The U.S Military vs.

A couple of months ago the GQ forum discussed how long it would take today’s U.S military to take down Hitler’s Germany, assuming they had to start on D-Day 1944, and use conventional weapons. It was generally agreed that once the forces were martialled, it would have been pretty much a walkover.
Okay, lets pit today’s U.S. military against someone else… the U.S. Military circa Vietnam. You’d figure that today’s military would pretty much kick the asses of their compatriots of 30 years ago… but how do the ordinances stack up?

Again, the modern military would pretty much wipe the floor with their counterparts from the Vietnam-era. Precision guided bombs were just starting to show up in large numbers (the Nazis invented 'em, BTW), the helicopter was just coming into use a major tool to deliver forces to the battlefront, and the M-16 (at least for the early part of the war) was a jam-o-matic weapon, without the reliability of current versions.

That’s not to say that the Vietnam era military couldn’t give the modern military a decent fight, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter, as the modern military is even farther ahead of the Vietnam era military, as it was the military that fought WW II.

Bet 'cha couldn’t beat us: http://www.rangers.forces.gc.ca/pubs/rangers/overview/about_e.asp

Aw, come on, Muffin, you know that it’s always the red shirts who buy the farm! :wink:

We have Aegis Cruisers, Super Carriers, M1 Abrams tanks, and the F/A-18E Super Hornet in 2004. The technology that has been implemented since even the latter days of Viet Nam is staggering. The vehicles are better, the aircraft have better defenses, the anti-aircraft missiles are vastly superior, pilots shoot BVR (Beyond Visual Range) these days, the logistics are better, fire control radar is better, command and control is way better. Radios are miles ahead of where they were. Amphibious Assault Craft are bigger, faster, and more survivable.

  • USS Forrestal with 75 aircraft vs. Nimitz Class Carriers with 85, and they can cycle them faster
  • M60A1 Main Battle Tank shoots 105mm gun while static, 63 round total, max speed 30mph vs. M1 Abrams shoots 120mm gun on the move, engaging up to 4000 meters, at 40+ mph
  • F-4 Phantom with vs. F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-14D shooting at
    AIM-9 Sidewinder missile with range of 18 miles, vs. AIM-7 Sparrow at 30 miles
  • We’ll give the AIM-54 Phoenix to the Viet Nam age folks, since it was operational in 1974 (100 nautical miles range, air to air missile), but the modern folks get the Tomahawk
  • Jeep vs. HMMWV
  • Aegis Cruisers with the Phased Array Radar that can detects and track dozens of contacts up to 200 miles away and engage multiples at once vs. much shorter range, one-target-at-a-time radars.

No contest, on any front.

A related question.

Suppose you had the modern U.S. army up against the Union army in the Civil War. Of course the modern army would win easily. But, could they do it without a single casualty?

Possible, but unlikely unless the Union Army surrendered immediately. Odds are that at least one Union soldier would get off a lucky shot.

Not a chance. The modern military likely wouldn’t even need any ground troops, since blowing up forts or other bases from hundreds of miles away would probably be demoralizing enough to cause a surrender. Failing that, against a tank, a musket might as well be a pea shooter. No need at all for the modern troops to ever be in harm’s way.

Sorry, but it’s boots on the ground that enable a military to take control of a country. Look at GW II, the US and British had air superiority before the war ever started and they still took casualties from a military force which was technologically twenty or more years behind them. A desert campaing is the easiest kind to win if you have air superiority, and even then, it wasn’t a bloodless fight on our side.

You are assuming that the unfortunate agressor force would continue to fight the US Military using the combat tactics they were trained in.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the D-Day Normandy landings being anything but a cakewalk. Ship launced cruise missles taking out bunkers and gun positions from beyond the horizon. B-52s launched from England preping the landing by carpet bombing the beaches. Marine hovercrafts and amphibious assault vehicles supported by AC-130 gunships and Harrier fighters driving deep into the French countryside. The 101st Airborne driving deep behind enemy lines in an airborne armada of Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.

Against what? Messerschmitt’s and old Panzer tanks?
Most likely the sight of a modern armored brigade would cause a Civil War or Revolutionary war solider to crap himself.

Possibly, but the site didn’t exactly send the Taliban or Iraqis running for the hills all at once. However, I do admit that it’d be entertaining as hell to watch the British in the Revolutionary War crest a hill and find a circa 2004 US Army force waiting for them. :smiley:

Friendly fire will probably always exist, as will accidents and illnesses. If you meant casualties inflicted by the enemy, this is a less likely event.

Or vice versa? :wink:

You’ve got a couple of “apples vs oranges” comparisons here, Bill, but you’re essentially right.

AIM-7 Sparrows were very commonly used in VietNam - the current “latest greatest” medium range radar guided missile is the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The AIM-9 Sidewinder is still the standard short-range air-to-air missile, although the current versions are vastly improved over their VietNam-era ancestors. AIM-9 vs AIM-7 is not a fair comparison, since you’re comparing a short-range heat-seeking missile against a medium range radar-guided missile. Sparrow vs AMRAAM would be a better matchup - Sparrows were totally dependent upon the launching aircraft’s radar for target tracking, while AMRAAMs are “fire and forget”, using their own radar to track the target and allowing the launching aircraft to maneuver freely once the missile is on its way.

AIM-54 Phoenix missiles are not in the same class as Tomahawk cruise missiles - the Phoenix is a long-range air-to-air missile and can only be launched from the F-14 Tomcat - they were pretty much a “one trick pony”, intended to protect the carrier task force from Soviet bombers at extreme long range. Tomahawks, as I suspect you know, are land-attack missiles launched from a variety of Naval surface vessels and submarines. Neither really has an analogue in the other era that I can come up with.

Otherwise, I agree with everything you said.

In the field, the civil war foot soldier could be discounted. However, if we also went in with the desire to not destroy their cities, they could still cause some casualties by hanging out in the cities.

In the field, their cannon still would hold a potential to cause casualties, so we would most likely make them our first target.

Some time ago I read about some guys who created compared the destructive power of militaries from all different ages. The thing I really remember is that a single modern marine platoon could go toe to toe with an entire Roman Legion. I wish I could find that book…

Of course, all these comparisons envision a “fair fight”. But there is no such thing as a fair fight. In Iraq the militias we are fighting have inferior equipment, training and leadership to WWII Germany, but we are still taking casualties every day. Because the enemy won’t “fight fair” and stand up and let us kill them.

Likewise, during colonial days it wasn’t uncommon for very small units of european troops to massacre thousands of local warriors. But that didn’t make being a colonial soldier risk-free. You might be relatively safe in a set-piece battle, but random arrows and spears could still kill you. And of course you can be ambushed, have your throat cut in bed, step on a booby trap, or contract a horrible disease from a local prostitute. And it was still possible for local warriors with equipment not much different than the Roman legions to overwhelm european troops. See the different outcomes of Islandhwana vs. Roarke’s drift.

But who “wins” a fight depends on what the objectives of the fight are. Yes, a platoon of modern infantry could massacre thousands of Roman legionaires. But what do the modern soldiers wish to accomplish? Setting yourselves up as kings requires more than superior firepower, it requires getting the locals to cooperate. And you have to sleep sometime, you have to pull down your pants and take a dump, you have to eat local food.

How would each of the aforementioed armies fare against Batman?

Well, it would depend on if Batman were prepared or not.

Either Batman or Wolverine could beat the entire modern US military, but that would be more of a Cafe Society thread.