Why are jump points never heavily defended?

Iceman16

Vice Admiral
I just played WC4 and Maniac calls Orlando a depot in the communication he sends you before you get to shoot him down and after Seether takes out Orlando, Maniac refers to Bluepoint as a station (the '3,000 people aboard that crate and he just...just...' comm).
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
The philosophy behind the Maginot Line was wrong, the French army was too influenced by the static warfare of the previous war. The line itself did what it was supposed to do, but this was exepcted and countered by the germans, which were able to use new tactics to defeat the french. So the idea was a failure, not despite, but because the line just stood there and didn't help.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I just played WC4 and Maniac calls Orlando a depot in the communication he sends you before you get to shoot him down and after Seether takes out Orlando, Maniac refers to Bluepoint as a station (the '3,000 people aboard that crate and he just...just...' comm).

Hey, yeah, it's almost like we just had several posts where we already quoted, cited and discussed this information.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
Delance said:
The philosophy behind the Maginot Line was wrong.

The philosophy behind the Maginot Line wasn't wrong. If it was, the Germans wouldn't have used it themselves.
 

Sonntag

Spaceman
t.c.cgi said:
The philosophy behind the Maginot Line wasn't wrong. If it was, the Germans wouldn't have used it themselves.

Using resources on a defense system which lead to the surrender of the country in less than half a year cannot be called succesful.

The Maginot line failed. It is that simple. The fact that it wasn't conquered is irrelevant, the Germans went around it and achieved their goal.

This is the real weakness of static defenses. They are heavily fortified, but everybody knows this, so nobody will start a direct attack on it as long as there are suitable alternatives available. Meanwhile, in order to built up and keep static defenses ready, a lot of resources are required which could be used better elsewhere.

It is right that Germany built the Westwall, as well, but this was more for propaganda than for military reasons.
 

t.c.cgi

Vice Admiral
Sonntag said:
It is right that Germany built the Westwall, as well, but this was more for propaganda than for military reasons.

I was talking about the Atlantic Wall, actually. That whole thing the Allies put so much time and energy into creating and executing a plan to breach it.
 

Sonntag

Spaceman
t.c.cgi said:
I was talking about the Atlantic Wall, actually. That whole thing the Allies put so much time and energy into creating and executing a plan to breach it.

Ok, I misunderstood that. Certainly the Atlantic Wall forced the allies to plan the invasion strongly, but I think also this wall shows how useless static defenses are (there are exceptions of this rule, of course). It didn't take the Allies long to leave the beaches, strong resistance from the Germans came later, like in the Ardennes, so also here the static defenses were not even close as effective as the army.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I don't think you guys really understand what static defences are about. Nobody ever builds static defences with the expectation that they'll defeat the enemy. Instead, the idea is to -
a) Dissuade the enemy from attacking in the first place, by promising very high casualties.
b) If attacked, inflict high casualties on the enemy for a low (human) cost.
c) Delay the enemy's progress, buying time for other forces to counter-attack.
c) Force the enemy to apply bigger force than otherwise needed, thus forcing him to limit his activity elsewhere.
d) Maintain a hold on strategic locations until relief forces can arrive.

In every single case that you guys referred to, static defences absolutely achieved their intended mission. To claim that static defences suck because France lost in spite of the Maginot Line is the epitome of stupidity - has it occured to you that France was virtually unprepared to hold off Germany in October 1939, and the Maginot line was a huge factor in persuading Hitler to delay the attack until 1940, giving France half a year more to prepare? Take note, during that half a year, a huge portion of France's fighter squadrons shifted from obsolescent junk to fighters planes equal or better than Germany's own (sadly, the same thing cannot be said for the pilots :p). The fact that France eventually lost the war in 1940 doesn't mean the Maginot Line was a bad idea, it merely means that the Maginot Line by itself wasn't enough to give victory - which everyone knew right from the start. Oh, and remember - thanks to the Maginot Line, Germany had to spend the rest of the war occupying Belgium and the Netherlands... which they neither wanted nor needed!

Consider the other side of the border, too - until the war in Poland was over (in October), Germany's forces in the west were incredibly weak. In those first two or three weeks of the war, if you look at sheer numbers, training and equipment, French and British forces in the west should have been able to take Berlin and get back home in time for dinner... except that German static defences persuaded them to bomb German cities with propaganda leaflets instead.

Another example, this time from WC - MacAuliffe. Man, what a disaster, half the fleet lost, huge portions of the Vega Sector captured, thousands dead... but wait a minute. Had MacAuliffe not been there, where exactly would the Kilrathi offensive have been stopped? In Sol? Or in Argent Sector?
 

Iceman16

Vice Admiral
Bandit LOAF said:
Yeah, it's the same 3D model for both (in the cinematics and in the game). The script refers to it as a depot:

"Blair must now fly to the Blue Point depot and request clearance to land there."

and

"midgame: blue point depot (nephele system)"

It also has an alternate version for the line you just quoted: "Well, we've got no choice, buddy. Nearest depot is Blue Point. We can grab a shuttle to HQ there."


you call it a depot four times
 

Primate

Spaceman
Sonntag said:
Ok, I misunderstood that. Certainly the Atlantic Wall forced the allies to plan the invasion strongly, but I think also this wall shows how useless static defenses are (there are exceptions of this rule, of course). It didn't take the Allies long to leave the beaches, strong resistance from the Germans came later, like in the Ardennes, so also here the static defenses were not even close as effective as the army.

As a side point, wasn't the Atlantic Wall indeed backed up by a large mobile reserve that was meant to counter a successfull invasion? One cause of its failure was the mismanagement of these forces by Hitler against the advise of his generals. IIRC they were deployed peicemeal which partly nullified them as an efective fighting force.

Quarto said:
Take note, during that half a year, a huge portion of France's fighter squadrons shifted from obsolescent junk to fighters planes equal or better than Germany's own (sadly, the same thing cannot be said for the pilots ).

Correct me if I'm wrong (and forgive me for nitpicking), but I recall that France's airforce was never up to par with Germany's. Because they waited too long to prepare they were way behind in aircraft technology. Their best homemade planes (arguably) such as the Dewoitine (sp?) .500 were at least slower, less powerful and less heavily armed, and were no match on paper for a messerchmidt et. al.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Regarding static defenses: The point is that they are not an efficient use of resources.

The advantage in being a defender is that you will, pound for pound, inflict greater casualities than you will recieve, and more so if the battle takes place where the static defenses are. The battle of Gettysburg was won by the Union largely because they were fighting on defensively favorable ground, further enhanced by static (but cheap and hastily erected) defenses.

The advantage of being the attacker is that you can choose where the battle takes place. An enemy taking the offesnive knows (hopefully, or he shoulnd't be attacking) where what defenses are, and will of course choose the most vulnerable point. In 1940 the Germans, knowing that attacking the Maginot line would be dumb, attacked where there wasn't a defense.

Therefore, in general, when one builds static defenses, it is only as strong as its weakest point--any resources spent to make one part of your defensive line stronger than another are wasted resources. That is why the Maginot line was a bad idea--the French used resources to shore up that part of their border, so of course other parts of their border was attacked instead and the line never saw action. Most of the resources spent building the line would have been better spent building and training more armor and more modern aircraft. France largely lost because, pound for pound, their armor and air force was less technologically advanced, more poorly trained, and outnumbered by the German counterparts.

That's not to say that defenses have no purpose. The points about the defenses delaying attacks are valid points. The Civil War established the lessons of how vital it is to fight an effective defensive war, and those lessons were accented in WW1. However, the key issue is that you should never expend excessive resources developing particularly strong defenses in one location, since that location will just be avoided (or may become irrelevant as the fronts move),. The resources are better used to develop a larger, better, more mobile reserve that can respond dynamically to the situation.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
I'm pretty sure that the only Allied production warplane that used fuel injection in 1940 was the Spitfire (and maybe the Hurricane), which weren't available in the same numbers as the fuel injected Bf-109's and the FW-190's that Germany had in large numbers. Nothing the French had was comparable.

And neither the French nor the British had anything that came close to a Panzer III, nor any tactics that matched up to the massed armor squadron techniques that the Germans used. French armor tactics dictated dividing tanks up in ones and twos among their infantry units, which of course completely eliminates their mobility advantages.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
The Atlantic wall is actually an excellent example of how a defense should be constructed. The whole "Fortress Europe" thing was just propaganda--the "wall" actually consisted of relatively lightweight and cheap defenses along the entire coast, backed up by heavy, mobile Panzer and mechanized infantry reserves that could respond to any landing. The coastal defenses mainly consisted of trenches, barbed wire, a small number of infantry in pillboxes with mortars, and some light artillery. All of these defenses are cheap and can be rapidly erected. They weren't building huge walls filled with heavy artillery the way the French did at the Maginot Line. The point was to merely delay any landing so that the mechanized units could smash it back. As someone else pointed out, this didn't work because Hitler (a lousy general) mismanaged the response, and because Erwin Rommel (who commanded the mechanized units), happened to be away in Berlin sick when the Allies invaded.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Primate said:
Correct me if I'm wrong (and forgive me for nitpicking), but I recall that France's airforce was never up to par with Germany's. Because they waited too long to prepare they were way behind in aircraft technology. Their best homemade planes (arguably) such as the Dewoitine (sp?) .500 were at least slower, less powerful and less heavily armed, and were no match on paper for a messerchmidt et. al.
The Dewoitine D.520 was more or less equal to the Bf 109E-3 - the latter was about 20km faster, but the Dewoitine was more manoeuvrable. Firepower was also fairly equal - the Bf 109 had two 20mm cannons and two 7.9mm machine guns, while the Dewoitine admittedly only had one 20mm cannon, but had four 7.5mm machine guns.

Farbourne said:
I'm pretty sure that the only Allied production warplane that used fuel injection in 1940 was the Spitfire (and maybe the Hurricane), which weren't available in the same numbers as the fuel injected Bf-109's and the FW-190's that Germany had in large numbers. Nothing the French had was comparable.
Indeed, the FW 190 was far, far superior to the Dewoitine and other French planes... which is probably because the FW 190 first entered service in 1941, a full year after France had fallen.

And neither the French nor the British had anything that came close to a Panzer III, nor any tactics that matched up to the massed armor squadron techniques that the Germans used. French armor tactics dictated dividing tanks up in ones and twos among their infantry units, which of course completely eliminates their mobility advantages.
According to Heinz Guderian, French tanks were better than what the Germans had - and I'm pretty sure he knew more about the subject than you ever will :p. Tactics, of course, is another issue entirely.

An enemy taking the offesnive knows (hopefully, or he shoulnd't be attacking) where what defenses are, and will of course choose the most vulnerable point. In 1940 the Germans, knowing that attacking the Maginot line would be dumb, attacked where there wasn't a defense.
Again, you're completely missing the point. Because of the Maginot line, the Germans had to gamble an armoured attack through a hilly, densely-wooded region. You do realise that about the only thing worse for them would have been a swamp, right? It doesn't matter that they won - the point is, it was far harder for them to win this way than it would have been otherwise.

One thing is worth highlighting - the people making these decisions were not stupid. In fact, they knew more about this subject than you ever will. They based their decisions on careful analysis of dozens of factors - most of which you and I aren't even aware of. You can't just stroll in and declare that it was stupid to build the Maginot Line or any other such defences - all you achieve that way is to make a fool of yourself by claiming to know more than the people who devoted their whole lives to the subject in question.
 

Farbourne

Rear Admiral
Well, it appears that I spoke out of turn. You have some good points (I had made the mistake of listening to conventional wisdom rather than researching some of the points myself). Still, there's no reason to be offensive. The main points that I was putting forward, relevant to the thread question regarding standing defenses, are valid.

Quarto said:
The Dewoitine D.520...

True, but there were only 79 D.520's in service when Germany attacked, a small number compared to the resources of the Luftwaffe. Not enough to establish air superiority. This is one point where additional resources not spent building fixed defenses may have been useful.

Quarto said:
Indeed, the FW 190 was far, far superior to the Dewoitine and other French planes... which is probably because the FW 190 first entered service in 1941, a full year after France had fallen.

All right, point taken. I had confused the service date with the prototype flight date.

Quarto said:
According to Heinz Guderian, French tanks were better than what the Germans had - and I'm pretty sure he knew more about the subject than you ever will :p. Tactics, of course, is another issue entirely.

Again, no reason to be insulting. And yes, some French tanks may have been better, and the French did have more tanks than the Germans, but many of the French tanks were outmoded WW1 era models. As you mentioned, tactics were the key problem, but wouldn't some more aggressive war-games and training have revealed some of the tactical problems? Another point when additional resources would have helped.

Quarto said:
Again, you're completely missing the point. Because of the Maginot line, the Germans had to gamble an armoured attack through a hilly, densely-wooded region. You do realise that about the only thing worse for them would have been a swamp, right? It doesn't matter that they won - the point is, it was far harder for them to win this way than it would have been otherwise.

How am I missing the point? My point was that the reason the Maginot line never saw action was that it was the strongest defensive point and therefore avoided. I accept your point that it's purpose was to secure the French right flank, which it did, so you call it successful, but it represented overkill. Hilly, densey-wooded regions are easy to build defenses in, so why didn't the French use a fraction of the money and effor they spent on the Maginot line to fortify the other parts of their boundary? The border where the Line was would have been the weakest point without any defenses, but the Line's strength far exceeded the strength of the naturally stronger points, which represented wasted resources. Worse, the Maginot line gave the illusion of security, which may have led to a false sense of security among the French command and accounted for some of their poor tactical response.

Quarto said:
One thing is worth highlighting - the people making these decisions were not stupid. In fact, they knew more about this subject than you ever will. They based their decisions on careful analysis of dozens of factors - most of which you and I aren't even aware of. You can't just stroll in and declare that it was stupid to build the Maginot Line or any other such defences - all you achieve that way is to make a fool of yourself by claiming to know more than the people who devoted their whole lives to the subject in question.

Again, no reason to snipe. I agree that many of those minds were better versed in the subjects than you or I might be. And I don't believe that I ever said they were stupid--just that some of their decisions were mistakes. But it's silly to say "these people knew more, so who are we to question them. They must have been right". These people who knew so much decided that tanks were best used in infantry support. Similar people decided that battleships were far more valuable than carriers, and that torpedoes could never be used in so shallow a place as Pearl Harbor. Others decided that it was a good idea to pit heavy infantry and heavy cavalry against lightweight forces armed with longbows fighting in a swamp, even though this same tactic had failed horribly shortly before. History is replete with well informed people making mistakes. By studying some of those mistakes, it is to be hoped that we can learn from them. By studying some of those mistakes, and many other successes, I have come to the following conclusion regarding static defenses:

They definitely are useful at times, especially to tilt the odds in your favor and eliminate a weak point in your position that you enemy would otherwise expoit, which seems to be your point about the Maginot line. However, because an attacking enemy can choose where he attacks, defenses are only as strong as the weakest point, so it is a waste of resources to make any one part of your defenses much stronger than the other. Furthermore, excessive expenditures on static defenses, even uniformly distributed, has the problem that those resources are committed to a single location and if the front shifts (as it did in France in 1940) or if you want to go on the offensive, those resources are useless. The Maginot Line serves to illustrate these points, which is why people are discussing it here.
 

Primate

Spaceman
Farbourne said:
I'm pretty sure that the only Allied production warplane that used fuel injection in 1940 was the Spitfire (and maybe the Hurricane)

I was under the impression that both the spitfire and hurricane were gravity fed and not fuel injected ( unless I am mixing up two different things ).
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Farbourne said:
Well, it appears that I spoke out of turn. You have some good points (I had made the mistake of listening to conventional wisdom rather than researching some of the points myself). Still, there's no reason to be offensive. The main points that I was putting forward, relevant to the thread question regarding standing defenses, are valid.
I don't think I was really being offensive - I used mildly sharp arguments, but certainly not anything that wouldn't be acceptable in a real debate (heck, probably even in a high school debate).

True, but there were only 79 D.520's in service when Germany attacked, a small number compared to the resources of the Luftwaffe. Not enough to establish air superiority. This is one point where additional resources not spent building fixed defenses may have been useful.
Ah, yes, but my point was that without the Maginot Line, Germany would have possibly been able to attack in October 1939, when France had no D.520s whatsoever. The Maginot Line, by forcing the Germans to prepare for a far more complicated scenario, ultimately meant that bad weather was enough to delay the attack until 1940 - because driving a tank along a muddy road is one thing, and driving it through a muddy forest is another thing entirely.

Again, no reason to be insulting. And yes, some French tanks may have been better, and the French did have more tanks than the Germans, but many of the French tanks were outmoded WW1 era models. As you mentioned, tactics were the key problem, but wouldn't some more aggressive war-games and training have revealed some of the tactical problems? Another point when additional resources would have helped.
I wasn't trying to be insulting... well, ok, yes, I was - but also I'll happily admit that Heinz Guderian knew more about the topic than I ever will :p.

As for tactics, they're the absolutely hardest thing to change in any army. It's not a matter of resources - France easily had enough money and resources to build the Maginot Line with one hand and a strong, modern military with the other. How exactly do you persuade people to change their strategy, though, when they won the previous war using that strategy?

How am I missing the point? My point was that the reason the Maginot line never saw action was that it was the strongest defensive point and therefore avoided.
...And that's exactly what the French wanted.

Hilly, densey-wooded regions are easy to build defenses in, so why didn't the French use a fraction of the money and effor they spent on the Maginot line to fortify the other parts of their boundary?
Because building defences is more than a matter of resources. It's also politics. Had France built defences on the Belgian border, they would effectively been saying that in the event of war, they have no intention of helping the Belgians. I imagine that more than a few Belgians would, in that situation, suggest that an alliance with Germany might not be a bad idea. After all, the only reason they ever got attacked in WWI and WWII was because the Germans needed to get to France. So if the French aren't going to help you deal with passing Germans, then it may be best to let the Germans pass through. On the other hand, as long as the Franco-Belgian border was not fortified, the Belgians were French allies by default.

Worse, the Maginot line gave the illusion of security, which may have led to a false sense of security among the French command and accounted for some of their poor tactical response.
I think you're confusing the French public and the French command. Yes, the French public had a false sense of security thanks to the Maginot Line (...and I imagine this was another factor in building the Line - to give a war-weary nation a sense of security)... but the French command certainly didn't. The reason they fought defensively and lost in 1940 was precisely because the war came at the worst possible time for them. They knew they weren't prepared for it, and the best they could do was buy time to rearm.

Again, no reason to snipe. I agree that many of those minds were better versed in the subjects than you or I might be. And I don't believe that I ever said they were stupid--just that some of their decisions were mistakes. But it's silly to say "these people knew more, so who are we to question them. They must have been right". These people who knew so much decided that tanks were best used in infantry support. Similar people decided that battleships were far more valuable than carriers, and that torpedoes could never be used in so shallow a place as Pearl Harbor.
My point is that it's far, far too easy to criticise the defeated as being wrong. However, very often such mistakes were not mistakes at the time they were made - and similarly, in many cases such mistakes were simply the result of trying to do well in a bad situation. It's too easy to forget that what appears today as an obvious mistake may have been the result of someone knowingly choosing a bad option when the only other option available was even worse.

This, I would argue, would certainly be the case for any of the situations you cited. France in between the wars was a very, very specific nation - they had won the previous war, but paid such a heavy price that they simply couldn't afford another war. And there was nobody in France who could persuade the war-weary public that the best way of preparing for the next war was to transform the army into a more offensive machine. Everybody had seen how huge the human losses during any WWI offensive had been, and the French simply wouldn't hear it. In these circumstances, what else could the French command do, if not prepare for a defensive war?

I'd explain how this was also the case with Pearl Harbour, but that would make this post needlessly long - all I've been trying to say here is that people arguing against static defences don't understand what the point of such defences was, and don't understand that such defences were often built as an alternative to nothing rather than an alternative to an offensive army. I don't believe I need to deal with every mistake in human military history to get that point across ;).

Note that I'm also not saying that my arguments apply to every mistake; yes, military men in history have made some genuine mistakes which should have been obvious - but this, I'd argue, was definitely a very, very small fraction of what history ultimately has come to consider as mistakes. The rest were sensible decisions made without full awareness of the situation, or equally sensible decisions where one had to choose between two bad alternatives.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Regarding static defenses: The point is that they are not an efficient use of resources.

The advantage in being a defender is that you will, pound for pound, inflict greater casualities than you will recieve, and more so if the battle takes place where the static defenses are. The battle of Gettysburg was won by the Union largely because they were fighting on defensively favorable ground, further enhanced by static (but cheap and hastily erected) defenses.

... I'm not sure I understand what you're saying -- they're not an efficient use of resources... but they *were* responsible for the Union victory at Gettysburg?
 
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