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All We Want For Xmas Is A War-Winning Strategy


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#1 Colin Williams

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Posted 15 December 2014 - 2026 PM

It's December, 1914, and whether you are Falkenhayn, Joffre, Kitchener, Conrad, or Grand Duke Nicholas, the grand plans of summer have crumbled into defeat and stalemate. What do you do now to avoid defeat, revolution, or a hollow victory won at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers from your country?
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#2 firefly1

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 0728 AM

.

 

For the French and British "Dig, Dig, Dig" and "manufacture, manufacture, manufacture"  -  prepare for defence until a major push in 1916 or 1917   -  wear down any German attacks and try to  increase the blockade.

 

For Germany, withdraw down to minimal levels on most of the front, concentrate supplies, armaments and men on two or more main attack points  -  all out attacks when the weather is set fair (late spring ?).  Keep Allies under artillery fire.


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#3 Colin Williams

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 1841 PM

.
 
For the French and British "Dig, Dig, Dig" and "manufacture, manufacture, manufacture"  -  prepare for defence until a major push in 1916 or 1917   -  wear down any German attacks and try to  increase the blockade.
 
For Germany, withdraw down to minimal levels on most of the front, concentrate supplies, armaments and men on two or more main attack points  -  all out attacks when the weather is set fair (late spring ?).  Keep Allies under artillery fire.


Regarding your French/British strategy. Doesnt this leave the Russians staring at defeat by 1916?
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#4 Burncycle360

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 1947 PM

Well the mentality of some of the leadership is certainly an issue, like wasting lives right before the armistice


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#5 RETAC21

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 1415 PM

It's December, 1914, and whether you are Falkenhayn, Joffre, Kitchener, Conrad, or Grand Duke Nicholas, the grand plans of summer have crumbled into defeat and stalemate. What do you do now to avoid defeat, revolution, or a hollow victory won at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dead soldiers from your country?

 

Nothing they can do other than make peace and return to the status quo ante, learning lessons for a re-run, but already too many lives and treasure had been invested. Many lessons remained to be learned and lots of bad training had to be unlearned. BTW, what hollowed the victory were the conditions of the peace.


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#6 Adam_S

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 0111 AM

For the Germans, digging in along the Western front and going all out to crush Russia doesn't seem like such a bad idea. That and doing everything humanly possible to not piss off America.


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#7 BillB

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 0846 AM

Well the mentality of some of the leadership is certainly an issue, like wasting lives right before the armistice

But the slight problem with that is that over time the 11 November Armistice has come to mean the end of the war. That's not how it was at the time, it was a temporary truce that might have been abandoned to resume hostilities at any time. If that had been the case then we'd have folk carping about the leadership mindset that wasted lives because it didn't push it to the limit in the run up to the Armistice and left the Germans with an advantage. 

 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing...  :)

 

BillB


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#8 Colin Williams

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 1051 AM

It seems to me that the Central Powers strategy for 1915 was basically correct in concentrating offensive action in the East, bringing in Bulgaria, and knocking out Serbia. The Germans did have a tendency to let the Austro-Hungarians suffer more than necessary. A little more support for all of their allies may have paid dividends in 1918. Where Falkenhayn went off the rails was in taking the offensive in the west in 1916. Keeping the pressure on Russia could have led to an earlier collapse and kept Romania out of the war (or even brought them in as an ally).

The Entente strategy for 1915 is more of a puzzle and I will lay it out in a separate post.
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#9 richard g

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 0351 AM

At the end of 1914 the available technology and expertise favoured defence over attack, what needs to happen is simply more time to elapse for the emergence of new and improved technology and expertise which would see attack back on the menu. In the meantime, if you have to attack then do the bite and hold thing, in other words don't try to win the war in one go (NB Haig)but wait until your infantry can be effectively supported which will happen in 1918.
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#10 DougRichards

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 0518 AM

It should be remembered that Germany agreed to the armistice without a single soldier from 'the other side' setting foot on German soil.  Germany was exhausted.  Its civilian population was starving.  Its military (and what passed for civil) leaders recognised that they were not going to 'win', but that more war meant more dying for no results.

 

The armistice was, in many ways, a captulation to Von Clausewitz's (or his wife's....) principles that war is politics - control.  It is better to accept defeat early with the chance of rebuilding than suffer further degradation.

 

The 'other side' was being strengthened with fresh troops from the USA (who needed training and experience but who were nevertheless 'boots on the ground').  The RAF was about to unleash its own 'blitz' with Vickers Vimies  (or should that be Vimys?) and HP V/1500.  The U-Boat war against the British had failed.  British and French tanks were coming off production lines at a pace that Germany could not equal.

 

There was never going to be the equivalent of an Hiroshima on WW1 Germany, but a massive raid by the RAF with gas bombs in 1919 may have come close. 

 

The end was nigh, and even though it took four years to get there, it was inevitable, given 1914 logistics, transport and technology.


Edited by DougRichards, 06 February 2015 - 0527 AM.

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#11 BillB

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 1027 AM

At the end of 1914 the available technology and expertise favoured defence over attack, what needs to happen is simply more time to elapse for the emergence of new and improved technology and expertise which would see attack back on the menu. In the meantime, if you have to attack then do the bite and hold thing, in other words don't try to win the war in one go (NB Haig)but wait until your infantry can be effectively supported which will happen in 1918.

Fair one, but totally dependent on 20/20 hindsight. How would these new and improved technologies & expertise be developed without testing them in battle? And how do you know it would have been possible by 1918? Fact is that the Allies did precisely what you have suggested without the luxury of sitting on their hands for 3+ years; it took the trial and error of 1915, 1916 & 1917 to develop what came in 1918, and the latter could not have come about without what came before.

 

BillB 


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#12 BillB

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 1036 AM

It should be remembered that Germany agreed to the armistice without a single soldier from 'the other side' setting foot on German soil.  Germany was exhausted.  Its civilian population was starving.  Its military (and what passed for civil) leaders recognised that they were not going to 'win', but that more war meant more dying for no results.

 

The armistice was, in many ways, a captulation to Von Clausewitz's (or his wife's....) principles that war is politics - control.  It is better to accept defeat early with the chance of rebuilding than suffer further degradation.

 

The 'other side' was being strengthened with fresh troops from the USA (who needed training and experience but who were nevertheless 'boots on the ground').  The RAF was about to unleash its own 'blitz' with Vickers Vimies  (or should that be Vimys?) and HP V/1500.  The U-Boat war against the British had failed.  British and French tanks were coming off production lines at a pace that Germany could not equal.

 

There was never going to be the equivalent of an Hiroshima on WW1 Germany, but a massive raid by the RAF with gas bombs in 1919 may have come close. 

 

The end was nigh, and even though it took four years to get there, it was inevitable, given 1914 logistics, transport and technology.

Indeed, altho you missed the revolutions...  :)

 

BillB


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#13 richard g

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Posted 09 February 2015 - 1642 PM

At the end of 1914 the available technology and expertise favoured defence over attack, what needs to happen is simply more time to elapse for the emergence of new and improved technology and expertise which would see attack back on the menu. In the meantime, if you have to attack then do the bite and hold thing, in other words don't try to win the war in one go (NB Haig)but wait until your infantry can be effectively supported which will happen in 1918.

Fair one, but totally dependent on 20/20 hindsight. How would these new and improved technologies & expertise be developed without testing them in battle? And how do you know it would have been possible by 1918? Fact is that the Allies did precisely what you have suggested without the luxury of sitting on their hands for 3+ years; it took the trial and error of 1915, 1916 & 1917 to develop what came in 1918, and the latter could not have come about without what came before.
 
BillB


It is only hindsight to a degree though, later in the war the British and French realised that their situation demanded that they had to trade casualties for actual progress not promises or wishful thinking. In other words they had to use their dwindling human resources carefully and wisely. Both the British and French commands took far too long to recognise this rule of warfare though, once they did, once the scales fell from their eyes, they became far more efficient and effective commanders.

The technology and how to use it had to develop to a certain degree through trial and error but surely efficient and effective use of human resources should have been an overriding requirement from the outset, particularly when democratic countries were involved. Germany was in a different situation but that's a topic in itself

Edited by richard g, 09 February 2015 - 1645 PM.

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