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Which leaders made raw recruits into Generals?

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Fact Hunter View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 Aug 2011 at 07:06
Hi there, I'm new to this board and am wondering if anyone can help me with some research....

I'm aware that Stalin used the tactic of promoting promising raw recruits, or lower ranking infantry straight to being generals, or prominent in the Comintern, to ensure unwavering loyalty to him, can anyone tell me which other leaders used this tactic? Anything to point me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

I'm working on a massive project and have googled around to no avail.

I remember learning of others who used this tactic when younger but the actual instances have slipped my mind over the years!

Many thanks and I'm glad to be on the forum.
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gcle2003 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2011 at 19:44
Welcome to you.
I don't know that it has been used 'as a tactic' but the British and Commonwealth navies have seen cases of promotion from the lower deck to commission and on to Admiral.
 
Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennett (Canada) was appointed just last month. She started as a reservist on the lower deck, but was commissioned before coming off reserve.
 
There are several fictional characters especially following the recent spate of baval adventure stories: the classic one though being in From Powder Monkey to Admiral http://www.amazon.com/Powder-Monkey-Admiral-Adventure-ebook/dp/B002RKSA26
 
Factual cases include Admiral Sir Henry William Bruce, commander-in-chief of the Canadian navy's Pacific fleet at the time of the Crimean War. who started as a boy seaman in Nelson's navy. http://www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org/resource_pages/beginnings/bruce.html
but I don't think that's the kind of thing you are looking for
 
As a starting point for research on the naval side, wikipedia has a useful list of names with links to details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Fleet_and_Grand_Admirals
 
 
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rider View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Aug 2011 at 19:35

As to Stalin, you should kindly note that his actions did not have the best military consequences for Soviet troops since while you might promote a recruit to the rank of General/Admiral, but you cannot promote him to the tactical knowledge of either flag officer. 

That being said, it does somewhat remind of Revolutionary French techniques in which birth was removed as a factor on promotions and merit was taken into account so a lowborn may have well risen into the highest ranks. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Aug 2011 at 23:41
I would hardly call the emplacement of military sycophants a "tactic" and the subject really involves the limitations of politics in the presence of personality cults. Many a successful military commander have "lost their heads", literally, because of the perception they represented a political threat to the hierarchy. I believe you are making a distinction between the process of "rising through the ranks" (or even the art of politics in military appointments) and actually referencing situations where the megalomania of a "leader" perceives threats to power within the ranks of professionalism (military or otherwise). As for Stalin...can you blame him given the actual origins of the "Red Army" at the hands of his long-time rival, Trotsky?
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2011 at 03:08
 
Looking back to WWII the typical Red army general was born after 1895 including some of the most senior and successful of them like Zhukov (1896), Vasilevsky (1895), Chuikov (1900), Rokossovsky (1896) etc. and nearly all of them (except Vasilevsky who was a captain and a few others) were privates during WWI. Their experience there helped shape and sharpen their skills when they became generals and they succeeded in winning the war in the end.
 
As for this being a "tactic", well Stalin was forced to this choice because he purged the old army and most of the officers who were such back in the imperial army were not welcomed into the armed forces (except Shaposhnikov and that because he was one of the first reds in the imperial army).
 
Al-Jassas


Edited by Al Jassas - 16 Aug 2011 at 03:12
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lirelou View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2011 at 04:00
I believe that the best examples would be Napoleon's marshals, who were generally young men of great talent at the time of their appointment. The United States still routinely promotes men to General who started their long careers in the ranks. MG Eldon Bargewell come to mind as a recent example. My neighbor, Bill Ball, started his career in the Canadian Army (Queen's Own Rifles of Canada), came down to the U.S. to go to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne, and rose through the ranks to Platoon Sergeant in the Vietnamese Airborne Division (as an advisor) and the Ranger Battalions, before becoming a Special Forces officer and retiring as a Colonel. And just across Tampa Bay, we have a similar example with Geoffrey Barker, who started life with the the Brit Airborne, and also joined us Yanks to retire as a Lieutenant Colonel (though he was a Colonel on active duty). And if General Officer is the criteria, then General Shachnow, also Special Forces, was brought to the U.S. as a Jewish camp survivor, adopted by an American Jewish family, and joined the Army at seventeen, serving as a Private in the 10th Mountain Division, to retire as a Major General in 1994.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Shachnow
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