Unit Collapse: A Historical Analysis of Two Divisional Battles in 1918 and 1944
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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This study seeks to determine the potential causes for unit collapse in combat through a comparison and analysis of two American divisions. The first, the 35th Infantry Division fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918, in World War I. The second, the 28th Infantry Division, collapsed while attacking into the Huertgen Forest in November 1944, during World War II. Each divisions performance is examined form activation through disintegration using the available historical records. The analysis of the battles focuses on the collapse of the separate infantry regiments and battalions. The study uses current theories on unit collapse as a basis for this analysis. It concludes that current theory only partially explains the issues involved. These units collapsed because of a number of interactive forces that began as the divisions prepared for combat. The most important factors involved the interrelationship within the command, control and communications system. This included leadership performance stability in command, and key personnel casualties. In both cases the tactical employment of the divisions and their communications breakdowns had major adverse impacts. Finally, the negative effects of terrain and the actions of the enemy exacerbated the adverse conditions. Prior combat experience and excessive enlisted casualties were not the primary causes in the majority of regiments analyzed.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics