The Battle of Hurtgen Forest

The Far Middle episode 126 lands on the birthday of NFL legend Mike Ditka, providing a no-brainer dedication for this installment. Nick calls Iron Mike a “kindred spirit of The Far Middle,” as he recalls episode 85, which was dedicated to the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, as well as episode 46 that celebrated Buddy Ryan’s 46 Defense.

Following last week’s lightning round episode, the format for The Far Middle episode 126 returns to a special singular focus on a World War II battle that’s often overshadowed by the European Theater’s bigger and more famous Allied campaigns. That battle is the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.

Nick proceeds to analyze the battle, its timeline and lessons, building upon his recently released essay, The Battle of Hurtgen Forest: Costly Failure and Lessons Learned.

“When it was all said and done, 120,000 American troops were deployed in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, suffering 33,000 casualties,” says Nick, addressing all that went wrong in the Hurtgen. “The battle’s lessons, they should be remembered if we’re to honor those who paid the ultimate price, and thousands of Americans paid that ultimate price.”

Those lessons include:

  • Leadership matters, and poor leadership negates inherent advantage.
  • Preparation and homework are prerequisites to success.
  • Avoid terrain and environment that neutralizes your strengths.
  • Supply chain weakness will hamper success in modern warfare and economy.
  • Success demands teams have the proper tools and equipment.
  • Underestimate your adversary’s capacity and will at your own peril.

“The Hurtgen Forest was a battle from hell, a disaster Allied leadership should have seen coming,” says Nick before making one final connection to a lighter topic, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, an album no one saw coming that was released this week in 1977.