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03 April 2016


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Neil R

"BTW Patrick what would be your guess as to active service flag rinks that have held a divisional command or higher in actual combat worldwide?"

It depends on how you define "combat" in terms of divisional command. Is it high intensity (e.g., potentially Korea) or medium intensity (e.g., OIF in 2003)? Or GWOT deployments? GWOT produced plenty of divisional and corps CGs who are still active. Remember the pyramid structure of senior officer promotion. There are only a handful of 0-4 billets. Of course I distinctly recall some people like Nagl and his cohort referring to COIN as the "graduate level of war."

If your standard is something like OIF in 2003, then the answer would be zero. Buff Blount retired in 2005 after landing on Rumsfeld's craplist for questioning the decision to disband the Iraqi army. His 3ID had performed magnificently. Among his three brigade COs, William Grimsley retired two years ago as the CoS of USSTRATCOM. Dave Perkins (2nd BDE) who along with Blount shortened that campaign with a classic demonstration of mission command (Auftragstaktik) now runs TRADOC. Dan Allyn (3BDE) is the new Vice Chief. Among BN COs, Terry Ferrell (3-7CAV) is now the CoS at CENTCOM. His squadron was just outstanding in 2003. As it happens in every generation, most of the division's maneuver battalion COs like Eric Schwartz and Marcone have retired from active duty and moved on.

Besides I'm not sure what divisional command in combat has to do with senior leadership for the next war. Among senior generals in the ETO back in 1944, these were their last combat commands in the previous war:

Eisenhower (none)
Bradley (none)
Devers (none)
Clark (infantry company)
Hodges (infantry battalion)
Patton (tank brigade)
Patch (infantry battalion)
Simpson (none).

As for Germany, Rommel had commanded a mountain infantry battalion. Hermann Balck was an infantry company CO (and despite his lineage Balck absolutely refused a "Kriegsakademie" assignment from the Truppenamt because he was what we might call a muddy boots soldier). Manstein commanded an infantry company before becoming a general staff officer after a serious combat wound. Rundstedt was a staff officer throughout the First World War. Guderian was a signals officer. Kesselring was commanded an artillery battery in WWI.

Christopher Fay

The links to the Grantz pieces are not working.

Ishmael Zechariah

No komutan here. Just an old infantryman.
Anyway, I am sure you well know that executing guerilla strikes is a much different operation than fielding tanks or occupying and holding land. PKK/PYG, with or without US or Russian advisers, will have a problem if they engage TSK in direct combat. BTW PKK had tried this a few decades ago, and failed spectacularly. They have been learning this lesson again, the hard way, for the past four months or so.

I, too, have known, many "radical" kurds. In my experience their "reasonable" rhetoric is usually at odds with their actions. They push "Kurdish Nationalism"- and get "Turkish Nationalism" in response. They have been quite useful for tayyip.

IMO, in the past four decades, the Kurdish issue in Turkey has been funded and guided by the West, and mainly the neocons, for their own ends. One of the goals has been to make ME more welcoming for the Izzies. Now Russia is in play-and the kurds are seeking, yet once more, to get something through the power of a "benefactor". It is a risky proposition.
Be safe.
Ishmael Zechariah



Nato Airforce member to engage with the new "Russian" Tanks

Babak Makkinejad

In Iran, the 3 big cultural demands of Kurds: celebrating Noruz, publishing books in Kurdish, and teaching of the Iranian Kurdish dialect (Kermanji) at the university are all met.

But the antipathy to other Iranians persists - the most intense one directed at Azeri Turks.

Until and unless any form of state has disappeared from Iranian Kurdistan and every Kurd has become a king in his own valley - like Agamemnon - they will maintain their grievances against any and all.

I imagine that once the state has withered away and they are left in a situation reminiscent of Somaliland; then perhaps all the international do-gooders will send them enough fuel and food to keep them from starvation while they themselves are fighting among themselves.

I suppose the Kurds might consider that situation with "No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" to be preferable to the existence of any state structure that constricts them in pursuit happiness.

All over the world, we are not fighting doctrines or ideas - we are fighting fantasies that harken back to Pleistocene and the old stone age.

Babak Makkinejad

On your number 1: what would the point be, Kurds will not be able to either operate that tank or service it.


I've just tested them using another machine and a different browser - they're working for me. Try opening them in another tab. Be aware that they're to PDFs so the problem could be your firewall. Try right-click → save link as.


While I like Glanz's hard work to access Soviet archieves and write as westener a more Russioan centred history of some WWII operations, he IMHO partially spoiled this by using too much Soviet numbers/assumptions on German forces and decisions.

For the German side the series "Das Dritte Riech und der Zweite Weltkrieg" is superior and it is said that some of the authors have spend a lot of time in Soviet archieves, too. :-)

William R. Cumming

Thanks so very much for your fascinating answer and hard work reflected.


There are also three sureties of MC in the tree. pl


Actually, Glantz and House point out, correctly, that US views on War on Eastern Front were primarily shaped by German sources. Glantz' and House's "hard work" is not in "accessing Soviet archives", to which many, including openly tendentious "historians" were granted access, but in meticulous and professional study of the Eastern Front and factors which shaped the largest war in human history. To do so requires a bit more than just "access" to archives. As per German "view" on that war--just running numbers on actual Wehrmacht losses is a very difficult task and then comes self-serving factor in many German memoirs. You know, while Wehrmacht was fighting in Winter freezing to death, Soviet trenches had balmy 70 degrees F and flip-flops and shorts were issued for Russian soldiers, if you get my drift.


Generally, anything, starting from Leavenworth Papers, graduate theses, by officers of US Army Staff College's Department Of Slavic Military Studies through actual works by Glantz and House should be on the "must read" list for anyone who wants to know war on Eastern Front in Anglophone world.

Chris Chuba

I get your point Ulenspiegel. I read a book by NIklas Zetterling on the Battle of Kursk, who is very passionate about this issue, that many have used Russian archives to document German losses at Kursk and ignored the German archives.

Incidentally, Zetterling was not accusing the Soviets of intentionally inflating numbers, he claims that there is a natural tendency of armies to inflate the damage that they inflict on their opponents. Also, whenever you are in a defensive phase of a battle, you cannot double check your original estimates. Zetterling's rule can be summed up as 'whenever possible, use an army's own archives to document their losses'.

I have a write up on the Battle of Kursk queued up for the next 'open thread' because I figured that there are a lot of knowledgable people here and I'd like to get their take on it.

I'll google "Das Dritte Riech und der Zweite Weltkrieg", hopefully there is an English translation available.


Actually, there are many genuine Russian volunteers without quotation marks. As per "vacationing" people--if there wouldn't have been any, Putin would have a lot of explaining to do both publicly and behind closed doors.

Chris Chuba

This is a closely related, if slightly off topic. I don't know if the fundamental organization of Russia's tank army of today differs from their tank army of WW2. I read a comparison of the relative strength of German vs Russian units. A Russian tank army was roughly equivalent to a German panzer corp and a Russian tank corp was roughly the strength of a German panzer division. It helped me understand battles a little bit more. I thought I'd mention this just in case anyone else was tackling this subject.


pale of settlement map --


Neil R


I agree. I met a number of 7th Panzer veterans who visited Bad Kissingen during their reunion in 1981. Back in those days the US Army had what John Mearsheimer had later termed the "Wehrmacht envy." It was very interesting to talk to those old timers who somehow had survived two or even more remarkably three years in the east. Not all of them shared this view, but there clearly was bias that an outsider would notice. It was worse among some in the Bundesgrenzschutz who hadn't even fought in the war. But they were sons of those among the Ostheer who didn't make the grade for Bundeswehr after the war for either political or competency reasons.

FB Ali

A very informative and useful article. Thank you, Patrick.

There was a piece on a similar topic a few days ago in Russia Insider: NATO would probably lose a war against Russia. The writer uses a pseudonym, raising the possibility that it also was by PA.



I don't remember quote correctly, but someone claimed that if to sum up all soviet commanders reports on casualties inflicted on germans Wehrmacht must have been destroyed ten times over. Off course that is also true about german claims. The only number that opposition usually knows better are POWs.


Plenty of equipment moved along with the vacationers and not just the obsolete stuff. Drones, anti-aircraft, EM warfare items were not surplus. As to where the conflict is now, I would say the main powers including Russia in them want this conflict to end along with the sanctions by around August if I had to guess on timing



If the hammer were to drop today, I can't see where NATO would stand a snowball chance in hell against Russian combat.

Sad how NATO and DC forget the hard lessons of День Победы (Victory Day), the Russians sure haven't. And each new Russian generation is educated to the point that they well understand the sacrifices of the previous generations that sacrificed so there is a День Победы celebration each May.

I honestly don't think NATO understands or knows anymore about the Russians and what makes them tick. And with individuals like Breedlove and his new successor leading SHAPE/SACEUR, IMO doesn't make things fare any better.



What has the Russians alarmed, and determined, are the little heads of the WWII Nazi hydra that seem to be poking their little heads up around Europe today. Russia will go proactive regarding the reborn European NAZI threat. Remember that Putin's family and many members of the Russian Duma lost loved ones combating the WWII Nazi threat.

I don't think that Breedlove and his staff, nor his successor truly understand the level of Russian determination to not let history repeat itself.

Putin is a strategic thinker.


Obviously. To fight a war being outnumbered 1 to 3, if not 1 to 5, one has to have a lot of technological prowess. Obviously Ukrainian Army's comm and ECM systems were pretty much suppressed but that was done mostly from Russian territory. There were even Pantsyr-S systems there, which served as a serious warning for Ukrainian Air Force (rather what's left of it after being sold abroad and cannibalized for spares).

ex-PFC Chuck

Don't forget that the scumbag Republicans in Congress finally got even with him on Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al's behalf. They by blamed General Shinseki for the VA problems on his watch that were due largely to those self-same Congress critters' refusal to fund the agency sufficiently to properly serve vets who survived the carnage they created. Not that their Democratic colleagues stood much taller.


Yes, ditto. Appreciated.

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