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History Club
Military history and past events only. Rants or inflamitory comments will be removed.
Hosted by Frank Amato
Quality of the GI
New Jersey, United States
Joined: February 02, 2008
KitMaker: 1,365 posts
AeroScale: 42 posts
Posted: Sunday, November 06, 2011 - 03:13 PM UTC
iv been wondering abiut this for a while. Growing up in the US i would hear how the US soldiers in WWII won the war by fightung hard and beat the hoirrible Nazis. after delving a little deeper and i learned that the German soldier was no pushover, and were highly skilled and a well disciplined and an effective and determined foe, at leats until the waning days of the war. But my question is, what was the true quality of the American GI? Was the allied victory due to logistics and numbers, rather than having superior ( or at least equal) troops on the ground, or was i just fed propoganda growing up?

I am by no means voicing disrespect for the vets, im just trying to understand the history of the war a bit better. Ive read somewhere that the German infantrymen were 50% more effective than an American infantrymen, which got me wondering if it was true. Were the US troops inferior to their enemy in overall skill, discipline, training, and weaponry, but made up for it in numbers? thanks for any insight.
Queensland, Australia
Joined: July 10, 2011
KitMaker: 653 posts
AeroScale: 165 posts
Posted: Sunday, November 06, 2011 - 03:45 PM UTC
The age old debate.

In short, no the GI was in no way inferior to the German soldier certainly there were plenty of differences between them but at the end of the day the US, and most allied forces for that matter, could go toe to toe with the Germans.

50% more effective is just silly, how could you measure it even if it were true? Sure the US had to catch up some ground in terms of battlefield experience but that did't take long.

Of course what tipped the balance in the end was the far superior logistics train of the US and her allies.

"Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics"
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Joined: October 22, 2008
KitMaker: 1,252 posts
AeroScale: 3 posts
Posted: Sunday, November 06, 2011 - 06:02 PM UTC
I guess a lot here depends on the units that meet. German veterans vs. new US troops is different then vets vs. vets. Tanks is different than infantry and even the infantry depends on equipment.

I.e take the final scene of Shaving Privat Ryan, equip the germans with either the semi-auto, magazin fed G42 or the Stug44 assault rifle and run the szene again

All armies had their strong and weak points. The german system while it worked into 1944 was better in integrating new men into a unit and had better trained NCO / lower officer ranks due to it's use of Auftragstaktik.

The US system made better use of vets in training new units, mainly in the air force ( this is one reason for the low kill count of most US aces compared to the germans) and they dedicated more ressources to logistics ( the german system i.e lacked trucks)

The US and Brits sometimes (airplanes) where lucky that their system delivered the best while the germans had a Führers pet driven system that kept some of the best planes on low numbers.
British Columbia, Canada
Joined: March 12, 2010
KitMaker: 791 posts
AeroScale: 0 posts
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 - 09:14 PM UTC
In my opinion the best soldiers in WWII were the Finns.
German Gebirgsjagers and Fallschirmjagers were troops not to be trifled with.
The SS were comparable in quality to the Canadians or the USMC or the Siberians.
Regular GIs were OK, it should be remembered large numbers never saw combat.
The British were very good, but the Anzacs were better.
The Italians were better than many think, especially on the Eastern front.
Special units like the LRDG or the US Airborne, are in a class of their own and it's hard to compare them, even with each other.
The Japanese were very good, but if their officers were taken out they were variable
Arkansas, United States
Joined: June 29, 2009
KitMaker: 11,610 posts
AeroScale: 79 posts
Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 01:15 PM UTC
You have to remember, when it comes to US GIs vs. German troops, the US had been deliberately attacked by the Axis powers. Yes, I know it was Japan that attacked us. However, the effect gave GIs purpose. We(I use this term to refer to the Allied powers then, as opposed to now), had a reason to go to war. Our industrial might was awesome. Our soldiers ready for a scrap. We went to war with not only the purpose of saving others, but in belief that we stood for "freedom" in the world. We had numerical superiority. Logistics did play a major factor, as we learned on the drive to Germany. Where as the Germans could field 200 panzers, we could respond with 800 Shermans. Also, you have to remember that the Germans were fighting on two fronts. And, it has been debated as to whether or not the Soviets could have drawn the war in Europe to a close. Being threatened from both sides meant that Germany could not afford to commit its troops against one assault. Another important factor was that Germany did not have the resources it needed to wage a prolonged war at the far ends of a continent. One of the most brilliant maneuvers, IMHO, was Patton's drive across Europe. If it looked like Allied(US) would get bogged down by German forces, they simply bypassed it. This allowed them to effectively cut off the enemy's supply lines. On another note, logistics were far from perfect. Take, for example, D-Day. The attacks were not properly coordinated. This resulted in miss-drops, incorrect beach heads, and the inability to drive the Germans out of key positions. I would recomend you read "Elite Panzer Strike Force 'Germanys Panzer Lehr Division in World War II'" by Franz Kurowski. It goes into detail how Germany responded to the Allied assault during Operation Overlord and the Battle of the Ardennes. Forgive my spelling.
This is still debated, today. We(the Allies), being the defenders, were driven to win and had the numbers to do so. Although we went on the attack, it was for the preservation of our and our comrades way of life. This, in retrospect, lead up to the Cold War with Russia. I could go on, but feel you will be better served by researching the subject and coming up with your own beliefs.