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Armies with the Most Versatile Infantry Tactics

Discussion in 'Military Training, Doctrine, and Planning' started by JJWilson, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Hello everyone! I have a bit of a strange question to ask all of you, and I apologize if a similar thread has been made before. My question is Which Army during WW2 was the most versatile or flexible in tactics, meaning they can go from being in a defensive posture, to an offensive posture in a relatively quick manner. I am talking on the platoon and company level. I have a very little knowledge on infantry tactics during the war (mostly American), but I was hoping some of you experts could tell me if certain Nations did a better job at training their men for drastic changes or "adapting and overcoming".

    Here is a scenario too try and make more sense:
    A platoon of soldiers is attacking a rocky hill that is lightly defended, as they move up the hill the defenders abandon their defensive positions. A few moments later an artillery barrage ensues, and minutes later a counter-attack is underway. Which countries infantry could best adapt to a situation like this effectively and orderly?

    Thank you for any comments or insights you might have!
    -Wilson
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    IMO the Australian soldier...a small army required more from its members, we teach all infantry to think on their feet and rely less on its NCOs...from expansive tactics of the desert to gorilla warfare in the jungles Australians have tasted it all. We didn't rely on support (hoped for it but never relied on it)...and have a "complete the mission" mentality, this requires a strong quick mind and the ability to adapt to a changing situation.
    My mob would have raced to the newly emptied defensive position, destroyed anything the enemy can use (checked for enemy info)...check to see if they could counter the battery (if they were close enough) stuck a flag or slouch hat on a pole in the hope that the artillery would destroy the outpost for us. Then pissed off!
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
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  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I can't argue with you there CAC about Australia having fought just about everywhere in every situation. Is what you mentioned above actually Australian military doctrine? If so then I think that's a pretty good argument.
    I do have one thing to add to the question though, even though a unit may be able to tactically adapt, will there weaponry and resources enable them to put up a good fight, I say this because 90% of Japanese infantrymen had Arisaka rifles not semi-auto and sub-machine guns like the U.S and commonwealth forces (more U.S though). That good greatly effect the actual process of changing tactics I would think.....
     
  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Let's see, German infantry was primarily armed with the K98, Commonwealth with Lee-Enfield Mk.III/IV, so how was the Arisaka a greater liability than other bolt action rifles?
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    The Germans also had a few MP40's and potentially a handful of G43's, Commonwealth forces had the Sten, and Owen. Besides the type 96 light machine gun, the Japanese had no other semi-auto or full auto capabilities (The Type 100 was very rare and did not see much of any combat at all). Not to mention the Lee-Enfield can carry 10 rounds, the Arisaka...5.
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    About 30,000 Type 100's were produced (so really not particularly rare) and primarily went to elite airborne or special ops type units, in infantry companies, when issued, it went to officers and NCO's, the latter which is pretty standard doctrine across contemporary militaries. This is because officers and NCO's are primarily leaders and directors of their subordinates actions and not shooters. I know Hollywood would disagree, but that's a fact. The service rifle is the primary weapon in an infantry company. A bolt action rifle is a bolt action rifle and the Arisaka was a good one. Japanese rifle squads were built around the Type 96/99 LMG's. How does this differ from the Commonwealth that used bolt action rifles built around the Bren LMG? The US was the only power to widely deploy a semi-auto service rifle, but even they built their squads around a light machine gun/automatic rifle, the BAR. The Marine Corps took it even farther by building their squads around three fireteams each built around a BAR. As a general rule, approximately 70% of a WWII infantry company's firepower was found in it's crew served weapons, machine guns (to include the squads LMG that normally has a gunner and assistant) and mortars. So unless you were involved in heavy urban, close quarters battle, high numbers of submachine guns are not really a tactical advantage. Japan did deploy the Type 10 and Type 89 Grenade Discharger (inaccurately referred to as a Knee Mortar) which was a close range firepower enhancer. Japanese troops were noted for their effectiveness on the defense, but they were also quite adept at infiltrating and flanking their opponents, particularly at night. Their biggest weakness being they weren't particularly adaptable at the small unit level (the question of this thread), they tended to attempt to execute their battle plan despite changing battlefield circumstances. Japanese tactics were good. They did administer the greatest defeat to the British military in it's history during the Malaya/Singapore campaign despite being outnumbered at about 2:1. Communist Chinese troops during the Korean War had adopted and employed many Japanese small unit tactics.
     
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  7. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Well you got me there Price. I understand that as a whole most infantrymen had bolt-action rifles, but can't you agree at least for the Lee-Enfield that 10 shots compared to 5 is better in an intense combat situation (I can only assume). So from what I understand the Japanese didn't like changing their plans in the thick of things, they had a set goal and they sticked too it no matter what? Lets switch from the Japanese for a moment and go with the Soviets, because I'm curious as to what they were like in high intensity combat situations?
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Actually there was very little difference between the tactics of any army in the scenario postulated. An assault followed by consolidation and defence against a counter attack is the bread and butter of infantry warfare and the drills for such a situation were driven by necessity in the face of lethal arithmetic. The assault would be followed by a systematic search of the position. Failure to mop up snipers would be costly. Re-organisation should take place away from the captured position, which would be an obvious pre-planned artillery target.

    However, tactics is only the conceptual component, of fighting power. The moral and physical components will also play a part. The weaponry, level of training of the soldiers and the fighting spirit of the soldiers and officers will matter. There was a massive variation in competence within armies, probably more so than between armies. The raw material and motivation of soldiers might vary between volunteers for elites and elderly home guards or disaffected conscripts. Every army had raw recruits, experienced veterans and battle weary shell shocked. Every army had good officers and not so good. Armies could group their better soldiers into elites, which might be far more capable than the standard infantry. A small unit of British commandos paratroops or special forces would be made up of soldiers who would all have been officers or NCOs in a line battalion - and none of the battle weary or reluctant who made no contribution in combat. But which is the truest measure of the capabilities of the British Army?

    There is also a contextual difference. Soldiers well equipped for one battlefield may be ill adjusted for another. In the desert or on the steppe a unit needed motor vehicles for tactical flexibility. The same vehicles can transport ammunition, support weapons and long range radios. In the mountains or jungle vehicles are a handicap.

    The German Army was very effective in the contact battle. German ethos was based on the assumption that battle was essentially chaotic. Their consistent doctrine emphasized initiative, and leaders received thorough two up training. Soldiers at every level were expected to take the initiative as circumstances changed. As an Army they were consistently quick to respond.
     
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  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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  10. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Great post Sheldrake, very informative and helpful!
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Given your "clarification" of the question I'm not sure your use of "tactics" and "flexibility" are in line with common military usage. The ability to change postures quickly could vary tremendously from unit to unit and time to time with logistics playing a significant role.
     
  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Bloody fence sitters... : )
     
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