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Strategic and tactical realities in CMBS

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Good work. Three questions:

- why do Russian Forces attack on that specific operational axis (and do not instantly shift south when meeting resistance, for example down to Sumy-Romny-Kiev).

- are there any air assaults or para drops?

- why do Russian Forces do not enfix the Ukranian Forces well forward (ie Krolevec) while pushing from up north via the Klimovo-Gorodnya-Chernigov axis?

 

The other obvious question is - why concentrate the main effort against Kiev at all, if there are no objectives there?

 

Sumy-Romny-Kiev axis should be covered by other mechanized brigade formation (I intentionaly left out any other ukrainian units from my map since that would require whole another case study of strategic positions for all the ukrainian forces), but the position is even more exposed than the E101. However, any forces defending Sumy should be able to buy some time since the terrain there is once again somewhat defendable. Naturally this leaves a HUGE gap around byryn-terny area between the two brigades. Any RA-thrust trough this gap would have to be met by mobile forces held futher west around Ichnya-Pryluky-area. Wich is a whole another story.

 

Same goes for area north of the brigades AO wich should be held by neighbouring unit of some size, at least independent battalion formations or two at minimum.

 

As far as i understand the RA would definately enfix the defenders at Krolevets and go for a flanking move, but the major highways are still important as supply routes and I would hold it as fairly certain that some forces would be commited to clearing the highway. As for why going to Kiev at all, well tbh I dont want to even speculate too much at that but its the core of the official "story line". Ofc artillery pounding down on kiev could be a leverage for bargaining for the real prize wich would be, like you posted, the sympathetic south and south east.

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Yeah I agree, I'm under the impression the main objective would be the destruction of the enemy's forces, not terrain capture based.  Of course you need to capture terrain to facilitate this, but its not about conquering it is more or less punitive in nature.  "You want to join NATO, we are going to kill your sons, destroy your military and make your population turn on the government and NATO."  You don't have to capture Kiev to do that.

Yes, however I think it would be interesting to pose a diversionary attack against Kiev to force remaining free Ukrainian Forces there (and then attack elsewhere).

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I know you guys in Russia have been fed a long diet of NATO wants to invade us and destroy us various other crazy stories.  I don't want to get to sucked to far into that rat whole but let me simply assure you that that was never the intention of the NATO governments and it sill isn't.  Oh I know someone somewhere can find some crazy government official or elected parliamentarian saying things that make you nervous - trust me we Canadians know all about that.  But the existence of plans and some low ranking guy's statements are not evidence of hostility.

 

And you were fed a long diet of the evil Russians are going to invade West Germany at any minute, that happening was about as remote as NATO invading East Germany.  That is just how it was, you thought we were going to invade you, we thought you were going to attack us.  Neither side was going to but made the other think they would.  

 

I have seen a lot of American TV/movies/even news stories from the 80's depicting life in the Soviet Union.  It must have been some other Soviet Union, it wasn't the one I lived in - but I'm sure the same can be said about the depiction of the West we had.

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Sumy-Romny-Kiev axis should be covered by other mechanized brigade formation (I intentionaly left out any other ukrainian units from my map since that would require whole another case study of strategic positions for all the ukrainian forces), but the position is even more exposed than the E101. However, any forces defending Sumy should be able to buy some time since the terrain there is once again somewhat defendable. Naturally this leaves a HUGE gap around byryn-terny area between the two brigades. Any RA-thrust trough this gap would have to be met by mobile forces held futher west around Ichnya-Pryluky-area. Wich is a whole another story.

 

Same goes for area north of the brigades AO wich should be held by neighbouring unit of some size, at least independent battalion formations or two at minimum.

 

As far as i understand the RA would definately enfix the defenders at Krolevets and go for a flanking move, but the major highways are still important as supply routes and I would hold it as fairly certain that some forces would be commited to clearing the highway. As for why going to Kiev at all, well tbh I dont want to even speculate too much at that but its the core of the official "story line". Ofc artillery pounding down on kiev could be a leverage for bargaining for the real prize wich would be, like you posted, the sympathetic south and south east.

The rule is strategic->operational->tactical. Without knowing that the other routes are covered, that there is an operational mobile reserve (where is it stationed, what kind of strength does it have?) it is difficult (atleast from my perspective) to define any sensible scenario. I would remind you that most of Ukrainian Forces would be down south, either fighting the separatists directly, or positioned to do so, however, again, the specific posture would depend on the over all strategic->operational situation.

 

The idea is to:

- enfix.

- bypass by mobile grouping/forward detachment (on the way to whatever objective there may be, for example - immediate objective of such detachment could be the Ukrainian artillery).

- reduce the enfixed, bypassed and by this point encircled troops (this could take time, but then you get burritos to do the job of cleaning infantry out of cover). For historical reference you could see the reduction of Japanese fortified areas in 1945 or any of the Eastern Front 1944-1945 examples.

 

Well, if you won't discuss the overall picture, then good luck determining authentically the local specifics.

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Plans, schmans. That's what militaries do. There might even be plans stored away somewhere in the Canadian Force HQ for an invasion of the US (yeah probably not) but I know there are plans for what to do if the US invades us. Military HQs are "what if scenario" and plan generators.

I know you guys in Russia have been fed a long diet of NATO wants to invade us and destroy us various other crazy stories.  I don't want to get to sucked to far into that rat whole but let me simply assure you that that was never the intention of the NATO governments and it sill isn't.  Oh I know someone somewhere can find some crazy government official or elected parliamentarian saying things that make you nervous - trust me we Canadians know all about that.  But the existence of plans and some low ranking guy's statements are not evidence of hostility.

I know you guys in the West have been fed a long diet of USSR wants to invade you and destroy you various other crazy stories :D  Sounds weird for you, right? The truth is that both sides during cold war were ready to invade and destroy each other if things go wrong. What is really weird that cold war ended but NATO still exists and even becoming larger. Who was the enemy of NATO after cold war ended and why NATO countries invaded other countries several times? What should non NATO countries think and feel when NATO bombed Yugoslavia? Did Yugoslavia attack NATO first?

We are not kids to belive in fairtales about open hearted military block which exists just for self-defence. The world is a cruel place where different countries compete for resources and dominance. NATO is an instrument that allows several western countries rule the world and say other countries outside NATO what they should or shouldn't do. Fist law on pair with economics power is still the real law of the modern world. If you don't see it you are an actual victim of propaganda.

Edited by Rusknight

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Fantastic post H1nd - and also ikalugin - both breakdowns of a hypothetical full scale invasion made for an interesting read. I'm looking forward to seeing the scenarios that come out of these maps!

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You kind'a left out the small detail of the former Yugoslavs slaughtering each other wholesale. And you left out the other small detail that Russia was part of the military force that entered the country to stop the conflict along with NATO.

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I think further political derailment would be unwelcome. Please refrain from it. (I would try to hold myself together too).

Edited by ikalugin

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You kind'a left out the small detail of the former Yugoslavs slaughtering each other wholesale. And you left out the other small detail that Russia was part of the military force that entered the country to stop the conflict along with NATO.

They were probably slaughtering each other but so what? Why NATO should bomb on side of the conflict (the one which they like more)? It was still a NATO agression against this country. 

Russian peace-making forces were there in accordance with the resolution №1244 of UN while NATO bombed the country on it's own just becouse they wanted to do so...

Edited by Rusknight

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 What is really weird that cold war ended but NATO still exists and even becoming larger. 

 

This isn't weird at all to someone living in Poland or the Baltics who would like some help keeping a certain large, pesky neighbour off their lawn.

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Good work. Three questions:

- why do Russian Forces attack on that specific operational axis (and do not instantly shift south when meeting resistance, for example down to Sumy-Romny-Kiev).

- are there any air assaults or para drops?

- why do Russian Forces do not enfix the Ukranian Forces well forward (ie Krolevec) while pushing from up north via the Klimovo-Gorodnya-Chernigov axis?

The other obvious question is - why concentrate the main effort against Kiev (and relevant routes towards it) at all, if there are no objectives there?

Well, this whole game hypothetical and @H1nd is creating a possible attack story. Your points could also be a hypothetical out come. One of the nice things with this game is there is no historical record to "follow" we can make up what ever we want.

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Well, this whole game hypothetical and @H1nd is creating a possible attack story. Your points could also be a hypothetical out come. One of the nice things with this game is there is no historical record to "follow" we can make up what ever we want.

The thread name has the word "strategic" thus those questions should be asked if there is no high level background provided.

 

Not that I don't appreciate the great work he did :)

Edited by ikalugin

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I was perhaps overly forward in how I phrased my disagreements with Ikalugun's post.  All we can to about the politics is agree to disagree and pray the war remains hypothetical.

 

As a basis for discussion of tactical and operational possibilities at the level of the game H1nd's layout is superlative.  I have already looked at the map of Terny and there are features that you could base hasty defense on.  We just need to keep asking ourselves what makes a reasonable scenario and ignore the politics.

 

I have stated previously that the best assumption for the interesting game is that air-forces/air-defenses more or less neutralize each other.  I have no clue what would actually happen, but that is what makes the best CMBS scenarios.

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The subject of this thread is 

 

Strategic and tactical realities in CMBS

 

Let's stick to that in here, m'kay? Knock off the political slap fight crap.

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I was perhaps overly forward in how I phrased my disagreements with Ikalugun's post.  All we can to about the politics is agree to disagree and pray the war remains hypothetical.

 

As a basis for discussion of tactical and operational possibilities at the level of the game H1nd's layout is superlative.  I have already looked at the map of Terny and there are features that you could base hasty defense on.  We just need to keep asking ourselves what makes a reasonable scenario and ignore the politics.

 

I have stated previously that the best assumption for the interesting game is that air-forces/air-defenses more or less neutralize each other.  I have no clue what would actually happen, but that is what makes the best CMBS scenarios.

 

This, or at least saying they're otherwise occupied :)  Or just determine their impact pre-scenario, rather than using them as an excuse to build masturbatory conquest/heroic defense scenarios that are pretty much pre-determined.

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I am now officially warning the participants of this thread to stop the political cross talk. It will go absolutely nowhere since both sides have firmly made up their minds about who is the real aggressor in this war. As a historian, and someone who has put a couple thousand hours into following this crisis since the first signs of war (February 20th) happened, I am more than happy to let history be the ultimate judge. Though based on the revisionist and factually flawed arguments I've seen here, I know that and accurate history won't be enough for some people.

Now to get back to the warfare aspects...

Steve

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Instead of going directly for Kiev, how about a drive south toward the Crimea bypassing Kharkiv from the west, along the Dnipropetrovsk - Zaporijia axis? Sorry if this has been mentioned before, I didn't read all the threads on the topic.

 

Kharkiv might turn out to be a bottleneck for supplies with this scenario if the Russian forces just bypass it, but this would isolate whatever forces the loyalists have in eastern Ukraine, either pocketing them if the movement is swift enough or forcing them to withdraw westward.

 

This would yield several benefits for the Russians :

- inflicting a military defeat on the loyalist Ukrainians, possibly forcing Kiev to the negotiation table.

- seizing ground where the population is mostly pro-Moscow, which can be used as a bargaining tool in the future negotiations or simply presenting Kiev with a fait accompli.

- linking Crimea to mainland Russia

 

This could probably lead to a partition of Ukraine, and if not a full blown annexation, at least the formation of a pupper regime in eastern Ukraine.

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Are you serious? OMG...

In case you do not know, I've been studying warfare for almost 30 years. I received my degree in history, with a specific focus on the Eastern Front and the war between the Third Reich and Soviet Union. I have a very good knowledge of the post war European/Soviet stand off. I am fairly familiar with the Soviet's actions in Afghanistan and the various Russian wars/incursions/interferences since the fall of the Soviet Union. I did the research and design for CM Shock Force. I have been following the war in Ukraine nearly every single day since the start of the war (I peg it to Feb 20th) using a wide range of sources.

In short... yes, I am quite serious.

 

Ukraninan and Russian armies are simmply incomparable to each other from the point of scale, equipment and trainig.  The simple fact that Ukraine has almost no aviation says a lot. It's like discussing how long Mexico can stand against US if US decide to invade it - a week maybe?  I have nothing against Ukraine and actually hope that such a war won't happen, but they simply didn't invest enough money and efforts in their army for years and it's impossible to build a powerfull army just at once even if you get millions of dollars and some equipment for it from EU and US. Ukranian officials actually understand it and say that in the case of the massive russian invasion they won't be able to stop it without dirrect NATO help.

As I said, this argument of yours is basically correct as of last Spring and earlier. But I am examining what the facts are on the ground today, not where they were a year a go. Hitler and many of his top generals were fools to base their perception of Soviet capabilities each year based on their performance the previous years. This did not serve them well. These same people dismissed the capabilities of the US Army of 1944 based on the disasters of 1942/43 in North Africa. Despite Germany losing that theater.

So when I make a statement about how I see forces fighting this Spring, I am basing it on current information and not old information.

Now, to get one thing out of the way. The Russian armed forces, as it exists on paper within the Russian Federation, has not fought any war in Ukraine except for the takeover of Crimea. This means it has not executed a full scale combined arms war against Ukrainian forces, which means we must be careful about examining Russia's total military capabilities based on what Russian forces *have* (and are) fighting in Ukraine.

In August there was a large scale Russian Army counter offensive in Ukraine. These units were made up of mostly "volunteers" from standing Russian military units. They were not, however, organically trained with each other and they lacked many supporting arms and equipment they were used to. This means the Russian forces fighting in Ukraine during the summer were not the same as the Russian military units that stayed on Russian soil. For supporting documentation of direct Russian involvement, see this thread starting here:

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/116661-ukraine-military-vs-russia/page-8#entry1557383

This means the full effect of a Russian combined arms offensive has not been seen so far in this war. Therefore, just because the August counter offensive did not go as well as Russia hoped it would (I am convinced of this, but it is just an opinion), that does not mean if Russia had committed full spectrum forces the result would have been equally mixed. I expect it would have been significantly better. But of course it could not do that since it had to pretend it wasn't in Ukraine at all. Well, except for "lost" soldiers and those "on vacation".

OK, so what about today?

The Russian military has absolutely no history of fighting a protracted war of maneuver AT ALL and no history of a war against a mechanized enemy that lasted more than a few days (Georgia). The performance of Russian logistics even in these limited circumstances was not good. Putin has done a lot to improve the logistics side of things, but only in anticipation of small scale, quick attack scenarios. Which is why the attack on Crimea was very well executed.

While it is true that Russia has gained a lot of experience with the logistics of supporting a prolonged unconventional war in Ukraine, it still hasn't had to deal with the difficulties of a large scale organized attack. Based on what I know about the current and past history of Russian and Soviet capabilities... I do not think they can sustain the size, scope, and duration necessary to knock Ukraine out before things go very badly for Russian forces. *AGAIN* I am saying this about this coming Spring, not last Spring. Last Spring Russia would have done quite well.

The other thing that Russia lacks is a history of effectively fighting a war of maneuver in the face of a determined, mechanized enemy capable of causing major casualties in a very short space of time. Here is where traditionally Russia has done OK with. In the past there were always more warm bodies in boots to send forward to replace those who had fallen before them. I personally do not believe that modern Russia will find such behavior acceptable, so I don't think this is a viable strategy any more.

On the topic of fighting forces. Putin has invested heavily in updating and modernizing the Russian armed forces, and it shows very positively in places. And that is the KEY to this whole discussion. The improvements have been far from even.

After Chechnya and Georgia, Putin recognized that a largely conscript army using outdated equipment and doctrine simply wasn't going to work any more. He saw what the West was doing and realized that he had to do something similar, but on a scale that Russia could afford. Wisely, Putin assessed what Russia was most likely need a military for... interfering in the affairs of a neighboring state and internal security. He probably knows, deep down, that there's 0.00% chance of winning a conventional war against NATO in a military sense.

The correct response to the anticipated needs of the Russian state caused Russia to focus on making a fairly small amount of its armed forces VERY GOOD and not spend much resources on the rest. If you think you only need 50k forces to solve your problems, why would you spend the resources to improve the rest of the military? It would be a very big waste of money and time. Georgia was the first test case and it showed that this reshaping of the Russian military was working, though still in need of improvements.

The problem for Putin is that his modernization program was based on a Georgian scenario, not a Ukraine 2015 scenario. The two are ENTIRELY different.

Currently the Ukrainian ATO has forces equal to Russia's top line force. While I agree that Russia's force is overall superior, attacking Ukraine on its home territory is going to require a lot better force ratios than 1:1 even with quality taken into consideration. Especially since by the time Spring arrives the ATO will likely have 2:1 numerical superiority in the immediate theater. This is not a recipe for Russian success, but a near certain script for Russian disaster.

As I said in my previous post, any buildup of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border would be easily detected and documented as it was during the Spring of 2014 and into the Summer. This would allow Ukraine sufficient time to redeploy forces as needed. To cover the approaches to Kiev better it would mean reducing the ATO force size, but with its superiority in numbers that wouldn't be a problem for a defensive battle.

The rest of what I said before remains my prediction.

Steve

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And you were fed a long diet of the evil Russians are going to invade West Germany at any minute, that happening was about as remote as NATO invading East Germany. That is just how it was, you thought we were going to invade you, we thought you were going to attack us. Neither side was going to but made the other think they would.

I have seen a lot of American TV/movies/even news stories from the 80's depicting life in the Soviet Union. It must have been some other Soviet Union, it wasn't the one I lived in - but I'm sure the same can be said about the depiction of the West we had.

Well ya did build a pretty impressive wall.

Kidding aside, and I am just ribbing you, the rationale for the scenario Hind is presenting could simply be the intent is to force a change in govt. Therefore it makes absolute sense to thrust at Kiev. Keep in mind the whole point of the exercise is to give us an excuse to game a campaign. If we all agree the likelihood of a direct Russia NATO confrontation is unrealistic and there is no point to gaming it then BF is gonna have a really sad day when this is released. Not that I think there is any chance of that.

Hind has presented a campaign idea and a darn good one. Some alternatives have been presented that are equally good options. May I respectfully suggest gentleman you cooperate on campaigns on a theme? Much better to see more stuff than simply argue over one option.

Edited by sburke

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Bear in mind nobody fields WWII-size armies anymore (perhaps China and N Korean excepted). When Hitler invaded France in1940 he suffered 150,000+ casualties in a matter of months and called it a brilliant victory. In coming years there would be Kursk, Stalingrad, Falaise, and still he was able to raise a whole new army for the Bulge offensive! Nobody fields 'disposable' armies in that scale anymore. *Theoretical 2017 Russian president* wouldn't/couldn't simple 'pull a WWII' and march into Kiev leaving 100,000 casualties behind him on the field. His army wouldn't be able to sustain such punishment.

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Yes, if Russia's sole goal was for a regime change then Hind's scenario looks fine! It's very, very risky though because if the thrust failed to change the political situation, then things would not look so good in the following days, weeks, and months. One of the downsides of taking hard to defend terrain quickly is that it can be lost just as easily.

One of Russia's primary problems with a limited, concentrated thrust from the north eastern extreme of Ukraine is that it would be easily detected and the intent very obvious. In fact, Ukraine moved significant forces in that area during the early stages of the war and then moved them away fairly recently because they saw there was no credible threat from that direction.

As for what NATO would or wouldn't do, our scenario takes the most extreme (and unlikely) possibility of direct NATO intervention on behalf of Ukraine. It makes for a better game :D

In real life the most likely result of a direct Russian attack would be to provide Javelin ATGMs and other weaponry to Ukraine. It's already queued up and ready to go, but Russia would freak out if they saw them in Ukrainian hands so (wisely) President Obama has so far refused to send them and other provocative weaponry to Ukraine. The US has, already, provided counter battery fire radar and that has been in use in the ATO already. Reportedly it has made an impact already.

Big open terrain is something the Javelin is especially good at, as any CMSF player can attest to. They would likely arrive to late to prevent a thrust from getting to the Dneipr, but they could appear shortly after.

Steve

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Bear in mind nobody fields WWII-size armies anymore (perhaps China and N Korean excepted). When Hitler invaded France in1940 he suffered 150,000+ casualties in a matter of months and called it a brilliant victory. In coming years there would be Kursk, Stalingrad, Falaise, and still he was able to raise a whole new army for the Bulge offensive! Nobody fields 'disposable' armies in that scale anymore. *Theoretical 2017 Russian president* wouldn't/couldn't simple 'pull a WWII' and march into Kiev leaving 100,000 casualties behind him on the field. His army wouldn't be able to sustain such punishment.

There's also a difference when considering the timeframe for the casualties. If Russia lost 5,000 KIA/WIA in 2 weeks and did NOT get a final and positive conclusion, I don't think the Russian public could be kept in the dark (Cargo 200 deceit) and I don't think they would be very happy about this. And yes, Ukraine is currently capable of inflicting casualties of this sort on a Russian attack of about 50,000 within 2 weeks. And that's if things go relatively well for the attack.

Steve

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I've always read the CMBS backstory as a series of blunders. Each one thinking that a robust 'display of resolve' before hostilities would cause the other to back down. NATO didn't want to start a shooting war with Russian and Russia didn't want to start a shooting war with NATO. Yet here we are. Frankly that scenario seem more likely than someone waking up one morning and thinking "Today is a good day to start a major European war!"

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As for what NATO would or wouldn't do, our scenario takes the most extreme (and unlikely) possibility of direct NATO intervention on behalf of Ukraine. It makes for a better game :D

 

I think gaming in general has by default always had to take the most 'extreme scenario' to make it something an audience wants to play. Hollywood effect? Releasing a wargame with 'no war' would be an interesting business decision. :P Saying that, I think it would be an adventurous developer to create a game about the break neck diplomatic work in the lead up to war. Player 'success' is determined by if they are able to avoid conflict or scale it down.

 

'This War of Mine' also looked at this content from a very different angle and tugged at the moral heart strings.

 

I've always read the CMBS backstory as a series of blunders. Each one thinking that a robust 'display of resolve' before hostilities would cause the other to back down. NATO didn't want to start a shooting war with Russian and Russia didn't want to start a shooting war with NATO. Yet here we are. Frankly that scenario seem more likely than someone waking up one morning and thinking "Today is a good day to start a major European war!"

Couldn't you argue that every conflict is in an essence that. A series of consquences leading to future causes?

 

As for the casualty question I think it's interesting as you go through history the ability for man to cause greater amounts of death and destruction in wartime has occured at the same time as an inverse in the appetite for major and long term conflicts. I remeber the Ken Burns 'The Civil War' documentry from years ago where historian Shelby Foote Jr made the comment comparing the American Civil War and the Napoleonic Wars... (probably paraphrasing)

 

"It was almost inconceivable that anything that horrendous could happen. [..] If we had ten percent casualties in a battle today it would be looked on as a blood bath. They had thirty percent, in several battles, and one after another. Shiloh had the same number of casualties as Waterloo, and yet when it was fought there were another twenty Waterloos to follow."

 

In todays world (in partcualr for first world nations) it makes you wonder what cause would be strong enough to rally the people enough to accept a conventional war that had the casualty rate and scale of something like WW2.

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