Grognard Wargamer Thread!


Yeah, OKH loved to have that great, detailed initial plan with a lot of ¯\ (ツ)/¯ fluff for contingencies later in the timeline if things went wrong. By they aren’t that different from the US Army planning culture in that regard.

The IJA were all about writing an awesome conceptual plan and then figuring out the details while executing it. ;)

This led to things like Adachi’s IJA 18th Army HQ issuing orders to troops in New Guinea to plant crops to supplement rations so they all wouldn’t starve to death.

You know you are in dead and in hell when you wake up in the morning, go to the daily briefing, and receive word that HQ has ordered you to grow crops.


Brexit certainly won’t be as disastrous an outcome as the Japanese had it, but the casualness with which the decision is being pursued by people who do clearly know better has uncomfortable parallels.

I’m a bit cautious about ascribing national characteristics, but the Japanese armed forces definitely seemed to have a culture of making up for material deficiencies by surprise front-loaded aggression, not out of any bushido spirit (quite the opposite in terms of causation!) , but a rather sharp-eyed cynical analysis of where Japan was in relation to other countries in the late nineteenth century. After all, looking at how Western powers were treating China and South-East Asia must have come as a pointed reminder of the consequences of failure.


I’m cautious too as “national characteristics” aren’t far from stereotypes, but Staffs absolutely do have cultures. I think your description suits the IJA Staff planning culture to a T…less so the IJN.


Yeah, these are not really national or ethnic stereotypes; they are stereotypes of particular military cultures, Now, one can argue all day long about where such cultures come from, but no one is saying German people or Japanese people per se do X or Y. But it’s hard to argue that their military staffs didn’t have some rather predictable (in hindsight at least) quirks…


I think your point about the Leyte plan is agreeing with my speculation?


Yeah, but I 'm not blaming the staffs. Staffs write plans to accomplish goals within left-right limits. If you have to execute an incredibly difficult plan to even succeed, you go to higher hq and give them the risk/gain analysis and they say “Drive On”…well…if it all falls apart, it’s the fault of the political leadership. You basically said “I can execute this plan, but it likely won’t succeed, it is very complex.” They then said “Hold the Philippines at all cost.”

Well…ok then…

This sort of thing usually gets you shot:

“Why in the world are you laughing?”


Yeah I got that idea as well.



I am making a distinction between the staff’s planning efforts and the national political leadership’s political constraints on those efforts. To me that is a significant distinction.


There is a great scene in Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers where Col. Matthieu I think it is is holding a press conference to show off the capture of Ben M’hidi, After M’hidi is led away (having nearly stolen the show), the colonel addresses the reporters, who are peppering him with questions about torture. He bluntly says something to the effect of “There is really only one question. Do you wish to retain Algeria? If you do, you have to agree to the cost, which includes torture. It’s up to you (meaning France). We (the military) will do what you tell us to, but you should not have any illusions about what your’e asking us to do.”

Of course, I rather doubt that the senior French military leadership was anywhere close to as open and realistic as this semi-fictional regimental commander.



It’s a fantastic clip.

I know it well, I used to show it in class to my Field Grade students. :)


It is doubly remarkable in that the movie is one of the great examples of sixties Euro-Marxist film-making. I won’t call it propaganda because it’s an amazing (and amazingly balanced, all things considered) film, and because the original version as pitched by Yacef Saadi was, in fact, propaganda tripe (Saadi is the guy playing himself in the film, loosely fictionalized as Djafar, and who ended up in the post-independence Algierian government). Pontecorvo rejected it as being, well, crass and simplistic, and instead produced a film that, while clearly sympathetic to the cause of Algerian independence, refrained from glorifying the FLN and in fact managed to pose some very interesting questions about methods, motives, and the cost of victory.


Yeah, it is a very rare work in that it demonizes no one and attempts to humanize everyone. And avoids (or attempts to avoid) reductionist tropes (which can be propagandist) at every turn. That is the mark of a great film on history or conflict. One of the reasons I have such a love of it, The Thin Red Line, A Bridge Too Far, Cross of Iron, to name a few.


There was none of that going on in Germany. There was a lot of dissension and open rebellion in the General Staff. What you describe is a myth. Created by the “usual suspects”. As for the Bulge, it was a last gasp attempt to do something that could change the dynamics among the Western Allies. All knew that it was a long shot, but it had to be prosecuted with every ounce of will and determination even to stand a chance of working.


The German general staff in WW2 never fully came to terms with the fact Hitler was often correct and they mistaken, with his no retreat order in the first winter being just one example.

After reading much of the transcripts of the military conferences** I would assert Hitler was rather often far more level headed and competent militarily* than his staff portrayed him after the war.

*just to underline here the man was a monster and utterly evil, I am speaking purely about his military leadership.

** available in book form, I recommend it.


Agree, with the caveat that the he whipsawed them frequently regarding political guidance. Choosing Russia as a target in Fall 1940 (doing a “120” if not a 180). Completely underestimating the political consequences of failure in the Mediterranean for Italy (and by extension Germany). It’s like he was decent at the oversight and “demanding Joint-ness” in approach part, but horrible at the “political guidance” part of his job.


Yeah, agreed good clarification, I would say Hitler did HIS own job terribly. I just think he did THEIR job better than they gave him credit for. If that makes sense?

His military interventions were, I would argue, often sounder than Churchill’s for example. But Churchill was a far superior strategic leader of a nation.


Yeah…it’s pretty messed up from a straight Politico-Military leadership angle.


I was more excited about my Great White Fleet photos than my off hand comment about the zero – however, I still believe the Japanese plan (a six month strike war), the skill of their pilots, the pearl harbor operation (missing our carriors) was a recipe for success. And ok the zero had it’s flaws but in the hands of skilled pilots in the beginning of the war, it was better than most of what we had operational in the pacific.

My point, above, is that should that 6 month (or 9 month) plan work that plane would have been instrumental.

I am not sure sitting here now when hellcats, corsairs, p-38s came on line.

BTw we dropped a lotta zeros before that. They kept their veterans in the battle while we pulled them out to train. That may have made the difference.

We were caught flat-footed, they had the surprise strategic advantage and right before midway numerical. I am still not convinced I am wrong.


Then you disagree with every serious historian of the war.


Well I disagree everyday with prosecutors. I guess It just makes me a bit contrarian.