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Book: Doubler's 'Closing with the Enemy'


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Recently read Michael Doubler's 'Closing with the Enemy: How GIs fought the war in Europe 1944-45'

1) It analyses the development of US combined arms tactics. It concludes that it was improved combined arms tactics that won enagements not US superior material. Doubler may overstate the case; but he provides good arguments for his points. I was wondering if any grogs had read it and what you thought of it?

2)Also of interest is the point that it covers the tactical level. The tactics described are mostly similar to those advised on the forums and seem to work in CM.

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I, along with several others here, have read it and think well of it. I didn't come away with the impression that his point was that American tactics and not material superiority were the telling elements in Allied victory, but rather that Americans were not the tactical dummies that some writers have tried to make them out to be. They did indeed begin not too well prepared for the kind of war they were faced with, but in many cases—e.g., the ones he cites—learned quickly and put better tactics to use.

Michael

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Thanks for your comment Michael. Maybe I was so used to the cliche, maybe even myth, that the US won it's battles because of material superiority that this new to me perspective appeared overstated to make the point. To be fair to the Author he does acknowledge some local superiority at time with things like arty, but points out that even this resource had to be marshalled for attacks.

I also found it interesting in that they adapted well to new environments except for Hurtgen Forrest, and that it confirms the limited tactical impact of close air support, which was again recently brought up on the forum.

Thanks again for your comments because I was wondering if he did overatate his point. But on reflection your view is probably more accurate in that he was highlighting that the US were not tactical dummies rather than that their tactics won in themselves.

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I thought it was most worthwhile, but agree that he's rather aggressive in his conclusions. Some of the tactics cited were real surprises. I especially liked the Americanized tank descents bursting through hedgerow openings atop Stuarts blasting away with canister. Would look great on film!

Regards,

John Kettler

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I thought the book was excellent as well. I think you guys are a little tough on Doubler. His conclusion is that the American's improved tactically throughout the campaign and that American improvement in tactics was primarily because of the flow of information from the bottom to the top. (The hedgerow cutting tanks in Normandy being the best example).

He never says anywhere that American tactics won the war or that we were better than the Germans. He just says we got better as the campaign continued.

If anything the weakness in the book is that there is no comparison with German or British troops in comparison.

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His conclusion is that the American's improved tactically throughout the campaign and that American improvement in tactics was primarily because of the flow of information from the bottom to the top. (The hedgerow cutting tanks in Normandy being the best example).

He never says anywhere that American tactics won the war or that we were better than the Germans. He just says we got better as the campaign continued.

I think that he at least implies improved tactics was central to success; but I think that I read too much into what he had to say about other authors and how the US Army limited itself to 90 or so divisions.

That said, I appreciate all the replies. I'm very grateful to read others' viewpoints to balance my own reading of it.

Cheers!

[ July 03, 2006, 03:49 PM: Message edited by: vincere ]

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