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Badoglio's evaluation of the slow Allied advance in Italy

DrG

Member
The present military disaster in Afghanistan, which is an obvious outcome for a campaign based upon the assumption that no friendly human losses are acceptable and therefore that troops must be kept in their bases, leaving the true control of territory to the enemy, has made me recall Badoglio's criticism of the Allied method of advance during the Italian campaign, which I think can be an interesting reading (Pietro Badoglio, "Italy in the Second World War", Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 99-100):
Two causes slowed down the Allies. In the first place there was an almost overwhelming preoccupation to save the lives of their men—a justifiable preoccupation which concerned me all the time during the campaign in East Africa—but which must not be allowed to exceed certain limits, otherwise it is impossible to wage war at all. All the Americans repeated the same slogan—‘It takes twenty years to make a man, and only a few hours to make a machine. So, send up the machines!’
The smallest obstacle held up the troops, and when this happened an immense number of guns with fantastic supplies of ammunition immediately began a bombardment which lasted for hours with very rapid if not very accurate fire on any inhabited centre or even a fold in the ground. It did not stop even when our peasants from the area that was being deluged with shells declared that there was no enemy near and offered to accompany the troops if they would advance. Naturally such expert fighters as the Germans immediately grasped the methods of attack used by their enemies and adapted their tactics to it. They never presented large targets, but organized small detachments with a single gun, or some machine-guns to attract the enemies’ attention and fire, and then took up other positions.
The other factor which slowed up the advance was the over-mechanization of all units. Again even the most cursory study of the map would have proved that this complete motorization, however suitable to the Libyan desert, was quite unsuitable for the mountains of Italy. We had to remedy this defect, organizing many supply columns which rendered great services to the Allies. Finally, after the capture of Monte Marrone, a feat which astonished everybody, a school for mountain warfare was established with officers from our Alpine regiments as instructors.

The Western Allies had only the luck that the occupied Axis countries were unable to get support (ammo, food, etc.) from exterior powers, unlike the Talibans from Pakistan (sponsored by China) or the Viet Cong from USSR, otherwise their excess of concern for (their) human losses would have led to a much different outcome...
The Talibans have shown that "Vince sempre chi più crede, chi più a lungo sa patir" ("The one who believes the most always wins, the one who knows how to suffer the longest", a verse from this song: Battaglioni M) is right.
 
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