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  • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

    You're too literal. It's a general rule from experience--a combat leader cannot panic with every report that's not according to plan.
    This is fine:: And this is one of the difficulties of command, as I see it. Recognize the time where general rules do not apply anymore and rise above conventional wisdom as your signature says.. I think that it will be interesting if you start in a different thread a conversation about this rule of thumb you mentioned with perhaps some examples from your experience and the reasons behind such distortions in early reports, particularly the initial over-optimistic ones. I assume the personality of the subordinate is important too. Anyway, I have no intention of hijacking the thread. I just offer some food for discussion in another thread...
    My most dangerous mission: I landed in the middle of an enemy tank battalion and I immediately, started spraying bullets killing everybody around me having fun up until my computer froze...

    Comment


    • Originally posted by pamak View Post

      This is fine:: And this is one of the difficulties of command, as I see it. Recognize the time where general rules do not apply anymore and rise above conventional wisdom as your signature says.. I think that it will be interesting if you start in a different thread a conversation about this rule of thumb you mentioned with perhaps some examples from your experience and the reasons behind such distortions in early reports, particularly the initial over-optimistic ones. I assume the personality of the subordinate is important too. Anyway, I have no intention of hijacking the thread. I just offer some food for discussion in another thread...
      I explored this dimension on the Fingerspitzengefuhl thread. The salient point was that two people can look at the same situation have different conclusions in a report. The difference between two observers is experience and not knowing what to look for or read the signs of a situation. Consequently, the report will be optimistic or pessimistic or meaningless. Many of the threads have noted the German regulations for the commander to be well forward to observe for himself and make faster decisions on the spot. In the case of those leaders who possess the fingerspitzengefuehl (a feel for the situation), they tended to be forward because they wanted to see the situation themselves and did not trust the observations of others.

      In your previous example, it seems to me no one in the brigade was well forward with any attention, or it was an intelligence collection failure, or no intelligence effort at all, or all the above.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

        I explored this dimension on the Fingerspitzengefuhl thread. The salient point was that two people can look at the same situation have different conclusions in a report. The difference between two observers is experience and not knowing what to look for or read the signs of a situation. Consequently, the report will be optimistic or pessimistic or meaningless. Many of the threads have noted the German regulations for the commander to be well forward to observe for himself and make faster decisions on the spot. In the case of those leaders who possess the fingerspitzengefuehl (a feel for the situation), they tended to be forward because they wanted to see the situation themselves and did not trust the observations of others.

        In your previous example, it seems to me no one in the brigade was well forward with any attention, or it was an intelligence collection failure, or no intelligence effort at all, or all the above.
        It was a combination of things:

        The recon regiment was giving reports of movement every half hour during the night, but of course they could not evaluate the strength of the columns. I do not recall if the brigade itself could monitor that net but the Corps certainly did and passed information to the 8th army HQ The 8th Army commander (Richie) was advised by his superior (Auckinleck) that the more likely approach for the German attack is from the center and not around Gazala, so he hesitated to arrive at conclusions that such reports show anything more than a deception or a relatively minor raid.

        Richie himself did not have access to Ultra while he knew that Auckinleck had access to other highly classified information, so this made it even more difficult to challenge his superior's estimations.

        The inaccurate German information about the Gazala line also played a part. Auckinleck made his estimation based on the actual Gazala line which DID made a wide flanking maneuver and its supply around it very risky. On the other hand, Rommel developed the concept on intelligence which underrepresented the strength of the Gazala line positions. If Rommel had Auckinleck's understanding of Gazala line, he would have perhaps changed his plan

        A book which I consider a small gem for this battle is "Dilemmas of the Desert War" by Michael Carver who was CoS for the 7th Armoured Division (IIRC). It is a small book and but the best I have read in recording the intelligence picture during the Gazala battles. It uses information of the different messages that were recorded in journals and signals registers (which, yes, are not complete) together with the author's personal experience. Obviously, this book is not intended to inform those who are not familiar with the general context of the battle.

        Anyway, I will read the thread you recommended

        Thanks
        Last edited by pamak; 01 May 20, 14:40.
        My most dangerous mission: I landed in the middle of an enemy tank battalion and I immediately, started spraying bullets killing everybody around me having fun up until my computer froze...

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
          Secret
          Order of the Stavka of Supreme Command
          No.057

          Moscow, 22 January 1942
          On combat employment of tank units and formations

          War experience demonstrated that there are still a number of large shortcomings in employment of tank forces which result in our heavy losses in tanks and personnel.
          Excessive, unjustified losses in tank forces with little combat effect occur because:
          1. Cooperation of infantry with tank formation and units in combat is still poorly organized. Infantry commanders assign tasks hurriedly and generally. Infantry in attack lags behind and doesn’t consolidate localities captured by tanks. In defense it doesn’t secure tanks positioned in ambushes, and in withdrawal it doesn’t warn commanders of tanks units about a change in situation and abandons tanks to their own devices.
          2. Tank attack is not supported by our artillery fire, tank support guns are not utilized, as a result combat vehicles are destroyed by fire of hostile anti-tank artillery.
          3. Combined-arms commanders are too hasty in commitment of tank units – they are thrown to battle immediately from the march by parts, not leaving them even time for basic reconnaissance of hostile forces and terrain.
          4. Tank units are employed by small elements or even by single tanks, which leads to dissipation of force, loss of liaison between detached tanks and a parent brigade and inability to supply them in combat. Infantry commanders to attain their limited tasks use these small groups of tanks in frontal attack, not allowing them to maneuver, thus increasing losses of combat vehicles and personnel.
          5. Combined-arms commanders care little about technical conditions of attached tank units – they frequently made them march over long distances, neglect the problem of evacuation of incapacitated vehicles, and assign combat tasks without regard of the time spent by tanks in battle without maintenance, thus increasing already large losses of tanks.
          For the point of comparison the following quote is from "Nachrichtenblatt der Panzertruppen" No.1 (Jul. 43) published by Guderian in his capacity of General Inspector of Panzertruppen

          The following points are especially conspicuous from many reports on experience of tank employment
          a) Frequent mistakes made in employment of tanks especially by non-specialist commanders:
          Splitting of tank units and formations
          Tanks are used as pillboxes on the forward line, for support of infantry assault groups and for reinforcement of reconnaissance groups.

          Premature commitment of tanks
          Too much haste in commitment of tanks to action without sufficient reconnaissance and preparation of attacks
          Employment of tanks in terrain with natural and artificial anti-tank obstacles. Isolated employment of tank units (companies) without cooperation with infantry.

          Insufficient coordination with other arms
          Employment of tanks for breakthrough of strong hostile fortified position without sufficient support from artillery and infantry. Premature commitment of tanks to action without sufficient organization of cooperation with other arms.
          Infantry is deployed behind tanks. Infantry doesn’t develop success achieved by tanks.

          Insufficient use of opportunities for tank maintenance
          Lack of understanding of the need in timely maintenance leads to excessive losses.
          I can't help a felling of deja vu.

          Comment


          • Artyom, interesting comparison. The that strikes in regulation quotes is usually the omission of the human dimension. Previously posted at Posts #323-325 is from a report from Balck in March 1943 in which he lists his major points from his success in the Chir river battles with a truncated panzer division. Two of his points turn on working against the enemy's head space through surprise and creating dilemmas.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

            Comment


            • An opinion of a French pilot in 1940, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, concerning Panzer tactics:
              (A) division should move against the enemy like water. It should bear lightly against the enemy's wall of defense, and advance only at the point where it meets no resistance.
              Quote is mentioned in Brute Force by John Ellis, amongst others.

              This was certainly the correct tactic against a paralytic Western Allied command in 1940, and against a rigid Red Army command structure in 41-42. While the higher echelons of command in the Red Army may have been mainly competent in 1942, the command structure at lower levels still saw hundreds of thousands of unnecessary Red Army losses in 42, and even beyond.
              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                (A) division should move against the enemy like water. It should bear lightly against the enemy's wall of defense, and advance only at the point where it meets no resistance.beyond.
                An interesting (counter-)example from Soviet after-action reports
                In January 1942 the 3rd Tank Brigade was a part of the 37 Army/South Front. The offensive started by the Army on 18 January (Barvenkovo-Lozovaya operation) met initial success but stalled in front of a large village Rai-Aleksandrovka. The German positions formed a discontinuous line of strongpoints, of with Rai-Aleskandrovka was the strongest. Gaps between strongpoints were controlled by fire and patrols. Several direct attacks on Rai-Aleksandrovka failed. Local command decided to change tactics and bypass the village from the left through a gap about 1 kilometer wide between Rai-Aleksandrovka and a forest south of it with tanks of the 3rd Tank Brigade (2 KV and 5 T-34 operational) and two regiments of the 14 Guards Rifle Division.
                On the morning of 26 January tanks concentrated at assembly positions and at 12.00 2 KV tanks with infantry started advance through the gap supported fire of stationary T-34s (fire and movement principle). 3 German tanks with infantry tried to counterattack from the south at 13.30 but were chased away by fire of T-34s. One KV tank contrary to orders came too close to Rai-Aleskandrovka, became involved in firefight, was knocked out and burned down. The other tank reached the Hill 222.1 south-west of Rai-Aleksandrovka. 5 T-34s moved at large speed through the gap and joined the KV. I turned out that the KV tank lost all fuel due to damage of fuel system and was immobilized. Tanks halted near the Hill 222.1 waiting for own infantry. One T-34 stuck in snow the other 4 resumed and advance with infantry toward Orekhovatka village. Three German tanks emerged from the south but were again chased away. Tanks surprisingly ran into a German truck column on road leading from Rai-Aleskandrovka, which was dispersed and partly destroyed. At 18.00-19.00 4 T-34s, infantry of the motor rifle battalion and two rifle regiments of the 14 Guards Division attacked Orekhovatka which was apparently unprepared for defense. The village with several supply dumps and a military hospital was soon captured, large trophies were taken. At 20.00 an engine of one T-34 caught fire due to overheating, the fire was extinguished but the tank remained immobilized and was positioned as a static pillbox on an edge of Orekhovatka. Own infantry, which suffered relatively few losses during a breakthrough, assumed an all-around defense in Orekhovatka.

                Scheme 1. Attack on Orekhovatka on 26.1.42

                3 TBr 26.1.42.jpg
                In the following days the garrison stayed isolated behind the German lines. Liaison with friendly forces was only possible by small groups of men under cover of darkness, supply was completely impossible. Initial German counterattacks on Orekhovatka were repulsed, however remaining Soviet tanks were incapacitated. On the night of 30/31.1.42 a new counterattack started after a strong fire preparation and dislodged the Soviet garrison from Orekhovatka. Survivors broke out to join friendly troops through the same gap where attack was made on 26.1.42. The ultimate failure of the operation meant an end of Soviet attempts to achieve success in this sector.

                Scheme 2. German counterattack and escape of Orekhovatka garrison on 31.1.42

                3 TBr 31.1.42.jpg
                This example demonstrates both capabilities and limitations of “infiltration” tactics. A group of tanks and infantry could pass through a gap in a hostile line and wreak havoc in German rear an capture some supply installations. However, without a sufficiently large breach in German lines they were isolated from friendly forces and ultimately defeated. A natural question is what would happen if this force was stronger (let’s say several dozen tanks) and was sufficiently supported by long range artillery and air forces. The brigade staff in its analysis suggested that in this case outcome could be quite different. However, with very limited forces available IRL widening the breach instead of distant raids in the hostile rear would be probably a better option.

                The story is told in the history of the 3 Tank Brigade (1945), which is an interesting example of early unit histories written during the war or shortly after the war.

                Comment


                • The timing and actions seem strange. The "infiltration" was conducted with T-34's providing fire support for the infantry versus regimental or divisional artillery support. The penetrating group stayed several days behind enemy lines before the German counterattack. This suggests a raid against a German supply depot, vice an infiltration which would have been followed by a general attack.

                  Reminds me of the XXIV Tank Corps' Tatsinskaia raid into the enemy rear in December 1942--same pattern.
                  Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 09 May 20, 02:21.
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                  Comment


                  • Apparently the idea was that envelopment would force German to abandon Rai-Aleksandrovka. However, that didn't happen. Direct attacks on that village also failed. My conclusion is that infiltration alone without some brute force actions didn't work. The brute force was a huge problem for RA of the early 1942, since taking any godforsaken village cost much nerves, efforts and casualties.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                      The brute force was a huge problem for RA of the early 1942, since taking any godforsaken village cost much nerves, efforts and casualties.
                      Agree with your point on brute force.

                      Some aspects of the seemingly mindless brute force was the experience level in leadership: 1) with the purges in the late 1930's, officers of all rank levels were rapidly elevated to position much higher than their experience level; 2) close to point 1 was the rapid expansion of the Red Army at the start of the war which created a serious shortfall in officers and those brought on received an accelerated and brief training before thrown into battlefield leadership; 3) pre-war training had been lacking and inadequate with fielding of new weapons systems; 4) by mid-July untrained and green/untried troops were scraped together for multiple, often hasty counterattacks against the advancing Germans (which has unusual leadership demands in combat)--while this effort "derailed" the German invasion (they could not knock-out the Red Army), the Red Army's staying on the battlefields was paid for in blood through brute force.
                      Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 09 May 20, 08:12.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                      Comment


                      • By problems with brute force I mean inability to take German positions by assault, even those positions which were relatively lightly fortified.

                        Comment


                        • The following document, while containing no particular revelations, is still interesting for historical reasons. Excerpts from the GRU Intelligence Bulletin No.46 "The opponent about the Red Army tank force" (not earlier than October 1942):

                          While preparing his treacherous attack on the
                          Soviet Union the command of the German fascist army paid special attention to study of the Red Army tank force.

                          Hostile documents captured by our troops reveal that this study went along three principal directions:
                          1. Soviet tank materiel
                          2. Tactical and operational employment of Red Army’s tank force
                          3. Methods of fighting versus Soviet tanks.

                          The principal guide on the Red Army’s tanks was the booklet “Principal tanks of the
                          Soviet Union” issued on 1 June 1941. However, in this booklet there was no information about the most powerful and modern tanks already in service with the Red Army tank force by that moment (KV and T-34 tanks).


                          The guiding publication for study of tactics and operational employment of the Red Army tank force was a secret order No.1951 issued by the ground forces’ General Staff on 17 … 1941. This order provides analysis of possible actions of out tank units and formation based on information published in Soviet press. In conclusion the order says:
                          “Development of views on tank employment in the Red Army is getting closer to a principle that support of infantry is not the main mission of tanks and simultaneously independent operational employment of the tank force comes to a forefront.
                          Attempts of operational employment of tank and mechanized formation under the present conditions of the Red Army are bound to fail in view of problems of command and supply. For this reason employment of large motorized and mechanized formations for large offensive operations cannot be expected. These formations will be employed mainly as mobile operational reserves for attack on penetrating hostile forces.”
                          The piece quoted above demonstrates that before the attack on the
                          Soviet Union the high command of the German Army didn’t expect to meet a serious opponent in Red Army’s tank force.


                          In the course of fighting the command of the German fascist army was forced to alter their views on the Red Army’s tank force.
                          A series of bitter tank battles at the border, defeat of the German 39 Army Corps at
                          Minsk with active participation of our tanks, and finally the Red Army’s offensive in December of the last year – all that demonstrated the real strength of Soviet tanks.


                          The greatest surprise for the opponent was the presence of powerful medium and heavy tanks with battle qualities far superior to German tanks, which is evidenced by a number of captured documents. For example, the order of the enemy’s 8 Tank Division of 1.10.41 reads:
                          “The fact that the enemy uses heavy tanks, which cannot be defeated by German tanks, forces us to seek ways out of this predicament.
                          German tanks, meant in normal conditions for destroying hostile tanks in offensive combat, in this campaign are not capable of fulfilling this task with their present weapons. Hence, destruction of heavy tanks is assigned to special infantry squads. ”
                          In a leaflet “Combat versus T-34 tanks” the Germans gives the following assessment of this tank: “At the present time the T-34 is the best tanks of the Red Army. It is very fast, well-armored, armed with a76-mm guns, and equipped with modern optical sights. High angle slopped armor reinforces protection of the tank.
                          However, absence of commander’s cupola impairs command of the tank. The commander has to observe through a slit or a periscope. Cases were noticed when tanks were seemingly unable to spot fleeting targets”.

                          Some documents of hostile units and formations present an appraisal of results of combat between German and Soviet tanks. Interesting in this respect is the document written by the 2nd Battalion/36 Tank Regiment of the 14 Tank Division describing the result of combat on 17.8.41. This document reads: “When the battalion started an attack on hostile tanks they opened intensive fire.
                          Hostile tank crews are seemingly well aware of the fact that the fire of German tanks is ineffective at distances 800-1000 meters.
                          At close distance the fire of hostile tankers is poor and inaccurate.
                          Hostile heavy tanks are very fast. In pursuit the battalion had to switch to the 6th gear to keep up with the enemy.
                          The weak point of the Russian heavy tank is poor observation.
                          Distinctive qualities of enemy’s tank crews are tenacity and aggressiveness in attack and mutual support in combat. Hostile tank crews fight to the last man. Until now no hostile tankers were taken prisoners but preferred death to captivity. There were cases in combat when tankers rescued heavy tanks but towing them to their territory.
                          Destruction of hostile heavy tanks by the tank battalion (36 Tank Regiment) requires such a large expenditure of ammunition that supply of this amount under combat conditions is hardly possible. For instance, in two engagements (evening of 18.8.41 and 19.8.41) the battalion expended the entire ammunition load, ammunition of the 1st echelon of combat trains and the reserve stock and had to resort to assistance of the 1st Battalion.
                          Employment of 88-mm anti-aircraft guns for combat versus hostile heavy tanks and attachment of these guns to the head of the column is very urgent.”

                          Actions of Soviet tanks in one order of the 17 Army (July 1941) were described the following way: “Heavy tanks as a rule operate on roads, since off roads they bog down in soil.
                          These tanks are frequently used at twilight or at night. The task of light and medium tanks that accompany them is to distract the enemy and allow heavy tanks to advance to a close distance. Heavy tank use bright headlights when attacking objectives in order to blind the enemy. However, their light strongly dissipates with distance.”
                          A similar document of 7.11.41 compiled by HQ of the 4 Tank Army gives the following assessment of Red Army tank force:
                          “In this campaign Soviet tanks were meant exclusively for close support of infantry. Usually, tanks are employed by groups of about 10 vehicles.
                          In defense dug-in Russian tanks were frequently employed as pillboxes.
                          Cooperation between tanks and other arms and also fire support of tanks is lacking.
                          Tanks crews are composed of picked men with excellent battle spirit,
                          Currently a lack of well-trained personnel with knowledge of tanks is felt.”

                          Obsolete materiel which was frequently employed at the beginning of the campaign was gradually replaced with heavy tanks such as T-34, T-35, 52 ton and 65 ton tanks, which are superior to German tanks in their armor and should be viewed as good modern tanks.
                          German anti-tank weapons were not sufficiently effective against Russian tanks.
                          “Coordination with artillery and aviation was, as a rule, inadequate and sometimes completely absent. No coordination between fire and movement. In most cases attack was made frontally. Envelopment and flanking attacks were employed by units not larger than a battalion or a regiment. Almost every attack of infantry was supported by some number of tanks, but cooperation between them was poor. There are the following shortcomings in attack: hesitating advance at the start of attack and only by single tanks, attacks against weak spots but only to a small depth.”

                          In conclusion one should mention a particularly large number of captured documents giving high praise to qualities of our tanks, especially heavy and medium and admitting their superiority to German tanks, which evidences serious attention paid by the Germans to this subject. At the same time emphasis should be laid on a number of serious shortcomings in equipment and employment of tank force noticed by the opponent.

                          Technical problems of our tanks described by the enemy include poor observation from a tank and in particular an absence of commander cupola. The opponent also noticed that our tanks catch fire relatively easily due to a sick paint on armor.
                          The Germans don’t rate tactics of our tanks highly. Shortcomings of tactical employment of Soviet tanks according to the enemy include:
                          a) Lack of precise cooperation in combat with infantry and other arms
                          b) Poor communication and cooperation within a tank unit
                          c) Absence of systematic exploitation of success achieved in attack

                          While mentioning courage and self-sacrifice of our tankers the opponent believes that individual crews have the following problems:
                          - lack of confidence in driving the tank
                          - absence of skill in fast spotting of targets appearing on the battlefield
                          - inaccurate fire at close distance
                          https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=452076547
                          I would draw attention to a business-like character of this publication with a minimal dose of propaganda.

                          Comment


                          • Agree with your assessment on historical insight and dating. The Germans were surprised by the T-34's and KV's. At the tactical, operational level the German rating on tank employment is valid until late 1942 with the counteroffensive around Stalingrad.
                            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                            Comment


                            • I'm pretty sure that "support of infantry is not the main mission of tanks" was German idiosyncrasy but not something they read from Soviet military literature.

                              Anyway, returning to the 3rd Tank Brigade, that is a compilation of several after-action reports summarizing battle experience by April 1942

                              Summary of operations of the 3rd Tank Brigade (September 1941 – April 1942)

                              1. Enemy
                              Hostile defense consists of a chain of fortified settlements having well-organized fire system, anti-tank guns and minefields. Intervals between settlements are fortified with single dugouts and pillboxes with small groups of infantry. On probable avenues of tank attacks there are strong centers of resistance with all-around defense. Terrain of South Ukraine canalizes tank actions to certain avenues, which can be determined in advance and where anti-tank weapons and mines are concentrated.

                              During winter German tanks were employed only by small groups. Of about 30 German counterattacks in January-March each included 2-10 tanks. Tanks are employed very sparingly: fire from defiladed positions, surprise appearance on the battlefield and equally fast disappearance. Save for rare exceptions German tanks never frontally attacked our tanks even with two-fold superiority. Of fifteen attacks launched by our tanks in January-February only two resulted in engagements versus German tanks, in each case they retreated after loosing one or two vehicles. Usually German tanks are employed for counterattacks on our infantry not supported by tanks and only when terrain is definitely accessible for tanks. Counterattacks are short and fall back every time they meet fire of our anti-tank guns or tanks. When terrain was unsuitable or fuel was lacking German tanks were employed as static pillboxes dug-in or camouflaged behind ruins of houses.

                              Increasing use of night counterattacks. Almost all counterattacks in February-March were launched at night or twilight. All troop movements are executed at night.

                              Air forces
                              Airplanes were employed by relatively large groups (from 5 to 25). Air support is usually called when our troops press German defenders or make a penetration in defense positions. In general Germans rapidly react to changes of situation and instantly call air support. Airplanes mostly employ dive bombing, each attack lasts 20-30 minutes. They mostly seek morale effect, material effect of bombing is very small.

                              Command and control
                              We don’t see the entire process of hostile operations on the battlefield so it is difficult to make judgments about C&C. However, we see that as soon as our troops appear from any direction they instantly draw hostile fire, including neighboring sectors. When our troops penetrate German defenses they instantly call their air forces.
                              Germans commit their tanks only when they see that our tanks have suffered large losses and they have two-fold or larger superiority or when they know that our infantry attacks without tanks.
                              Hence, C&C is well established, observation is even better, communications operate without interruptions.
                              Aerial reconnaissance is well organized: single airplanes from small altitudes observe our troops, assembly areas and march directions.

                              2. Battle formations of the brigade
                              It is impossible to recommend one formation which would be equally suitable for any situation. When attacking strongly fortified positions and in normal terrain the brigade is formed into two echelons: heavy tanks in the first and medium tanks in the second echelon. Light tanks are worth to be left in brigade reserve. It is necessary to have two or three T-34s forward as battle reconnaissance to probe hostile anti-tank defenses and mined areas. In practice, reconnaissance was frequently ignored which cost us many unnecessary losses.
                              When there are artificial natural obstacles the attack should be initiated by infantry supported by artillery and mortar fire and tanks should be committed for exploitation after infantry overcomes these obstacles. In this case a three-echelon formation is recommended. Unfortunately, in winter operations the brigade was never fully equipped with tanks and never had enough forces to form echelons in depth. Even bigger flaw was absence of tank reserve which explains many our failures.

                              3. Employment of tanks.
                              For greater effect tanks should be employed in mass. When attacking strong hostile defense tanks should be employed in close cooperation with infantry and other arms. When hostile defense is weak and there are gaps or open flanks, tanks should be employed against an open flank in tactical coordination with forces making a frontal attack. When the tank brigade is initially in reserve and the breakthrough is executed by other units, the brigade should be committed as a whole unit for exploitation.

                              There is a need to rediscover the long range tank group described by armored force manual of 1935 but now altogether forgotten. Hostile rear areas are almost vacant of troops and deep raids would have an immense effect. For example, when our troops took Orekhovatka in hostile rear it was easy to occupy any of large cities Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. For such operation the brigade should be employed as a whole in cooperation with cavalry and motorized infantry. Long range group should include not less than 30 tanks preferably of the same type of with the same speed and cross-country performance and well-trained tank-transported infantry. To eliminate flanking fire the breakthrough should be executed on a sufficiently broad front (not less than 3 divisions). In addition to the long-range group dedicated tanks should be assigned for close support of infantry otherwise it would be stopped and the long range group would be separated.

                              Tanks can be positioned behind infantry only when there are obstacles impassable for tanks on the forward line. After obstacles are passed tanks advance forward and take position ahead of infantry. It is not advisable to leave tanks on the battlefield at nighttime, since their capabilities for observation and fire in darkness are very limited. Also tanks are subjected to a threat of surprise night attack. Infantry has enough weapons to beat off night attacks. Nighttime should be used for maintenance, replenishment of ammunition and fuel and rest.

                              The main flaw of combat employment of the brigade was a small number of operational tanks. For that reason the commander almost never had a tank reserve which was badly needed. With a limited number of tanks they should be employed for close support of infantry. Attempts to use small groups of tanks for independent missions didn’t lead and couldn’t lead to any effect.
                              The underlined part was apparently an aftermath of the Orekhovatka raid in January 1942, described above on this page. It seems that the officers who wrote these reports didn't fully appreciate the difference between "long range tank groups" as defined by Soviet manuals of mid-30s and raiding or exploitation force. It also reinforces my earlier suspicions that frequent changes in doctrine (at least four different armor tactical doctrines in ten pre-war years) disoriented even officers with sufficient expertise and led to a mess of pieces of "old" and "new" doctrine.

                              Comment


                              • Interesting observation, I recall as a young captain working in the division tactical command post where I overheard two armor Generals arguing over the definitions of maneuver and movement. This was in a period post-Vietnam when the American army had to relearn conventional war tactics for armored and mechanized forces versus years of insurgency warfare. I remembered from readings in German accounts of WWII that they believed the American commanders were difficult to predict because they did not follow their manuals.

                                Your observation on the frequent changes disorienting officers could be the result of different schools of thought or interpretation (as noted in the generals' argument). Remember part of Tukhachevsky's modernization of the Red Army in the 1930's was an opposition by the old guard reluctance to move from the infantry based old army and a mobility at the speed of cavalry which was nowhere near the large tank force, motorized infantry, and airborne troops for a fast-fighting force.

                                Good points of discussion.
                                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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