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Thread: POTF 48 - Vote

  1. #1

    Default POTF 48 - Vote

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    Cookiegod -
    Post 1
    Science theory discerns two types of knowledge: Implicit and explicit. The fact that one of them isn't expressed explicit, doesn't stop it from being knowledge. E.g. you know how to bike, whether you can explain to someone why precisely you don't fall off or not.

    The same can be said about decisionmaking. Decisions were made. Whether a grand strategy was ever expressed loudly or only made intuitively sense, there are clear vectors that one can discern.

    They aren't the only ones, btw. You can go even further back to the Peleponnesian wars and it is very, very obvious that both Athenians and Spartans (and Thebans and most of the rest) were clearly pursuing strategies. Especially Sparta and Athens, who did not have to rely on their soldiers as farmers and thus were able to operate their armies year round, with the consequence of being able to choose their battles, rather than having to pursue a decisive battle asap.

    However, with the Romans you can argue that the defensive structures built around the cities might have been constructed by local concerned governors, rather than the empire as a whole. And then the last point, the defense in depth, becomes a bit more dubious. I honestly don't know how the decision making was carried out in that regard, but I'd assume it to have been somewhat of a mix of both.

    As anecdotal evidence I'll give you the roman city I grew up close to and got to excavate on as a teenie:
    This is Augusta Raurica in its heyday:

    With the river being the Rhine, but the other side still being firmly within Roman control due to the Limes Germanicus further north, and the city being unwalled, with amphitheater and theater, and being the capital of a province.


    Here's Castrum rauracense. Once the Limes had been abandoned, German Alemanni moved in, so all of a sudden the city was located right across the border. It still had a very important bridge, so several emperors launched their punitive campaigns against the Alemanni from here, and the castrum was built to house a legion (the I Martia). But other than that it went downhill. An earthquake and some plundering presumably by the Alemanni, or by Roman soldiers because of the crisis of the third century, and a much diminished population moved into the castrum. This castle thus fundamentally became a city.

    Other cities that spontaneously come to my mind, such as Aventicum, have the same thing in common in that to my knowledge the city walls weren't constructed as part of a grand strategy but rather simply guided on the decision that the location was worth being defended. In the case of Castrum Rauracense obviously the city itself was not deemed worth defending, but the bridge itself was. But the remaining population was still taken in as well.
    Both the population itself and the authorities had the choice to resettle the city with or without walls for a long time. In spite of all the structural damage the decaying must have taken some time, so just moving in wouldn't have been particularly hard. So even though the fall of the city was abrupt, with clear traces of fighting in the streets having been found, the choice not to move back in was still a choice, one that was stuck to even though it was ad hoc.

    But this example doesn't mean all decisions were ad hoc. Clearly the Limitanei/Comitatenses split was a clear decision to do defense in depth, in my opinion.

    Another thing I want to point out as a former hotseat player, is that I did strategic decisions implicitly (and quite successfully), and only later when thinking about it some more realised how I had followed some strategic principles very well. This doesn't mean I didn't strategise, I had the same strategic thoughts, just implicitly, like most strategy players do and also like most military personnel probably do. There's a percentage of decision making based on explicit knowledge always, and there's also always a percentage of decision making based on intuition. The ratio can vary, but clearly just because one isn't expressed doesn't disqualify it as a decision.

    With regards to the economic decisions of the Romans I'd go easy on them. For one I see the economic forces occuring then as having been beyond any emperors control. They did not have most of the financial instruments central banks have today to control the market.

    The emperor was not able to print money without having the gold, silver and bronze to do so. I'd argue even countries today do a pretty atrocious job at it today.

    Cyclops -
    Post 2
    Its plain there wasn't a global "Muslim inferiority" to Christians across the millennia from the rise of Islam to the 17th century when religious identity in Europe ceased to be locked to national identity. At times there were strong Muslim and Christian polities with stronger or weaker military systems, state systems, leadership and circumstances.

    The rise of Islam took place at a time of Roman and Iranian exhaustion, but maintained impetus for a century of grand conquest without a particularly remarkable or persistent military system suggesting social and political factors, as well as initial favourable circumstances. I think genuine religious belief (and divided faith among their enemies) contributed too. The ruling elite seem to have been 100% Arab in the first generation but Islamic identity was permeable and many cultures (especially Iranian, but later Turkic and others) became thoroughly Islamicised. The population from which leadership and elite participation could be drawn was quite wide.

    I think the "tide of Islam" was checked in France because in the late Merovingian/early Carolingian state it met a system which could reliably respond to continued raiding (which at least in the Maghreb and Iberia often developed opportunistically into conquest). The Aquitanian state under Odo the Great had one great victory in them, then it was "run".

    Karl the Hammer could rally an army to resist at Poitiers (pls lets not say Tours who TF names a battle after a place the fighting never even reached?) and maintain ongoing wars with neighbours without collapsing, probably because of the strong Frankish polity which allowed some elite participation through the warriors assembly (a feature of the surviving Iberian states IIRC) and a rough federal structure which permitted regional legal variation and allowed subkingdoms to divided and reunite (also a pattern that occurred among the northern Iberian kingdoms which survived the Conquista).

    I think local peoples in Francia and Aquitaine for whatever reason were less cooperative with potential conquerors, whereas in Southern Iberia they probably accepted foreign rule. Not sure if this plays into some "Basque stronk" narrative but its notable in other areas that Roman rule, which by 700 focussed around an Hellenic cultural identity, Roman Law and a version of orthodoxy imposed from councils held close to or in Constantinople rapidly lost their grip on miaphysite provinces with local identities that mixed Hellenic with Syriac and Egyptian culture. By contrast the wider "Greek orthodox" and iconoclast subgroup that enjoyed elite support provided a stable heartland for the Romans for 800 years.

    I'm pretty ignorant of the reconquista, the little I know of Iberia suggests it is a patchwork of local cultural identities and civic centres no one has united the peninsula since the Romans and arguably Philip II. The Christian kingdoms did have an ancient tradition of cortes (long predating English parliamentary system which is obviously a French introduction post 1066) so perhaps by including more people in rule they mobilised more support from their initially smaller population bases?

    I also wonder about the role of the knightly orders. I recall the origins of the knightly orders are obscure but some Iberian ones may have predated the more famous crusading orders. Certainly Iberia was well equipped with knightly orders in the hottest phase of the Reconquista, and provided a channel for concerted aggression against Islamic states separated from political realities of kingdoms (which might make war and peace as circumstances required). I believe there were similar institutions for channelling ghazis from across the Caliphate into Iberia in the Iberian Islamic tradition, this may have influenced the evolution of orders, but AFAIK knightly orders have a strong aristocratic cast whereas I think of ghazis as motivated believers of many social castes.

    However the Reconquista also coincides with a change in Islamic rule from an Arab elite to a North African elite, which may have been (paradoxically) more narrowly based socially, with fewer links to the wider world of Islam, and less able to mobilise external resources, at a time when Castile Aragon etc were instituting knightly orders as a channel for pan-Christian (or at least Western Christian) zeal.

    So I'd suggest Iberian Christians survived and reconquered perhaps because the shared a version of the wider "Frankish" (western European post Roman) political system which meant their rule was more broadly based than more centralised, narrowly based states.

    Once the Islamic state/states of Iberia developed a narrower base of rule they became more vulnerable and a defeat of the military leadership might at a stroke remove or seriously reduce their political leadership, as happened with Lombards, Visigoths etc).

    At the same time as the Islamic network was reduced in scope by a narrower ethnic base of rule the Christian knightly orders opened up a channel for pan-"Frankish" (western European feudal Christian) military resources with a specific anti-Islamic mission, reversing the previous resource opportunities.

    Of course I could be wrong. There's a very swift Sicilian/South Italian Reconquista carried out be largely Norman elites (very narrowly based) that did enjoy strong papal support (so some pan-"Frankish" resources) and initially a more Islamic looking multi-ethnic administrative approach. Its seems there were no knightly orders involved beyond the usual social/military concept of a feudal warrior ordo. Perhaps in Sicily we see some indication of the pattern for Iberian Christian success?

    Dick Cheney. -
    Post 3
    Though many reasons have been given, it remains one of the most unexplained defeats in military history. No one in 1940 had predicted that France would fall in just six weeks to Nazi Germany. Adding to the phenomenon (to the chagrin of the MORS community) are legacy combat models and computer simulations that have similarly predicted a German defeat that ends with the French army in Berlin. [1]

    Assuming then that the French and Allied armies were militarily defeated, that combat models (such as the ones featured) do not account for strategy, and that France’s fall and surrender were not at all caused by bad internal politics or domestic issues, how could we correctly go about proving it?

    Perhaps the best way to prove a military defeat in this case is to simply look at a map.

    Battle of France - 1940

    Any accurate map for the Battle of France must show these two things: 1) a German breakthrough at the Ardennes, and 2) an initial Allied advance into the Low Countries that does not attempt to prevent or counter the German breakthrough. Because these key incidences will not change, no matter how many times we try to change the narrative for the fall of France, if would be difficult, even for the most stubborn historians, to not at least concede that French and Allied war planners had severely neglected to defend the Ardennes.

    The strong case that military defeat came through the Ardennes —via surprise attack— thus opens up one of the most intriguing questions and unanswered problems from the Second World War. Given that France’s fall and quick defeat seems especially linked to a failure to defend the Ardennes, or —at a minimum— a failure to anticipate an attack from that direction, would accurate intelligence beforehand have made a difference? And if so, was there, somewhere behind the French and Allied lines, a terrific and historic failure to warn?

    A Failure to Warn: The Case for Intelligence Failure

    Because intelligence agencies exist primarily to prevent and thwart surprises, including surprise attacks, a failure to warn is generally ranked in intelligence studies as among the worst possible intelligence failures. Intelligence failures are commonly understood as “failures to anticipate important information and events.” [2] This is especially true if warning from intelligence was possible and if errors in either intelligence reports or reporting can be demonstrated. The battle and fall of France shows that Germany achieved both operational and tactical surprise. The first with the surprising choice of assault through the Ardennes, and the second with the unexpected use of blitzkrieg and maneuver warfare. Thus, if warning from intelligence was possible —prior to or during the Battle of France—it has to be found in reporting on German army capabilities or in regards to their planning and operations.

    At the planning and operations level, the most important warning that could have been achieved would undoubtedly have been the location of the German panzers. A failure to monitor the situation of the German panzer divisions prior to and during the Battle of France, in hindsight, could offer one of the more devastating critiques imaginable to French and Allied intelligence. Not only do the strength and locations of the German panzer divisions offer the strongest indicators for estimating Germany’s attack plans and maneuver possibilities, but the concentration of five armored divisions in Kleist’s Panzer Group offers the single best clue to identifying the main German attack.

    Here, the case for French and Allied intelligence failure appears strong. At no time, for instance, did French and Allied intelligence ever produce accurate estimates or exact positions for all the German panzer divisions. [3] Precampaign estimates for the panzer divisions sometimes ran as high as 12 armored divisions with close to 7,000 tanks, which of course, was two more divisions and over twice as many German tanks in 1940 then there actually were. [4] In addition, when French reconnaissance planes and Allied agents began reporting a growing concentration of amour east of Luxembourg, these reports were either dismissed outright as “contradictory” or labeled a “secondary concentration” by French and Allied intelligence. Some planners and staff even went so far as to interpret the concentration of armor near Luxemburg and the Low Countries as a defensive measure for an alleged (and quite imaginary) Allied offensive; this, despite signals intelligence and enigma intercepts that suggested a possible German attack through the Ardennes. [5][6]

    Once the invasion began on May 10th, French and Allied intelligence again failed to raise alarm of German tank divisions advancing through the Ardennes. The most commonly accepted narrative is that the main German attack was not fully recognized or understood by the French High Command until the 14th of May. [7] This is of course one day after the lead elements of Army Group A had begun pouring units across the Meuse. Though poor interpretation of aerial reconnaissance deserves much of the blame, as does abysmal reporting from the French cavalry who had spotted German tanks, the failure from French and Allied intelligence to identify and report the location of the main German attack was ultimately equaled and exasperated by another failure to warn others about German army capabilities. Few specialists had thought, for instance, that the Ardennes was a dangerous sector, even though wargames and map exercises had shown it was passable for German tanks. Few had thought aerial bombardment could be substituted for artillery, and few had thought speed, tempo, and the surprising range of armored columns matched with mechanized infantry and close air support could be used to penetrate or bypass linear fronts much more easily. This failure to know one’s enemy and recognize the technological return of maneuver to the battlefield thus left the French and Allied command without any coherent ideas or viable military options on how to deal with a German blitzkrieg. The end result of this unexpected development in military capability meant that the reveal of the main German attack —and its surprising method— could only be answered with additional surprise and shock. Not even Pearl Harbor or Barbarossa ever achieved this level of surprise and dislocation.

    Other Factors

    Though the combat and events in the Battle of France are undoubtably coupled with a high degree of surprise, where intelligence failure seems to be a reasonable explanation, there are many other important phenomenon and explanations that should be considered. Everything from poor army morale, training, to national decadence, to a lack of air and reserve forces, to the Maginot line and German risk-taking has been suggested. The most important counter arguments to the intelligence failure narrative include dysfunction, blundering, and rivalry in the French High Command, to the obvious neutrality and alliance failures between the Low Countries and the Allies. The first made French officials less likely to change strategy, adopt reform, or alter preconceptions, no matter what the intelligence reports actually said. The second proves the fall of France was an Allied failure, not just a French one. Had Belgium and the Netherlands been willing to allow early entry of the French army and had done more to defend their borders and the Ardennes at the onset, the outcome for the Battle of France might have been very different. The fact that these countries did not immediately renounce their neutrality after the Mechelen Incident, and the fact that the French High Command had doubled down on the Dyle Plan and the Breda variant, without thinking how it could be countered along a 600-mile front, shows how unique and devastating these two variables were.

    In the end, the battle and fall of France offers one of the more intriguing cases of intelligence failures in military history. There is no doubt that accurate warning and intelligence, in whatever form, could have severely altered the Battle of France, which includes preventing the German breakthrough at the Ardennes. In addition, historians are reminded why good strategy is linked to good intelligence. It is not enough to examine the preconceptions and assumptions in French and Allied plans, and the decision making of the French general staff, without linking them back to their intelligence agencies and what they were being told. Yet, the true story in the Battle of France isn’t that intelligence had somehow failed to warn. No, its real story, found in one of the most shocking military defeats of all-time, is that warning and intelligence never played a role.

    [1] Trevor N. Depuy, “Military History and Validation of Combat Models: A presentation at MORS Mini Symposium on Validation, 16 October 1990,” The International TNDM Newsletter. Vol 1, Number 4. February 1997.
    [2] Thomas E. Copeland, “Intelligence Failure Theory,” Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Oxford University
    Press, 2017.
    [3] Stephen A. Shuker, “Seeking a Scapegoat: Intelligence and Grand Strategy in France, 1919-1940.”
    Standard University Press, 2014. pp. 82.
    [4] John Delaney, The Blitzkrieg Campaigns: Germany's 'Lightning War' Strategy in Action, (Arms & Armour,
    1997), 77.
    [5] Andre Ausems, “The Netherlands Military Intelligence Summaries 1 939-1 94 and the Defeat in the
    Blitzkrieg o May 1940,” Military Affairs, Oct., 1986, Vol. 50, No. 4 (Oct., 1986), pp. 190-199.
    [6] Robert A. Doughty, The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940 (Mechanicsburg, PA,
    Stackpole Books, 1990), 75.
    [7] Doughty, 101.

    The Noble Lord -
    Post 4
    Since I have received countless messages from members and friends from here on social media to tell them what happened in Afghanistan and why Kabul fell so quickly
    and how the entire country fell in such a short time, I've decided to talk about it here since we've spent years talking about Afghanistan right here in the Mudpit.

    I'll summarize everything in few bullet points instead of writing a large memo. Points would be based on most frequently asked questions.

    Q: How long did it take Taliban to take over the entire country?
    A: It took them precisely 9 days to complete the takeover of the entire country. From taking Zaranj which is the capital of Nimruz to marching into the presidential palace.

    Q: What happened to the Afghan army and police?
    A: They just melted away, basically they were unwilling to fight. They had all the equipment, weapons, infrastructure, more than 300,000 men. But their moral was so low by the beginning
    of the July that it was clear that they would not fight. They literally melted away, army depots were left unguarded and there wasn't even one token guard left at the gate.

    Q: Why ANA and ANP didn't fight even though allies spent billions of dollars on their training, weapons, ammunition, etc?
    A: Because they had very weak political leadership and military officers who were too much dependent on the ISAF for support. It was all one giant fake to be honest.

    Q: When it was obvious to you that Taliban will win?
    A: Week before last, on 11-12 were crucial dates because that was when Herat and Mazar fell, without a single shot being fired. That's when I knew Kabul had no chance.
    Then on 13th it was Kandahar that fell and elite Afghan commandos (who were trained by Green Berets and Delta Force) were given contradictory orders until they themselves
    decided to go back to Kabul. Chain of command and control was already nonexistent by Thursday and early Friday.

    Q: Why Mujahidin commanders didn't fight?
    A: That was the turning point for me, when Ismael Khan of Herat and Atta Mohamad Noor of Mazar left without a fight, I realized and everyone knew that they have no strength any more.
    They just couldn't gather enough forces, people didn't want to fight any more. Simple as that.

    Q: How was Taliban entry into Kabul?
    A: Very quiet, orderly and they started showing up everywhere in a very shy and unassuming manner. ANA and ANP just melted away and on Sunday and Monday many
    government ministries were left empty. It was fascinating to see, previously heavily guarded compounds were just empty, as if everyone left in such a hurry that they didn't even take
    personal belongings.

    Q: Ashraf Ghani left and why?
    A: He was universally seen as being weak, inept, incapable and disoriented president. Everyone was relieved when he left.

    Q: Is Taliban 2.0 really different and "better"?
    A: Yes! This time they are different, flexible, willing to talk and willing to discuss. It took them 20 years to realize that they can't behave in 2021 like they did in 1996 when they entered Kabul. Times
    have changed big time and they know it. So far they have been pleasant surprise. Biggest thing is that they are seeking International recognition and they want to be part of the International community.

    Q: Who is left in Kabul now of the political leadership?
    A: Quiet a few big names, Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah and Hekmatyar are all here and already talking to the Taliban. Also members of parliament, civil society, tribal leaders,
    religious leaders, etc. Everyone is talking now, there is talk going on that either Loya Jirga or Volesi Jirga would gather to choose new government which would be inclusive.

    Q: Is anybody resisting the Taliban?
    A: Yes. Ahmad Massoud, son of the legendary Mujahedin leader Ahmad Shah Massoud is in Panjshir gathering forces. But everyone thinks that they will come to some sort of settlement.
    Simply because young Massoud doesn't have the military capability, abilities and charisma of his father and also they don't have weapons, spare parts, lubricants, communication equipment and
    especially fuel and food for a sustainable warfare. Plus, no other country or foreign entity is supporting them. It'll be a settlement. Massoud and Amrullah Saleh know that without foreign support
    they can't fight the Taliban!

    Q: What's different about Kabul now?
    A: Apart from the ruckus at the airport everywhere else in Kabul is peaceful. It may sound strange but there is sense of security now because there is no more danger of bombings, suicide bombings,
    kidnappings, attacks, etc, etc. Plus majority of the Taliban patrolling the Kabul are from Vardak and Logar provinces and they are waiting to go back. Many don't even speak Dari, only Pashto language.

    Q: What did US did wrong, why they miscalculated so horribly?
    A: Okay, they wanted to leave and rightly so. It's been 20 years, and they've been looking to depart for a number of years now. The only problem is that it was done in a disorganized way. They should've done
    it like the Russians did in 1989 when they left Afghanistan. Afghan Communist government of Dr Najibullah was able to successfully defend itself and to hold all major cities and Kabul included all the way until
    April of 1992 when they stopped receiving support from the Soviet Union because Soviet Union was no more. They were supported with weapons, food, fuel, ammunition and spare parts and they were successful in
    defending their grip on the country. Americans and allies should've done the same thing with the Ghani government, but they just were not willing to listen.
    Last edited by Septentrionalis; November 10, 2021 at 12:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Flinn's Avatar His Dudeness of TWC
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    Default Re: POTF 48 - Vote

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: POTF 48 - Vote

    Voted !

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