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Mythbusters: Blitzkrieg Decoded


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Dominatus #41 Posted Apr 09 2013 - 21:30

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While the US never lost a single battle in Vietnam, it doesn't matter, since in the end they lost the war. The American people at home didn't want to fight anymore, the North Vietnamese were willing to fight indefinately to reunite the country.

Killertomato #42 Posted Apr 10 2013 - 02:56

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The point is that pouring light infantry units into the country instead of using high-tech armored units wouldn't have done any good at all. Insurgencies are won in the capitals, not on the battlefields.

Zinegata #43 Posted Apr 10 2013 - 04:39

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View PostKillertomato, on Apr 10 2013 - 02:56, said:

The point is that pouring light infantry units into the country instead of using high-tech armored units wouldn't have done any good at all. Insurgencies are won in the capitals, not on the battlefields.

I think you're misunderstanding what I'm saying and the realities of a COIN war.

Winning battles in a COIN war gains you little. I never actually said that light infantry beats armor. What I said is that they persist in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition.

What's actually important in a COIN war is maintaining control of the countryside. Winning battles or controlling the capital doesn't mean anything unless you can keep the people in the rural areas safe and protected so that they stop supporting the opposition.

And that's why I said you need more infantry. You don't need your footsloggers winning battles and inflicting a 10:1 kill count. What you need is to have them actually garrison the countryside - remaining in largely fixed positions - so that the insurgency can't simply terrorize the villages easily without a fight. Supplementing this infantry are small numbers of mobile forces - who can appear to reinforce these garrisons in instances wherein the insurgents come out in the open in a big way.

Mech, with its higher costs overall, simply does not make for cost-effective garrisons needed to win a COIN war. They make decent rapid-reaction forces in instances where you need to bonk that rare insurgent mass offensive, but by and large having tanks garrison remote village is not cost-effective compared to just getting some infantry to do the job.

Edited by Zinegata, Apr 10 2013 - 04:42.


Toxn #44 Posted Apr 10 2013 - 09:30

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View PostZinegata, on Apr 10 2013 - 04:39, said:

I think you're misunderstanding what I'm saying and the realities of a COIN war.

Winning battles in a COIN war gains you little. I never actually said that light infantry beats armor. What I said is that they persist in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition.

What's actually important in a COIN war is maintaining control of the countryside. Winning battles or controlling the capital doesn't mean anything unless you can keep the people in the rural areas safe and protected so that they stop supporting the opposition.

And that's why I said you need more infantry. You don't need your footsloggers winning battles and inflicting a 10:1 kill count. What you need is to have them actually garrison the countryside - remaining in largely fixed positions - so that the insurgency can't simply terrorize the villages easily without a fight. Supplementing this infantry are small numbers of mobile forces - who can appear to reinforce these garrisons in instances wherein the insurgents come out in the open in a big way.

Mech, with its higher costs overall, simply does not make for cost-effective garrisons needed to win a COIN war. They make decent rapid-reaction forces in instances where you need to bonk that rare insurgent mass offensive, but by and large having tanks garrison remote village is not cost-effective compared to just getting some infantry to do the job.

Pretty much. What you need (besides good intel, good propaganda message management and good luck) is boots in every village. Soldiers acting as policemen and all that. Pity manpower is the one thing that modern, industrialized nations refuse to use in foreign adventures.

Lunaris #45 Posted Apr 10 2013 - 11:46

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Maybe because big nation like US/Britain never experience insurgency? Thus have no experience on how to counter them.

Those insurgent need money to support them self and most of the time they earn it from locals who sympathize with them of just extort them.

Xlucine #46 Posted Apr 10 2013 - 19:49

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View PostLunaris, on Apr 10 2013 - 11:46, said:

Britain never experience insurgency?

IRA?

Zickefoose #47 Posted Apr 11 2013 - 14:15

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View PostZinegata, on Jan 18 2013 - 02:37, said:

What needs to be realized however, is that you need boots on the ground in order to provide security to pave the way for conversion. Killing the Vietcong by a ratio of 10:1 did not result in victory because there remained insufficient forces to protect the rural villages. Likewise, almost all of the problems of Iraq 2 can be traced to the US Army relegating only half the number of troops that Shinseki estimated would be needed to hold the country.

I'm not saying mech isn't useful. But I am saying that conflicts have shown that you simply can rely on technology and greater firepower to win wars. That's the most dangeous myth perpetuated by blitzkrieg.

You simply need more boots on the ground, rather than the expedient of deploying half the number of troops and hoping that the Bradleys will make up for the shortfall (they didn't). The occupations of Germany and Japan were a sucess partly because there were more than enough boots on the ground to cow any would-be resistance.

Re: Airpower

The effect of Luftwaffe airpower was grossly overstated. They were averaging less than 1 sortie (of all kinds) per mile of front in Barbarossa.

Comparing Iraq to any type of "war" is an issue. WWII was WAR. All out WAR. Iraq is an occupation. We didnt want/need to occupy Germany. We burnt the country to the ground and said, good luck rebuilding. Regardless, all of this is only speculation as the last of the WWII vets are dying off and history is being 're-written' as it always has been in Human history.

CapFaster #48 Posted Apr 11 2013 - 21:26

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View PostZickefoose, on Apr 11 2013 - 14:15, said:

We didnt want/need to occupy Germany. We burnt the country to the ground and said, good luck rebuilding.
This quote is pretty funny.

NGU873X #49 Posted Apr 11 2013 - 21:46

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View PostXlucine, on Apr 10 2013 - 19:49, said:

IRA?
Yeah, but AFAIK there weren't any real military operations against IRA, it stayed with regular terrorist attacks from time to time and the increase of security forces, perhaps a better example of COIN warfare would be the Kosovo war (without NATO) where (Special) police, anti-terrorist units and eventually the army had to interfere.
BTW, IRA was not only supported by sympathizers and locals but also by Gadaffi

Slim_Jim_Pickens #50 Posted Apr 12 2013 - 02:29

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View PostZickefoose, on Apr 11 2013 - 14:15, said:

Comparing Iraq to any type of "war" is an issue. WWII was WAR. All out WAR. Iraq is an occupation. We didnt want/need to occupy Germany. We burnt the country to the ground and said, good luck rebuilding. Regardless, all of this is only speculation as the last of the WWII vets are dying off and history is being 're-written' as it always has been in Human history.

What are you talking about, you goober?

Zinegata #51 Posted Apr 12 2013 - 02:45

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Somebody here is apparently unaware of the Marshall Plan.

Toxn #52 Posted Apr 12 2013 - 10:42

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View PostCapFaster, on Apr 11 2013 - 21:26, said:

This quote is pretty funny.

It is indeed. History fail in action.

Xlucine #53 Posted Apr 12 2013 - 16:50

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View PostNGU873X, on Apr 11 2013 - 21:46, said:

Yeah, but AFAIK there weren't any real military operations against IRA, it stayed with regular terrorist attacks from time to time and the increase of security forces, perhaps a better example of COIN warfare would be the Kosovo war (without NATO) where (Special) police, anti-terrorist units and eventually the army had to interfere.
BTW, IRA was not only supported by sympathizers and locals but also by Gadaffi

Malaya also

_Freddy_ #54 Posted Apr 15 2013 - 15:22

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View PostNGU873X, on Apr 11 2013 - 21:46, said:

Yeah, but AFAIK there weren't any real military operations against IRA, it stayed with regular terrorist attacks from time to time and the increase of security forces, perhaps a better example of COIN warfare would be the Kosovo war (without NATO) where (Special) police, anti-terrorist units and eventually the army had to interfere.
BTW, IRA was not only supported by sympathizers and locals but also by Gadaffi

View PostLunaris, on Apr 10 2013 - 11:46, said:

Maybe because big nation like US/Britain never experience insurgency? Thus have no experience on how to counter them.

Those insurgent need money to support them self and most of the time they earn it from locals who sympathize with them of just extort them.

View PostXlucine, on Apr 12 2013 - 16:50, said:

Malaya also

As said Britain probably had more experience in counter insurgency after WW2 than most other nations

Malaya, Borneo, Radfan/Oman, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Palestine, India, Aden, French Indo China, Cyprus, Greece --- all at the end or after the end of WW2.

I read comments about the allied tanks being more numerous and better than the German tanks but that is also pretty wrong in many ways.

Britain had one Armd Div in France in 1940 and it was not fully equipped or manned, of the almost 1000 tanks fielded by the british approx 130 were cruisers of various types (with crews not trained or barely trained on them) and 27 Matilda II, all the rest were Matilda I or Light Mk V/VI's armed with machine guns.

Over 1000 of the approximately 3000 french tanks were Renault FT 17 armed with MG or low velocity 37mm infantry guns.

Holland, Belgium and Norway had hardly any tanks between them.

German aircraft were used as flying artillery to make up for the slowness of the horse drawn artillery, they could achieve this and win the Moral ground because the allied airforces were decimated at the start of the battle (especially fighters) and could offer no real defence.

The British Army in 1940 was nominally fully mechanised in 1940 (at least the troops in France were although many vehicles were requisitioned civilian ones). Troops attacked on foot but were moved by truck (either unit transport or Div pool transport in most cases).

It was poorly trained and equipped due to the huge increase in size from 1939 when it was finally decided that Britain needed a army capable of fighting on the mainland and not just Empire police duties. The mass of new men and equipment could not be assimilated in the time that was left.

marafv #55 Posted Apr 15 2013 - 16:21

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I've heard the first use of 'Blitzkrieg' was back in the early 1920s  by- ironically-  the Poles against the Russians.

At the end of World War I, Poland shook off the control of Germany, Austro-Hungary and Russia. Those empires collapsed and Poland  declared themselves a free country. Not sure why (pre-emptive strike against a Bolshevik USSR? reclaim the glory of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth?), but they decided to invade the Ukraine. The Polish Army made good progress towards Kiev, but the Russians had their own strategy.

The Russians launched their own counteroffensive in 1920, striking through Byelorussia into northern Poland. THe Russians drove into Poland and it looked like the infant Polish nation would again come under Russian domination. The Russians even had a puppet president/comissar picked out for the occupation government- the commie Pole Felix Derzhinsky, IIRC.

The Polish forces in the Ukraine rushed back to Poland. When the time was right, they drove north into the Russian flank,driving hard for headquarters unit, supply convoys. Pilsudski, the Polish commander, used every truck or car he could find to speed the attack. They hit a seam between two battle groups and exploited the confusion to the fullest extent. The Poles decisively defeated the invading Russians and won freedom for their country.

Obviously, this story has nationalist and patriotic overtones. The historian I read may have decided that the Poles did 'X' - driving into the russian flank, attacking headquarters units, etc. Then if you define blitzkrieg as 'X', then hey, the Poles were the first to use Blitzkrieg.

Did somebody ever actually define what Blitzkrieg was? I started skimming because I wasn't much interested in the insurgency wars debate.

Edited by marafv, Apr 15 2013 - 16:25.


FangTheCat #56 Posted Apr 15 2013 - 16:33

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Quote

Those insurgent need money to support them self and most of the time they earn it from locals who sympathize with them of just extort them.

I'll agree with this, but lets face it this is nothing new.

Way back in 1067 William Duke of Normandy had beaten the English and had killed the English King at Hastings the previous year, but Northern England was still causing problems - Willaims response - devastate the Northern English counties, burn down the farms and villages and move the people off the land - and it worked. It was an action not far off genocide and thousands of people must haver died in the winter that followed it.

Way back in 1900 - The British were having trouble with the Boers in South Africa. The British recognised that they could not win this conflict without flooding in troops and also moving the Wives and Families of the Boer farmers away from the farms and thus denying them the use of the farms as logistic posts. The Brits 'concentrated' the rural population into big camps. Public Health being what it was back then, a lot of the inmates of these 'concentration camps' died from cholera etc. This caused a bit of an uproar in Britain and a lot of well meaning victorian liberals shipped themselves down to the Cape to help the people stuck in these camps, but in the end the British tactics (which could not be used today) brought the Boers to the conference table.

The Malayan uprising in the 1950's saw the British doing the same thing - denying the enemy the use of the local population - they moved hundreds of thousand of Malayans and Chinese away from the fringes of the jungle into 'New Villages' and thus denied the (mainly) Chinese guerrillas the use of the population.

I think the US tried to do something similair in Viet Nam, but because the circumstances were different it didn't work as effectivly as the Brit plan in Malaya.

So the link between the local populace and the insurgents have been recognised for a long time, but of course modern western governments do not havethe freedom to oprate as we did decades and centuries ago,

Zinegata #57 Posted Apr 16 2013 - 04:19

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View Postmarafv, on Apr 15 2013 - 16:21, said:

Did somebody ever actually define what Blitzkrieg was? I started skimming because I wasn't much interested in the insurgency wars debate.

It's not really definable because there was never actually any formal document defining what it really is. One reason why blitzkrieg is a myth.

If we're just talking about fast-moving maneuvers which effectively dislocate and defeat an enemy army, you don't need to wait until 1920 for examples. This was part and parcel of Alexander the Great's modus operandi.

Toxn #58 Posted Apr 16 2013 - 08:41

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View PostFangTheCat, on Apr 15 2013 - 16:33, said:

I'll agree with this, but lets face it this is nothing new.

Way back in 1067 William Duke of Normandy had beaten the English and had killed the English King at Hastings the previous year, but Northern England was still causing problems - Willaims response - devastate the Northern English counties, burn down the farms and villages and move the people off the land - and it worked. It was an action not far off genocide and thousands of people must haver died in the winter that followed it.

Way back in 1900 - The British were having trouble with the Boers in South Africa. The British recognised that they could not win this conflict without flooding in troops and also moving the Wives and Families of the Boer farmers away from the farms and thus denying them the use of the farms as logistic posts. The Brits 'concentrated' the rural population into big camps. Public Health being what it was back then, a lot of the inmates of these 'concentration camps' died from cholera etc. This caused a bit of an uproar in Britain and a lot of well meaning victorian liberals shipped themselves down to the Cape to help the people stuck in these camps, but in the end the British tactics (which could not be used today) brought the Boers to the conference table.

The Malayan uprising in the 1950's saw the British doing the same thing - denying the enemy the use of the local population - they moved hundreds of thousand of Malayans and Chinese away from the fringes of the jungle into 'New Villages' and thus denied the (mainly) Chinese guerrillas the use of the population.

I think the US tried to do something similair in Viet Nam, but because the circumstances were different it didn't work as effectivly as the Brit plan in Malaya.

So the link between the local populace and the insurgents have been recognised for a long time, but of course modern western governments do not havethe freedom to oprate as we did decades and centuries ago,

Yes, COIN//colonial ops/pacification/whatever has been going on in one form or another for ages. The only difference is that now there is an extra dimension: the media.
That Western governments no longer have the 'freedom' to slaughter any rebellious polities they feel threaten their interests is a direct consequence of having radio and cameras around. The current age of warfare we are in is one in which indirect political manoeuvres and propaganda messaging are just as important as how many boots you have on the ground.

That practitioners and pundits refuse to see this (and instead resort to playing semantic games about whether a given conflict is legitimate enough to draw lessons from) is just one reason why Western powers lose such conflicts so frequently.




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