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Subject: Was OVERLORD the worst way to block the Soviets from occupying the bulk of Europe? rss

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David DeThorne
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I just read a paper written by a student at the Air War College that argues that OVERLORD was not justified:

"Having determined that OVERLORD was not necessary for allied victory in Europe; that OVERLORD was too late to provide the much needed relief to Russia; that OVERLORD was perhaps the least advantageous opportunity to limit the scope of Russian post-war occupation; and that as a strategy, OVERLORD had a greater potential for losing or extending than for winning the war; it is extremely difficult to justify the operation."

I agree with the first two points, and the final one is clearly a matter of opinion. But I thought his argument and evidence in support of the claim that it was the LEAST advantageous opportunity to limit the scope of post-war Soviet occupation was sorely lacking.

"If he did not consider OVERLORD to be mandatory, why did Stalin torpedo the British at Tehran? Perhaps he realized that Churchill's Mediterranean strategy could result In British and American occupation of much of central and eastern Europe. Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslavakia, and part of Poland could well have followed the inevitable allied victory in Italy."

The author does not present any scenario in which the Western Allies get to Eastern Europe first or in strength and I can't imagine one.

What do you think?

Found at http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/NoOverlord/index.html#co....
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Jon Gautier

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Hmmm--you can draw the Iron Curtain from West to East and take the Southern part (the Balkans and so on), or you could draw it North to South and take the Western part (France, West Germany, the Low countries, Italy, etc.).

Which would you want?
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Seth Owen
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DDeT wrote:
I just read a paper written by a student at the Air War College that argues that OVERLORD was not justified:

"Having determined that OVERLORD was not necessary for allied victory in Europe; that OVERLORD was too late to provide the much needed relief to Russia; that OVERLORD was perhaps the least advantageous opportunity to limit the scope of Russian post-war occupation; and that as a strategy, OVERLORD had a greater potential for losing or extending than for winning the war; it is extremely difficult to justify the operation."

I agree with the first two points, and the final one is clearly a matter of opinion. But I thought his argument and evidence in support of the claim that it was the LEAST advantageous opportunity to limit the scope of post-war Soviet occupation was sorely lacking.

"If he did not consider OVERLORD to be mandatory, why did Stalin torpedo the British at Tehran? Perhaps he realized that Churchill's Mediterranean strategy could result In British and American occupation of much of central and eastern Europe. Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslavakia, and part of Poland could well have followed the inevitable allied victory in Italy."

The author does not present any scenario in which the Western Allies get to Eastern Europe first or in strength and I can't imagine one.

What do you think?

Found at http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/NoOverlord/index.html#co....


That has to be one of the most stupid things I've ever seen seriously argued.

I mean, seriously.whistle So what's the alternative? Just sit in England twiddling our thumbs, stay bogged down in Italy and wait for the Germans to either A) successfully fight the Russians to standstill once they figure out we're not coming or B) collapse anyway, except this time the Soviets end up in freaking Paris and Amsterdam instead of Berlin?

This sets aside the unimaginable domestic political and diplomatic costs of doing nothing while the Communists bled fighting the fascists and Nazis. How do we expect that to have played with the general public?

And, frankly, saying that Overlord was not militarily necessary makes no sense to me. It's a truism of military wisdom that, at the end of the day, no matter how well you do in the air and at sea, some poor slob with a rifle has to go prod the other guy out of his foxhole at the point of a bayonet. Given that the Allies had to fight pretty hard over the next year I don't see any reason to think the Germans were ready to just fold up shop because of the Red Army.

And, in the meantime, the Germans are building Jets, Type XXI U-Boats, V-1s and V-2s and learning how to use them. Oh, I suppose at the end of the day we could have just dropped an A-bomb surprise on Berlin. And that would have been better how?
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Bill Eldard
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DDeT wrote:
I just read a paper written by a student at the Air War College that argues that OVERLORD was not justified:


First, any paper written by a student at the USAF Air War College is suspect. Remember, these officers want to please their instructors, so they tend to regurgitate Douhet-esque myths about air power that haunt those hallowed halls at Maxwell AFB. This includes a propensity for ignoring the post-war Strategic Bombing Survey, which found that strategic bombing of Germany was less effective than planners and operators thought during the war.

I've been there and I'm well-familiar with the mindset.

Quote:
"Having determined that OVERLORD was not necessary for allied victory in Europe; that OVERLORD was too late to provide the much needed relief to Russia;


The primary goal of OVERLORD had nothing to do with taking pressure of the USSR. Stalin had wanted a cross-channel invasion to take off some pressure when he was fighting for survival in '42-'43, but by '44, they were no longer in danger of collapsing. So this wasn't even a serious consideration.

The Western Allies wanted to get ashore and capture the German industrial base in the Ruhr. This is why the Germans expected the landings to be at the Pas de Calais -- a more direct route to the industrial heartland.

Certainly Churchill, unlike the naive FDR, was also concerned about the shape of post-war Europe. There was no serious consideration in Britain to avoid a cross-channel invasion. But whereas the US wanted to invade in '43, Churchill worried that a '43 attempt might fail (Planning would've had to begin in '42, when Churchill had lost a lot of confidence in the British Army after Tobruk and Singapore). Churchill pursuaded FDR that '44 was the only practical date.

Quote:
. . that OVERLORD was perhaps the least advantageous opportunity to limit the scope of Russian post-war occupation; . . .


Churchill had argued briefly in '43 for a landing in Greece or the Balkans, driving north to cut liberate Eastern Europe before the Red Army. But this was logistically impossible and strategically weaker than landing in France.

Quote:
. . . and that as a strategy, OVERLORD had a greater potential for losing or extending than for winning the war; it is extremely difficult to justify the operation." . . .


There was no real potential for failure. The US was pouring men and equipment into the theater, and the Germans couldn't do anything to stop it. After holding up the Allies in the hedgerows, the Allies broke out, crushed most of the Fifth Panzer Army, and drove across France in a matter of weeks. That in and of itself is a justification for OVERLORD.

Quote:
he did not consider OVERLORD to be mandatory, why did Stalin torpedo the British at Tehran? Perhaps he realized that Churchill's Mediterranean strategy could result In British and American occupation of much of central and eastern Europe. Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslavakia, and part of Poland could well have followed the inevitable allied victory in Italy."


Stalin certainly didn't want the Allies landing in the Balkans. But other than cutting off the Red Army from Germany, what purpose would it serve? If the Red Army got to Allied-occupied Poland (even if that was feasible), who would stop them from going right on into Germany? Would the Allies fight the Soviets while Hitler shifted forces from France to Germany? Would it be any better for the Allies had Stalin said, "OK, you're in Eastern Europe; you defeat the Germans while I sit in your rear with millions of troops." It's illogical.

The first goal of the Allies was to win the war. Ceeding the occupation of Eastern Europe to Stalin was not preferred, but it was pragmatic.

Quote:
. .The author does not present any scenario in which the Western Allies get to Eastern Europe first or in strength and I can't imagine one.


No surprise that he has no alternative scenario, because his basic assumptions about OVERLORD are skewed. Without OVERLORD, the Soviets would've overrun Western Europe, too, and Allied air power would be unable to stop it.
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Wendell
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LtCol Moore wrote:
The Normandy invasion was simply too late to be of meaningful assistance to the Russians. In fact, Stalin had conceded that is was no longer necessary


This makes the mistake of assuming that Overlord was done to help the Soviets. It was done to achieve US and British strategic objectives, which included not just the defeat of Nazi Germany (duh) but also the liberation of France. And a desired end state that was probably something like "Western Europe free of hostile ideological regimes that could threaten US/British interests." Like Nazis and Communists. And no I don't think it is hindsight to think that the Allies would prefer that Western Europe not be dominated by Russia (Soviet or not).

I'll have to read the paper later but the conclusion is poor.
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Steve Willows
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Eldard wrote:
There was no real potential for failure. The US was pouring men and equipment into the theater, and the Germans couldn't do anything to stop it.


Shaw: Do you know what this is?
Colleague: It's a chocolate cake.
Shaw: It's an American chocolate cake. Do you know what that means?
Colleague: No.
Shaw: It means we have lost the war. It means, while we struggle for tiny amounts of fuel to keep our tanks rolling, the Americans have enough fuel and resources to fly chocolate cake to Europe from America.

- Robert Shaw as Col. Martin Hessler in 1965's Battle of the Bulge
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Brian Korreck
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I don't think one can assume Stalin thought victory was inevitable. Even Truman pushed the Soviets hard to enter the war against Japan very close to the end of the war.
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Mike Hoyt

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It would be fun to invite this fellow to a game of EuroFront II and let him try his theory out...

Hmm, I guess I mean it would be FUN to play the Soviets in a game where the Allies limited themselves to Italy or the Balkans. Paris certainly, London maybe
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M Evan Brooks
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While I completely disagree with his thesis, I found the author's CV to be interesting ...

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM F. MOORE

Retired May 1, 2000.

Maj. Gen. William F. Moore is deputy director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, Washington, D.C. The agency has three primary missions: to maintain the United States' current nuclear deterrent capability, to reduce the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and to counter threats posed by those weapons of mass destruction. As the deputy director, the general is responsible for directing the activities of the more than 2,000 military and civilian people assigned to the agency, and for prioritizing and overseeing an annual investment and operations budget of almost $2 billion.

The general was commissioned in the Air Force in June 1969. He has served as director of special programs, Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition and Technology; program executive officer for bombers, missiles and trainers under the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, the Pentagon; vice commander, San Antonio Air Logistics Center; deputy director of strategic, special operations forces and airlift programs, the Pentagon, and system program director on the small intercontinental ballistic missile program. The general has held several technical management positions on other major Air Force development and acquisition programs, such as the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile and the Peacekeeper ICBM. He is a fully certified acquisition professional.
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Wendell
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Well I read the paper over lunch. It rampantly reflects the US Air Force's eternal conviction that strategic bombing can win wars alone.

The idea that an Allied invasion thru the Balkans could reach Poland (as Moore says twice in passages that are not footnoted and were therefore probably his own unfounded conjecture) before the Soviets is laughable.
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Bill Eldard
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wifwendell wrote:
Well I read the paper over lunch. It rampantly reflects the US Air Force's eternal conviction that strategic bombing can win wars alone.

The idea that an Allied invasion thru the Balkans could reach Poland (as Moore says twice in passages that are not footnoted and were therefore probably his own unfounded conjecture) before the Soviets is laughable.


And reflects little understanding of ground operations in WW2, not unlike their misunderstanding today.

Whenever you run into these latter-day Billy Mitchell's spouting off about bombing someone into submission, ask them this: "If someone bombed us, at what point would you surrender?" When they typically reply that they would never surrender, then ask them to explain why the other guy would. They can't.
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One writes papers for a specific audience; certainly this guy is smart enough to not tell his CV that the Air Force Strategic bombing campaign was not going to win the war alone.

Pandering to the boss; an important skill don't ya know.

================

Quote:
"If someone bombed us, at what point would you surrender?"


An outstanding response that applies to a great many things.

"How would you feel if someone did that to you?"
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Bill Eldard
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evanbrooks wrote:

While I completely disagree with his thesis, I found the author's CV to be interesting ...

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM F. MOORE

Retired May 1, 2000.

Maj. Gen. William F. Moore is deputy director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, Washington, D.C. The agency has three primary missions: to maintain the United States' current nuclear deterrent capability, to reduce the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and to counter threats posed by those weapons of mass destruction. As the deputy director, the general is responsible for directing the activities of the more than 2,000 military and civilian people assigned to the agency, and for prioritizing and overseeing an annual investment and operations budget of almost $2 billion.

The general was commissioned in the Air Force in June 1969. He has served as director of special programs, Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition and Technology; program executive officer for bombers, missiles and trainers under the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, the Pentagon; vice commander, San Antonio Air Logistics Center; deputy director of strategic, special operations forces and airlift programs, the Pentagon, and system program director on the small intercontinental ballistic missile program. The general has held several technical management positions on other major Air Force development and acquisition programs, such as the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile and the Peacekeeper ICBM. He is a fully certified acquisition professional.


He was a USAF career acquisition guy. The USAF takes newly commissioned officers and throws them into their acquisition service. Those guys don't have think about warfare; they just have to get bigger, better, faster flying things.
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D. Quinn Nix
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wifwendell wrote:
Well I read the paper over lunch. It rampantly reflects the US Air Force's eternal conviction that strategic bombing can win wars alone.


Yeah, 'cause it worked so well in Viet Nam.
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Colin Raitt
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I can see the point that the Russians were going to beat the Germans. I agree that having armies in Germany guaranteed the division of spoils.

I think allied victory was a certainty after Kursk and the surrender of Italy in 1943. This was before strategic bombing was cost effective. The decisive factors were the size of the soviet army, the western allied navies and tactical airforces.

That the Germany military was completely ruined is not as clear. The western allies lost about 0.8 men for each German, whilst the Russians lost about 2 in 1944-1945. Neither was a wildly favourable rate.

The western allies inflicted roughly 1 million losses of men on the German forces in northwest europe from 6th June 1944 till 8th May 1945. The russians caused 3 million losses from 1st January 1944 till 8th May 1945. If the Russians had to inflict another million losses they would have needed an extra 6 months maybe and cost them 1.2 million more losses than the western allies would suffer.

Liberating France had several advantages. The resurrected French army gained an influx of 850,000 recruits. Germany couldn't exploit her for men and material. The U-boat bases were cut off. De Gaulle and the French expeditionary corps had also been promised an invasion and stayed onside.

The western allies were not sure of some things. They were not sure that strategic bombing was decisive. Strategic bomber supporters were as prone to exaggeration as anyone else and had a long history of it.Railways ran on coal not oil. Part of the Germans fuel problem was getting it to the tanks and trucks through air interdiction from the rail head. Ball bearing production hadn't been much affected. They weren't sure that Hitler wouldn't pull something out of the bag. Perhaps Germany would send women to the factories, invent precision V2s or an A-bomb.

A soft underbelly campaign into Yugoslavia would have been in breach of the agreed zones of influence. Greece was allocated to the UK and Yugoslavia to the USSR. Stalin stuck to the agreement though by October 1944 he could have supported Greek communists via Bulgaria. Would you anger your ally to advance in such a mountainous front?

A complete disaster was not likely rather foothold was virtually guaranteed. Omaha beach was a mess but the US put a lot of men into it and the panzers were facing the British beaches. A stalled landing like Anzio was possible but naval gunfire and air support made sure the western allies never went backwards.

The author was Lt Colonel William F Moore USAF and wrote the paper in 1986. He served in Vietnam, made Major General and retired in 2000. He follows the airforce line but it’s nice to see cynicism about political motives from the armed forces.

Overall I see many more reasons for D-Day and less against it than Moore.
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wifwendell wrote:
Well I read the paper over lunch. It rampantly reflects the US Air Force's eternal conviction that strategic bombing can win wars alone.


Spoken like a true Naval War College graduate!
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M Evan Brooks
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jpr755 wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
Well I read the paper over lunch. It rampantly reflects the US Air Force's eternal conviction that strategic bombing can win wars alone.


Spoken like a true Naval War College graduate!


How do you know he was a Naval War College graduate? Were his lips moving?

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blockhead wrote:
It would be fun to invite this fellow to a game of EuroFront II and let him try his theory out...

Hmm, I guess I mean it would be FUN to play the Soviets in a game where the Allies limited themselves to Italy or the Balkans. Paris certainly, London maybe

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Robert Ridgeway
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hqbwk wrote:
I don't think one can assume Stalin thought victory was inevitable. Even Truman pushed the Soviets hard to enter the war against Japan very close to the end of the war.

mmm... I think Stalin purposely waited for the Western Allies to take down the Japanese Empire, & then jump in at the last possible moment to scarf up some territory (he knew all about the A-bomb, so he certainly calculated max/min gains).
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Robert Ridgeway
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DDeT wrote:
I just read a paper written by a student at the Air War College that argues that OVERLORD was not justified

OVERLORD: justified. DELAYING vs. Striking Ahead as per Patton: unforgivable.
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Robert Ridgeway
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polate wrote:
That the Germany military was completely ruined is not as clear. The western allies lost about 0.8 men for each German, whilst the Russians lost about 2 in 1944-1945. Neither was a wildly favourable rate.

more support for Patton who wanted to immediately absorb the liberated German forces in a drive to end the last great dictatorship - a drive the Soviets were in no way economically able to withstand (as per the studies of a Russian Hist. major at Emory U.).
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AnalogGamer wrote:
polate wrote:
That the Germany military was completely ruined is not as clear. The western allies lost about 0.8 men for each German, whilst the Russians lost about 2 in 1944-1945. Neither was a wildly favourable rate.

more support for Patton who wanted to immediately absorb the liberated German forces in a drive to end the last great dictatorship - a drive the Soviets were in no way economically able to withstand (as per the studies of a Russian Hist. major at Emory U.).


I don't think that not doing this had anything to do with whether or not we could have succeeded if we tried.

We could have taken Saddam in the 1st Gulf War, yes?

The US homeland was not attacked during the war. But our allies had been. I don't think our allies would have supported this and to attack without their buy in would be unthinkable.

Um, our other allies I mean. *cough*
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Scrogdog wrote:
AnalogGamer wrote:
polate wrote:
That the Germany military was completely ruined is not as clear. The western allies lost about 0.8 men for each German, whilst the Russians lost about 2 in 1944-1945. Neither was a wildly favourable rate.

more support for Patton who wanted to immediately absorb the liberated German forces in a drive to end the last great dictatorship - a drive the Soviets were in no way economically able to withstand (as per the studies of a Russian Hist. major at Emory U.).


I don't think that not doing this had anything to do with whether or not we could have succeeded if we tried.

We could have taken Saddam in the 1st Gulf War, yes?

The US homeland was not attacked during the war. But our allies had been. I don't think our allies would have supported this and to attack without their buy in would be unthinkable.

Um, our other allies I mean. *cough*


And the US, while in better material shape than any of the belligerents, was also tiring of the war. The public wanted to win it as had been the original objective, and bring the troops home. Pursuing a war with the USSR after Germany was defeated was out of the question.
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Robert Ridgeway
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Scrogdog wrote:
I don't think that not doing this had anything to do with whether or not we could have succeeded if we tried.
We could have taken Saddam in the 1st Gulf War, yes?
The US homeland was not attacked during the war. But our allies had been. I don't think our allies would have supported this and to attack without their buy in would be unthinkable.
Um, our other allies I mean. *cough*

yep ~ I'd say the buy-in that WASN'T was from Roos. & Churchill: all went according to Yalta; that's where I take small issue with S. Ambrose, who strongly supports Patton and blames Eisenhower for the fatal delay: but you know Eisenhower was only doing what the CiC dictated.
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Bill Eldard
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polate wrote:
. . . Liberating France had several advantages. The resurrected French army gained an influx of 850,000 recruits. Germany couldn't exploit her for men and material. The U-boat bases were cut off. De Gaulle and the French expeditionary corps had also been promised an invasion and stayed onside.

The western allies were not sure of some things. They were not sure that strategic bombing was decisive. Strategic bomber supporters were as prone to exaggeration as anyone else and had a long history of it.Railways ran on coal not oil. Part of the Germans fuel problem was getting it to the tanks and trucks through air interdiction from the rail head. Ball bearing production hadn't been much affected. They weren't sure that Hitler wouldn't pull something out of the bag. Perhaps Germany would send women to the factories, invent precision V2s or an A-bomb. . .


All excellent points.

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