Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945

Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945

by Michael D. Doubler

From Normandy through the "breakout" in France to the German army's last gasp in the Battle of the Bulge, Doubler deals with the deadly business of war--closing with the enemy, fighting and winning battles, taking and holding territory.

This adaptability, Doubler contends, was far more crucial to the American effort than we've been led to believe.Fueled by a fiercely democratic and entrepreneurial spirit, GI innovations emerged from every level within the ranks-from the novel employment of conventional weapons and small units to the rapid retraining of troops on the battlefield.

Their most dramatic success, however, was with combined arms warfare--the coordinated use of infantry, tanks, artillery, air power, and engineers--in which they perfected the use of air support for ground operations and tank-infantry teams for breaking through enemy strongholds.Doubler argues that, without such ingenuity and imaginative leadership, it would have been impossible to defeat an enemy as well trained and heavily fortified as the German army the GIs confronted in the tortuous hedgerow country of northern France, the narrow cobble-stoned streets of Aachen and Brest, the dark recesses of the Huertgen Forest, and the frigid snow-covered hills of the Ardennes.Doubler offers a timely reminder that "the tremendous effects of firepower and technology will still not relieve ground troops of the burden of closing with the enemy." As even Desert Storm suggests, that will likely prove true for future high-tech battlefields, where an army's adaptability will continue to be prized.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.95
  • Pages: 368
  • Publish Date: December 22nd 1994 by University Press of Kansas
  • Isbn10: 0700607447
  • Isbn13: 9780700607440

What People Think about "Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945"

The result is a detailed topical study, across a wide variety of subjects, outlining how the Army Ground Forces were trained and conditioned to fight, and how the realities of combat necessitated tactical adaptation of this learned behavior.

Using "typical" operations at company and battalion level, Doubler provides a very detailed and objective analysis of employed tactics, their effectiveness and explains why and how they evolved over the course of the campaign. So what about the goal set for this book; does the author manage to vindicate the performance of American soldier and the doctrine employed by U.S. armed forces during that fateful campaign of 1944-45? Based on Doubler's own analysis, it is hard not to conclude that the U.S. doctrine was seriously flawed at the outset of the campaign and needed major revisions before it was able to cope with the challenge of German defenses. Other topics - the conscious decision of American policy makers to disregard the need of heavy tanks, the fact that the use of strategic airpower in support of land forces was if anything an act of desperation, recognition of the 'broad offensive'-approach as a politically motivated decision that had very little to do with sound military strategy, impracticality of independent armor battalions, imbalance in structure of armored divisions and the negative effects of oversized rear echelon part of U.S. infantry divisions - should in my opinion have been given more attention and 'honest' treatment. Perhaps most importantly, Doubler fails to explain why so many obvious 'adjustments' in U.S. doctrine weren't implemented from the outset of the campaign, but had to be learned through hard-gained experience.

Outlines US Army's Application of Tactical Ingenuity in World War II ... Michael Doubler's CLOSING WITH THE ENEMY highlights the Army's application of tactical ingenuity to defeat a clever, lethal and increasingly desperate German military machine in 1944-45. While still relying heavily on FM 100-5 as a foundation, the Army implemented a more open-minded and flexible tactical approach to combat as the wars progression presents a myriad of new obstacles and dilemmas to overcome. Doubler provides a great introduction to tactical/operational warfare to those wanting to learn more about the mechanics of the US Army's actions in France, Belgium and Germany during World War II.

I see somewhat less of a discussion on "How GI's fought" and more of an argument in favor of American ingenuity. The author goes through a number of very interesting examples of how the American Army learned to go beyond existing doctrine to find a true combined arms doctrine. I do think he did a great job in explaining how difficult it would have been to have tried to make big doctrinal shifts after the Normandy Landings, since there was no respite.

In addition, time-and-again he presents US Army doctrine, shows how flawed it was and flies in the face of his own evidence to tell us that said doctrine was essentially correct when any reader can tell it was not. But now, many other books present the same content, and they often do it with much more readable prose.

For those who are looking for technical details backed up by primary resources, this is an excellent account of the gruelling experiences of U.S. infantry and armored divisions and how they learned hard lessons, then fought through difficult conditions of terrain, weather and determined enemy opposition to apply those lessons.

This book illustrates, by example, American tactical flexibility and adaptability, plus a willingness and ingenuity for the deployment of technology and armaments.

Doubler served twenty-three years on active duty as a Regular Army and full-time Army National Guard officer. His service as a full-time Army National Guard officer began in 1991 and was completed with his retirement in 2000. At present, he is completing a book on the American Civil War. Colonel Doubler has appeared on several national news venues and is a frequent commentator on The History Channel.