The most important difference between 1944 and today would be in the area of guided munitions. I once heard that a single F-15 has as much firepower as an entire squadron of WWII bombers, when you factor in the explosive weight and the percentage of ammunition you can get on the target (Keep in mind, the F-15 is Fighter / Bomber, not a dedicated bomber. If we start talking about the B-52, things get even crazier). Additionally, fire support for naval guns has come a long way since the 1940s. American destroyers and cruisers are now only equipped with one or two 5-inch main guns. In the 1940s, 5-inch guns were almost considered an afterthought. With improved fuses and near-automatic rates of fire that can be achieved with today’s guns, you wouldn’t need the hours and hours of bombardment they used in WWII landings. .
As for landings, with today’s amphibious landing tactics and equipment, you wouldn’t NEED to land at Omaha Beach at all.
It is an LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushioned). This is just one of the many ways the US Navy and US Marine Corps transport troops from ship to ship. The main difference between an LCAC and the landing craft of yesteryear is that the LCAC can access almost any beach in the world and can traverse land. Plus it can reach incredible speeds compared to WWII Amtracks (I think around 70 knots when not too heavy). Today, the United States would be able to avoid any defensive foothold and place its landing forces where they thought they were least defended.
Helicopters, widely used since the Vietnam War, move infantry companies and entire battalions at incredible speed compared to the 1940s.
The M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank would likely be as invulnerable as anything that has ever been used in warfare. The only reasonable option to destroy one with the 1944 equipment would be to fill it with infantry and try to get a grenade inside. This technique was expensive during World War II. Against an Abrams, with a winger who can just spray his buddy with HE cartridges that don’t do anything substantial to the armor…
When it comes to the individual soldier, the main difference is the bulletproof vest. Ceramic plates and bulletproof vests greatly increased the survivability of the infantryman. During WWII, your armor was a millimeter of fabric. Today it contains plates that would in fact be capable of stopping just about any small arms around the Wehrmacht in use (7.62 AP is the limit, I believe). A quick look at the death-to-injury ratio in WWII [1:1.65] compared to Operation Iraqi Freedom fatality / injury ratio [1:7.3] shows that even if nothing other than the current bulletproof vest were added to the equation, it is likely that the United States would have reduced the number of soldiers killed on D-Day from 2,500 to around 700. D On the other hand, WWII infantry would be much faster and nimble, as they were towing no more than 50 pounds of material. So here you have a classic situation between heavy infantry and light infantry.
The Mk19 automatic grenade launcher. Designed for use against open troops, troops in trenches, light armored vehicles, urban highlights, and light fortifications, this 76.2lb beast is technically portable (by someone’s standard) and is widely used on mounted resources. Capable of firing 325 to 375 40mm grenades per minute, there is arguably no more intimidating weapon in the American arsenal that is commonly used in the exchange of fire. I personally was within about 25 yards of the beaten area of someone who set off a long burst of grenades, and it was, say, disconcerting. It is probably the only weapon capable of allowing an individual to to finish a shooting.
Today, many infantry companies will have means of communication up to the level of the fire team. This allows for much faster response times to deal with threats or reorganize after a firefight or just move troops to wherever you want (platoon-level radios were very rare during WWII, and so on. that was in play was When I was in a heavy motorized weapons platoon, we had a dozen PRC-119s, satcom radios, Blue Force Trackers, etc. And we had 40 guys).
While small arms themselves haven’t really come a long way, accessories certainly have. Every infantryman today is likely equipped, at a minimum, with a 4x scope, NVG, and a laser for use with night vision. One in four infantrymen will have a grenade launcher. Another will have a light machine gun. This achieves combined weapon effects using a single shooting team. And the ability to fight at night, without anything else, would be a game-changer.
The only thing we would like to be at a disadvantage would be the experience of combat. The Germans had been fighting for FIVE years when the United States entered France. Of course, this was a problem during the D-Day landings and didn’t hamper matters too much, probably because the allies were facing off against the JV Squad, so to speak. At the same time, our military back then was well trained for large-scale battles, unlike how the US military is organized today. Whether the current infantryman is doing well or not is a guess.
Free fun fact:
One thing that does not have changed is the .50 M2 heavy machine gun. Supposedly something like 95% of M2 currently in use was originally built during WWII. Ammo, however, received an upgrade (SLAP, API, Raufuss, all the fun stuff)
Another fun fact:
The United States uses a military doctrine called “rapid domination” (Shock and Awe for the incisive term). The Gulf War and the initial invasion of Iraq during the OIF are two examples of this doctrine in use. The basic concept is to acquire air superiority, using tactical and strategic bombers to disrupt and destroy enemy command and control, employing a wide range of offensive maneuvers (amphibious landings, parachutes, armored thrusts, infantry assaults on defensive positions) simultaneously in order to paralyze any decision-making capacity of the opponent. This military doctrine is heavily based on the so-called Blitzkrieg doctrine of Nazi Germany.
Read more from Paul Frick here.