World best soldiers ever

Armed conflicts in the history of humanity from the ancient times to the 20th Century.
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tommy303
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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby tommy303 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:30 am

At least in WW2 I think it had more to do with the sudden expansion of the armed forces to meet the global challenge of fighting in both the Pacific, European, and Med theatres of operation. This meant creating numerous regiments, brigades, and divisions from scratch and which had no long standing histories (such as one found in the British Army regimental system--one might toast king and country, but you fought at least in part for the honour of the regiment), nor an officer corps such as that which led the Germans units (strict and rigid selection and training of men who first served at least a time in the ranks, aimed at procuring the best potential officer material regardless of social background or higher education and who would lead from the front whether divisional commander or platoon Leutnant). One of the complaints fielded from US soldiers was the comparatively greater number of officers in US units compared to British or German; not only were you having to stop and salute constantly, but the men you were saluting seemed to come from a whole different world of greater privilege and social status. That was seen in numerous post war studies to have a deleterious effect on unit morale and cohesion in action--there were too many officers, most of whom the enlisted men did not know and had no faith in, so that when their own company or platoon officer was killed or wounded, morale often broke and cohesion as an effective unit evaporated. In the British Army, the officer corps tended to be populated to a large degree from the more privilege social classes and while the gulf between enlisted man and officer was insurmountably wide, there was a highly professional NCO corps in between. On top of that, like the German officer corps, most British officers had a high sense of personal and professional honour and the individual Tommy Atkins could depend on his officer being there when the time came.

As an aside, when asked, most of the German veterans I have interviewed recalled typical British Army units as being tougher nuts to crack than typical US Army units. This was not meant to insult, as they acknowledged American units as being enormously powerful and dangerous opponents, but more fragile if things went bad.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby lwd » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:32 pm

RF wrote:
tommy303 wrote:A study by the US Army War College did seem to indicate, based upon comprehensive post war analysis of combat reports, that unit morale and cohesion was much more fragile in the US Army than it was in German and British armed forces, and decidedly inferior to the close knit US Marine Corps.

Would that be because the US was actually in WW1 and WW2 for much shorter periods than Britain and Germany, who were in it right from the start?

That may be part but US ARmy replacement policies also come under signficant critisim as I recall. I think both the British and Germans tended to take where the troops came from into account and I can't recall the details but did a better job of integrating replacements into the units. The USMC always made (and indeed still does) abig deal about espirit de Corp and emphasising that a Marine was a Marine no matter what.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby tommy303 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:07 pm

That may be part but US ARmy replacement policies also come under signficant critisim as I recall. I think both the British and Germans tended to take where the troops came from into account and I can't recall the details but did a better job of integrating replacements into the units.


Yes that is certainly true to a degree. British regiments were raised from specific shires or counties and replacements came from the same area quite frequently. To a degree, the Germans often used a similar system whereby regiments or Abteilungen received replacements from the district or Wehrkreise where the unit came from or where its main depot was located, although by late war this system was not working so well and replacements coming from the Reserve Army could have been from anywhere in the Reich. Certain units, airborne, Waffen SS, and of course Grossdeutschland all tended to be recruited from all over Germany, and subsequently received recruits or replacements from all over as well. However, the Germans were past masters at successfully assembling ad hoc combat teams (Kampfgruppen) from diverse sources when the need arose.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby tnemelckram » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:35 am

Hi All!

Since I'm an American and might be biased, I'll just say that the Western Pact soldiers in Desert Storm (mostly American) are one of the top two. They pulled off a successful massive land invasion although as attackers they were 1 to 1 with long entrenched defenders. Sure they had overwhelming technological advantages, but they executed almost perfectly because of their excellent training in how to use that advantage, and thus efficiently and overwhelmingly brought it to bear to force a decision where the enemy inflicted practically no casualties on them, and as a result of their efficiency, that the biggest risk they faced was friendly fire from their cohort. However, for those same reasons, they did not have to deal with anywhere near the physical challenges as my top nominee.

But as to the best, I nominate Napoleon's Grand Army of 1805. They marched hundreds of kilometers just to get to the pot of decision, then beat the Austrians at Ulm with the same type of skill of maneuver that we saw in Desert Storm, then went on another hundreds of kilometers to capture Vienna. Then after all that, they retained the confidence and discipline to execute Napoleon's delicately timed plan at Austerlitz, despite being ;largely in the open and fully exposed to winter weather.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby RF » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:55 pm

tnemelckram wrote:Hi All!

Since I'm an American and might be biased, I'll just say that the Western Pact soldiers in Desert Storm (mostly American) are one of the top two. They pulled off a successful massive land invasion although as attackers they were 1 to 1 with long entrenched defenders. Sure they had overwhelming technological advantages, but they executed almost perfectly because of their excellent training in how to use that advantage,


which is why they won, and won easily. The opposition was of very poor quality.

Put these troops in the position the Germans were in 1944, in Russia or in France. Would these American Desert Storm forces have done any better than the German front line troops, or worse, using the Germans weapons?
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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby Bgile » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:23 am

RF wrote:
tnemelckram wrote:Hi All!

Since I'm an American and might be biased, I'll just say that the Western Pact soldiers in Desert Storm (mostly American) are one of the top two. They pulled off a successful massive land invasion although as attackers they were 1 to 1 with long entrenched defenders. Sure they had overwhelming technological advantages, but they executed almost perfectly because of their excellent training in how to use that advantage,


which is why they won, and won easily. The opposition was of very poor quality.

Put these troops in the position the Germans were in 1944, in Russia or in France. Would these American Desert Storm forces have done any better than the German front line troops, or worse, using the Germans weapons?


I don't know, but they were a lot better than US troops in 1944. They were professionals, fighting the type of battle they were best at. I don't see how a valid comparison can be made, considering the difference in time.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby RF » Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:47 am

The ''valid comparison'' is in putting these men in the same position as other troops before them, using their weapons and logistics.

I suspect that the US troops in 1944 would be at least the equal, man for man, of today's US troops if the latter were put in the former's position. The Iraqi army overall in Desert Storm was less effective than the Italians or even Hungarians and Romanians of WW2.

And I certainly think that today's German armed forces would be very inferior to the quality of their forces in both world wars, stripping away the disparity in technology and weapons.
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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby Bgile » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:44 am

RF wrote:The ''valid comparison'' is in putting these men in the same position as other troops before them, using their weapons and logistics.

I suspect that the US troops in 1944 would be at least the equal, man for man, of today's US troops if the latter were put in the former's position. The Iraqi army overall in Desert Storm was less effective than the Italians or even Hungarians and Romanians of WW2.

And I certainly think that today's German armed forces would be very inferior to the quality of their forces in both world wars, stripping away the disparity in technology and weapons.


Well you are entitled to your opinion but the troops in WW2 were conscripts and their level of training was far inferior to today's troops, who are professionals and have more combat experience than most WW2 troops.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby RF » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:06 pm

Bgile wrote:....their level of training was far inferior to today's troops, who are professionals and have more combat experience than most WW2 troops.


This is where we disagree, for I am thinking of those US soldiers, conscripts yes, who chased the Germans from Tunisia to Sicily to mainland Italy and also fought in France. And the US troops who fought the Japanese from Guadalcanal onwards.....that is years of accumulated hard battle experience, without simulators or computer screens to train them.
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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby Bgile » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:28 pm

RF wrote:
Bgile wrote:....their level of training was far inferior to today's troops, who are professionals and have more combat experience than most WW2 troops.


This is where we disagree, for I am thinking of those US soldiers, conscripts yes, who chased the Germans from Tunisia to Sicily to mainland Italy and also fought in France. And the US troops who fought the Japanese from Guadalcanal onwards.....that is years of accumulated hard battle experience, without simulators or computer screens to train them.


Simulators make the training better, not worse. That is why we use them. I trained for many hours on a simulator for the M60A3 main gun. It definitely made me better with it in actual firing in the field and I got many more hours training that way than I ever could have on the actual gun. I continued to train with it between field firing exercises, and if you think firing in a simulator is just sitting in front of a computer screen, you are wrong. Have you ever seen a tank simulator? You think the lopsided fighting at 73 Easting was just because of better weapons? Sadly, I expect you do.

Back in WWII if you didn't have major impairment, you could fight. Today it is different, and the continuing standards are high. First, it's much harder to get in because educational standards are higher. Fitness standards are also higher today than they were then. If you were to compare the physical appearance of the average Marine today with his counterpart in WWII you would see an obvious difference.

You are correct in that there is no way we are going to agree on this. I think you are one of those people who just believe that the guys in the "old days" have to be better than today's soldiers.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby RF » Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:16 pm

I don't doubt or question the value of the high tech training and rigorous physical preparation that goes into the training of the military forces of both our countries. That is because it is evidenced by the very low casualty rate experienced by our forces when they do go into action, be it Iraq, Afghanistan or Serbia etc compared with prior conflicts.
But what that training doesn't encompass - and in saying this I mean no disrespect to these servicemen or their predecessors - is the process of learning the job by going into the front line without this level training (as in WW1 and WW2) and having to learn the job in actual combat conditions while completely ''green''. That is the comparison I am making.
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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby Bgile » Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:08 pm

Why does going in green and taking more casualties, and never really understanding your weapon systems make someone a better soldier, especially after having spent 10 years of your life in and out of combat like most of our soldiers do today?

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby RF » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:16 pm

Because those that came out of it had learned to live and survive in that situation and be on the winning side.
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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby Bgile » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:40 pm

Well, I bow to your expertise. Today's professionals must be far worse than the draftees in 1942. I'm through with this ... the field is yours.

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Re: World best soldiers ever

Postby ryan hart » Sun May 01, 2011 2:43 am

What about - The mongols anyone? Or for that matter the Hittites and the Assyrians? We don't know much about them but what we do know is that they were very efficient on the battlefield.


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