American War Time Mistakes

Isn't hindsight great. Makes every analyst appear to be an expert.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. A quick point about his claim that Market Garden diverted U.S. resources - not strictly true. The Brits had there own version of the red ball express and this wasn't significantly increased at the outset of that op. at the expense of the yanks.
Go to say though that this guy has a bit of needless inferiority complex which seems unusual in an american...american gear and know how isnt as bad as he makes out.
It's not that bad, just that the author's hindsight sometimes gets in the way of what actually happened - for instance, over-simplifying the MiG-15/F-86 issue.

To begin with, the F-80 was vastly superior to the North Korean AF, which was to all intents and purposes wiped out. When MiG-15s arrived on scene, F-86s were sent out; the problem in this regard wasn't the lack of preparedness he suggests, rather Korea was given a lower priority than defence of CONUS, which left some USAF units in Korea operating F-80s (and F-84s) for longer than was desirable - the likely weaknesses of the F-80 against newer enemy jets was appreciated (albeit the qualitiative superiority of the MiG-15 was a surprise).

Likewise, the 1942-43 bomber offensive wasn't just for dogmatic reasons - it was a demonstration to Stalin of commitment, not some token effort to win the war from the air. The B-17 was given much heavier armament once the lessons of RAF daylight raids were taken on board; but once it was clear escort fighters were required, there was little that could be done other than to continue, apart from the politically unacceptable step of ending attacks on Germany.
It's an interesting article with some valid points but even more invalid points.

I may be the only one but I look at Iraq as a huge military success. Think about it. Quarter million multinational troops invade, wipe out defenders in 21 days. Encounter an insurgency aided with training, ammo, and weapons from a hostile neighbor.

Fight a raging house to house insurgency with an non-uniformed enemy all the while in the middle of a civil war in a sprawling urban pop center and only incur some 4000 combined losses in both combat and non-combat incidents over a 5 year period from around 300,000 to 400,000 troops. That's not exactly militarily significant losses, propaganda losses sure, political losses definitely.

Compared to the other wars mentioned in the article, Iraq, militarily is a success so far and the losses there are a fraction of losses in the others.

While I don't view losses as a statistic, I am fully aware that every single one of those soldiers is a real person with a real mother/wife/child that is the business we were/are in.

I don't see that part as a military blunder as I do the abu garab photos, cia torture leaks, and rendition propaganda leaks and utter failure to communicate progression and wins as much as the enemy has. Unless I missed it, I don't think he makes any mention of those.

It also fails to mention the innovations to combat the insurgency and notes only the progressions in tactics by the enemy. Every soldier knows if the enemy is changing his tactics, then yours are working.

He does go on to say this, which I agree with:

Victory does not require achieving all of your objectives, but achieving more of yours than your enemy does of his. Patient Northerners realized almost too late that victory required not merely warding off or defeating Confederate armies, but also invading and occupying an area as large as Western Europe in order to render an entire people incapable of waging war. Blunders were seen as inevitable once an unarmed U.S. decided to fight Germany, Italy, and Japan all at once in a war to be conducted far away across wide oceans, against enemies that had a long head start in rearmament. We had disastrous intelligence failures in World War II, but we also broke most of the German and Japanese codes in a fashion our enemies could neither fathom nor emulate. Somehow we forget that going into the heart of the ancient caliphate, taking out a dictator in three weeks, and then staying on to foster a constitutional republic amid a sea of enemies like Iran and Syria and duplicitous friends like Jordan and Saudi Arabia—and losing less than 4,000 Americans in the five-year enterprise—was beyond the ability of any of our friends or enemies, and perhaps past generations of Americans as well.

But more likely the American public, not the timeless nature of war, has changed. We no longer easily accept human imperfections. We care less about correcting problems than assessing blame—in postmodern America it is defeat that has a thousand fathers, while the notion of victory is an orphan. We fail to assume that the enemy makes as many mistakes but addresses them less skillfully. We do not acknowledge the role of fate and chance in war, which sometimes upsets our best endeavors. Most importantly we are not fixed on victory as the only acceptable outcome.

What are the causes of this radically different attitude toward military culpability? An affluent, leisured society has adopted a therapeutic and managerial rather than tragic view of human experience—as if war should be controllable through proper counseling or a sound business plan. We take for granted our ability to talk on cell phones to someone in Cameroon or select from 500 cable channels; so too we expect Saddam instantly gone, Jeffersonian democracy up and running reliably, and the Iraqi economy growing like Dubai's in a few seasons. If not, then someone must be blamed for ignorance, malfeasance, or inhumanity. It is as though we expect contemporary war to be waged in accordance with warranties, law suits, and product recalls, and adjudicated by judges and lawyers in stale courtrooms rather than won or lost by often emotional youth in the filth, confusion, and barbarity of the battlefield

Vietnam's legacy was to insist that if American aims and conduct were less than perfect, then they could not be good at all, as if a Stalinist police state in the North were comparable—or superior—to a flawed democracy in the South with the potential to evolve in the manner of a South Korea. The Vietnam War was not only the first modern American defeat, but also the last, and so its evocation turns hysterical precisely because its outcome was so unusual. Later victories in Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, and the Balkans persuaded Americans that war could be redefined, at the end of history, as something in which the use of force ends quickly, is welcomed by locals, costs little, and easily thwarts tyranny. When all that proved less than true in Iraq, the public was ill-equipped to accept both that recent walk-over victories were military history's exceptions rather than its rule, and that temporary setbacks in Iraq hardly equated to Vietnam-like quagmires.

We also live in an age of instant communications increasingly contingent upon genre and ideology. The New York Times, CBS News, National Public Radio, and Reuters—the so-called mainstream media skeptical of America's morality and its ability to enact change abroad—instill national despair by conveying graphic scenes of destruction in Iraq without, however, providing much context or explaining how such information is gathered and selected for release. In turn, Fox News, the bloggers, and talk radio hear from their own sources that we are not doing nearly so badly, and try to offer real-time correctives to conventional newspapers and studios. The result is that the war is fought and refought in 24-hour news cycles among diverse audiences, in which sensationalism brings in ad revenues or enhances individual careers. Rarely is there any sober, reasoned analysis that examines American conduct over periods of six months or a year—not when the "shocking" stories of Jessica Lynch or Abu Ghraib or Scott Beauchamp make and sell better copy. Sensationalism was always the stuff of war reporting, but today it is with us in real time, 24/7, offered up by often anonymous sources, and filtered in a matter of hours or minutes by nameless editors and producers. Those relentless news alerts—tucked in between apparently more important exposés about Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith—ultimately impart a sense of confusion and bewilderment about what war is. The result is a strange schizophrenia in which the American public is too insecure to believe that we can rectify our mistakes, but too arrogant to admit that our generation might make any in the first place.

What can be done about our impatience, historical amnesia, and utopian demands for perfection? American statesmen need to provide constant explanations to a public not well versed in history—not mere assertions—of what misfortunes to expect when they take the nation to war. The more a president evokes history's tragic lessons, the better, reminding the public that our forefathers usually endured and overcame far worse. Americans should be told at the start of every conflict that the generals who begin the fighting may not finish it; that what is reported in the first 24 hours may not be true after a week's retrospection, and that the alternative to the bad choice is rarely the good one, but usually only the far worse. They should be apprised that our morale is as important as our material advantages—and that our will power is predicated on inevitable mistakes being learned from and rectified far more competently and quickly than the enemy will learn from his.
The writer also goes on to discuss the western "instant gratification" culture expecting Iraq to turn into Dubai overnight.

Interesting article indeed.
Lets not forget when the US Army gave blankets infected with Typhoid to the native americans and sat back and watched, so little has changed!

Agent Orange in Vietnam, a great success story! NOT!

And GW2 with three weeks of preperation! And years to count the cost!

Or are the above the way NOT to do it? :wink:
CharlieBubbles said:
Lets not forget when the US Army gave blankets infected with Typhoid to the native americans and sat back and watched, so little has changed!

Agent Orange in Vietnam, a great success story! NOT!

And GW2 with three weeks of preperation! And years to count the cost!

Or are the above the way NOT to do it? :wink:
What a thoughtful contribution. Thank you for that.

Some reading for you!

Here's a quote:

"Fact is, on at least one occasion a high-ranking European considered infecting the Indians with smallpox as a tactic of war. I'm talking about Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commander of British forces in North America during the French and Indian War (1756-'63). Amherst and a subordinate discussed, apparently seriously, sending infected blankets to hostile tribes. What's more, we've got the documents to prove it, thanks to the enterprising research of Peter d'Errico, legal studies professor at the University of Massachusetts at (fittingly) Amherst. D'Errico slogged through hundreds of reels of microfilmed correspondence looking for the smoking gun, and he found it.

The exchange took place during Pontiac's Rebellion, which broke out after the war, in 1763. Forces led by Pontiac, a chief of the Ottawa who had been allied with the French, laid siege to the English at Fort Pitt."

As far as I can determine it's an one of those 'Urban Legends.'
CharlieBubbles said:
Lets not forget when the US Army gave blankets infected with Typhoid to the native americans and sat back and watched, so little has changed!

Agent Orange in Vietnam, a great success story! NOT!

And GW2 with three weeks of preperation! And years to count the cost!

Or are the above the way NOT to do it? :wink:
I'm sure British wisdom, a couple thousand years of feudal law and religious intolerance doesn't sound like you calling the kettle black or anything.

As far as native Americans are concerned, many now run casinos and the tribes are making millions. It may not seem like a lot, but it is at the very least an effort towards reparations. Besides, my family immigrated here well after that. What is it exactly that I owe?

Agent orange was a defoliant and alleged that at the time the effects were not known to harm people. If it were the case, I doubt they would have had our own guys walking thru the stuff.

I can't really debate you on your third point a whole bunch. While if I really try and stretch it I can see a strategic reason for wanting to invade Iraq (Keeping US forces in saudi arabia is worse), proximity to Iran, Russia, and other "Evil Doers" etc.

I do however agree that there was either no plan, a very poorly thought out plan, or a bunch of monkeys throwing their own feces at a wall of ideas and they went with what stuck.
ghost_us said:
It's an interesting article with some valid points but even more invalid points.

I may be the only one but I look at Iraq as a huge military success. Think about it.
How can Iraq be a 'success' in light of what we know of WMD and as it's still very much a work in progress, you t!t! :evil:
Questionable whether the infected blankets episode is more or less acceptable in the light of the prevailing consensus at the time that the natives were regarded as little more than inconvenient red vermin? Are we trying to impose PC 21st century rights and liberties values? Other groups were starved, massacred or otherwise eliminated as required. If you want to apply modern terms, it was ethnic cleansing. Simply, ‘you were here, we are now here, and we want you gone or kissing our butts for next to free - as we decide’. And, if this appears abhorrent, then history clearly shows much of the distribution of the world was achieved by conquest and domination. Nowadays we have rules, media and a pretence the whole planet is up to speed according to ‘our’ engine.

The casinos are on ‘native homelands’, aka reservations. Scrubby, poor, backwater patches which were neither prime location, prime agricultural nor mineral rich. They’re just concentration camps, in the original context, on a grand scale. I believe they still top the league for teenage suicides?

The original article of this thread is not generally wrong, if unpopular, and perhaps another observation of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ in the American psyche. The same as with interpretations of Nietzsche and the nazis philosophy, ‘we’, the All American, are superior, and ‘you’, those who we do not consider All American, are inferior. The attitude, while probably not the healthiest and by no means unique to Americans, doesn’t innately kill people until it manifests itself in consequential aggression or ‘fine tuning’ of social composition.


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