Military History Reader Poll – November 2010

What universal leadership qualities did Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck demonstrate that apply to other notable commanders past and present?

One Response

  1. Shawn

    He had a very good grasp of the strategic and operational situation he found himself in East Africa. He also realized that:
    -withdrawal to Germany or reinforcement was impossible;
    -he was surrounded and outnumbered;
    -conventional strategy and tactics were not going to work and quickly lead to his defeat; and
    -the greatest effect he could achieve was to continue to exist as a fighting force.

    By continuing to exist, he could affect Allied thinking and troop distribution. Allied forces fighting/ hunting him would not be available for use against German forces in Europe. He succeeded in tying down tens of thousands of Allied troops for years in Africa. To accomplish this, he had to abandon conventional thought and concentrated on maintaining a fighting force with available resources.

    He correctly predicted the opening moves of Allied forces against East Africa and moved his forces to counter them as best he could.

    He took full advantage of the supplies and equipment after Tanga to raise more troops.

    He did not allow himself to become tied to a particular piece of ground but concentrated on enemy forces. He moved when and where necessary. Withdrawing in the facing of overwhelming odds and fighting when the opportunity arose.

    In the end, he never took his eyes off the goal of continuing to exist and fighting the Allies.

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