> The D-Day rehearsal, codenamed Exercise Tiger, was a disaster on a grand scale with the loss of life greater than the actual invasion of Normandy just months later
I am not sure how they did the maths on this. According to the WWII and DDay Foundation  12,000 men died in the air operations in preparation for the landing, and 2,500 Allies troops died during the landing.
I can only thing they mean the proportion of death was higher (death/participants).
So it was actually pretty close: ~800 US troops killed during the rehearsal vs 1465 during the actual landing.
Somehow, from "Saving Private Ryan", I had imagined that the death tole was much greater.
> Research under way by the National D-Day Memorial has confirmed 4,414 deaths, of which 2,499 were American and 1,915 were from other nations.
The soldiers on Omaha beach were expecting:
1. Surprise Attack
2. Bomber support
3. Paratroopers preventing reinforcements
#1 and #3 were negated because the Nazis just happened to be holding practice drills at the time and were on the beach anyway. #2 was negated because the bombers missed.
Sometimes, it comes down to luck.
My guess would be that the time to drop was called wrong by a flight commander or computed wrong beforehand, rather than assessed individually in each plane, but if you happen to know more I'd be curious.
I looked it up, and it seems like the operation was way more complex than I thought (and it already sounded quite complex to me!)
1. The skys were overcast, so the bombers were dropping blind through the clouds.
2. The Omaha-beach bombers erred on the side of caution: they didn't want to release the bombs too early, because that would be "Friendly Fire", hitting the Allied Troops instead.
Its quite possible that the bomber squadron simply all missed because the clouds were just over Omaha beach (but not necessarily over the other beaches).
I'm mostly reading this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omaha_Beach#Pre-landing_bombar...
It sounds like there's widespread agreement that the Naval commanders didn't offer enough battleship bombardment support as well.
So the full set of events are:
1. Bombers missed (clouds blocked their view + worried about friendly fire)
2. Navy commanders made a strategic error, and failed to deploy enough battleship support.
3. Commando Paratroopers failed to stop reinforcements, because reinforcements were already at the Beach holding a training drill.
4. 27 of the 29 amphibious tanks sank due to heavy waves. The landing infantry had to run up-hill in the beach sand into machine guns without any tank-support.
5. Bad waves meant a lot of infantry landed off-target of their initial plan. The amphibious vessels hit a sandbar, meaning many infantry started their journey not on the sands of the beach, but wading in the water 50-feet into the water still.
Pretty much every bad-luck event possible happened on Omaha beach.
4. Support from ambhibious tanks
negated by almost all the tanks at Omaha sinking before reaching shore due to bad wave conditions.
Tho I’m actually quite surprised by the low number for the actual amphibious landing, but this could not include the push past the initial fortification line.
War is the most heavily-propagandized government activity, since most of the population would not support the effort if they knew the whole truth. Just ask around for the average American's impressions of the World Wars, and you will see the lingering results of this propaganda effort via government education and state-approved history curricula.
Indeed, the truth is the first casualty of war.
I wonder why was this not disclosed right after Germany and Japan capitulated. That seems to be the logical time to disclose such.
”News of what happened remained a secret for a matter of months - the Germans could not find out about it.
Following D-Day, Operation Tiger did appear in reports and the American Army magazine Stars and Stripes.
In terms of the dead, that was a loss of the men's lives, but a bad day in the office for the admirals - it was one tragedy among many.
There was never a cover-up but the story was lost from the public.”
Reading https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/Casualties/Casualti..., ”a bad day” seems a correct description. 5e US had, on average, about 10,000 men killed each month in 1944, or 300 a day, with over 18,000 in December, over 550 a day. That doesn’t make 800 an extreme outlier.
Also, what do you put on the front page as a journalist in a country that has been at war for years: “a hundred soldiers were killed yesterday, but we made progress”, or “three months back, 800 soldiers were killed in an exercise, but we couldn’t tell because it would have endangered the D-day landings”? I don’t think that, after the initial necessary secrecy, the news needed suppression.
Edited from "deadly" perhaps, which could mean both (absolute and relative).
Still surprised though that the absolutes are so close.
Or even https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieppe_Raid two years previously, which demonstrated all the things that could go wrong with a cross-channel raid at the cost of thousands of lives.
(People would do well to remember that even the successes of WW2 were written in blood, especially when invoking them in a contemporary political context)
The Lancaster was used to incinerate German cities, and the only clearly superior bomber was the B-29, used to incinerate all of the Japanese cities, save 5 for atomic bomb targets.
Of course, as a child, I had no idea of the solemn significance of any of that.
I don't think leaders would really retaliate a nuclear attack, since it always is preferable to de-escalate a nuclear conflict than to escalate it. Mutual assured destruction is something nobody is interested in.
Mutual assured destruction may be the only thing limiting the Kashmir conflict, for example.
The definitive film on this is of course Dr Strangelove.
> I don't think leaders would really retaliate a nuclear attack
This is actually a fairly reasonable assumption, and is a major headache for deterrence - credible threats are hard to make. Cold War policy was designed around discrediting the assumption, but only because it is such a reasonable one. Once the missiles are flying, there is no rational reason to retaliate; and states have an incentive to exaggerate their willingness to retaliate. This is the whole motivation of a branch of deterrence theory called "signaling", whose main study is the way that actors can commit themselves to escalation in a way that is costly to back down from, in order to make an opponent think you're not bluffing. See also madman theory.
This was one reason for the switch from the "massive response" of the Eisenhower years to the "flexible response" of the Kennedy years; it strained credulity that anyone would actually go through with massive response in reaction to minor conflicts. In related policy, the USAF may crack down on nuclear missile crews who are unwilling to fire in the case of a nuclear war, but they're even more paranoid about crews publicly saying they wouldn't pull the trigger.
I've seen this written a lot, but I find it confusing. There certainly seem to be a number of rational reasons to retaliate, even if one wishes to engage in a bit of definition play and claim that simple revenge isn't rational (though in game theory successful strategies must include some degree of retaliation alongside forgiveness).
But on a purely practical basis, one issue is that in reality it appears the most likely outcome of nuclear war isn't "the total extinction of humanity" as so many stories go. Yes many people will die, but there will be lots and lots of survivors as well. They will then have to continue on and rebuild, and hopefully (at least to members of the previous culture in power) that rebuilding will involve some level of the better parts of the old culture. Ie., after nuking a lot of Americans might hope that while a New America would undoubtedly be quite different in some respects and make some new choices that would be better, it'd still have liberty and much of the bill of rights and such remain as ideals.
But however unlikely that is, it would be even harder/impossible if a hostile nuclear power remained completely undamaged, as the last unattacked nation left standing would de facto become the world superpower or even fully conquer everything left. If every hostile is reduced down equivalently in contrast than at least the survivors are on a more even starting point, it won't be whatever can be scrounged together facing a fully operational military industrial complex.
In summary: anyone who'd choose to fire a ton of nukes at you in a first strike (*differing from first use) isn't someone you want to trust to take care of you afterwards. It's rationally arguable that making sure they're left in a recovery state too increases your survivors' chances.
But if you are in position to launch the counterattack(say sitting in a missile silo with your hand on the launch button), then once the missiles are on their way to you, you are dead. It might take them 30-60 minutes to actually get there, but you are dead anyway. Absolutely nothing you can do at that point will change that. Retaliating will not improve your current situation. And yes, it might improve the chances of the survivors, but at the same time, you know that if you press that button millions of people will die. I think I'd just leave it at that point.
Can you explain why you think this is relevant? Military/security personnel accepting their own deaths as part of winning is hardly some alien concept. If you're sitting in a missile silo ready to launch then you will have gone through a lot of training (and/or indoctrination), mental prep, and practice for the event that is hoped to never come and knowing that if it does your life will be one of many gone. In fact, even for civilians if you're guaranteed to be dead anyway but have a few minutes left to make a difference, that could just as easily trigger a "well, might as well spend whatever I've got left trying to take the enemy with me and ensure my side still has a chance" mindset.
Also, thinking out the implications of your argument the moral position appears dubious in other ways. For example, it suggests that it'd be preferable to initiate a first strike, and wipe out all those millions, if you knew that would save your own hide and side vs a second strike after already being attacked in the hope of helping others beyond yourself. And if not that then it ends up "well I wouldn't push it no matter what", in which case you wouldn't be there right? And what if it's not "millions" in for your launch? You need to define how many it's ok to kill, like if your particular silo is aimed at military targets, other silos out in the middle of nowhere. Or does your argument boil down to total pacifism?
>And yes, it might improve the chances of the survivors, but at the same time, you know that if you press that button millions of people will die.
Millions of people will die anyway. Millions of your people. Whereas the millions (or hundreds/dozens, see above, many missiles aren't aimed at cities) you kill by pushing the button will be the millions who were on the side that killed your millions and may well be reasonably expected to then come and finish the job for your millions of survivors . Remember, the argument here is whether there is a rational position in favor of launching. Many debates have multiple fully rational but conflicting positions, nothing wrong with that! But that doesn't mean they aren't all rational in and of themselves.
You can certainly hold the moral position that every life is valuable and that leaving the enemy, no matter how horrid, to profit from mass nuclear attack and take over the world is the right thing to do anyway. I'm just saying that such a position is not the only rational one at all.
>I think I'd just leave it at that point.
I think you wouldn't pass screening to be put into that position in the first place, even assuming you volunteered for it which it doesn't sound like you would. I can't say I'd want to be in that position either, though at the same time I want to be cognizant of my shared responsibility for it as a citizen.
1: At least for America, most of the population is urban, but with a total of over 320 million that still leaves a lot of people in rural areas. Specifically (based on the last census numbers I found) about 97% of the land area of 3.8 million mi^2 is classified as "rural", and it contains about 19% of the population (so about 60 million people). Even in the case of all urban centers being destroyed that's still a lot of people left in absolute terms. It is for example more people than the total national population for the first century of the country's existence (up until around 1890).
Sure - on paper. The guy in the field sure as hell doesn't accept his own death. _I Don't Want To Die_ is one of the strongest urges in the human psyche, we, collectively, lionize people who put the needs of others before their own. The armed forces, who as you say spends a lot of time getting people to accept their mortality, and denigrates the individual in favour of the collective's goals, gives out medals to people who do this _because it's really rare_.
>If you're sitting in a missile silo ready to launch then you will have gone through a lot of training (and/or indoctrination), mental prep, and practice for the event that is hoped to never come and knowing that if it does your life will be one of many gone.
At least in the US, the men and women manning the the silos have some of the worst morale in the entire armed forces. Rolling Stone did a bit on this. How happy would you be, stuck in the middle of North Dakota, working shifts in a subterranean hell hole from the 1950s, knowing that your job is to _literally end the world_ and that you are sitting on a bullseye? As you said, these are the people who volunteered, who were screened, who are getting the propaganda shoved down their throats and they're literally killing themselves because of the stress.
Many of our ground-based missile silos are "in rural areas" - a good portion of the midwest would be reduced to a no-go zone for a long time.
Why is that? It appears to me that most humans value getting revenge on an enemy who has harmed them.
Nuclear weapons are weird, because it's not really designed to kill soldiers, and even if it does, you can't hide from it.
It's an honorless weapon. And remember why it was designed.
Rationality is a means of achieving a goal. Rationality says nothing about what the ultimate goal should be. If one's system of ethics places value on punishing those who misbehave, then it would be perfectly rational to launch a revenge counterattack. And I think it is quite plausible that humans evolved to behave in accordance with a system of ethics that places value on retributive justice. Viewed from the perspective of game theory, being able to credibly pre-commit to punishing defectors even at one's own expense can be quite helpful in the long run.
Perhaps you think that launching a revenge counterattack is wrong. But I contend that that is a question of ethics, not a question of rationality.
I don't think there's value to retributive justice
Supposedly this is real - and likely still in operation.
Making something like that and keeping it secret, though, defeats the point. Note that the Wikipedia article mentions it also for its domestic political purposes - reassuring those who are really committed to the revenge theory of nuclear weapons.
On the contrary, Kashmir militancy project was started by Pakistan in the late eighties after a botched attempt by the central government in India to rig an election in the state. This was well after the first Indian nuclear tests in 1974. Subsequently, India did another round of nuclear testing 1998 and that too resulted in an attempted stealth invasion of Kargil. So if anything, nuclear weapons have escalated the conflict not the other way around.
Just to be clear, there were always separatist elements in Kashmir, just like there used to be some in Punjab and there still are in Balochistan. But with development and intra-country migration, it becomes hard to sustain a separatist movement and that's why all the other movements in India have all but petered out. It is likely this would've happened in Indian-controlled Kashmir too, given that the valley was largely peaceful after 1948 and until the 1990s.
But a concatenation of unfortunate circumstances -- first the rigged election, then Pakistani arming of the separatists, the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets winding up which meant the ISI and their jihadi cousins-in-arms were looking for a new project, the Indian Army's human rights violations and introduction of AFSPA in the valley, harassment of and violence against Kashmiri Hindus which caused a mass exodus of pro-India elements from the valley, and the western policy of ignoring jihadi violence in Kashmir until 9/11/2001 because they were historically aligned with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia rather than India which was assumed to be in the Russian sphere of influence --- resulted in the conflict blowing up to where it is now.
You'll notice that many of these contributing factors have disappeared and the situation is likely to get better in the next couple of decades.
All this was mediated by command & control ICBMs (i.e. rockets without warheads but with detectors and comms) that the system would launch on warning and by switching the system on, the actual silos would respond to automated commands from these rockets. A system very hard to disable from outside.
The craziest thing about this: The Sovjets didn't even advertise this system existed but it did.
Perimeter is rumored to still be in operation, since Vladimir Putin likes to drop comments from time to time along the lines of 'we will never launch preemptively but retaliation will be swift and certain'.
Edit2: So this system was created to automatically ensure retaliation even if the Sovjet union was effectively wiped out or if nobody wanted to make the decision to conduct a retaliatory strike while missiles are incoming but haven't hit yet.
I also think it was a large enough system that Western intelligence probably knew about it, but couldn’t publicly acknowledge it, as it might expose the source of their knowledge.
I agree with your assessment that NATO intel probably knew of it, but kept quiet to avoid political drama and keep sources secret.
You don't need nuclear weapons to want to avoid war.