Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

HIST: Discussions about the last 4000 years of history, give or take a few days.

Moderators: Thanas, K. A. Pital

User avatar
ChaserGrey
Jedi Knight
Posts: 501
Joined: 2010-10-17 11:04pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ChaserGrey » 2012-06-20 12:21am

ryacko wrote:Man for man?
Nazis
Best soldiers?
Japan
Leaving aside the question of how "man for man" is different from "best soldiers", I'd love to know how you got "Japan" as an answer there.
Best officers?
Nazis
<Citation Needed>
Best equipment?
Nazis
Beg to differ, at least by how I count "best equipment". The Germans arguably had the best toys, but a lot of their soldiers were still carrying Kar 98ks and moving their artillery on horses at the end of the war. The top-line equipment so often featured in video games, like the Tiger, StG 44 assault rifle, and Me-262 were made in vanishingly small quantities. I'd much rather be a "typical" American grunt than a "typical" German one.
Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37300
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-06-20 12:37am

fgalkin wrote: Yes, because speeches win wars!
Well, in fact they do when they help win over someone like the US to letting you get billions in aid on unsecured credit, and when you are a democracy which has a real risk of just voting to end the war and home front moral is wavering ect....

As opposed to things like, you know, organizing the evacuation of a third of your industry and millions of your population in the span of weeks. On rail lines under constant bombardment.
Course, much of that wouldn't have been necessary if not for Stalin's leadership being so inept in the first place what will executing half the officer corps while reorganizing the military at the same time, and ignoring every warning sign of an attack.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
ryacko
Padawan Learner
Posts: 412
Joined: 2009-12-28 08:27pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ryacko » 2012-06-20 12:45am

Leaving aside the question of how "man for man" is different from "best soldiers", I'd love to know how you got "Japan" as an answer there.
Banzai charge. Only the Japanese have such disciplined warriors.

However manpower quality makes Germans better.
Suffering from the diminishing marginal utility of wealth.

User avatar
ChaserGrey
Jedi Knight
Posts: 501
Joined: 2010-10-17 11:04pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ChaserGrey » 2012-06-20 12:58am

ryacko wrote:
Leaving aside the question of how "man for man" is different from "best soldiers", I'd love to know how you got "Japan" as an answer there.
Banzai charge. Only the Japanese have such disciplined warriors.
Feel free to name a battle won by a banzai charge.
However manpower quality makes Germans better.
I just know I'm going to regret asking this, but...what does "manpower quality" mean here?
Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

User avatar
Nephtys
Sith Acolyte
Posts: 6227
Joined: 2005-04-02 10:54pm
Location: South Cali... where life is cheap!

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Nephtys » 2012-06-20 01:06am

ryacko wrote:
Leaving aside the question of how "man for man" is different from "best soldiers", I'd love to know how you got "Japan" as an answer there.
Banzai charge. Only the Japanese have such disciplined warriors.

However manpower quality makes Germans better.
'Disciplined' just means they follow orders, respect their leaders and don't fight amongst themselves.
'Effective' is something entirely different. Which is probably a much better sign of general 'quality'. Japanese Soldiers not particularly 'effective', through their equipment, training, doctrine, and leadership.

User avatar
ryacko
Padawan Learner
Posts: 412
Joined: 2009-12-28 08:27pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ryacko » 2012-06-20 01:37am

Nephtys wrote:
ryacko wrote:
Leaving aside the question of how "man for man" is different from "best soldiers", I'd love to know how you got "Japan" as an answer there.
Banzai charge. Only the Japanese have such disciplined warriors.

However manpower quality makes Germans better.
'Disciplined' just means they follow orders, respect their leaders and don't fight amongst themselves.
'Effective' is something entirely different. Which is probably a much better sign of general 'quality'. Japanese Soldiers not particularly 'effective', through their equipment, training, doctrine, and leadership.
You must separate the soldier from all that.

With Japanese soldiers, German officers, British leadership, and American industry, you would have an unstoppable force.

But the Japanese did not have the other three.
Suffering from the diminishing marginal utility of wealth.

User avatar
xthetenth
Jedi Master
Posts: 1192
Joined: 2010-02-20 12:45am

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by xthetenth » 2012-06-20 02:23am

Where would you draw the line between soldiers and officers? Which rank? Because I can see a great many boundaries that would cause hilarious snafus. Same between leadership and officers, for that matter. I also have to wonder whether German officers would be able to overstretch supply lines built on American industry if you go too far up the chain, and I can't help but think they might.

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37300
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-06-20 03:02am

ChaserGrey wrote: Feel free to name a battle won by a banzai charge.
Yeah seriously, maybe it worked against the Chinese after they hit them with poison gas, half the time, but overall Banzai charges were almost physically incapable of ever succeeding at anything more then overrunning the frontline of enemy foxholes. The attack would be so completely disorganized that exploiting success was going to be physically impossible. Such lack of organization was a hindrance, not an advantage and blindly being mowed down is generally not going to give a good return. Indeed we can come up with a decent list of battles in which the Japanese Banzai charge actually shortened the battle. Attu comes to mind, most of the Japanese garrison made a futile banzai charge and was wiped out in a matter of hours when they might have held out for days in the prepared defenses they had.

Not to mention all the times that same mental training caused Japanese troops to commit suicide or kill wounded without even trying to take any of the enemy with them. Being taken prisoner would have accomplished more, since then the enemy has to feed and transport you. Burying dead bodies in shell craters is easy. All the more so given American bulldozers.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
ryacko
Padawan Learner
Posts: 412
Joined: 2009-12-28 08:27pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ryacko » 2012-06-20 03:25am

Banzai charges are not an example of tactical ability, but of discipline and willingness to obey orders. The Pacific War lasted for decades if you would count hold outs. I suppose you wouldn't give a medal of honor to the soldier who used himself as a shield to prevent his squad from being blown up by a bomb.

There were numerous battles in which defeat seemed inevitable (the US army in the Phillipines for example) to the defending army, but the defenders held out until reasonably possible (before their men could mutiny). I suppose you would defect at the soonest opportunity to "burden the enemy."

German officers made proper use of tanks first in world war two, they had excellent operational and tactical knowledge, were highly effective in taking initiative (occasionally without authorization), and Dupuy has recognized a certain higher efficicay due to German officers as well.
Where would you draw the line between soldiers and officers? Which rank? Because I can see a great many boundaries that would cause hilarious snafus. Same between leadership and officers, for that matter. I also have to wonder whether German officers would be able to overstretch supply lines built on American industry if you go too far up the chain, and I can't help but think they might.
It starts at the point when the individual is required to see a bigger picture. You're missing my point.

Considering the Soviet Union was nearly entirely dependent on importing Americans trucks for transport, I'm a bit dubious on the last sentence. Terrible Russian roads afflicted everyone. Russia today I believe has one of the biggest multilane unpaved highways in the world.
Suffering from the diminishing marginal utility of wealth.

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30105
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-06-20 04:04am

fgalkin wrote:
Sea Skimmer wrote:If by leadership he means Churchill, period, and for politics only, one can make a very good argument.
Yes, because speeches win wars!

As opposed to things like, you know, organizing the evacuation of a third of your industry and millions of your population in the span of weeks. On rail lines under constant bombardment.
It's like Skimmer said. Stalin's during-the-war accomplishments in terms of leadership have to be weighed against the damage he did to the country with his batshit political paranoia in the purges. And against his basically ignoring that the Germans were building up this big surprise attack.
ChaserGrey wrote:Beg to differ, at least by how I count "best equipment". The Germans arguably had the best toys, but a lot of their soldiers were still carrying Kar 98ks and moving their artillery on horses at the end of the war. The top-line equipment so often featured in video games, like the Tiger, StG 44 assault rifle, and Me-262 were made in vanishingly small quantities. I'd much rather be a "typical" American grunt than a "typical" German one.
For that matter, a lot of it wasn't much (or any) better than its counterparts. Compare the Me-262 to something like the Gloster Meteor or the Lockheed P-80, and the Me-262 looks a lot less impressive. The difference is that Britain and the US didn't move heaven and earth to get a handful of P-80s into the war against the enemy in a hurry- if they'd made a priority of jet development, fielding them as counters to the Me-262 wouldn't have been beyond the US's capacity. The British, likewise, designed a jet for interceptions and didn't obsess about using it to dogfight enemy jets over Germany- they had enough planes for that.
Nephtys wrote:
ryacko wrote:
Leaving aside the question of how "man for man" is different from "best soldiers", I'd love to know how you got "Japan" as an answer there.
Banzai charge. Only the Japanese have such disciplined warriors.

However manpower quality makes Germans better.
'Disciplined' just means they follow orders, respect their leaders and don't fight amongst themselves.
'Effective' is something entirely different. Which is probably a much better sign of general 'quality'. Japanese Soldiers not particularly 'effective', through their equipment, training, doctrine, and leadership.
That reminds me of something I read once.

"By God, these troops are disciplined! They couldn't fight their way out of a broom closet, but they've sure got discipline..."
ryacko wrote:Banzai charges are not an example of tactical ability, but of discipline and willingness to obey orders. The Pacific War lasted for decades if you would count hold outs. I suppose you wouldn't give a medal of honor to the soldier who used himself as a shield to prevent his squad from being blown up by a bomb.
So? There's a real question here. Are you just arbitrarily defining "superiority" so that you can award it to the Japanese here? Or when you say "best" do you mean "most effective?"

The quality of soldiers in an army cannot be separated from whether their behavior makes sense and causes harm to the enemy. If my army sits in its position and shoots the crap out of you and makes you pay very heavily to take its position, while your army decides to do one big glorious suicide charge into the teeth of my machine guns and all get killed on the first day of the battle... who had the best army?

Your army is dead, my army is alive. If we were both defending identical positions against an identical enemy, I'd hold out longer, because I wouldn't be launching a banzai charge and getting all my troops killed.

Also, what about other ways in which one soldier can be better than another? Japanese soldiers were often physically smaller and weaker. Did being bigger and stronger, so they could carry more heavy equipment make British soldiers better in some way? Soviet soldiers were often inexperienced with heavy machinery, which made it harder for them to operate cars and trucks. Did having a higher literacy rate and more technical experience make American soldiers better than Soviet troops in some way?

Is a soldier who's motivated to fight for their home "superior" to a soldier who's not motivated because he doesn't give a crap and will desert at the first opportunity? Because that could refer to the same country's army, at different times and places. Soldiers who would fight very bravely in one situation might look completely stupid and useless and cowardly in another.
There were numerous battles in which defeat seemed inevitable (the US army in the Phillipines for example) to the defending army, but the defenders held out until reasonably possible (before their men could mutiny). I suppose you would defect at the soonest opportunity to "burden the enemy."
This is childish and absurd. The point is that if you really judge "best soldier" by "hurts the enemy most," you have to think about this. You can ignore it if you think "best soldier" means "does what I admire based on my cartoon idea of what war is about," but you can't expect other people to care much about that. And if you think about doing harm to the enemy, then hell yes there comes a point at which a bayonet charge is a less effective way to weaken the enemy than a surrender would be. A few bursts of machine gun fire are pretty cheap after all.

Where that point comes? It depends on how the battle is going.
Where would you draw the line between soldiers and officers? Which rank? Because I can see a great many boundaries that would cause hilarious snafus. Same between leadership and officers, for that matter. I also have to wonder whether German officers would be able to overstretch supply lines built on American industry if you go too far up the chain, and I can't help but think they might.
It starts at the point when the individual is required to see a bigger picture. You're missing my point.
What bigger picture? Does an army captain commanding 100 troops need to "see a bigger picture?" What about the Japanese officers who ordered those stupid banzai charges and frontal assaults? Are they "seeing a bigger picture?" Or are they "losing a battle?" What's the lowest rank you consider an "officer?" Because lieutenants, for example, aren't really required to do much more than keep their head down and lead their platoon heroically.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
PeZook
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 13237
Joined: 2002-07-18 06:08pm
Location: Poland

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by PeZook » 2012-06-20 05:19am

So...fighting as an organized force composed of small squads, a force able to maintain cohesion and situational awareness on a chaotic modern battlefied that involves artillery and machine guns, requires LESS discipline than human wave attacks?

It's exceedingly easy to just roll up into a fetal position inside your foxhole, dozens of metres away from the nearest NCO, and simply sit out the battle. It's so easy, in fact, that a lot of troops do exactly that in combat, and it's part of an NCOs job to prevent that from happening and get them going again (which often involves fun things like exposing yourself to enemy fire).

If, on the other hand, there are officers brandishing pistols right behind the human wave, and you have the comforting feeling of other soldiers right next to you, charging ahead is simple and actually doesn't require impressive discipline.

That's also why primitive armies with poor command and control technology fought in tight ranks. Even then, funny things tended to happen, like the greek phalanx tending to drift to the right (because soldiers tended to snuggle up to the man to their right, to get as covered by his shield as possible).
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

User avatar
ChaserGrey
Jedi Knight
Posts: 501
Joined: 2010-10-17 11:04pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ChaserGrey » 2012-06-20 05:29am

ryacko wrote:Banzai charges are not an example of tactical ability, but of discipline and willingness to obey orders. The Pacific War lasted for decades if you would count hold outs.
Discipline and willingness to obey orders are a quality of a good soldier, but they are not the only qualities. The best soldier is the one who accomplishes his mission. By that measure Japanese soldiers in banzai charges were some of the worst soldiers in WWII, because they accomplished precisely nothing other than making the enemy expend the ammo to blow them away.
I suppose you wouldn't give a medal of honor to the soldier who used himself as a shield to prevent his squad from being blown up by a bomb.
That's only an example of "discipline and willingness to obey orders" if someone had time to order him to jump on the grenade. That how it usually happens? It's also a sacrifice with a purpose, because it saves other soldiers' lives. A banzai charge is a pointless sacrifice that kills everyone making it while accomplishing nothing. If you can't distinguish between those two cases there's really no hope for you.
There were numerous battles in which defeat seemed inevitable (the US army in the Phillipines for example) to the defending army, but the defenders held out until reasonably possible (before their men could mutiny). I suppose you would defect at the soonest opportunity to "burden the enemy."
I shall thank you not to put words in my mouth. What in the world does this have to do with determining who has the "best" soldiers? U.S. Soldiers on Bataan arguably accomplished something by forcing the Japanese to divert substantial forces for use against them. The Japanese holdouts who continued on for "decades" accomplished nothing for their nation other than terrorizing a few Filipino pig farmers. Yep, that's military efficiency right there for ya.

If you want to redefine "best soldier" to mean "obeys orders and never surrenders", that's fine. I'll stick with "accomplishes mission with a minimum of casualties", thank you very much.
Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

User avatar
ChaserGrey
Jedi Knight
Posts: 501
Joined: 2010-10-17 11:04pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by ChaserGrey » 2012-06-20 05:39am

Simon_Jester wrote:For that matter, a lot of it wasn't much (or any) better than its counterparts. Compare the Me-262 to something like the Gloster Meteor or the Lockheed P-80, and the Me-262 looks a lot less impressive. The difference is that Britain and the US didn't move heaven and earth to get a handful of P-80s into the war against the enemy in a hurry- if they'd made a priority of jet development, fielding them as counters to the Me-262 wouldn't have been beyond the US's capacity. The British, likewise, designed a jet for interceptions and didn't obsess about using it to dogfight enemy jets over Germany- they had enough planes for that.
This is very true, and a similar point can be made about the much-vaunted German heavies and the M26 Pershing. (Nazi gear fanboys also hate it when you bring up the IS-2.) About the only weapon the Germans fielded that was head and shoulders above anyone else's was the StG 44, and that was never made in any kind of quantity.

I call this the "Day of Defeat" effect, where video games that focus on the cool and effective rather than the commonplace yield a distorted view of what typical soldiers had access to. If you believe DoD every fourth German had a StG 44, just like every other American had a Thompson gun when they were usually one or two to a platoon.
Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30105
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-06-20 05:46am

In fairness the Germans did develop quite a few "superweapon" capabilities that their enemies couldn't match. But then, so did other countries.

The British and Americans both developed a "superweapon" no other country of the time could match in their heavy bombers- Germans, Russians, Japanese, and so on were years behind in the heavy bomber race by 1944-45. The B-29 was no less a "superweapon" than the Me-262, really- it just doesn't look like a superweapon to fanboys.

And then of course there's that most blatant of superweapons, which trumped any possible German development including ballistic missiles, infrared floodlight targeting, assault rifles, or anything else they were even close to developing...

The atomic bomb.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

User avatar
Spoonist
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2401
Joined: 2002-09-20 11:15am

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Spoonist » 2012-06-20 05:49am

EDIT - Sorry to jump on the bandwagon here but I just couldn't resist, if a mod wants just delete this.
ryacko wrote:Banzai charges are not an example of tactical ability, but of discipline and willingness to obey orders.
Too much discipline leads to stupidity. I'd rather have adaptive, pragmatic & undisciplined soldiers than those who blindly follow orders.
Have you heard about soviet human waves? They were more effective and didn't require stupidity as the sole motivation. Just a commissar... :wink:
One thing one realise when talking to vets is that a banzai charge would be scary because it is a counterattack which results in melee. But that it was less scary than actual continuation of the battle, ie attacking fortified positions. Especially so as it was usually a big relief to the soldiers when after the japanese had been mowed down running towards you and when they finally reached you it turned out that small, usually starving and sick japanese wasn't really a match in close combat to relatively bigger and healthier marines who'd usually been trained in actual close combat. (Compared to running up to a sack of hay WWI style).
ryacko wrote:The Pacific War lasted for decades if you would count hold outs.
Hiding away on an Island pretending to fight a lost war is lunacy not a sign of soldier quality nor morale. It was stupidity like that which made japan enter war(s) they couldn't win. It was stupidity like that which made it more difficult for them to change doctrine even when given evidence against it.
For instance, the banzai charge at Guadalcanal was an utter failure - tacticly and strategicly. But to save face it was portrayed in the japanese propaganda as a success at inflicting horrible losses on the americans, which it didn't. Leading to more stupid banzai charges. But since the leadership had said that it was good they couldn't tell their officers to stop the stupidity. So even when they knew it was a stupid wasteful tactic they encouraged it because A) it fit with their bushido culture of suicide in defeat B) they couldn't admit they were wrong.
ryacko wrote:German officers made proper use of tanks first in world war two
Have you heard about the Kama tank school?
Why the germans were first was because they started the war. :twisted: The soviets (and americans) made better use of their tanks by the mid and end war.
What the germans made which was brilliant was to put in a radio in every tank - something which few countries considered back then.
ryacko wrote:were highly effective in taking initiative (occasionally without authorization)
Agreed, but the nazis ended the auftragstaktik by 41-42 because Hitler wanted field commanders to have more control.
ryacko wrote:Considering the Soviet Union was nearly entirely dependent on importing Americans trucks for transport, I'm a bit dubious on the last sentence. Terrible Russian roads afflicted everyone.
[/quote]This misses a point though. It's about priorities, soviets would rather build tanks than trucks, this because most of the crunch of the war was defensive and those trucks were not a necessity the way the tanks was. Mind you I'm not downplaying the use of the trucks, but don't you think that if they were that crucial the soviets would have produced more of them themselves?
I bet there were a lot of US generals cursing that gift by the end of the war since that meant the soviets could rush much faster towards the grand prices.

Also, those bad roads have saved the russians against the swedes, the french and the germans so I think that they shouldn't be considered as a detriment to their war effort.

User avatar
PeZook
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 13237
Joined: 2002-07-18 06:08pm
Location: Poland

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by PeZook » 2012-06-20 05:51am

Although to be perfectly honest, commonplace German tanks had excellent ergonomics, crew arrangements and communications: to the point that nominally inferior tanks like the Pz III could inflict disproportionate casualties on tanks that were, on paper, vastly superior, like the T-34.
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

User avatar
Spoonist
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 2401
Joined: 2002-09-20 11:15am

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Spoonist » 2012-06-20 05:54am

Simon_Jester wrote:In fairness the Germans did develop quite a few "superweapon" capabilities that their enemies couldn't match. But then, so did other countries.
Problem with any so called super weapons the germans made was that they required too much infrastructure to be effective.
The lesson of the war is that cheap mass production wins. "Good enough" in much greater quantity easily wins aginst "super".
If the germans hadn't wasted so much resources on "super" they would have been much more effective.
Simon_Jester wrote:The atomic bomb.
I'd argue that the radar had a more dramatic effect on the war than ever the bomb had. The bomb wanking is mostly a product of the fifties, not the fourties.

User avatar
PeZook
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 13237
Joined: 2002-07-18 06:08pm
Location: Poland

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by PeZook » 2012-06-20 05:56am

Spoonist wrote:Too much discipline leads to stupidity. I'd rather have adaptive, pragmatic & undisciplined soldiers than those who blindly follow orders.
I really have to point out that being able to follow orders as a small squad that's decently separated from its officers requires at least as much discipline as being able to join a human wave attack, because it's easier to just stop and do nothing and invent an excuse for why you couldn't advance any further - if the NCOs won't get you going, the officer can't do jack because he's stuck 100-200 metres behind commanding the platoon/company.

Hell, US troops had no significant trouble following suicidal orders on several occasions.
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

User avatar
fgalkin
Carvin' Marvin
Posts: 14557
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:51pm
Location: Land of the Mountain Fascists
Contact:

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by fgalkin » 2012-06-20 08:08am

Yeah, compare the stupidity of the Banzai charges with something like this, and tell me which was more effective. Overall, the Soviet Soldier was just as willing to endure hardship as his Japanese counterpart, but was usually more effective at the actual fighting because they weren't led by utter morons.

Simon_Jester wrote:
fgalkin wrote:
Sea Skimmer wrote:If by leadership he means Churchill, period, and for politics only, one can make a very good argument.
Yes, because speeches win wars!

As opposed to things like, you know, organizing the evacuation of a third of your industry and millions of your population in the span of weeks. On rail lines under constant bombardment.
It's like Skimmer said. Stalin's during-the-war accomplishments in terms of leadership have to be weighed against the damage he did to the country with his batshit political paranoia in the purges. And against his basically ignoring that the Germans were building up this big surprise attack.
I wasn't claiming that the Soviets had the best leadership- they clearly didn't. I was merely giving an example of actual effective wartime leadership (as opposed to, say, Churchill's obsession with Soft Underbellies).
German officers made proper use of tanks first in world war two
The world's first Blitzkrieg was actually done by Zhukov at Khalkhin Gol, using, as Spoonist mentioned, the theories developed at the Kama school.
Also, those bad roads have saved the russians against the swedes, the french and the germans so I think that they shouldn't be considered as a detriment to their war effort.
The hundreds of thousands lost in the swamps of Belarus because the Germans captured the only road through the marshes would disagree.
Also, bad roads benefit the defender. When the Germans attacked, they were a benefit. When the Soviets went on the counter-offensive, the situation was reversed.

Have a very nice day.
-fgalkin

User avatar
CaptHawkeye
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2939
Joined: 2007-03-04 06:52pm
Location: Korea.

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by CaptHawkeye » 2012-06-20 08:17am

Sea Skimmer wrote: Not to mention all the times that same mental training caused Japanese troops to commit suicide or kill wounded without even trying to take any of the enemy with them. Being taken prisoner would have accomplished more, since then the enemy has to feed and transport you. Burying dead bodies in shell craters is easy. All the more so given American bulldozers.
I remember watching Letters from Iwo Jima their was a scene where the defenders in Mount Suribachi are told they've "failed" to hold the mountain. How they've failed is basically specified as "you failed to stop the invasion and turn the Americans around on the beaches" which would have been impossible for anyone and never part of the overall strategy from the start.

Anyway, the real gist is that after being told that they just start whipping out grenades and blowing themselves up. I'd heard of these things before but I think the movie just did a really good job throughout its length accurately portraying the fundamental problems with the Japanese Military from top to bottom. I remember thinking to myself in that one "How fucking stupid are these guys? They've failed but instead of doing their jobs until the end or trying to breakout they're just going to kill themselves to save the Americans the effort?"
Best care anywhere.

User avatar
Lord Revan
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10948
Joined: 2004-05-20 02:23pm
Location: Zone:classified

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Lord Revan » 2012-06-20 08:56am

as already stated too much displine can cause more problems then a lack of displine as it can cause it can allow totally idiotic tactics or strategies to be implimented just because there's no one to say "that's just stupid".

for who had the best troops one should look at what they were able to accomlish with the resourses they were given, the japanese wasted theirs, infact it's even a greater "sin" as lack of resourses at the main islands was one of the reasons Japan went to war the first place.

lets compare this to the finns during the winter war dispite having poor resources to the point that not all soldier could be even given a full uniform, but rather alot of troops got the so called "model Kajander" uniform aka an utility belt, rifle and insignia to be used with civilian clothes, alot of the stuff that was avaible was out of date, the country had suffered a bloody civil war fairly recently (at 1918 while winter war was 1939-40) and if that wasn't bad enough the enemy out numbered them more then 10 to 1, yet the soviets (who were the enemy) were unable to complete the primary objective (which was to wipe Finland of the world map) and at places suffered massive losses without gaining much in return.

another good example is the battle of Britain in which the Brits used what little resources they had avaible that Germany had to cancel the planned invasion.
I may be an idiot, but I'm a tolerated idiot
"I think you completely missed the point of sigs. They're supposed to be completely homegrown in the fertile hydroponics lab of your mind, dried in your closet, rolled, and smoked...
Oh wait, that's marijuana..."Einhander Sn0m4n

User avatar
PeZook
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 13237
Joined: 2002-07-18 06:08pm
Location: Poland

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by PeZook » 2012-06-20 09:06am

The Battle Of Britain was a really poor example, because the Luftwaffe and the RAF were actually pretty evenly matched.

EDIT: And I'd hardly call the primary obstacle to the invasion - the Royal Navy - "little resources". The Brits had hundreds of destroyers alone - they could've afforded to throw away dozens to interfere with the invasion.
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

User avatar
Brother-Captain Gaius
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6859
Joined: 2002-10-22 12:00am
Location: \m/

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Brother-Captain Gaius » 2012-06-20 09:57am

I think the lesson here is that no one nation can claim to have the "best soldiers" -- almost every force that fought can claim a number of insane feats of heroism performed by various units and soldiers. The 101st Airborne at Bastogne, the landings at Normandy, 1. Fallschirmjägerdivision at Cassino, and many many many more examples throughout the war pretty solidly put to rest the idea that any one nation had particular claim to heroic warriors.
Agitated asshole | (Ex)40K Nut | Metalhead
The vision never dies; life's a never-ending wheel
1337 posts as of 16:34 GMT-7 June 2nd, 2003

"'He or she' is an agenderphobic microaggression, Sharon. You are a bigot." ― Randy Marsh

User avatar
CaptHawkeye
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2939
Joined: 2007-03-04 06:52pm
Location: Korea.

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by CaptHawkeye » 2012-06-20 10:35am

It turns out all that "our guys > your guys" stuff is just propaganda? Technology, leadership, and experience are the equalizers, not genetics.
Best care anywhere.

Simon_Jester
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 30105
Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm

Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Simon_Jester » 2012-06-20 12:33pm

Spoonist wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:In fairness the Germans did develop quite a few "superweapon" capabilities that their enemies couldn't match. But then, so did other countries.
Problem with any so called super weapons the germans made was that they required too much infrastructure to be effective.
The lesson of the war is that cheap mass production wins. "Good enough" in much greater quantity easily wins aginst "super".
If the germans hadn't wasted so much resources on "super" they would have been much more effective.
It depends on the weapon, and your ability to produce it. The idea of winning by technological superiority can work... in the hands of someone who's actually in a position to benefit from it.

Anyway, let's not waste time yelling back and forth at each other in violent agreement about this, OK? I suspect we actually agree on the facts, and bickering about the wording is silly.
I'd argue that the radar had a more dramatic effect on the war than ever the bomb had. The bomb wanking is mostly a product of the fifties, not the fourties.
The bomb was... how do I put this... a trump card that never had to be played against Germany. Dropping two bombs was a finishing blow to enemy morale, not enemy military strength, yes- but twenty? Two hundred?

The production capacity was there to make it a decisive weapon even against an enemy who wasn't already crippled; it was simply a matter of time and effort, effort that didn't have to be made historically because the Axis were already losing the war by conventional means. But if the Germans had somehow managed to drag out the war into 1946 and '47, the threat of nuclear attack would have made the war vastly more difficult for them to carry on, even if they got every other 'superweapon' in their arsenal and were producing them in reasonable quantities.
fgalkin wrote:I wasn't claiming that the Soviets had the best leadership- they clearly didn't. I was merely giving an example of actual effective wartime leadership (as opposed to, say, Churchill's obsession with Soft Underbellies).
Interestingly, if you view "leadership" as a collective property of top-level military and civilian leaders...

The British system kept Churchill from doing anything grossly stupid on a grand scale. The Mediterranean campaign was probably a good thing as long as it didn't detract meaningfully from the invasion of France. Since that was pretty much impossible anyway until mid-1944 for logistics reasons, a smaller scale campaign that used the limited assets available in the European theater makes more sense than having the whole army sit around in Britain twiddling their thumbs while the Russians are hammering and being hammered at Kursk.

But at the same time, having to deal with competent staff officers he couldn't just order shot meant that Churchill usually couldn't get away with frittering away too much strength on truly pointless military endeavours: things like the absurd scheme to refit the Royal Sovereign-class battleships as heavily armed AA-gun monitors and send them into the Baltic foundered because the people around Churchill could stop him from doing something that pointless and ineffective. When Churchill did make a mistake, it was usually something most of his senior officers agreed with him on, usually because of some point of accepted military doctrine that turned out to be wrong, like "capital ships can defend themselves against air attack in a pinch," or "an amphibious landing won't necessarily get bogged down if it's pushed hard enough using all these techniques we developed in 1943."

There were mistakes, and quite a few big ones can rightly be blamed on Churchill- but my impression is that very few of those mistakes were disastrous, even compared to other nations that won their war. Having some great successes and few or no great failures sounds like pretty good leadership to me.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

Post Reply