[lit-ideas] The poor Austro-Hungary army

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <Lit-Ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 17 May 2008 10:22:33 -0700

On page 12 of The First World War, Hew Strachan writes, in 1889 the annual
contingent of conscripts was set at 135,670 men.  This fixed quota meant
that the size of the joint Austro-Hungarian army did not grow in step with
the expansion of the population or with the increase in size of other
armies.  But not until 1912 did Hungary approve a new army law, which
permitted an addition of 42,000 men.  It was too little too late: the lost
years could not be made up.  The trained reservists available to other
powers in 1914, discharged conscripts who ranged in age from their early
twenties up to forty, were simply not there in Austria-Hungary's case.  Its
field army was half the size of France's or Germany's.  Nor had it
compensated for its lack of men with firepower: each division had forty-two
field guns compared with fifty-four in a German divisions, and the good
designs to be found among some of the heavier pieces had not been converted
to mass production. . . ."


Comment:  Just the other day I read Rick Atkinson's account of the poor
American army.  It was in the same fix that Strachan describes the Austrian
army being in, but I suppose it would have required the Americans to lose
before someone like Strachan would write as he does about the Austrians.
Americans were called up or enlisted and given a few weeks of training and
were sent off to fight.  Their equipment was inadequate.  Their tanks didn't
compare to enemy tanks.  Their basic training wasn't enough to match the
Germans but they got OJT and caught up.  Why couldn't the Austrians have
done that?

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