Sunday, June 6, 2010

CRASH: On D-Day and "Botched Raids"

Today we commemorate D-Day...some of us.  Anyone who knows much about that amazing feat of arms knows it was hardly a perfectly planned and executed undertaking.  I wonder why we now think military people should have perfect information, and flawless planning?

I am sick to death of hearing even people I respect call the Love Boat interdiction a "botched raid".  For one thing, it was only unsuccessful in a propaganda sense.  Which is certainly important, but it isn't what military people should have foremost in their thinking unless that's their specific specialty.  And people with that specialty should not be planning blockade operations; consulting, yes.

In every military aspect, the interdiction worked as it had to work.

The thugs aboard the "Love Boat" had come with a novel plan...a game changer.  Israel had interdicted these wrong-headed "humanitarian" joy-rides before.  No big deal, generally.  But this one was different.  MAYBE Israeli planners should have known this was an ambush.  But that may be imputing to them the possession of perfect information, and none of us have that.

The planners of D Day certainly did not have perfect information...or a nearly perfect plan.  It was a titanic undertaking that I marvel at every time I think of it.  It damn near failed...several do what it was designed to do.  Parts of the assault were, indeed, "botched raids" by any definition.  And several of those "botched raids" were still pulled off by the amazing courage and soldiering of the Allied enormous cost.

On a battlefield...or in a war against terrorists...people are dealing with the information they have.  That is NEVER perfect.  They plan using probable scenarios.  That is all they have.  A new tactic, a new weapon, a storm...whatever...can blow a good plan to flinders.  Israel seems to be proud of its people for reacting as quickly to the changed paradigm as they did, which is all you can hope for in reality.  It is what saved us on D Day.


  1. "MAYBE Israeli planners should have known this was an ambush. But that may be imputing to them the possession of perfect information, and none of us have that."

    The "intel" that the IHH and "Union of Good" (Give to me a major break) were coming, when they were coming and their intention IDF knew from the newspapers. "We will break the embargo from the sea this time. Hopefully after this move, states willl act as well"

    I'd say it was the execution that was botched. Fast roping onboard one at a time into an angry mob seemed pretty amateurish for the IDF, arguably the best commando/special ops outfit on the planet.

    "The planners of D Day certainly did not have perfect information...or a nearly perfect plan."

    They did have better intel than the Germans, and even more to their advantage were able to feed false intel to Hitler. As I posted on another blog:

    Per Stephen Ambrose and others, Intel at Blechley Park had captured a German spy in ‘42 who turned double agent. (That or a firing squad – Oh for the good old days) They used him and the captured enigma code to feed false intel to the Germans. On June 5, they actually had him broadcast the Normandy invasion the next day to the German high command, but that it was a diversion from the main invasion to come at Calais – which was exactly what Hitler expected, and the presence of Patton and the 3rd Army in Dover confirmed to Hitler his suspision. Hitler even awarded his ” loyal agent” an Iron Cross, and kept his Panzer divisions in Calais – for weeks, waiting for the anticipated attack. The rest is, of course history.

  2. All good points, Swede, but I think my larger point is made, too. D-Day hung in the balance not once, but several times, and SNAFU was legion.

    The Allies did exhaustive planning...and still screwed up a good bit.

    I SORT of agree as to your point about the insertion technique, but it wasn't the only one, I think. And the other five vessels were boarded without incident.

    And all prior "flotilla" had been generally passive. So this really was a paradigm shift...a mistake the Israelis will not repeat.

  3. No intent to disagree with your premise, but perhaps extend it. As you said, coordinating an operation this massive was unbelievably complex and huge errors and miscalculations occured at every level. The paratrooper drops were hopelessly botched, the "floating tanks" sunk, the bombardments failed to eliminate the bunkers, etc, yet in the end it all worked.

    Had four Panzer Divisions and infantry regiments moved from Calais to Normandy in addition to all the SNAFU's, the outcome would have been quite different. That's why the success of the intel coup was pivotal. Ike would be the first to admit a good deal of the success that day was just luck. Ambrose's biography on Isenhower is outstanding.

  4. The Queen of Battle is artillery (so the arty types like to chant).

    I wonder who the jester of battle is...

    Had Rommel been heeded, Normandy would have turned into a meat grinder. One shudders to think how much WORSE that invasion could have been...