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Insights from learning on the job: The Wehrmacht in Urban Combat

Thursday, 31 October 2019
Event Location
R1 Theaterette Russell Offices, Canberra

At the beginning of the second World War the Wehrmacht was by any measure a capable organisation. Initially it swept larger better equipped armies  before it. This is usually explained in terms of superior concepts, doctrine and leadership - and being built on the sound foundations of a learning organisation – the Reichswehr. Yet the Wehrmacht had a blind spot – urban operations. While it had developed technologies and tactics for overcoming fortresses, it simply did not expect extensive fighting in cities. 

This historical presentation is therefore relevant to the current ADF for two reasons. First, increasing global urbanisation and potential adversaries' who use populated areas for  advantage, are likely to make an urban fight the future norm. Much of that fight is no different today than it was in the second World War, so insights from an earlier army that was unprepared are likely to still be valid.  Second, the processes of whether and how the Wehrmacht variously did or did not learn and disseminate tactical lessons are instructive for an Army in Motion.

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