Brooke or Mashall as supreme commanders instead of Eisenhower

He had also had an evaluation from McNair after the maneuvres of 'Good, Division probably his ceiling' Simpson gets 'Untried should do well' btw


Eisenhower is kinda accidentally inevitable. He is a major player in the US mobilisation plan especially in industrial mobilisation then in early 42 heads War Plans, prior to that had been the lead army player in an attempt to set up a joint army navy command in the Gulf which fails on Navy intrasigence, goes to London to evaluate ETOUSA which is the US command organisation for the ETO, and gets the job shortly thereafter. Goes to command North African invasion, which has to be an American because of Mers ek Kebir and is replaced as ETOUSA by Frank Andrews who is killed in a plane crash, and then by Devers. then comes back as ETOUSA which becomes SHAEF.

As ETOUSA he also has to manage the USAAC/F which is by far the biggest component most of the time.

In the interim The Med Theatre is created with Eisenhower which is in part a rejection of the idea of a common Bomber force and Pointblank, which requires an 'Independent Air Force' which means that as the US ground troops are in the Med and the Air forces in England are doing their own thing ETOUSA is sort of redundant.

And everyone who matters in Europe and the Med gets on with him and can work with him which is essential. Once he is there there is actually noone better. Tedder, Morgan, Gale, Robb, Ramsay, Vandenberg and Smith are all in on Torch or its immediate aftermath so its less Eisenhower's appointment as the appointment of an entire and proven command team with initially Montgomery as land force commander but he has worked with them all for a year or so as well. Leigh Mallory and the AEAF starts working onpre invasion prep in 1943.

Ikes job is not operations its HR, logistics and managing up to the CCS Committee and politicians. He has Army Group commanders and they army and corps commanders and Naval Air Force equivalents to do the rest. When he does get involved in 'operational' decisions he is either sanctioning what his subordinates have proposed or wrong, and smart enough to realise that quickly. This is different from the Pacific Theatres which are much smaller and less continuous operations at scale.

Neither Brooke or Marshall is an obvious alternative as they have global wars to run and better things to do and dont have the relationships with everyone else involved.
I can agree with all of that.

I can find fault with many of Ikes decisions but only with an extra large helping of hindsight and a large glass of 80 years of research which he did not have.
 
*Coughcough Marshall wanted to land several divisions of paratroopers at Evreux for D-Day instead of the flanks of Utah and Sword Coughcough*
 
*Coughcough Marshall wanted to land several divisions of paratroopers at Evreux for D-Day instead of the flanks of Utah and Sword Coughcough*
News+Map+DDay002.jpg

It is 130 km from Caen to Evreux and the air base complex that makes the air head worth the effort. How many paratroopers did Marshall intend to kill-off in this suicide mission? It sure would have left Caen wide open for a walk through, though.
 
If one believes that Eisenhower did not stage manage and politic for those assignments, then one does not really understand Eisenhower.

And why not. He is second choice for Torch ( Stillwell being tagged first) and set to be replaced as ETOUSA. But as the deputy then head of War Plans he is the obvious choice to look at how well those plans are being implemented and to do the staff job of fixing stuff. But once he is there everyone gets on with him, Particularly Gale and Morgan from 42 on. Gale is Chief Admin Officer for Brooke. There are only a handful of US officers capable of command at that level Eisenhower is one, he also in theatre, understands the US mobilisation process and what they are capable of doing and when, and gets on with the British who are providing the Army command and most of the resources, with the possibility of a war with Spain being considered at the time which would be the job of I Br Corps commanded by Morgan.

After Torch and Particularly after 8th Army joins up the Allied command Team for both NW Europe and the MEd for the rest of the war is in place.

Devers could probably have done it but he is locked into building up the US Armoured force at the time.
 
And why not. He is second choice for Torch ( Stillwell being tagged first) and set to be replaced as ETOUSA. But as the deputy then head of War Plans he is the obvious choice to look at how well those plans are being implemented and to do the staff job of fixing stuff. But once he is there everyone gets on with him, Particularly Gale and Morgan from 42 on. Gale is Chief Admin Officer for Brooke. There are only a handful of US officers capable of command at that level Eisenhower is one, he also in theatre, understands the US mobilisation process and what they are capable of doing and when, and gets on with the British who are providing the Army command and most of the resources, with the possibility of a war with Spain being considered at the time which would be the job of I Br Corps commanded by Morgan.

After Torch and Particularly after 8th Army joins up the Allied command Team for both NW Europe and the MEd for the rest of the war is in place.

Devers could probably have done it but he is locked into building up the US Armoured force at the time.
I agree about Devers. My other candidate, Kruger, is busy with the Japanese at the time of events. Stillwell, in my estimate, lacked the people skills and strategic objectivity to handle coalition warfare. Not only was Stillwell not "big picture oriented" in that he consistently missed what was important at the theater level (Ichi Go) much less at the global level, (the allies are there for a reason, and second best solutions that employ them as burden sharers are better than best solutions with them sulking on the sidelines. Yes, this is Chiang Kai Shek and Stillwell. Joe could never get the political factors of coalition warfare straight in China.). Also, above division I am not convinced Stillwell knew how to fight a battle. I am not even sure he was qualified to lead a division.
 
Also, above division I am not convinced Stillwell knew how to fight a battle. I am not even sure he was qualified to lead a division.

Slim's judgement was that he was a "first rate tactician up to about Corps level" (from memory, so possibly slightly paraphrased). Given Slim's own indisputable abilities and how much experience he had working with with Stillwell as both a colleague and subordinate, I don't think there's anyone better qualified to make the assessment.
 
Slim's judgement was that he was a "first rate tactician up to about Corps level" (from memory, so possibly slightly paraphrased). Given Slim's own indisputable abilities and how much experience he had working with with Stillwell as both a colleague and subordinate, I don't think there's anyone better qualified to make the assessment.
Background.

In a scathing military commentary long after the war, U.S. Army Colonel Scott McMichael wrote, “Inexplicably, in a display of gross military incompetence, Stilwell completely failed to take advantage of this coup-de-main. Instead of flying in strong infantry reinforcements, food, ammunition … Stilwell’s staff deployed antiaircraft units and airfield construction troops! As a result, a magnificent opportunity was lost. Stilwell’s mental lapse, which no one has ever satisfactorily explained, allowed the Japanese to build up the Myitkyina garrison to the point where it could only be taken after a three-month siege instead of by storm.”

Stilwell’s failure to take the town of Myitkyina after his initial sensational success at capturing the western airfield was to be one of his greatest humiliations.

Like Alan Brooke with regards to General MacArthur, I think General Slim did not know General Stillwell all that well. Myitkyina was about a division sized operation in this example. I note that Stillwell made some curious (bad) decisions and what I believe an error in personal judgement and personnel management that indicates his incompetence as a tactician and a "moral" commander at this level of command.

According to contemporary historian Geoffrey Perret, “What Stilwell wanted was the airfield. His plan was to take it, fly in Chinese reinforcements, then capture the town, a mile away. This plan was entirely his own…. His chief of staff, Brigadier General Haydon Boatner, wasn’t asked his views on it…. The only people he … discussed it with were Merrill and his own son, whom he’d installed as his G-2. Colonel Joseph Stilwell, Jr., assured his father that there were only a few hundred Japanese left at Myitkyina: too few to hold the town, too few to defend the airfield.”

1. A function check is to ask peer review and criticism and advice. One can ignore it, as MacArthur (fortunately) and Kenney (fortunately) ignored that son of a bitch, Sutherland, but they at least asked for that function check from staff, when they thought a plan was "hinky". Like CARTWHEEL turned out to be, it had to be vetted and modified constantly. See 2.
2. Putting your "best buddy" or your son in charge of intelligence, instead of a Thersites, is asking for trouble when it comes to a function check on the estimate of the situation. Once again with that son of a bitch, Charles Willoughby, as the "best buddy" example for MacArthur and Joe Stillwell's son as the other example for "Vinegar" Joe, we can see the mismanagement and incompetence (lack of morality) in the commander in the cases of MacArthur and Stillwell. Yes-men do not make good objective analysts and function checkers on one's own plans, intentions and conclusions.

YMMV and it should. MOO only.
 
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I agree about Devers. My other candidate, Kruger, is busy with the Japanese at the time of events. Stillwell, in my estimate, lacked the people skills and strategic objectivity to handle coalition warfare. Not only was Stillwell not "big picture oriented" in that he consistently missed what was important at the theater level (Ichi Go) much less at the global level, (the allies are there for a reason, and second best solutions that employ them as burden sharers are better than best solutions with them sulking on the sidelines. Yes, this is Chiang Kai Shek and Stillwell. Joe could never get the political factors of coalition warfare straight in China.). Also, above division I am not convinced Stillwell knew how to fight a battle. I am not even sure he was qualified to lead a division.
And yet, sadly, Stillwell somehow managed to end up in command of Tenth Army on Okinawa in succession to Geiger although his actual track record scarcely merited such an assignment.
 
I am not sure about the evidence for Brooke wanting to delay Overlord until 1945. It is surely not something I gather from his diaries.

It is true that if Brooke was Supreme Commander, there would still be a need for a land-forces commander. Politically, it could not be Monty (sadly!), but then who?

Marshall-Monty could be interesting. Could it work?
 
My other candidate, Kruger,

Kreuger is out on age grounds, blame McNair and Marshall, they purge the old guys, he is 62 in Jan 43. Which means Krueger is out of contention for 42 when the key decisions were made McArthur asking for him, and 3rd Army HQ which he does not get is another matter but because of age he misses out on 42 and by then Eisenhower is in place.

Now Kreuger after spending a 43 and 44 nominally commanding an Army actually commanding a series of RCT then divisions then in the PI an Army of 2 corps - Divs. Reasonably well. You get the same thing with other US commanders Patch being the obvious one.

I am not sure about the evidence for Brooke wanting to delay Overlord until 1945. It is surely not something I gather from his diaries.

It is true that if Brooke was Supreme Commander, there would still be a need for a land-forces commander. Politically, it could not be Monty (sadly!), but then who?

Marshall-Monty could be interesting. Could it work?

There is no actual need for a Land Force commander. Appointing a guy means you have a guy and presumably his driver, to do anything he needs a staff who are checking the work of their subordinates.

Thats what you have Army Groups for but the building block for the Allies is the Corps HQ and as long as you can staff those with capable people- and the Allies can, they plan the next three days of battle and an army operation is a combination of corps level ops in rapid succession over the ground in front of them. And the Army Group is switching formations in and out of Armies and Corps for various operations on which ground matters. A Land Force commander unless he is switching formations between army groups is either building delay into the system or its a pointless level of command.

That's different from a Theatre Air Force commander because he can operate across the whole front without reference to geography and allocate resources between targets a couple of times a day.

SHAEF allocates forces between army groups one time, when they are initially deployed in theatre. The major exception to that in Europe is taking US 9th away from Bradley which may start as pragmatism but later is means putting the reinforcing US divisions into 9th Army ( and the Reinforcing French into 6 AG).
 
There is no actual need for a Land Force commander. Appointing a guy means you have a guy and presumably his driver, to do anything he needs a staff who are checking the work of their subordinates.

Thats what you have Army Groups for but the building block for the Allies is the Corps HQ and as long as you can staff those with capable people- and the Allies can, they plan the next three days of battle and an army operation is a combination of corps level ops in rapid succession over the ground in front of them. And the Army Group is switching formations in and out of Armies and Corps for various operations on which ground matters. A Land Force commander unless he is switching formations between army groups is either building delay into the system or its a pointless level of command.
Not convinced by this.

No Land Force commander locks you in to a broad front approach; boundaries are set between Army Groups, and you allow the Army Group commanders to advance at will within those boundaries. End result is September 1944 and potential stalemate; more active control control gives you the Rhineland campaign in 1945. Someone should really set priorities and sequencing across the whole front.
And the Army Group is switching formations in and out of Armies and Corps for various operations
Twelfth Army Group wasn't very good at this.
 
Not convinced by this.

No Land Force commander locks you in to a broad front approach; boundaries are set between Army Groups, and you allow the Army Group commanders to advance at will within those boundaries. End result is September 1944 and potential stalemate; more active control control gives you the Rhineland campaign in 1945. Someone should really set priorities and sequencing across the whole front.

Twelfth Army Group wasn't very good at this.

Yes, but you don't need a land force commander for this. The issue in September 1944 is allocation of logistics, availability of reserves and perception of what the German Army is capable. Logistics is not specifically a land issue, availability of reserves is fixed by training schedules determined a year or two ago and the perception of the German Army is colored by a lot of things. And SHAEF makes the decision.

You can argue whether its right or wrong but sticking in another level of command does not change the issue that SHAEF has to make it because the reasoning is logistical and just because the land force commander wants something does not make transport available to do it.

It does not lock you into any approach geography does. It is a broad front sorta from the coast to the Swiss border with the best option because it avoids the Rhine, westwall and a lot of mountains and built up areas is North of the Ruhr, but as long as there is a belief that there is an Alpine Redoubt there has to be a Southern thrust at some point into Bavaria and Austria,

US 9th arrives 5 September but is stuck around Brest until the end of the month by which time all the decisions are made Market Garden is over. Thats the reserve formation until the New Year. Bradley then plods and mishandles matters a lot, again, until the Bulge at which point SHAEF basically agrees with Montgomery and makes 12 AG a very minor command for the rest of the war chopping 9th Army to 21 AG, adding 1st French to make 6 AG and leaving Bradley with 15th army as a processing/admin unit covering the French ports, 1st US is competently commanded but has a limited role in future ops and 3rd army is massive but used as the pursuit force, which plays to Pattons strength but requires very little supervision beyond shouting charge from time to time. Veritable, Plunder Grenade, Flashbang have more or less ground out the German forces in the West with whats left encircled in the Rhur.
 
Yes, but you don't need a land force commander for this. The issue in September 1944 is allocation of logistics, availability of reserves and perception of what the German Army is capable.
The issue in August & September is one of setting priorities; or more exactly not setting them, because as you note the German Army was not thought of providing effective resistance - nobody seems to have thought of the culminating point.

The logistics issues were about the split between US 1st and 3rd Armies; again no clear priorities set.

Veritable, Plunder Grenade, Flashbang have more or less ground out the German forces in the West with whats left encircled in the Rhur.
It's at this point that SHAEF is actually involved - those offensives were phased in an effective manner.

It does not lock you into any approach geography does
Which was thought of pre D-Day. However you look at Allied strategy in August/September, it's difficult to see any clear priority being given to the Aachen Gap.

EDIT: One other argument for a land force commander is a co-equal with the Theatre Air Force commander to allocate priorities. Of course OTL the Theatre Air Force Commander was dispensed with too.
 
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The issue in August & September is one of setting priorities; or more exactly not setting them, because as you note the German Army was not thought of providing effective resistance - nobody seems to have thought of the culminating point.

The logistics issues were about the split between US 1st and 3rd Armies; again no clear priorities set.


It's at this point that SHAEF is actually involved - those offensives were phased in an effective manner.


Which was thought of pre D-Day. However you look at Allied strategy in August/September, it's difficult to see any clear priority being given to the Aachen Gap.

EDIT: One other argument for a land force commander is a co-equal with the Theatre Air Force commander to allocate priorities. Of course OTL the Theatre Air Force Commander was dispensed with too.
But the ops mentioned ( its Flashpoint not flashbang my bad) are all under 21 AG not SHAEF. SHAEF has earlier prioritised North Germany and the Ruhr as the main sector of the attack and added 9th army to the Orbat ( presumably the geography of Germany had changed in the previous 3 months) Prior to Veritable authorises the use of the Airborne corps but the sequencing of those ops is 21 AG, Its what Montgomery its putting together 2-3 day corps level offensives in sequence. The British army has been doing this since 1918.

The logs issue is much more profound than fuel allocations. SHAEF now has to feed France and equip a new French Army, relocate forward the biggest air force in the world.

August September is really the pursuit from Normandy and then Market Garden, its a clear strategy but fumbled but not until after the destruction of OB west. SHAEF actually wants a broad front so he does gibe priority to 12 AG by deploying the reserve 9th army to 12 AG. The problem is Bradley then mismanages things as do the US Army Commands by continuing to attack along the same axis for a month or so at a time. Neither Bradley or Eisenhower really get it and while the Corps commanders ( at least in 9th army so presumably all the others) can put together a sequence of operations that will break the German defence they don't. They do 1916/17 style which enables the Germans to economise on reserves and parry everything.

This is not surprising. The US army at the higher levels did not have the same experience or training as the British or Germans or Russians by now. Until maybe 1940 the US army is not planning or training its higher commands to fight a multi army campaign in Europe. There are not many of them and they have their hands full working out how to create such an army. Its the first time they have operated at that level and Bradley repeats his style from Normandy - which works there because there is no rush ( due to the need to build up the logistics and troop base) and because the German reserves are being ground down by the Anglo Canadian armies.
 
But the ops mentioned ( its Flashpoint not flashbang my bad) are all under 21 AG not SHAEF. SHAEF has earlier prioritised North Germany and the Ruhr as the main sector of the attack and added 9th army to the Orbat ( presumably the geography of Germany had changed in the previous 3 months) Prior to Veritable authorises the use of the Airborne corps but the sequencing of those ops is 21 AG, Its what Montgomery its putting together 2-3 day corps level offensives in sequence.
Yes, but the 12th Army Group operations in March 1945 - Lumberjack - were co-ordinated with this; which is what SHAEF/land force commander should have doing in 1944.

Broadly agree with the rest; however US history tends not to be too critical of their commanders in WW2.
 
To put it mildly, the British and Russians had more command training than the American army? American historIan's are not generally critical of their WW2 command?

Proof is necessary, as I have read nothing of the kind. These absolute statements are not generally supported by the record.
 
Yes, but the 12th Army Group operations in March 1945 - Lumberjack - were co-ordinated with this; which is what SHAEF/land force commander should have doing in 1944.

Broadly agree with the rest; however US history tends not to be too critical of their commanders in WW2.

The Land Force Commander - Montgomery - was initially there until there was space and need for a second Army Group HQ to manage the space then a third with Dragoon And some suggestion because Devers could manage the French) . SHAEF then took over and followed a Broad Front. The problem is it stalls and Bradley mismanages his armies and the army commanders mismanage their formations continually making little to no progress on a single axis. Where they have strength ( 6th is really too weak to do much until the French come along).

This is not entirely his fault as some inadequacies of the US army are becoming apparent. Its not that good ( this is a qualified statement, its probably the second best in WW2, the problem is the best is the British so problems are highlighted) at attacking fortifications even field fortifications much less the Westwall and Atlantic Wall positions they are now faced with. This is a new problem for them. Their training and systems are more geared to open and maneuver warfare, which is fine until you have crack a fortified position and it takes 60 hours or so to dig a trench line with bunkers proof against anything short of 150mm shell fire.

Even if the Broad Front is continued the whole is going to be at the pace of the slowest and for 12 AG an advance to the Rhine means you are opposite the heavily Urbanised area of the Ruhr, which is a bad place to fight in in its own right and based on say Aachen will be very heavily defended. Essentially Geography takes over. The fortifications generally do not extend along the Dutch Border and its flat and good armour country, unlike South of Koblenz. The Germans can read maps as well if they have forces the logic is they would place them at the point of greatest strategic threat,

That they expend their forces in the Bulge then west of the Rhine and off to the wrong place in the East is out with SHAEF control.

The Criticism of Eisenhower and SHAEF is that the Geography is a constant and while attacking towards Aachen and the Hurtgen is perfectly reasonable continuing to do so for months is not.

Looking at the terrain version of Google Maps makes this pretty clear once across the Rhine you are either fighting through a series of cities or hill/mountain ranges with the low ground taking you towards Nuremburg or Munich.

The Bulge changes that. SHAEF seems to lose confidence in Bradley but the army and corps commanders react very well and effectively. Lumberjack is a conformal operation based on the progress of the 21 AG who started a month earlier.

But the key point is you don't need a land force commander to do that. SHAEF is perfectly able to set the priorities for his army groups, its his job and by doing so he is also setting the priorities for the Air and Naval commanders.

To put it mildly, the British and Russians had more command training than the American army? American historIan's are not generally critical of their WW2 command?

Proof is necessary, as I have read nothing of the kind. These absolute statements are not generally supported by the record.

Yes. Basically up to 1940 the US promotion system is seniority with a hump of WW1 officers, who are then retired by Marshall McNair in 1940. So up to then the higher command positions are held by people who by and large are not given field command in WW2. The problem is that for 20 years the very small US army has limited options for command training or indeed troop command outside maybe two years in school and maybe a couple more teaching what you have been taught in school

Devers for example is promoted to Brigadier General over 474 more senior colonels to become the youngest Brigadier General in the US Army. In1940.

What the US does is rotate people more comprehensively around all its Duties The problem is those duties include representative at the Worlds Fair, supervising the ROTC and they never really get a long period running anything and when they go back to the troops its generally in small scattered outposts with limited opportunities for large scale training until 1940 at which point the expansion of the army is so fast that the guys who will command are either being promoted or managing base construction or weapon procurement projects.

And critical for the learning experience who is teaching them and what is being taught. The US has about 7 weeks experience of WW1 and lots of the guys with that experience are dead. So a WW2 General officer taught in the 1920s or early 1930s has a narrow perspective - and the War College is effectively a think tank for War Plans Divisions not a teaching space. Its very effective at that but its not about command training of formations in battle.

Now the guys are smart and adapt and learn but some learn really fast and others really don't learn at all.

And no US authors are lagging way behind Commonwealth or even German authors ( or frankly Americans writing about Germans) on the west less so on the Pacific Air War. They are still stuck in the Rick Atkinson level, these are fine books but they miss out on the revolution in Military Historiography that comes out of Kings and its alumni which takes things back to original contemporary sources like manuals and written orders, strength rather than memoirs constructed after the event.




You can pick others but for example Devers and Dempsey.

Devers Graduates West Point 1909, Arty Officer in Wa and the PI to 1912, Maths Teacher West Point Manages sports programmes, Battery commander 9th FA 1916/17 Instructor School fire to October 1918 then exec officer then commander of an Arty Regiment which never leaves the US. Appointed commander 1st FA March 1919. May 1919 sent on a study tour to Europe. August 1919 he is back as captain and instructor at West Point on field artillery for 5 years. Command and General Staff school for 10 months. Director of Field Artillery Gunnery School 1929 DC on staff of the Chief of Field artillery Army war college for a year. XO and Commander of Arty Bn for a couple of years where he stuns his troops by letting them fire their guns. This is about 1935. Then back to West point until 1939 where he manages atheletics programmes - and builds sports fields.

1939 to Canal Zone as Chief of staff to a brigade sized formation. Promoted Brigadier, Commands a provisional Brigade for a couple of months, Inspection tour of the Destroyers for Bases.

1 October 1940 promoted Major General 9th infantry, training them, but mainly supervising the building of Fort Bragg. 1 August Chief of the armoured force, May 1943 Chief of ETOUSA where is main jobs are the Bomber offensive and planning for Overlord. Sent o Med as the Logistics and Admin Commander for US forces in the Med, ( and deputy SAC med where Maitland Wilson has him do fun stuff like deal with the french and poles.) and is generally very capable at managing things. Major player in planning Dragoon July 1944 - VE day Commands 6 AG.

So couple of years school after west point, rather more than most US officers troop command at a senior level Bn or Bn XO, but never for long because something more important comes up. Thoroughly professional gunner and sports administrator. also pretty good at building things and managing programmes.

Dempsey Sandhurst graduates 1915, Platoon and company commander, with a stint at Corps Staff to 1917. 1918 back as company commander gassed has a lung removed, returns to duty in July to 11/11. 3 years as a company commander in the middle east. Instructor at Sandhurst for 4 years. Back as company commander mainly in Germany.
1930 staff college then GSO3 to the Military Secretary ( HR department for officers) which puts him in charge of the careers of everyone under colonel. Promoted Major in 1932. In 1934 Brigade Chief of Staff for a couple of years with a lot of maneuvres. HQ company commander for his Bn for a year. Senior Officer School ( which was a tri service academy) for a year. GSO2 to the South African Defence forces. CO inf Bn 38/9. Promoted Brigade commander at 42 in France. July 40 Brigadier General Staff to the Canadian Corps. June 41 Division commander, December 42 Corps commander in Egypt not needed on the line so plans Husky then executes. Pulled out to plan Baytown Executes. EO 43 goes with Montgomery to plan Overlord commands 2nd Army.

So combat veteran, thoroughly experienced in troop command, Instructor, Couple of years at Brigade staff, couple of years at National command level, several years at Staff colleges. Battalion and Brigade command for extended periods and corps staff and Divisional command. Plans then executes three amphib operations.
 
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