How did they accomplish the rarest of military feats?

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Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 01:38 pm
How did they accomplish the rarest of military feats?

The people, who made up Israel and considered for centuries to be non fighters, were surrounded on three sides and facing a far superior enemy "accomplished the rarest of military feats", they shattered the enemy forces "within a given time and with an absence of blunder".

Fighting that began in May of 1948 ended in January 1949 when an armistice was signed. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) realized that they had "won a state but not the peace".

The major surprise was the performance of the "espresso" generation; given this name because they were considered to have discarded the traditional Jewish ideals while lazing about drinking espresso in the local cafes. It was this generation that, when challenged and well led, performed this "rarest of military feats".

From what I have read there is a small (35%) absolute difference in the intellectual potential between extremes in normal humans. When we examine specific individuals we can detect a gigantic difference (1000%?) in accomplishment. When we compare Winston Churchill with the others we see this difference and when we compare the Israeli nation in this situation with other nations we see this difference.

The difference is illuminated not only when comparing one person with another or one nation with another but it is startling in the difference in accomplishment of humans in matters of technology versus matters of 'reasoning together'.

We live in two very different worlds; a world of technical and technological order and clarity, and a world of personal and social disorder and confusion. We are increasingly able to solve problems in one domain and increasingly endangered by our inability to solve problems in the other.

Science solves puzzles. The logic of the paradigm insulates the professional group from problems that are unsolvable by that paradigm. One reason that science progresses so rapidly and with such assurance is because the logic of that paradigm allows the practitioners to work on problems that only their lack of ingenuity will keep them from solving.

Science uses instrumental rationality to solve puzzles. Instrumental rationality is a systematic process for reflecting upon the best action to take to reach an established end. The obvious question becomes 'what mode of rationality is available for determining ends?' Instrumental rationality appears to be of little use in determining such matters as "good" and "right".

There is a striking difference between the logic of technical problems and that of dialectical problems. The principles, methods and standards for dealing with technical problems and problems of "real life" are as different as night and day. Real life problems cannot be solved using deductive and inductive reasoning.

In summary:

Humans differ greatly in achievement even though potential as measured by intellectual capacity is small.

Humans perform grandly in matters of technology but are wimps in performance in matters communication and reasoning together.[/b]

I find this to be a puzzlement? Do you have any answers?

Quotes from Practicing History by Barbara Tuchman
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 09:37 pm
@coberst phil,
My bet is that they softened up the enemy with terror first, and then were bloody in attack... They were trained by the British, and were organized Zealots... I would say, that having modern weapons, and knowing their use, and attacking primarily civilian targets gave them an edge...
 
sarek
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 06:41 am
@coberst phil,
War, like so many other things is a complicated subject. Describing the outcome of an armed conflict using strictly linear comparisons is a futile effort.
An example is the 1940 German campaign in the west. Qualitatively and quantitatively there was no real explanation for the momentous German victory. Yet the French Generals were completely dumbfounded by the events evolving around them.

There are three approaches that may make the problem easier to understand.

First of all when comparing relative strengths and weaknesses we are not always talking about adding factors but often about multiplying them.

This can pile up really quickly. If you hold the high ground, have better leadership and better morale, better tanks and you have artillery and air superiority the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

If you have ten different fields in which you attain a 10% superiority you can easily calculate theoretical relative combat power(in this case a factor 2,5 to one).
This is not that far from reality. Historically this has happened. Just take a look at the loss ratios in the latter part of the pacific war, sometimes reaching 10 to 1 in favour of the US forces.

Second, war is not static. It is a progression in time. If you take the initiative and unbalance the enemy from the start you will gain additional advantages which gives you an even more pronounced advantage.
The various battles in the classical age are a very good illustration of this. The relative loss ratio between the winner and the loser was often very high.

Third of all in some cases warfare is asymmetrical in the sense that one of the sides is using entirely different tactics and strategies to which the other has no answer. The Blitzkrieg is a case in point and so is the use of berm bombs and suicide bombers by irregulars. Or the total command of the skies enjoyed by the allies from 1944 onward.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 07:28 am
@sarek,
sarek;66178 wrote:
An example is the 1940 German campaign in the west. Qualitatively and quantitatively there was no real explanation for the momentous German victory. Yet the French Generals were completely dumbfounded by the events evolving around them.

I think there is. France and Britain had not modernised their forces, they were of a similar make-up to the armies of 1918 with more tanks. However, Britian and france used their tanks as cavalry, to reinforce or accompany infantry - not as an armoured spearhead. The germans had made a paradigm shift of organising armour to work independently and the allies had not done likewise.

The French also did not anticipate an assault via Belgium, and had funnelled resources into fortifying their borders with Germany, along the Maginot Line, but not with Belgium. When British forces reinforced the Maginot line the first thing they did was to extend it northwards - but using a trench system developed in WW1 to counter infantry - which was useless against tanks.

So when Germany attacked - through Belgium - it was able to overrun a hastily dug and pretty much useless trench system, break through British lines, encircle much of the remaining allied forces (pressing them against their fortifications rather than facing them across their defences) and strike for Paris with no further resistance.

So qualitatively there was a huge difference - in that the Germans had made a paradigm shift the allies had failed to make or account for. This enabled a situation were German soldiers could outflank, enfilade and surround their opponents, which is both a qualitative and quantitative advantage.
 
sarek
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 12:53 pm
@coberst phil,
The Blitzkrieg is a typical example of my item three, asymmetrical warfare. The use of entirely new tactics which are unknown to the enemy.

The allied advantages in number and partially in material quality(think matilda tank, somua 35) were in this case offset by an enemy who not only managed to negate those advantages but also employed completely new tactics.
To be even more precise, the german blitzkrieg tactics (in themselves a development of the von Hutier sturm tactics of 1918) were not even much more than a matter of tactics finally catching up with technology.
From the days of the US civil war tacticians of all nations had been playing a losing game of catch up with the increases in fire power afforded by technology. The low point being the mindless butchery of world war I.

Still remains to explain why the Israelis managed such massive victories over the Arabs in 47, 56, 67 and 73. To some extent perhaps a parallel can be made with the 1941 parts of operation Barbarossa. Arab tactics were largely copied from the Russian ones.
 
manored
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 12:53 pm
@coberst phil,
Playing games from the Total War series, I have realized that battles are made of critical moments where armies clash in a period of time than is nothing compared to the time it took to make then, what favors a good plan since there is not enough time to make or organize a counter, and that a good plan/advantage pretty much multiplies the strengh of the troops.

I think a nearly universal application of this is "pressure" levels against a fortified position. If you have a man with a machinegun guarding an open field, the enemy soldiers can charge at him all at once and make quick work of him, but if he is guarding a passage between the mountains, its possible that no matter how many soldiers the enemy sent they wouldnt pass as long as that guy had ammo left.
 
sarek
 
Reply Tue 2 Jun, 2009 01:14 pm
@coberst phil,
To a large extent this reasoning can explain the events of the various Arab-Israeli wars as these were characterized by a short decisive series of battles. In these conflicts the deciding event was the single battle, not the war.

This is entirely unlike the situation in WWII were the once massive German tactical superiority against the Russian army was gradually eroded until in 1945 it was almost non-existent and exchange ratios fell to 1 on 1
 
manored
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 01:28 pm
@sarek,
sarek;66214 wrote:
To a large extent this reasoning can explain the events of the various Arab-Israeli wars as these were characterized by a short decisive series of battles. In these conflicts the deciding event was the single battle, not the war.

This is entirely unlike the situation in WWII were the once massive German tactical superiority against the Russian army was gradually eroded until in 1945 it was almost non-existent and exchange ratios fell to 1 on 1
I would say that in the second situation the "critical moment" was long lasting. Realizing their army was being slowly eroded took time, and they still had no means of replacing this army in time were it lost, so much that they lost the war Smile
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 01:48 pm
@manored,
The real advantage is state of mind of the soldiers ,the knowledge that they are going to win.As we were told even in training"one company will take that position" not might, will.You can see it the posture, the arrogance of the victor.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 03:01 pm
@manored,
manored;66424 wrote:
I would say that in the second situation the "critical moment" was long lasting. Realizing their army was being slowly eroded took time, and they still had no means of replacing this army in time were it lost, so much that they lost the war Smile

As much as people like to say Hitler was nuts, it was the generals who lost in Russia... Some things contributed; like keeping units in the field too long, and building up new units and leaving old ones on the field, and wasted did not help... Hitler was often better than his generals... Even if he was a homosexual and a nut, still, he knew how to fight... He was always paranoid, but it was not till the end that he went off the deep end, after the bombing in the wolf's laire...

---------- Post added at 05:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:01 PM ----------

xris;66428 wrote:
The real advantage is state of mind of the soldiers ,the knowledge that they are going to win.As we were told even in training"one company will take that position" not might, will.You can see it the posture, the arrogance of the victor.

Armies fight best on deadly ground, surrounded by enemies with no hope but victory; but then they can be besieged until the are done...Soldiers fight wars...It is generals who lose them...Nothing ruins an army as fast as asking them to do the impossible, like taking stalingrad when it was never necessary and not the objective, or Pickets charge...If you give people victory they will fight for you... That is what Jackson did, and with a few simple maxims...
 
sarek
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 05:13 am
@Fido,
Fido;66441 wrote:
As much as people like to say Hitler was nuts, it was the generals who lost in Russia... Some things contributed; like keeping units in the field too long, and building up new units and leaving old ones on the field, and wasted did not help... Hitler was often better than his generals...



Only one thing really determined the outcome of world war II and that was the axis decision to declare war on the US and the USSR both.
Hitler could have made better choices, his generals could have been much better.
And still the allies would have won the war. The odds against any other outcome were astronomical. Just take a look at the relative resources of the nations involved.
The second world war illustrates the tipping point between the preeminence of the tactical realm and that of the strategic realm.

Having that one motivated company take that hill is a batlle won. But multiply that engagement by a factor ten thousand and you may find that statistical factors begin to play in earnest.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 06:00 am
@sarek,
Lets be honest he was nuts..If he had restricted his initial adventure to western Europe and kept America out of the picture,ide be goose stepping to work right now.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 06:58 am
@xris,
xris;66512 wrote:
Lets be honest he was nuts..If he had restricted his initial adventure to western Europe and kept America out of the picture,ide be goose stepping to work right now.

And I'd be honken... He suffered as all dictators from wrong knowledge from his generals...He beat them at the game of government and had them eating out of his hand...After that, they were only administrators and sychophants...They must have known they could not handle a two front war, but if a man gives them victory they will follow...And resistence was stiffening anyway, with lend lease and US navy on the prowl...So why not go for the resources of the east??? Only one little problem... The soviet army and the soviet society stood in their way... Each was equally impediment and asset to them...Dictators make lousy generals...Just ask Saddam...As bad as hitler was, Stalin was worse; but he had more resources, and he got more, but as a general he was bed rock stupid...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 09:10 am
@Fido,
Fido;66441 wrote:
As much as people like to say Hitler was nuts, it was the generals who lost in Russia...
Hitler made far worse decisions than his generals:

1) He specifically wanted to start Barbarossa in April or May in order to get an earlier start than Napoleon had; and yet he procrastinated by invading southeastern Europe, which delayed Barbarossa until late June

2) He ordered Army Group Center to go on the defensive during operations by Army Group North against Leningrad and Army Group South against Kiev, whereas his generals (esp Guderian, his best) wanted to go for Moscow. This delay in Army Group Center's actions made the Battle of Moscow basically unwinnable by the time it finally happened.

3) Despite Hitler's paranoia about suffering Napoleon's fate, he never thought to ensure that the Wermacht had winter clothing or even axel grease to withstand the cold temperatures.

4) In 1942 Hitler split his forces in Army Group South, which made both of his objectives (Stalingrad and the Caucasian oil fields) mutually unattainable, whereas he would have probably gotten both had he not split that Army Group.

5) In the Battle of Stalingrad, he ordered Paulus to use the soldiers in the 4th Panzer Army as infantry, which devastated their defenses against the Soviet counteroffensive.

And the list goes on -- I mean the mere fact that the Battle of Kursk even took place is one of the more damning statements about Hitler's strategic leadership (he admitted himself that the thought of waging such a battle made him sick to his stomach), though it can also be argued that by the time of Kursk the outcome of the war wasn't in question -- it was just a matter of time.

Many of Hitler's generals were inhumane butchers, like von Reichenau and (probably) von Manstein, and some of the high military leadership (Keitl and Jodl and Goehring) were incompetent puppets. But you can't argue that he was surrounded by idiots, I mean von Bock and von Leeb and Guderian and Hoth and Manstein and Model and Rommel all knew how to command armies, they were just hamstrung.

It took a lot longer for the Red Army to settle on great leadership, and frankly Stalin got better as a military leader as the war went on, Hitler only got worse.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 02:43 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;66542 wrote:
Hitler made far worse decisions than his generals:

1) He specifically wanted to start Barbarossa in April or May in order to get an earlier start than Napoleon had; and yet he procrastinated by invading southeastern Europe, which delayed Barbarossa until late June
It diistracted the Russians from the potential of barbarosa, and secured his flank..

Quote:

2) He ordered Army Group Center to go on the defensive during operations by Army Group North against Leningrad and Army Group South against Kiev, whereas his generals (esp Guderian, his best) wanted to go for Moscow. This delay in Army Group Center's actions made the Battle of Moscow basically unwinnable by the time it finally happened.


Hitler new what he could do with what he had...
Quote:
3) Despite Hitler's paranoia about suffering Napoleon's fate, he never thought to ensure that the Wermacht had winter clothing or even axel grease to withstand the cold temperatures.

Agreed... He never grasped the ability of Russia, its vastness, its extreme tempertures, or the brutality and resolutness of the people...He never built long range bombers that could attack that vastness... He did not think it would take so long or gobble up so may lives... But just as in Iraq and Afghanistan; it is the job of the Generals to tell the leaders of the country the limitations of armies...Now that our army hs been swallowed up, being used for futility rather than for defense, now we are about to find the uselessness and futility of nuclear arms... If I were Mr. Obama, I would be starting a draft, and building another amy...The last one is shot..
Quote:
4) In 1942 Hitler split his forces in Army Group South, which made both of his objectives (Stalingrad and the Caucasian oil fields) mutually unattainable, whereas he would have probably gotten both had he not split that Army Group.
You better show me some proof of this, because my understanding is that he never wanted to take stalingrad, and until the army got into it, and said they could take it, he did not support it...


Quote:
5) In the Battle of Stalingrad, he ordered Paulus to use the soldiers in the 4th Panzer Army as infantry, which devastated their defenses against the Soviet counteroffensive.

At that point, nothing would surprise me...Paulus sucked, and the fact that he survived when so many died is a crime...

Quote:

And the list goes on -- I mean the mere fact that the Battle of Kursk even took place is one of the more damning statements about Hitler's strategic leadership (he admitted himself that the thought of waging such a battle made him sick to his stomach), though it can also be argued that by the time of Kursk the outcome of the war wasn't in question -- it was just a matter of time.


You say it yourself, late in the war...And he was on drugs and paranoid...
Quote:

Many of Hitler's generals were inhumane butchers, like von Reichenau and (probably) von Manstein, and some of the high military leadership (Keitl and Jodl and Goehring) were incompetent puppets. But you can't argue that he was surrounded by idiots, I mean von Bock and von Leeb and Guderian and Hoth and Manstein and Model and Rommel all knew how to command armies, they were just hamstrung.


What I have been told, is that the Germans lost many more men in the Balkans than in Russia...Those people are not so much different from the Russians, and they seem to love nothing better than an excuse to kill...Again, to be a dictator means to have control...Control means information as well, and that was often the undoing of these generals, as when enigma told Rommels supplies would be comming to such a point at such a time...
Quote:
It took a lot longer for the Red Army to settle on great leadership, and frankly Stalin got better as a military leader as the war went on, Hitler only got worse.

Stalin learrned to listen to hes generals..Hitler leaarned to mistrust his...
 
manored
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 04:36 pm
@Fido,
Fido;66441 wrote:
Armies fight best on deadly ground, surrounded by enemies with no hope but victory; but then they can be besieged until the are done...Soldiers fight wars...It is generals who lose them...Nothing ruins an army as fast as asking them to do the impossible, like taking stalingrad when it was never necessary and not the objective, or Pickets charge...If you give people victory they will fight for you... That is what Jackson did, and with a few simple maxims...
Thats why the Total War Series recommends always leaving the enemy an escape route and then pursing him with fast things Smile

Indeed generals lose the wars, even if the soldiers suck the generals should know that so its still their fault. Off course, thats kinda like saying its your fault if someone robs you on the street for not guessing that would happen... the unguessable happens, so lets not blame then that much Smile
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2009 09:55 pm
@coberst phil,
War is a game both sides lose...It is good for capital, and bad for humanity; but people like it when there are more women to choose from and more money to be had for work... Dead people never get their due, so war and epidemics are the best thing to ever happen to capitalism...
 
manored
 
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 03:30 pm
@Fido,
Fido;66630 wrote:
War is a game both sides lose...It is good for capital, and bad for humanity; but people like it when there are more women to choose from and more money to be had for work... Dead people never get their due, so war and epidemics are the best thing to ever happen to capitalism...
Not really, dead people dont work and dont buy, and more people means that more power can be concentrated in one point. It is also not good for capital, at least not in the short run.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 06:46 pm
@manored,
manored;66718 wrote:
Not really, dead people dont work and dont buy, and more people means that more power can be concentrated in one point. It is also not good for capital, at least not in the short run.

The object is to free capital...Look at your calender...Capital never took off until the black plague... Now, perhaps, the problem may be too much capital, and not enough cash, liquidity...Capital owns the world...It has it in its maw, but it just can't seem to choke it down...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 09:33 pm
@Fido,
Fido;66592 wrote:
It diistracted the Russians from the potential of barbarosa, and secured his flank..
Every single Russian except for Stalin knew that Barbarossa was coming. Stalin had been getting personal warnings for months from diplomats, leaders, spies, defectors, and his own military that Germany was about to launch an invasion.

Hitler had no need to secure his flank. The only reason other than procrastination that he invaded the Balkans was he was hoping to goad Stalin into attacking first.

Fido wrote:
But just as in Iraq and Afghanistan; it is the job of the Generals to tell the leaders of the country the limitations of armies...
They DID tell him. The invasion of Russia was opposed by Goehring, who at the time was the second most powerful person in Nazi Germany; and some prominent generals like Halder and Guderian also opposed it. The virtual entirety of the generals in the east opposed Hitler's plan to halt Army Group Center rather than taking Moscow. You don't need to look very far to see examples of where Hitler overrode his generals.

Fido wrote:
You better show me some proof of this, because my understanding is that he never wanted to take stalingrad, and until the army got into it, and said they could take it, he did not support it...
It was never a major objective of his until he was nearby, but it afforded him an opportunity to seize the Volga, knock out several entire Soviet armies, and get a symbolic victory. When they were approaching Stalingrad Goebbels' propaganda was teeming with stories about Germany's imminent victory over Stalingrad.

It's immaterial, because Hitler DID try to take Stalingrad, he DID divide Army Group South in order to do so, and he DID forbid any retreat even though the salient created by the German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army was plainly vulnerable.

And as much as you say that Paulus sucked, he was the one who wisely wanted to break out of Stalingrad once he was encircled. Hitler fell into Zhukov's and Chuikov's trap by pouring soldiers into street fighting while their entire army got encircled.

Fido wrote:
You say it yourself, late in the war
I did not say that Kursk was late in the war. Kursk was fought in the summer of 1943. The war had 2 years left to be fought, over 1000 miles of territory, and millions of lives. What I said was that the ultimate outcome was a foregone conclusion. Hitler knowingly threw his army against the most heavily prepared and fortified defense in the history of warfare, just because he couldn't bear to order a strategic defensive, and despite the fact that Guderian implored him not to order an offensive after the debacle at Stalingrad.

Fido wrote:
What I have been told, is that the Germans lost many more men in the Balkans than in Russia...
That would be false by several millions of lives. The Germans lost a good 4 to 5 million soldiers in Russia. They probably didn't even deploy half a million to the Balkans.

Fido wrote:
Those people are not so much different from the Russians, and they seem to love nothing better than an excuse to kill...
Please don't give us this "those people" crap... in the end, most of the soldiers on every side were young kids who were forced to fight, not some automatons with some intrinsic national character. And by the way, it wasn't the people of the Balkans or Russia who had national policies of mass extermination during that conflict...

Fido wrote:
Stalin learrned to listen to hes generals..Hitler leaarned to mistrust his...
You're right about Stalin, you're wrong about Hitler. Hitler sent his generals on an idiotic suicide mission based on his erroneous calculus that Russia would collapse like a deck of cards once invaded. When that failed, Hitler blamed his generals, but Germany lost because of operational and strategic blunders, not tactical ones.
 
 

 
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