US Armored Divisions: "The European Theater of Operations, 1944-45" (Battle Orders) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2004/3/25
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The armored divisions were the shock force of the US Army's combat formations during the fighting in Northwest Europe in the final year of the war. Of the 16 such divisions formed during the war, all but one served in the European Theater of Operations. This book examines the organizational structure, operational doctrine and combat mission of these divisions from D-Day onwards, describing how doctrines and tactics were changed as the divisions were forced to adapt to the battlefield realities of combat against an experienced foe. The lessons drawn by the armored divisions from the bitter fighting in Northwest Europe from 1944 to 1945 strongly shaped postwar US Army doctrine.
Steven J Zaloga received his BA in history from Union College and his MA from Columbia University. He is a senior analyst with Teal Group Corp. covering missile technology and arms export issues. He also serves as adjunct staff with the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses. He is the author of several dozen books on military technology and military history.
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US Armored Divisions starts with a discussion of the combat mission of these formations; unlike British armored divisions, US armored divisions were not designed to defeat enemy armor but to exploit breakthroughs made by infantry divisions. This is an important distinction and goes a long way toward explaining why the U.S. relied on the mass-produced Sherman tank instead of investing earlier in heavy tanks to defeat German armor. Zaloga spends seven pages discussing doctrine and training in the period 1941-1943; the most important development was the introduction of combat commands in 1942, which Zaloga notes "was an important step away from viewing the division as a tank formation, and seeing it as a combined arms formation." The heart of the volume is the 28 pages that Zaloga spends on unit organization, and there is a wealth of data herein. In addition to very detailed TO&E charts, numerous line and block charts, and graphical depictions, Zaloga describes each type of sub-unit (armored battalions, artillery battalions, etc) within the division. Zaloga also provides charts listing medium tank strength, Pershing tank strength and M-24 tank strength in each of the divisions on a monthly basis. This statistical section alone is sufficient justification for readers interested in the US Army in the Second World War to purchase this volume. Zaloga follows this section up with a short summary of C3I in the US armored divisions.
The next major section, Tactics, discusses the operational and tactical employment of the US armored divisions in Northwest Europe in 1944-1945 (operations in Italy and virtually excluded). Zaloga picks a variety of operations to analyze and uses a single map to illustrate each. The operations Zaloga picked to examine - based upon official post-war studies - are: offensive operations in the enemy rear (map: breakout and pursuit, July-August 1944); breakthrough (Remagen, March 1945); seizing key terrain (Paderborn, April 1945); regaining the initiative (Bastogne, January 1945); restoring the initiative (Ubach, October 1944); overcoming an unprepared defense (Saar-Palatinate, March 1945); attacks on a prepared position (Vianden Bulge, February 1945); attacks on enemy armored units (Arracourt, September 1944); counterattacks and delaying operations (Celles and St. Vith, December 1944). There are also three maps depicting small-unit actions at Muhlhausen and Singling. This section is interesting but problematic. First, unlike most Osprey tactical maps, these maps have no numbered legends depicting sequence of events and the light-tone colors used makes it difficult to distinguish between US and German symbology. Many of the maps are far too busy, depicting a swirl of arrows and phase lines, and often lacking in much information about the enemy. The choice of missions is also overly broad, with little attention to difficult missions like fighting with armor in urban areas (Aachen), river crossing (the Rhine), forests (the Huertgen, Ardennes) or bocage country. Operational logistics - particularly the impact of the fuel crunch in the fall of 1944 - are virtually ignored. Readers should also be cognizant that Zaloga does not attempt to summarize all US armored operations in Europe in 1944-1945, merely operations he deems representative. Although Zaloga mentions the 65 non-divisional tank battalions - more than half the US armored force - these battalions serving in the infantry divisions get little more than a nod.
The final section of the volume is a quick thumbnail description of the US Armored Divisions, listing commanding officers, assignments to higher headquarters, and organic units, along with a short synopsis of division history. Readers should note that the 1st Armored Division is the only division not listed because it served in Italy. Habitual attachments, like the 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion - which spent the entire period of August 1944-May 1945 attached to the 7th Armored Division, are not listed. On the other hand, Zaloga provides an excellent statistical chart that lists the personnel losses and tank losses for each division. The bibliography consists mostly of divisional histories which Zaloga admits are often rather superficial, but no reference to the Official US Army history. Overall, this volume is a colorful supplement to standard references like Shelby L. Stanton's authoritative Order of Battle U.S. Army World War II, but it lacks the depth to stand entirely on its own merit.