Infantry agility past and present

Have a look at this, 1:47 min onward:

I didn't look specifically for a video about Germans, but simply one of the many WW2 videos where running infantrymen are shown (I typed in 'infantry attack' in YT and found this as 3rd video), in fact I had hoping for a Bersaglieri film.

The thing that strikes me is how quickly these actors can move (and the effect of a possible acceleration by manipulating camera film speed cannot be great, for such acceleration is usually visible). Their equipment is in the 10-15 kg range in my opinion, and only the machinegunner is at the upper end of that range.

I've seen people moving quickly a lot, of course. It's just that modern Western infantrymen are rarely seen running in action - they're usually much slower than that or run but a short 20-30 m sprint once in a while. I understand that - I'm 20-25 kg heavier now than during my (mostly skinny) Bundeswehr days and I notice my walking changes when I carry 10 kg. It feels different in the feet especially. The feet are signalling me that they would tire out quickly under that load. I myself was never nimble or much inclined to move quickly with a 10-20 kg load.

Let's come back to the Bersaglieri. They are the traditional light infantry of the Italians, and to some degree an elite compared to the regular infantry. They also had (and still to some extent have) an emphasis on speed.

Back in ancient times there was light infantry running next to cavalry if an army leader judged his cavalry wings to be inferior. This cavalry-supporting infantry would join the melee between cavalry and cavalry and often times decide it with their numbers and spears and/or javelins.
There hasn't been many examples of such running infantry for a long time, when the early 19th century Zulus and their still hard to believe endurance at running entered the stage and were documented by the Boers and British.

The Bersaglieri show off their emphasis on running and fitness in the most ludicrous way; they run on parades.

It's hard to take them seriously after watching this, but the attitude may be worth consideration!*

- - - - -

Now a part for Germans:

Ich habe die Sache mit dem Gauland und Stolz in den Nachrichten gesehen. Zitat
„Man muss uns diese 12 Jahre nicht mehr vorhalten. Sie betreffen unsere Identität heute nicht mehr. Und das sprechen wir auch aus.“ & „Wenn die Franzosen zu Recht stolz auf ihren Kaiser sind und die Briten auf Nelson und Churchill, haben wir das Recht, stolz zu sein auf die Leistungen deutscher Soldaten in zwei Weltkriegen.“
Ich fände es dümmlich wenn es nicht eine offensichtlich absichtliche Provokation wäre. Zudem ist es, was Amerikaner eine "dog whistle" nennen; etwas im Wortlaut Unverfängliches sagen, bei dem man davon ausgehen kann, dass es eine bestimmte Klientel in einer bestimmten anderen Bedeutung interpretiert. Es ist eine Art minimale plausible Dementierbarkeit, die dann aber doch fast jeder durchschaut.
Die zwei Sätze des Zitates stehen ohnehin in Dissonanz zueinander; entweder da ist eine starke Verbindung oder eben nicht. Wenn da keine starke Verbindung ist, dann wäre Stolz ein Schmücken mit fremden Federn.
Aber "das Recht" stolz zu sein hat jeder, ob's Sinn macht ist eine ganz andere Frage.

Ich finde es dümmlich, stolz sein zu wollen auf das, was andere mal getan haben oder nicht. Man kann sich an dem was andere getan haben erfreuen, man kann sie bewundern, aber stolz sein sollte man nur auf eigene Leistungen oder auf den eigenen Nachwuchs (was dann doch wieder ein Stolz auf die eigene Erziehungsleistung ist).
Dementsprechend verwende ich historische Videos zum deutschen Militär usw. wohl fast nur deshalb über das statistisch Wahrscheinliche hinaus, weil es eben sprachlich naheliegt oder in der Sache begründet liegt.


*: I myself hate running, but it's not essential to anything I do these days.


  1. As has been stated numerous times "light infantry" is no where near light. We know that indirect fire is the biggest killer and helmet+flakvest best protection against that. Most western countries use hard plates with vests which weigh down the infantry. Removing either the plates or the vests alltogether will increase effectiveness of small arms. The big question is: would small arms be able to inflict enough casualties to offset the smaller number of casualties caused by indirect fire because of infantrymans greater ability to maneuver and evade indirect fire? Would we be better without vests or would losing them drive up the total number of casualties?

    1. The preformed fragment munition puts a huge questionmark behind the thin frag protection vests. I advocated those and even a greater coverage with light frag protection, but OR or battlefield experiences against modern munitions might very well show that you either need a 'citadel armour' scheme or no armour at all.

      I suppose with assumptions like 80% casualties from frag in a European warfare (similar to Kursk, Normandy) and level IV armour protecting but a small area for a few hits we can be sure that level IV vests/plate carriers make no sense.
      The only exception might be a 2.5-3 kg chest plate in OHK/urban warfare. That would still trigger the same issues as with a chest rig, though.

  2. The things that caught my eye here were the "similarity/difference" between the squad in the film and what US Infantry was taught, at least back in the 90's and Oughts.

    One big difference, and you noted that, was that these landser spend a lot of time dashing around. A typical move, even if the timing was speeded up by the camera (which I kinda doubt; the picture lacked that jerky quality that the old hand-cranked camera used to record more often than not) was about 6-8 seconds. We were taught to keep rushes short, three seconds max if possible (depending on cover and concealment). Thing is, you can work up a pretty good sprint in 6 seconds. Three? Not so much; by the time you've got up to speed you're back down again.

    I know that this was just play-acting, but the one thing I noticed was that the guys seemed to be largely working as individuals within the larger squad rather than in smaller groups like two-man teams or fire teams. Do you think this was tactical, or just an artifact of the filming?

    And there didn't seem to be a well-defined fire/movement separation (other than the LMG team, which seemed to spend most of the time providing fire. Instead the guys seemed to rush, drop, shoot, then get up and rush again; none of this "cover me while I move" stuff there...

    One thing I did enjoy was watching old Feldwebel Felsen do his combat roll (none of his privates did, but, whatev'...) THAT certainly hasn't changed.

    But, yeah...the WW2 guys are pretty light. Canteen, gasmask carrier, ammo pouches...that looked pretty much like it. My guess would be maybe even more like 5-10 kilos and that spread out over their whole torso. Even a lightly-loaded modern GI would have at least some sort of small buttpack, load-bearing/ballistic vest and another 10 kilos of assorted crap. It's hard to stay perky for very long running around with all that stuff on...

    1. The earliest mention of a buddy system in a German military was from the 90's, and I'm not sure if it arrived for good yet. So it would make sense for the infantrymen to rush as individuals, except the machinegun team (MG1 and MG2 have to stay together).

      The suppressive weapon and the killer weapon was the machinegun. The NCO's task was to control the firepower of the machinegun and the movement of the squad. The others are porters & security for the machinegun until they close to within hand grenade range.
      This changed when the assault rifle appeared en masse. Suddenly, the machinegun wasn't 80+% of the squad's firepower any more and the roles changed accordingly. Then the NCO had to become concerned with the riflemens' consumption of ammo as well.

  3. Doug Stanhope sagt Alles, was zum Nationalstolz zu sagen ist.