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Old 20th November 2017, 04:57 AM   #1
HansMustermann
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Generals always preparing for the previous war?

I keep hearing about how generals are always prepared to win the previous war, but it seems to me like that is actually not always the case. There are plenty of examples of people who were actually very much prepared for their own time, or even were thinking ahead of their own time.

E.g., the first flatt-top aircraft carrier (HMS Argus) dates from as early as september 1918, long before aircraft were actually any real threat to ships.

Real dive bombing hadn't even been invented yet. There were no frames yet that could even really withstand a steep dive. There were no sights to make it really work.

It was even before the Virginia bombing experiments of 1921, which really only proved that an immobile obsolete ship, with no AA, no pumps, and no damage control, takes hours to sink by the aircraft at the time.

But it goes even before the Argus. The first success with landing an aircraft on a ship goes back to 1911, long before aircraft had shown ANY military value. I mean, they hadn't even been used for recon yet.
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Old 20th November 2017, 05:38 AM   #2
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I think you're missing the point of the idiom.

But you appear to have a more specific topic you'd like to explore.

(Late father did the whole schemer on the Intrepid... I'm always up for some carrier history. )
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Old 20th November 2017, 06:13 AM   #3
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Well, the carriers were just an example. (Though I have nothing against discussing carriers, mind you.) I could also use tanks between wars (the winning design was not the TOG that was designed for WW1), doctrines, tactics, etc. A lot of people were not preparing for a reboot of the previous war.

So, yeah, I'm probably missing the point of the idiom.
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Old 20th November 2017, 06:22 AM   #4
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For those not believing the correct answer to the question, I suggest-Strongly- the thorough reading of the book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence
by Norman Dixon....



https://books.google.com/books/about...d=M8tll15lR-0C

http://booksonline.website/book/4710...ompetence.html

http://resmilitaris.net/ressources/1..._revisited.pdf


I got my copy from the Folio Society but it is easily available (at least on Amazon).........
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Old 20th November 2017, 06:28 AM   #5
HansMustermann
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Thanks. I didn't even know there was a book dedicated to the specific topic. Much appreciated.
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Old 20th November 2017, 06:45 AM   #6
Craig B
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
1911, long before aircraft had shown ANY military value. I mean, they hadn't even been used for recon yet.
They started to be used in October of that very year
[Pilot Carlo] Piazza made history’s first reconnaissance flight when he observed the Turkish lines from a Blériot XI aircraft. This type of machine, powered by a 25-horsepower, three-cylinder engine, had famously made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft in 1909.

Barely a week later the Italo-Turkish War would also see the first ever aerial bombing, when Italian Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti dropped four grenades from his Taube monoplane. Later in the conflict, the Turkish military was the first to shoot down an aircraft with rifle fire.
That was in October 23, 1911, and subsequent days, during the Italo-Ottoman War, in Tripolitania, now Libya. The first military use of aircraft.
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Old 20th November 2017, 07:37 AM   #7
HansMustermann
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You are correct, but the successful landing was in JANUARY 1911. So, yes, the test to see if it's usable on a carrier was still a good 9 months before the first use in war.
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Old 20th November 2017, 09:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Thanks. I didn't even know there was a book dedicated to the specific topic. Much appreciated.
There are quite a few books on the subject. One of my favourites is "Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory."
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Old 20th November 2017, 10:03 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I keep hearing about how generals are always prepared to win the previous war, but it seems to me like that is actually not always the case. There are plenty of examples of people who were actually very much prepared for their own time, or even were thinking ahead of their own time.

E.g., the first flatt-top aircraft carrier (HMS Argus) dates from as early as september 1918, long before aircraft were actually any real threat to ships.

Real dive bombing hadn't even been invented yet. There were no frames yet that could even really withstand a steep dive. There were no sights to make it really work.

It was even before the Virginia bombing experiments of 1921, which really only proved that an immobile obsolete ship, with no AA, no pumps, and no damage control, takes hours to sink by the aircraft at the time.

But it goes even before the Argus. The first success with landing an aircraft on a ship goes back to 1911, long before aircraft had shown ANY military value. I mean, they hadn't even been used for recon yet.
Balloons were being used for aerial reconnaissance by the Civil War. Generals didn't need to see airplanes in action to already understand their potential military applications, or to understand the value of investing.

Especially at sea, where aircraft had the clear potential to substantially increase a ship's range of vision.

But the point of the idiom is not that generals ignore technological advance (as you have pointed out, they often don't), but that generals tend to adjust doctrine, and exploit new technologies, in order to apply the lessons learned from the last war.

Planes are developed, but they are developed in order to better win the last war, rather than in anticipation of the next war (which might be very different).

That's the idiom, at least. In reality there are infinite variations, though military organizations on the whole tend to be conservative. And it's much easier to work with the last war, which is a known quantity with documented trials and outcomes, than to speculate effectively about the next war. Most of the time, the next war is in the hands of the politicians and diplomats anyway.

Look at Iraq. Rumsfeld et. al. wanted to take advantage of the fall of the USSR, and the recent technological improvements, to re-organize the US armed forces to fight a conventional war on a leaner, more advanced basis--Cold War Readiness 2.0, basically.

What the next war turned out to be, however, was a protracted counter-insurgency. The doctrine, organization, and technology needed were very different from the previous conflict, and so the armed forces had to scramble through their transition from "the last war" to "the next war" even while they were fighting it.

Which is kind of what tends to happen. Hence the idiom.
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Old 20th November 2017, 10:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Balloons were being used for aerial reconnaissance by the Civil War. Generals didn't need to see airplanes in action to already understand their potential military applications, or to understand the value of investing.

Especially at sea, where aircraft had the clear potential to substantially increase a ship's range of vision.

But the point of the idiom is not that generals ignore technological advance (as you have pointed out, they often don't), but that generals tend to adjust doctrine, and exploit new technologies, in order to apply the lessons learned from the last war.

Planes are developed, but they are developed in order to better win the last war, rather than in anticipation of the next war (which might be very different).

That's the idiom, at least. In reality there are infinite variations, though military organizations on the whole tend to be conservative. And it's much easier to work with the last war, which is a known quantity with documented trials and outcomes, than to speculate effectively about the next war. Most of the time, the next war is in the hands of the politicians and diplomats anyway.

Look at Iraq. Rumsfeld et. al. wanted to take advantage of the fall of the USSR, and the recent technological improvements, to re-organize the US armed forces to fight a conventional war on a leaner, more advanced basis--Cold War Readiness 2.0, basically.

What the next war turned out to be, however, was a protracted counter-insurgency. The doctrine, organization, and technology needed were very different from the previous conflict, and so the armed forces had to scramble through their transition from "the last war" to "the next war" even while they were fighting it.

Which is kind of what tends to happen. Hence the idiom.
The italisized leads to:

The Boer War, as an example of that is included in the Dixon book re: counter insurgency...........!!!
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Old 20th November 2017, 10:39 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What the next war turned out to be, however, was a protracted counter-insurgency. The doctrine, organization, and technology needed were very different from the previous conflict, and so the armed forces had to scramble through their transition from "the last war" to "the next war" even while they were fighting it.

Which is kind of what tends to happen. Hence the idiom.
Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
The italisized leads to:

The Boer War, as an example of that is included in the Dixon book re: counter insurgency...........!!!

And how much is that the influence of the opposition? Clearly the US Generals were planning for "the last war", and the Iraqi insurgents knew that. They learned early on that going toe-to-toe with the US forces as they were was suicide, so they developed new tactics that worked to their own strengths, and hopefully against the US's strengths.

You see the same in WWII in France vs. Germany. France developed the Maginot Line, which was very much in the mold of WWI, but the Germans, in deciding how to deal with it, developed new methods that allowed them to bypass the Line entirely.

So perhaps it's more that successful Generals prepare for the last war, since that's the one they won, while the losers tend to come up with new things?
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Old 20th November 2017, 10:54 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Balloons were being used for aerial reconnaissance by the Civil War. Generals didn't need to see airplanes in action to already understand their potential military applications, or to understand the value of investing.

Especially at sea, where aircraft had the clear potential to substantially increase a ship's range of vision.

But the point of the idiom is not that generals ignore technological advance (as you have pointed out, they often don't), but that generals tend to adjust doctrine, and exploit new technologies, in order to apply the lessons learned from the last war.

Planes are developed, but they are developed in order to better win the last war, rather than in anticipation of the next war (which might be very different).

That's the idiom, at least. In reality there are infinite variations, though military organizations on the whole tend to be conservative. And it's much easier to work with the last war, which is a known quantity with documented trials and outcomes, than to speculate effectively about the next war. Most of the time, the next war is in the hands of the politicians and diplomats anyway.

Look at Iraq. Rumsfeld et. al. wanted to take advantage of the fall of the USSR, and the recent technological improvements, to re-organize the US armed forces to fight a conventional war on a leaner, more advanced basis--Cold War Readiness 2.0, basically.

What the next war turned out to be, however, was a protracted counter-insurgency. The doctrine, organization, and technology needed were very different from the previous conflict, and so the armed forces had to scramble through their transition from "the last war" to "the next war" even while they were fighting it.

Which is kind of what tends to happen. Hence the idiom.
I guess that the Vietnam war also was the wrong sort of war.
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Old 20th November 2017, 11:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
And how much is that the influence of the opposition? Clearly the US Generals were planning for "the last war", and the Iraqi insurgents knew that. They learned early on that going toe-to-toe with the US forces as they were was suicide, so they developed new tactics that worked to their own strengths, and hopefully against the US's strengths.

You see the same in WWII in France vs. Germany. France developed the Maginot Line, which was very much in the mold of WWI, but the Germans, in deciding how to deal with it, developed new methods that allowed them to bypass the Line entirely.

So perhaps it's more that successful Generals prepare for the last war, since that's the one they won, while the losers tend to come up with new things?
The last sentence in your para.1 is what happened by the Boers to the Brits until the Brits smartened up . Took 'em a lot of time and willingness to change tactics. Like in para. 1 above.
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Old 20th November 2017, 11:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
..... I suggest-Strongly- the thorough reading of the book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence
by Norman Dixon.....
Me too.

I have one somewhere on france' s preparations for wwii.
It does make some kind of sense, they just missed the whole change in pace.
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Old 20th November 2017, 11:17 AM   #15
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Well, just to make it clear, learning from the lessons of the previous wars is in fact expected. What I have a problem with, and maybe I should have made that clearer, is that I hear that idiom almost exclusively as an excuse for when some generals were caught completely unprepared not just for the current war, but completely unaware of everything that changed since the last war. I never hear it in the sense of, basically, attaboy, he learned the lessons of the last war well, but also stayed on top of technological and doctrine advancements as well.

Basically I only hear it when someone pulled the equivalent of the TOG2 tank, a WW1-style monstrosity that was actually designed in 1941, and kept being refined until 1943. You know, 25 years after when it wouldn't be obsolete. But someone was still designing a tank to fight the war that ended 25 years before.

It may be about doctrines instead of actual tanks, but you get the idea. I only hear it as that kind of excuse.

But it seems to me like GOOD generals are actually thinking forward. Sure, they learn their lessons from the previous wars, but are also trying to stay on top of what's happening in the world, and extrapolate those trends to anticipate what they might have to deal with in the near future. Not everyone is actually preparing for the Hollywood style dark and gritty reboot of the last war.
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Old 20th November 2017, 11:28 AM   #16
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The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-39 (Stackpole Military History Series)



Ahh. here it is.
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Old 20th November 2017, 11:37 AM   #17
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You do have a point about excuses.

At least half of generals are surprised on the battlefield. The other half is doing the surprising.

An infamous example mentioned somewhere is one American general in Iraq, when asked by journalist what kind of war he is fighting he answers "that is something for historians to determine"
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Old 20th November 2017, 11:46 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
You see the same in WWII in France vs. Germany. France developed the Maginot Line, which was very much in the mold of WWI, but the Germans, in deciding how to deal with it, developed new methods that allowed them to bypass the Line entirely.
You mean how:
- In WW1, the Germans went around the French frontier defences (through Belgium)
- In WW2, the Germans went around the French frontier defences (through the Ardennes - French/Belgian border)

I'm not sure that we can even say that the French were prepared to fight the previous war.
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Old 20th November 2017, 12:21 PM   #19
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To be fair, though, most of the WW2 screw-up is on the French politicians, not their generals. E.g., not extending the Maginot line was a purely political decision, because apparently extending it would have symbolized abandoning the Belgians.

The French military were actually among the fastest learners in the interwar period. For example they wrote the most articles about what can be learned from the Spanish Civil War, and the war in the air there. (The only article in the UK, by comparison, was a translation from French.) Then they got overruled by politicians on that one too.
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Old 20th November 2017, 12:27 PM   #20
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The attack through the Ardennes though is a good example of thinking ahead of the previous war, and taking advantage of these new faster tanks and mechanized infantry. Germany didn't just try to reboot the previous war with France. It LOOKED at first like it's a repeat of the Schlieffen plan, but actually that was the bait. Then a second force advanced fast and encircled the allied troops thinking they're stopping the attack from the north through Belgium. Which is why it ended up with, well, Dunkirk.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. Good generals aren't prepared to just repeat the previous war. They're also looking at what changed in the meantime, and how they can use it so it plays completely different from the last war.
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Old 20th November 2017, 12:29 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Rincewind View Post
I guess that the Vietnam war also was the wrong sort of war.
I don't think there's any such thing as "the wrong sort of war." What do you mean?
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Old 20th November 2017, 12:34 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, just to make it clear, learning from the lessons of the previous wars is in fact expected. What I have a problem with, and maybe I should have made that clearer, is that I hear that idiom almost exclusively as an excuse for when some generals were caught completely unprepared not just for the current war, but completely unaware of everything that changed since the last war.
I guess it might help if you gave some cites, actual statements to this effect, in context. Otherwise it's hard to judge what you're talking about, and how accurate it actually is.

Quote:
Basically I only hear it when someone pulled the equivalent of the TOG2 tank, a WW1-style monstrosity that was actually designed in 1941, and kept being refined until 1943. You know, 25 years after when it wouldn't be obsolete. But someone was still designing a tank to fight the war that ended 25 years before.
Do you have a different source for the TOG 2? From that Wikipedia article, it looks like a fairly reasonable design, and a fairly reasonable project. It was optimized for conditions that were definitely possible, and when those particular conditions did not materialize the project ended.

Meanwhile, it was a significant upgrade over previous models, and was even equipped with a modern and highly effective anti-tank gun. Had the fighting bogged down the way it had in the last war, the TOG 2 would probably have been a good design, and served the Allies well.

I don't think it was obsolete at all.
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Old 20th November 2017, 12:47 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I keep hearing about how generals are always prepared to win the previous war, but it seems to me like that is actually not always the case. There are plenty of examples of people who were actually very much prepared for their own time, or even were thinking ahead of their own time.

E.g., the first flatt-top aircraft carrier (HMS Argus) dates from as early as september 1918, long before aircraft were actually any real threat to ships.

Real dive bombing hadn't even been invented yet. There were no frames yet that could even really withstand a steep dive. There were no sights to make it really work.

It was even before the Virginia bombing experiments of 1921, which really only proved that an immobile obsolete ship, with no AA, no pumps, and no damage control, takes hours to sink by the aircraft at the time.

But it goes even before the Argus. The first success with landing an aircraft on a ship goes back to 1911, long before aircraft had shown ANY military value. I mean, they hadn't even been used for recon yet.

MMm, general rule: Any saying that contains the word "always" is always wrong.

In my, rather extended, military experience, the military does tend to prepare for the previous war. Not always, but much of the time. And it makes a certain amount of sense: That is the only thing we really know about, and while we would like to win the next war, we wanna be damn sure we don't loose the last one (possibly again).

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Old 20th November 2017, 01:01 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The attack through the Ardennes though is a good example of thinking ahead of the previous war, and taking advantage of these new faster tanks and mechanized infantry.
It isn't' really a great example. Up until February 1940 the German plan was for an updated version of the Schlieffen Plan. The Ardennes version was only adopted after a copy of the original plan fell into Allied hands and the Ardennes seemed to offer the only chance of the quick victory Nazi Germany had to have. It was an all or nothing strategy, either quick victory or a failure that would doom Germany to defeat in short order. It was a product of the limitations of the German war machine and an outrageous gamble.
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Old 20th November 2017, 01:30 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
To be fair, though, most of the WW2 screw-up is on the French politicians, not their generals. E.g., not extending the Maginot line was a purely political decision, because apparently extending it would have symbolized abandoning the Belgians.
You misunderstand the Maginot Line and it's concept.
It was never meant to go right to the sea. It's western end was a pivot on which the French army would swing round in to Belgium to meet any German attack. It was designed to protect the flank and ensure that any future war with Germany would be in Belgium and not France. It did the job it was designed to do.
As it turned out even if it had gone right to the sea it wouldn't have made any difference to the outcome of the attack on France.
Where the problem came in was with the Germans not playing along.
Their attack through Belgium was a feint even though it used a large part of the army. Germany had realised that tactical bombing could act as artillery for rapidly advancing mechanised units. France was still thinking in terms of horse drawn artillery trains. French commanders knew that their artillery couldn't get through the Ardennes and there was no reason to think the German artillery train which was also largely horse drawn could do it. Both Gamelin and Weygand thought the Ardennes impenetrable to any large forces.
Even after the Germans made it to the channel the largest part of the French army over 80 divisions and air force was to the south and still unfought. It wasn't a foregone conclusion that things were lost, only the BEF was knocked out of the battle, trapped to the north of the German advance. With the collapse of the Belgians in the face of the attack from the main German forces to the north the BEF were forced to retreat to the coast to close their exposed northern flank. Effectively they were out of it but if the French command had been at all competent things could have been pulled round.
Don't forget the Gamelin the C in C had separate headquarters miles from French HQ, he was still thinking in terms of WW1 command structure and tactics. He didn't even have radio communication and only one telephone line. He thought that radio would give his position away to the enemy and he would be bombed and telephones could be tapped. He relied on dispatch riders and staff cars to relay orders to the HQ.

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Old 20th November 2017, 01:41 PM   #26
HansMustermann
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I assume you would take the word of the actual senior historian of the Bovington Tank Museum?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU0o29llhkI

As for the tank being a good design... seriously? You're just winding me up, right?

A '41 design this size and weight, with only as much armour on the front as a Pz III had in '41? (And the Pz III was a medium tank.) And it kept being updated in '43 with a new turret, when a heavy design from the PREVIOUS year, such as the Tiger, had TWICE as thick armour on the front and weighed only 2/3 as much? For Pete's sake, at that point you didn't even need to worry about 75mm or 88mm guns, a 50mm off an old Pz III could shoot it through and through, which is ridiculous for a HEAVY tank.

A tank designed in '41 without any suspension, for Pete's sake? It's only, what, like 20 years too late for that?

Hell, in '41, someone thought a tank needed SPONSONS on the side like in WW1? Even Stalin had gotten past the whole multi-turret and sponsons ideas by then.

A tank over 10m long, or more than 50% longer than a Tiger still being designed '43? Exactly what trench systems up to that point gave anyone the idea that they need a tank actually longer than the WW1 Mark VII, or even the enlarged Mark V*?

Etc.

Edit: to put it into perspective, the TOG had the same front armour as the Char B1-Bis, which really was an updated 1921 design. Except the Char B1-Bis actually had suspensions. Essentially The Old Gang (which is where the TOG gets its name from) were doing a design in '41 that was ALMOST on par with a French design from '21. You know, 20 years earlier.
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Old 20th November 2017, 02:07 PM   #27
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There was no way the design was going to be put in to production, it was just the pet project of 'The Old Guard' of the tank design committee. (that's where the name TOG came from)

TOG should have been knocked on the head much sooner than it was but it wasn't anything to do with the army or the generals planning to fight the last war, it was one bee in a small bonnet.
If you want to pick on something harking back to the first war google up 'Cultivator No. 6'
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Old 20th November 2017, 02:40 PM   #28
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The converse of this is that there are generals, aides and designers who try to fight the next war as they see it coming and fall flat. You get things like the complete removal of cannons from fighter planes in the design field, the folks who designe dthe US 'Light' Infantry units, and other big messes that fell on their faces in expectation of a type of war/combat that never came.
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Old 20th November 2017, 02:46 PM   #29
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
There was no way the design was going to be put in to production, it was just the pet project of 'The Old Guard' of the tank design committee. (that's where the name TOG came from)

TOG should have been knocked on the head much sooner than it was but it wasn't anything to do with the army or the generals planning to fight the last war, it was one bee in a small bonnet.
If you want to pick on something harking back to the first war google up 'Cultivator No. 6'
Oh, if you look around message 3 or so, I had actually been using the TOG as an example of generals actually NOT living in the last war. You know, because they didn't go with that monstrosity.
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Old 20th November 2017, 03:23 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think there's any such thing as "the wrong sort of war." What do you mean?
Because the American Army was trained to fight as part of NATO against the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe.

Then it found itself in South-east Asia fighting a bunch of guerillas.
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Old 20th November 2017, 03:35 PM   #31
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From the standpoint of U.S. small arms design, the axiom is largely true.

The Garand would have been great for WWI, the M14 would have been terrific for WWII, etc.

Very few countries adopted automatic weapons in any significant quantity (other than England) prior to WWI, even with reliable machineguns being produced by Browning and Maxim prior to the turn of the century.
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Old 20th November 2017, 03:56 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Rincewind View Post
Because the American Army was trained to fight as part of NATO against the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe.

Then it found itself in South-east Asia fighting a bunch of guerillas.
BTW I found the quote that I was mis-quoting:

"The wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy" is General Omar Bradley's famous rebuke in his May 15, 1951 Congressional testimony as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the idea of extending the Korean War into China, as proposed by General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the U.N. forces in Korea before being relieved of command by President Harry Truman on April 11, 1951.

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy echoed Bradley's sentiments in a speech given on October 13, 1960.

General Anthony Zinni, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Governor Howard Dean have all used variations of the phrase about the Iraq War.
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Old 20th November 2017, 03:58 PM   #33
Captain_Swoop
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Originally Posted by Rincewind View Post
Because the American Army was trained to fight as part of NATO against the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe.

Then it found itself in South-east Asia fighting a bunch of guerillas.
That was the problem the RN had in the Falklands, it was equipped and trained to fight an Anti Submarine War and escort convoys in blue water against the Warsaw Pact.
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Old 20th November 2017, 05:16 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
And how much is that the influence of the opposition? Clearly the US Generals were planning for "the last war", and the Iraqi insurgents knew that. They learned early on that going toe-to-toe with the US forces as they were was suicide, so they developed new tactics that worked to their own strengths, and hopefully against the US's strengths.

You see the same in WWII in France vs. Germany. France developed the Maginot Line, which was very much in the mold of WWI, but the Germans, in deciding how to deal with it, developed new methods that allowed them to bypass the Line entirely.

So perhaps it's more that successful Generals prepare for the last war, since that's the one they won, while the losers tend to come up with new things?
And that is what the Boers did!!!
coloration, size embiggenment and italics by me!!!!!
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Old 20th November 2017, 05:40 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
And that is what the Boers did!!!
coloration, size embiggenment and italics by me!!!!!
Not quite.

The Boers (and later the Iraqis) tried to fight a conventional war with their opponent, defending cities and strongpoints, keeping resource centres, etc. And then found their conventional forces quickly defeated.

In both cases, the surviving leadership dropped the idea of conventional fighting and went over to an insurgency. The British doctrine took quite some time to adapt to the new conditions - for the simple reason that they had not previous doctrine to fall back on. Previous colonial campaigns had not been insurgencies, but rather conventional military campaigns with recognized forces tending to fight stand up battles rather than the grind of constabulary duties. While the performance of the previous Iraqi military was so poor that no one was expecting a well organized guerilla force to arise so quickly. Co-opting the previous power structure into the new structure had worked for the British a number of times in their history - if only by allowing them to keep a closer eye on the defeated foes - but in Iraq this was not done for political reasons.
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Old 21st November 2017, 01:19 AM   #36
HansMustermann
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but one doesn't even have to look as far back as the Boer War to see that kind of thing in action. You don't even need to know any history to know about the French resistance or the Russian and Polish partisans, because we still make movies and for that matter songs about it.

You also don't even need more than a passing interest in history to know that BS justifications like "they'll welcome us as liberators" or Hitler's "You only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down" were just a case of people drinking deep and greedily of their own Kool Aid. And that it didn't work that way. Yet the EXACT same comforting lunacies were used for the Iraq war.

And it's stuff you can't even escape hearing, because just about any public lecture by a WW2 historian, including ones from military academies, end up mentioning those phrases as ideological lunacy.

Or in the case of Afghanistan, WTH, you don't even need to study history, because they'd been fighting the USSR that way until very very recently. And everyone knew very well WHO is fighting the USSR, and HOW they've been fighting the USSR. And that no, they're not going to welcome anyone else as liberators. So... WTH?

Edit: or, for that matter, Vietnam. Just about every other movie or series still mentions Vietnam. So how does one forget the guerilla warfare there?
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Old 21st November 2017, 02:21 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
In both cases, the surviving leadership dropped the idea of conventional fighting and went over to an insurgency. The British doctrine took quite some time to adapt to the new conditions <snip>
Ah yes, you mean Lord Kitchener's Scorched Earth policy and the British invention of concentration camps that ended in the death of 28 000 people? Mostly women and children? That doctrine?
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Old 21st November 2017, 10:20 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
Ah yes, you mean Lord Kitchener's Scorched Earth policy and the British invention of concentration camps that ended in the death of 28 000 people? Mostly women and children? That doctrine?
Yes, it was very unfair for the government to forcibly segregate the boers.
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Old 21st November 2017, 11:13 AM   #39
Craig B
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Yes, it was very unfair for the government to forcibly segregate the boers.
These were mainly women and children. They didn't perish because of "segregation" but owing to malnutrition, disease and neglect. The wives and children of individual Boer fighters known by the British to be still in the field were subjected to worse treatment and reduced rations, to induce the surrender of the guerillas.
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Old 21st November 2017, 02:44 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but one doesn't even have to look as far back as the Boer War to see that kind of thing in action. .....
Napoleon in Spain?
Sure there are earlier examples as well.
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