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greg in ak

hmm interesting post. i just read Armageddon by Max Hastings. He goes into detail about why he thinks american and brit troops weren't all that good, so i have been thinking about this sort of. I don't know why the French would have been poor troops, they were valiant and effective in 43-45. Nobody was that good except the germans at the start. It seems like the org factors you note and the lingering malaise of the phony war, the germans being a couple years ahead of everybody else on tactics, and terrible leadership in the french command are far more to blame then the french troops being poor. If anything the Italians deserve to be slagged given how they got whipped by the greeks and by an outnumbered british force in Africa. at least the french became good soldiers while the italians didn't seem to. In the end all discussions of troop quality seem to fouled by bias, knowledge and lack there of, ego, favoritism, general dislike of a people and the zillion factors that affect how well troops fight.


It's a common mistake to equate failure at one level of strategy with failure at others. For example, which was more to blame for the American defeat in Vietnam, the quality of the average American soldier, or the theater and operational strategies the US employed in Southeast Asia?


Speaking of Liddell-Hart's history of WWII (which I really like and just re-read), can you help me fill in some of the gaps? There are no end of decent treatments of the war in the Pacific and Western Europe and even Africa. Is there a good account of the German war in the East from start to finish? I prefer military history by someone with some of Liddell-Hart's ability to analyze tactical and strategic decisions rather than just relating the facts. I'm also interested in specific accounts of German war production, the effects of enemy action (loss of access to raw materials, bombing, sabotage, etc.) and how they worked around it.
I can muddle through, slowly, in Russian if I have to but would prefer something in translation. (My German is hopeless for anything more than tourism.)


For the Russian Front, I'd start with When Titans Clashed. Not only is it a good military history, but it has some very important insights into why the Eastern Front played out the way it did (for example, the unfortunate timing, for the Soviets, of the German attack).


From what I've read, the French High Command started by trying to fight the last war, failed to adapt, then adopted an attitude of defeatism to a truly astonishing degree. That sort of thing filters down to morale at the tactical level, does it not? Why should the privates fight if the generals have given up?

Have you tried "squad leader?" Good fun for the obsessive.

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