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20230507 – How the War was Won




This book about WWII is highly unusual. Unlike nearly 99% of books about this war that focuses on battles and outcomes of these battles: their winners and losers, this book focuses on munitions production and logistics. The author points out that the munitions production and, even more critical, logistics led to the Allies’ victory and the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan. The author reassesses the distribution of the credit for victory between the USSR and the Western Allies. USSR fought most battles, lost by far more people. It killed more soldiers than the USA and Britain. But the USA and Britain caused much more destruction and disruption to Germany’s and Japan’s abilities to produce munitions, deliver them to the battlefield, and use them effectively. The bottom line is that many more munitions were not produced or never used in the battle than were lost in battles.   


I always found it strange that many people manage to ignore the realities of industrialized war. After all, neither morale of troops nor their number could do much if the enemy had more munitions. The quality of munitions obviously also should be accounted for, so the accurate comparison must include all factors, including those not evident. For example, suppose the final battle ended with X1 soldiers in psychological condition X2 with X3 munitions winning against Y1 soldiers in psychological state Y2 with Y3 munitions. In that case, it always means that the totality of X is more than the totality of Y. So, in WWII, the effort of the Western Allies led to much higher levels of diminishing the fighting ability of the Axis than the Soviet effort. One example of invisibility would be the impact of a failed air raid by Allie’s bombers against a German production facility that could not cause any material damage whatsoever. It may show no killed or wounded personnel or destroyed building, but it kept workers of this facility spent time hiding in shelters rather than producing munitions. The result would be some munitions never made due to the waste of time that is not different from being destroyed on the battlefield. In either case, these munitions do not exist after the action, whether the action was a battle or failed air raid. The failure to understand the need for a holistic approach to force estimations led to many shortcomings of aggressors who counted only the visible components of the force potential. The ongoing demonstration of such oversight is the Russian-Ukrainian war currently underway. 


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