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

Event Date: 
Thursday, 31 October, 2019 - 13:30 to 14:30
Event Location: 

R1 Theaterette Russell Offices, Canberra

Note: This presentation is 30 minutes in length.

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.

About the speaker: Dr David Stahel completed his undergraduate studies at Monash University and Boston College. He has an MA in War Studies from King's College London and a PhD in 2007 from the Humboldt University in Berlin. He joined the University of New South Wales Canberra in 2012. David is a historian, author and senior lecturer in history at the University of New South Wales. He specialises in German military history of the second World War. Stahel has authored several books on the military operations of the first six months of the Eastern Front, including on the launching of Operation Barbarossa, the Battle of Kiev and the Battle for Moscow.

Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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