Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Outdated equipment used by armies

We used to hear arguments about how our United States forces are not properly equipped in Iraq. One example is that the Humvees were not armored enough. This is an old issue and a far older problem. It is not uncommon for military forces to be equipped with outdated equipment. At the beginning of direct U.S. involvement in World War II, our forces were equipped with plenty of left over World War I weapons. The Korean War was also fought with left over equipment from World War II. In less well-equipped armies, the situation is far more pronounced. Some other examples:

The horse was obsolete during World War II. Yet the United States and Great Britain were the only 100% mechanized armies in the world. The German army was more than 60% horse driven and they kicked a lot of people around for years. (They even got us and the English a few times) The horse was obsolete at the time. However, it was useful. Part of the reason Sixth Army held out for so long during the winter at Stalingrad was because they ate the horses. This saved the rest of the army that could have been trapped if Stalingrad did not hold out so long. This disaster could have been even greater in scope than the loss already endured.

American aircraft carrier flight decks were built with wood in World War II. This allowed for them to be easily repaired when damaged. Wood is less slick than steel, so working on the deck is less dangerous. Ships with wooden decks could operate far more aircraft. (Which is the ship’s first line of defense) The downside to this is the fact that when hit, the wooden decks offered far less effective resistance to damage and injury to the crew. We lost a lot more men than we would have if the decks had been armored.

These are just some examples of a problem that has been around since the dawn of time. As pointed out in a prior post, balance is part of the issue. Expense is another part. After all, military equipment has always been VERY expensive. And for the most part, useless. Unless a war occurs. Then the modern equipment is priceless. Another part of the problem is foresight. Who could have guessed that the Sherman tank would have been so outgunned by the better-armored Tiger and Panther tanks in 1944? Armchair quarterbacks have been around since the dawn of time when referring to military equipment and battles.

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