Industrial warfare and elusive enemies

I'd like to elaborate on and generalise something I wrote earlier:

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"Overpower for victory, reduction of enemies as a mere finisher

The German military forces were ultimately defeated (depending on how to determine it they had effectively lost sometime between late '41 and mid-'43). Yet, the German military had more (and more powerful) combat aircraft, tanks, AAA and more troops and field artillery pieces in in early winter of 1944/45 than in 1939/40!* It had sustained huge losses for years, but it did NOT shrink materially. Its material reduction was NOT the key to Allied victory!"
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The usual idea of industrialised warfare is about the sheer quantities produced, such as the insane-looking ship, tank and combat aircraft output of the Second World War.

My view is actually a bit different; I emphasize that industrial warfare allowed for a great increase in quantity of the arsenals up until a collapse. Germany experienced this collapse in early 1945 and Japan in summer of 1945 (earlier in regard to ships). The war did turn against both in the time frame of late '41 till summer '43 and mid-'42 till late '42, respectively. The exact turning points are up for debate; I personally like to point at the never replaced severe losses of motor vehicles in fall '41 as the turning point for Germany.

I suppose the relative capabilities on the battlefield forced withdrawals, and this included especially the availability of young men for combat units. The absolute capabilities were irrelevant in comparison to the relative capabilities.

The idea that superior industrial output gives one's troops an advantage is very wide-spread, the fact that vastly superior output could help to overpower opposition that grows stronger as well is not so wide-spread.

There's more to it, and it points at the military value of elusiveness beyond survivability:

Somehow the victorious powers appear to have quickly revived in '50 the WW2 approach of overpowering the enemy with production even while he grows stronger. 

The industrial overpowering recipe never seemed to work so well on elusive opponents such as guerrillas, though. They can withdraw without losing much.
For comparison: The classic withdrawal of an inferior conventional military unit means to sacrifice ground and likely being unable to re-occupy it afterwards. Elusive forces have no such restriction; they withdraw in a situation of relative combat inferiority, and later they simply return and re-occupy the ground (physically and politically).

Finally, the icing on the cake: The answer to such elusive hostile forces may be to REDUCE one's relative combat superiority in order to entice them into accepting decisive combat. This, of course, was mentioned by me in another shape years ago already.



  1. Even if you managed to pull the enemy in to a stand up fight and inflict 99% kill rates on their field armies.
    So what?
    Killing enemy soldiers is a means, its not an end.

    Iraq got Iran to do it, but Iran was 20km away from winning. I'm not sure thats a risk I want to take, for what gain?

    Much easier to force them in to a stand up fight rather than try and lure them in to one.
    Like it or not, there is a civilian population that willingly provides recruits and taxation, and a civilian population that unwillingly provides taxation.

  2. Psychological warfare?
    An elusive enemy must keep men in units while constantly running away. So how do you convince a group of marauding fugitives to settle down and lead a more secure live? It might depend on the capability to fulfill ambitions that would be impossible while on the elusive run. For this you need to organize a society, all in all not much different from a complex approach to crime fighting. The "Bloods", the "Crips" and the "KKK" (hat tip to Black Eyed Peas) are also kind of elusive enemies.