One telling similarity between the Wehrmacht and the US Military

Center of Gravity versus Lines of Effort in COIN“, Herschel Smith, at the Captain’s Journal (3 March 2008) — An article well worth reading.  Thoroughly researched, Smith provides several powerful insights and provides an excellent operational and tactical perspective.

From a larger perspective this article shows how the 21st century US military is locked into a historically common trap.  No matter how good, it remains harnessed to US elites’ geopolitical thinking — poorly reasoned, emotional (ruled by hubris and fear).  Our military apparatus consistently provides professional, smooth execution of bad strategy.   We do the wrong thing, but brilliantly.  In this we have become like the WWI and WWII German military (aka loosely as the Wehrmacht), attempting to overcome foolish strategy with operational excellence.  In the seventh article of William Lind’s “On War” series (12 March 2003), he presented on of his most incisive observations:

Between 1809 and 1945, the Prussian and, later, German armies developed what is often called maneuver warfare of Third Generation warfare. For the past quarter century, the U.S. military has been trying to adopt this German way of war, and failing.

… One of the reasons Germany lost both world wars was that she thought operational excellence would trump strategic failure. … America seems now to have taken this German error and extended it. The present American way of war assumes that superiority at the tactical (or perhaps merely technical) level, manifested in high technology, will overcome massive failures at the strategic and moral levels.

… It would be an historical oddity if the United States, having failed to copy the Germans in what they got right, instead duplicated what they got wrong. In view of the almost lighthearted military optimism that currently prevails in Washington, one cannot help remembering Marx’s comment about history occurring as tragedy, then repeating itself as farce.

America has fielded perhaps the best trained and equipped forces the world has even seen, to fight wars with borrowed funds, conducted with little balancing of costs vs. benefits, in pursuit of vague if not chimerical goals.

There is much worth considering in Smith’s article, but due to time pressure I will note just one small point:

No astute observer of the campaign in Iraq – especially in Anbar and subsequently in and around Baghdad during the security plan – seeing the high number of intelligence driven raids, heavy use of air power, and kinetic operations against foreign terrorists and indigenous insurgents, can claim that kinetic operations have taken on a secondary or tertiary role to anything.

Is this correct?  This raises the same question as did our initial campaign in Afghanistan, supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban:  how much of our success comes from money, how much from our use of force?  In Afghanistan, our money bought much of the Northern Alliance’s support.  In Iraq, our funds have brought Sunni Arab tribes to our side (or at least, got them to stop attacking us).  What was the contribution of money vs. force?  This is an vital but difficult question to answer if we are to learn useful lessons from our success in the first phase of the Afghanistan War.  More importantly and revealingly, it is a question seldom asked — as it conflicts with the dominant victory narrative.

Hat tip to Zenpundit on this article.

Note that this post compares the German Wehrmacht and the US military in one technical aspect.  It does not make any wide comparison of these very different military structures, each embedded in radically different political regimes.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the following:

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

Some recent posts about our defense strategy

  1. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, 1 March 2006
  2. Adopting the tools of our enemies, a path to victory, 4 September 2008
  3. How can America adapt to a new world? A conference about national security lights the way., 18 October 2008

Some posts about reforming our defense strategy:

  1. “The Pentagon Takes Over”, 30 May 2008 — DoD’s very size militarizes our foreign affairs.
  2. Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW, 31 May 2008
  3. Lawrence Korb of CAP and CDI advocates a militia, 4 June 2008
  4. Thoughts on fixing America’s national security apparatus, 11 August 2008
  5. How can America adapt to a new world? A conference about national security lights the way., 18 October 2008
  6. The State Department needs help, stat!, 22 December 2008


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

27 thoughts on “One telling similarity between the Wehrmacht and the US Military”

  1. What was the contribution of money vs. force?

    One thing which the US still has plenty of is dollars. Manpower on the other hand is limited. So why not hire local help. Yes the quality and reliability maybe doubtful and you constantly need to be aware that they could turn on you or end up undermining your policy, but they are cheap.

    I’m not familiar with the pay scale of the US armed forces so here is a speculative example.
    Assuming a US soldier is paid $25.000 pr year
    50.000 US troops would cost $
    If you can hire an Iraqi for the same rate as in al-Anbar ($300 pr month/$3.600 pr year). One could field ca. 347.000 Iraqi auxiliaries instead of 50.000 U.S. personnel. Costs for equipment and rear area support could also be cut. Locals sleep at home and their wives cook dinner.
    If you need more boots on the ground this could be an option. It’s easier to raise $1,25 billion to pay Iraqi/Afghans than 50.000 US troops

    It’s one of the old Chinese strategies of dealing with the Northern nomads.
    1) Pay them to leave.
    2) Pay a friendly nomad tribe to attack the hostile nomads
    3) Attack them with your own forces
    4) Fortify
    All options have been successful & unsuccessful over the centuries.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Yes! I strongly agree that we should spend money — not blood — where possible.

  2. 16,000 Republicans in Cuyahoga Crossed Over and Voted Democratic in Primary“, Cleveland Plain Dealer (09 March 2008)

    “A staggering 16,000-plus Republicans in Cuyahoga County switched parties when they voted in last week’s primary. In Cuyahoga County, dozens and dozens of Republicans scribbled addendums onto their pledges as new Democrats:
    “For one day only.”
    “I don’t believe in abortion.”

    Lying on the pledge is a felony, punishable by six to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.” Perhaps this grand new republican tradition, the signing statement, will make USA laws optional?

  3. Fabius —

    A most apt comparison.

    Interesting discussion of centers of gravity, but I was a little puzzled by he final assertion that the “heavy use of air power and kinetic operations” had been demonstrated to be a “successful practice” of counterinsurgency “in the field.” In other words, we have avoided the Wehrmacht’s problem of tactical success not rolling up to strategic (and grand strategic) success. Has he demonstrated this?

    If one were going for the Hama solution, such tactics would be appropriate … by the host nation government. Roll-up is practically assured (as van C notes in Changing Face of War), and so no revision of any manuals is necessary.

    Absent that, however, for us to judge Smith’s claim, he would to have defined “successful.” He rules out such nice to haves as “national unity, political reconciliation, [and] fair participation in the political scene.” I guess this would leave bringing the price of oil down under $30/bbl (the price, as I recall, in March 2003). If “security” were our goal, the Iraqis had that under Saddam – not much of a goal.

    Unless you start with such a definition, then it’s very difficult to say whether your tactics are helping you achieve it so it’s impossible to say very much about whether they will contribute to strategic success (again, Van C is pessimistic, as you well know).

  4. The Germans failed in both World Wars because they had/made too many enemies at once and finally became exhausted (KIA/crippled/mentally exhausted infantry) as they couldn’t overwhelm so many enemies in time. In addition to that they had weak allies. It’s inaccurate to claim that they lacked strategic successes. Russia was defeated in WW I, Poland and France were defeated in WW II. To defeat Russia or France is more than just an operational success. It’s a strategic success. The defeats were rather grand strategy failures, not simply strategic ones in my opinion.

    The current U.S. problems are in my opinion
    – too optimistic agendas
    – medium self-restraint (not enough for one method, too much for another one)
    – poking into hornet’s nests
    – completely out of proportion costs due to lack of efficiency
    Other problems are also active, but I believe that these are the crucial ones.

    War is about breaking resolve, but that’s simply not achieved. “Hearts and minds” doesn’t help much if you cannot break the resolve of your enemies who are already in place and preventing your success. Less ambitious goals would reduce the quantity and power of the foes whose resolve needs to be broken.

    Less self-restraint simplifies the breaking of the resolve of already active foes. More self-restraint reduces the growth of the enemies whose resolve needs to be broken.

    Poking into hornet’s nest means that you don’t only need to handle the conflict between yourself and them, but also other, ancient conflicts among them.* Again, this adds enemies whose will you need to break.

    Finally, excessive costs reveal that the entire trouble isn’t worth it. It costs lives, health, raw materials – and most importantly: attention and money that are urgently and badly needed for other, pressing problems.

    *: Both in Iraq and Afghanistan the Western forces attempt to introduce democracy and power sharing although the people are used to one faction ruling the others (Sunni Arabs in Iraq, Pashtun in Afghanistan). That doesn’t work well, surprise!
    Fabius Maximus replies: Richards is one of America’s best military theoreticians. He knows the dynamics of WWII. The difference between “strategy” and “grand strategy” is useful analytically, but the lack of standardized meaning means it is useless for criticism — esp. in a forum of brief comments (like this). It is rhetorically splitting hairs. The point of this discussion is, I think, clear to most. The Germans waged a two-front war, surrounding themselves with foes. No reasonable degree of technical excellence could overcome this.

  5. Sven — I’m characterizing those as operational because they did not lead to war-ending results for the Germans. That is, the Wehrmacht’s results on the battlefield did not lead to victory for Germany in the war.

  6. Who is “Richards”?
    The “operational or strategic” characterisation is debatable. I consider knocking out a major power (3rd strongest army of the world before outbreak of war) as a strategic success. The way how Russia was knocked out in 1914-1917 didn’t fit to a description of an “operational success”, for example.

    Anyway – the original article created the impression that the U.S. is probably causing its defeats by being excellent at too low levels of warfare, but failing on a more important (higher) level of warfare, the strategic level.

    My list of four key mistakes included three that are higher levels than operational, tactical or technical levels of warfare:

    agenda – grand strategic failure
    self-restraint – tactical failure, marginally also an operational failure
    hornet’s nest – political/grand strategic failure
    economic inefficiency – political/grand strategic failure

    You can call “grand strategic” “strategic”, but that in itself doesn’t change that I see three of four key mistakes on that level – and not in operational/tactical/technical levels, i.e. purely military levels of warfare. The mistakes should be attributed to foreign policy, not so much to the military.


    Just for amusement; I divide the areas relevant to warfare into these levels, of which the earlier ones tend to be more decisive than the later ones.

    1st grand strategy
    2nd foreign/military policy (political strategy)
    3rd economical / people’s morale
    4th (military) strategy
    5th operational / logistical
    6th tactical / training / troops morale
    7th technical


  7. Sven —

    The fact is, they won battles but lost the war. You can attach any labels that you want but it doesn’t change the simple fact that they were unable to roll up tactical and operational success to strategic victory.


  8. That depends on whether you define strategy as encompassing the defeat of one enemy or the defeat of all enemies. I’ve seen “strategy” definitions that aimed rather at “an enemy”.
    Well, maybe you can explain how the Russian’s defeat of 1917 fits into other categories but “strategic”.

    I’m not argueing whether the Germans fought well or not, had good strategy or not. I do actually not care about it, as I have no special relationship to their actions. I do rather attempt to learn on the beasis of the entire known military history. I just classify the actions into categories to my best knowledge.

    Btw, isn’t this the much less interesting topic in comparison to the recent war and its troubles?

  9. Sven,

    OK – I give up. I guess it depends on what you’re looking at. In my case it’s the idea of roll-up, so where I draw the line between strategy and grand strategy has to be at the war-winning level.

    Note that I’m using a simple-minded definition: “tactics” are related to fighting battles, “operations” is what you do between battles, “strategy” is how you arrange battles and operations to achieve victory. I can handle three levels; after that it starts to get confusing.

    Certainly for France, Poland, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Belgium your argument is valid: they were strategic (not operational)defeats, i.e., game over. For the Wehrmacht, you could make a good argument that they thought they had a strategic victory in June 1940 and that the war was over. For Hitler, though, it was “battles (Poland), battles (Norway & Denmark), battles (Low Countries, France), battles (Russia), battles (UK and US)” combined with various operations, and then, according to my classification, strategic defeat.

    So that was the logic for my statement. I’ve put a first stab at relating this to 4GW on DNI. For his view of 4GW, Lind accepts terrorism and guerrilla warfare as tactics, but then collapses operations, strategy and grand strategy into one level. It does simplify things.

    Best regards,

  10. I didn’t note that about Lind so far. All his texts that I read were small puzzle pieces, with an annoying recurrence of some keywords.

    Terrorism as tactic? Suicide attacks are a tactic, ok. But terrorism is in my eye a fragment of a strategy – the strategic equivalent of harassing fires. The latter is a tactics fragment as it very unlikely (and not intended) to achieve a decision (even not in a small fight) on its own.

    The same goes for terrorism – in itself only a fragment of a strategy. It cannot achieve a decision on its own unless it’s done on an unprecedented scale (one 9/11 annually against Singapore or multiple nuclear attacks on any country would do the trick). AQ uses terrorism (besides its assumed religious value) as strategic element and combines it with a propaganda/ideology/religious element. The trouble with AQ were an “exemption of the rule” attack with extreme success coupled with a reaction (manhunts) that forced the somewhat hierarchical quasi-organization to turn into a movement.


    About the different levels; I decided not to simplify, but instead to accept uncertainty of a complex issue. I believe I’d miss many points if I would limit my thinking to tactical/operational/economical. Morale, economy, politics, training and the very prominent factor technology are too important to be excluded in theoretical thinking.

  11. Sven —

    If it works for you, use it.

    As for terrorism, we may be approaching the problem from different angles. Violence against non-combatants is intended to have a grand strategic effect (deflate our morale, pump up their own, and give the uncommitted pause – you can see this clearly in bin Laden’s statements). So in that sense, it can be considered both as a tactic (something that you do) as well as an element of a higher level. If you regard that level as the grand strategic, you’ll see Lind’s collapse (and if you don’t, then you won’t).

    Best regards,

  12. Tactic is afaik not just something that you do, it’s what you do to win a fight/battle.

    I don’t consider terrorism as tactic. Terrorists use tactics such like disguise/covert ops, suicide attacks, choosing targets for best effect and not to attack low relevance targets (efficiency; they “hold their fire” 99.999% of the time). Note that all these tactics were used by conventional forces before. But these small pieces that are in the repertoire of a terrorist are not strategy. Strategy is how the terrorists want to hurt us decisively with these tactics – they expect us to overreact, to take notice, to fear (including economic risk premiums), probably to do stupid counter-strikes that only add to the list of our foes. And at the same time “high-profile” attacks are a means to impress possible recruits and keep morale up.

    If all that was tactical, what’s strategic in terrorism? Is that strategic and tactical at once? That would either be wrong or mean that these categories are not applicable (perhaps because it’s more crime than warfare).

    tactics: how do terrorists seek to hit their target for maximum effect?

    operations: campaigns against specific countries to provoke a reaction (like withdrawal of troops/support)

    strategy: to strengthen the own team by propaganda effect of strikes, to weaken the foe by damaging him directly and indirectly (through his predictable reactions)

    politics: seeking allies among radicals, repudiate evil actions till they are accepted due to ongoing radicalization, video messages

    grand strategy: I hope to never find out about that one.

    In the case of AQ and some other terrorist groups in history religion needs to be added on the same level as morale (economic strength in turn is not so coining for non-state forces), but I am not well-informed about Wahhabism.

    Maybe you saw that in my opinion AQ terrorist strategy is not very different to some strategies that were historically used by conventional forces. The tactics are the distinctive feature of terrorism. Maybe that’s why Lind emphasizes the tactical level?

  13. Acording to the Offensive Realism of John J. Mearsheimer as I understand it:

    the only reason Germany ever fought (or lost) a world war was that they didn’t understand the offshore balancers (UK and US) would not stand for a Regional Hegemon in Europe, the US specifically would not stand for any great power dominating its region anywhere in the world. Germany missed it’s chance in 1905 to fight a (weakened) Russia and France without interference; only strategic foresight in the matter of how they were perceived and the resultant enemies they would be facing is they waited could have saved them.

    Twain was a greater philosopher than Marx: “History never repeats itself, at best it it sometimes rhymes”.

    Who is balancing US power? Strategic mistakes do not cause forces to appear out of nowhere and the elites in Arab countries are often part of minorities who fear their own people. Even in a single country such as Iraq the aftermath of a US “mistake” splits the population* and involves some classic payback by the downtrodden. the Sunnis are continuing to discover this in Iraq. The opponents of the US are too divided to acheive much.

    *If splitting the population and state into fractious groupings was the real objective on the part of the strategists who first proposed it then the strategy followed by the US has gone swimmingly.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not understand Mearsheimer’s evidence. The entry of the US into WWII was clearly the result of Japan’s attack and Hitler’s declaration of war. FDR might not have been able to fight Germany w/o the latter.

    Also, Germany’s #1 error in WWII was IMO invading Russia. The Russians probably would have won without our 2nd front (but with our aid).

  14. Japan’s objective in attacking the US was to get them to leave Japan alone to exploit China, it followed from a US virtual ultimatum to them and the cutting off of oil ect. It was an agonising decision for Japan. The US understood they could dominate their region and rise to become a peer competitor if left alone hence the ultimatum which put Japan in a immposible position. Nobody knowing of their history of relentless aggression could have seriously thought the Japanese would do anything but go to war.

    That Japan was an ally of Germany meant that in pressuring Japan the US was expecting to be at war with both, the US military capabilities had increased by an order of magnitude in the year preceding this. Wilson and FDR both waited until winning a second term (in which they said they would stay out of foreign wars) before jumping in when it looked like Germany would win. Given FDR’s instuction to the US navy to attack U-boats on sight it is difficult to beleive he would not have found a way to make the war official, his u-boat order meant war with or without a declaration.

    The USSR took four years to recover what Germany took in 4 weeks, only the stop at Smolensk for 2 months! saved the remaining north and south soviet forces from having to fight on reversed fronts while at the same time being pressured by the germans attacking them in front. (Hitlers Panzers East by Russell Stolfi)
    Fabius Maximus replies: History looks so clear and simple in hindsight.

    “Nobody knowing of their history of relentless aggression could have seriously thought the Japanese would do anything but go to war.”

    Reading such things fills me with despair. Future generations will look back at me (OK, us) with pity and disgust, saying “Nobody knowing XXX could have seriously thought YYY.” I, foolishly thinking YYY, lack their wisdom and insight.

    “It was an agonising decision for Japan.”

    Screw ’em. I feel no pity for Japan’s leaders — or their people who followed them (see my posts about collective responsibility). If they wanted to conquer China, a nation with whom we had close ties, we were right to say “do it without Texas oil.” Selling them our oil would have made us enablers, “accessories before the fact”.

    “The US understood they could dominate their region and rise to become a peer competitor if left alone hence the ultimatum which put Japan in a immposible position. ”

    A classic single-factor explanation of history, assuming the US is a unitary actor. Probably some American leaders had this motive. I doubt it can be shown to have been the dominant motive.

  15. Not a unitary actor, very well then an unpredictable unfocused disinterested entity who did the same thing twice; WW1 and then — lo and behold — WW2. Many veiwpoints and interests may be represented in a nation states calculations however what it does in virtualy the same situation decades apart might be thought to cast some light on a degree of continuity in those calculations.
    By using the word agonising I meant to convey (as Prof. M. did) that the Japanese thought the US was much to strong for them but they would not give up their dream of conquering China, so had to reluctantly fight. The US did not take the Japanese that seriously as a military threat so yes maybe they were surprised at their attack (second time Japan had attacked a big power without declaration of war – Tzarist Russia) Apart from their Long Lance torpedo they had very little to be happy about in a war with the US. Meirsheimer’s book goes into detail about how states who are in with a chance usually prefer to fight in such circumstances even if outmatched.

    In addition to commiting bestial atrocities the Japanese were aggressive militarism exemplified and I repeat Germany was their ally. Japan could hardly be expected to react like like Caspar Milquetoast. Personaly I give a lot of weight to what states (and people) actually do in trying to determine their true motives, which they (apart from a few leaders) might be only dimly aware of themselves as you say.
    Fabius Maximus replies: the similarity of WWI and WWII (from our POV) was our involvement to help european states with whom we had long associations, if not formal defense treaties. Japan was an ally of the US in WWI, an enemy in WWII. I have not read Prof M’s book, so I cannot comment on his theories. I agree that determining motivations is difficult for individuals, almost impossible for large organizations.

  16. Mearsheimer’s theory concentrates on states and holds nationalism to be the most potent force in world politics. On the down side; he is honest enough to admit that his theory does not have much to say about international terrorism. Moreover it has to be questionable whether states such as Germany or Russia will continue to have the same priorities as their unprecedented demographic quandary develops.
    Fabius Maximus replies: His work sounds interesting! Thank you for bringing it to our attention, and providing a summary.

  17. But does not Mearsheimer try to become almost absurdly “objective”, by saying that states are geopolitical pieces of a puzzle, and that we can disregard their cultures and ideologies as mere background noise? In short, his “black box” notion? I think I am close to getting that right, and if so, then he would put us exactly where we keep getting it wrong. The strategic thinker Colin S Gray has described our military as ahistoric, technologically rapt, and culturally ignorant at its weakest points. Strategic thinking at the very least would start with Sun-zi’s admonitions to know one’s enemy AND oneself. May we hope that Gen. Petraeus has taken some of the needed steps.

  18. Pingback: The economic Death Spiral of the Pentagon « Fabius Maximus

  19. HammerAndSickle

    Why don’t US Special Forces hold camps in the USA where any military-age male can sign up, and be trained to do whatever it is that they train ‘local auxiliaries’ to do? Here, to gain access to those specialized weapons and tactics, an individual must demonstrate his loyalty to the institution of the military and become largely dependent on it. Over there you need to chant USA USA USA near the nice man in the floppy green hat until he hands you a rifle.

    When we try to fight a war ‘over there’ with ‘cheap locals’, we end up creating enemies for the next generation, because we leave, these specialized military skills are preserved within the population, and are put to use against anyone and everyone.

    The AUC in Colombia, the Taliban, MS-13, los Zetas, Charles Taylor’s predecessor Samuel Doe, Idris Deby’s faction in Chad, and many others can all trace the lineage of their military techniques directly to American military trainers, but it really started during the ‘World Wars’ when primitive tribals were taught the way of modern war. The Shan state revolutionaries in Burma trace their military lineage to the Nationalist Chinese sent to that region by the US to open a second front in the Korean War, and the Karen trace their lineage to the British SOE during WWII, just like the Vietnamese who gave the US so much trouble in the ’70s.

    JFK gave us ‘Special Forces’ and we have been paying for it in blood ever since.

  20. Chet wrote, “For his view of 4GW, Lind accepts terrorism and guerrilla warfare as tactics, but then collapses operations, strategy and grand strategy into one level. It does simplify things.”

    Chet, do you favor Lind’s approach or would you rather he follow a different scheme? If so, why?

    Sven wrote, “Terrorism as tactic? Suicide attacks are a tactic, ok. But terrorism is in my eye a fragment of a strategy – the strategic equivalent of harassing fires.”

    As one who has studied the scholarship of political violence and terrorism extensively, I can vouch that the phenomenon is tough to pin down semantically or otherwise. Law enforcement, military, medical, political and academic authorities have all written or attempted to write definitions of this slippery term, and there are dozens (if not more) definitions floating around out there. Like pornography, we seem not to be able to define it, but “we know it when we see it.” In short, the word is a label without a standard, agreed-upon definition. Examine 10-12 sources of definitions, and you’ll see what I mean. To complicate matters, it is sometimes a law enforcement matter, sometimes a military matter, sometimes both, or neither.

    “Terrorism” alone is not a tactic, but perhaps “terrorist acts” are, i.e. violent propaganda and psych ops, suicide bombings, assassinations, kidnappings for ransom, on-camera executions, remote-controlled bombings, etc. That’s why Lind’s model of 4GW is so important and useful; it proves a framework in which to understand these methods, and the manner in which they are used. 4GW also provides a very useful framework for understanding conflict using tools other than those in the traditional western way of war; Lind for example views certain kinds of immigration, or predatory banking/financial practices, as weapons of 4GW.

    As for whether terrorism can be strategic, I believe history shows it can be. A single terrorist act, such as bombing a bus or a café, is in isolation an atrocity and a criminal act; in small numbers a local, tactical nuisance, but used in large enough numbers and coordinated to attain strategic ends, the technique can have geopolitical consequences. Ask the French, who got forced out of Algeria largely by a 4GW opponent using these methods, or for that matter, the Bush administration and our armed forces, who were drawn into battle on terms and ground of the enemy’s choosing (Afghanistan) by a small group of men with box cutters willing to use airliners as guided missiles. It was masterstroke of strategic jiujitu, as Fabius Maxius has pointed out on numerous occasions, and among the most effective 4GW operations ever mounted, on a cost-benefits basis.

    The problem, IMO, is that 2nd generation militaries/nations/leaders are still using an industrial age vocabulary and mindset leftover from WWII and the Cold War, while our 4th generation foes have embraced a much more fluid and adaptive model of conflict. We wold do well to take to heart not only Sun Tzu, but John Boyd, and his emphasis on the moral, mental and physical levels of war, and his admonition “People, ideas and technology – in that order!”

  21. @Fabius Maximus

    Germany pre-WWI: You have a very matured Prussian military structure which could easily absorb the other forces after the German unification in 1871. In contrast, the “civilian” parts of the German system were unbalanced after 1871 and still in an experimental state in 1914 with the ugly result, that the non-military contribution to a grand straegy were inadequate. Only to blame the military, as done by many historians, is IMHO cheap and not constructive.

    For me as German the beauty of the US system seemed to be, that it was in 1914 and 1940 a much more balanced (military vs. non-military) and the US grand strategy incorporated in a much better way other factors than the military. So it was a real surprise for me to find the US after 2001 in the same position as the Germans in 1914 and 1940. Does it mean that my model is wrong, i.e. that WW1 and WW2 were “pure luck” against an strtegically easy opponent, or is there a change after 1945 in the creation – deminishing non-military contributions- of a US grand strategy.
    FM reply: The evidence strongly supports the latter. For the first time in our history, after WWII we built a large standing military force. Which quickly proved correct the fears of previous generations. Ever growing, ever seeking enemies and wars, distorting our culture and poisoning our relations with the rest of the world.

  22. There were some interesting remniscences I heard from old Home Guard-ers who had been near a local airfield. If invaded, they were to blow up the airfield, stat ; then if required, blow the train stations, road junctions etc …even public utilities, on the basis that the locals would know tricks that foreign soldiers wouldnt. If the poulation had been willing, much was in place for a massive Resistance. If .

  23. Wow, where do they get their ideas?

    Alternate-Universe Sci-Fi Channel Show Asks What Would Happen If Germany Lost War

    NEW MUNICH—The new Sci-Fi Channel series Fallen Axis, which eerily depicts a world in which Germany actually lost the Second World War, premiered Tuesday evening to high ratings in an alternate universe to our own.

    The much-anticipated television event is said to be the most ambitious ever produced by the science-fiction-themed network, which is a subsidiary of the Aryan Broadcasting Company. According to the early response, audiences in the alternate realm have been riveted by the show’s vision of an inverted existence wherein a defeated Germany has been completely neutered by the Allied powers.

    “Imagine, if you will, a world in which Hitler’s glorious master plan had instead ended in ignominious failure, and the Allies had somehow emerged the victors,” the show’s creator, Leonhardt Riefenstahl, said during an appearance on Entertainment Heute Nacht. “It would be as if everything we know to be true—the fall of Russia, the invasion and surrender of the American continents, Heinrich Braun-Hitler’s consolidation of the various conquered states in 1973—had never even happened.”

  24. Yes , if the Allies had won there might never have been the Ya-Boo-To-Russia Union , VAT , the yoo-ro , the fragmentation of the United Kingdom , neo-serfs from the Baltics , or the unelection of the East Of England Regional Assembly !

  25. hair kommandant = supreme commander of all hairdressers and wig makers

    in German “Reichführer der Friseure und Perückenmacher”

    sorry couldn’t resist Herr Kommandant :-)

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