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tv   World War I Trench Warfare  CSPAN  July 3, 2018 6:37pm-8:05pm EDT

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public service by america's cable television companies and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. up next, on american history tv, richard full fainger in, professor at the u.s. army command and general staff college on trench warfare during world war i. he looks at the different strategies and technological developments used in attempts to drive opponents out of their trenches. this was held at the dole institute of politics at the university of kansas. it's an hour and 20 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody and thank you for taking the time out of your afternoon to join us today. i'd like to thank the dole institute for continuing to be
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very gracious hosts for the history for the military lecture series. this is our fifth year of producing this lecture series and your attendance is testament to its popularity, so thank you very much. it is my distinct pleasure to introduce dr. sean faulkner, one of the country's preeminent historians of the first world war, particularly the american experience. is he a retired armor officer, he's a graduate of that other university in kansas, that i won't mention, but more importantly he is the author of two books on the american experience in world war i, the first called the school of hard knocks which is about combat experience and the second, which was just published by the university press of kansas called "pershing's crusaders" which is a detailed examination of all things doughboy in 1917 and 1918 and you are about to get a presentation on some of the challenges those doughboys faced when they arrived in france in 1917 about how to get across that protected area so
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they could actually get to the enemy and force a division. so please, join me in welcoming dr. sean faulkner. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. i'd like to thank the dole institute for inviting me out today to lecture and their continued support of our department lecture series with them. i do have to ask a question. if there's anybody here who gets easily depressed, this is probably not the briefing for you. we're going to talk about some ugly things, some ugly aspects of human history, and military history, and if you look at it, there's three things i want to accomplish today. one is to explain why there is a trench stalemate on the western front in world war i. then we're going to examine the trials and tribulations as a different combatants tried to break that stalemate and lastly, in the process of figuring out this devil's dilemma, how the combatants inadvertently create
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modern warfare, in other words, the warfare, the doctrine that we teach at ft. leavenworth today in many ways is the grandchildren of what these people are learning with blood, sweat, toil and tears in world war i. now, when you look at the great war, does it doesn't have a gre reputation. most people think about world war i they think about trench warfare and they think about utter futility. sending thousands of young men, the best and the brightest to accomplish nothing. in fact there's a bunch of myths that start to arise in world war i and like all myths they have elements of truths, and one of the ones that comes out in the 1960s is this. armies of world war i consisted of lions, young, virile patriotic, young men who were led to their death by donkeys. lions led by donkeys, and there's some truth to this. if you look at douglas hague,
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the commander of the british army he's about a 2-watt bulb, he's a pretty dumb guy, and world war i puts a black eye on military profession we've still not overcome. one of the terms is chateau generalship, that the generals like douglas hague stayed well behind the lines drinking schaap pain and bouncing mad moye sells on their knees while their soldiers died in the front with the generals having no conception of what they're asking the soldiers to do and again there's some truth to this but as we look at some of the myths we'll see why shadow generalship came about. what i'm going to ask you to do tonight is think about some of the myths and ask to you give a little sympathy for the devil. these officers, these generals are confronted with something between 1914 and 1918 that nothing in their previous education, nothing in their experience and nothing in their training has prepared them for, and they have to puzzle it out.
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one of the biggest things i have to deal with is this -- in the 50 years between the ending of the american civil war and the beginning of world war i sees one of the most fundamental and revolutionary changes in military technology in human history, in fact some would argue there is more that happens in military technological change in those 50 years than occurred in the previous three millennia of human existence, and this just gives you an example of what's changing, and the american civil war, riflemen were getting off three shots a minute. if he was lucky he could hit a man sized target at 400 meters. thanks to the frenchmen named paul vielle, invents smokeless powder with the changes of the second industrial revolution you get all these new ideas. you take smokeless powder, you made it to a new weapon system, the magazine bolt action rifle. so by the time you get to world war i, the infantryman is getting off 15 to 20 shots a
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minute, but there's more. time of the civil war, the cannon was getting off maybe one, one and a half shots a minute, and the range was pretty limited. these shells that they were firing were not effective, but by the time you get to world war i, you see a massive change. in 1897 the french come out with the french 75 gun, the world's first modern artillery piece and what makes it modern is not only that it's a breach loader, not only that it's firing fixed ammunition now, but most importantly underneath that barrel is a hydraulic recoil mechanism. you foo irthat civil war cannon it goes rolling way back and you have to laboriously move it back into position. thanks to that french invention, when you fired it, it stays right there. what that means is, by the time world war i the artillery were getting off 15 to 20 shots a minute. for a surge -- last but not
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least 1886 an american invents the world's first true automatic weapon, the maxim gun. he uses physics, each action has an equal but opposite reaction. you put a big spring on the side of the bolt when it fires, the spring catches the bolt, runs it back into battery. when you automate fire that way you create a weapon able to fire five to 600 rounds a minute. when you take bolt action rifles, when you take rapid-fire modern artillery and you take maxim guns that means the battlefield is a much more deadly place than it was with the soldiers of civil war. now, the myth is, these silly generals had no idea that all this technological change was going to change warfare. that's absolute bunk. they absolutely know that this is going to cause problems, in fact, if they didn't figure it
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out, a russian named yvonne deblock has also told them this. in 1898 he writes "the future of war" where he says if you look at the amount of development in weapons and the lethality it will create and look at how much now the societies are going to have to feed in to war, warfare has fundamentally changed and it is going to be devastating to your society. he actually creates apocalyptic visions where the soldiers on the new battlefield will build barricades of their dead comrades to hide from the fire. now if you're a military guy, you read yvonne deblock he has given you an ugly thing to think on, a long attritional war will destroy you. deblock says that the amount of resources you're going to pour into this in blood, sweat, toil and tears means ultimately your societies are going to collapse in a revolution. they're not going to be able to keep doing this. the generals take this to heart.
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they have seen the effects of this firepower. they've seen it in the boar war, in the russo-japanese wars and the balkan wars. they are absolutely aware how deadly the battlefield is going to be. the problem is, they don't know what to do about it. and yvonne debloque right be right. so going into world war i you have a number of asumpgss th ofl of the combatants are making. first is war is inevitable, it's going to happen. now, there is that argument once you say it's going to happen you probably plague it inevitable but that's neither here nor there. they absolutely believe it's going to be bloody. but they also have convinced themselves that it's going to be short. decide that mobilizes first the side that moves first and attacks first will be the one that achieves victory. and while we will have monumental casualties it will be in a short amount of time and then the war will be over.
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they make their plans around a short war, and we'll see how that's going to affect them when they get the war they don't anticipate. of course the german solution to this is the schlieffen plan, what winston churchill calls the most important public document perhaps in human history. this is the german's attempt to make sure that yvonne debloque is wrong. if we can mobilize and move before the french armies can get going, we can knock the french army out of the war. we can avoid all of that firepower, because we're going to hit them on the flanks in the rear and then we can turn and deal with the russians. and i love that quote from woody allen, if you want to make god laugh, tell him your plans. as we all know, this plan goes off the rails in a disastrous fashion in september of 1914, with a battle of the marn. so by the time you have early october 1914, you have two armies glaring at each other,
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north of paris along the ain river and the first thing they're trying to do is find the flank of the other folks, because then they can get the momentum back. they can gain the initiative. the problem is the other guy is thinking the same thing. by the time you get to november of 1914, you now have nearly an unbroken line of trenches, unbroken line of troops going 400 miles from the north sea in belgium all the way to the swiss border. and these opening weeks of the war have been devastating, in fact, on one day, the 22nd of august, 1914, the french lose 27,000 dead, just to put that into perspective, and nearly 17 years of fighting in afghanistan and iraq, the u.s. military has lost 6,997 dead. and they don't have an answer to this.
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the soldiers, though, have figured out something. if you're going to live on this battlefield, you had better dig deep, because only by digging into mother earth are you going to escape the nasty bullets, the nasty shells that are flying. and in 1914, this is what the frenc trenches look like. they're pretty basic. in fact, they're really just scrapes in the ground, and at this point in time of the war, all it would take is fresh troops, heavy artillery and shells to dig them out. that's the problem, when you go into the war with a short war mentality. if you don't plan for a long war, then you don't plan for industrial mobilization. you don't plan for bringing in more reinforcements. this is going to be a come as you are war, and by the time that the nations of europe slowly but painfully get those mobilization juices flowing, those trenches go from this,
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something you could easily be pierced, to this. and now you have a problem. these donkeys leading the lions are the first to figure this out. ferdinand roche will end the war and prior to the war he had been an instructor at the french were college. this is one of the late fall of 1914. this is what he turns to his staff and tells them. guys, i was wrong. forget what i trained you on, we will have to learn together. here's the problem. this is a natural british french map from the area of 1916. if you would look at this trench map as a military professional prior to world war i you would be lost.
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there are new things on this map that were there before. first it is the whole map gritted off. because the nuclear is artillery. this will now allow you to better use the artillery. notice that you've got these little red lines -- those redlines of the german trenches. the way that you find out about the german trenches is setting you up for one of the other realities of world war i. in no other human endeavor did necessity more become the mother of invention than warfare. it would be the big killer, you would have to figure out where the trenches are and where the concentration is. you now take this new toy called the airplane and you flight over there lines and you take pictures. you fly the aircraft over the line and have them spot where the artillery is. now what we see is this race.
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the minute that both sides mutually find out that aviation, the high ground will be one of the things that gives them an advantage on the battlefield, you see this arms race. we will see this come back time and time again in world war i. the minute you think you have something figured out, the minute you have the cool new system that gives you an advantage, the other guy finds another way to go one more. you see this in the development of aircraft. that is the aircraft that the german start the war with. the wings look like a dove. it is barely an improvement. it had just flown 13 years before. it is not armed, it flies over, makes its little notes and comes back. now it is my advantage to find it and shoot it down. to keep the germans from doing
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that to me. we call this the challenge and response dynamic. in fact in 1950, you get the world's first fighter plane. as soon as the germans come out with this fighter plane, now the allies have to match it. you see how rapidly the development of these weapon systems is occurring over the war. today we have something called the f 35 fighter. it has been developed for 30 years and we still can't get to fly like it is supposed to. the air life of an aviation in world war i is measured in months, not years. because within a few months the other guy is coming up with something that will go higher, faster and go further and have more weapons than what you have and now you have to up your game. now we will take this map and look at the devil's dilemma that is trench warfare. when you look at the trenches, it is not a single trench, these trenches are laid out in depth.
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you see on the map here we have three lines of trenches. three belts of trenches. just to have some fun,several of those are stakes with barbed wire. this is german barbed wire. has anyone seen any barbed wire like that. you have that barbed wire for one major thing. has anyone seen any barbed wire like that. you want to have that staked where you can because that is where you are going to do the killing. the first step is easy. you have to get out of your trench and go across no man's
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land. when you step out of your trench, how much of the enemy do you? see? something has to happen to keep the enemy's head down to give my guys a chance to get across no man's land. you think, just bring your machine guns. that german gun weighs 124 pounds. then there is the water in the gun. you look like a slow moving target. i have to find a way to keep their heads down.
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now i have to clear the enemy out of the first line of trenches. crossing no man's land, you assume you have taken some pretty heavy casualties. when i jump into the enemy trench, i better have a lot more guys than they have. i have crossed no man's land and jumped into the first set of trenches. now i have to break through the next belt of trenches and the next after that. if i am lucky enough to capture the first set of trenches, i am spent. you cannot rely on those guys
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to continue the attack. to break through the subsequent trenches, i have to bring up fresh troops and more supplies. here is the catch. each successive wave of trioops has to cross no man's land. once i got through a trench, i know the germans were going to counter it. i have to bring all the equipment with me so that when i capture that trench, i set it up for defense. if you are carrying 85 pounds of gear in no man's land, you look like a slow moving target. they are doing that time and time again.
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if you are successful, you get to the good stuff. i have crossed no man's land, broken into the first set of trenches, broken through the subsequent trenches and now i can break out into the open where the germans cannot hide behind their trenches. simple. well, let's add a little complication. i like to put things into perspective. this map is one of those maps created by guys flying over the enemy trenches. this was for the battle. this is a space that is 4 miles
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deep and 3 miles across. they have the strength of about 14,000 men. the standard military doctrine says the attacker needs a standard 3 to 1 advantage to overcome the advance. if you were to take, and put this into perspective, in that three-mile by four-mile area, put everyone in town making that defense. to win, we have to make these guys run away if i am going to break through.
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a 3 to 1 advantage would require everyone in kansas city, kansas to break through. the technology is there had been developed with giving most of the advantage -- it is a 5 to 1 advantage to break through. to take out every man, woman and child in this town, i need every man, woman and child in kansas city, kansas and douglas county to make it through. i have to get back to just crossing no man's land. the good people of douglas county and kansas city, kansas,
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if they want to live to get to the other side, they need to kill as many defenders as they can. they turned to artillery. we have to figure out how to best use the artillery to give what we need. to suppress the enemy, to keep them in and what you see here is the allies trying to figure this out. i actually paced off the area here. it is six yards across. if you look at this, these are the pounds of shell that are falling within every yard of the trench. this is a world war i shell. it weighs right around 15 pounds. that is an average shell.
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when the british finally get success on the 14th of july, the magic number they come up with is 660 pounds of shell falling for every yard of trench. you see that there are a lot of shells falling within this area. you will notice that even though they figure that out, they are still going back and forth. we can go back to him. he is a goodbye. it is probably telling the truth. what you are seeing is figuring it out. it has been a whole new science of artillery during the great war. they're inventing it as they go. the same tactics, the same
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procedures the u.s. army uses today were figured out in 1914- 1918. the problem with 660 shells is that is a lot of people back home doing a lot of production. the politicians are telling the generals, you guys figure it out. our society is under immense pressure. at the end of the day, he might be right. i'm not sure how much we can push people before they crack. i can't keep giving you 660 pounds of shell per yard of trench. what foch is telling you is the truth, that in this revolutionary period of warfare, these generals have to learn the craft, have to figure out the new realities. something they have not been prepared for and sadly when you figure it out, it is costing human lives to do it. but there's a second problem.
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when you start firing 660 pounds of shell per yard of trench, you're literally changing the face of the earth. i love these pictures. little farmhouses on the somme. that is what that looks like in june of 1916. and that is what the same farm looks like less than three months later. you see the same thing with a little belgian town of passchendaele. you believe you have to do this to allow your infantry to attack but you are creating huge amounts of problems. just for the attackers crossing no man's land, it's slowing down their movement forward. but the biggest problem is even if you are successful now and capturing the first set of trenches, maybe even the second and third set of trench you have so changed the surface of
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the earth, you have created an impassable zone. so you have made it damn near impossible to go to the fourth phase even if you wanted to, because i will have to bring my artillery across this. i'm going to have to bring fresh troops and fresh supplies. and to get them across this shell torn ground means i will have to have engineers working and digging and working and digging. and the amount of time it takes to clear the path to fix this, the germans have dropped that -- and dug in somewhere else. hmm. we also have another problem. while weapons technology has continued to grow at a fast pace, other technology, specifically command and control technology, signal technology has stagnated. this is what you can use. the most modern piece of equipment that most combat soldiers have for command-and- control is the telephone. one of the reasons you have --
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guys trying to direct the battle behind the lines is because that is where the telephone lines come to. if you try to go on the front line, you're not controlling and commanding anyone. the problem with that landline is anything can break it. you have that new technology wireless telegraphy, but that weighs 2000 pounds and is not going across no man's land anytime soon. and, because you cannot quickly communicate with the soldiers at the front, not only is command and control a problem, but your use of the big stick, artillery, is a problem. this is another one of those battle maps in april of 1917. all of those little lines are where the artillery is going to fall. this is a creeping barrage. my infantry guys, unlike today, cannot pick up the phone and call and get fire. you have to preplan every
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artillery bombardment. and you make the best you can out of this. i'm going to put all the slide on the map. i'm going to drop the artillery right here. then at a preset time, preagreed upon time, it will move on. and the hope is your infantry will stay right behind the creeping barrage right until they jump in the trench and take out the germans. but you saw what that terrain looks like. and the problem here, since i do not have responsive communications, is the artillery guys are going to adhere to this plan at this time. i'm doing this and i'm going to stop, move 15 meters on, and do it again. and if the infantry is stopped, the barrage keeps going and is never coming back. but as the allies are figuring this out and inventing this new science of artillery, they're
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learning how to use this thing as a hammer. and they can. the germans are under a british blockade. they have limited access to supplies. the british and the french can rely upon a huge world standing empire and by the way, the good people of the united states keep building shells. over the course of the battle of verdun, even though it is a disaster on the first day for the british army, by the time those battles close in november and december of 1916, the allies have slowly and painfully learned how to use artillery as a hammer. i don't like this red square. it offends me, make it go away and everything in it. you will notice here that the casualty rates between the british and the french and the germans at the battle of the somme, despite the disaster on
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the first day, by the time the battle grinds to an end are almost equal. part of that is the germans have to learned, too. their doctrine is flawed. they've got to figure it out as they go along. the original german doctrine is if you lose a trench, you counterattack and take it back. now, after you do that a few times, the allies figure that out. let's see, the germans are going to counterattack now. once you figure that out, you do things like, ok we capture the trench. how about laying artillery in front of the trenches for any counterattacks? now we have seen that switch. the german doctrine is not working. so they change it, too. so in late 1916, they change their doctrine. they give up parts of france to go to better terrain. when you're in somebody else's backyard you can do that. and they create an elastic defense in depth. you take and use terrain, you
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go on the backside of the hill. the allied artillery is not as effective. you do not rely on huge amount of trenches seen by aircraft. you go with concrete pillboxes. machine guns with interlocking fields of fire. so when the allies attack your observation post, pick them up, drop the artillery. they get to the top of the hill and you start bringing in as much fire as you can. the minute the allies go on the other side of the hill, the officers in their chateaus, have no idea where they are. now the allies have to pick their way through these interlocking machine guns. as they are doing that, their officers are getting lost, they are short on supplies. then and only then do the germans launched their counterattack. right when the allies think they figured it out, the germans change the game. world war i is also bringing in
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lots of high-tech. they are trying to break through the trenches. we have a couple technologies that they will play with. technologies that with some development we still see in the military today. one of the first ones is, you're going to start to give the infantry more firepower. a platoon is the lowest tactical unit that you have. that is what they look like in 1914 with a bright red britches. the heaviest weapon that they have is the infantryman's rifle. this is the same platoon by 1917. not only are the uniforms different, but you have a lot fewer men. you've figured out if you're going to survive, you are going to give the soldiers a lot more training because he will have to rely on them and their leaders to use their own initiative. to make it easier for those junior officers to command
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them, you make them smaller. as you make the smaller, you give them a lot more weapons. interestingly, this infantry platoon looks a lot like my son's infantry platoon in alaska. he is an infantry private. this would look familiar to him. we've got some other high-tech. in 1915, the germans come up with the idea of using poison gas as a way of crossing no man's land and breaking through. in fact, fritz haber, who will later get a nobel prize for his work on nitrogen, would be the one who comes up with this. it's a brutally simple idea. if you are coughing, if you are dying or running away, you're not shooting at my infantry as they are attacking. when the germans first use this on the 22nd of april 1915, it works. they actually knock a hole in the allied lines. seven miles across and three and a half miles deep.
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so, as we know, the germans step to paris and end the war. well, there's some problems. poison gas works, but when you're talking about using gas you are now relying on the weather. and the germans have to postpone this attack time and time again to get just the right weather conditions. the problem with germany is it is already short of manpower. they cannot afford to have a lot of guys waiting for an attack that might not come. by the time the weather conditions are right and you use poison gas, the reserves of the german army earmarked for that offensive have been moved somewhere else. there's also a human problem here. think about how you try to explain this to the german soldier. hey, hans, we got a cool new weapon. we call it "human raid." we're going to release it from big capsules and it is going to float across no man's land with a big green cloud of chlorine. all you have to do is follow
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the bouncing green cloud. now, if you're the german soldier, you know you say, nein, what are you crazy? show me this stuff works. i'm coming, dragging their feet and by the time they have actually realized how big a success they have had, the allies have counterattacked and closed it off. now the problem with gas is the cat's out the bag. and within days, not within weeks, not within months, within days of the first use of poison gas you get the first gas mask. pretty freaking basic. all that is, is a cotton wadding pad that has a bicarbonate soda solution. you keep it wet. you wear it over your nose and mouth. you have some steam punk goggles and you have your glasses. you come up with it and begin in the trenches within the first five days.
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now, what really shocked me and i have studied war for a while now, it has made me a deep dark cynic. military history will make you a cynical person. you look at the amount of thought that is going into the weapons technology, it will depress you. find a cure for cancer. screw that. find a way to kill off half the population of europe. sign us up. the minute chlorine gas does not work, they do not say oh well, that was a good idea. no, we come up with a better gas. they come up with phosgene. it is actually the biggest killer gas of world war i. it is colorless and odorless. a faint smell. it kills because the soldiers do not have an immediate response to it like chlorine. you're in it and getting a lethal dose without knowing. you die a couple of days later.
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now that's horrible, but the generals go, that's nice, but what have you done for me lately? i want the guys to crash now. i need immediate results. as soon as you come out with chlorine or another gas, you come out with a new gas mask. in 1917, you come up with the worst gas -- mustard gas. it is a blister agent. when he gets on your skin, it raises huge, nasty pus-filled blisters. your eyes, nose, mouth, your armpits. other places. when you get mustard in other places, you do not feel like playing soldier anymore. if you breathe that mustard gas in, now those blisters are on your lungs. and what happens is over time those continue to grow, they pop, they fill your lungs with fluid and you drown. but the minute that you come out with that, the allies come
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out with a new gas mask. the americans will make their masks based upon this and it will protect you against mustard. unlike a modern gas mask, it is not airtight, ok? so there is still going to be some of that mustard gas to get in. to make it work, just to give you an idea how how nasty this is, you have to use this clilp to keep your nose closed, and you have to breathe in and out of this tube. now, anybody been a snorkeler here? i hate snorkeling. after a couple minutes my jaw starts to hurt. mustard is persistent. you will have the snorkel between your teeth for three or four hours. it will severely restrict your vision. but at least keep you from dying. until the end of the war, now that you have a defense against the gas, it becomes more of a harassment, a way of neutralizing some of the
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advantages of one side or the other, but not something that is going to kill a lot of guys. that will change when the americans come in. we suffer a number of casualties from gas because we are horribly trained. troops that know how to use the gas mask do not do too bad. we tried poison gas. that has not fixed the problem. in september, 1916, we come up with something really cool. i was a tanker. i like to ride around on tanks. this was my great great granddad. a tank is a pretty simple idea. mobile protected firepower. i'm going to take something that can cross through all of that shell torn ground. it is going to be able to crash that nasty german barbed wire. it's got armor protection so the shells can't get in. and it will have machine guns and cannons to destroy the german strong points and the german machine guns. here's the problem. you know how you get a tank in
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1916? yeah. neither did they. but they look around the world and come up with some ideas. in the united states there is something called the hope agricultural tractor being used on farms around lawrence. pulling plows and other things. it's on a caterpillar tractor. there are things you need to go across nasty mud. the brits take this tractor and they bolt on hillbilly armor. now a hope agricultural tractor is designed to do a lot of things, pushing a machine gun is probably not one of them. the first day this tank is used in september of 1916, you start the attack with 49 tanks. and that is a most of the entire -- almost the entire number of tanks in the world at that time. and 17 of them do not even make it to the front. they break down before they get there. so, you only begin the attack with 32 tanks.
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you see what happens from there. good idea, and it shows the potential to go, these tanks are pretty cool, worth investing in. good idea, but the technology is still not there yet. so by the time you get to august of 1918, you get the battle of amiens, the black day of the german army. where the british army cracks through the german lines. you still have this problem. you start with 453 tanks, but you see what happens. by the end of the first day of battle, you are down to 155 tanks. the day after that, 85 tanks. can anybody tell me what you think will happen by the twelfth of august? you're not going to have any tanks. that is bad. this is a good idea, and you are developing these concepts of combined warfare. the battle of amiens, the british are combining airpower and also aircraft going deep to
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interdict their flow of supplies and reinforcements, combined with artillery, combined with tanks, combined with infantry together. they are seeing the way. in fact, the combined arms we use today in the u.s. army are not a whole heck of a lot different from what they were doing here. but the technology is still not developed enough to make it reliable. now, if you are the germans, you have got a problem. you've been fighting a two front war. in 1917, it is going to be a break year for them. on the plus side, the russians go off and revolution. by early 1918, they remove themselves from the war. thus freeing you from a two- front war. but the problem is the germans do some goofy things that require them to leave men to get their ill-gotten gains in the ukraine. on the down side, in april of 1917, the united states enters the war. germany is on the ropes, their
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economy is on the ropes. people at home are beginning to feel the effects of starvation because of the british blockade. while the allies are building tanks and more and more artillery pieces and shells, the germans can't match it. they cannot match you tank for tank. most of the tanks the german army uses are captured from the british and the french. they cannot make enough artillery or enough shells. they cannot fight the war the allies are fighting. they know if they do not find a solution to this war quickly, in early 1918, they are going to lose it. the americans are coming and the americans are coming big. the red line is the german rifles on the western front in april 1919. the blue line is the allied rifle strength. and they are going to roll the dice in 1918 to see if they can win the war. you will notice their manpower
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advantage is still not that great. now, the germans have also gone through those same changes at the lower level you saw with the french platoon. this is what a german platoon looks like in 1914. they do not even have their own machine guns. this is that same battalion by 1917. so, now i am giving the battalion commander and the company commanders a lot more weapons, because i am expecting them to do a lot more stuff on their own. the germans are going to take this one step further because they have to. if i can't match the allies in technology, and i can't match in output of shells, the only solution the germans have is to try to do things better. so, by 1918, they have both new artillery tactics to get the most effectiveness out of the shell, but they also develop a new infantry tactic.
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we'll call them stormtroop tactics. not those guys in star wars and the white uniforms - they cannot hit anything. these guys are specialized troops. you're going to take these infantrymen and not do mass attacks like you see at the somme and verdun, you will give these guys specialty training and heavy weapons and you are going to send them out. what i want you to do is go around the strong points of the enemy, infiltrate to the allied lines, take out the machine guns from the rear. then i want you to keep driving deep. i want these little groups of soldiers, highly trained specialist soldiers, they go deep against the enemy command post. i want you to go deep against the enemies artillery. because if you can take out the enemy's artillery and their command post, you are going to break the ability of the allies to do that technical magic that they have been doing with their
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artillery. and you're even going to reorganize them. again, you saw what the infantry battalion looks like in 1917. this is what that stormtrooper battalion looks like. you are specializing the units and you were giving them an unprecedented amount of light weapons so they can accomplish the mission. exercise their own initiative. but here the germans are stuck. if you are going to get these specially trained soldiers, who can exercise initiative and have the smarts to take advantage of opportunities that rise and fall on the battlefield, here is the special soldier you are looking for. they need to be young, they need to be in very good shape, and they need to be smarter than the average bear. the problem is by 1918, those guys are dead. so, the germans pull out some
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tricks. they get these types of soldiers in the specialized units, what they do is go through all of the other regular infantry divisions and say, here's our good guys. i'm taking all of these and leaving you with these old, beat up guys. and they're going to use the stormtroopers in the ludendorff offensive 21 march 1918. they will tactically do some wonderful stuff. they attacked the british on the somme front and push the british back to where they started the battle in july of 1916. but the problem is when you have these elite troops, it is the same problem we have today, that elite specialist troops are fragile. these storm troopers are taking inordinately high casualties. these german pushes are running
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out of steam because the guys are moving basically on their feet like infantry. there is no mechanization like you see with the allied armies. when the attack does not work on the somme, they shifted to another location, and they will have some breakthroughs but then it runs out of steam. and every time they do this, those elite troops are being attrited one after the other. by the summer of 1918, who are you left with? me. i'm thinking about going home. i'm just saying. in the process, we have seen all of this back-and-forth, the changing technology, the change of techniques and doctrine in the process of this ugly, bloody experimentation. the allies essentially create create modern warfare as we see it today. and i love this analogy. there was once an argument that said if you were to take the
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british infantry battalion commander from the battle of waterloo, 1815, put him in a time machine and move him to june of 1914, before world war i begins, give them a quick class on technology. he understands the battlefield. the infantry still basically works the way the infantry did in his time. still working the same artillery were, calvary still works the way the calvary worked. 99 years in the past. but if you were take an infantry battalion commander from 1914, put him in a time machine, and put him three years in the future, he would be lost. the pieces parts no longer work the way they did four years ago. if you would take that infantry battalion commander and move him to the persian gulf war of 1991, he understands the battlefield. the planes are moving faster,
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the tankers are filled with sand, but the pieces and parts work the way the pieces and parts work. ok, thank you for your attention. we have covered a lot of area. we have killed off the flower of european manhood. any questions? [applause] thank you. we have got to wait for the mic. >> i have two questions. when you talk about how the germans reorganized their command structure and whatever during the end of the war, the physicians dropped out. was that true? >> dr. faulker: the physicians, even in 1914, in battle are the stretcher bearers. by 1917, they are a luxury. they are only in the kaiser's headquarters. they were already gone.
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>> when you said the second battle of the somme, they pushed them back to where they were three years earlier, how far was it in meters or yards? >> dr. faulker: somewhere along the line of 30 miles. it's a monument to break through. it forced the allies to make their own changes. it has nothing to do with technology. it is about command-and- control. prior to the shock of the german breakthrough, the french did their thing, the british and the belgians and the americans did their thing. so ferdinand foch, who i keep addressing in the lecture, we need a supreme allied commander to orchestrate everything. and foch is the man. since france is still contributing the majority of the troops and suffering that greatest casualties, it is a frenchman that will lead it. good question. yes, sir? >> what aircraft did the united
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states contribute? did the united states have any advanced aircraft? >> dr. faulker: no. [laughs] the united states is a basket case going into world war i. we were ranked 17th in the world when we entered the war in april, we had something around 50 odd pilots and 40 operational aircraft. most of them will spend the war as training planes. the americans will make a big deal about creating the liberty engine. and we will put in the british will dh4 fuselage and the pilots will call it flaming coffins. so, we are not quite the
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aeronautic masters we are today. the spat. because we are so woefully prepared unprepared for the war, the majority of our artillery, all of our tanks, the majority of our machine guns and aircraft come from the allies. so, rickenbacker starts with a newport and goes to a spat. that is where he won his medal of honor, as do most of our fighter pilots. >> it is like a really, a lot of players, like patton -- even hitler, can you explain what they are doing at this time? >> dr. faulkner: sure. this is a hard lesson and it leaves an indelible mark on everyone who participates in it. george patton will command the first tank brigade of the
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american expeditionary force. he will see action in september, early september, 1918. will then command a brigade going into the battle on the 26th of september and will be severely wounded in the first day of fighting. then will spend the rest of the war recuperating. he will play around with tanks. dwight d. eisenhower will spend the war at camp colt, pennsylvania, as the guy training tank crewman in the states. rommel will basically be one of those stormtrooper guys. he will win the highest german declaration fighting against the italians in november of 1917. basically doing that infiltration tactics. he learns the same thing, that once you get the enemy on the run -- and so, he is a captain commanding a battalion which will grow to a regiment.
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a lot of people that will go on to see greatness later on will take away from this. on the other side you get bernard law montgomery, the british highest ranking commander in world war ii, will fight through the somme, be wounded. he sees the ugliness of the trenches, and that convinces -- monty. the fully monty. that teaches them to be very, very cautious. and, before you attack, you do that set piece where all the artillery is in place, everything else is in place to minimize casualties. yeah, so, different lessons. good question, thank you. yes, ma'am. >> you mentioned that after the landscape was changed by all of the shelling, the need for engineers. did engineering -- there was a bridge under that tank in the picture -- did engineering grow
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up or come of age in the first world war? >> dr. faulkner: not as much. this is old-style combat engineering. here is the shovel, here is your pick, go fill in the holes. so, the most important engineer work for the allies is actually done building the little railroads and the connectors in the roads behind the lines to keep the supplies going. in fact, during the battle of verdun in 1916, there something called the sacred way, the one road where all the french reinforcements and reartillery supplies comes through. and to keep that road going, the french detail, i believe something like -- i'll make this up. a huge number, tens of thousands of men just to keep it going every day. so, that type of engineer work is important.
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when they come across a no man's land like that, the technology has not developed to the point where it is helping them out. good question. that will come in world war ii. yes, ma'am. i'm sorry. i will go here first. >> i was just wondering, did all of the combatants use conscription in world war i? >> yes, absolutely. the british start without it and quickly find out by late 1915, they are not getting enough volunteers. especially when you get the huge number of casualties. when we go into the war of april 1917, within two weeks, wilson's already decided we are going to do conscription. we are going to break with tradition and raise 75% of our troops from draftees. and when you think about having to feed this -- they all come to this. and that is the other problem
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when you plan on a short war. when you plan on a short war, you conscript everybody. but then when you figure out it is a long war, all the major combatants have to come to the same conclusion. in the winter of 1915, you see a scramble where you are releasing skilled workers in the ranks so they can go back to the factories to make the shells. and it's a delicate balance. this is mass total war. in a mass total war, it requires a mobilization of every element of society, you have got to balance agriculture with industry production with administration, things like doctors at the home front with the guys at the front. and everybody scrambles to figure this out. >> i imagine it would be a morale problem, too. >> dr. faulkner: how so? >> well, if they're drafted, they are not volunteering. to go over the top and all this
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sort of thing. >> dr. faulkner: if you look at especially france and germany prior to world war i, military service became part of the civil expectation. you were really not going to be a full citizen, not considered a full man until you have done your time in the service. the brits will do the same thing. this becomes your patriotic duty. and the vast majority of the soldiers accept that. that is one of the reasons they keep going. and in the armies that crack like the russian army and the italian army comes close to it, it is when you have failed to bring the guys in but take care of their needs, the expectations of a society that things start to rot. it's amazing that war nations don't break. >> if they have to have the episode, though, of firing squads?
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>> dr. faulkner: yes, in fact in april 1917, 50% of the divisions of the french army undergo what the french call collective discipline. what we call mutiny. i showed you that change in german doctrine. in verdun, the french believe they have got the answer and they figured out how to use the artillery and the german change the rules. in 1917, the french commander is basically promising the politicians and the soldiers that his offensive is going to break through the lines and end the war. when the french try their same old tricks against the new doctrine, the french soldiers lose massive amounts of men and basically lose heart. but, even after they lose heart, you go into collective -- the agreement of the soldier is we are not going to attack but we are also not going to let the germans take any more of france. it is that delicate balance.
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but you're right, morale is going to be an issue. yes, ma'am? >> you mentioned the role of engineers, they had a lot of employed miners digging miles and miles of tunnels under the trenches and laying explosive charges in the enemy trenches and engaging them with flamethrowers underneath the trenches. >> dr. faulkner: absolutely. in fact, there is a place in france, just to the northwest of verdun, which is on a commanding hill. and whoever commanded the hill could use the artillery. and between 1915 and at times the americans captured in 1918, there is this constant war. the hill is not much larger than the dole center. the french were coming from the one side, dig it out, and blow it up and the germans would do
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the same. by the time the war was over, it was a nice little town. you can go there today, it is nothing but crater upon crater. the british do the same thing, lay mines. they blow up. but then it is a race. can the other guy recapture the lip of the crater before you can attack? by the way, there was still one of those mines that did not go off on the battle. it is still there and they do not know where it is. a lightning strike set off another one in the 1960's. be careful around the somme. if the front-line trenches are gone, then it makes your crossing no man's land and capturing the first trench that much easier. thank you, good observation. >> hi, thanks for a great lecture. i have a question about the effect on civilian societies in america from world war i. for example, in europe, you started to see women working outside of
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the home. that was something that has continued. america was further away from the theater of war. is something like that happening an american civilian society? >> dr. faulkner: oh, absolutely. and you see this and all the european societies but probably more in the french, the british , and the american than you do in the central powers for cultural reasons. in fact, when you are building all of those shells, a lot of the people that were building them in england are women. and the problem is it is a chemical explosive. it turned their skin yellow. they called them canaries because it changes your skin yellow. both in britain and the united states, women serving in industry will ultimately lead to the right to vote. in fact, woodrow wilson will
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come out as a strong proponent for giving women the right to vote because of the work that they do. and they will get it in 1920, a year and a half after the war. so it is changing society as it is changing the battlefront itself. thank you. >> can you give me a definition of combined arms? >> dr. faulkner: silly me. combined arms is you are basically trying to get the best out of every one of the component you have. so, by the time at the battle of amiens, you had the air service, the aircraft, artillery, the infantry, the engineers, and what you are trying to do is maximize the effectiveness of each of those while overcoming their weaknesses. for example, the tanks would go through, break down the wire,
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suppress the emplacements, machine guns, the infantry would be right behind them. the minute the tanks break through, they are now consolidating the trench. the artillery has paved the way for all this going on. what you are going to do is create a massive nasty stew for the enemy. we still do the same thing today. we will combine air power and artillery and tanks and infantry and special ops all together to create that dilemma for the enemy. did that clarify? >> yes. is that why we do not have trench warfare in world war ii? >> dr. faulkner: we do have trench warfare if you look at stalingrad. the trenches become in many ways the city itself. we're horrified by world war i because it's attritional war. world war ii is mobile. it is something psychological. when you're only taking a
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couple of yards and losing several thousand men, it is futile. when you're taking several 10s or 20s of miles a day and losing the same amount of guys, somehow at least you feel like you are accomplishing something. the ability of a fusion and the perfection of things of tanks and mechanized infantry is allowing you to go through defenses and keep the enemy off balance so they cannot dig in and get those advantages. good question, thank you. >> i have a really good question. i was just joking. [laughter] >> has trench warfare been used before world war i? is it the first time? >> dr. faulkner: oh, no, trench warfare is as old as warfare. >> that was a really bad question. [laughter] >> dr. faulkner: no, no, that is a good one. >> when was trench warfare
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first used in warfare? >> dr. faulkner: if you go to a place in britain called maiden fort, it is an iron age fort where they created it on top of the hill. it is almost as old as warfare. if you are up on a hill, and you are dug in and the other guy comes up the hill, you have gone an advantage. if you look at modern trench warfare -- in the american civil war, especially in 1864 and 1865, you start to see the glimmers of what you will see in world war i. in the atlanta campaign, sherman versus johnson, in the summer of 1864, massive amounts of fortifications around atlanta and outside of petersburg, virginia, the same thing. you are starting to see the same dynamic, and it is just as
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deadly if you are attacking relatively in the civil war, your hope of breaking those trenches is pretty dim. but it is lacking the explosive power of artillery and the amount of firepower that you will see in world war i. it was that extra little bit of nastiness. good question. that is a good question. >> subsequent to the war, with these staggering casualties on all sides, what did that do to government policies, to do something about trying to reestablish a population? [laughter] or were there active government programs for that? we lost here. >> dr. faulkner: yes, this is going to be felt especially by
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the french. the french will lose 1.3 million men in the war. percentagewise they are only lagging behind the serbians as a percentage of their population loss. france population before the war even started. you not only lose that number of men but also when you have an army of pushing 6 million during the war, those guys are not making sweet, sweet love. by the time you get to the 1930's, you have the french call the hollow years. one french politician will say the biggest threat to french security is fornication. we need more of it. [laughter] and the population of france actually does not return to its pre-1914 rate until the 1960's because of that bubble. it gets so bad that when the war ends, the french are actively trying to convince the american soldiers to stay.
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stay, meet fifi, settle down and have a good life. and some of the soldiers do it. and some of the totalitarian regimes that will rise, be it mussolini, the japanese, be it hitler's germany or stalin's russia will all push for, you know, go forth and multiply, be fruitful because they see that as a critical wartime necessity. democracies, not so much. what they will do for the french, for example, will have a big influence on world war ii. going into world war i, the french soldier was conscripted for three years. so they could match the relative number of the germans. after the war, we need those
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french guys to be meeting fifi. in 1930, they lower the amount of time the soldiers spend in the ranks from three years to one year. and when you take out the time for leave and for holiday, you let them go back home and bring in the crops. for example, of that one year you have that french soldier in the critical period of 1930, 165 days you have that soldier for training. any military guys here? i have a few. you can't do much with a soldier in 165 days. you can barely teach them to march and maybe a little bit of shooting. by the time you get to 1940, the german soldiers are better trained than the french conscripts and it all goes back to that population policy. good question. good question. i've bored the rest of you. good. >> we lost a lot of casualties
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in that last month of the war. how much training did the national guard divisions -- >> dr. faulkner: there is a great book on that. [laughter] you know, the united states, it's almost a national tragedy what happens. and it is a shame what we do. we go into this war and we are still that army of 1914, the guys with the red britches, that is thrown into 1917 and 1918 while the allies and germans have learned, we have not caught up. we are trying to learn everything they have painfully done in three years in a short amount of time. and both due to lack of time and lack of resources, we do not have enough machine guns, we do not have enough artillery, most of the artillerymen will never see the
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cannons they are going to use until they pick it up from the french. the same thing with the machine guns. for the most part, the american soldiers are going into battle horribly. in october, 1918, the battle is the bloodiest month in american history. in the second week, we lose 6000 dead. compare that to 17 years of fighting in iraq and afghanistan. again, compare that to 17 years of fighting in iraq and afghanistan. we are really not prepared for bringing in their replacements. one of the greatest, saddest things i have ever read about american history is you have a number of soldiers showing up on the front lines in the fall of 1918 that were drafted, spent a couple days in camp and were on the front lines a couple days later. there were details teaching them how to load their rifles as they were going into battle.
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that's a crime. thank god we are a little bit better than that now. >> did we do the same thing in korea? >> dr. faulker: i would go to tom hansen for that answer, but we have some similar problems. you have that rapid transition from peacetime to wartime. dr. hansen has written a book on this that i highly recommend, though it is probably not as bad as what some of the accounts have made it out to be, but we have always had that problem. the national security statement we have today is really only a product of that mid-1950's to the present. if you look at american wars prior to that, we are never really prepared for what we are facing. in the case of world war i and world war ii, as we are learning these lessons, we are
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going up against guys that have been doing it for a while, and they beat on us quite a bit before we figured it out -- we are going up against guys that have been doing it for a while. >> it seems to me that it met with a modicum of success, but it seems to me after that, not knowing what had really passed on -- am i right? >> dr. faulkner: the dilemma they deal with world war i. do you go for a small offensive where you limit your objective, you grab a piece of terrain and hold it, or do you go for a breakthrough? what will happen around hill 60 in that same neighborhood is
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that type of precisely prepared set piece battle. you have the time, you bring up the forces, you studied the enemy. you dig those tunnels underneath the enemy line to blow them up before you assault, but the idea is you will only go and hold. as long as you can do that, the problem of what you do with the artillery now that you have captured it does not become an issue. where the offense is where you break. if you have broken through, if you keep the success, you will have to bring the supplies and the artillery. but if you are only doing set piece battle, it is a lot easier. the downside to that is the allied army would reach berlin now if they just kept those limited attacks.
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good question. >> you describe the efforts of the british and french and the efforts of the germans over four years to try to come up with some solution and breakthrough, and the british and french, their tanks and planes. british have their gas. the question is, in your opinion, who did the better job of doctrinal development, and which side came closest to developing the method that would be most successful in world war ii? >> dr. faulker: we love the germans. we are guilty of this at fort leavenworth, but the germans sort of have a propensity for war. we overstate it. a lot of that has to do with
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geography, but i think we overstate that. the germans are really good at some of the tactical stuff, but when it comes to making strategy, they are a basket case, and the disasters you will see in world war ii are presaged by the disastrous strategic decisions they make in world war i, and i think we also overemphasized the german tactical acumen. what they do have is an official army system for capturing honestly and openly the mistakes made trying to systematically put systems in place, but at the same time, the allies know the advantages they have and are playing them as best they can and a lot of the storm trooper tactics you see are also being done by the british and french on a smaller scale, so they are making all these innovations. the germans just tend to get some of the better credit for it. what the germans will do,
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though, in the 1920's and 1930's is ask ugly questions. while the british and french say we won, let's not do it again, german geography and the fact that they live in an ugly neighborhood convinces them they had better continue to study this. under a general, they do probably the most open and honest investigation of the war. the first thing he says is tell me what happened honestly, openly. let reputations be crushed if need be because this is too important. tell me what happened. tell me why it happened, which is also important, and once you tell me what happened honestly, then and only then can we get to the important thing, which is what we are going to do about it. the british are a little bit more hesitant of damaging reputations, so their history
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of world war i tends to be more skewed. the french are about the same, but the french have the germans close by, so they have to take war seriously. the french are often criticized for being too defensive. the number one takeaway the army has for world war i is firepower kills, firepower kills, firepower kills. going into world war ii, it is designed to do just that, and they are often maligned for it. the problem is the french are absolutely right. the number one killer in world war i is artillery. the number one killer in world war ii is artillery. the problem is the germans get moving much quicker than the french can respond. by the time the french are trying
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p.m. eastern on real america. the president, 1968, a film detailing the month of june, 1968 through the camera lens of the white house naval photographic unit. covering the activities of lyndon b. johnson. >> the president was awakened with the news that senator robert kennedy, the presidential primary, had been shot and critically wounded by an assassin. the day of the senator's death, president johnson sent letters to the speaker of the house, which urgently implored congress to enact a meaningful
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and effective gun control law. in june, much of the president's attention was centered on the paris peace talks. u.s. negotiator returned to washington to report on an apparent impasse at those meetings. from vietnam, however, the reports were far from optimistic. instead of a slow down in hostilities as a result of the peace negotiations, the communists had launched a massive new wave of assaults throughout the south to erode resolve on the home front and grasp tightened leverage in the diplomatic struggle. at a news conference on june 26, the president announced that the supreme court chief justice, earl warren, was retiring. in making his third and fourth appointments to the high court, the president knew that his choices would affect the destiny of the nation long after he himself had left office. >> watch real america, this weekend on american history tv on cspan 3.
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this weekend, cspan cities tour takes you to lubbock, texas. as we explore lubbock's literary scene and history. saturday at noon eastern, on booktv. author, sean cunningham with his book, american politics in the post war sun belt. conservative growth in a battleground region. >> billions and billions of dollars of federal resources are being poured into the south and the southwest to create this new development defense oriented society that is both fighting communism abroad and pursuing free market dreams at home. and it creates this kind of -- in the american southwest that just reenforces a lot of these ideas of just american ingenuity and hard work and a
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commitment to fighting. >> on sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. we visit the buddy holly center to hear about the lubbock native and his musical legacy. >> the city is very proud of the fact that buddy was born and raised here, and that the center is here to keep his story alive. to keep his music alive. >> a visit to the vietnam center and archive. located at texas tech university. the center is home to the largest collection of vietnam related material outside of the national archives. >> we've got a lot of the different types of equipment that veterans would carry. the things they carried, if you will. the first aide kits, the radios, the rations, the helmet that veterans would wear. that soldiers would wear. the steel pot that would protect them from shrapnel. >> cspan cities tour saturday
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at noon eastern on cspan 2. and sunday at 2:00 p.m. on american history tv on cspan 3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. over the next few hours on american history tv, a series of discussions on world war 1:00, up next, a conversation about the early military career of dwight eisenhower. we'll hear about his training of soldiers for the first world war, his work with tranks and attempts to secure an overseas assignment. world war ii leaders. this is just over an hour. what an incredibly good looking crowd. pleasure to be here. i want to thank the folks, and my good buddy for having me here today. i've always been fascinated by world war


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