Military Incompetence

Discussion in 'General' started by canuck, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Picking up again on the France'40 matter, this is what I found on the Wydawnictwo Militaria series vol on the 8,8 (#155). There is also a lot of info on work in the Spanish CW and Poland, including much work as conventional field artillery and bunker busting using AP.

    Clipboard04.jpg

    It would be so nice if this stupid Rommel hagiography were bopped in the head once and for all :smash:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Cobber

    Cobber Senior Member

    Military Incompetence, well in the South West Pacific Area of Operations that can be summed up quite easily most especially during the period 1942 and early 1943, the incompetence and ignorance originating from General MacArthur and General Blamey was astounding, also some of their immediate staff members qualify for not questioning some of their decisions.
     
  3. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member

    Why would Generals MacArthur and Blamey's staffers question their respective general's decisions? They were the best yes-men in the SWPTO.
     
  4. Cobber

    Cobber Senior Member

    yes, yes, yes, YES they were.
    they were so desperate not to loose their jobs they would say anything to appease their CO's and that includes Blamey and MacArthur to their respective seniors.

    Blamey when made Deputy Commander Mid East finally started delegating duties to other senior Aussie Officers. When LT Gen Lavarack was given command of Cyrenaica force he spent the much of the first week in Tobruk working with Gen Morsehead on a defensive plan that was used in the Easter battle. However when Blamey learned of this he told the CO Mid East that Lavarack although the senior Regular Army officer, he was not suitable for senior command. Lavarack was then sent back to his 7th Division. Then just a few weeks later Blamey was the main driving force behind organising for Lavarack to be Corps Commander in Syria taking over from Wilson. At this time it appeared that he was going to temporarily forget about his infighting with many of the senior Aussie Generals. However once back in Australia he sidelined everyone he felt could be a threat especially those with rank and ability to replace him. I guess in the long run it did not make much difference as the Generals used did a good job.
     
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Sol - and all the pages of that book " A Bridge Too Far " were written by a Britain hating Southern Irishman - and his wife was no less rabid in her hatred of all things British - in anticipation of a very large cheque from Hollywood and he wasn't about to
    disrupt that event by blaming any American not least Gen Brereton.

    The other epic was the "Longest Day" in which his widow was a consultant
    director and as we saw - the main British input was in comedy roles - apart from the bridge....and stopping for tea etc ... other Brits were also involved as "advisors " and one can only shake one's head at what some people will do for money .....

    History gives a different perspective....
    Cheers
     
  6. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    It would be so nice if this stupid Rommel hagiography were bopped in the head once and for all :smash:


    Ooooh! just learnt a new word - hagiography :) and I agree entirely.
     
  7. A-58

    A-58 Not so senior Member

    Agree. And the way he let his air force get caught on the ground after a 10 hour warning was another disgrace. From what I read many people couldn't decide who to excoriate, him or Kimmel and they chose Kimmel.

    Dave
    There's a little more to it than simply getting caught on the ground Dave. I never pass the opportunity to point out Mac's sad performances. This was not one of them. The Far East Air Force had just returned from extended recon flights around Luzon and were caught on the ground re-fuelling. The IJAF units that pounced on them were delayed for several hours in sortieing from Formosa due to bad weather. Awful bit of timing I'd say, along with a lot of bad luck (for us anyway).

    "A comedy of errors" would safely describe the early days of the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign. This is describing the general staff actions, not the troops in the field who were poorly led into defeat in spite of being forgotten and left on their own.
     
  8. Ray Hanson

    Ray Hanson Member

    Reluctant though I am to enter into debate with those who are clearly much more knowledgeable than I, it does seem to me that some highly relevant issues have not been mentioned.

    In peacetime any democracy will find it politicaly difficult if not impossible to invest in large modern armed forces or to maintain conscription. Inevitably therefore war leads to the need for massive expansion and an influx of under trained and inexperienced personnel as was the case with the allies in WWII. Add to this the fact that in every new war a significant proportion of officers seem to be found wanting and have to be replaced. The military being unique in that however you train you cannot replicate the strains of the real thing. Perhaps we should be surprised not that mistakes were made but that there weren't more. In my father's infantry battalion in one year 5 cos became casualties and had to be replaced. This wasn't unique. Where did all those cos come from? Gordon Corrigan in his book 'Mud, Blood and Poppycock' has some interesting things to say about the problems of rapidly expanding an army - 'you can train a man to take his place in a rifle company in a few weeks or months, to train competent senior officers takes years'.

    Personal perspective will also play a part in judging competence. On one of the D Day beaches a battalion co was killed - 'whilst waving a large flag to inspire his men forward' - at least he was in the book which related the incident. I heard two veterans talking of the same incident. Their view was that he was a 'BLANK' idiot with a death wish and if the Germans hadn't shot him they would have had to before he got them all killed. Maybe they were joking but I'm not sure. Was he an inspiring leader, or a glory seeker needlessly risking his mens lives?
     
  9. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    My natural distrust of large organizations and general cynicism regarding the official line from governments is always aroused when certain events are raised to legendary status. I don't know enough about Iwo Jima to express a definitive opinion but I've always been suspicious:

    "Combat on Iwo Jima was perhaps the most brutal, tragic, and costly in American history. Scholars have never yet sufficiently addressed the strategic decisions and ensuing justifications for Iwo Jima."

    Worth the Cost? Justificaton of the Iwo Jima Invasion
     
  10. exbootneck

    exbootneck Junior Member

    Interesting, though certainly not reflected in the British Army of 1939 to 1945. Of 160 men of major-general rank or higher who commanded at least a field-force division at some point during the war, only four were not regular officers - and of those four, three were Territorials and one in the Indian Army.

    Best, Alan

    and why they were so crap...............
     
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Tim
    as you suggest - incompetence is not confined to the military - recently I have been involved with a Server for my PC - TV and Phone services..and the experience has been laughable as a person on ONE desk of the Customer Services (sic) has sent a debt collection agency for non payment of fees overdue - and they are a tough breed-

    while a another person at a desk not too far distant in the SAME office - is grovelling in all sweetness and light informing me of a credit for an amount more than what the debt collector is allegedly collecting

    all I can think of is the fact that the manager of that office has served in some military
    unit- somewhere.....!
    Cheers
     
  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    and why they were so crap...............

    Crap? Be careful. Among those 160 men, you have Montgomery, Brooke, Dempsey, Slim, McCreery, Kirkman, Cowan, Roberts, Hobart, Graham, Gale, Horrocks, Templer, Tuker, Wimberly, Rennie, Crocker, O'Connor, Rees, Harding, Christison, and Stopford, to name only the most distinguished among those with whom I am familiar. Others on this forum might add some more. That is a pretty impressive collection of talent.
     
  13. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thoughts on this subject, in no particular order.

    1. How do we define incompetence? In some cases failure may be due to a man or men; in other cases pinning it down is not so easy. The British Army in 1939-41 did not lack able officers. There were some poor ones too, but the early campaigns showed some grave flaws in the military system as a whole, flaws that went back many years.

    2. Hindsight is dangerous. In war, officers have to act quickly, very often on the basis of incomplete information that they may not have the time to check. They are often tired, ill-fed, and suffering from the strain of battle. They cannot always be expected to have known what we know now, and they could not always retire to a study to make up their minds at leisure.

    3. War is harder than we think. Those who have never been under fire (like me) should exercise some caution about judging those who have been.

    That said (and sticking strictly to the British Empire & Commonwealth), I think Singapore was about the most complete and inexcusable large-scale disaster of the war. I can't go over all the details, but after reading Alan Warren's and Brian Farrell's books I can't think of any other campaign where the mistakes were so common and so serious and performance so comprehensively bad. This applies at all levels, from Whitehall right down to the battalions.
     
  14. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Tim
    as you suggest - incompetence is not confined to the military - recently I have been involved with a Server for my PC - TV and Phone services..and the experience has been laughable as a person on ONE desk of the Customer Services (sic) has sent a debt collection agency for non payment of fees overdue - and they are a tough breed-

    while a another person at a desk not too far distant in the SAME office - is grovelling in all sweetness and light informing me of a credit for an amount more than what the debt collector is allegedly collecting

    all I can think of is the fact that the manager of that office has served in some military
    unit- somewhere.....!
    Cheers
    Tom,
    May the Telus corporation rue the day they decided to take on Thomas Canning.
    From experience, there is no finer way to spend an hour discussing the lack of any competition in our fair land. If an American moved to one of our great cities to find out that there is no competition between service providers, another war, similar to the one we last fought with the Yanks in 1812, might just happen.
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Randy
    Both the Shaw server and their debt collection agency RUE the day they tried to scare me - and Telus have been warned not to mess me around also..
    Cheers
     
  16. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    John Lawson
    Don't know how many times I have raised this same subject of th 3.7 AA vs the 88mm AA/AT - but the first time it was held that the 3.7 " stood too high off the ground - forgetting that the 88mm stood 11' off the ground - but the War House
    wallopers had never had an 19' barrel of an 88mm pointing at them- then when there was 1000 3.7" sitting in various warehouses in the mid East- they were very heavy and needed a very large scammell to pull them through the desert- then - well we have better gun coming up - true- four 17 pounders landed with the Torch Forces Nov '42 - spirited down to Medenine ALONGSIDE some unofficial 3.7AA guns acting as A/T guns- result three panzer Divisions stopped dead after a few hours battle - Rommel was fired - the 17 pounder spirited back to the Uk for a better platform - next time they showed up was with a Canadian battery at Sicily- never saw them on Tanks in Italy although some people who weren't born at the time assure me that there were lots of them in Italy - so I gave up - BUT the 3.7 was finally converted into an A/T and used - go on three guesses - yep BUlGE February 1945-
    now That is good timing ......yeah right ...
    Cheers

    Sorry mate, you write nonsense. 3.7 was never converted into an anti tank gun. There's no such thing as unofficial use, underinformed and irrelevant with blether about the 'War House' - tactics are a mtter for local commanders. 3.7 was towed by Matador not Scammell. Stick to fiction, don't try and present it as fact.

    Anyone who seriously thinks the 3.7 was the answer ot ATk is off with the fairies. As I said in a post a few weeks back, the first Tigers were destroyed by 6-pr, once 17-pr appeared it was basically game over. M10s were also OK and 17-pr became Archer. Oh and there were nowhere near thousands of 3.7 in ME, I gave the numbers in a previous post.

    What I didn't say in my previous post is that post war trials were conducted with 3.7 as an ATG, it appears that the carriage wasn't up to it, the firing stresses being in directions that it was not designed for, cracking and rivet issues IIRC.
     
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Mapshooter

    I can see that your opinion differs from mine and i would assume that your experience of being knocked out by an 88mm is also greater than mine and thus I am pleased that you survived unharmed.....as regards writing nonsense...well I have many people on this forum and also the BBc series who have benefited from my writings which essentially was learned in those areas where you perhaps have not ventured as yet - and when I write of any subject it is with a background of the facts given to me usually about the same time the actions were underway - or shortly thereafter by survivors of that same action for example i was informed that some 3.7 AA guns were lined up in the front ranks alongside the ONLY four 17 pdrs in the Whole of Africa at the battle of Medenine- unofficially of course.....and again - but this time officially at the Battle of the Bulge in France later in 44/45.....and as far as I am aware - the first Tigers killed was by 25pdrs-
    at least this is the fiction I was led to believe as from my own experience the 6 pdr APBC shot merely bounced off the Tiger - unless - as we have just learned from the big argument over the Bovington 's PZKzV1 # 131 - a gunner from 4th troop 48th RTR jammed the turret by a 6pdr shot....

    and not being a mechanic I wouldn't know a Scammel/ Matador from a Rover 90...AND I haven't yet been off with the fairies - and by NO means even think of insulting my elders - few that are left......
    Cheers
    Tom Canning ex 145th RAC of 21st Tank Bde
    & 16/5th Lancers of 26th Armoured Bde
    North Africa - Italy - Austria
     
  18. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    1. How do we define incompetence? In some cases failure may be due to a man or men; in other cases pinning it down is not so easy. The British Army in 1939-41 did not lack able officers. There were some poor ones too, but the early campaigns showed some grave flaws in the military system as a whole, flaws that went back many years.

    2. Hindsight is dangerous. In war, officers have to act quickly, very often on the basis of incomplete information that they may not have the time to check. They are often tired, ill-fed, and suffering from the strain of battle. They cannot always be expected to have known what we know now, and they could not always retire to a study to make up their minds at leisure.

    3. War is harder than we think. Those who have never been under fire (like me) should exercise some caution about judging those who have been.



    1. In 1940, large, powerful forces are defeated quickly and decisively by a much smaller opponent. It almost defines itself. While some components of the 1940 Allied forces performed admirably, it was insufficient to overcome massive systemic disfunction.
    2. Conversely, the front line officers often made excellent decisions which had the effect of disguising incompetence at the staff level. The experienced officers leading troops into battle were probably the most capable overall.
    3. Do I need a vagina in order to critique a woman? Assessing Singapore and Dieppe does not require combat experience.
     
  19. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence"
    Norman F. Dixon 1976

    I found Dixon's book to be fascinating and after my own 38 years of corporate life I could not help but find countless direct parallels to the dynamics of large business organizations and leadership. I've come to believe that intrinsic human nature and the complexity of hierarchical organizations make this almost inevitable. Considering that the cost of ineptitude in wartime is human lives, I have always been surprised that more failed commanders were not more vilified by the public.

    This article draws some of the same comparisons.

    What you can learn from studying military incompetence

    "Dixon’s early summation of the key characteristics of failed military leaders:

    1. An underestimation, sometimes bordering on the arrogant, of the enemy.
    2. An equating of war with sport.
    3. An inability to profit from past experience.
    4. A resistance to adopting and exploiting available technology and novel tactics.
    5. An aversion to reconnaissance, coupled with a dislike of intelligence (in both senses of the word).
    6. Great physical bravery but little moral courage.
    7. An apparent imperviousness by commanders to loss of life and human suffering amongst their rank and file, or (its converse) an irrational and incapacitating state of compassion.
    8. Passivity and indecisiveness in senior commanders.
    9. A tendency to lay the blame on others.
    10. A love of the frontal assault.
    11. A love of ‘bull,’ smartness, precision and strict preservation of the military pecking order.
    12. A high regard for tradition and other aspects of conservatism.
    13. A lack of creativity, improvisation, inventiveness and open-mindedness.
    14. A tendency to eschew moderate risks for tasks so difficult that failure might seem excusable.
    15. Procrastination."
     
    Chris C and CL1 like this.
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Corporate
    yes indeedy
     

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