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-   -   The Western Way of War today. (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=51178)

IronDuke99 April 19th, 2016 08:58 AM

The Western Way of War today.
 
One thing scenario designers need to look at in modern warfare is what is, and what is not, acceptable to Western democracies in modern warfare.

Contrary to popular belief the casualties in British, American and Canadian infantry units in Europe from D-Day until the German surrender were just as high as they were in WWI (although a slightly lower percentage died as a result of medical advances).

What I mean by this is that the average front line infantry soldier had just as much chance of becoming a casualty in WWII as in WWI, for every day his unit was actually in combat.

The only reasons that overall casualties in the US, British and Canadian, etc forces were lower in WWII was that A)the infantry, who take by far the most casualties,were a lower proportion of Western Armies in WWII and B) whereas in WWI British and Commonwealth forces -and much later the USA- fought the main part of the German Army. In WWII this was almost never the case, as the major part of the German Army mostly fought on the Eastern Front.

The number of Allied infantry soldiers who landed within a week of D-Day, saw lots of action, and fought on until the German surrender unwounded, at least in body, was really not all that high. For the infantry soldier WWII was every bit as bloody as WWI, despite popular myth. Losses in land forces are mainly taken by the Infantry -including Marines- followed a fairly long way behind, by armoured troops and then lower still Artillery and Engineers. Everyone else ( a huge part of a modern army) is relatively safe.

After WWII Western soldiers often had advantages in training, weapons, Comms, air power and other technology. All of this tended to keep casualties down, especially relative to the enemy.

So 1,109 British soldiers were killed in the Korean War 1950-53. 519 were killed in the Malayan Campaign 1949-60. 763 were killed in Northern Ireland 1969-98, 256 were killed in under three months in the Falklands war of 1982. 47 were killed in the first Gulf War.

These days (2016) we are in a situation where the sort of casualties sustained in a average single day in the Normandy campaign in 1944, even though suffered over more than ten years are considered to be very high and perhaps too high by many civilians, ie, UK lost 179 dead in Iraq and 453 dead in Afghanistan.

So if you are designing a scenario where Western forces take on say the IS terrorists -may all the Gods rot them- it is not at all acceptable to lose near half your men in winning.

Having said all that in my day in the British Infantry we all expected to die in a Soviet/Warsaw Pact assault on Western Europe (at least as much as 18-23 year olds ever expect to die) but we were also very confident of killing at least four Soviets first, perhaps making the candle not worth the game to the Russians.

And Western troops in Southern Africa almost always went into battle confident the enemy would start to run away -and thus die- not all that long after coming under effective fire, and they just about always did.

Aeraaa April 19th, 2016 10:27 AM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
I think the biggest factor of minimal Western casualties is the very good selection of opponents. Unless attacked first, Western forces will wage war against the most inefficient opponent possible. This, not only ensures a victory, but it minimises casualties to the minimum possible.

Just to clarify, I dont find this strategy bad or spineless. If anything it is smart and pragmatic. But what I wrote is merely my opinion why modern Western forces have such low casualty ratios in the armed conflicts they participated in.

Btw I know it is good ol' fashioned bravado that I also experienced, but you were extremely optimistic if you thought that in a potential WW3 scenario the ratio of losses would be 4 to 1.

IronDuke99 April 19th, 2016 10:38 AM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Aeraaa (Post 833714)
I think the biggest factor of minimal Western casualties is the very good selection of opponents. Unless attacked first, Western forces will wage war against the most inefficient opponent possible. This, not only ensures a victory, but it minimises casualties to the minimum possible.

Just to clarify, I dont find this strategy bad or spineless. If anything it is smart and pragmatic. But what I wrote is merely my opinion why modern Western forces have such low casualty ratios in the armed conflicts they participated in.

Btw I know it is good ol' fashioned bravado that I also experienced, but you were extremely optimistic if you thought that in a potential WW3 scenario the ratio of losses would be 4 to 1.


I don't think, for moment that Western forces actually select who they will wage war against, for one thing our political types are far, far, too clueless for that,

On the other hand , these days, much older, and much wiser, having seen much more of the Russians, their kit and military, etc, I think we might actually have managed around five to one.

shahadi April 19th, 2016 10:50 AM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
In a word, modern combat casualties have dramatically declined since the two world wars due primarily to, CASEVAC.

IronDuke99 April 19th, 2016 10:53 AM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by shahadi (Post 833716)
In a word, modern combat casualties have dramatically declined since the two world wars due primarily to, CASEVAC.

Nope not true, but it would be if you said deaths. Mind you a bloke wounded enough to keep him out of the fight is, at least, as useless to a Commander as a dead soldier...

Great for the soldier himself mind you.

wulfir April 19th, 2016 01:19 PM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by IronDuke99 (Post 833713)
The only reasons that overall casualties in the US, British and Canadian, etc forces were lower in WWII was that A)the infantry, who take by far the most casualties,were a lower proportion of Western Armies in WWII and B) whereas in WWI British and Commonwealth forces -and much later the USA- fought the main part of the German Army. In WWII this was almost never the case, as the major part of the German Army mostly fought on the Eastern Front.

I wonder if overall losses are not also impacted by the length of the frontline and the amount of time used for high intensity fighting. If D-Day had taken place earlier and the front had been longer (like in the east) western allied losses would I guess have been greater...

IronDuke99 April 19th, 2016 05:19 PM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wulfir (Post 833718)
Quote:

Originally Posted by IronDuke99 (Post 833713)
The only reasons that overall casualties in the US, British and Canadian, etc forces were lower in WWII was that A)the infantry, who take by far the most casualties,were a lower proportion of Western Armies in WWII and B) whereas in WWI British and Commonwealth forces -and much later the USA- fought the main part of the German Army. In WWII this was almost never the case, as the major part of the German Army mostly fought on the Eastern Front.

I wonder if overall losses are not also impacted by the length of the frontline and the amount of time used for high intensity fighting. If D-Day had taken place earlier and the front had been longer (like in the east) western allied losses would I guess have been greater...

I have grave doubts that a Western Allied assault on France in 1943 would have succeeded at all. In general terms the German Army was a better fighting force than the Western Allies.

Even in 1944 US, British and Canadian forces generally needed numbers, plus overwhelming artillery and air support to defeat the Germans. The German Army was still very formidable in 1943 and the German Air Force was still a factor.

But certainly the longer and more intense the fighting the higher the casualties, that basic rule always applies.

MarkSheppard April 19th, 2016 06:40 PM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by IronDuke99 (Post 833713)
Contrary to popular belief the casualties in British, American and Canadian infantry units in Europe from D-Day until the German surrender were just as high as they were in WWI (although a slightly lower percentage died as a result of medical advances).

The US 1st Infantry Division was in combat for 443 days in WW2, and suffered 20,659 casualties, of which 4,365 were fatal ultimately. This comes out to 46.6 casualties per day (9.85 fatal).

Meanwhile, the same division was in combat for approximately 167 days in WW1, and suffered 22,320 casualties, of which 3,730 were fatal. This comes out to 133.65 casualties per day (22.33 fatal).

Part of this is the increased dispersion between WW1 (2,400 m2 per man) and WW2 (27,500 m2 per man), and the tighter control that radio allowed -- for example, if an attack was going somewhat okay, then suddenly a hidden enemy strongpoint opened up and cut to pieces the advancing unit; there was enough C&C to enable commanders to halt the operation and reformulate a new plan on the fly -- stop, everyone hunker down while we call in artillery or airstrikes to fix this problem.

WW1? No such luck. Everything is largely pre-programmed, and the reaction times are much longer, so more people die before commanders realize the plan is not working.

IronDuke99 April 20th, 2016 05:18 PM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
Agree with everything you say about lack of radios and control, but you can still find WWII Infantry units, especially in NW Europe who suffered casualties rates as heavy as those in WWI.

Large scale battle against a peer enemy is an expensive business, most especially if you have to do most of the advancing and attacking.

Suhiir April 20th, 2016 07:08 PM

Re: The Western Way of War today.
 
It's not really something where you can just look at sheer numbers.

As you said if the Soviets really had tried to invade Europe NATO losses would have been on a WW I, WW II scale and everyone (even the ofttimes not-so-bright civilians) knew that.

The overall USMC losses in WW II were much lower then those of the US Army, but there were far fewer Marines to start with and their losses tended to be very high percentage wise invading islands (90% in the first wave on Tarawa), then months of nada as they prepared for the next island.

You have to look at situation and circumstance. I totally agree massive losses vs a "second rate" enemy would be unacceptable. Everyone expected serious losses during Gulf I (1991) but circumstance intervened in favor of the Coalition.

Another thing to keep in mind is WinSPMBT is a wargame not a simulation, thus the entire concept in a scenario is to make it challenging to the player, that means losses.


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