Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Radio jamming

This article will aim to clear up some myths about electronic warfare (EW), particularly as it pertains to radio jamming. Radio engineering is a really complex subject which people have a bad habit of skipping over. They don't take the time to understand it at all, and instead would rather jump right to the applications. Military morons love to write long winded articles about EW and how it will allow their army of choice to dominate the battlefield. They like to bloviate on how their cutting edge equipment will effectively neutralise the enemys ability to communicate by radio, without exception and without the possibility of counter-measure. Unfortunately, the reality is alot more complicated. Before you can make any sort of predictions, you need to know the specifications of enemy radio sets, and the specifications of friendly EW equipment. You also need to know the basics about radio engineering. First off, the range of an emitting radio depends on its frequency, power output, antenna type, and how clear its line of sight (LOS) to the receiver is. Second, these factors heavily influence your sides ability to actually detect the enemys comms and triangulate them. If they are using low power backpack sets in the confines of a forrest, and your receivers are located miles away on top of a mountain thats getting alot of interference, then you won't be aware of their presence at all.

Line of sight (LOS) is a very important
factor in radio communications

Lets use a less extreme scenario that puts you and the enemy on flat grassland, with a good LOS to each other. [1] They are carelessly using an omnidirectional antenna that your receivers can actually detect. What happens then? If you have something like a AN/TLQ-17 jammer, it can find the emitting radios position, match its emission frequency, and bathe the surrounding area in white noise. As a result, nearby radios will have their reception disturbed and won't be able to receive any signals. Does this mean that they are no longer able to communicate with each other? Not at all. If the enemy becomes aware of jamming, they can re-orient the antenna to try and lessen interference, and if that fails, switch to a backup frequency and issue a briefing message. [2] Both the emitter and receiver can then relocate to a different position, somewhere less prone to interference, to continue sending radio messages to each other. Keep in mind, this ignores the possibility that enemy radios may actually be able to defeat the jamming through brute force! They can do this by keeping the distances between emitter and receiver short, by using radio repeaters, or by cleverly using antenna masking. So even in ideal situations where you have flat terrain, good signal to noise ratio, and a high concentration of jammers, a competent enemy can bypass persistent attempts at jamming.

That last point (about the number of jammers in an area) is quite important, because the enemy may have many different radio sets communicating on many different frequencys at once. Going after all of them presents a workload so high that impractical, broad spectrum jamming will be needed. [3] And if the enemy is a real jerk, he might develop a habit of triangulating your jammers, finding their position, and bombarding them with artillery. This would force you to keep them many miles behind friendly lines for safety, reducing their effective radiated power. Thats very undesirable when the enemy uses AM radios, which do not distinguish noise and interference from the true signal, and make the task of jamming them alot harder (since you need to completely saturate the receivers with white noise). At such a great distance, your jammers will have a reduced area of dominance, and might not be able to reliably blot out their communications. So again, people need to realise that electronic warfare is a complicated endeavor whose success is dependent on many variables, including how you and the enemy interact. Despite what military morons claim, you can't just press a button at divisional HQ that blots out all their comms on all frequencys. Even with a high concentration of radio jammers, they have ways of getting around this!

 Antenna masking is useful for evading
enemy receivers and jammers

[1] This ignores situations where the enemy needs to send only a single report over radio, as the messages brevity makes it impossible to stop. Instead, we'll focuses on the steady flow of radio traffic, and how well it can be disrupted.

[2] Thus enabling them to temporarily bypass the jammer, which needs a few seconds to analyse and match the new radio frequency being used.

[3] Broad spectrum jamming is best done with multiple jammers, rather than one by itself. After all, the larger the spectrum being jammed, the less power is available to create noise.

Note: Because of the length of their transmissions, the peculiarity of their signal, and power output, jammers are easily located and identified as targets for attack by suppressive fires.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Donald trump victorious!

A phenomenal victory for donald trump, and a spectacular defeat for hillary clinton! Trump fought against washington, fought against the media, fought against all the naysayers who said he had no chance, and he won the election fair and square. Democrats (and some republicans) used every under-handed and manipulative trick they had to marginalize trump and boost hillary. They created false dilemmas, engaged in illegal campaign co-ordination, instigated violence at political rallys, and coerced dozens of celebritys to support hillary, and they still couldn't win! Their decision to nominate and support clinton was a collossal error in judgement, as was their immense overconfidence in victory in the weeks leading up to this day. They counted their chickens before they had even hatched.

The democratic party has now suffered a major setback and loss of credibility, and they have NO ONE to blame but themselves. Trump and pence did a phenomenal job on the ground of convincing ordinary americans to vote for them, while clinton and caine bought their votes through proxies and committees. So disingenous... In any case, america has taken a major step in the right direction. Disaster was certainly averted, but the battle is not yet over! The fact that hillary clinton was able to embark on a presidential race, much less come close to winning at one point, is an alarming sign of how much corruption there is in america. The mainstream media needs to be punished for their absurdly biased reporting that verged on propaganda. Hillary clinton needs to go to prison for all the laws she broke in aiding her globalist friends. Its time to drain the swamp!

Onward to victory!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Science fiction plausibility

This post will examine numerous works of science fiction, and determine where they rank in terms of accuracy. The entrys herein will involve movies and games rather than books. About 15 years back, alan kazlev published an excellent guide to this subject on his personal website. The chart uses multiple criteria in order to come to a rating, so even if the story is accurate in terms of physical laws (no superluminal travel without time travel), it can still run afoul of other blunders (like a galaxy full of alien civilizations). The scale is balanced in a way that penalizes the more speculative technologys and phenomenon, resulting in an inherently lower score: Anything involving femtotech, time travel, or the like will qualify for this penalty. Consequently, futuristic space operas get lower ratings than techno-thrillers because more ambition equals a greater amount of risk taking WRT accuracy! Of course, just because a film is set in the current day doesn't mean it can't get a very low rating. For instance, armageddon has a plausible set up involving astronauts sent to destroy an asteroid heading for a collision with earth, but makes so many mistakes and errors along the way that it devolves into sheer absurdity. Scientific accuracy is not as simple as it might seem at first. While the guide is very good at establishing its criteria, there are a few headscratchers present. For instance, kazlev says that plausibly hard sci fi should have no unobtainium, but then goes on to place reactionless drives in the plausibly hard category... Even though they require exotic matter (unobtainium) to work. *

Ultra hard

Metal gear solid. Why does it qualify for this ranking? MGS1 has crude nanomachines used for communication and medicine, genetically engineered viruses that can select targets based on their DNA (!), and walking battle tanks that can launch nuclear ordnance. MGS2 has sentient artificial intelligence, 4th generation nuclear weapons, and virtual reality simulation. That last point is especially relevant, if you subscribe to the VR theory.

Plausibly hard

The 6th day. Why does it qualify? This is a typical spy thriller with the usual near-future setup, I.E, self-piloting cars, affordable VTOL craft, energy weapons, holograms. What sets it apart from others is the weird, pseudo-cloning technology that features prominently in the story. An individuals DNA is implanted into an adult sized 'embryo', which rapidly grows into an exact duplicate of them. This would probably require nanotechnology rather than mere biotechnology.


Avatar. Why does it qualify? Avatar posits outrageous growth of the economy by 2154, such that a fleet of interstellar ships like the ISV venture star can be supported. While the ship doesn't violate relativity by traveling FTL (faster than light), it does handwave away problems with waste heat. The alien na'vi are also very human like in their appearance, despite the astronomical unlikelihood of evolution following such similar paths. There are also minor problems like the floating mountains of unobtainium, the mental link between avatar and human, etc.


Alien. Why does it qualify? Alien is the prototypical space horror film starring a very realistic alien species. The xenomorphs are different enough that they obviously don't originate from earth, but not so different that they are morphologically and biochemically impossible, either. (Hence, they manage to stay within the golden middle) The story would get a higher rating, were it not for the non-explained FTL travel, and rapid technology development early in the 21st century.


Soldier. Why does it qualify? The society in question develops very advanced technology early in the 21st century (including FTL travel), uses a planet many light years away for a rubbish dump, and posses fridge-sized bombs that can destroy an entire planet! Even star wars managed to be more realistic in this regard, since it took a battlestation the size of a small moon to do that. However, their depiction of superhuman soldiers was both realistic and disturbing.

* Case in point: Objects that have a negative mass are just as absurd as objects with a tensile strength equal to the strong nuclear force. Nevertheless, larry nivens ringworld gets a lower rating than stephen baxters xeelee sequence.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Hillary clinton? Go to hell

Clinton to Resettle One Million Muslim Migrants During First Term Alone
Banned by HuffPo, David Seaman calls media collusion with Hillary Clinton ‘Orwellian propaganda’

Its time for this lying, psychotic bitch to get the #$%^ off the stage and check into the geriatric ward... Or prison. Shes done so much shit in just the last 6 months its absolutely staggering. She blackmailed the dips at the FBI to clear her of charges on the email scandal, behaviour which is still being investigated by trey gowdy. She bribed the democratic national committee to knock bernie sanders out of the running: Then when information about this was leaked by sources within the DNC, she orders a hit on the man responsible and blamed the leak on russian hacking. LOLWUT?! Hillary lied through her teeth about her brain damage and pill addiction, while encouraging her cronys to go after dr drew who rightly called BS on that. Humorously, she then collapsed on the streets of NYC (a freudian slip for the traitor), later covering it up with fictitious claims of pneumonia. Clinton accuses her opponents of creating wild conspiracy theorys, even though she is more guilty of this than anyone else. Then she goes before national television and claims that donald trump is a thief, forgetting how she pocketed up to $200,000 worth of goods from the white house after her husband vacated it back in 2001 (and was forced to return it after a court demand). And now, clinton wants to follow in the foot steps of the marxist bitch angela merkel and import a million 3rd world immigrants into the U.S. Even though the vast majority want to establish sharia law, and continue massacring homosexuals like they did in the pulse nightclub. How stupid can these people get?! Whats more disturbing is the mainstream medias failure to hold her accountable for these scandals: Some of them are pushing narratives that border on outright propaganda, while google is censoring bad information about her. This dangerous collusion needs to stop. Its time for american citizens to end this farcical campaign of hers and chuck hillary in prison. No more criminals in chief. No more toadys for the international bankers.

Kick her in the ass, donald! Kick 
hillary right to the goddamn curb

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The plausibility of fringe theorys

This post will be an examination of fringe theorys and determine where they each fall on the plausibility index. For those unaware, this is basically a hierarchical ranking for science and pseudo-science, and an explanation of what sets them apart. The index is pretty damn useful and allows researchers to avoid the pitfalls of what some have called 'undiscriminating skepticism.' It has ten different levels, with 0-4 being the most reputable, and 5-9 being the least reputable. There are simple criteria for determining the plausibility (or lack thereof) of different scientific and historiographic theorys. This includes their adherence to mathematical proofs and measured certaintys, their internal consistency, their predictive power, and so forth. For the purposes of this article, we'll look at the less-reputable ideas, explain their core thesis, and why they deserve their respective rank. Some may be less objectionable than is immediately apparent: They sound ridiculous when spoken aloud, but in fact posses as much evidential support as the competing theorys. Others are filled with contradictory claims that put them on the bottom of the hierarchy, though.

While immensely useful, the plausibility index isn't perfect. One of its core tenets is very questionable: Namely, the assumption that widespread adoption of a theory automatically makes it more accurate and rigorous than those which are not adopted. This betrays an ignorance of the kuhn cycle and scientific paradigms. We must remember that germ theory was not universally adopted until the 1880s, even though plausible arguments for it had been formulated roughly 120 years earlier. [1] Its not uncommon for certain fields to enter a dead end with regards to their working theory: This continues to happen even though the scientific method was crystalised centurys ago. Truth be told, some concepts that are in widespread use within a field (I.E, a level 3-4 idea) actually have the characteristics of a level 6-7 idea. A good example of this would be keynsian economics and trickle down effects. These models are popular with banks throughout the world, but are based on irredeemably flawed logic. Unfortunately, this quibble over kuhn cycles and reformation will have to wait for another day. Out of necessity, we'll just use the index as it currently is.

Above: The plausibility index 
Below: The structure of scientific revolutions

Level 5: Fringe
-911 conspiracys (MIHOP). Thesis: That the september 11th attacks were perpetrated by elements of the U.S. government. Validity: Logically consistent, strong supporting evidence, and no solid rebuttals. [2] However, it fails to pass through the overton window.
-Cold fusion. Thesis: That nuclear reactions can occur at or near room temperatures. Validity: Sound reasoning on the nature of low energy nuclear reactions, and promising results from experiments. But it remains heavily stigmatised after the pons and fleischmann controversy.

Level 6: Sketchy
-Environmental determinism. Thesis: That geography is the main factor in determining how societies develop and compete with each other. Validity: Jared diamonds explanation for why the fertile crescent was destined to become the first center of agriculture is terribly unconvincing.
-Aquatic ape hypothesis. Thesis: That human ancestors spent much of their time in the water, which influenced how we came to evolve. Validity: Weak evidence, low explanatory power, and logically inconsistent.
-Moon landing hoax. Thesis: That the apollo program never achieved its purpose of landing astronauts on the moon. Validity: Most of the claims have been rebutted, and there is strong evidence that the moon landings actually did happen. [3]

Level 7: Weird
-Superluminal velocitys. Thesis: That particles can be made to travel faster than light under certain conditions. Validity: Irregardless of all the supporting math, superluminal velocitys would require that either causality (a level 0 concept) or relativity (a level 2 concept) is fundamentally incorrect.
-Revolution in military affairs. Thesis: That expensive weapons systems give militarys a huge advantage over rivals that aren't similarly equipped. Validity: Its a highly deterministic, technocentric theory that downplays the importance of human agency and the viability of countermeasures to weapons systems.

Level 8: Inherently unprovable
-911 conspiracys (no planes). Thesis: That the september 11th attacks did not actually take place, and were fabricated through the use of CGI and actors. Validity: It is unfalsifiable by its very nature. That makes it an entirely self defeating hypothesis, because it has no predictive power and cannot be proven or disproven.
-Simulation hypothesis. Thesis: That reality as perceived by human beings is a projected fiction. Validity: There is no conceivable experiment that would determine its authenticity, although it claims to be supported by the many worlds interpretation.

Level 9: Delusional
-Creationism. Thesis: That darwinian evolution is fundamentally untrue. Validity: Not only does it posit no mechanism for speciation, it actually denys the existence of this well documented phenomenon! It does this by creating a false distinction between 'microevolution' and 'macroevolution.'
-Free energy devices. Thesis: That perpetual motion machines are possible. Validity: Laughable for the simple reason that they violate the laws of thermodynamics (a level 1 concept). In a closed system, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, and entropy will always increase.

[1] In 1762, marcus von plenciz wrote a treatise on contagion which postulated that colonys of micro-organisms were responsible for the spread of disease (as evidenced by certain germs being found in ulcerating wounds). This contradicted the prevailing theory of miasma at the time, and did not find any sway with the medical community. Episodes like these demonstrate that the validity of the science alone doesn't determine whether an idea is accepted or rejected.

[2] Its important to note the divide between MIHOP and LIHOP. The former is level 5, while the latter is level 4. This isn't all that surprising when considering that the official story has plot holes which are inexplicable without some degree of government complicity. If the CIA and FBI had been allowed to function normally, the alleged hijackers would have been apprehended before they could launch the attack. If the FAA had not been impaired by all the military exercises and drills (and fed disinformation by moles), they would have successfully intercepted all four planes.

[3]  There are certain exceptions to this, though. Some of the theorys involve only the first landing  being faked, due to unspecified technical issues. Other variants acknowledge that while the landings did happen, it wasn't in the manner claimed by NASA. This theory was lamp shaded in the transformers movie, dark of the moon. Consequently, this makes them into more of a coverup than an outright hoax.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Behind the scenes pwnage

The smackdown of Mjolnir66

Exactly one year ago, I released a post in response to some LOLcows on spacebattles.com who tried to debunk one of the most popular articles on my blog, titled modern army vs WW2 army. In that post, I attempted to make comparative analysis' between armys from two different eras, and to determine who would have an advantage in war. Since it was published way back in 2012, when my knowledge base was more limited, the article suffers from certain shortcomings. It was a crude article, and if I had to write it again today, there are quite a few things I would do differently. Overall, though, I stand by most of the claims I made, along with the now infamous rebuttal that I made available to my detractors. A chap named Mjolnir66 created a reaction thread which stirred up so much anger and indignation among the SBers that they launched an invasion of my blog. I actually didn't mind that part too much, as it gave me an opportunity to express my true feelings and insult the little pricks without being moderated. One of the anonymous commentors simply tossed ad hominems at me and ran: But that didn't help as the user in question (ckk185) was later named and shamed by his peers, exactly like the simpering beta male he is. That exchange was a funny story in itself which had me in stitchs. However, another user going by the name of Whiskey Golf decided to engage me in a 1 on 1 debate, proving that spacebattles.com wasn't composed solely of lightweights. We had a long and drawn out argument that was actually quite respectful, even though we occasionally misunderstood each other. While this was going on, I was also engaged in arguments via PM with two of the detractors from my original article.

Although these discussions were much less civil, I am proud to say that I gave both of them a firm smack down :) Unfortunately, Mjolnir66 had an ace up his sleeve. As part of his reaction thread, he also did a point-by-point 'rebuttal' which convinced many people that I had been owned. That was a real pain in the ass, because it meant I'd have to make yet another response. After a week of furious research, I was able to piece together such a strong argument that I was certain it could end the discussion once and for all, and prove just how wrong these military morons were. Unfortunately, my rebuttal never got a chance to make its debut. I had been in discussion with a super moderator who claimed he could offer me a closed debate with Mjolnir66, and keep the peanut gallery at bay. But as soon as I showed interest in this, the moderator in question retracted many of his conditions and stated that if my posts were buried under a mountain of responses, there was nothing he could do. [1] This was the first inclination that I was being set up to get dog piled, which is how spacebattles.com babys always win debates. The second confirmation came when I declined the moderators offer, and he voiced regret that I wouldn't get to 'flail in futility' before his spanish inquisition. (To which I said: 'Phew, thanks for revealing your bias ahead of time! Its better that I find out now than in the middle of a debate you would be moderating!') Seeing as its been one year since I published my article and set off a giant shit storm, I have this weird urge to celebrate... The best way I can do this is by publishing my shelved argument against Mjolnir66, and proving that he hit nothing but thin air with his response. So behold.

Authors note: During these responses, he often ignored the context of my remarks, and those I was replying to. Because of that, I will sometimes need to include {indentations} to clarify what the hell hes talking about. As before, the arguments of my opponent will be listed in bold, while my rebuttal will be listed directly afterwards without bolding. I will continue to work under the assumption that the modern army is represented by america, while the WW2 army is represented by germany.

Massive pwnage is coming your way!

Really? From 8 pages of stuff, this is all you can find to "rebut"? One insanely specific piece of an argument, which is entirely pointless because I'd love to see those 88s with their 7600m ceiling engage even a Reaper drone thats sat at 10,000 or more meters, watching them and designating stuff for JAM lobs that drop the bombs from so far away the target isn't even aware planes were headed for it.

This is exactly the sortof diversionary BS I have come to expect from you. I was responding to Peptucks stupid claim that a flight of AC-130s could safely circle outside the range of AA guns, while annihilating the WW2 armys vehicles in the field. How did you choose to 'debunk' me? By ignoring that point completely, and having SEAD missions performed alongside the close air support (CAS). This is amusing because you would expect the strike fighters to be battling for air supremacy, or bombing operational targets like command centers, fuel depots, armorys, and marshaling areas, not going after some AA guns that are shooting down AC-130s! Even the USAF doesn't have enough aircraft to do both missions simultaneously: They're going to need to prioritise. Regardless, it doesn't matter whether or not a specific aircraft (which isn't exactly common in the USAF) can fly outside the ceiling of an 88mm flak gun. [2] Thats not the point. Proper air defense forces the attacking planes to fly high, to fly in less efficient strike packages, to fly with partially defensive payload, to minimize the number of attack runs, and to attack from a long distance. That reduces their net effectiveness overall. While a belt of flak guns and their sensors aren't much of a threat to fast moving, high altitude jets, they are enough of an obstacle to deny modern troops their CAS.

The modern world's biggest problem is choosing which way to perform DEAD, not actually performing it. And once the radars are gone, the 88s are going to be next to useless anyway. What exactly are WW2 AA assets going to do against even amateur hour low level fast jets, let alone long range, high altitude runs?

Flak guns aren't dependent upon radar, and your claim to the contrary is rather perplexing, because sets like the wurzburg were only used in a supplementary role by the wehrmacht (often being sidelined in favor of optical and acoustic tracking). As a matter of fact, its highly counter-productive to depend on radar when the target aircraft are flying nap-of-earth. [3] This is not only because the radars line of sight can be broken by terrain features, but also because stray returns from the ground can destroy signal clarity. And to answer your question of how 'WW2 AA assets' can respond to fast, low flying jet aircraft, theres a very simple answer: Light anti-aircraft guns. Weapons which saw little change between world war 2 and the vietnam war, and were responsible for the lions share of 1737 aircraft lost by the USAF. All but 55 of which were fixed wing... Just for fun, try comparing the 20mm flakvierling 38 to the 23mm zu-23-2: Both the german and russian AA guns use manual elevation and traverse. The zu-23-2 has a ceiling of 8200 feet, and a fire rate of 400 RPM. The flakvierling 38 has a ceiling of 7200 feet, and a fire rate of 800 RPM. The russian gun benefits from a high tech gyroscopic gunsight, whereas the german gun only has a reflector gunsight. Thats about the only difference. Going by their sheer number of kills scored in vietnam, light anti-aircraft guns from 20mm to 37mm caliber are more than capable of shooting down any pilots attempting to fly nap of earth. Realistically, the jets aren't even going to try and overfly an area infested with AA guns: Instead, they will rely on the safer method of toss bombing.

Spot the difference: German 20mm
 and russian 23mm anti-aircraft guns

And the fighters have no need to dogfight, because the vast majority of any WW2 airforce would be destroyed on the ground. Surprise isn't all that hard to achieve when your opponent has no counter SEAD precautions and you can break the sound barrier with ease. And this is also ignoring the fact that you use different aircraft for SEAD compared to CAPs.

Even if you are correct in assuming that a pre-emptive strike would destroy most of the WW2-era air force (which is a debatable topic that could fill an entire blog post), such a task would still take several days to achieve at the least. Regardless of what craft you use to neutralise their air force and air defenses, the initial work load and threat environment will still be too high for the modern troops to count on CAS. And asserting that WW2 forces have 'no counter SEAD precautions' is beyond silliness, its just willful ignorance. There are dozens of ways they can protect their radar sites from the threat of anti-radiation missiles: The radar can be turned off and obscurred with chaff, decoy radars could be used to play keep away, and the missile can be blinded with radar jammers, or lured away by trucks with corner reflectors. Moreover, barrage balloons can be inserted into the missiles flight path, and the radar can even be separated from its antenna (expandability for the win!). The list of possibilitys goes on. So despite what lockheed martin has told you, its not all about gold plated equipment. Cleverness and improvisation plays a role too. [4] Anyway, the american experience of SEAD is highly misleading, given the nature of their recent opponents. In the gulf war, the iraqis deployed fewer SAMs to protect their 43 divisions than the soviets would have deployed to protect even one division in the field! To put it bluntly, the USAF had a much easier time in iraq than they did in vietnam, not least due to the vastly different terrain.

A Panavia Tornado loaded up with cluster bombs or Brimstones rolling in at Mach 1 on the deck is a complete OCP for a WW2 force. Let alone a B1B stitting off at 10,000m dropping GPS guided JDAMs all day.
Wait a minute, stop the presses! Did you just claim that a fancy plane with fancy bombs would represent an outside context problem? Thats just astonishing that you would think that. For background, the OCP was devised by iain banks to reference an extreme situation "most civilizations would encounter just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop." As of this date, there are only a handful of events that would qualify as an outside context problem: Contact with aliens, superintelligences, and time travelers are among them. Armys from the future could certainly represent an OCP, but thats due to their identity and the circumstances of their arrival. The exotic technology wielded by them wouldn't each represent a separate OCP! Thats a ludicrous idea on par with the creationist belief in transitionary fossils. [5] Even if we were to accept this redefinition of the outside context problem, Mjolnir66, your claims would still be groundless. Are you aware that by 1912, an albatros F-2 biplane was used to drop bombs in the 1st balkan war, and that by 1944, Me 262 jets had been used to drop butterfly bombs in the 2nd world war? If you want those panavia tornados with their cluster bombs to qualify as an OCP, you'd need to send them back a hellufova lot further than WW2. Maybe the spanish american war would do :) But again, my quibble with Peptuck was about the ability of field units to fight off gunships and helicopters, which you answered by bringing in completely unrelated shit about bombers and strike aircraft. Thats nothing but a red herring.

This is what iain banks meant when he created the term 
'outside context problem.' But the LOLcows have ruined it

This whole section is wrong on the part of Dark Voice. However, I can correct it with ease. There is a reason we use 5.56 now over 7.62 and 30 06. Because 5.56 is just flat out better. Since the invention of guns, infantry combat has almost without exception taken place below 200m. And at that difference, even 5.56 from a 10.5 inch barrel is entirely lethal. Its also lighter, has less recoil, the weapons are lighter and has a much better ballistic path (ie flatter). This means more accurate fire, more rapidly and for longer, which is entirely critical in an infantry fight.

Just so we're clear, you're not correcting Dark Voices thesis, you're correcting his faulty arguments (which are full of distortion and inaccuracy). The range that most firefights occur at isn't in dispute. What is disputable is the claim that small calibers like 5.56mm are 'flat out better' than 7.62mm. The debate over rifle caliber has many gives and takes which you brush aside with a flaccid wave of your hand. Experience has shown that while the 5.56mm is a good killer, it is not a good stopper. One properly placed shot from the 5.56mm is just as likely to kill someone as any other rifle caliber, but it will do so slower, and leave the subject more functional while they are dying. In this vein, your assertion that 5.56mm is 'entirely lethal' from a 10.5 inch barrel is quite misguided. M855 rounds have a thicker jacket than the old M193, which means they fragment much less reliably. And when fired out of a barrel that short, 5.56mm projectiles won't even yaw past 12-15 meters. That means it won't transfer as much energy, which seriously reduces its wounding potential. Meanwhile, full power rounds like 7.92x57mm and 7.62x63mm have better terminal effect (due to their greater energy and surface area), and are superior against body armor and hard barriers. They also have greater suppressive effect over 5.56x45mm, due to the loudness of their sonic boom.

Again, he's wrong, but you are also entirely wrong. The first thing it says on the wikipedia about ESAPI plates is they stop AP 30 06 rounds. And, you know, I've seen it happen. And there are plenty of videos of it happening. And your video doesn't work.

When I stated that body armor like the IOTV won't protect soldiers from full power ammo, I had a firm scientific basis on which to do so. ESAPI plates may negate M2 AP as a first round stop, but it can't handle multiple rounds in a tight grouping. Why? Because they are made of ceramics like boron carbide, which means the plates are mechanically brittle. When struck by armor piercing rounds, they experience a highly inelastic collision and form large tensile cracks. Followup shots have a much easier time getting through the plate, especially if they hit the comminuted zone. This is confirmed to be the case with ESAPI, and if you have any doubts, watch the field tests again using this link. The results come as no surprise to anyone who has read the armys COPD (contract purchase description). The plates are tested with a minimum spacing of 6 inchs, which is so overgenerous as to be suspicious. With such parameters, you can't really claim that ESAPI is multi-hit capable.

He again means plates instead of Kevlar. Again, I'd like to point you to my multiple friends who have taken plate hits from 7.62R and basically ignored them. Because with the kevlar backer, they may break a rib or leave a nasty bruise, but that about all they do.

Big surprise, you're wrong again. Dark Voice specifically referenced kevlar, and hence, he was claiming that soft body armor could stop rifle calibers. Despite that embarassing gaffe, ESAPI is known to have problems with its backface signature, which result in higher trauma levels than other armor systems. So you can stop pretending that its some COD juggernaught armor that allows you to LOL at full power rifles. Like it or not, your anecdotes are less important than the established facts about interceptor vests. If the enemy has semi-automatics like the M1 garand or gewher 43, they can use a double tap to defeat the plate. Thats exactly what the analyists in that video did, put two rounds on top of each other. Even a single hit from M2 AP (or its equivalents) could probably cause a compression wound. They have more penetrating power than an M995 AP round fired from an M-16 rifle, for christ sake! And not to be pedantic, but most gunshot wounds afflict the limbs and the head, especially if the soldier was behind cover when hit.

Interceptor body armor doesn't adhere to NIJ 
standards, so backspace deformation is high

You know, having less radio comms than your opponent isn't a good thing. Telephones, messengers, signal lamps flares and smoke all have major disadvantages when compared to a decent VHF set. The latter 3 because they are utterly retarded and will just lead to your positions getting plastered by artilley. I've done telephone comms, both laying my own line, and using pre-existing lines, and they are utterly worthless on anything but the defence.

{Mjolnir66 is commenting on my refutation of Dark Voice, who asserted that any radio transmissions made by the WW2 force would be intercepted and decoded} Telephones are only useful on the defense? Well duh, thats like saying hats are made for wearing on your head :) The point you've so conveniently painted over is that if there isn't much radio traffic to begin with, then signals intelligence can glean that much less information. Also, I never claimed that deficiencys in wireless comms was by itself a good thing: I simply pointed out that WW2 armys can operate in a comms degraded environment, unlike modern forces. With regards to the germans, its worth mentioning how sophisticated they were when it came to triangulating a radio signals origin, then subjecting it to precise artillery fire: High frequency direction finding (HF/DF) was an established technique by that time. Even if they can't do it to the moderns, they know that it can be done to themselves. That bit aside, since when is it standard procedure to bombard any sites that have flare or smoke activity? LOL, are you making that up bro?

And the SIGINT and electronic warfare side of this is so hilariously one sided its insane. The WW2 side aren't going to be able to communicate without it being located, listened into and then jammed. Their radios are going to be completely worthless at best, and actively harmful at worst. Their entire command structure is going to be entirely paralysed. Or destroyed. And they don't have the slightest hope of doing anything to the modern command systems, most of which is on a type of radio wave that they don't even use.

Thats an extremely grandoise claim with no evidence at all to support it. You can't just say that all radio traffic will be intercepted, triangulated, then jammed. Thats the approach of a complete amateur and ignoramus. Are you aware of the fact that ECM systems have an specific range, outside of which they will be unable to jam enemy wireless equipment? First off, you need to know the specifications of the enemy radio sets, and how they are being used. Second, you need to know the specifications of friendly ECM hardware, and how they will be used. Since YOU didn't do your homework, I'll have to do it for you. The most common radio set in the german army was the Torn E.b receiver and a 5 W.S. transmitter, which were together called the Fu 9. The 5 W.S. transmitter had a power output of 5 watts, a frequency of 0.95 to 1.5 MHz, and a nominal range of 16 km in AM (and 58 km in CW). Meanwhile, the standard ECM system used by the U.S. army is the AN/MLQ-40. Like the AN/TLQ-17 it replaced, this set has a frequency of 20 to 80 MHz, and a power output of 550 watts. Do you see any problems here? Unless the american jammers can somehow lower their frequency to match that of the german transmitter, they'll be unable to stop the signals from being received. And even if that was possible, you need to remember that not all enemy receivers will be affected equally: They will all be at different ranges from the jammer, and some may be behind obstacles which block the line of sight. As such, you have no guarantee that all german radio traffic will cease.

RF engineering is a complex subject you can't bullshit your 
way through. There are math equations for jamming!

Yeah, thats because a divisional HQ staff has nothing to do with responding to a counterattack. The commanders on the ground deal with that. I also like that you seem to think that more information is actually a bad thing too. Because a situation where your forward recce forces know roughly whats in the area and where it is before they get there is a bad thing apparently. Also, you clearly don't understand that planning cycles happen concurrently with execution, the planning cycle for the next operation is happening while the current plan is executed.

First point: The headquarters of a WW2 division is both smaller and faster than a modern division. Second point: If the difference in speed is anything like their difference in responding to a counter-attack, then SIGINT will be of reduced importance to a modern force. Why? Because if both sides HQs go into action at the same time, the WW2 force will produce an order more quickly. [6] BTW, if a counter-attack is launched by anything much larger than a battalion, it most certainly will require a response from divisional HQ. Planning cycles are nothing but an encumberance: Either the commanding officers will need to ditch their staff procedures, or subordinates will need to act on their own initiative, because anything else is too slow for mobile warfare. Another salient point: In the paragraph you're responding to, I wasn't talking about the quantity or types of intelligence gathered by modern forces (which is of questionable value in and of itself), but about the methods which commanders at HQ use to deliberate on them. Rather than making quick deductions on the spot and delivering orders ASAP, they instead have their staff officers use an estimate process that a takes ridiculously long time to come to a conclusion.

On the one hand we have a networked slab of armour with thermal sights, access to UAV feeds, a mobility advantage, can fire on the move out to 4 or 5km with ease, the best sights the world has to offer on top of the best training based on the experiences of the other side and half a century of wars since. 

{Mjolnir66 is responding to my commentary on how a WW2 tank could destroy an MBT} This is wank, wank, and more wank. The longest tank-on-tank kill was when a challenger destroyed a T-62 from 4.7 or 5.1 km away in the gulf war. This required a fancy ballistic calculation, even though both vehicles were static. Since this confrontation will be taking place in western europe, you can throw those kind of shots right out the window. Long range gunnery doesn't mean jack if you are in terrain which doesn't offer that line of sight (LOS) to your target. Most landscapes will have so much defilade present that tank kills will only happen at a much shorter range. Example: Within the NATO central region, 55% of the LOS are shorter than 500 meters. That really puts a cramp in your plans to become a tank ace like h.r. mcmaster! Also, the 'best training' pratices you mention are based on an ignorance of tank warfare in WW2, and the fact that most AFV kills were made by anti-tank guns (either towed or self-propelled). To be more precise, specialist anti-tank weapons are generally about 2.5 times better at destroying tanks. Modern tankers are encouraged to ignore this and use their MBTs to fight other tanks, which is not the role they are best suited for.

 You can't see any tanks, because theres a hill in the way, stupid!

On the other side, we have Shermans. The tank fight would be hilariously one sided even if we put Bradleys up against Shermans. The only other fight that would be as hilariously skewed towards the modern side is the air war. Again, a modern MBT is a complete outside context problem. Thermal on its own is a game changer. I can spot a cool AFV in a woodline 8km away at night or 6km away during the day. A UAV can spot it the day before I get there. 
Unless your tank is parked on top of a mountain, you aren't going to be spotting anything at those kinds of ranges, due to the short LOS in western europe that were already mentioned. More importantly, the optics on an abrams tank have a more limited range than an apache or tiger helicopter. Theres also a major difference between spotting something, and actually identifying what that something is. At a distance beyond 2 km at daytime, the gunners primary sight can't distinguish a tank from an APC, much less determine whether it is an enemy or friendly. Thats especially true if the target vehicle is carrying a hay stack, foliage, or anything else that absorbs heat and obscures its outline: The bosnians used to cover their tanks in rubber mats for a reason. [7] You are being dishonest about the capabilitys of thermal imaging, by treating it like x-ray vision that can see through obstacles and make concealment useless. As an aside, bradley IFVs would be well advised to avoid duels with shermans or other WW2 tanks. 75mm APC rounds would go through a bradleys armor with zero effort, and even a .50 cal machine gun with AP rounds could potentially be a threat.

First, you are like 20 years out of date, using the M1A1. Second, WRT ammunition, I take it you've never heard of cannister, M908 or MPAT, plus the HEAT round is still entirely explosive. And I suggest you go talk to some of the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah and Baghdad about the effectiveness of M1s on infantry and buildings. Third, explain to me what anti tank guns, after M1s have rolled through the area?

I didn't specifically reference M1A1s, that was Dark Voice. Shaped charges have a less than impressive effects against buildings and personnel, mainly because of the focused nature of their blast. This is what a shaped charge from an RPG does to an APC. Not exactly impressive when considering the size of its warhead. As for the shells you mentioned, M830A1 MPAT is a subcaliber HEAT round with a proximity fuze - an odd substitute for regular high explosive. M908 HE-OR is mostly identical to the MPAT, but with the proximity fuse replaced by a hardened nose cap. In practise, the blast effect from both of these projectiles is hardly better than a 60mm mortar round. And thank you for ignoring my point about the abrams being a one trick pony that relys on APCs and IFVs to deal with anything that isn't a tank. I noted the bradley and strykers vulnerability to anti-tank guns, to which you responded with the blustering rhetoric above. To answer your question, the anti-tank guns can perform their mission without undue risk by using camouflage and concealment, a practise the wehrmacht took very seriously. Theres no rule specifying you have to put them out in a flat open field: The guns can be placed behind defilade and engage the enemy at more favorable ranges and angles. In the gulf war, the iraqis used reverse slope defenses to stop armored thrusts by the americans. An impressive feat when considering the huge difference in fighting power between these two forces.

 Anti-tank guns are quite lethal in closed terrain, 
as these toy soldiers bravely demonstrate!

And modern tanks excel at both tactical and strategic mobility. You can change the powerpack on a Chally 2 or M1 faster than you can change a track on a Sherman. And the speed thing is only if they are buttoned down. And ignores the fact that if you're fighting tanks like they will, they aren't always going to be using their speed forwards. In fact, most tank tactics involve rocking forwards and backwards in and out of cover as fast as possible to fire.

{Mjolnir66 is responding to my criticism of Dark Voice, who was bloviating about the M1 abrams tactical mobility} My point was that MBTs can't outperform a WW2 tank in both categorys at once. You mentioned strategic mobility, which is partly determined by mechanical reliability. Consider this. The M4A2 sherman has an engine life of 1400-3000 miles, track endurance of 2500 miles, consumes 1.15 gallons of fuel per mile, and has 27 hour fuel endurance while idling. The M1A2 abrams has an engine life of 1900-2600 miles, track endurance of 2100 miles, consumes 8 gallons of fuel per mile, and has 8 hour fuel endurance while idling. The abrams is definitely inferior to the sherman with regards to mean miles between failure: With an MMBF of just 419 miles, it experiences a constant hiccup of minor problems. (Also, the SEP variant had one of its four fuel tanks removed, which reduces its fuel capacity somewhat) Meanwhile, the sherman needs fewer stops for maintenance and refueling during a road march. And due to the difference in sheer weight, it is easier to transport by bridge, road, train, and ship than an abrams. This observation hold true whether you swap out a sherman for a churchill, and whether you swap an abrams out for a challenger. As a minor nitpick, bradley IFVs don't reverse nearly as fast as an abrams tank: When performing maneuvers like you describe, they were left behind in the dust to fend for themselves. Add that in with the flaws I mentioned previously, and the conclusion remains the same: M1 abrams suck at combined arms operations.

And shut the fuck up about shot traps. Leo1 even points out that shot traps don't matter any more. And it's because they don't. Especially when you're using a KWK43 or 76mm gun on an M1. The reason that most allied tanks were knocked out at such short range is a combination of optics, poor controls, inaccuracy of guns and the fact they were on the attack. While terrain can be part of it, its not the main reason. Modern day autocannons have a similar or longer effective range to WW2 main guns for a reason.

Why don't you go piss on an electric fence? Seriously. The only reason shot traps 'don't matter' is because no one uses regular AP rounds anymore: Instead its either APDS or APFSDS, which don't deflect off armored surfaces. If MBTs were sent back to WW2, however, you can rest assured that they would be struck with many AP rounds. Some of them may actually bounce off and hit a soft spot, but this relys on pure chance. Like jack dempsey said: ''Lucky strike is a cigarette brand, not a punching strategy.'' And if you really expect anyone to believe that allied tanks were destroyed at short ranges because of technological and not geographical reasons, you'd better be prepared to offer a good source or sound reasoning. Right now you haven't done either of those things. If you've really got that much of a hard-on for tank duels, then let me admit this: Even with numerical superiority, the wehrmacht would be at a stark disadvantage. German tanks would only be a threat when in ambush position, and due to the enemys thermal imagers, they would need concealment to remain safely hidden. If they are in terrain that doesn't offer cover, they'll need to turn the engines off and stay buttoned up. If the panzers fire multiple shots against the side, then even a 75mm L/48 gun could threaten an MBT. This is because they rely on chobham armor with ceramic tiles that are are quite brittle and cannot withstand multiple hits. Worse yet, the armor is highly vulnerable to oblique impacts, as that can shatter many of the interlocking plates. (Hint: Thats why MBTs don't have sloped armor) Put both of those together, and you have a viable, albeit risky, strategy for taking out an M1 abrams. [8]

This tactic is worse than useless when your tank
uses chobham armor! It will get you killed

Even at short range, with the computer aided firing systems, power traverse and the ability to fire on the move, the modern tanks still have major advantages, even before you think of soft stuff like better visibility, thermal sights and the like. And the ability to survive a first hit is nothing to sniff at either, which renders a lot of tank destroyer tactics moot. 
You make a valid point. The germans aren't going to come out on top of tank duels against MBTs. They'll have to rely on more passive measures. During operation barbarossa, the heer was constantly running up against T-34s and KV-1s that couldn't be frontally pierced by any of their tank or anti-tank guns. So what happened when they ran up against these unkillable super-tanks? There was initial panic and disintegration, yes. But due to their high cohesion and outstanding leaders, the germans would eventually return to battle and improvise. Unable to destroy the soviet tanks at long or medium range, they would use unorthodox tactics. When properly prepared, they could shoot their tracks off with tank guns, then wheel up a 150mm cannon and shell it into oblivion. Projectiles of this caliber would kill the crew and wreck most of the equipment, if not remove the turret entirely. But when caught by surprise, the germans would try to separate the infantry from the tanks, and allow them to penetrate into the front lines. There after, they would be engaged with enfilade fire at close range from tank and anti-tank guns, or even set upon by pioneer teams with explosives. A dangerous and exhausting way to wipe out T-34s and KV-1s, but it was done on the regular. We know how the wehrmacht dealt with ubertanks before, and their fighting power can't be underestimated.


Now that this squabble has been cleared up, I would like to take a moment to clarify a few things. First off, the reason I chose to pit the germans against the americans was mainly because information about the two armys is widely available, and because they are the most frequent opponents on alternate history sites. I wanted the comparisons to be kept strictly between western forces, and to ensure that there wasn't an absurd numerical disparity. This pretty much forced me to use the americans, since the next largest army (france) is only 1/5th its size! To put it simply, the U.S. army is the only modern western army that could stand up to a western WW2 army. Second, I have changed my stance somewhat since responding to the SBers last year. I now believe that even though the 1944 germans are much larger and more competent than the 2016 americans, the difference in hardware will probably result in their defeat. While the americans aren't as skilled as the germans, they are skilled enough to conduct most operations with proficiency. But since america has by far the largest army in the west, their victory is the exception to the rule: Most forces are so small that without years of build up, they would simply splash against the goliath WW2 force. Third, even knowing that the modern americans would prevail, the SBers made a large number of fatuous claims that betrayed an ignorance of both sides capabilitys. They consistently over-estimated the americans while under-estimating the germans, and posited highly unlikely scenarios that all but ensured the victory of their prefered side. Some members of their forum also took advantage of board rules to suppress commentary that they did not agree with, showing immense dishonesty in the process.

[1] His exact words were that 'spacebattles is not a hug box.' Which is nothing more than a lie, because anyone who repeats the SB party line will receive dozens of likes, while anyone who challenges it will get scorn, vitriol, and off topic diatribes.

[2] For posteritys sake, ceiling is the distance above ground at which a flak gun can engage an aircraft moving at 400 mph. For the 88mm anti-aircraft gun, the effective ceiling is actually 8000 meters, and the maximum ceiling is 9900 meters. A plane at that altitude and speed could be engaged for at least 20 seconds.

[3] Keep in mind, though, that theres a hard limit on how low the strike jet can go. Even with high drag MK 82 bombs, the aircraft needs to be more than 500 feet above ground to ensure its survival (otherwise it gets hit with shrapnel from its own bombs).

[4] During the kosovo war, the yugoslavians used obsolescent air defense equipment that no one took seriously. NATO had been bombing the crap out of them and getting careless, until one aspiring officer devised a tactic that enabled his unit to shoot down an F-117 stealth bomber with an SA-3 missile system.

[5] In the same way that ray comfort bastardised evolution to the point where it could result in a crocoduck, Mjolnir66 and his pals have bastardised the outside context problem until it provided them with an instant win button. One can only shake their head in dismay at such ignorance.

[6] And for anyone who can't put two and two together: By the time any intelligence gleaned by the moderns SIGINT can be passed on to HQ, and then passed on to the troops via a FRAGO, it will probably be out of date. The implications are serious enough that Mjolnir66 avoided directly addressing them.

[7] Theres also the issue of infrared crossover, which is when the temperature of an inert object will match the environments ambient temperature at certain times of day (after sunrise, and after sunset). This effect is particularly bad during wet conditions, and it makes thermal imagers alot less effective.

[8] Nor does this require specialised training: They just need to fire at the MBT from an oblique angle, and keep firing until they penetrate. This is a reversal of fire discipline in WW2, which was to try and achieve perpendicular hits, and to continually re-aim after each shot (because rolled homogenous armor would not weaken from multiple hits).

Thursday, 30 June 2016

U.S. army vs german army

This essay will attempt to summarise the difference in fighting power between the U.S. and german army during the later stages of world war 2. This is a subject which is still plagued by many myths and half truths, which are regurgitated as fact on some online forums. Fighting power is a military attribute determined by human and organisational aspects rather than technological ones. For this reason alone, it is the most important factor in determining just how tough and capable a ground force really is. Some of the most important qualitys are leadership skills, training, cohesion, initiative, command staffs, personnel selection, resource allocation, inter-branch cooperation, tooth to tail ratio, discipline and justice, etc. According to Martin van Creveld: “While weapons and methods of warfare change, the nature of fighting power does not; though the relative proportion of the individual qualities listed may vary from time to time, the qualities themselves are the same today as they were for Caesars veterans 2000 years ago. Though good equipment can, up to a point, make up for deficient fighting power (the reverse is also true), an army lacking in the latter is a brittle instrument at best. History, including recent history, bristles with examples of armys that, though ostensibly strong and well equipped, disintegrated at the first shock of combat through sheer lack of fighting power.” With that distinction in mind, we can come to grips with a litany of evidence which proves that the U.S. army possessed lower fighting power than the german heer.

The case is on solid ground because combat prowess is best displayed in difficult circumstances, which was certainly the case for germany after the battle of Kursk when they lost any realistic hope of victory. After all, being able to throw a great punch is only half of what makes a champion: The ability to take a punch and keep on going is just as important! But this query is not without its challenges. Those who acknowledge that the german army was more competent than its opponents (or that they achieved things unparallelled in other armys) are frequently given the derogatory label wehraboo. The denizens of spacebattles.com are particularly fond of this term. There are many reasons why people would prefer to ignore the heers combat record in WW2, not least of which is the many war crimes they committed. The problem was pointed out by Max Hastings: “The Allies in Normandy faced the finest fighting army of the war, one of the greatest that the world has ever seen. This is a simple truth that some soldiers and writers have been reluctant to acknowledge, partly for reasons of nationalistic pride, partly because it is a painful concession when the Wehrmacht and SS were fighting for one of the most obnoxious regimes of all time.” The current sentiment of the west is that tolerance and diversity are essential values for all successful nations, and the fact that nazi germany displayed none of them creates a disconnect. Hence why people use dismissive labels rather than factual arguments. But thats enough psychoanalysis for today, lets get down to the heart of the matter!

Note: For the duration of this article, notes will be given curly brackets like this {N}, while citations will be given square brackets like this []. This is to help elaborate on certain claims, and to help verify the basis of others claims. To perform a word search, use CTRL-F on a standard computer or laptop.

The U.S. armys perception of fighting 
power, which omits many categorys

Basic training

This is a huge subject which covers the training of every soldier in every branch of the army, and could easily consume several blog posts to give an adequate overview. But for now, we'll take a much narrower focus and just look at the basic training given to all new recruits, before they are assigned to their branch of choice (whether it be infantry, armor, or artillery). While theres a common perception that every man can serve as a rifleman in an emergency, the reality is much more disappointing. Throughout history, it often happens that support troops will unexpectedly get drawn into the fighting, whether they are ambushed behind friendly lines or encircled by an enemy force. Rear area personnel don't posses the confidence and training of infantry soldiers, and hence will often give a poor account of themselves in firefights. In modern war, there have been far too many cases where they surrendered en masse without firing a shot. This is highly undesirable, given that support troops make up most of an armys numerical strength. Ideally, they need to be capable of defending themselves, guarding their perimeter and reinforcing depleted front line units. So how did the two armys compare with regards to basic training? To put it simply, the germans were heads and shoulders above the americans. All of their new recruits were trained extensively as infantry, regardless of the role they would eventually occupy. [1]

Even if these men went on to become barbers, cooks, or chauffeurs, they still possessed skills that made them equal to an american rifleman, and they could be depended on to serve as auxiliary soldiers in desperate occasions. This was seen time and time again throughout WW2, but most notably in the later stages of Stalingrad and Normandy, when german troops were employed in improvised battlegroups called alarmeinheiten. [2] This was an economy of force measure that compelled rear area personnel to take responsibility for their local defense, so that the few combat soldiers remaining could focus their efforts at the center of gravity. The wehrmachts training imparted an action-oriented mindset on the men, who showed an amazing willingness to pickup a rifle and fight the enemy on foot. {N1} This steadfastness was partly the result of their political indoctrination, which gave the rank and file a real sense of what they were fighting for, and thus a place and purpose in the larger scheme of things. (Always important when soldiers are confronted with the carnage of war, which removes them from their normal reference frame) It was also partly because the germans placed a greater emphasis on teaching their recruits about field craft and small unit tactics, before they moved on to their occupation of choice. Meanwhile, the americans were content to give their recruits only a brief and partial overview of the same.

Conclusion: Without accounting for occupational speciality's, the average german underwent more infantry-related training than the average american. That is to say, german support troops were more reliable in combat than were american support troops. A not unimportant factor when considering the shortages of infantry that were experienced by both sides.

Officer training

The importance of leadership skills is obvious in most careers, never mind in the field of warfare where the costs of losing are so high for a nation. No matter how individually skilled the soldiers are, and no matter how well they co-operate as a team, they must be directed by a competent leader if they are to win battles and campaigns, much less a war. Different societys have different expectations on just how much payoff is provided by competent leaders, though. The ancient greeks believed that an army of sheep (led by a lion) was better than an army of lions (led by a sheep). Most nations throughout history weren't quite so optimistic. That question aside, how do we judge which army has the better leadership caste? In order to answer this, we need to know the difference in how both armys selected and trained their officers, and how that impacted their ability to lead men on the battlefield. The biggest distinction between the germans and the americans is how their men received a commission. In the german army, a candidate would be forced to prove his worth as an NCO before he could hope to receive officer training. In the U.S. army, a candidate was able to go straight to officer training after completing basic. The consequences of this should be fairly obvious. Working alongside the enlisted men allowed the candidates to better understand their mindset, and to judge how a leaders actions affected the rank and file. Moreover, this practise meant that all the ranks have been through the grind of field duty (with no shortcuts allowed), and that officers owe their rank to the simple fact that they are a better soldier than the rest. That strengthened the cohesion between officers and enlisted men.
In total, the german candidate underwent 4-6 months of NCO training, followed by 2 months of service at the front. This enabled the school to see how they performed under pressure, before the men were offered or denied a commission (as a fahnenjunker). Thats an entire layer of preparation american candidates never had the opportunity to undergo! {N2} By the time officer training began, they were already behind the germans in a number of critical areas like navigation, flanking maneuvers, using supporting weapons, adjusting artillery fire, etc. More important was the structure of the courses themselves. Germans learned to think on their feet and find solutions in hopeless circumstances. They were encouraged to challenge the instructors when given imprecise answers. Americans dealt with map exercises rather than field problems, and long written orders instead of brief verbal commands. Their thoughts were disregarded by the instructors, who reinforced the importance of sticking with a 'school solution.' [3] The german would have spent 8 weeks at a kriegsschule and 12-16 weeks at a truppenschule, while the american would spend 4 weeks at a preparatory school and 13 weeks at officer candidate school. {N3} Not surprisingly, this resulted in huge differences between how they led men in the field, which is best summarised by Jörg Muth: “American observers before the war failed to recognise upfront leadership as a decisive peculiarity of german combat excellence. German units often were provided with leadership in the most desperate and crucial situations, which enabled them to either attack or defend against heavy odds.”

Conclusion: The disparity in competence between german and american officers is huge. By the time they finished officer training, the german leutnants had a superior grasp of battle tactics, leadership skills, and a more aggressive command style. Its unsurprising that the american 2nd lieutenants (the so-called '90 day wonders') were often at a monumental disadvantage in combat.

 The americans have bosses,
but germans have leaders


For the purposes of this article, initiative will refer to subordinates taking risky courses of action without oversight from their superiors. The mechanisms determining whether or not an army is capable of high initiative are as much cultural as they are organisational. There must be an atmosphere that justifys the ends over the means, and rewards innovation as long as it provides results. Using an example, lets say that a unit leader initiates an attack and experiences lots of resistance, when he decides to leave his sector and follow in the wake of another unit making better progress. [4] Will he be punished for disobeying orders, or commended for arriving at the objective? In such an instance, the american officer could expect reprimand, while the german officer could expect praise. This dichotomy can be observed in any number of engagements between the two armys. [5] In an attack, the americans would rely on a tightly choreographed operation with artillery support and air superiority. After initial successes brought about by the sheer weight of supporting fire, they would soon encounter stiff resistance which stalled the attack. The americans would then become demoralised and wait for additional orders or reinforcements. In the defense, german front lines would often be obliterated by a barrage of shellfire, leaving a nearby group of soldiers with a huge responsibility. Without the time to consult superiors, they would act on instinct and rush forward to plug the gap. Utilising either a counter-attack or hasty defense, the germans would then vigorously fight off the enemy troops who tried to exploit their breakthrough.

These anecdotes hint at the preferences both armys have for the execution of missions: The americans focused on planning, while the germans focused on improvisation. The difference in thought is also reflected in how either side would replace leaders who were killed or wounded in action. The U.S. army had a large surplus of junior officers on standby who could act as substitutes, whereas the german army had NCOs who were trained to think two levels above their rank. [6] [7] When the leader of an american unit was KIA, his men needed to wait for HQ to send a replacement. But when the leader of a german unit was KIA, his subordinate simply took over and continued the mission. This was beneficial on time sensitive missions, or when snipers were out in force and targeting officers. One should not forget the matter of cohesion, either. The american system meant the men would be led by a stranger, while the german system ensured they would be led by someone known to the men. From all indications, the practise of over-qualifying NCOs to replace junior officers appears to be the better approach. While some would claim that the americans and germans were no different when it came to leader replacement, this simply isn't borne out by the facts. Officers only comprised 2.86% of the german army, whereas officers made up 7.1% of the U.S. army. [8] More importantly, 70% of german officers were stationed in fighting units, while only 36% of american officers were.

Conclusion: Success doesn’t depend on having the perfect plan. It depends on changing plans to match circumstances fast enough for the changes to be effective. American leaders were frequently hampered by indecisiveness, while german leaders displayed great initiative at all levels. As a result, unexpected developments in battle affected them less than it would in other armys.

Command staffs

There are many different types of staffs which command many different types of units and formations, but for the intent of this article, we'll be focusing on divisional level headquarters as they existed in 1944-45. A german infantry division had 38 officers, and 446 men of other ranks, for a total of 484 in the HQ. A U.S. infantry division had 79 officers, and 430 men of other ranks, for a total of 509 in the HQ. [9] Whats most interesting here is the disparity in the number of officers: Even if you exclude their divisional artillery staff, which brings the count to 94 officers, the U.S. headquarters contain twice as many officers than the germans. This matter has some consequences for the efficiency of divisional HQs, particularly for the staffs that issue operational orders. Even if all other things were equally balanced (which they certainly aren't, as we will see shortly), the presence of so many extra officers increases the managerial overhead and changes the span of command. {N4} In the words of Jim Storr: “It is also quite obvious that almost everybody above the working level in an HQ is superfluous, except the commander and COS. This applies in almost every HQ, especially the large ones. What the higher ranks achieve is a requirement for more briefings to them and meetings between themselves.” Also notable is that U.S. divisional staffs were far less specialised for operations (I.E, combat leadership) than their german counterparts. Both the american and german staffs had four separate sections. The americans had personnel G1, intelligence G2, operations G3, and logistics G4. The germans had operations SI, personnel SII, justice SIII, and quartermaster SIV.

One difference is that the german chief of staff doubled as the operations officer SI, and was given complete authority over the other three sections. By contrast, the american chief of staff had someone else to act as the operations officer G3, and had no real authority over any of the four sections. [10] [11]  Thats quite a sub-optimal arrangement. Another key factor deserving of mention is the differences in command style. The german army practised something called mission command. This involved a superior outlining a mission for subordinates, but not a plan on how to execute it: They were trusted to use their imagination to provide the desired results. {N5} On the other hand, the U.S. army practised what could be called detailed command. This involved a superior outlining not only a mission, but an intricate plan on how to accomplish it: Subordinates were tasked merely with putting the plan into motion. Why is this important? Because modern war has shown time and again that a commander at some distant HQ cannot hope to get an accurate picture of the situation on the ground. They can't read the enemys mind and predict how they will react, and hence, they can't foresee the best possible employment for their units throughout the mission. When subordinates are neither trained nor permitted to deviate from the plan (or reject it in favor of another), they can't exploit fleeting opportunity's for success, nor can they improvise to avoid certain defeat. In order for that to happen, commanders must delegate authority so that the right man at the right spot can apply ad hoc solutions when they are needed most. During world war 2, only one army in the entire world could do this effectively and consistently.

Conclusion: Though comparable in many ways, german HQs have fewer officers and a greater emphasis on operations. By effectively enabling them to run the show, the germans are able to make decisions and deliver orders more quickly. The decentralised method of problem solving represented by mission command (or auftragstaktik) is also an undeniable advantage, which was imitated by several armys in the aftermath of WW2.

Above is the staff of a german HQ.
Below is the staff of an american HQ.


Cohesion is a term which describes the camaraderie and teamwork of soldiers within a unit. There is both low level cohesion, and high level cohesion. Low level cohesion can be created simply by having soldiers train together on a regular basis, and develop mutual respect and understanding. High level cohesion is more complicated, though: According to William Henderson, it requires the men have a common race, religion, language, and culture. If they aren't among people who they can consider part of an extended family, they won't develop the intense loyalty required to stick together in the heat of battle. The german soldiers all had a very homogeneous background, owing to the racial policys of the nazi party. Some SS formations recruited non-whites into their ranks, and the regular heer had some minoritys in hilfswillige and ostlegionens, but they were segregated from the rest of the army. The american soldiers also had a very homogenous background, because they came from a mostly white nation. Its true that there were small numbers of blacks in the army, but they were employed either in support roles or in segregated combat units. While important, these facts don't properly convey the whole picture. Armys engaged in major wars will experience rapid depletion of their manpower, especially in the infantry branch which comprises only 6-10% of an armys strength but suffers some 60-90% of the total casualties. As said by Dwight Eisenhower: “Modern armies are wholly dependent on men carefully trained in difficult skills. Replacements on a numerical basis do not mean much. It is replacement with trained men that counts.”

Attrition has a deleterious effect not only on skilled labor, but on unit cohesion as well. One advantage possessed by the germans was their system for replacing personnel who were lost in battle. Every division had a training battalion where new personnel were transferred to, and who were all conscripted from the same military district (wehrkreise) as the other men in the division. This gave them a common background that aided with integration. Contrast this to the american system, where the personnel selected came from any number of divisions, and any number of different states. {N6} It was not unusual for southerners to be dumped into a formation of east coasters, and vice versa. This made integration much more difficult and often resulted in poor teamwork. Also important is how the replacements were assigned to their new units after completing basic training, and how they received hard-earned lessons from the veterans (to avoid taking unnecessary losses in battle). The germans had their recruits kept together and sent to the front lines while under the command of decorated soldiers, who would introduce them to the formations history and traditions. [12] [13] Upon reaching their assigned sector, the men would participate in drills with the rest of the division, and comfortably find their place among a larger team. Meanwhile, the americans had their recruits shipped to a replacement depot, where they were then broken up and sent individually (or in small groups) to the front lines. Not only did they have no personal connection to the formation, but veterans were often wary of the men and didn't befriend them, which led to the recruits becoming socially isolated.

Conclusion: The americans and germans were equal in terms of low and high level cohesion, until they started to suffer heavy casualties. Whenever they needed to call on replacements to get back to full strength, the americans suffered from a drop in social cohesion and combat skills, qualitys which rarely wavered among the germans. As a result, they could not withstand the effects of attrition as well.


With regards to the human factors, we can clearly see that the U.S. army was not at the same level as the german heer. Even after the terrible losses sustained after three years of fighting on the eastern front, when many of their best troops were KIA or WIA, the germans consistently displayed greater fighting power than the americans. Mathematical models (which are consistent with field reports from mid '43 to mid '44) indicate that on a man per man basis, the germans were 20% to 30% more effective than the anglo-american forces, and inflicted 50% higher losses than they incurred in all circumstances. Regardless of whether they were attacking or defending. The high fighting power of the heer enabled them to punch above their weight, and eke out a stalemate in battles that they actually should have lost. More than anyone else, they understood the importance of personnel and organisation, and how it forms the bottom line for everything else that follows. Nor is it easy to delineate where one quality ends and another begins, because there is so much overlap between them. For instance, great command staffs provide hidden benefits for the soldiers under their helm, since they are less likely to micromanage subordinates and stifle their initiative. Additionally, the practise of having officer candidates prove their worth as NCOs builds cohesion between the officers and enlisted men.

Over-qualified NCOs who can replace dead or wounded leaders will help safeguard the units morale in times of desperation, when they are at the greatest risk of fracturing. This isn't even touching on the methods used at the officer schools, which included giving the candidates problems that could only be solved by disobeying orders. The dividends this provided for the germans are all too obvious. As one commentor put it: “To a limited degree, all german soldiers were like british commandos – because they were encouraged (trained) to think for themselves... Wehrmacht units, even if all the officers had been killed, would sometimes 'reform' and fight again. Even as late as 1944 german units that had been 'destroyed' came back and attacked. British and american forces thought they were facing new german units – when they were actually facing ones they thought they had already destroyed.” Despite all their disadvantages at the strategic level (including a chronic shortage of fuel, which made it difficult to conduct mobile warfare), the germans were frequently able to confound the americans and bloody them at the tactical level. While some armys have the characteristics of a glass cannon, the heer fought equally well in victory and defeat. They bitterly resisted their foes for the entire duration of the war, regardless of how bleak the situation was.


{N1} That attitude was present even in the luftwaffe and kriegsmarine, which used their own training facilitys separate from those of the heer. Sailors without ships and pilots without planes would choose to fight the enemy rather than surrender, displaying such determination that the OKW decided to deploy them into combat divisions in the last years of the war. While the loss of so many ships and planes was unfortunate, they were clever in utilising every bit of manpower they had.

{N2} Some sources indicate that by the time they received their commission, the fahnenjunkers were done in their training as platoon leaders. Instead, officer training was meant to lay the foundations for a well rounded leader who could perform a variety of different roles in a pinch.  'Any lieutenant may, at any time, have to educate, train, and lead a company, battery, or other similar unit, and any lieutenant may suddenly have to serve as a staff officer or even as an adjutant or aide-de-camp.'

{N3} There are other differences, but giving an adequate overview is difficult. Very important is that german officers were given cross branch training to get familiarised with a different field, i.e, armor officers would go to the infantry, infantry officers would go to the artillery, etc. [14] [15] This gave them a major advantage in combined arms operations. Moreover, the front trials allowed schools to weed out candidates who were not fit for officer rank, before they were entrusted with the lives of 30-50 men!

{N4} There are other oddities as well. The german headquarters had 139 men in the staff, 41 in the military police (and map department), and 304 men in logistics. The U.S. headquarters had 166 men in the staff, 239 in the military police, and 104 men in logistics. Those are some messed up priorities which indicate the americans may have had serious problems with stragglers and deserters. Their justice system was certainly more lax than the germans.

{N5} In order for auftragstaktik to work properly, the subordinate needs to understand the superiors intent, and the superior needs to outline the mission in unambiguous terms, which requires a complete uniformity of thinking on both their parts. If there was any confusion on either end, the results could end up compromising the mission. There also needs to be a culture that witholds judgement from those who fail while daring greatly.

{N6} Comically enough, some of the infantry replacements came from music bands, sanitation teams, and administration staffs! During the invasion of Normandy, only 37% of these men were rifle trained, and fewer still knew anything about small unit tactics. [16] Another fault of the american system was the refusal to return WIA men to their unit after recovery, a practise which was mandatory among the germans.


-Martin Van Creveld. “Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance 1939-1945.” Praeger, 1982. / Reason: General reference.
-Jörg Muth. “Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940.” University of North Texas Press, 2011. / Reason: The officer training of both armys.
-Max Hastings. “Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy 1944.” Vintage, 1984. / Reason: General reference.
-Joseph Balkoski. “Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy.” Stackpole Books, 1989. / Reason: The command staffs of both armys, and their replacement systems.
-R.L. DiNardo. “Germanys Panzer Arm.” Stackpole Books, 1997. / Reason: Training in the german army.
- John English and Bruce Gudmundsson. “On Infantry.” Praeger, 1984. / Reason: General reference.


[1] DiNardo, Page 57.
[2] Hastings, Page 183.  Not be confused with kampfgruppen.
[3] Muth, Page 138 and 195.  These problems were endemic to the CGSS and other schools.
[4] English and Gudmundsson, Page 63.
[5] Hastings, Page 185.
[6] DiNardo, Page 63.
[7] English and Gudmundsson, Page 64.
[8] Hastings, Page 50.
[9] Van Creveld, Page 49 and 52.
[10] Balkoski, Page 102.
[11] Van Creveld, Page 48.
[12] Balkoski, Page 225.
[13] Van Creveld, Page 75.
[14] Muth, Page 166.
[15] DiNardo, Page 64.
[16] Hastings, Page 167.