Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 LastLast
Results 41 to 60 of 71

Thread: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

  1. #41
    Condottiere 40K's Avatar Tribunus Laticlavius
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    15,670
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Another factor could be how much the ACW influenced either side.

    In the Great War, French doctrine seemed to revolve around the elan of their infantry, at least in the beginning.
    Eats, shoots, and leaves.

  2. #42
    Dromikaites's Avatar Equites Alares
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    5,595
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
    Yet both battles were fought after manoeuvering, so that means that whatever field works they did create were done overnight, not exactly the same kind of fortified position than during WW1. Wich can also explain the different results.
    Actually the WW1 fortifications were done also overnight: the French and British divisions who were marching towards the border stopped their offensive when they realized they were advancing against superior German forces. So they launched delaying attacks, disengaged and then started to dig in.

    The Germans saw the surprise effect was lost, and they started to dig in as well, in order to prevent a surprise flanking on the part of the French and British. That's how the "Race for the Sea" started.

    While the front units were "racing for the sea", the reserves of each side were digging the fall-back positions and so on.

    The only positions which had been built well in advance were the forts and some "fortified zones" surrounding the forts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
    A trench can be very different from another trench. And a trench isn't the same thing as trench network either.
    True.

    The thing is the way the trenches were used changed with the advent of the modern machine guns. In 1870 it would have been impossible to implement a "race for the Belgian border" because the lack of machine guns would have required a much higher number of soldiers per kilometer.

    Not even the Prussians, who had twice as many soldiers could have been able to achieve the required density of troops as to make the trenches "impenetrable".
    Quote Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
    Anyway, i didn't knew about the field fortifications. I thought they just used natural protections (villages, woods, walls etc), especially for Worth, as i was under the impression the french were surprised by the attack.
    At Woerth (and Spiecheren) the French had the benefit of the delaying battle of Wiessenbourg, which had bought them a day.

    That day allowed them to prepare for meeting the Prussians on a strong natural position which was further strengthened in some places like in front of Spicheren and Woerth by digging in.

    The digging in was part of the infantry drill anyway after the Chassepot rifle was introduced, because it maximized the advantages of the weapon. A soldier shoots better when he can support his rifle on something solid like the trench rampart while offering a much smaller target than the attacker.

    In another episode, during the brief French offensive on Saarbrucken, on August 2nd 1870 a French infantry platoon under the command of lieutenant Camille Lerouse met with a company of Prussian infantry in the open (a force at least 3 times larger). The French simply followed their drilling, dropped to the ground and fired at the enemy from the prone position with devastating effect.

    One cannot advance quickly while laying down, so at first glance that seemed to be an odd tactic when attacking. But given the combination of long range, higher rate of fire and minimum exposure to enemy fire the effect was the Prussians (who were rushing at the French as per their standard drilling) took horrendous losses in a very short amount of time. So after a few minutes the much larger Prussian force broke into a desperate rout.

    I mention this episode in order to illustrate the French drill made even the attacks look like defensive affairs. And, as long as no Prussian artillery was nearby, such tactics were surprisingly effective.

    Defense was "even more defensive" so to speak, meaning if there was time to dig trenches, the trenches were dug.

    This is why even though the French did not expect the Prussians would be on them so quickly and in so large numbers or that Wissembourg would fall after only a few hours, when the Germans arrived at Woerth or Spiecheren they found the French waiting for them in their trenches.

    Btw, a good book in English language about that war is "The Franco-Prussian War - The German Conquest of France 1870-1871" by Geoffrey Wawro.

    I find it better than another good book, Osprey's "The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871" by Stephen Badsey.

    Both are worth reading but Wawro gives a full chapter to each battle, making it easier to understand the "mechanics" of that type of warfare.
    Last edited by Dromikaites; February 20, 2013 at 01:13 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MareNostrum

  3. #43
    hellheaven1987's Avatar Praefectus Cohortis
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Somewhere snowing... This damned holiday...
    Posts
    33,517
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Menelik_I View Post
    How many wars where decided by the colors of the coat ?
    Color of coins is more important.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by O'Hea View Post
    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

  4. #44
    Menelik_I's Avatar Tribunus
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Republica de Angola, eu voltei para a sua Putaria
    Posts
    10,020
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Color of coins is more important.
    Yellow is the only true color
    So many things go wrong in life that a sense of humor, even of the macabre type, should have been standard issue.

  5. #45
    Condottiere 40K's Avatar Tribunus Laticlavius
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    15,670
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    I maintain, therefore, that it is not gold, as is vulgarly supposed, that is the sinews of war, but good soldiers; or while gold by itself will not gain you good soldiers, good soldiers may readily get you gold. Had the Romans chosen to make war with gold rather than with iron all the treasures of the earth would not have sufficed them having regard to the greatness of their enterprises and the difficulties they had to overcome in carrying them out. But making their wars with iron they never felt any want of gold; for those who stood in fear of them brought gold into their camp
    Eats, shoots, and leaves.

  6. #46
    Menelik_I's Avatar Tribunus
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Republica de Angola, eu voltei para a sua Putaria
    Posts
    10,020
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Condottiere 40K View Post
    I maintain, therefore, that it is not gold, as is vulgarly supposed, that is the sinews of war, but good soldiers; or while gold by itself will not gain you good soldiers, good soldiers may readily get you gold. Had the Romans chosen to make war with gold rather than with iron all the treasures of the earth would not have sufficed them having regard to the greatness of their enterprises and the difficulties they had to overcome in carrying them out. But making their wars with iron they never felt any want of gold; for those who stood in fear of them brought gold into their camp
    Nicolo Michiavelli, The Art of War ?

    A great read, especially after reading the Prince.
    So many things go wrong in life that a sense of humor, even of the macabre type, should have been standard issue.

  7. #47
    Condottiere 40K's Avatar Tribunus Laticlavius
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    15,670
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    TBF, if they aren't defending their friends and family, and you don't pay them, they evaporate.
    Eats, shoots, and leaves.

  8. #48
    Pili Prior
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    2,389
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by irelandeb View Post
    ...

    This was not something restricted to them. Every military force at the time could do so.
    Oh yes indeed, I am merely pointing out that the various stages of Roman development had (on paper) different force structures capable of different evolutions, not all consistent, for example the evolution of cohorts and the changing use of maniples.

    A Camillan legion did not had equivalent unit structure with administrative and (combat and non-combat) operational roles as a Marian or Principate Legion. They were recruited differently, operated differently and broke into different elements for different roiles, so fitting a universal force structure template will need a fairly vague set of definitions.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  9. #49
    Menelik_I's Avatar Tribunus
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Republica de Angola, eu voltei para a sua Putaria
    Posts
    10,020
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Oh yes indeed, I am merely pointing out that the various stages of Roman development had (on paper) different force structures capable of different evolutions, not all consistent, for example the evolution of cohorts and the changing use of maniples.

    A Camillan legion did not had equivalent unit structure with administrative and (combat and non-combat) operational roles as a Marian or Principate Legion. They were recruited differently, operated differently and broke into different elements for different roiles, so fitting a universal force structure template will need a fairly vague set of definitions.
    Wasn't the whole purpose of Ancient armies, legions included, to be strong enough so as to be able to travel in safety while they put strategic locations under siege. In don't remember where I read it but I was explained that ancient armies were intended to be powerful enough so as to make a battle against them too dangerous, for example the Crusader armies were constructed such that they could safely travel from A to B and were mostly equipped to lay siege or lift sieges, for example Hattin and Arsouf were just instances where the enemy thought they had a chance at intercepting the army.

    Weren't the legions really an very efficient way of moving an army from A to B ? Sure we hear about the battles, but the marching speed of the Legions meant that they could be where they needed to be quickly ,and once they arrived they were so entrenched that an attack was impossible.
    Last edited by Menelik_I; February 20, 2013 at 04:05 PM.
    So many things go wrong in life that a sense of humor, even of the macabre type, should have been standard issue.

  10. #50
    Diocle's Avatar Centurio Primus Ordine
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Genoa - Italy
    Posts
    7,936
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Menelik_I View Post
    Wasn't the whole purpose of Ancient armies, legions included, to be strong enough so as to be able to travel in safety while they put strategic locations under. In don't remember where I read it but I was explained that ancient armies were intended to be powerful enough so as to make a battle against them too dangerous, for example the Crusader armies were constructed such that they could safely travel from A to B and were mostly equipped to lay siege or lift sieges, for example Hattin and Arsouf were just instances where the enemy thought they had a chance at intercepting the army.

    Weren't the legions really an very efficient way of moving an army from A to B ? Sure we hear about the battles, but the marching speed of the Legions meant that they could be where they needed to be quickly ,and once they arrived they were so entrenched that an attack was impossible.
    Edward N. Luttwak, '"The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire".The military apparatus as a force of deterrence'.

  11. #51
    hellheaven1987's Avatar Praefectus Cohortis
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Somewhere snowing... This damned holiday...
    Posts
    33,517
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Condottiere 40K View Post
    I maintain, therefore, that it is not gold, as is vulgarly supposed, that is the sinews of war, but good soldiers; or while gold by itself will not gain you good soldiers, good soldiers may readily get you gold. Had the Romans chosen to make war with gold rather than with iron all the treasures of the earth would not have sufficed them having regard to the greatness of their enterprises and the difficulties they had to overcome in carrying them out. But making their wars with iron they never felt any want of gold; for those who stood in fear of them brought gold into their camp
    I think he forgot to mention material gains were always part, if not major reason, why Roman waged war.

    Remind me a story about Muslim mercenaries fought in First Chechen War; apartly if you blow up a Russian convoy you got 1k USD + all loots you got from the convoy, and that was in early 1990s.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; February 20, 2013 at 03:52 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by O'Hea View Post
    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

  12. #52
    Holger Danske's Avatar Tribunus Augusticlavii
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    THE NORTH
    Posts
    14,275
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by AUSSIE11 View Post
    I think also that some consideration should be given to the difference between so called Strategic, Tactical and administrative units. yet again these can vary greatly as in the modern army almost every unit between company and division can be defined as both Tactical, and in some cases Strategic.
    The far majority of people don't understand the difference between Tactics and Strategy anyway...

  13. #53
    Condottiere 40K's Avatar Tribunus Laticlavius
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    15,670
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    I remember when a Miniature Wargames Magazine article coined Stratics.
    Eats, shoots, and leaves.

  14. #54
    MariusHealth's Avatar Signifer
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    215
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Franco-Prussian war and machine guns
    So before WW1 artillery barrages + massed infantry assaults worked against trenches?

    If so it would help explain why the generals of WW1 would use the tactics the did, and yet while the results were so horrible they kept doing it for quite a while.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post

    Trying to hold the whole front from Switzerland to Belgium with Chassepot-wielding soldiers would have resulted in those soldiers being spaced out too sparsely to inflict any crippling casualties on the attacking Prussians.

    Concentrating those soldiers to the point their fire has enough density and stopping power would have meant even the first lines of trenches would have had large unmanned portions which the Prussians could have crossed unhindered.

    Having the whole frontier covered with formations is a novelty of WW1. On the western front it happened because one army could hold another army with trenches and there were enough armies to cover the whole distance between Switzerland and Flanders.

    With fewer troops on both sides or a wider front the western front would have been more manouverable. This type of warfare is actually seen at the start where the Germans checked the French push in Alsace-Lorraine and focused their own strength towards Paris. When they were stopped on the Marne they naturally tried to outflank the Allies to the north - the only space left open.



    edit:
    I missed completely page three of this discussion before posting.

    Anyhow. My second point here was that the idea of spreading your armies out covering a line along the whole border is foreign to pre-WW1, indeed even during the its initial battles. With trenches with machine guns + infantry reserves ready for counterattack out the equation, spreading out means that enemy will defeat you because he will naturally concentrate his forces at some points.
    Last edited by MariusHealth; February 21, 2013 at 10:07 AM.

  15. #55
    hellheaven1987's Avatar Praefectus Cohortis
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Somewhere snowing... This damned holiday...
    Posts
    33,517
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by MariusHealth View Post
    If so it would help explain why the generals of WW1 would use the tactics the did, and yet while the results were so horrible they kept doing it for quite a while.
    Mass assault was always the main strategy of WWI; even the introduction of stormtroopers could not avoid the fact that it required large infantry body to exploit the gap stormtroopers opened.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by O'Hea View Post
    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

  16. #56
    MariusHealth's Avatar Signifer
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    215
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Mass assault was always the main strategy of WWI; even the introduction of stormtroopers could not avoid the fact that it required large infantry body to exploit the gap stormtroopers opened.
    I'm not arguing against the use of lots of infantry and artillery. To win a modern war they needed new infantry tactics, not just batallions advancing. Also, the artillery had to work more in concert with the infantry.

  17. #57
    Dromikaites's Avatar Equites Alares
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    5,595
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by MariusHealth View Post
    So before WW1 artillery barrages + massed infantry assaults worked against trenches?

    If so it would help explain why the generals of WW1 would use the tactics the did, and yet while the results were so horrible they kept doing it for quite a while.
    Yes, before WW1 canons were used to dislodge infantry from any type of fortifications, not only from trenches.

    It took a while for the generals to adapt.

    But that has happened also earlier, during the American Civil War. The range of the rifles and the rate of fire increased compared to the muskets of the Napoleonic time. But for quite a while the troops of both sides maneuvered Napoleonic style. That resulted in several extremely costly blunders such as:

    - the canon servants, especially of the smaller caliber pieces, could be taken out by riflemen, without the need of counter-battery fire;

    - an attacking column could be fired into for much longer time (since both the range and rate of fire had increased). So even though a column was the fastest way to move a unit forward, it wasn't fast enough. And having a lot of men packed shoulder to shoulder only made the job of the defenders easier.

    Changes in weapons always create such problems.

    That is why whenever a war is happening, many countries are sending military observers to watch what is going on and learn from the other guys' mistakes.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MareNostrum

  18. #58
    hellheaven1987's Avatar Praefectus Cohortis
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Somewhere snowing... This damned holiday...
    Posts
    33,517
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Yes, before WW1 canons were used to dislodge infantry from any type of fortifications, not only from trenches.
    Not before WWI; indirect artillery fire was introduced in 1890s and it was already a entreched concept among military at the eve of WWI; the problem rather was it was never used in large scale, so coordination and logistic problem for modern artillery warfare only came out during the war itself. I would say WWI was what polished the modern artillery warfare in the end.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; February 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by O'Hea View Post
    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

  19. #59
    Dromikaites's Avatar Equites Alares
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    5,595
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Not before WWI; indirect artillery fire was introduced in 1890s and it was already a entreched concept among military at the eve of WWI; the problem rather was it was never used in large scale, so coordination and logistic problem for modern artillery warfare only came out during the war itself. I would say WWI was what polished the modern artillery warfare in the end.
    It is true that before indirect fire gained widespread support among the generals, and before the technological innovations allowed the field guns to fire indirectly, the sieges needed specialized siege artillery.

    But that siege artillery was doing its job well (see the American Civil War's siege of Petersburg, the Crimean War, the Austro-Prussian-Danish War). And sometimes even the normal field artillery could support an infantry attack on strongly fortified positions (like the Romanian capture of the Ottoman fortresses Grivitsa, Oreahovo, Smardan/Inovo and Vidin in 1877).

    In order to better understand the radical change brought by the tanks we can look at the Soviet WW2 statistics. Out of all the WW2 combatants Soviets were massing the highest amount of artillery per kilometer of front lines. That density of artillery pieces was never achieved in WW1 by anybody. Therefore the Soviet WW2 performance can be safely considered above the maximum possible performance of anybody in WW1.

    The Soviet regulations mandated to consider that 80-90 indirect hits with the 122mm canon would be required to kill a single AT gun or a machine gun nest. By contrast, a tank commander was expected to use up to 3 high-explosive rounds in order to achieve the same result with direct fire.

    Those statistics show why in WW1 the trenches were so hard to breach: the deadliest weapons of the defenders, the machine guns, were both very small targets for the indirect fire and they were portable enough to be evacuated to safety and brought back after the artillery barrage was over.

    This also explains while at Kursk in 1943 the Soviets not only used large scale fortifications but also brought the largest number of tanks ever to be used in a battle: minefields, anti-tank ditches, AT guns and trenches would not have been enough to stop the German advance. After the combat engineers would have cleared paths through the minefields and after filling in some portions of the anti-tanks ditches, the German tanks would have arrived close enough to take out the AT guns and machine gun nests with direct fire. The only way to stop them was to send the Soviet tanks against them. No other countermeasure would have worked.

    Each period in history has its own technologies, which in turn influence everything from the size of the combat and administrative formations to the way those formations would be employed on the battlefield. This is why the OP is right to insist that the numbers alone are insufficient to explain why battles and campaigns were fought they way they were fought.

    Just like in the example about Kursk, it would be hard to understand why an assault on a heavily fortified infantry position became the largest tank battle in history without knowing the limitations of the indirect fire (80-90 rounds needed to suppress a single AT gun or machine gun nest). Once we are aware of such limitations we understand why the Germans massed their armor against the Soviet fortified positions instead of counting only on artillery and storm-trooper tactics and why the Soviets matched the German armor with their own, instead of relying solely on the fortifications, masked AT guns and massive artillery barrages.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MareNostrum

  20. #60
    Condottiere 40K's Avatar Tribunus Laticlavius
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    15,670
    Tournaments Joined
    0
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: The nature of military organization: units are not about the numbers, or formations

    Efficiency, measured by blood, treasure and time.
    Eats, shoots, and leaves.

Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •