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Red Army Tank Tactics

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  • Two days after NKO No. 325 was issued, the Voronezh front issued instructions for use of the Front's armored forces.
    NKO N. 325, although it set the general direction for chang within the armored forces,lacked the specificity and tacit practical knowledge necessary to allow subordinate commanders and staffs to implement fully the concept consistently and successfully. A concentric organizational response came with examples of successful actions and methods. By the end of 1942, the War Experience Branch of the Red Army General Staff knew the refinements necessary for a change process.

    Armored warfare progressed from poor tactics and uncoordinated operations at the hands of inexperienced leadership to successful tactical breakthroughs using large tank units led by a core of veteran commanders. The Red Army was rapidly closing the disparity in armored warfare experience with the German Army. In their next period of the war, they would master the operational level of fighting large tank/mobile units.
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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    • By the beginning of the second period of the war [Soviet military delineation], November 1942 to December 1943, the Red Army had collected a considerable body of combat experience. In the operations around Stalingrad in November 1942, the Red Army inflicted on the German Army its severest defeat of the war.

      Through exploitation of war experiences, the Red Army tank armies and corps created operational-level breakthroughs. Organizational structure of these forces required adjustment. The tank armies were composed of two tank corps, one cavalry corps, and two or three infantry divisions. When the tank corps operated near infantry, such as in the initial stage of breakthrough operations, the purpose of the composite structure was fully served, as the infantry penetrated and the mobile force exploited. But when independent actions of the tank corps, particularly in the depths of the German defense, required rapid, mobile actions, the infantry lagged behind, which not only posed coordination and support problems, but also limited the operational mission and potential of the armored forces.

      While the tank corps structure of corps-brigades with same composition worked, controversy over the structure and composition of the tank army drew the attention of Stalin and senior military leaders. General Pavel Romistrov, an academician and tank corps commander whose star was rising swiftly due to his battlefield exploits, was summoned to Moscow to present the case for the more homogenous tank army structure. He argued for the tank armyís structure to drop infantry divisions to create a fighting force that would be completely mechanized and motorized. The discussions continued for two hours, during which Stalin noted Rotmistrovís vies on the role of tank armies in offensive operations, and it became evident to Rotmistrov that Stalin understood well the significance of massed employment of tank forces.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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