View Poll Results: who was the greatest operational commander?

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  • Napoleon

    4 22.22%
  • Wellington

    2 11.11%
  • Micheal Ney

    0 0%
  • Grant

    1 5.56%
  • Sherman

    1 5.56%
  • Lee

    0 0%
  • Hindenburg/Ludendorf

    0 0%
  • Rommel

    4 22.22%
  • Patton

    1 5.56%
  • Vatutin

    0 0%
  • Zhukov

    2 11.11%
  • Bradley

    0 0%
  • Guderian

    3 16.67%
  • Mainstein

    0 0%
  • Kesselring

    0 0%
  • Heinrici

    0 0%
  • Von Moltke (the elder)

    0 0%
  • Garibaldi

    0 0%
  • Washington

    0 0%
  • Montgomery

    0 0%
  • Mannerheim

    0 0%
  • other

    0 0%
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Thread: The greatest operational commanders of the last 200 years.

  1. #1
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    The greatest operational commanders of the last 200 years.

    Who would you nominate as the greatest operational commander of the last 200 years. While some of these commanders were also operating at the strategic level or later operated at that level they also commanded in the field. Who had the best Fingerspitzengefuhl?

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    I am torn between Wellington, Washington, Grant, Vatutin, Patton and Guderian. In the end I think I need to go with Wellington.

  3. #3
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    Z, your post?

    I disagree for a number of reasons. Mainly, this is a technology post. Alexander expected his enemy to react on the spot. Eisenhower expected his enemy to be blinded. Zuhkov didn't care. There is a level of expectations that was delivered by science and logistics. Case in point - the Kuwait War. VII Corps could not care less how much stocks the Iraqis brought forth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Z, your post?

    I disagree for a number of reasons. Mainly, this is a technology post. Alexander expected his enemy to react on the spot. Eisenhower expected his enemy to be blinded. Zuhkov didn't care. There is a level of expectations that was delivered by science and logistics. Case in point - the Kuwait War. VII Corps could not care less how much stocks the Iraqis brought forth.
    Sir, Grant had all the technology and manpower a commander of his time could have- and he won. However so did earlier Union commanders who lost. Vatutin and Guderian were very closely matched as thier contests reveal.

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    I was torn between Guderian, Patton and Rommel, ultimately I picked Rommel, I feel his only real short comings were imposed by his leadership, noteworthy to me was the fact that even in the end he remained functionally loyal to the Nazi leadership in spite of the cost (idealogical he disagreed, but loyalty took precedence in his behavior). He died a hero to Germany and a respected foe to his enemies. I realize this is selection is entirely subjective, and this is only my opinion.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Sir, Grant had all the technology and manpower a commander of his time could have- and he won. However so did earlier Union commanders who lost. Vatutin and Guderian were very closely matched as thier contests reveal.
    I still disagree. At the Operational Level, it's not only the matter of resources but also a matter of technique. Local superiority became the dominant operational feature despite an inferior strategic picture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    I still disagree. At the Operational Level, it's not only the matter of resources but also a matter of technique. Local superiority became the dominant operational feature despite an inferior strategic picture.
    Sir, you might be talking above my level but wouldn't the use of assets to achieve local superiority in the right elements despite other factors be the mark of an effective operational commander?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Sir, you might be talking above my level but wouldn't the use of assets to achieve local superiority in the right elements despite other factors be the mark of an effective operational commander?
    The other part of that is to deny the enemy the local superiority. I agree with you about Grant but Kesselring and Montgomery read a map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    The other part of that is to deny the enemy the local superiority. I agree with you about Grant but Kesselring and Montgomery read a map.
    Well I put Montgomery up there to fill out the list. Smiling Albert used terrain to great effect in Italy. He didn't have the men, control of the skies or the material but he kept the allies stalled for years.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Well I put Montgomery up there to fill out the list. Smiling Albert used terrain to great effect in Italy. He didn't have the men, control of the skies or the material but he kept the allies stalled for years.
    As an engineer, I can appreciate the art of reading a map but Anzio supprised Kesselring and though he gained the upper hand by isolating the pocket and bought time for a counter-stroke, he nevertheless lost the initiative there. Though it was always said that a measure of a good General is not when things go right but when things go wrong. Anzio was at best a 50-50 draw. He had to retreat to reconsolidate his lines though in the end, it made no difference. Italy was not the theatre of decision.

    He needed to destroy the Allied effort to make a difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    As an engineer, I can appreciate the art of reading a map but Anzio supprised Kesselring and though he gained the upper hand by isolating the pocket and bought time for a counter-stroke, he nevertheless lost the initiative there. Though it was always said that a measure of a good General is not when things go right but when things go wrong. Anzio was at best a 50-50 draw. He had to retreat to reconsolidate his lines though in the end, it made no difference. Italy was not the theatre of decision.

    He needed to destroy the Allied effort to make a difference.
    Very true, but what about Wellington or Vatutin? There are a lot of names on the list.

  12. #12
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    It's hard to treat this well. Wellington was a very situational commander, ie he read his enemy well and he prepared for it. Compared to to Vatutin who did not give a damn what von Mainstein did but both shaped the battlefield. Wellington did it by reading Napoleon almost to a T. Vatutin forced the situation, forcing von Mainstein to engage at a time and place of his choosing.

    I really have strong doubts that Wellington could have faced Le Grande Armee that marched on Moscow wheras Vatutin would have built his Grand Army but then, Wellington did not have to face Le Grande Armee, just the surviviors.

  13. #13
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    I voted for Napoleon.
    J'ai en marre.

  14. #14

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    I can't vote. At the operational level there are too many excellent choices and discerning the circumstances underwhich they toiled makes such a decision for one above all others (at least for me) near-impossible. Great list, though, and worthy of debate. Not any really bad choices there among those with whom I'm familiar.
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    I'll go for Napoleon.He invented modern operational art,although there is a serious case that the concept may existed for ages.He also fought longer than most others and proved himself again and again. No. 2 is von Moltke.He's the one that laid the foundations for the German art of war.
    Third place is a hard choice and its impossible, IMO, to give a definitive answer.I'll stick for Aleksandr Vasilevsky.Stalingrad and Manchuria.Nuff said.

    WRT German vs Soviet commanders,I find the Soviets managed to grasp a larger spectrum of operations.They played both defense and offense and in the end they managed to master both.Germans excelled,but they tended to be ''specialized''.Kesselring had no offensive ops.Same with Heinrici.Manstein did great everywhere he went,except after Kursk when he lost Ukraine.I could continue,but I guess I made my point.
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