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The Combat SoldierInfantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries$
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Anthony King

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658848.001.0001

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The Persistence of Mass

The Persistence of Mass

(p.164) 7 The Persistence of Mass
The Combat Soldier

Anthony King

Oxford University Press

Modern fire and movement tactics were recurrently executed especially by elite troops in citizen armies. However, primarily because of their size, citizen armies could not for the most part train their troops to conduct such complex manoeuvres in combat. Consequently, combat performance remained poor, despite theoretical and doctrinal advances. This is not only true for obvious cases like the Italian infantry in the First and Second World Wars or the US infantry in Vietnam but even for the much praised Wehrmacht. The chapter argues that despite the myths around it, at the level of the rifle platoon, the Wehrmacht displayed the same problem of low performance as those which are associated with its opponents, although this was disguised by their advanced use of machine-guns with their well-trained crews which were central to their tactics.

Keywords:   italian army, Canadian and British performance in Normandy, Wehrmacht, Vietnam

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