Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Elite military units - do they live up to the hype?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Elite military units - do they live up to the hype?

    Grossdeutchsland, the 82nd All Americans, the British paras, the Soviet Guards formations, and the US Marines. Everyone has heard and read about these forces and many of the other elite military units. They get special training, special equipment, more logistics, and often special status. I have two questions:

    First, did these forces live up to the hype? Were their achivements on par with the amount of money and resources that were invested in them?

    Second, how much of their achievements were due to simply being afforded better and more plentiful equipment rather than their esprit de corps?
    Editor-in-Chief
    GameSquad.com

  • #2
    Over the years, I think elite troops have proven their worth in many ways. It's not only the specialized equipment they have that ensures their success, but even more the specialized training they receive.
    Many of the missions they perform can only be carried out by a select group of highly trained people equipped with the proper tools for the task at hand. In general, the "mainstream" military doesn't like elite forces. They feel it drains resources away from the real war-fighters. But to equip conventional forces with the equipment and training required for many of these missions would be prohibitively expensive.

    The trick with elite units is in their proper employment.
    In WW II, Royal Marine commando units were used extensively in raids on the German held coasts of Europe.
    After Overlord, many of these units were used as normal infantry. This is clearly a waste of the resources invested in the training and equiping of these forces.

    In the Waffen-SS, most of the units were lavishly equipped while regular Wehrmacht units had trouble getting even modest replacements to replace casualties incurred in battle. This no doubt contributed to their reputation in combat. Of course, when you look at the Normandy campaign, many Waffen-SS (12th SS HJ in particular) units gave a good account of themselves even when reduced to the strength of a reinforced rgt.

    With the War on Terrorism in full swing, I think we'll probably see an increase in the use of "elite" forces.
    Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

    Comment


    • #3
      I feel the term "elite" is abused. Soldiers train to be the best at what they do. Cooks are no less important than Special Forces. If those guys don't eat, the same thing is going to happen to them, as anyone else. Stick any of these troops in an environment they are not prepared to cope with, and you can expect disaster. In Panama, a single SEAL Team could not take an airfield. British troops in Iraq didn't know how to call in support fire. In WWII, the 37 IN "T" Patchers fought their *sses, but are lesser known than the 82nd Airborne Division. I can go on and on.

      Who deserves the classification as elite depends largely on the "eye of the beholder." If you think getting supplies to the front line in record time consistently is a greater than human feat, Supply Companies are elite. Throughout history, average men, in abnormal situations have managed to prevail against odds. I believe units should receive the best equipment and training required to complete their mission. For a special forces team, that might be the latest, and most fancy personal killing systems ever produced. For a maintenance company, this means kick-*ss wrenches.

      Originally posted by tigersqn
      With the War on Terrorism in full swing, I think we'll probably see an increase in the use of "elite" forces.
      Unfortunately, I question how long this will last. Special operations have always been reguarded as politically hazardous. When they go bad, the diplomatic implications can be far-reaching. The world has resorted time and again to force in an effort to stem terrorism. However, consistency has been the missing element.

      The true test of our commitment to combatting terrorism will not come through success. It will be when a covert operation goes to crap.
      "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

      Comment


      • #4
        Do you think there is any credence to the claim that the creation of the SS drained valuable experience from the Wehrmacht and robbed the regular army of replacements that would have been better used in other roles? Were the SS units worth their vast expense?

        What about the US Marine Corps? It now uses almost the same equipment as the Army. It's one big difference is that it is trained in amphibious assaults. On the other hand, the Army was certainly no stranger to amphibious assaults in the past. Anybody ever hear of D-Day, Anzio, Sicily, Okinawa, etc? Times have changed since then, but is there enough benefit to have two separate services? As time goes on airpower has become more and more dominant and ground forces almost a specialty in themselves. There have been rumblings in the past of combining the Marine Corps and Army into a single elite ground force . With Rumsfeld in charge anything is possible!
        Editor-in-Chief
        GameSquad.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Don Maddox
          Do you think there is any credence to the claim that the creation of the SS drained valuable experience from the Wehrmacht and robbed the regular army of replacements that would have been better used in other roles? Were the SS units worth their vast expense?
          It is debatable. It surely did undermine the army command structure and robbed the Wermacht of some of the best NCO material.

          Originally posted by Don Maddox

          What about the US Marine Corps? It now uses almost the same equipment as the Army. It's one big difference is that it is trained in amphibious assaults. On the other hand, the Army was certainly no stranger to amphibious assaults in the past. Anybody ever hear of D-Day, Anzio, Sicily, Okinawa, etc? Times have changed since then, but is there enough benefit to have two separate services? As time goes on airpower has become more and more dominant and ground forces almost a specialty in themselves. There have been rumblings in the past of combining the Marine Corps and Army into a single elite ground force . With Rumsfeld in charge anything is possible!
          I would say the differing roles still mandate the seperation of the two. The USMC preforms a fairly mission specific goal and by being part of the Navy is suited for their other main purpose of the USMC, gaurding Naval ships. Really there is no reason to combine the two in my mind.
          "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

          Comment


          • #6
            I've heard this argument used often for the effect Napoleon's Imperial Guard had on the rest of his army. The best of the most experienced grognards were siphoned off from the regular units, thereby not only weakening the regular units but also creating a unit so valuable that it becomes difficult for Napoleon to risk them in battle.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Don Maddox
              Do you think there is any credence to the claim that the creation of the SS drained valuable experience from the Wehrmacht and robbed the regular army of replacements that would have been better used in other roles? Were the SS units worth their vast expense?
              I would have to say yes. I believe most Wehmacht soldiers joined the SS because they saw it as a way better way to serve their country. The force was certainly marketed in such a manner. This is a different, and more dangerous (for the force as a whole) concept than if soldiers joined simply to be among the best at what they do.

              Elite units in most militaries in the west today are more suggestive. None appear to suggest their force as the ultimate way to serve their country as much as the SS. Thus, you don't see such a manpower drain. Soldiers are also concerned with balancing serving their country and playing an active role in their family. The rigorous schedule for "elite units" like the 82nd Airborne, US Special Ops, etc, are probably the leading cause for deterring participation.

              As for cost, The SS played a major role before and throughout the war. So I would have to say they were worth the expense. While their deeds don't make them all role models, one can not deny these were excellent soldiers. (Then again, this can be said about the entire Nazi Military force. They were an exceptional Army IMHO. Unfortunately, they were misused by their incompetent leader.)

              Originally posted by Don Maddox
              What about the US Marine Corps? It now uses almost the same equipment as the Army. It's one big difference is that it is trained in amphibious assaults. On the other hand, the Army was certainly no stranger to amphibious assaults in the past. Anybody ever hear of D-Day, Anzio, Sicily, Okinawa, etc? Times have changed since then, but is there enough benefit to have two separate services? As time goes on airpower has become more and more dominant and ground forces almost a specialty in themselves. There have been rumblings in the past of combining the Marine Corps and Army into a single elite ground force . With Rumsfeld in charge anything is possible!
              I agree with Tim McBride. The USMC retains a distinction that should maintain their status as a serperate service. However, as you stated, times are changing. The total force concept is an ever-growing threat to the definition that stands between USMC and US Army.
              "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

              Comment


              • #8
                There is huge pressure in Washington to reshape the Army by making it lighter, more aggressive, smaller, and easier to move by air and sea. Does that sound familiar? In essence, what a lot of people want to do is gut the Army's heavy forces and reshape the Army in the image of the Marine Corps. About 80% of the equipment and training is already the same. The main difference is that the Army has more of the heavy stuff and lacks the amphibious specialty items. Also, the Marines are sensitive to the fact that they always need to justify their existence.

                Over the last 15-20 years there has been a concerted effort on the part of the Marine Corps leadership not to adopt Army weapons, even if it means they are stuck for years with a second rate substitutes. The reason being is that they are terrified of what might happen someday if all of the equipment is the same. They have very few schools of their own, mostly attending Army and Navy schools for their training. The Marines have some fierce political enemies in Washington who would love to see them fade away, or be relegated to guarding embassies.

                I did a four year special assignment as a representative at a major defense contractor. While I was there I was assigned to help escort the Commandant of the Marine Corps during his visit to be briefed on our weapons. It was obvious from the first ten minutes of the visit that he was there with an agenda to find a reason why the Marine Corps should not accept the weapons. Even when two [unnamed] senators showed up and announced that they had [sitting on the Armed Services Committee] found a way to finance millions of dollars worth of spending for the Marines to buy these new weapons, the Commandant was adamant that they wouldn't accept the money. They would rather use the thirty year old junk they still have than share a platform with the Army.

                I can see a time, say 25-35 years from now, when ground combat is so rare that there will only be a need for a single unified "ground force." Will the Army become the Marines or the Marines become the Army, or something totally new? I don't know. We all know there is never going to be another mass tactical airborne assault with the 82nd. The day the SAM was invented the airborne assault went out the window. The Army keeps the 82nd because there is an airborne mafia who defend their turf, but Rumsfeld has had his eye on them for a while. We also know there is never going to be another Iwo Jima style amphib assault for the Marines. It looks great on paper, but the cost of amphib assaults, even against second rate opponents, is politically unacceptable. The Marines constantly (and desperately) market this capability because it's the only thing (besides their pretty uniforms) that justifies having two ground services.
                Editor-in-Chief
                GameSquad.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hello Don Maddox,

                  No offense, but this might sound too stupid, but isn't it true that you never know when Marine Corps might be actually needed for an ampihious assault? Or that airborne assault could be useful?

                  What if there is a war with North Korea, aren't we going to need some kind of ampihious assault to distract North Korea from pounding hard on the US Army units and South Korean Army as well?

                  It's not just North Korea, but many hostile countries have long coastlines, it's where Marine Corps could be most useful. My guess is that Africa will the next major foreign policy area in early 21st century as Africa is moving toward democratization, and I am willing to bet we're going to need ampihious assaults to get our troops on ground.

                  The only reason I ask this is because I do genuinely believe the large-scale wars haven't gone out of fashion yet. I am more than willing to bet my life someday a couple of major industrialized countries will go to war with each other. Who, Where, Why, and Whats aren't the real questions here, but I feel it's prudent for the US armed forces to prepare for the worst.

                  I'm willing to bet in 50 years, there will be more regional wars not among the third world countries, but first or even second world class as well. It is just my humble opinion, that's all.

                  Dan
                  Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                  "Aim small, miss small."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tex
                    I've heard this argument used often for the effect Napoleon's Imperial Guard had on the rest of his army. The best of the most experienced grognards were siphoned off from the regular units, thereby not only weakening the regular units but also creating a unit so valuable that it becomes difficult for Napoleon to risk them in battle.
                    Interestingly enough I've read exactly the same complaint about the elite British forces in WWII. Every now and then there would be recruiting drives for Commandos, Paratroops, the Long Range Desert Group, Chindits, 'Pathfinder' pilots from the RAF, etc. and all the experienced troops who fancied really getting stuck in (and they were usually paid and equipped better, and regarded as being of higher status) would volunteer, draining the regular units of their better men. As they also took higher casualties, e.g. Arnhem, it may be have been a mistaken policy.

                    That's certainly true for the mass conscript armies of WWII, but now that virtually every national army is moving towards a smaller, lighter, long-service professional profile it may not hold true.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Don Maddox
                      There is huge pressure in Washington to reshape the Army by making it lighter, more aggressive, smaller, and easier to move by air and sea. Does that sound familiar? In essence, what a lot of people want to do is gut the Army's heavy forces and reshape the Army in the image of the Marine Corps.
                      I actually read an interesting article the other day that talked about new training that's going to be implemented where every soldier (Army) is going to be a rifleman first. Exactly as the Marine Corps trains. If I remember correctly, the threat of asymetric warfare means that cooks and supply soldiers are as likely to be in a firefight as frontline infantry. The whole Jessica Lynch thing was an example.

                      I think the upside to this is that the Army is actually looking at different ways to improve themselves. Every soldier should be a rifleman/infantryman first. I'll have to see if I can find the article again.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Scully
                        I actually read an interesting article the other day that talked about new training that's going to be implemented where every soldier (Army) is going to be a rifleman first. Exactly as the Marine Corps trains. If I remember correctly, the threat of asymetric warfare means that cooks and supply soldiers are as likely to be in a firefight as frontline infantry. The whole Jessica Lynch thing was an example.

                        I think the upside to this is that the Army is actually looking at different ways to improve themselves. Every soldier should be a rifleman/infantryman first. I'll have to see if I can find the article again.
                        I have not heard that, but if true would be a long overdue move. Many NCOs have been saying the Army needs to get back to its roots for years. There is far too much mandatory sensitivity training and not enough real world stuff. Rumsfeld may be the driving force behind this. He has been trying -- without much success -- to shock the Army leadership out of its zero defect/risk averse mentality. The Army has become so politicaly correct and overrun with blatant micromanagement that it has become less of a fighting force than it could be. Leadership at all levels has begun to stumble and the Army is in a crisis. Operation Iraqi Freedom has made the problem worse by driving many of the best and brightest soldiers out of the service.

                        What is needed most is new energetic leadership at the top. Rumsfeld has done everything in his power to jumpstart this, but the results haven't been promising. The senior leadership is determined to simply wait him out.

                        The other services are not without their own problems either. Retention has become a huge problem with Air Force and Navy pilots.
                        Editor-in-Chief
                        GameSquad.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I couldnt have said it better myself Don. I have 8 mos until I retire at 20 years. I will go no father and is directly related to the mentality of the Army. You echo near my exact thoughts. All I will add, is that the Army since I enlisted in 1984 has shown a gradual decrease in "meaness". If you know what Im talking about. Where did it go? It used to be mean.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Marauder
                            I couldnt have said it better myself Don. I have 8 mos until I retire at 20 years. I will go no father and is directly related to the mentality of the Army. You echo near my exact thoughts. All I will add, is that the Army since I enlisted in 1984 has shown a gradual decrease in "meaness". If you know what Im talking about. Where did it go? It used to be mean.
                            Interesting. During the heyday of Roman Empire, its legions were known for professional discipline and nastiness that not even barbarians could ever hope to match. However, by the end of Roman Empire, its legions were still formadible, however, the discipline was unusually low and sometimes lax compared to the past Roman armies. So, in some ways, the US Army is comparable to the Roman armies in terms of professionalism and problems they faced.

                            I believe the problem really lies in how the US Army take care of its men. During the Roman Empire, many soldiers wanted out, because of poor pay and little chances of prospering in a military career (you could only retire after 25 years of service). In the US Army, it's best option for some people, but with advent of better and more affordable college education (though tuition costs went up), higher pay scales and lack of patriotism, enlisting in the US Army isn't exactly the most lucrative career path.

                            Also what the schools are teaching nowadays, they're filled with liberal ideas, they're destroying the image of US Army. When I was in elementary school (1980s), junior high school, and high school, very little was spent on teaching the essence of patriotism or even military history (if only mixed with political and civic history of the United States). I mostly learned about American history on my own. Of course, some other guys here in the forums who espouse liberal ideas will verhemently disagree with me, but I could care less.

                            Because of heavy saturation of liberal ideas, nowadays more and more people are being conditioned to respect the other cultures and ideas by not being too offensive. This is what happening with General Boykin, and I believe this can also hurt the US military in general. Right now, the conservatives may be in control, but they're not controlling the long-term goals, the liberals have that one.

                            One way to fix this is to increase the military pay scales and give more benefits especially for married couples. We need to make it worthwhile for many professionals to stay in military, and I think the best way is to cut back on peacekeeping committments, reduce the deployment times, find some ways to deploy not from the other countries but America a little more quicker than usual.

                            Otherwise, I'm not sure if any idea above is a good solution. But I essentially agree with Don and Maraunder's statements that the US Army has certainly lost its "nastiness" and lean fighting spirit.

                            Dan
                            Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                            "Aim small, miss small."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Marauder
                              I couldnt have said it better myself Don. I have 8 mos until I retire at 20 years. I will go no father and is directly related to the mentality of the Army. You echo near my exact thoughts. All I will add, is that the Army since I enlisted in 1984 has shown a gradual decrease in "meaness". If you know what Im talking about. Where did it go? It used to be mean.
                              I remember when I was in the Reserves, we had a new guy straight from Basic Training join our platoon. I asked him what he thought of Basic and he tells me that instead of push-ups and other punishments for screwing up, they started having recruits write essays at night. This was a while back and I'm hopeful it didn't last too long, but I about fell over. I was actually disappointed in my Basic Training because I thought it was a bit too easy and too many slackers made it through.

                              I think "meaness" is frowned upon now in the U.S. and the world. I think the whole environment and attitude toward the military is trying to keep everything sterile. I've never served in combat, but nothing good can come of trying to make war sterile and clean.

                              Comment

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X