By Philip Langer, Robert Pois
Why do army commanders, so much of them frequently fairly able, fail at the most important moments in their careers? Robert Pois and Philip Langer -- one a historian, the opposite an instructional psychologist -- learn seven instances of army command disasters, from Frederick the nice at Kunersdorf to Hitler's invasion of Russia. whereas the authors realize the worth of mental theorizing, they don't think that one procedure can hide the entire participants, battles, or campaigns below exam. as a substitute, they judiciously take a couple of psycho-historical methods in desire of laying off mild at the behaviors of commanders in the course of struggle. the opposite battles and commanders studied listed below are Napoleon in Russia, George B. McClellan's Peninsular crusade, Robert E. Lee and Pickett's cost at Gettysburg, John Bell Hood on the conflict of Franklin, Douglas Haig and the British command in the course of global warfare I, "Bomber" Harris and the Strategic Bombing of Germany, and Stalingrad.
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Extra info for Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership
21 Caulaincourt, apparently not quite as “engrossed by the moment’s thought or action,” persisted in his questioning of Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. ”22 Some authors have commented upon the fact that by 1812, Napoleon had begun to slide into a soft middle age. 24 In any event, he seemed to be inordinately remote from his of¤cers and men during their preparations. Whether or not decreasing physical stamina combined with a spiritual malaise was responsible for it, a rather worrisome problem emerged.
Depending on the source, Frederick lost between 19,000 and 25,000 killed, wounded, and captured. The Russo-Austrian force lost around 15,000. It had not been an easy thing for Saltykov and Loudon either, but they at least had an intact army. ”47 If his Russian and Austrian enemies had chosen to pursue him such might have been the case, at least with regards to the troops under Frederick’s immediate command. ” This was an exercise in eighteenth-century diplomatic and military formalism, something that, while it did not rule out that Vernichtungskrieg so adored by later practitioners of what is sometimes referred to as “military science,” made such a thing highly unlikely.
The sad story of Frederick William’s relationship with his son is well known. As a small child, Frederick was extremely sensitive. He showed early interest in art and music and these, combined with his sensitivity, made him appear effeminate to his gruf¶y patriarchal father, who believed that anyone who hoped to rule a relatively small and resource-poor state greatly dependent upon military prowess for its survival ought to have the interests and bearing of a soldier. Since nature seemed to have provided Frederick with neither, his father would assure that he would acquire them.