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"Worst Military Decision in History?" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian17 Nov 2016 9:38 p.m. PST

Which historical decision do you rate as the worst in military history?

Personal logo COL Scott ret Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2016 9:44 p.m. PST

Starting a land war in Asia.


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Nov 2016 10:20 p.m. PST

Going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Hafen von Schlockenberg17 Nov 2016 10:21 p.m. PST

Picking up that first stick. It only escalated from there.

thorr66617 Nov 2016 10:23 p.m. PST

Bombing pearl harbor?

Who asked this joker17 Nov 2016 10:24 p.m. PST

Failing to take Moscow before winter? evil grin

emckinney17 Nov 2016 10:40 p.m. PST

thorr666's answer raises an interesting question: when is something a political decision, and when is it military decision? Pearl Harbor was only a target choice. Attacking the Philippines would have had the same political effect.

You could bring up invading Russia in 1812, invading Iraq in 2003 (do I have the year right?), or attacking Ft. Sumter.

emckinney17 Nov 2016 10:41 p.m. PST

"Where'd all those Indians come from?"

Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Nov 2016 10:44 p.m. PST

Land war in Asia?

chuck05 Fezian17 Nov 2016 11:25 p.m. PST

Operation Barbarosa.

attilathepun4717 Nov 2016 11:34 p.m. PST

Invading Russia--take your pick: Charles XII, Napoleon I, Adolf Hitler. Do you notice a trend?

nevinsrip18 Nov 2016 12:03 a.m. PST

Throwing the football, instead of giving it to Marshawn Lynch.

Mako1118 Nov 2016 12:09 a.m. PST

Yea, bombing Pearl Harbor is certainly right up there.

As is starting WWII, not finishing off the Brits or making peace with them before turning to the east to attack Russia.

Veteran Cosmic Rocker18 Nov 2016 12:31 a.m. PST

I agree with Extra Crispy…but then my wife is Sicilian

Mike Bravo Miniatures18 Nov 2016 12:47 a.m. PST

Emckinney's point is valid – are things like invading Russia or attacking the US military decisions for these purposes?

My contribution would be the decision to dig in after landing at Suvla instead of pressing on (largely unopposed) to the objectives. The Gallipoli campaign would have been very different if those landings had succeeded (but on the flip side arguably Ataturk and Turkey's political future too).

(Phil Dutre)18 Nov 2016 12:49 a.m. PST

Any decision to start a war which you later lost.

Mako1118 Nov 2016 12:55 a.m. PST

Killing many of your generals, and/or other military leaders, AND entering into a treaty with Hitler and Germany seems a bit unwise too.

Almost cost Stalin the war.

A sea that raged no more18 Nov 2016 1:05 a.m. PST

IJA not seizing and occupying Pearl Harbor, thereby pushing the USA back to its mainland and delaying its military response and instead possibly having to reach a political compromise.

John Armatys18 Nov 2016 2:54 a.m. PST

One of three pieces of advice given by a Chief of the General Staff to young British officers was don't invade Russia (the other two were always take your full leave entitlement and don't get separated from your kit).

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 3:07 a.m. PST

Hitler declaring war on the USA

Chokidar18 Nov 2016 3:07 a.m. PST

..Harold MacMillan's advice to Alec Douglas-Home, and passed on to subsequent Prime Ministers but fatally not recently…
"You will be fine my boy as long as you do not do anything daft like invade Afghanistan…"

Knockman18 Nov 2016 4:08 a.m. PST

Almost every decision made by Percival & Brooke-Popham for the defence of Malaya & Singapore in 1941.

Ottoathome18 Nov 2016 4:14 a.m. PST

Any war you get into without a strategy to get out of it.

What that means is a strategy to end the war that does not require the enemy to voluntarily stop fighting. If you win all the battles, that's fine, but if the enemy refuses to stop fighting, unless you are prepared to exterminate every last one of them, then you will inevitably lose.

For a specific instance, Hitler's invasion of Poland.

It was a perfect case of fool me once (Austria) Shame on you, Fool me twice (Czechoslovakia) shame on me. There is never a third time.

The whole Japanese decision to go to war. In that case it was clearly known, stated, and understood by EVERYONE in the Japanese government that NO way of getting out of the war was possible without complete allied surrender.

The South's decision to secede if Abraham Lincoln was elected. It was a bluff from start to finish and there simply was no way to even WIN the war let alone a strategy to get out of it.

Napoleon's 100 Days. Why in the world would you assume Europe was going to let you be when for the past 20 years they hadn't.

Frederick the Great's snotty attitude and refusal to shut his yap and not make snide comments about Elizabeth of Russia, Maria Theresa, and the Pompadour. For pure ego he almost wrecked his kingdom and only the grim reaper saved him, (and a psychotic immature boy.) Chance is not a plan.

Hannibal on all points.

Darius decision to invade Greece. There was nothing there, he already had all the richest parts of the world and he and his successor Xerxes were defeated by their own egos who would not give up. Greatest case of a self-inflicted wound in history.

Tarleton18 Nov 2016 4:25 a.m. PST

Agreeing to the 1921 Treaty.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 4:33 a.m. PST


Well said. So, can any modern war ever be won?

Personal logo ACWBill Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 4:41 a.m. PST

Pearl Harbor.

Don Manser18 Nov 2016 5:00 a.m. PST

Germany bombing British cities instead of completing the destruction of the RAF

Weasel18 Nov 2016 5:29 a.m. PST

To be ranked as "worst" I suppose it'll have to be anything that leads to the utter destruction of the nation in question.

So pretty much anything involving Hitler.

NickNorthStar Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 5:35 a.m. PST

Invading France 1914. It seemed the Prussian Military aristocracy thought they could pull off 1870 again. Instead they started the biggest siege in history (the Western Front) which ended badly for them and directly led to WW2.

Winston Smith18 Nov 2016 6:05 a.m. PST

Didn't we just have a poll a week ago on this?

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 6:26 a.m. PST

Only dropping 2 Atom bombs on Japan.

Yesthatphil18 Nov 2016 6:40 a.m. PST

For whom?

For Richard III, the decision to charge across the battlefield at Bosworth in the hope of killing the earl of Richmond was the worst decision in military history … he ended up dead and his dynasty (and maybe his reputation) died with him. It doesn't get much worse than that.

For a whole empire/civilization? How about Xerxes invading Greece? It didn't go well … and in the end Alexander brought payback and virtually annihilated Persia as an independent civilization. Maybe it would have gone differently if he'd decided he could get along with a tiny bit of dissent and destabilizing on the very fringe of his massive empire wink


Gwydion18 Nov 2016 6:41 a.m. PST

Not smashing Germany when it remilitarised the Rhineland in 1936

Who asked this joker18 Nov 2016 6:42 a.m. PST

Didn't we just have a poll a week ago on this?

Yes. And I am pretty sure "Failure to take Moscow before winter" was the winner. wink

(Phil Dutre)18 Nov 2016 7:33 a.m. PST

Well, in the end it's all about economics.

As any RISK player can tell you if you have more territory, you will win the game. You might lose a few territories here and there, but no way you will lose the war.

So, if you attack a country that has more resources, be sure you grab those resources as soon as you can. If you don't grab the resources early enough, you will lose.

So any start of a war which has the above characteristics is a bad decision.

Okiegamer18 Nov 2016 7:35 a.m. PST

Firing on Fort Sumpter.

Todd McLeister18 Nov 2016 7:52 a.m. PST

Earthforce approaching the Minbari, during first contact, with their gun ports open.

Oh, and America's failing to rehabilitate John Rambo prior to his repatriation.

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 7:57 a.m. PST

Pearl Harbor. World War II's outcome was decided then and there.

redbanner414518 Nov 2016 8:00 a.m. PST

The Shah of Khwarezmia pissing off Genghis Khan.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 9:11 a.m. PST


Phil Hall18 Nov 2016 9:11 a.m. PST

The Somme

Personal logo chicklewis Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 9:43 a.m. PST

"I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve."

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 9:54 a.m. PST

The fish over the veal.

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2016 10:24 a.m. PST

Elphinstone's retreat from Kabul. One of the few campaigns with nearly 100% casualties.

Rubber Suit Theatre18 Nov 2016 11:08 a.m. PST

"Only dropping 2 Atom bombs on Japan."

Yes, I suppose that that whole "unconditional surrender" thing really got in the way of our strategic goals. Or do you simply believe that once the shooting stopped, what our post-war ally and trading partner really needed was more of this sort of thing:


He would have been maybe 6 years old during the Pearl Harbor raid.
There is a special kind of cowardice that manifests in continuing to attack the defeated long after they are helpless.

Buff Orpington18 Nov 2016 11:12 a.m. PST

It is perfectly possible to successfully invade Russia. The trick is not to come in from the West.

wrgmr118 Nov 2016 11:33 a.m. PST

I'm with nevinsrip on this one, throwing the ball instead of doing an oudside run. Or even Wilson just running it.

marcus arilius18 Nov 2016 11:37 a.m. PST

not finishing off the Italians in North Africa . and diverting Forces to Greece. Almost cost Britain the war.

Perris070718 Nov 2016 12:21 p.m. PST

France declaring war on Prussia in 1870 with absolutely no plan. Then they put Bazaine in charge of an entire army besides.

emckinney18 Nov 2016 1:40 p.m. PST

Again and again, political decisions, not really military ones.

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