Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
sburke

SS - supermen or just mama's boys with lots of toys?

Recommended Posts

From my reading the arrogance of some German soldiers, especially from the 'elite units' after they surrendered, was there undoing. Bowing the head and begging for mercy will often activate areas of the hind brain which inhibit violence, though adrenalin can often short circuit this, so that any perceived threat or display of aggression, however slight, will provoke a violent response.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Armys are not trained to take prisoners.

This has always been a problem.

There is not one army that has ever bothered to train it's troops to take prisoners.

Lone soldiers surrendering have always had a low chance of survival.

This is sometimes mitigated by the captor having something in common with the captive.

Speaking the same language usualy increases the odds astronomicaly.

If you can say "I am surrendering. Please dont shoot me" in the language of the troops you are surrendering too, you have a 50/50 chance of not being shot. Otherwise you might as well not even bother.

Soldiers are trained to take prisoners and armies are set up to process them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting thread!

On the flipside of the POW experience, here's a story told to me by a woman I used to work with...

Her husband had been a German pilot in the war. I can't remember his rank, but he was an officer. He was shot down, but survived, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW. During this time, he got a gig working at a camp bar serving enlisted men. This brought in money (I can't remember the details of who was running the camp) and he was livin' large in as much as a POW can.

Well...eventually some British officers became aware that he was an officer and they complained to the camp brass that enemy POW or no, it was "beneath the dignity of an officer to serve enlisted men," and they got him fired.

Of course, he was livid.

-Don't know if the story's true, but I like it!

Macisle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But, of course aside from a few elite units the overall SS quality declined from the early war days.

I don't think that's precisely how it went. Early on, the SS was long on ideology and short on tactical skill to the point that their performance in battle was pretty dismal. This condition certainly existed through the end of 1940, and maybe even later. The infusion of officers and NCOs from the Heer went some way toward improving that condition as did in some cases the acquisition of battlefield experience of pre-existing SS leaders. So we can see a net improvement from about the end of 1940 until mid-1944, when increasing losses and the overall decline of the German position began to have serious effects on the SS as well. The effects may have registered later and have been less dramatic at first, but by the end of 1944 they too had been bled pretty white.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In all my reading, I've never, ever seen an "official" US "no prisoners" order at any time, anywhere during WW2. What went on at the small unit level was never officially sanctioned. The leadership might have looked the other way once or twice, but if something came to their official attention through channels. action was taken against the perpetrators. The only thing is, there was little reporting of such incidents, such being the pressure of peers and circumstance.

Late edit: Halsey's famous "Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill more Japs..." sign was not official policy, but more of a battle cry. But the Pacific war was unique and there was much less humanity shown there by both sides. Still, I know of no Allied direct orders to kill prisoners, even in the Pacific.

I don't want to belabor the point as considering the time, the circumstances, the nature of war etc I think it is unreasonable to expect much different. I certainly am not going to fault the boots on the ground who had to face the horrors they did day after day through the war. However there may be evidence of at minimum certain units giving orders at least at the regimental level for example the 501st and 508th Para regiments and possibly the 22nd Infantry regiment (page 75 in Destination Normandy recounts these but doesn't supply much as to where the info is coming from). In reaction to Malmedy the 328th Infantry regiment did issue an order that no SS or paratroopers would be taken prisoner and is apparently recorded in the official US history with a note that similar orders may have come from other units.

The pacific is a whole other topic. Between cultural issues on the nature of honor and war, the brutality of the fighting etc any rules as we understand them just never really applied. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have been a Marine at Okinawa and seeing what the Japanese Army inflicted even on it's own civilians.

Some other links regarding POW treatment in the war. I have no idea who Peter Lieb is or the basis of his claims, but the Der Spiegel article does suggest a policy in the allied command of taking no prisoners in the initial period of the landings.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,692037,00.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes_during_World_War_II#Comparative_death_rates_of_POWs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sburke-

I probably should have clarified my meaning by stating no "official" US orders...here I was thinking of those issued, as you noted, above regiment level - more at the level of division, corps, army and higher. Regiment and battalion commanders were in many ways front line commanders and their behavior was usually left to division commanders to supervise and regulate. Much above those levels you start getting into the "politically correct" army command and management and there the policies about prisoners were pretty clearly conservative of life. Privately, commanders at those levels could probably well envision what was really going on in the front lines, but they could not do anything unless actual reports reached them to act upon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...The infusion of officers and NCOs from the Heer went some way toward improving that condition...Michael

I can't remember the name of the book now (wanna' say Panzer Leader/Commander, but the author talked about this. He mentions that the SS were generally disliked by regular army and that many good officers were being transferred into it against their desires to pump up SS performance. IIRC, he also mentions that a few didn't mind, as they thought it would advance their career, but that most really did not want to go (an offer you can't refuse?).

Does anybody know that book? The second half covers his time as a POW in the USSR. -Don't know how much is true, but he talks a lot about how valuable the German POWs were to the Russians who ran the camps, as they made a lot of money and/or earned favors with their superiors by putting the Germans, who often had good skills, to work on projects.

One story almost sounds like Hogan's Heroes. I believe at a time when his group was in the Ukraine, they were often out working with only one guard, who they got along well with (Schuuuultz!!!). They used to play tricks on him for fun and one time they hid his rifle from him for awhile.

Anyway, that's the only detailed account of life as a Russian-front POW that has drifted my way over the years. It's a good read. Oh, and I just remembered that I think the author later became a coffee merchant, if that helps anybody peg the book title.

Macisle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sburke-

I probably should have clarified my meaning by stating no "official" US orders...here I was thinking of those issued, as you noted, above regiment level - more at the level of division, corps, army and higher. Regiment and battalion commanders were in many ways front line commanders and their behavior was usually left to division commanders to supervise and regulate. Much above those levels you start getting into the "politically correct" army command and management and there the policies about prisoners were pretty clearly conservative of life. Privately, commanders at those levels could probably well envision what was really going on in the front lines, but they could not do anything unless actual reports reached them to act upon.

Yeah I can't say I have found anything beyond these. Also note that the instances in D Day regarding the airborne (assuming the data is true) stemmed both from prior experience in Sicily with American POWs getting shot and the nature of landing in occupied territory. The 328th was directly in reaction to Malmedy. There was never as far as I know any suggestion of even a verbal command at Division level or higher in the ETO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here in Bath, Maine an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer was commissioned named the "Michael Murphy". This man was a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 after his team was compromised. During their operation they were discovered by some goat herders. After a lengthy discussion about whether or not to kill these men to protect their missions integrity or to let them go, Lt. Murphy called for a vote from the team. It was decided to let them go. A short time later, over 100 Taliban attacked their position. During a running firefight, most every member of the team was wounded, including Lt. Murphy. Their radio wouldn't transmit where they were and Lt. Murphy decided to do the unthinkable. He went into a clearing, in full sight of the enemy, and used his SAT phone to call for reinforcement and assistance. During the course of this he was mortally wounded, but still managed to end the transmission with "Thank You". He died there on that hill top in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, an MH-47 Special Operations Chinook was dispatched with another SEAL team to affect a rescue. The Taliban had been monitoring communications and knew the flight path of the helicopter. A well aimed RPG took this helicopter down, killing 8 SEALs and 8 Night Stalker Special Ops Air Force crewmen. All of Murphy's SEAL team, except Marcus Luttrell, were killed. Luttrell was able to get down stream to a small village who sheltered him until help could arrive. 19 men, 11 SEALs and the 8 Night Stalkers, were killed during this mission, the most devastating loss suffered by American special ops in a single mission. Luttrell regrets his vote to not kill the Afghan goat herders to this day, as his was the deciding one.

I know they weren't POWs, but they were potentially (and as it turned out, actually) hostile and under the guns of these men. If they had been killed, Murphy's team would have probably been called murderers, but now they are dead heroes. I do believe, and would stand by this during high stress moments, that the good of the many sometimes out weighs the good of the few. There is a time and a place for all things, and without being there to see the actual circumstance, we are not in any position to judge any man for what he does during wartime to other men fighting in the same war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Red_Wings Wiki Link to "Operation Red Wings", the above mentioned operation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know they weren't POWs, but they were potentially (and as it turned out, actually) hostile and under the guns of these men. If they had been killed, Murphy's team would have probably been called murderers, but now they are dead heroes. I do believe, and would stand by this during high stress moments, that the good of the many sometimes out weighs the good of the few. There is a time and a place for all things, and without being there to see the actual circumstance, we are not in any position to judge any man for what he does during wartime to other men fighting in the same war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Red_Wings Wiki Link to "Operation Red Wings", the above mentioned operation.

Don't disagree with your overall assessment, but the quote "the good of the many sometimes out weighs the good of the few", kill or be killed is probably more appropriate. The good of the many would imply some moral standing that these men should sacrifice their lives for i.e. not killing the goat herders would have been to the benefit of America's moral standing though definitely not in the team's interests.

Problem with irregular warfare in hostile country is you almost have to assume anyone is the enemy. Applying the Geneva convention to irregular warfare is problematic at best and the insurgent forces rarely feel any compulsion to follow those rules. The interesting thing about the comments in Destination Normandy is the author is trying to make an argument that America always holds it's soldiers to a perceived level of behavior in WW 2 that was not actually true. The net result is we have an unfair expectation of behavior for our troops in combat based on a myth. That myth in turn undermines our ability to be objective about what soldiers face in combat and to therefore hold them to unreasonable standards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here in Bath, Maine an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer was commissioned named the "Michael Murphy". This man was a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 after his team was compromised. During their operation they were discovered by some goat herders. After a lengthy discussion about whether or not to kill these men to protect their missions integrity or to let them go, Lt. Murphy called for a vote from the team. It was decided to let them go. A short time later, over 100 Taliban attacked their position. During a running firefight, most every member of the team was wounded, including Lt. Murphy. Their radio wouldn't transmit where they were and Lt. Murphy decided to do the unthinkable. He went into a clearing, in full sight of the enemy, and used his SAT phone to call for reinforcement and assistance. During the course of this he was mortally wounded, but still managed to end the transmission with "Thank You". He died there on that hill top in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, an MH-47 Special Operations Chinook was dispatched with another SEAL team to affect a rescue. The Taliban had been monitoring communications and knew the flight path of the helicopter. A well aimed RPG took this helicopter down, killing 8 SEALs and 8 Night Stalker Special Ops Air Force crewmen. All of Murphy's SEAL team, except Marcus Luttrell, were killed. Luttrell was able to get down stream to a small village who sheltered him until help could arrive. 19 men, 11 SEALs and the 8 Night Stalkers, were killed during this mission, the most devastating loss suffered by American special ops in a single mission. Luttrell regrets his vote to not kill the Afghan goat herders to this day, as his was the deciding one.

I know they weren't POWs, but they were potentially (and as it turned out, actually) hostile and under the guns of these men. If they had been killed, Murphy's team would have probably been called murderers, but now they are dead heroes. I do believe, and would stand by this during high stress moments, that the good of the many sometimes out weighs the good of the few. There is a time and a place for all things, and without being there to see the actual circumstance, we are not in any position to judge any man for what he does during wartime to other men fighting in the same war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Red_Wings Wiki Link to "Operation Red Wings", the above mentioned operation.

Very well said. However, there is always room to discuss the right and wrong of things...and much is relative to the situation. Take your example...Afghani goat herders, on their own turf, are not killed by American soldiers, definitely in harm's way during a mission. We don't know if the goat herders called in the Taliban, but even if they did, they were doing what Americans would do if they saw armed Taliban in a US neighborhood.

It's tragic that the team members died this way and I regret the loss of every American fighting man - I'm a veteran, though not of combat, and my father was a combat veteran. But at the same time, war is war, as you say, and things happen in war that are hard to understand or accept by those not there at the time.

Let's just say that I'm proud to belong to the country whose fighting men took a chance one day to save some civilian lives, and possibly paid for that decision with their own lives. It was the right thing to do. After all, if we just go into "Injun country" and shoot everyone in sight, pretty soon there are going to be few places that are not "Injun country."

We train these professionals well and respect them for the job they do. But when they start taking the easy way out and shooting first, we can hold them - and/or their leaders - accountable. And should they die in battle having done their best to live up to American values, then they really are heroes beyond measure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have tied up the goat herders and muzzled them until after the operation was over. If they resisted then I would make the hard decision to deal with them. Unless there was so many of them that this was not practical. But its easy to say all this after the fact. I wasn't there.

I remember reading that book "War" about an OP called Restropo. The soldiers mentioned a place nearby where a bunch a of Seals where killed and the remains of the helicopter are still there. I wonder if this is the same incident.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if you consider the Corps SS Divisions you would find pretty much just first rate men and Material... 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 9th 10th, and the 12th. From the beginings they had to beg, borrow and steal just to get equipment.. Sort of Like the Marine Corps of yesterday. You could say Marines are somewhat fanatical themselves, or at least we still were in the late 80's and early 90's. We thought ourselves the Best, the Elite Shock Force with one thing on our minds...Attack, Attack, Attack! Hell even the US Marine Corps considers its uniform Superior. I think the same attitude you would find with the Airborne troops of today, and 6th Mountain.

Semper FI.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting -- and appropriate -- that a thread on the SS devolved so quickly into a discussion of battlefield atrocities.

Also, I recall from my Panzer Leader wargaming days that SS Panzer units had a full strength establishment of 5 panzers per platoon instead of the Wehrmacht's 4. Is that true?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for their stuff, they were supplied through the Wehrmacht so not sure that they necessarily got the good gear before everyone else.

Sorry if someone else already mentioned it, but the SS had their own separate supply network. They were dependent on OKH for most of their armored vehicles, but they enjoyed higher priority than the Heer on heavy equipment .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry if someone else already mentioned it, but the SS had their own separate supply network. They were dependent on OKH for most of their armored vehicles, but they enjoyed higher priority than the Heer on heavy equipment .

Very true... You could say the 1st SS was always going to be well stocked as it carried AH's name. However the 2nd, 5th, 3rd and later 9th, 10th and 12th were well stocked, just like Grossdeutschland, Herman Goring, Panzer Lehr, and Brandenburger Pz Divisions had priortiy for the Heer.

One problem the Germans truly had were logisitics... infighting and prioritizing. However the same could be said between the US and UK forces at Normandy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(snip)

One problem the Germans truly had were logisitics... infighting and prioritizing. However the same could be said between the US and UK forces at Normandy.

Except we solved our problems amicably and won, and they never did and lost. I even recall reading about how frustrated Patton was at one point over fuel going to Monty's forces. That was Ike's call, made in the name of inter-allied cooperation, so I'd say it was far from a crippling problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Seeing as we have at least a week to kill and we already beat to death the subject of allies versus axis capability - time to take on those wunderkind.

Were they really such a big deal or did preferential access to men and material simply waste resources for the Wehrmacht?

Personally I think their elite status is much overblown, yes they were fanatical and yeah they had the best toys of the lot (Aside from GrossDeutschland and a few others) and better access to replacements, but given all the resources thrown their way, my personal (usually flawed) opinion is Germany got less out of the bargain than if they had incorporated those resources into the Wehrmacht.

Okay flame away.

I dont think that some of the Waffen SS units reputation are overblown. I do think in the begining there were alot of mistakes made due to some leadership factors, however they really became profecient on the Eastern Front, and I am only talking about the Corp Waffen SS Divisions. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th. Yes indeed they did recieve the best equipment later in the war years... I would recomend reading "Soldiers of Destruction" 3rd SS Totenkopf. Eicke may not have been the best commander, but he loved his men, and they loved him... so much they had to steal most of their heavy equipment. This book is just an example of the fighting spirit of the German soldier. I think however, most Germans fought the same way... wether if they were in the Heer, or Waffen SS.

I dont think they were supermen.. but they were asked to be on line until they were bled white... time and time again. The 1st SS PzrKorps would be asked to be a Fire brigade if you will... over and over, the same with the 2nd SS PzrKorps. To any even basic historian this is pretty obvious.. but they were called upon many times to rearguard while the bulk of the Heer could exit. Many Heer Generals were happy to have their flanks protected by anyone of the Waffen SS Pz.Divisions, and by the end of 1941 the Waffen SS had the respect of many Heer Commanders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Interesting -- and appropriate -- that a thread on the SS devolved so quickly into a discussion of battlefield atrocities.

Also, I recall from my Panzer Leader wargaming days that SS Panzer units had a full strength establishment of 5 panzers per platoon instead of the Wehrmacht's 4. Is that true?

I have heard similar, but haven't found anything definitive. trying to figure out a standard ToE in the German Armed Forces is pretty futile. (another thing to note on the work BFC has been trying to put into CMBN and the ToEs - not exactly an easy task.)

According the the US Army handbook on German military forces a Heer Pz Div ToE was 52 Pz IV and 51 Pz V while the SS was 64 Pz IV and 62 Pz V.

Using Thomas Jentz Panzertruppen figures at the battle of the Bulge TOE for various PZ Div

1st SS 82 Pz IV, 42 Pz V Total - 124

2nd SS 28 StuG, 28 Pz IV, 58 PzV Total - 114

9th SS 28 StuG, 32 Pz IV, 33 Pz V (25 Pz V in transit) Total - 118

10th SS 2 PzIV (yes 2) 10 PzV (34 Pz IV, 25 Pz V in transit) Total - 71

12th SS 37 Pz IV, 41 Pz V Total - 78

2nd Pz 24 StuG, 28 Pz IV, 64 Pz V Total - 116

9th Pz 28 Pz IV, 57 Pz V (3 Pz V, 14 StuG in transit) Total - 102

116th Pz 21 Pz IV, 41 Pz V (5 Pz IV, 23 Pz V, 14 StuG in transit) Total - 104

Panzer lehr 27 Pz IV, 30 Pz V (10 Pz IV, 10 Pz V in transit) Total - 77

These figures do not include the heavy panzer/panzerjaeger battalions attached to 1st and 12th SS for example. 9th and 10th SS ToE are reflective of their late withdrawal from combat with 21st Army Group.

Keep in mind that during this period the eastern front was being starved of tank replacements. Would be interesting to see the ToE for Wiking and Totenkopf during this period.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I dont think that some of the Waffen SS units reputation are overblown. I do think in the begining there were alot of mistakes made due to some leadership factors, however they really became profecient on the Eastern Front, and I am only talking about the Corp Waffen SS Divisions. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th.

The 1st SS PzrKorps would be asked to be a Fire brigade if you will... over and over, the same with the 2nd SS PzrKorps. To any even basic historian this is pretty obvious.. but they were called upon many times to rearguard while the bulk of the Heer could exit. Many Heer Generals were happy to have their flanks protected by anyone of the Waffen SS Pz.Divisions, and by the end of 1941 the Waffen SS had the respect of many Heer Commanders.

True enough as pointed out by others there is a wide discrepancy depending on when and how the unit was raised.

However regarding being a fire brigade in general you could say it is true of most of the Panzer force once Germany lost the strategic initiative though Wiking was certainly critical for the Korsun breakout. My personal favorites in the Heer are the 11th and 18th Pz Divisions. The 11th for it's fighting along the Chir river (does anyone remember the board game depicting this battle) and the 18th because of an ASL scenario Breakout from Borisov.

Manstein certainly appreciated having them on hand during his back hand blow, but again they had just been freshly rebuilt and were at full strength when committed. The Heer units on the other hand had fought through the winter of 1942, forced to withdrawal, defend and then counter attack without the "luxury" of having that period of being off the line to rebuild.

The 12th should arguably be included in the "core" considering it had a large number of leaders transferred from the 1st SS. In the two campaigns it participated in I don't think one could rate it's performance as stellar. One of our Canadian friends has already commented on their Normandy performance and in the Ardennes they essentially gutted themselves against the 2nd ID at Krinkelt/Rocherath. The 1st SS didn't do much better. It was 5th Panzer Army that showed the most gains in Wacht am Rhein led by 2nd Panzer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Seeing as we have at least a week to kill and we already beat to death the subject of allies versus axis capability - time to take on those wunderkind.

Were they really such a big deal or did preferential access to men and material simply waste resources for the Wehrmacht?

Personally I think their elite status is much overblown, yes they were fanatical and yeah they had the best toys of the lot (Aside from GrossDeutschland and a few others) and better access to replacements, but given all the resources thrown their way, my personal (usually flawed) opinion is Germany got less out of the bargain than if they had incorporated those resources into the Wehrmacht.

Okay flame away.

I'd say you're right. Find them very similar to Grenadiers from the 17th century except a healthy dose of political indoctrination went into them which is pretty much SOP for anyone looking to make an 'elite' organization. Go ahead and try to tell an Airborne Ranger he's not 'elite' :P The humble ones won't, but they'll do their best to PT you into dust anyways for even asking.

I find using the elite status to be much easier to apply to smaller organizations like SEALs etc since man for man they are superior to other organizations of the same size, there's just no way to compare them size wise fairly tbh. Now once you start talking Division size units it starts to get tricky imo and throwing around the elite label is pretty suspect which is why you get so many varied stories about effect of said unit. At that point it all starts to come down to leadership imo. Gear will only get you so far. But combine great gear, superb leadership and training and the ultimate teacher experience and you'll have a damn good group as long as the situations they face are favorable. By that I mean you could have the greatest group of fighting formations in the world but if some guy going crazy starts giving horrible orders and placing units wholesale into meatgrinders...well the only elite thing you'll have going for you is quickest accumulation of tombstones acquired. Elite does not equal bulletproof afterall.

But yeah, remind me of Grenadiers. They got the pick of the litter for soldiers, first dibs on gear and had the elan of being told they kicked butt the hardest. Once they got a bit of practical experience under their belt I am sure they were something to be reckoned with until they got their nose bloodied up at which point effectivess suffers and they have to start over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Much better?" They did not need to be "much better" only better at what they did.

Exactly, and they were better at what they did.

Like nearly all other airborn units at this time the were elite units, but a elite status should not be mixed with "this unit is much better then this because its elite".

Units made of volunteers, units with a great tradition or better equipment or just something "special" usually got those "elite" label in WW2.

So you can say that some SS divisions were elite, same as some Heer divisions (Großdeutschland, Fallschirm-Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring).

But because there is not number to simply rate the combat power of those units and compare them to others it can not be said that a ordinary unit would have performed worser in battle xy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The American WW2 experience with "elite" units was mixed. Certainly, the army deliberately created units that were "special" and unique, such as the paratroopers, rangers, 1st Special Service Force and a few others. Generally these units performed an an above standard level, but there was some feeling in the army leadership that said that the extra attention, time, training and effort that went into these units could have been better used to even out the overall force. This was particularly true when infantry losses in the ETO made it clear that they couldn't keep on sending the dregs to the infantry while the best and smartest soldiers went to the air corps, airborne, officer schools, tech schools, etc. The infantry had its own need for bright, capable soldiers and this was only learned fairly late in the war.

In a draftee army, there was little patience with prima donna outfits, as they were seen by some at the time. There was a real need for ordinary footsoldiers and it sometimes seemed that there were never enough bodies to go around, at least of the better qualified ones.

There is no question, though, that these special units did perform well and were in the end worth the effort to raise and maintain them. They were not always appreciated by the line units alongside them, at least until they proved their worth in battle.

The Marines were a special case of course. They were unique in that the whole lot of them felt themselves to be better than the army, or anyone else for that matter. For that reason, they were used as a battering ram in the Pacific, which was by and large run by the navy as opposed to the army. Army units did participate, but it seemed that the Marines were the ones usually selected for the toughest jobs and accordingly took the highest casualties.

That was true until Okinawa, when we began to comprehend what a battle for mainland Japan might be like. By then it was clear to all that the Marines would not be enough and the Army had to be there in numbers if Japan was ever to be invaded. Fortunately, many Army units in the Pacific had become quite battle hardened and nearly as capable as the Marines at amphibious warfare, so experience in part made up for those Army units, what elan provided for the Marines.

There is, then, a real balancing act to the creation of armies in wartime. If you create elite units, you may find them beneficial, but you have to be aware of what those units are costing in terms of the efficiency of your overall force. It seems to me that the Germans, in creating the SS, gained some benefits, but also paid a big price in that they diminished their regular army to get and maintain those elite units.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here in Bath, Maine an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer was commissioned named the "Michael Murphy". This man was a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 after his team was compromised. During their operation they were discovered by some goat herders. After a lengthy discussion about whether or not to kill these men to protect their missions integrity or to let them go, Lt. Murphy called for a vote from the team. It was decided to let them go. A short time later, over 100 Taliban attacked their position. During a running firefight, most every member of the team was wounded, including Lt. Murphy. Their radio wouldn't transmit where they were and Lt. Murphy decided to do the unthinkable. He went into a clearing, in full sight of the enemy, and used his SAT phone to call for reinforcement and assistance. During the course of this he was mortally wounded, but still managed to end the transmission with "Thank You". He died there on that hill top in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, an MH-47 Special Operations Chinook was dispatched with another SEAL team to affect a rescue. The Taliban had been monitoring communications and knew the flight path of the helicopter. A well aimed RPG took this helicopter down, killing 8 SEALs and 8 Night Stalker Special Ops Air Force crewmen. All of Murphy's SEAL team, except Marcus Luttrell, were killed. Luttrell was able to get down stream to a small village who sheltered him until help could arrive. 19 men, 11 SEALs and the 8 Night Stalkers, were killed during this mission, the most devastating loss suffered by American special ops in a single mission. Luttrell regrets his vote to not kill the Afghan goat herders to this day, as his was the deciding one.

I know they weren't POWs, but they were potentially (and as it turned out, actually) hostile and under the guns of these men. If they had been killed, Murphy's team would have probably been called murderers, but now they are dead heroes. I do believe, and would stand by this during high stress moments, that the good of the many sometimes out weighs the good of the few. There is a time and a place for all things, and without being there to see the actual circumstance, we are not in any position to judge any man for what he does during wartime to other men fighting in the same war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Red_Wings Wiki Link to "Operation Red Wings", the above mentioned operation.

Killing goat herders for being in their OWN country and doing NOTHING apart from being in the way ? Sure. Some kind of Special forces that get themseves compromised by goat herders .....

This discussion clearly shows why it is so hard for the US to win hearts and minds anywhere in the world ..... because it breaks down to OUR boys are allowed to do everything because you know it's war, right ?

The other side however should let themselves get killed easily and can get slaughtered for daring to fire their MGs on OUR boys ....... but some of you guys do know better and that gives the world hope ......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...