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Valuable examination of German tactics
on 24 April 2010
I'll confine my comments primarily to the author's treatment of German infantry tactics and tacitcal peformance.
The author generalises a bit, taking examples from one, or a few units, and making sweeping statements about German effectiveness. For example, he sings the praises of the German "combined arms team" (a jarring modern term) but cooperation between artillery and infantry was, and remained, a problem in the German Army--especially during this phase of the war. Would have liked to see him use a broader selection of sources, as German tactical performance varied widely from unit to unit--especially in 1914.
He provides a pretty solid explanation of tactical ideas and procedures from the German perspective. The material used in the first 60 pages cover the topic of German tactics and will be valuable to non-German speakers--the material extracted from the regulations will be a valuable reference as well. Many German writers lamented that the lessons of these regulations were not learned (or accepted) by company-level officers, exactly those who would have to use them in the field in 1914.
I believe he has a higher opinion of German tactical prowess than the German had of themselves. There are numerous German inter-war articles detailing the shortcomings of German tactical performance. He's a bit harsh in his judgements, especially of von Kuhl.
His rather odd commentary will most likely irritate many readers, but this overlooked, and with some watering down his black and white declarations, a valuable book for describing German tactical doctrine and techniques (especially in English)--read the conclusions with caution.