How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)


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How clear were those instructions? Army plans their missions via the Operation Order. Intent is the key to communicating purpose and end-state to subordinate leaders like Edmure Tully. Then we might have been able to make a peace. Now, let me ask a simple question. To me, it absolutely is not. A lord is sworn to defend all his subjects, and in contrast to some hi there, Brynden , Edmure takes his oath seriously. He can be no lord if he hides behind the castle walls, a point that is made through the series time and time again, because he would violate his oath and be seen as a coward, which is nothing a lord could stand for if he ever wants to command respect and obedience among his vassals.

This point rings true to me. Lacking a clear, concise intent from his commander, Edmure set about defending Riverrun and the Riverlands when the Lannister host moved from Harrenhal in an attempt to make it to the Westerlands. Edmure actually turned out to be a pretty decent tactician. Utilizing the wooded terrain to conceal his numbers, Edmure was able to successfully repulse assault after assault by Tywin Lannister and Gregor Clegane.

He also utilized his key assets wisely, holding his heavy lance in reserve and placing scorpions and archers at key terrain points to kill enemy soldiers at their most exposed point crossing the river. The effect was that the Lannisters were thrown back, key Lannister lords were killed and the Riverlands were safe. All was well until Robb and the Blackfish arrived back in Riverrun…. For his actions, Edmure received praise in public and utter damnation in private from his commander when he returned from the Westerlands.

The intent all along, you see, was for Tywin and his host to pass through the Riverlands. Robb, being 16, had sex with Jeyne Westerling after being wounded at the Crag and then married her out of a sense of duty. But in doing his duty, Robb shattered the alliance with the Freys. Without the Freys, Robb saw no pathway to victory. To me, this is plausible but not wholly convincing. I do think that the merry chase strategy was decided from the outset or fairly early on.

Without them, I see no hope. From the start of the northern rebellion, Robb had one key confidant whom he never should have trusted: Roose Bolton. What were his orders at that point? Well first, he was no longer being commanded by Robb Stark. All was well until Roose Bolton sensed that Robb Stark was losing and then switched sides, right? Due to his lack of morals or misgivings or loyalty, Lord Bolton saw a win-win situation. Was Roose killing off loyal Stark bannermen in an attempt to position himself for the future?

I actually kind of think is plausible. So, it stands to reason that Robb would have little reason not to trust in their ability. From Edmure in the Riverlands lack of clear intent to Roose at Harrenhal, Robb just sort of lets them do their thing. And for a while it works. And yet, he gave him a wide berth, and by wide berth, I mean the widest. No orders, no commands, no recall for intentionally mismanaging the war. These types of decisions that are essential for an Army commander to make were simply not made.

Small theory : in addition to simply putting Glover and Tallhart in a position to die, Roose informed the Lannisters of the location and direction of the attack which allowed Clegan and Tarly to plan the best terrain for their attack and fully rout the northerners. He accomplished this by slowly moving to the Twins and when they reached the Ruby Ford, he safely evacuated Dreadfort men while leaving loyal Stark men behind who were set upon by Gregor Clegane.

Or else put off that crown for good, Robb, for men will know that you are no king at all. Having foolishly in my opinion dispatched his closest friend Theon to the Iron Islands to bring the Greyjoys into an alliance, Robb was stunned when the Ironborn launched a full-scale invasion of a weakened north.

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But more to the point, Robb was left in an untenable position whereby he was fighting in one place while his kingdom was held by another. Read more here. But I digress. At this point, Robb finally sees the precariousness of his situation and opts to move back north to retake the north from the Ironborn. In this, we see strokes of tactical brilliance again.

The Red Wedding followed. This might make me sound stupid, but i really can see the answer for myself. Lord Tytos Blackwood led the sortie out from Riverrun that took the Lannister shield wall from the rear.


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Hope this helps! I thought Lord Brax was apart of the Riverland Lords, and convinced myself that he was helping defeat the lannisters and i got confused about why men on the walls at Riverrun were firing on him, believing that he was a fellow river lord.

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Hi i real appreciate one other major contributor to wedding happening is Edmure gets the four hundred north men Robb left in twins out and got them to join R Glover to retake Darry, Also Roose Bolton changes side when tyrell and tywin win battle for kings-landing. Checking out the map shows that the Red Fork flows north and east towards the junction where Riverrun is located. Tywin was not coming for the Tullys, he had already passed their position to the south and was heading in the direction of his own lands in the West.

I dont know how long ago this was written, but i still wish to thank you as the author for writing this excelent text. When Tywin left Harrenhall Roose moved quickly to seize the fortress. Edmure had horse and foot and Roose could have had around 10 mainly foot. Roose could moved down the east bank of the river and detroy the repulsed from crossings Lannister forces piecemeal. What do you think of this battleplan? Lesser error, in my opinion. Balon Greyjoy was thirsty for war. He probably would have started war anyway.

Comprehensible error. Like Jason Mallister. Big error. Aislates himself. Cat was more interested in pursuing peace than in making war alliances. He prefered to save an unknown woman Brienne than allying himself with Stannis. Even the brutish Umber was more appreciated than the Lord of Riverrun.

He acted before telling Tully his plan and without detailed orders. No wonder when Tywin attacked his fief, trying the crossing just in front Riverrun, Tully battled him. With enough infantry he could have take Lannisport. With enough cavalry Helman Tallhart could have avoided defeat at Duskendale. Edmure was the one who sent Roose after Harrenhal. How long would he last, or how well would he do as ruler of the North if he did that? People follow and trust their rulers, because they think they can trust the rulers to do right by them.

Robb points out that even if Harrion Karstark was willing to forgive or ignore Robb killing his father, his men would not allow it. How much moreso his own men and vassals if he makes peace with the Lannisters? Their execution of Ned and violation of his plea bargain deal also prove they cannot be trusted to deal in good faith.

Note how little the Freys are trusted after their violation of hospitality in the Red Wedding. Despite their common language, the northmen have a very different culture and value system, in addition to religion, and without Targaryen hegemony and firepower, their very reason for joining the political entity Aegon forged no longer applied. As for the isolation, that was why Robb reached out to Balon. The North is not a source of strength for the ironborn, unless they are willing to try ruling instead of looting it Theon has the right idea, but bungles it.

Balon would have got more use from the North under Robb as an ally, than as a place he had to keep in line by garrisoning troops. Together, they might have pulled off a secession from the Seven Kingdoms. Any claimant to the Iron Throne would want the ironborn under his rule as well. Margaery Tyrell was married to Renly at the outset of the war, and Robb was otherwise occupied in the short window between her widowing and engagement deal being brokered by Petyr.

He might be a decent guy they could live with on the Iron Throne, but so was his brother and that did not end so well for the North and House Stark either. Renly was more flexible but equally obdurate on the idea of the Starks governing themselves. At least sending Catelyn as an emissary kept her out of the way. It was the one episode in her arc when she did not actively make things worse for her family. As for your summation of Edmure, you are the one who has the facts wrong.

Tywin was not trying to besiege Riverrun. Bodies were seen at Riverrun drifting downstream from the battle. Well both the rivers that join at the castle, the Tumblestone and the Red Fork, flow west-to-east. If a body falls in the water at a battle, and then drifts down to Riverrun, that battlefield is to the west of the castle.

Robb told Edmure to hold the castle. That means staying nearby, not risking its garrison on expeditions against an enemy with greater numbers, who could be feinting somewhere else to draw you away, or maybe luring you into a trap so as to leave no troops to defend the castle. Edmure did not need more explicit orders, he needed to follow the orders he was given. But even if Tywin DID take it into his head to besiege Riverrun, how well did that work out last time the Lannisters tried it? He certainly could not have held the city indefinitely or added it to his realm.

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He was fighting as a cavalry commander for the mobility, to allow him to elude that more numerous Lannister armies. Even if he could have taken Lannisport, by committing his entire force, then what? Tywin is still in the field, Joffrey is still on the throne, and they have even more troops to take Lannisport back. They would be much more familiar with the city and its surrounding terrain, and have loyalists inside its walls undermine Robb, who would need to divert troops to garrison and patrol the place.

Robb needed to beat Tywin and planned to do so on a battlefield of his choosing, rather than sit paralyzed at the city like a snake trying to digest too large a prey. As for Duskendale, the notion that Tallheart could have won that battle, against the finest general in the south, with far superior numbers, is laughable. He sent Tallheart and Glover because they were both in a state where they were not thinking clearly due to their losses, so they would get themselves overextended and wiped out. He seems to have done the same thing at the Ruby Ford, leaving men more loyal to the Starks in his rear guard to be taken by the Lannister pursuit, while keeping the anti-Stark men, like his own and the Karstarks, with him for the Red Wedding and conquest of the North.

That was not a viable military objective, which Robb knew full well, from his reaction to the news of the defeat. This is an awesome analysis. If you did an analysis of Jon Snow as a commander I would totally read the shit out of it. I have had this saved on Reddit for a few weeks to be read when I had the time. I have been missing out for weeks. I have really enjoyed this analysis and look forward to reading the rest of your work!


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That was a brilliant analysis. Please try to make such analyses of other prominent ASoIaF characters. Going to side on Steven from racefortheironthrone, releasing Theon had no real impact on whether the Ironborn were going to invade, between the noticed preparations even before Theon arrived to how Balon treated him and regarded Asha as his rightful successor, and how idiotic Balon is where no reasonable person could predict his stupidity, the Ironborn invasion would have happened regardless.

I get the feeling that Balon Greyjoy was already gearing up for an invasion as soon as he heard Ned Stark went south, leaving his son to warden the North. If he would have remember Stark and Bolton history too it might have helped. Pingback: Reminiscing over Robb Stark babbleworthy. I enjoyed your analysis greatly. It would be difficult to deny that his lack of clear, concise directive to his generals were problematic.

His choice in Roose Bolton is a logical one. There was no clear indication that there would be future treachery. All that was known at the time was that Roose Bolton would not waste men or material needlessly. An example of a well planned, but poorly executed strategy would be Robert E. Lee in the Civil War and the events that led up to the battle at Gettysburg. Stuart, was commanding 3 units out of 7 available during his raids for supplies and general harassment of the north. He left 2 units defending the supply line and 2 units attached to Lee for reconnaissance and shielding.

Of the 7 units General Stuart had to divide, 2 were irregular units. These are the ones he left with General Lee, with whom Lee had no faith. Of the 5 regular units he had, the two that were left defending the supply lines were commanded by rivals of Stuart, both personal and professional. To raid and forage, Stuart had taken the best remaining divisions with him. When asked to explain this division of personnel, General Stuart was unable to give a cogent explanation.

Now one could fault Robert E. Lee with not knowing the personal history and reasoning of one of his chief lieutenants and they would not be incorrect in their assessment. This is not atypical with distinguished and brilliant generals see Patton. Win the war on their turf and force them to the peace table. Tywin, to his credit, never loses more than he has too. He withdraws and strikes at the right time and has irregular troops harry his enemy to keep them off-guard and reveal their intentions. Reblogged this on Defense Issues.

Great analysis! Been wanting to find something like this for a while, thankyou! Great read, very interesting from someone who is clearly in the know. Harry them all the way. Would Babe Ruth be the same player if he had to hit against Nolan Ryan? Would Ulysses S. Grant be the same general if he served during the Korean War?

As much as we try, no one can answer these questions. So while at first glance Mr. Scott fought against a less-than-top-tier Mexican army. Marshall never commanded troops in battle.


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Still recognizing the inherent subjectivity of any list, I believe a strong case can be made that any of the below could be rated more highly than the generals Peck chose. Pershing is the first great modern American general. Born near the beginning of the Civil War, Pershing grew up in Missouri surrounded by veterans of that devastating war. He then saw action during the Philippine insurrection from to Not long after his promotion he saw action again while leading a small force, which included a young Lt.

George S. Patton, in an attempt to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Unfortunately, over the course of the nearly two-year mission he was unsuccessful in his task. But the country had a more pressing issue for Gen. In the war in Europe finally pulled the United States into its clutches. Pershing was given the monumental task of growing and training an Army , strong into a competent fighting force of over two million. He ended up formalizing the staff construct for the entire Army when he became the Army chief of staff in Pershing and his leadership transformed the Army from a force only able to conduct small raids and counterinsurgencies into one that was able to project American power anywhere in the world and win against any of the modern armies of the time.

Arguably the most famous general after George Washington, George S. Patton is the personification of what many Americans think a general should be or more specifically George C. Born on what would later become Veterans Day in , Patton first made a name for himself by leading patrols as a part of Gen. Patton won battles at every turn. Germany was so focused on Patton that they dedicated the majority of their defenses in Europe to protecting against a fake army that they believed was being led by him.

When Patton did finally make it to Europe after D-Day his victories continued to rack up. Most notable was his relief of the st Airborne at Bastogne. Because of this early warning by his G2, Patton was able to be in position to save the defenders at Bastogne. Patton continued on to Germany. Nothing the German Army threw at Patton could stop his advance. Only orders from Gen. Eisenhower ultimately stopped him from taking Berlin.

William T. Once war broke out, however, Sherman resigned from his teaching post and was made a colonel in the US infantry. He saw his first action of the war in the east during the Battle of First Manassas. After the battle he was promoted and sent to the Western Theater where after some setbacks, including being overrun at Shiloh, he met Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Sherman went on to Vicksburg, locking down one of the most strategically important locations of the war. After Vicksburg, Grant was promoted, leaving Sherman in charge of everything in the west. He knew that even if the Army of the Confederacy was defeated the people of the South were not likely to surrender.

He continued his destructive campaign by moving north into South Carolina. After all was said and done Sherman accepted the surrender of all Confederate troops in Georgia, Florida, and both Carolinas, the largest surrender of the war. Probably the most controversial pick on the list for his personal transgressions, Gen. David Petraeus is credited with bringing counterinsurgency back into the Army and turning around the Iraq war. Petraeus built a reputation of being the best at whatever he did. From winning top honors at Ranger School to winning the Gen.

George C. As the commander of the famed st Airborne Division, then Maj. Petraeus used his understanding of counterinsurgency operations to maintain control of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq—a city that would later become a sparkplug for violence throughout the country, and just over a decade later would be the stronghold of ISIS in Iraq.

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Petraeus recognized that the military was not effectively using the lessons of the past with regard to counterinsurgency. The result was Field Manual Counterinsurgency , arguably the most read doctrinal publication ever. It was so popular that book stores like Barnes and Noble and Amazon began selling the manual. Because of his expertise in counterinsurgency operations and successful leadership as a division commander in Mosul, President George W. Bush selected him to lead all forces in Iraq. The only Medal of Honor winner on the list, Gen.

Douglas MacArthur also has the distinctions of being the only one on the list to be fired from his position of leadership and the only one to have served in three major conflicts—World Wars I and II and the Korean War. MacArthur served in various positions in the 42nd Division which participated in the battles of St. MacArthur maneuvered forces from island to island, pushing the Japanese west until he liberated the Philippines in October Soon after he was promoted to General of the Army and given command of all forces in the Pacific, and nine months later accepted the surrender of Japan ending the war.

MacArthur was once again called upon in to lead the United Nations coalition in Korea. MacArthur arrived in Korea with the UN force in a dire situation, pinned in a small enclave in the southeastern end of the peninsula. Is this list perfect? Probably not. Are there other more deserving officers who were snubbed?

But at the very least, no one can argue that Pershing, Patton, Sherman, Petraeus, and MacArthur are not qualified to be in the discussion. Until Grant, Lincoln did not have a fighting general. If that had continued, many different outcomes were possible. Grant is one of my personal heroes. As is Lincoln. Historically I would recommend the apt consideration of the following top tier — General Officers: Washington, Scott, Pershing, Eisenhower, and Powell. Of these Grant is the most under appreciated. He won victories at Ft. Henry, Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg severing the Confederacy in two and gaining control of the entire MIssissippi River , then broke the stalemate with an epic victory at Chattanooga, and then assumed control of the entire Union Army.

Grant then used Sherman and Sheridan to sap the will of the Confederacy by destroying their crops and crushing all resistance while he grappled and ultimately destroyed by far the best of the Confederate Armies — The Army Of Northern Virginia led by the "sainted" slave holder and traitor Robert E. Lee who had previously won every battle against the Army of the Potomac except for the Battle of Gettysburg where he escaped much to Lincoln's fury and dismay. The terms were so generous — no arrests, the men could go straight home to their families and farms on the promise they would no longer fight, and they could retain their sidearms and horses — that it began the process of true peace.

As President, Grant's reputation is also greatly maligned by the former slaveholders. A few minor financial scandals pale in comparison to 8 years of incredible achievements in extending full citizenship to African-Americans passing the 14th and 15th Amendments , appointing thousands of African-Americans to government posts, destroying the Klu Klux Klan, creating the Justice Department to prosecute thousands upon thousands of murders of Blacks and white Republicans in the south. Grant also made great strides in bringing justice to Native Americans and appointed the first Native American to be in charge of Indian Affairs with the appointment of General Ely Parker.

He fired every Indian Agent and took away the patronage system and gave the Army the power to appoint Indian Agents. He then asked the Quakers to take up the call. Grant also had one of the greatest Secretaries of State the nation ever had in Hamilton Fish. The treaty negotiated with Great Britain marked a turning point where Great Britain and the United States were from that point always friends and allies and never adversaries or enemies.

Grant's reputation is half what it should be, held down by Southern racists and champions of slavery and the Lost Cause. The butcher charge is also false.

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More men died on the enemy's side of the battles than on Grant's side — and he achieved these superior results despite attacking and taking the offensive. In battle, the attacking side is always at a disadvantage and typically suffers greater casualties. The exceptions of course are when the defending side is taken by surprise.

Fact: Lee was not a slave owner. Fact: Lee was not a traitor, scession was legal per the Constitution at the time and the Supreme Court controlled by Lincolns own chief justice ruled that the south were not traitors and could not be tried as such cause the Constitution was on their side.

Fact : Take a history lesson before you speak. Fact: Lee was a slave owner. He even went to court to extend ownership of his wife's slave after her father died. Fact: the Constitution never allowed for secession. The Declaration of Independence states that it is a people can "throw off" a government that no longer serves the people.

There is no self-destruct clause in the Constitution. Never has been. The union is perpetual. After his death, Lincoln appointee Salmon Chase.

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It wasn't until that Lincoln controlled the court. General Grant,was right on the money,when it came to making war against the enemy,just imagine if he had been general of the army before the battles of manassass,Antietam,getteysburg,etc. His beliefs period,we're to attack, and killing the enemy. Patton was a huge diva,but ole blood and guts,believed as Grant did,attack,And kill the enemy.

His leadership of the 3rd army's March across france,and germany,has been considered one of the greatest military feats,of all time,in conquering of territory,but,the st airborne would argue all points of who saved who. I could continue adding,but,there have been too many fine generals in American wartime history. Also in parting MacArthur was lucky,and,his nickname of dugout doug fits,for his defense of Battan,was very questionable.

And unfortunately there just have been,way too many very poor leaders,and in ,that list fucking unfortunately continues to deeply,direly grow. But I do digress,it is and always has been,and will be shown that it is from within the enlisted,and junior officers on down,who make these generals,etc. Audie Murphy,Lt. Still a great leader regardless. Just wanted to correct those couple of names. Just curious, what about George Rogers Clark.

I believe he is one of only a few to never lose a battle. Either no one remembers him or has overlooked him as he fought in the Illinois, Indiana and Ohio regions of the American Revolution. If Va had stayed in the Union, he would have been President. But being a man of duty, he went with his state. Don't forget, he was offer to lead the Union Army by Lincoln. Revisionist and ignorance have made him into a villain. Washington- For keeping the US forces in the war long enough for French naval aid and British public opinion to bring a negiated peace and US independence.

Stonewall jackson- Without him Robert R. Lee lost his edge. Longstreet is underrated but a different type of general Grant -The First modern general who understood what was necessary to win a total war not just a series of battles Patton — Had many faults but scared the Germans more than any other General. MacCarther — Helped change the ethos of Japan for the good. The battle of Inchon is the greatest feat of modern warfare.

The Chinese feared him and hecould have turned the tide again had he been allowed to continue in charge in Korea. Before we pass judgement on Powell. What did the intelligence report indicate on chemical weapons. Plus the casualties were minimal compared to last wars. I think Powell is right up in the Top 5 since he served in several conflicts.

Putting Sherman above Grant does not make sense. Sherman was pretty much average until the Atlanta campaign.

How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)
How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series) How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders (How to Lose Series)

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