World best soldiers ever

Armed conflicts in the history of humanity from the ancient times to the 20th Century.
User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:13 am

Hi Orville,

You are right about the Germans absolute secrecy.

However I was thinking of the Allied codebreakers at Bletchley Park. With the Luftwaffe enigma codes easily broken (a situation that was of great advantage during the Battle of Britain) and the Luftwaffe mass attacks planned for 16 December 1944 I do find the lack of enigma intelligence surprising.

The plan for Operation Barbarossa was also highly secret, and the Luftwaffe enigma gave MI5 full information about this invasion.

The western Allies also had the benefit of the Swiss intelligence service, which on 7 May 1940 warned the French that on 10 May 1940 seven panzer divisions would srike through the Ardennes into France. They also warned the Dutch and Belgian military attaches in Berne that their countries were about to be invaded.

Given all these separate independent sources of intelligence it is surprising that there was no warning. But there again, the Allies had warning of the presence of Model and of the SS Panzer division commanded by Bittrich at Arnhem just before they launched Operation Market Garden....
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Orville H. Larson
Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Minnesota, USA

Post by Orville H. Larson » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:47 am

About Operation Barbarossa, it seems everyone knew about it beforehand except the Russians!

The British knew about it, and the Russians should have.
One of the greatest spies of WW2--Richard Sorge, the Russian agent who operated in Tokyo as a German journalist--told the Russians months (!) before that the Germans would invade in June 1941. Stalin's paranoia prevented him from acting on it. (In fact, Russian intelligence had been getting plenty of good information about German plans to invade Russia, but it was discounted or ignored by Stalin.)

The Arnhem debacle (Operation Market-Garden) of September 1944 wasn't an intelligence failure, but rather a command failure. Montgomery was so hell-bent on going through with it that he discounted credible intelligence that the Germans had amassed armor in the Arnhem sector.

Orville H. Larson
Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:31 pm
Location: Minnesota, USA

Post by Orville H. Larson » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:58 am

RF wrote:I notice that in all this discussion so far the WW2 Japanese have not been mentioned.

One thing that does stand out from Allied, particulary British and Australian squaddie assessments of enemy forces, were that the Japanese were not only the most ruthless but also the bravest foe, feared far more than the Germans.
We also forgot to mention the Russian Army. In that army, officers and NCOs could shoot a man on the spot for cowardice or other derelictions. They also had "penal battalions," which were the first to spearhead attacks, march through suspected minefields, and the like.

Certainly, the most harshly disciplined armies of WW2 were the Russian and Japanese.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:46 pm

Orville:
About Operation Barbarossa, it seems everyone knew about it beforehand except the Russians!

The British knew about it, and the Russians should have.
One of the greatest spies of WW2--Richard Sorge, the Russian agent who operated in Tokyo as a German journalist--told the Russians months (!) before that the Germans would invade in June 1941. Stalin's paranoia prevented him from acting on it. (In fact, Russian intelligence had been getting plenty of good information about German plans to invade Russia, but it was discounted or ignored by Stalin.)

The Arnhem debacle (Operation Market-Garden) of September 1944 wasn't an intelligence failure, but rather a command failure. Montgomery was so hell-bent on going through with it that he discounted credible intelligence that the Germans had amassed armor in the Arnhem sector
About Barbarossa it seems that Stalin didn´t want to see the thruth and was only convinced when he had Blitzkrieg rolling around his countryside.

You´re right about Arnhem. British intellingence officers, including Dempsey´s ones warned about the presence of panzer units near the area. Monty and Browning disregard those warnings and kept the operation moving.
We also forgot to mention the Russian Army. In that army, officers and NCOs could shoot a man on the spot for cowardice or other derelictions. They also had "penal battalions," which were the first to spearhead attacks, march through suspected minefields, and the like.

Certainly, the most harshly disciplined armies of WW2 were the Russian and Japanese.
That´s why they fought so well. I don´t believe that any other WWII army would have performed better against the nazis as the soviets...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Post by Bgile » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:38 pm

I believe the Soviets did well because there were so many of them. I don't feel that a soldier trained to follow orders blindly at all costs out of fear of being shot by his own leader is necessarily the best.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:35 pm

Bgile:

you´re right, man. But the notion that the soviet soldier is an ignorant pawn is not so right. I always believed that the lowest posible class of soldiers was (is) the soviet one. But with time that notion has become destroyed by new accounts of the Eastern Front.
Probably the soviets were unskilled in every respect in 1941 and 1942 because of Stalin´s purges and his way of commanding the Red Army. But after Stalingrad the new breed of officers and veteran soldiers learned the way to defeat the technocratic overskilled German Army. At Kursk the soviet army did not win only by sheer size but because their order of battle was such that made the blitskrieg penetration and deep operational freedom an imposiblity.

During the 80ies and early 90ies there were a lot of books about how a WWIII would be fought on European soil. In almost all books (written by people as John Hackett and Tom Clancy) the russians are put as underskilled robots under the menace to be shot by the KGB. I always wonder if that was a reality or not.

My opinion is that real soldiers are skilled because of their training and will of conquer and not because the ideology of their particular country. If that was a truth then German Army would have been the worst one which is obvious it was not (or Genghis Khan hordes, or Roman legionaries, etc. etc.). I believe that if, for example, the US Army in 1991 would have fought the Gulf War against Russians instead of Iraqui´s camel drivers then they would have still been fighting nowadays without any victory in sight.

And, for the record, I don´t believe that in this forum is someone as anti-communist as me.

Best regards...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Post by Bgile » Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:45 am

karl,

I think the books were right. We studied the Soviet soldier in great detail, including operating in the desert against US soldiers trained to their doctrine. I don' t know how much you've read about the 91 gulf war, but the Iraqi Republican Guard were largely highly motivated combat veterans. I believe the results would have been the same against Soviet troops.

As you like to say about US battleships, they have no combat record, so ...

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:59 am

Bgile:

Touche!!!!

Yeah, you´re quite right again, you got me!

Personally I don´t regard Middle East soldiers as elite or superb soldiers. Israel did beat those camel drivers. As a matter of fact Israel did use German military doctrine in it´s fights against Egypt and Siria and beat the hell out of them. But the main fact, according to Moshe Dayan, was that their soldiers were educated and cultural superior over the arabs (which is not so big a feat). In that order of things, even as combat veterans the Iraquis were low quality troops in comparison with US troops.
The russians, well, they another kind of people and they had the best learning on Earth: they defeated the Third Reich´s best units and soldiers: Waffen Panzer Troops!

There MUST be a difference between them: culture, education, training, experience, proficiency, etc. etc. etc.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:45 am

The quality of the individual Soviet soldier is problematic because it is inconsistent. Their main advantage was in numbers.

The main point was that to start with they were not very good - poor motivation, poor leadership. This was evident against the Finns during the Winter War and during the first six months of Barbarossa, where during the latter they surrendered in very large numbers. But once they learned how to fight a mobile war they steadily improved as the war progressed.

With the Japanese the quality of the troops was fairly uniform.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:51 am

Bgile wrote:karl,

I think the books were right. We studied the Soviet soldier in great detail, including operating in the desert against US soldiers trained to their doctrine. I don' t know how much you've read about the 91 gulf war, but the Iraqi Republican Guard were largely highly motivated combat veterans. I believe the results would have been the same against Soviet troops.
The performance of the Republican Guard was degraded before and during the period of land fighting by US and British airpower, combined with the effects of economic blockade in reducing the supply of spare parts and other equipment/ordnance that they required.

In saying that the results would have been the same against Soviet troops it would also be the same against any other military force.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:59 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:

Personally I don´t regard Middle East soldiers as elite or superb soldiers. Israel did beat those camel drivers. As a matter of fact Israel did use German military doctrine in it´s fights against Egypt and Siria and beat the hell out of them.
1948 - not against the Jordanians, but again they had a competent commander in Glubb.

1956 - Yes

1967 - Yes, but only by striking first and hard.....

1973 - Well, not exactly. Here the Egyptians held the advantage of attacking first and by staying in range of their land support missile batteries, which contained Isreali airpower. Only when the Syrians talked Sadat into allowing his troops to advance ahead of that support did the Isreali's fight back effectively.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:10 am

Orville H. Larson wrote:About Operation Barbarossa, it seems everyone knew about it beforehand except the Russians!

Stalin's paranoia prevented him from acting on it. (In fact, Russian intelligence had been getting plenty of good information about German plans to invade Russia, but it was discounted or ignored by Stalin.)
Stalin I think was well aware of the impending attack. But he was playing for time and seemed to do his utmost not to provoke the attack, certainly by not preparing the forward areas for receiving invasion. But the interior of the Soviet Union, Moscow and beyond, was a different story, hence the millions of men available for the campaigns of 1942 and 1943.

It has been suggested that Stalin was himself intending to launch his own attack on the Germans if they hadn't invaded - but in his own time.

Remember that Stalin did act on his intelligence services information when it expressly suited him, such as the redeployment of the Siberian army in November 1941.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7588
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Post by RF » Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:13 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
Personally I don´t regard Middle East soldiers as elite or superb soldiers.
How would you rate the army of the Assyrians and the forces of the Egyptian phaoroahs?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Post by Bgile » Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:47 pm

RF wrote:
The performance of the Republican Guard was degraded before and during the period of land fighting by US and British airpower, combined with the effects of economic blockade in reducing the supply of spare parts and other equipment/ordnance that they required.

In saying that the results would have been the same against Soviet troops it would also be the same against any other military force.
The Republican Guard was not short of parts, etc. They got whatever was available, shorting the rest of the Iraqi army. The blockade was a sieve and was falling apart due to corruption and greed.

I don't remember the exact quote, but a Republican Guard officer stated that his unit lost something like 5% of it's equipment to air attack prior to the ground combat phase, and lost all of it's armored vehicles withing something like 30 min of contact with US Armor.

The difference between Soviet tanks and Western tanks is the former are very simple to operate, but the latter are complex but much better in the hands of very well trained troops.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:14 pm

RF:
How would you rate the army of the Assyrians and the forces of the Egyptian phaoroahs?
It´s out of context. I don´t regard Assyrians as Middle East as an Irani or Sirian soldier nowaday. But we can say, in that context, that the Middle Eastern armies (Persian ones, from between Eufrates and Tigris) were beaten by the Greeks (first by the Spartans and after that Macedonians).
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Post Reply