery (including tanks). The Germans did it through delegating more power to forward commanders and increasing the fire power at their disposal, allowing them to rely on their own judgment on whether to press or give up an attack. The end result was the relatively mobile final phase of the war in the West, from Operation Michael onwards.
His son was no slouch either, having produced the American armour tradition, as well as a quote which is a top contender for epigraphs to garnish any potential future omnibus version of The Dragoon Saga.
So did the various European powers. The Siege of Sevastopol, the Battle of Dybbøl, the Balkan Wars.
It wasn’t a lack of understanding at the defensive power of Infantry in entrenched positions that led to the catastrophic offensives on the Western front, but rather a force increase in things that just hadn’t been present in warfare on such a scale before. Namely, Artillery, Gas, Barbed Wire, Machine-guns.
Contrary to popular belief, WW1 Generals weren’t just tossing men at the enemy trenches in firm belief that it would eventually work (Blackadder goes forth is entertaining, but not really a firm representative of the General Staffs of WW1). The failure of the Somme was as much a strategical/operational, but mostly in the sense that no one really had an understanding of how cooperate the various arms in modern, industrialized warspace, not in a lack of understanding of how deadly an entrenched enemy was.
The Infantry side of the infiltration-focused offensive was already understood by 1914/15, it was the lack of experience in how to work infiltrating units with the Artillery and other supporting units necessary to facilitate a large-scale Infantry advance. Since there was no previous war one could point to and learn modern use of artillery, tanks etc, these things had to be developed by the commanders fighting the war.
WW1-Infiltration tactics have been described as “Hutier tactics” in more than one historical book i have read, and that is not because Hutier came up with an infiltrating infantry force, it is because he coupled that infiltrating infantry force with modern artillery and fire support.
EDIT: Or what Cataphrak said.
I could definitely argue his son surpassed him in many ways sprouting from the same tradition of MacArthur. It’s also equally we are both their fathers were the governor-general’s of the Philippines.
Don’t you love when you spend some time coming up with this clever, well written, and well thought out post, then you read the one above it and realise it’s very similar to the one you just wrote?
Stares at the endless pages of unfinished drafts
No, never. Why?
This is interesting in that regard. There really seems to have been a lack of knowledge (and certainly experience for the men firing the actual guns) until it was gained the hard way - I’m hesitant to say “understanding” on this aspect specifically because the problem is just not knowing what would be sufficient.
All hail the unconquerable Kobold Empire.
I’m not sure I agree with you or @cataphrak. Operationally both sides were able to keep their troops supplied and respond to breaches in their lines swiftly on a continental scale. I’d agree that coordinating supporting fires with assaults was certainly a problem and one of the major ones but I’d say that problem existed at the tactical level rather than the operational one. The supporting fires they did mass were on time and on target just 24 hours before they were needed. I think they overestimated the effects of artillery and didn’t fully understand its utility in suppression during the assult. Same goes for machine guns and the indivial rifle man’s fire to be honest. They didn’t understand how to sycronIze it, while preventing fratricide.
Look at some of the Pacific battles and armor has almost no play and they didn’t stalemate as bad as the western front. Sure there was more comprehensive supporting fires but most of the tools at the disposal of the average rifleman were about the same as WWI. What had changed was the tactics.
TLDR: My standard plug for bounding overwatch…
That’s kind of what I mean by a “command and control problem”. The basic issue was making sure shells from guns located ten or fifteen kilometres from the line of attack landed on hidden or otherwise difficult-to-find targets without falling short, or giving the defenders enough time to recover. When you’re more or less relegated to primitive field telephones and runners to coordinate, that meant some sort of arrangement would have to be planned out.
By 1917 or so, the Anglo-French armies had certainly wrapped their heads around the idea of timing the infantry attack around the artillery, as opposed to the other way around. Individual Tommies and Poilus (and their immediate COs) could respond to the movement of a creeping barrage more effectively than a heavy gun battery 15 km away would respond to an infantry battalion which doesn’t have any effective way of sending signals.
However, the ability to shift operational reserves via dense and well-developed transport networks meant that even if the attack was an initial success, the defenders would have reserves moved up before the successful attackers could move their guns up to exploit it - leading to situations like the end of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, when the Canadian Corps was in sight of Arras, but couldn’t move on it because it’d take a week for their artillery to move up.
While that was technically an operational hurdle, the solution was doctrinal: namely the idea of carrying artillery with the infantry attack, in the form of hand grenades, portable automatic weapons, infantry mortars, and ultimately tanks.
I’d argue that the Pacific War showed what happens when you have one problem solved (better coordinated supporting fires through more effective communications technology) and the other problem half-solved. Unlike a British infantry battalion in 1914, a USMC battalion thirty years later did have some variety of portable artillery and automatic weapons, in the form of infantry mortars, flamethrowers and light machine guns. However, they rarely had the support of armour or SPGs. The result was that they could still take ground, but their ability to sustain that offensive was considerably less compared to say, that of Panzergruppe Kleist in the Battle of France, or 5th Guards Tank Army in Operation Bagration.
Personally think that is more mindset and training than actual differences in equipment, but you make good points. The Wehrmacht was anemic in virtually every way before and during the Battle of France as you have pointed out before. It was their understanding of the employment of even that inferior kit primarily at the tactical level and somewhat at the operational level that led to their initial stunning success. It also put paid to any attempt to achieve victory through supieror fixed fortifications until present day.
Also, in most cases we didn’t need to take ground - we could just cut them off from reinforcement and let them hide in the jungle for a few decades afterward.
Air superiority really is nice like that.