Common themes in battles won and lost

Discussion in 'Warfare / Military' started by JakeJ, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I've become quite the history buff on the evolution of firearms, which often goes to the topic of military rifles and the battles they were in. I see the same themes over and over in regards to battles won and battles lost. This is the pattern:
    Battles lost that should not have been lost is due to not preparing to defend, under-estimating the enemy, and lack of discipline.
    Battles won against overwhelming odds are due to preparation including for the worst and high levels of military discipline.

    The latest is exploring the British Martini Henry 450/577, a drop block single shot with either a pike or sword bayonet. The British service weapon from African to the ME, it was the rifle of the Zulu War. There were two major battles of that war. In the first battle, the British were slaughtered. In the second, a small number of British held although outnumbered 40 to 1.

    Battle One: The British had 1700 troops including cavalry, small cannons and rockets. However, the had mixed European commanders and not just British and so confident the standing order to barracade (circle wagons and otherwise) was ignored (historically this ALWAYS a fatal mistake). When the Zulus attacked panic broke out. The Zulus had been ordered to not kill civilians and they mistook officers uniforms if all markings removed as civilians. 400 of 1700 deserted this way, mostly the officers. Lacking any defense plan and no one in command, the other 1300 were slaughtered. Estimated only 1000 Zulu killed, though the British professional soldiers with overwhelming superior weapons and the Zulu were untrained militia.

    Battle Two: "Roake's Drift" was a small mission serving as a small military hospital. 400 British troops there. With thousands of Zulus approaching within a day or two, a decision was made that fleeing with wounded in carts would leave them trapped in the open, so a decision made to stand their ground. Over 200 British troops - horrified from news of the previous slaughter - then deserted. The leader of the deserters was shot in the back off his horse while fleeing for his desertion.

    A mere 176 defenders, plus a few civilians and few blacks (only allowed to have their short spears). All efforts went to preparation of the location for defense with multiple retreat layers. (The movie Zulu is VERY accurate on the moment to moment fighting even per individual soldier).

    The battle lasted over 11 hours with multiple attacks, often coming down to hand to hand combat, with the bayonet training of the British combined with the hard hitting 450/577s making the difference. Although the Martini Henry was rated to 1600 yards, it well understood that once much past 400 yards hitting the target was due to luck at best. They held fire until 500 yards. Repeatedly they had to pull back, often it hand to hand, as their parameter shrunk and the mission structure also lost. The military discipline of the British was high. From a 3 layer firing line to bayonet defense at the make shift wall, then fast retreat back, covered by a firing line. They also followed a no-man-left behind in defense and the saving the wounded in the hospital (again, the movie very accurate), with individual heroism off the charts.

    After over 11 hours of attacks, the Zulu, who had fast marched 20 miles to the site and without food for 2 days, finally gave up attacking and left. A lucky break since the British were down to 900 rounds left and were preparing for a final bayonet last stand defense.

    Battle One with lack of preparation, under estimating the enemy and no military discipline: More heavily armed British troops - 1300 killed, 400 deserted to 1000 Zulu killed. Kill ratio of less than 1 to 1.

    Battle Two: Only with rifles, revolvers and bayonets:
    Estimates range from 600 to 1000 Zulu killed. Only 17 British killed. A kill ratio as high as over 50 to 1.

    A Marine we know who was a squad leader at the height of fighting in the Helmand District of Afghanistan also understood that a small group of well trained, capable and disciplined troops are superior to a larger disorganized one. I remember he said he found a way to always leave almost half his squad behind for that reason - anyone he felt not up to snuff as they were only a liability and handicap. His squad also often dumped about a third of their gear to lighten up and move faster, plus ("how the hell are you supposed to shoot wearing Kevlar gloves?" dumping those too.)

    Rare at that time in that area, his squad often in fire fights and door to door, did not suffer one casualty, not so much as a wound. Growing up on a farm, he had hunted since a young child. He joined up specifically for the most challenging hunting of all, hunting prey that can shoot back - the one game he had never hunted. He saw missions as hunting expeditions.

    I see that difference over and over in reviewing military weapons in relation to actual battles. A smaller, highly disciplined military force is superior to a disorganized larger force every time. The Greeks and Romans well understood this as well. It was military discipline, not military size, that built empires.
     
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  2. Questerr

    Questerr Banned

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    One disagreement: the Zulu warriors at Isaldwanaland were hardly "untrained militia".
     
  3. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It appears you are somewhat correct. The Zulu military consisted of trained, regular troops and militia.

    "While Cetshwayo's army numbered perhaps 35,000 men, it was essentially a militia force which could be called out in time of national danger.[j] It had a very limited logistical capacity and could only stay in the field a few weeks before the troops would be obliged to return to their civilian duties.[30] Zulu warriors were armed primarily with Assegai thrusting spears, known in Zulu as iklwa, clubs, some throwing spears and shields made of cowhide.[k][31]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Zulu_War

    The Zulus had been repealed previously by around 600 Boers and had suffered from internal fights for power. With 15,000 troops, the British thought defeating the Zulus with few rifles and those mostly muskets would be a cake walk. Like with Native Americans in the USA, they were more concerned with the Zulus evading battle so their focus was to surround the Zulus - thus breaking up their forces to try to surround them. While the British has small 7 pound cannons, a few rocket batteries and their bayonet capable Martini-Henrys, those were single shot rifles, meaning a mass attack from numerous sides with no encampment barracades set up only 2 or 3 shots could be fired against a charge, and of those only the last one having a high probability of a hit.

    With the officers fleeing, it appears to have become a fully panic, the same as with Custer's men. They did not stay together as a cohesive group, but broke off into small groups both trying to fight and flee at the same time. The Zulus were definitely courageous. But had the British set up firing line and bayonet lines the slaughter would not have occurred, particularly if the standing order to circle the wagons and set up barracades when encamping had been followed. Both those battles (and others) confirm that a defensive force needs to stay tightly grouped. This particularly true with single shot weapons. Once a soldier fired he was unarmed. Unless others beside him are firing the soldier will panic. A bayonet defense also requires close cohesion.
     
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  4. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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  5. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Another common trait of that two battles is one often relevant in battles. Most troops don't fight.

    Vietnam became the first extensively recorded battles. Many of our troops were draftees with little training, didn't want to be there and didn't support the war. Constantly new soldiers of no battle experience and little training. Film footage showed that even if under attack, less than 50% of the soldiers ever fired a shot - though may be pointing this way or that - and less than 25% aimed if they were shooting.

    In two two battles, panic was a huge factor. The British panicked in the first battle and it got them slaughtered. At Roake's Drift, if 4000 Zulu had all attacked they would have overrun the few defenders. With as little as 500 Zulu killed and no more than 1000, it is clear that many Zulu did not enter the battle. Major, world changing battles have been determined by mass troop panic. This was a real problem with militaries that included slaves, captured enemy and non-professional, no battle experience troops. "Battle hardened" troops of professional soldiers are vastly superior to a much larger number of no battle experience and only lightly trained troops. This also is why militias were considered significantly inferior to professional troops. Militias tend to break and run.

    There are curious battle psychologies, that also may apply in some ways to law enforcement personnel. The panic factor. One reason to keep defenders tightly grouped is if a soldier in combat finds himself alone, panic can set it. There can be a collective courage. In a sense like mob mentality. An individual of little courage might gain courage in a mob/riot situation by becoming part of the mob.

    More interesting is that troops tend to do better if they believe they are in a desperate, but winnable situation, than convinced they face no risk - because if convinced they are not vulnerable then when casualties come they are unprepared and shocked. Some of the greatest defenses have been when the defenders begin believing they have little chance of survival, so the only question is how many enemy do that kill first. The Alamo one example. I think Roake's Drift was another.
     
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  6. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    Strictly in my opinion:.
    1) Most battles are not won by the winning side but lost by the losing side.
    2) Overall, it is a bad tactic to leave besieged forces with no possible means of escape.
    3) A huge numerical advantage can turn out to be a disadvantage for an attacking force. It makes it more difficult to coordinate and get all the forces into the fight. Plus I believe it saps fighting spirit as it encourages subgroups and individual soldiers to wonder why they in particular should be the ones to die in this fight.
     
  7. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Good observations!
     
  8. Kash

    Kash Member

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    One of the best part of Western Civilisation I admire, is their ability to lose a battle and later claim that they have won :), and keep telling everyone that they have won till people will start thinking it was so :)

    Rome – destroyed by barbarians
    Zulus – they live in South Africa, not the Britons
    Mongols – conquered half the word
    300 Spartans (+20000 Greeks)… you are aware that they have lost? :)
    Afganistan, Vietnam, any sort of Guerilla warfare.

    You are discussing a question of quality against quantity.
    Absolute quality (which is impossible) allows you to utilize your military potential absolutely, to 100%. You can kill 1 enemy, with 1 bullet. But that is it. You cannot have 110% effectiveness, you cannot kill 2 enemies with one bullet.

    This is why you estimate your military potential:
    We are 15% effective. We have 1000 bullets. We will kill 150 enemies.
    The enemy is 0.5% effective. They have 1000000 bullets. They will kill 5000 of us.
    They win. Thought our solider is individually 30 times more efficient.

    Cases when quantity prevails over quality are numerous and to tell the truth, they happen more often than vise versa. Quantity has its drawbacks, support, logistics, command and control, and no end… The horses eat all the grass :). But generally, it is not survival of the strongest, it is survival of the FITTEST. Your force should not be the best, it should be adequate.
     
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  9. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    Which of the Russian (Soviet) military leaders was it that said to the effect

    "Quantity is a quality all its own"?

    IIRC it was the legendary Admiral Gorshkov, father of the modern Soviet Navy who said

    "Perfect is the enemy of the possible"..

    Both are true.
     
  10. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Few know the physically largest empire in known world history was the improbably Mongol empire.

    Battle, war, occupation, conquest, fire fight, and subjugation are all different matters. No matter what the topic is they can only be discussed in likelihoods, not absolutes.

    What is the measure of success? Even then ethics come into play. For example, successful conquest and subjugation tended to be a combination of extreme atrocities and terrorism against the population forcing submission - and then establishing an alternative civil authority acceptable to the population - the two opposite extremes. This notably was the tactic of the Mongols and Muslims. Outright slaughter entire villages that offered any resistance so the others do not resist, then set up a civil government incorporating local officials into it. Rome also operated in this manner. To some extent, so did the English, French, Americans etc.

    Yes, it was not just 300 Spartans, though people tend to think so because of the legend.

    In terms of battle, huge numbers are an advantage if they hold cohesion. You mentioned many of the extra challenges involved including logistics, which can be a decisive factor. Expanding empires brought to a halt usually was due to impossible supply logistics.

    Enormous differences change the questions. The 10 best soldiers on earth with the best equipment couldn't win against the worst 10,000 with the worst equipment - if the 10,000 actually attacked. However, 1000 best might be able to.

    People tend to talk about weapons systems and battle/war tactics, but some factors are rarely mentioned, such as the panic factor.

    I can't remember the battle name of the Crusades, but it an example. A combination French and Swiss crusade force had taken some mountain people from the border between Switzerland and Italy forcing the men to join the crusade, leaving some troops behind so their women and children were hostages. When they came to the first Muslim fortress a siege was undertaken. Unwilling to just wait and seemingly impossibly, the mountain men armed only with knives built ladders and attacked the fortified city - seemingly an act of insanity.

    Suffering huge casualties, they managed to scale the walls, essentially slaughtered everyone in the city, and then said since the battle over they were going home. When told no, they were going all the way to Jerusalem, although dramatically reduced in numbers the mountain men charged the overwhelmingly larger Swiss force who - having seen the fanatical attack and outright slaughter of the city - in a panic broke and ran. They then turned on the French - who seeing the Swiss flee also broke and ran.Their force of a few hundred under armed men had routed two then modern armies of many thousands each on the panic and terror factor. Once some troops start fleeing in terror, there is a real possibility all will - particularly if the officers start to flee. The mountain men then went home and probably killed those hostage-holding troops left behind.

    The US could never defeat the Seminoles in the Florida swamps, though in all ways had overwhelming numbers and superior equipment. But how do you march an army and trap a mobile indigenous enemy in hundreds of square miles of swamps and marshes? Predating electric lights, the troops at night in the swamp must have been truly horrified, knowing an attacker could only be a few feet away and you never know it - while hearing moaning and coughing fellow troops increasingly falling to the diseases being in a swamp brings? 2 or 3 killed every night. Another couple dead of disease every morning. A patrol goes out, never comes back. In one instance, only 1 of around 300 came back attacked at night in the rain. Muskets under ponchos to keep them dry from the rain are worthless against attackers with knives and clubs coming out of the dark from only a few feet away.

    3 Roman legions were obliterated in this way.

    Terrain can made a huge difference. Cavalry cannot charge over deep soft mud, something that factored heavily in more than one history changing battle.

    What is rarely discussed is what I see as the interesting topic of the psychological aspects of battles and those involved in it - and the human factor in general. Fear, courage, terror and terrorism are often factors.

    A highly regimented command can be a huge plus or huge negative, depending upon whether it is intelligently flexible or stupidly arrogant. The British often prevailed and sometimes suffered from this.
     
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  11. Strasser

    Strasser Banned

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    Difficult to determine who ultimately won in many cases. The Mongols ceased to exist, absorbed into the cultures they 'conquered' at both ends of their empire. Same with the barbarians who conquered Rome, or more accurately the western Roman Empire, and were in turn absorbed by its culture and religion. South Africa is far better off than most of its neighbors as a result of European conquest, and neither Afghanistan nor Vietnam gained much from being Russian satellites. Vietnam is practically an American economic state now. Muslim countries don't have the type of 'culture' that will benefit from anything, even winning a huge empire, so not much to say about them.
     
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  12. Strasser

    Strasser Banned

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    Brits are just bizarre in general. I'm currently reading Rogue Heroes, about the beginnings of the SAS, and in typical Brit fashion the leadership veers from brilliant insight and creativity and over the top bravery to amazingly awesome imbecility and over the top bravery, often times within minutes of each other.

    Good thread.
     
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  13. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    True. We "won" in Korea and "lost" in Vietnam.

    How'd this turn out for the USA in the long run?
     
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  14. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Interesting how the relevancy of costs and how costs are factored has changed.

    One reason most militaries did not quickly accept rifles that held more than 1 round (single shot) literally was the cost of bullets, although the rationalization was that troops will aim if they only have 1 shot, while will just sling out bullets without aiming otherwise.

    The USA was broke after the Civil War. One major factor of many of Custer's defeat was that in order to try to circle the Native Americans - who basically always just tried to flee - he did not wait for Spencer repeating rifles nor bring Gatlin guns he had because the wagons they required would have been too slow. As a result, his troops only had Springfield single shot trapdoors.

    While the trapdoor for its era was very deadly, for long range shots the arch of the bullet is huge. Simply, compared to modern military rifles it takes a great deal more skill to hit a target at 300+ yards with a heavy, big cone headed bullet out of a black powder cartridge. Custer's troops per US military policy had been allowed only 20 rounds each for rifle training. It would take hundreds to become even marginally proficient with a trapdoor except under 150 yards or so. A review of the battle demonstrated that the battle mostly was both sides shooting at each other from a distance, not immediate frontal assault. Custer's men fired a huge number of rounds, basically hitting no one. The reason? They sighted in at 500 yards and the NAs had moved into within 300 yards. Custer's men were firing 8 feet over the NA's heads.

    Troops USED to be cheap. Uniform. Food. A sleeping blanket. A little pocket change for pay. It was equipment that was the huge expense. Why didn't troops with muskets have double barrel muskets, virtually doubling their initial fire power? Why weren't all troops given a muzzle loading pistol or, later, revolvers for the event of a charge? Cost.

    Best Civil War example? The Remington 44 was VASTLY superior to the Colt 44. Not only is it vastly more rugged, it was the speed loader pistol as the cylinder could be replaced within seconds like using a speedloader, while reloading a Colt 44 revolver is EXTREMELY time consuming, can't be done on the move, and very error prone. I have both, and the Colt 44 is virtual junk compared to the Remington. Yet it was not lack of availability that Colts were purchased by the military, but because of costs. The Remington cost 25 cents more than the Colt, and extra cylinders would cost even more. Pay a quarter more? A quarter in the mid 1800s was real money. So the extra quarter was not economically viable in their view. The only reason any Remingtons saw service was a fire at the Colt factory.

    Wealthy officers in the Civil War typically carried 3, 4, 5 revolvers for obvious reason and obviously handy if facing or doing a charge as they were close quarter weapons. But most ordinary troops had zero handguns. They had a musket and bayonet, that's all, due to cost.

    Costs seemed to lead the Western militaries to all agree to bizarre rules of engagement for a while. Both sides were to march their armies into the field - one rifle only each - and take turns firing volleys back and forth. Then fight it out with bayonets and swords, with calvary factoring then into this.

    In old West fighting Indian movies and other battle movies, the commander barking out "hold your fire! Wait! hold your fire" and "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" was due to the extreme high arch of travel of the bullet for that era. Aim at incoming enemy as most people will instinctively do and the bullet goes into the dirt in front of them until within 100 yards or less, depending on the weapon and and load/cartridge.

    The USA now faces massive cost challenges with the premise that soldier's lives are to be protected at virtually any costs, where in the past ordinary troops individual lives were virtually irrelevant and only a statistical matter. In my opinion, when this reached the WORST point was WWI, where the response to the new machine guns mowing troops down was? Get more troops. Troops were cheap. Bullets, machine guns and artillery was not.
     
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  15. Tim15856

    Tim15856 Well-Known Member

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    What are you trying to say? Rome was not destroyed by one battle. In fact most know Rome lost many battles but won the wars. They obtained feats no other empire duplicated. Like most great empires, they died from within first.

    Zulus live in south Africa? So what?

    Mongols created the largest empire but like many aggressive warrior cultures, they got use to the easy life of leisure and little by little the Mongol yoke was forcibly removed.

    It wasn't that many who joined the Spartan's, more like 6-7,000. I think most people know they lost, but it was a pyrrhic victory for the Persians and they were soon defeated.

    Guerilla wars can never be won if the source of weapons and manpower are not stopped. Having safe havens helps them to continue fighting until the enemy gets tired or decides it's not worth the bother.
     
  16. MegadethFan

    MegadethFan Well-Known Member

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    I think I agree with nearly everything Dayton3 has said, which has also captured most of my thoughts - particularly the idea, which I find quite persuasive, that battles are usually lost more than won, ie its the choices of the loser that are more decisive/interesting.

    But there are one or two things I wanted to add regarding 'common themes of battles won and lost.'
    1. I think the type of battle matters. Ancient warfare is VERY different to modern warfare, and I think that says a lot. No way Alexander could stand up to Napoleon - unless Napoleon only had a Hellenic army and no military education based on centuries of cumulative study and knowledge of warfare, not to mention the myriad other details that made him brilliant. This brings me to my next point;
    2. Technology is a huge, perhaps a key, factor to consider. Alexander's armies, taking the same example, were spectacularly devastating on many occasions due impressively to the sarissa armed Macedonians. Technology matters.
    3. The most common theme I think though, is the exception to the rule and how a leader or their troops deal with such challenges. Its the risk takers and bold planners that both crush their enemies and are destroyed by them - but its those that tackle all their obstacles and can see them coming by hard work and skill that survive. I think that adaptability and the way it manifests is important. Whether its a win or a loss, there's an exception, a surprise, some miscalculation or piece of misinformation at play, whether contrived or accidental. Its knowing how to deal with the exceptional challenge or predicament that leads to wins.

    Anyway thats my 2 cents
     
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  17. Strasser

    Strasser Banned

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    I don't consider either a 'loss', but both turned out better than if we had stayed out. Yes, a better outcome would have been ideal, but ideals are rarely ever realized. In the long run the Soviets went bankrupt in 1973, lost credibility and the ability to prop up and support its puppets in Africa, the ME largely because of Nam, and the Khrushchev/Brezhnev Doctrine was shut down, the Soviets becoming basically a western client state dependent on western food and refined petroleum imports just to stay alive; we needed a 'soft landing' for them, not a chaotic collapse.
     
  18. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    I remember an argument by a scholar in Indonesia IIRC that the U.S. had in fact "won" the Vietnam War. That the fates of many countries in Southeast Asia (including his own) would've been far, far more dire if the U.S. had withdrawn from involvement in Vietnam in 1965 (considered the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War) instead of 1973.
     
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  19. Strasser

    Strasser Banned

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    Yes. Many of our SEATO allies literally pissed themselves over Nixon's announcements of withdrawal. Kissinger managed to pull off a decent arrangement. Mao didn't have any respect for Nixon at all, but had a lot for Kissinger, so it was all Kissinger in those talks. Scumbags in the U.S. Congress turned Vietnam over to the Commie vermin to die, in 1975.
     
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  20. Strasser

    Strasser Banned

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    You will find a lot of scholars elsewhere who said that, including many papers at the war colleges and think tanks here in the U.S. the press just wouldn't even acknowledge such analyses existed, for their owed biased agendas, which is why many today think it was some universally accepted fact it was a 'failure'.
     
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  21. Kash

    Kash Member

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    Not only that. Check below, some other aspects:


    An excellent point! No idea who said that, but that is absolute true. Another phrase “Quantity turns into quality” (same, no idea where it came from :)). It means that increasing Quantity, at a certain point, you start gaining new “qualities”, that you did not have before.

    Why do we have a 1000yards\meters iron sight setting? (WW2 era)
    Single fresh conscript have zero chances of hitting a human size target from 1000m within 1 minute.
    Contrary, a platoon in salvo fire, under direction of a coordinator with binoculars, have quite some chances.
    This way, adopting Quantity and Firing Methodology, we acquire a new “Quality” - we are doubling the range of effective fire with the very same “means”.

    Same applies to archers releasing volleys that darken the sky, to advancing tanks that simply do not allow you to raise your head due to heavy fire this way decreasing return fire and losses, to a swarm missile attack that overwhelms AA no matter how advanced it is. “Quantity” is not a simple brute force, this is a way of turning statistical spread into your ally instead of an enemy.
    And much more. Rotation of troops in the field to combat battle fatigue. Ability to save your troops by employing superior flexibility that “Quantity” gives like encirclement. Ability to commit manpower to other duties such as building, digging, establishing logistics, e.t.c.
    Many think that “Quantity” means throwing cheap human waves into machine gun fire while a fat general is drinking his morning tea with a spot of milk. It is not so. “Quantity” is another asset that you have in your list of mechanisms that allows you to decrease losses, win a battle, acquire new “Quality”. It’s a tool, as every tool there is, it has to be employed correctly.


    Panic is a part of “Moral conditioning”, Moral conditioning is a part of “Quality”.
    Moral conditioning has never been overlooked, since the dawn. Chaka the Zulu sent his men to a field of thorns – that was moral conditioning. An ape roaring in the woods, is applying field sociological warfare: we are the coolest! All other prides are not so :).
    Ask any US solider: what is communism? – he will not be able to answer, he does not know, all he knows – it is baad. They eat children for breakfast!!!
    Ask any Soviet solider: what is communism? - he will not be able to answer, he does not know, all he knows – it is good. It’s the capitalists that eat children for breakfast!!!

    That’s moral conditioning, propaganda, brainwashing, fancy uniforms, list of heroic deeds - all this is moral conditioning, all this is to combat panic under fire


    The main point is that the war is not won by Rambo or Terminator, it is won by the standard issue solider whos name we will never know. It is not important how well equipped your crack troops are.
    The outmost importance is to provide best possible gun to the maximum amount of soldiers. And this means spreading the budget thin to equip every solider. And this means, that you will newer, ewer, be able to equip your entire army with the most expensive weaponry from the available list. Increasing amount of soliders, "Quantity", is more important than increasing firepower of an individual solider. And other aspects will always drain your budget: better horses, better communication, more trains for logistic, e.t.c.
     
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  22. Kash

    Kash Member

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    Examples when Quantity beats Quality…
    Pyrrhic victory is when your gains do not really outweight your losses. After defeating Leonid, Xercus 1 continued the conquest, pillaged Athens and retuned home.
     
  23. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if this belongs in this thread but something in this thread reminded me of an arguments against large aircraft carriers. Perhaps it is the "quantity vs. quality" thing.

    A common argument against supercarriers is that it is "putting all your eggs in one basket".

    What's the alternative? Carrying your eggs two at a time?

    I think this highlights the ridiculousness of the "one basket" argument.
     
  24. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    An additional point

    "All things being equal" is a prefacing statement used when people are about to compare two things.

    The problem is

    4) All things are NEVER EQUAL! Especially in terms of soldiers, equipment, training, logistics.......
     
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  25. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I fully disagree. In the example of Roake's Drift, most of the 4000 Zulus against less than 200 were only equipped with short spears and hide covered shields. But a few had muskets and rifles. Of the 17 British killed, ALL were killed by those few with rifles. Of the thousands with spears, they killed no one. Alexander the Great was always outnumbered. In battles, Roman legions were nearly always significantly outnumbers.

    Relying on superior numbers tends to require enormously greater numbers if the quality of troops and/or equipment is inferior. In terms of fighter aircraft, significantly inferior aircraft are virtually worthless even if having a lot of them. There would have to be massively more to have value. The more technology advances the more critical personnel skills and quality of equipment becomes.

    Your example of throwing huge numbers of rounds down range also doesn't work. In "Custer's Last Stand," until the end the fighting was both sides shooting at each other from a distance. Custer's troops were fresh and military policy only allowed 20 practice rounds in training. Trapdoor bullets travel on a high arch. Custer's troops sent a massive number of bullets towards the NAs - hitting no one. The unskilled troops were in a panic (spreading out too thin) and research showed in that panic they were not adjusting their sights on their trapdoors - sighted in at 500 yards. The NAs figured this out and moved in to 300 yards. Custer's men were throwing thousands of bullets 8 feet over their heads. He could have had 1000 men and it wouldn't have saved them. He would have been far better off if he had 1/3rd as many in tight formation who could hit a target. He definitely would have been better off if he had not left the gatlin guns behind.

    The Mongols had the largest empire in world history. It was not based on having the biggest armies, but the best troops and best equipment. Chinese dynasties the prevailed were those with the professional highly trained troops, not the biggest armies.

    Again, I used the extreme example of the Zulu war of 2 battles less than 24 hours apart showing the extreme difference between professional soldiers acting professionally, and a vastly larger force not doing so. The difference is as dramatic as it gets.

    The American military is based on professional troops with top equipment. To claim that our strategy should be to match China or N. Korea with the same number of riflemen as our core planning makes no sense. It is the superior force, not greatest number, that wins - particularly in modern warfare. Extreme examples of 10,000 against 100 doesn't really apply.

    As I stated before, untrained low skilled, non-professional and non-volunteer troops largely don't fight as their real concern is self survival. That was what filming of Vietnam starkly demonstrated. Other than presence, 3/4ths of draftees rushed in continuously were essentially worthless. Half never fired a shot even in combat and of those who did, less than half were doing anything other than spraying out bullets with no aiming whatsoever.

    The Marine squad leader we spoke to said he never feared the insurgent enemy because they just sprayed bullets - and that the Afghan military was worthless because they wouldn't fight. He said if any fighting started, they'd just hide. Quality DOES matter - in personnel and equipment. Worthless is worthless, no matter how much worthless you have.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
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