65

sides got locked into relatively short lines of heavily defended trench warfare with little prospect of gains for either side. The lines on the Western Front were not by any stretch of the imagination "short". The Western Front ran all the way from Switzerland to the Atlantic Ocean. Side attacks? Well the Race to the Sea (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


46

The LCVP or Higgins boat was designed with one primary goal: to land a large number of troops quickly. Therefore it was important that: Troops can disembark as quickly as possible LCVPs can land right next to each other, maximising the total amount of troops disembarking After disembarkation, the craft can then reverse and return for more troops, evacuating ...


43

They still do it that way: LCU Replacement in Preliminary Design, Anticipating 2022 Fleet Debut If the beaches are heavily defended, the Navy is supposed to bombard them prior to the landing. Occasionally the military and naval planners have been known to make deadly mistakes. As pointed out in the comments, the debouching troops and equipment hit the ...


33

The driving force behind the Manhattan Project was less about using an atomic bomb and more about getting one before the Germans did. It was known the Germans had their own atomic bomb project and prominent physicists, including Einstein, warned the US government about the possibility of such a bomb. This was the driving force behind the Manhattan Project: ...


29

The invasion of Italy was a huge psychological success for the Allies. It caused the Italian government to overthrow Mussolini in a coup d'etat and join the Allies. One (admittedly the weakest) of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis had fallen before the Allies lost one of their major powers (Britain, the Soviet Union or China) to the Axis. From this point of view, ...


28

There were no "sides" where one might perform a side-attack. After the initial German push was defeated at the First Battle of the Marne, the British and French attacked the Germans at the First Battle of the Aisne. There, both the Germans and the Entente found how effective entrenching was against attacking troops. Having failed the frontal attacks and ...


23

The timeframe is exactly right for the highest level of organisational planning in this general direction: In late summer/early autumn 1944, Heinrich Himmler initiated Unternehmen Werwolf (Operation Werwolf), ordering SS Obergruppenführer Hans-Adolf Prützmann to begin organising an elite troop of volunteer forces to operate secretly behind enemy lines. ...


18

The existing answers provide detail on why side attacks and real breakthroughs were impossible in practice. I want to add a theoretic level why strategists might also wouldn't want them. To answer your question with emphasis on the "accept" part, I would like to refer you to a military theorist who foresaw some developments and is thus still taught at many ...


17

Thucydides has been widely read and cited since ancient times, though not always to the same extent in different periods. Martin Hammond, in his translation of The Peloponnesian War, observes: Thucydides was not as widely read in the fourth century and the Hellenistic period as the more obviously attractive Herodotus and Xenophon, but he was far from ...


15

The German and Austrian Jewish population was about 750,000, of which three quarters were exterminated. Whereas the total German population was about 70 million. But 1941, when the extermination program began the number of Jewish forced labourers in German was 60,000, compared to the 2,000,000 foreign labourers (Fremdarbeiter) [source]. The Nazis decided ...


15

Italy was (and is) an industrial and financial powerhouse - Mussolini was an ineffective wartime leader, but the resources his nation lent Hitler were essential to continuing the war. Removing Italy from the Axis sphere of influence was high on the list of Allied strategic goals - remember, the Allies' game plan was to deny Germany the means to make war in ...


15

According to the wikipedia article on the topic: The Mongol vanguard was killed nearly to a man, with Thomas of Split writing: "the Hungarians immediately charged into them and did battle. They cut down a great many of them and pushed the rest back over the bridge, causing them to be drowned in the river." The Hungarians left some soldiers to guard the ...


13

In short, no, Sir Alistair is wrong in this case (although the example quoted is, perhaps, more an example of journalistic hyperbole than something intended to be taken literally). There many examples of 'wars of attrition' from history. One might argue that the strategy dates back to Quintus Verrucosus's defence against Hannibal during the Second Punic ...


10

Generals tend to "fight the last war." That said, there are periods of defensive predominance that shape later periods of offensive predominance, and are shaped by earlier periods of offensive predominance. For instance,offensive cavalry ruled supreme between the invention of the stirrup, and the invention of defensive missile weapons such as the long bow ...


10

For one thing, the atomic bomb simply wasn't needed in the European Theater. The reason it was considered a superior choice over a land invasion in the Pacific is largely cultural. The Japanese culture at the time valued honor over life, meaning that a good death was preferable to surrender or capture. Had the US attempted a conventional invasion of Japan we ...


9

Suleiman the Magnificent died a year after the Great Siege and was succeeded by Selim II. The change in leadership also brought a change of focus. Selim decided to move against the equally strategically positioned Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The War of Cyprus started only five years after the Great Siege, and although the Ottomans ultimately prevailed, ...


9

The Suez Canal was mostly important to the British, but it was very important to them. They needed to move large amounts of raw materials to Britian, where their industries were, and move the products to where the fighting was. This was strange to much of the US Army leadership of WWII, and they took some time to take it in. The Americans were used to being ...


7

Sorry to drag up this post from 2014 but I am looking to reinvigorate it based on a Research Paper that I am in the middle of writing. I have no desire to theorise on what could have happened but rather on understanding whether the Strategic Mistake question could be looked at from two different levels - Strategic with respect to the War and Grand Strategic ...


7

Yes. It is always difficult for me to say "Japan wanted to do so and so". Not all Japanese are or were the same and the policy of one state is resultant from many actors, actions and so forth. The immediate goals of the Japanese military were definitely focused an the co-prosperity sphere which meant mostly the neighbouring landmasses of Asia. ...


7

The role of tanks changed substantially from their introduction in WWI, through WWII, the Cold War, and to the present day. Any attempt to get a single answer for something that evolved over a century is bound to fail. The very first tanks were pillbox and MG nest busters. Moving not much faster than a walking infantryman across shell-holed terrain, with ...


7

Don't take German sources at face value While it is often said “History is written by the victors", in case of WW2 Eastern Front, for the Western audience history was written mostly by loosing side. Reasons for this are relatively simple, with the advent of Cold War and Iron Curtain former Soviet allies became enemies, and many of the former German officers ...


7

They didn't trust Italians… German Empire and Austria-Hungary were allies and agreed for mutual support in case of war. That means Germany may rush South to help, or Austria may rush North to do likewise. And by then railways were a must for all armies. Looking at the map for the state-owned railways in 1912 shows — Staatsbahnen und Privatbahnen im ...


6

If the thrust of the question is, did Hitler lose World War II because of the way he treated the Jews and other people he didn't like, that is a very interesting question. There are actually TWO issues here. 1) Did the cost of resources expended in the Holocaust help defeat the war effort, and 2) Did the "opportunity cost" of the Holocaust help the defeat ...


6

DISCLAIMER - the answer is written from the point of view of Reich's rulers Invading the USSR was not a strategic blunder, the timing however was unfortunate. The alliance with Japan was intended to provide the Soviets with a second front in the east, drawing their troops away from the west, thus making things easier for the Germans. And for a while it ...


6

Being a voracious reader, there is little doubt that Napoleon may have read the Jesuit translation of the Art of War by Sun Tzu. He may have dismissed the wisdom of Sun Tzu or at least never mentioned the Asian strategist, because of the preference he had for the authors of antiquity. Perhaps Sun Tzu simply confirmed that which he had already gleaned from ...


6

The Italian campaign, while it diverted German troops from the Russian front, also diverted landing craft, troops and other resources from the Allied buildup to invade France, delaying that event into 1944. As an earlier post noted, when the Allies did invade France from the south, they inflicted substantial casualties on the Germans at a far lower cost than ...


6

The Germans managed to hold northern Italy, by defending the Gothic Line, until March 1945. After that, the German position began to crumble rapidly, until they surrendered on 29th April, with hostilities ceasing on 2nd May. Since there was less than a week of the European war left, there was no time to organise an attack northwards before the final German ...


5

The timetable was settled at the Tehran Conference late 1943, the first meeting of the "Big Three" Allied leaders. Once Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Britain, and later the US, gave support to the USSR. Stalin had been strongly pushing for a Western Front to be opened up and at the Tehran Conference the US and Britain committed to launching ...


5

According to Napoleon: His Army and His Generals: Their Unexamples Military Career (Jean Charles Dominique de Lacretelle, Page 382), Napoleon played vingtun "21" (aka Blackjack) and chess when he was being taken into exhile. As a somewhat complex strategy game, it would be a telling example of a general's behavior, though I don't have proof that he played it ...


5

Most of the Great Wall was never assaulted and was more symbolic than anything. Most of the rest only ever had to deal with small groups of roving/semi-nomadic brigands, not organised armies. And to tunnel under something like the Great Wall in such a way as to not draw attention to your efforts you'd need a pretty large group of tunnelers, and start at a ...


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