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  • Soviets the first to explore "Lightning Warfare"

    On pages 115-117 of "Grand Delusion" author Gabriel Gorodetsky writes:

    As war with Germany loomed,Soviet mechanized forces were in the middle of a massive reorganization of their force structure and change out of tanks and equipment.To ascertain why this was so,a brief introduction to Soviet doctrinal thinking as it evolved in the 1920's and 1930's is necessary.

    It is one of the great ironies of history that it was not the Germans but the Russians - led by the "prodigious trio" of generals,Tuchachevsky,Triandafillov,and Isseron - who first introduced the concept of an "operational" level of warfare - an intermediate level of warfare falling between the Clausewitzian categories of strategy and tactics.In the process,these highly innovative thinkers devised an "entirely original doctrine",which found its fullest expression in a concept known as "deep operations".

    Simply stated, "deep operations" envisioned the use of robust armored and motorized forces - echeloned in depth and cooperating with infantry and artillery - to rapidly breach the enemy front and then exploit the initial success by conducting operational maneuvers far to the rear of the enemy's main deployment.

    Regards,Kurt
    Last edited by Colonel Sennef; 26 Mar 16, 05:49. Reason: spelling
    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
    On pages 115-117 of "Grand Delusion" author Gabriel Gorodetsky writes:

    As war with Germany loomed,Soviet mechanized forces were in the middle of a massive reorganization of their force structure and change out of tanks and equipment.To ascertain why this was so,a brief introduction to Soviet doctrinal thinking as it evolved in the 1920's and 1930's is necessary.

    It is one of the great ironies of history that it was not the Germans but the Russians - led by the "prodigious trio" of generals,Tuchachevsky,Triandafillov,and Isseron - who first introduced the concept of an "operational" level of warfare - an intermediate level of warfare falling between the Clausewitzian categories of strategy and tactics.In the process,these highly innovative thinkers devised an "entirely original doctrine",which found its fullest expression in a concept known as "deep operations".

    Simply stated, "deep operations" envisioned the use of robust armored and motorized forces - echeloned in depth and cooperating with infantry and artillery - to rapidly breach the enemy front and then exploit the initial success by conducting operational maneuvers far to the rear of the enemy's main deployment.

    Regards,Kurt
    If you are thinking 20th century, good point, but the ideas of deep penetration and lightning warfare were around under other names--Wilson's 1865 raid in the US Civil War comes to mind.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
      On pages 115-117 of "Grand Delusion" author Gabriel Gorodetsky writes:

      As war with Germany loomed,Soviet mechanized forces were in the middle of a massive reorganization of their force structure and change out of tanks and equipment.To ascertain why this was so,a brief introduction to Soviet doctrinal thinking as it evolved in the 1920's and 1930's is necessary.

      It is one of the great ironies of history that it was not the Germans but the Russians - led by the "prodigious trio" of generals,Tuchachevsky,Triandafillov,and Isseron - who first introduced the concept of an "operational" level of warfare - an intermediate level of warfare falling between the Clausewitzian categories of strategy and tactics.In the process,these highly innovative thinkers devised an "entirely original doctrine",which found its fullest expression in a concept known as "deep operations".

      Simply stated, "deep operations" envisioned the use of robust armored and motorized forces - echeloned in depth and cooperating with infantry and artillery - to rapidly breach the enemy front and then exploit the initial success by conducting operational maneuvers far to the rear of the enemy's main deployment.

      Regards,Kurt
      This is going all over the place.....

      First of all, "Lightning Warfare" is not a well-defined concept. I think it is safe to say that as a term relating to modern warfare, it emerged in the early interwar period as one way of describing the concept if a strategic assault. I.e. an army could use modern technology (planes, motorvehicles, tanks) to overrun another country before they had a chance to mobilize and prepare. That was the basic concept lumbering in the minds of people - particularily journalists - as they sought to describe what happened in warfare the late 1930ies and in particular in 1939.
      The German high command used the term just like anyone else - i.e. to describe a strategic assault in vague terms, but did not have a detailed concept and even less a blueprint for "Blitzkrieg" at any point before or during the war.

      Secondly, "operational level of warfare" as something between tactics and strategy is hardly something invented by the Soviets in the interwar period. Operational level warfare was conducted long before that and AFAIK also identified as a particular thing long before that. The Soviets - being good marxist theorists - put some effort into defining the operational level of warfare in a modern context in the interwar period. In that sense, they were a lot more disciplined than the Germans, I guess

      Thirdly, I think it is highly debatable whether the Germans ever conducted "deep operations". I think some German generals wanted to during Barbarossa, but generally the Germans remained solidly footed in their 1800s tradition of using tactical victories to surround their enemy and force his military forces to surrender, after which the political will of the enemy would be broken and terms negotiated or forced down the throat of the opponent. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not, but the Germans seems to have viewed the occasions were it did not as some kind of malfunction that could be ignored once the machine was up and running again. Case in point - WWI.

      Bottom line, I think Gorodetsky is evaluating warfare theory and practice in the interwar period from the viewpoint of Soviet operational warfare, ignoring the fact that it was highly experimental, ill-defined, often made-up-as-you go and thus constantly developing.

      As an example, what the Germans were doing in Poland was not the same as they were doing in France which was again something different from what they were trying to do in the USSR in 1941. They developed their theory and practice all the time and never had a blue print for "Blitzkrieg".

      On a side note, someone has rather unkindly suggested that while the Soviets developed a concept of operational art that they eventually made work, the Germans were simply tinkering with different tactical patterns. The element of truth in this may be that the Soviets, thinking in - or being forced to think in - the highly theoretical marxist framework, had to develop an actual theory, while the Germans were more practically inclined and having a hands on approach, not really developing any grand theory of modern warfare.
      Post-war writes have always liked to force such a theory on the Germans - i.e. a done and dusted "Blitzkrieg" concept - but that is really a fabrication.

      Comment


      • #4
        Every country developed their inter-war military plans according to their own prevailing strategic dynamic. France's were predicated by a low birth rate and fears of a resurgent Germany. The USSR developed a combined arms theory that initially exceeded their capability to implement. Their military also pursued/were forced to pursue an aggressive doctrine due to a preponderance of hostile regimes on their borders and the realisation that to defeat the enemy offensives need to be undertaken. Germany, while it retained an active General Staff, for much of the inter-war period lacked an air force and heavy artillery. It was also comparatively weaker than the combination of armies it could expect to face on either the western or extreme eastern border, thus the air force was co-opted as auxiliary artillery.

        All of them based their doctrines on both national traditions and the experience of WWI trench warfare.

        Comment


        • #5
          Army Group North, led by Field Marshall Ritter von Leeb,advanced 80 kilometers on the opening day of Operation Barbarossa.

          Advancing on a narrow front with one panzer group(Generaloberst Hopner's Panzergruppe 4)with 590 tanks and two infantry armies protecting the flanks, Panzer General von Manstein's 56th Panzer Corp as the Schwerpunkt reached the Dubissa River capturing the Airogola viaduct across it. All of this was accomplished by the late afternoon of 22 June. I would say this is but one example of deep penetration.

          The Russians had planned on using the doctrine of deep penetration for an eventual attack to the west but their forces although deeply improved with numbers of men and machines (this military and industrial buildup made possible by starving millions to death in the collectivization period) were still not ready for an offensive in 1941.The military purges did not help either.Although Hitler used the "preemptive strike" myth/propaganda to the German population to validate his attack on Russia this was a flat out lie.

          Regards,Kurt
          Last edited by Kurt Knispel; 26 Mar 16, 02:36.
          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
            Army Group North, led by Field Marshall Ritter von Leeb,advanced 80 kilometers on the opening day of Operation Barbarossa.

            Advancing on a narrow front with one panzer group(Generaloberst Hopner's Panzergruppe 4)with 590 tanks and two infantry armies protecting the flanks, Panzer General von Manstein's 56th Panzer Corp as the Schwerpunkt reached the Dubissa River capturing the Airogola viaduct across it. All of this was accomplished by the late afternoon of 22 June. I would say this is but one example of deep penetration.
            "Deep penetrations" does not a deep battle or deep operation make

            As I understand it, the Soviet concept of "deep battle" differed considerably from German military thinking:

            - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
            - "Deep battle" consisted of multiple operations - simultaneously and/or succesively - which would disrupt the enemys defenses to the point of failure, after which they could basically be overrun

            The Germans were focusing on defeating the enemy in one, major operation with the purpose of encircling and destroying the enemys armed forces:

            - In Poland, the Germans attacked from the north and the south towards Warsaw with the purpose of encircling the Polish Army between the German border and the Vistula river.
            - In France, the Germans attacked from Luxembourg towards the Channel with the purpose of encircling the British and French forces and knocking Belgium and Holland out of the war.
            - The German attack on Yugoslavia consisted of a number of encircling operations, surrounding Yugoslav armies.
            - The plan for Barbarossa also focused on surrounding Soviet forces and preventing them from retreating east.

            Obviously, in order to surround an enemy force, you need to make deep penetrations to get behind the enemy and close the pocket, preventing his escape.
            But as I understand the concept of a "deep battle", deep penetrations were not a necessity in the initial phase, but something which would happen once the enemys defenses started to crumble from the simultaneous and/or succesive blows inflicted on a wide front. Once the possibility arose, the attacking forces would drive deep into enemy held territory, heading for their objectives.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by cbo View Post
              "Deep penetrations" does not a deep battle or deep operation make

              As I understand it, the Soviet concept of "deep battle" differed considerably from German military thinking:

              - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
              - "Deep battle" consisted of multiple operations - simultaneously and/or succesively - which would disrupt the enemys defenses to the point of failure, after which they could basically be overrun

              The Germans were focusing on defeating the enemy in one, major operation with the purpose of encircling and destroying the enemys armed forces:

              - In Poland, the Germans attacked from the north and the south towards Warsaw with the purpose of encircling the Polish Army between the German border and the Vistula river.
              - In France, the Germans attacked from Luxembourg towards the Channel with the purpose of encircling the British and French forces and knocking Belgium and Holland out of the war.
              - The German attack on Yugoslavia consisted of a number of encircling operations, surrounding Yugoslav armies.
              - The plan for Barbarossa also focused on surrounding Soviet forces and preventing them from retreating east.

              Obviously, in order to surround an enemy force, you need to make deep penetrations to get behind the enemy and close the pocket, preventing his escape.
              But as I understand the concept of a "deep battle", deep penetrations were not a necessity in the initial phase, but something which would happen once the enemys defenses started to crumble from the simultaneous and/or succesive blows inflicted on a wide front. Once the possibility arose, the attacking forces would drive deep into enemy held territory, heading for their objectives.
              I do know the concept of lightning warfare/maneuver warfare in which mechanized corps/divisions are to lead the way at the Schwerpunkt followed by infantry in support and then in turn supported by the armor which made the initial "penetration" an then surround the enemy and destroy it. At what point we can call it "deep penetration" I do not know 50 km ?...100 km ?...200 km ?...

              cont....Kurt
              Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by cbo View Post
                "Deep penetrations" does not a deep battle or deep operation make

                As I understand it, the Soviet concept of "deep battle" differed considerably from German military thinking:

                - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
                - "Deep battle" consisted of multiple operations - simultaneously and/or succesively - which would disrupt the enemys defenses to the point of failure, after which they could basically be overrun

                The Germans were focusing on defeating the enemy in one, major operation with the purpose of encircling and destroying the enemys armed forces:

                - In Poland, the Germans attacked from the north and the south towards Warsaw with the purpose of encircling the Polish Army between the German border and the Vistula river.
                - In France, the Germans attacked from Luxembourg towards the Channel with the purpose of encircling the British and French forces and knocking Belgium and Holland out of the war.
                - The German attack on Yugoslavia consisted of a number of encircling operations, surrounding Yugoslav armies.
                - The plan for Barbarossa also focused on surrounding Soviet forces and preventing them from retreating east.

                Obviously, in order to surround an enemy force, you need to make deep penetrations to get behind the enemy and close the pocket, preventing his escape.
                But as I understand the concept of a "deep battle", deep penetrations were not a necessity in the initial phase, but something which would happen once the enemys defenses started to crumble from the simultaneous and/or succesive blows inflicted on a wide front. Once the possibility arose, the attacking forces would drive deep into enemy held territory, heading for their objectives.
                German operational and tactical level panzer doctrine incorporated elements of the Stosstruppen tactics of 1918,with a preference for infiltration and encirclement ,rather then costly,frontal attacks.

                The panzers would push boldly ahead of the non-motorized infantry divisions,who would have to rely upon assault gun batteries for close support in completing the breakthrough battle.German doctrine assumed that once the enemy was encircled in a kessel that they would either quickly surrender or be annihilated with concentric attacks.

                The doctrinal preference was to use pairs of panzer divisions or corps to encircle an enemy with double envelopment's,rather then a riskier single envelopment approach.

                cont.....Kurt
                Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  "Deep penetrations" does not a deep battle or deep operation make

                  As I understand it, the Soviet concept of "deep battle" differed considerably from German military thinking:

                  - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
                  - "Deep battle" consisted of multiple operations - simultaneously and/or succesively - which would disrupt the enemys defenses to the point of failure, after which they could basically be overrun

                  The Germans were focusing on defeating the enemy in one, major operation with the purpose of encircling and destroying the enemys armed forces:

                  - In Poland, the Germans attacked from the north and the south towards Warsaw with the purpose of encircling the Polish Army between the German border and the Vistula river.
                  - In France, the Germans attacked from Luxembourg towards the Channel with the purpose of encircling the British and French forces and knocking Belgium and Holland out of the war.
                  - The German attack on Yugoslavia consisted of a number of encircling operations, surrounding Yugoslav armies.
                  - The plan for Barbarossa also focused on surrounding Soviet forces and preventing them from retreating east.

                  Obviously, in order to surround an enemy force, you need to make deep penetrations to get behind the enemy and close the pocket, preventing his escape.
                  But as I understand the concept of a "deep battle", deep penetrations were not a necessity in the initial phase, but something which would happen once the enemys defenses started to crumble from the simultaneous and/or succesive blows inflicted on a wide front. Once the possibility arose, the attacking forces would drive deep into enemy held territory, heading for their objectives.
                  In Russia deep operations envisaged the use of armored and motorized forces,echeloned in depth and cooperating with infantry and artillery, to rapidly breach the enemy front and then exploit the initial success by conducting operational maneuvers far to the rear of the enemy's main deployment. While at the time radically new (in Russian war doctrine), such thinking was clearly in line with the manifestly offensive orientation of Soviet military doctrine since the 1920's. The concept of strategic defense had no place in the doctrinal universe of the Soviet high command at the time. Stalin as well was committed to the doctrine of offensive action. Any war fought by the Soviet Union,regardless of the posture of her foreign policy, was going to be fought on the enemy's soil.

                  cont...Kurt
                  Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cbo View Post
                    "Deep penetrations" does not a deep battle or deep operation make

                    As I understand it, the Soviet concept of "deep battle" differed considerably from German military thinking:

                    - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
                    - "Deep battle" consisted of multiple operations - simultaneously and/or succesively - which would disrupt the enemys defenses to the point of failure, after which they could basically be overrun

                    The Germans were focusing on defeating the enemy in one, major operation with the purpose of encircling and destroying the enemys armed forces:

                    - In Poland, the Germans attacked from the north and the south towards Warsaw with the purpose of encircling the Polish Army between the German border and the Vistula river.
                    - In France, the Germans attacked from Luxembourg towards the Channel with the purpose of encircling the British and French forces and knocking Belgium and Holland out of the war.
                    - The German attack on Yugoslavia consisted of a number of encircling operations, surrounding Yugoslav armies.
                    - The plan for Barbarossa also focused on surrounding Soviet forces and preventing them from retreating east.

                    Obviously, in order to surround an enemy force, you need to make deep penetrations to get behind the enemy and close the pocket, preventing his escape.
                    But as I understand the concept of a "deep battle", deep penetrations were not a necessity in the initial phase, but something which would happen once the enemys defenses started to crumble from the simultaneous and/or succesive blows inflicted on a wide front. Once the possibility arose, the attacking forces would drive deep into enemy held territory, heading for their objectives.
                    The Russian prerequisite for transforming deep operations from a concept into concrete reality was of course,the creation of a large, independent and effective mechanized force. In 1930,the Russians established an experimental mechanized (tank) brigade. By 1932 they had 4 such brigades and by 1936 the size of the force had expanded into 4 mechanized corps,as well as a host of mechanized brigades, tank regiments, and tank battalions. In 1938, a Soviet tank corp was composed of 12,710 men, 560 tanks, and 118 guns. By 1939, the Soviets had 5 such corps in their force structure. deep operations were also to be promoted by the formulation of airborne brigades,which slowly increased in numbers and size up to June 1941.

                    cont...Kurt
                    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cbo View Post
                      "Deep penetrations" does not a deep battle or deep operation make

                      As I understand it, the Soviet concept of "deep battle" differed considerably from German military thinking:

                      - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
                      - "Deep battle" consisted of multiple operations - simultaneously and/or succesively - which would disrupt the enemys defenses to the point of failure, after which they could basically be overrun

                      The Germans were focusing on defeating the enemy in one, major operation with the purpose of encircling and destroying the enemys armed forces:

                      - In Poland, the Germans attacked from the north and the south towards Warsaw with the purpose of encircling the Polish Army between the German border and the Vistula river.
                      - In France, the Germans attacked from Luxembourg towards the Channel with the purpose of encircling the British and French forces and knocking Belgium and Holland out of the war.
                      - The German attack on Yugoslavia consisted of a number of encircling operations, surrounding Yugoslav armies.
                      - The plan for Barbarossa also focused on surrounding Soviet forces and preventing them from retreating east.

                      Obviously, in order to surround an enemy force, you need to make deep penetrations to get behind the enemy and close the pocket, preventing his escape.
                      But as I understand the concept of a "deep battle", deep penetrations were not a necessity in the initial phase, but something which would happen once the enemys defenses started to crumble from the simultaneous and/or succesive blows inflicted on a wide front. Once the possibility arose, the attacking forces would drive deep into enemy held territory, heading for their objectives.
                      In the period before the war with Germany, however, the concept of deep operations while never completely abandoned, was significantly modified, even it appears, forgotten for a time. The Tukhachevsky group, mentioned in the opening post of this thread became a victim of the purges and was liquidated in 1937. secondly, the experiences of the Russians in Spain (1936-39), eastern Poland (1939), and Finland (1939-40) convinced the Soviet military leadership that the use of large, independently operating tank corps was not a good fit for the modern battlefield. While the tanks themselves were too prone to mechanical breakdowns and logistical problems. Thus in late 1939,the decision was taken to abolish the 5 existing tank corps and replace them with smaller combined arms units with fewer tanks.

                      This decision, however, soon colided with the reality of the German blitzkrieg which resulted in dramatic victories in 1939 and 1940 and shattered Soviet confidence that they had acted judiciously in eliminating the tank corps inciting some within the Soviet command to respond, My God,they picked up our ideas and are effectively implementing them while we have gone in the opposite direction !! , the rapid German victory over France was the real eye-opener here.

                      Regards,Kurt
                      Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cbo View Post
                        Thirdly, I think it is highly debatable whether the Germans ever conducted "deep operations"
                        Isserson (1940) stated that German 1939 campaign in Poland was a realization of hitherto abstract idea of deep operations. And many similar statements in the same book with an analyzes of the Polish campaign. I guess he possessed something like an expertise.
                        - "Deep battle" did not envision the defeat of the enemys armed forces with one, big operation. Instead, it sought to achieve strategic goals by a series of operations - defensive and offensive - wearing the enemy down.
                        That was termed "successive operations", i.e. a series of operations, one following after another. If we use Soviet terms that Fall Gelb and Fall Rot in 1940 were successive operations, Belostok-Minsk and Smolensk in 1941 were successive operations etc. No actual disagreement here.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                          The Tukhachevsky group, mentioned in the opening post of this thread became a victim of the purges and was liquidated in 1937.
                          Hell what? Triandafillov was killed in an aircrush accident in 1931. Isserson was still publishing books in 1940, as seen from the post above, also he was already a marginal figure by that moment. Those two were real masterminds behind Soviet military theory unlike a bogus genius Tukhachevsky.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                            I do know the concept of lightning warfare/maneuver warfare in which mechanized corps/divisions are to lead the way at the Schwerpunkt followed by infantry in support and then in turn supported by the armor which made the initial "penetration" an then surround the enemy and destroy it. At what point we can call it "deep penetration" I do not know 50 km ?...100 km ?...200 km ?...
                            Doesn't really matter as "deep penetration" is not the concept that is up for discussion, as far as I can tell

                            The Germans did not have a concept for lightning warfare, nor did anyone else. It is term referring to the "strategic assault", used by journalists to describe the German attack on Poland, then being used as a propaganda term.
                            The concept for manouver warfare that the Germans had were little more than a mechanized version of German Army operational thinking since 1870.

                            The point here being, that it had very little to do with what the Soviets were tinkering with in the 1920ies and 30ies.

                            Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                            German operational and tactical level panzer doctrine incorporated elements of the Stosstruppen tactics of 1918,with a preference for infiltration and encirclement ,rather then costly,frontal attacks.

                            The panzers would push boldly ahead of the non-motorized infantry divisions,who would have to rely upon assault gun batteries for close support in completing the breakthrough battle.German doctrine assumed that once the enemy was encircled in a kessel that they would either quickly surrender or be annihilated with concentric attacks.

                            The doctrinal preference was to use pairs of panzer divisions or corps to encircle an enemy with double envelopment's,rather then a riskier single envelopment approach.
                            Aside from the fact that the Germans did not have a fixed concept as you describe here, I agree that the Germans at the operational level were aiming for an envelopment of the enemys forces. As they had been doing since 1866. At the operational level, it had little to do with 1918 and Stosstrup-tactics. The so-called Stosstrup-tactics had been developing since 1915 as a tactical solution to breaking into and through enemy defenses.In WWII, Stosstrup-tactics were, just as they had been in the latter part of WWI, a tactic that infantry could apply when appropriate. At Sedan in 1940, for example.

                            Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                            In Russia deep operations envisaged the use of armored and motorized forces,echeloned in depth and cooperating with infantry and artillery, to rapidly breach the enemy front and then exploit the initial success by conducting operational maneuvers far to the rear of the enemy's main deployment.

                            (...)
                            Indeed, but not necessarily with the aim of encircling enemy forces. Nor did the Soviets expect to inflict a strategic defeat on the enemy in one operation. This is where they differed from German thinking and could be said to bring something new to the table.

                            Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                            In the period before the war with Germany, however, the concept of deep operations while never completely abandoned, was significantly modified, even it appears, forgotten for a time. The Tukhachevsky group, mentioned in the opening post of this thread became a victim of the purges and was liquidated in 1937. secondly, the experiences of the Russians in Spain (1936-39), eastern Poland (1939), and Finland (1939-40) convinced the Soviet military leadership that the use of large, independently operating tank corps was not a good fit for the modern battlefield. While the tanks themselves were too prone to mechanical breakdowns and logistical problems. Thus in late 1939,the decision was taken to abolish the 5 existing tank corps and replace them with smaller combined arms units with fewer tanks.

                            This decision, however, soon colided with the reality of the German blitzkrieg which resulted in dramatic victories in 1939 and 1940 and shattered Soviet confidence that they had acted judiciously in eliminating the tank corps inciting some within the Soviet command to respond, My God,they picked up our ideas and are effectively implementing them while we have gone in the opposite direction !! , the rapid German victory over France was the real eye-opener here.
                            There never was "a German Blitzkrieg"...

                            I think you are right in saying that the Soviet view on large armoured formations was changed by the German use of armoured divisions and and corps consisting mainly of motorized troops in Poland and the additional operational experiment with Panzergruppe Kleist in France in 1940.

                            But I dont think that had anything to do with the Red Armys adherence to the concept of the "deep battle" - AFAIK that remained Red Army doctrine from the mid-1930ies and all the way into WWII.

                            What changed in the late 1930ies was:

                            - The Red Armys ability to fight a "deep battle" or indeed any kind of complex operation was inhibited by the massive purges of the officer corps.
                            - The mechanized corps was assumed to be too unwieldy, difficult to command and ineffective in dealing with deep defenses with mines and anti-tank weapons.

                            Niether had anything to do with the concept of deep battle, it was just to be conducted without large, independent mechanized formations.

                            The German attack on Franche in 1940 was an eye-opener for the Red Army was that the Germans proved that large armoured formations like Panzergruppe Kleist could actually work.

                            The bottom line with regards to the original question is still - as I see it - that the Germans basically mechanized their traditional way of waging war since 1866, while the Soviets developed something new and different called the "deep battle" in the interwar period. Both armies were trying to figure out how moderne weapons like tanks and aircraft were to contribute to their doctrines, but that did not directly influence the doctrine.

                            So, in 1939-41 the Germans were not employing some scheme that the Soviets had developed, nor did the Soviets decided to employ a German "lightening war" doctrine (which did not exist, remember )after 1940.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                              Isserson (1940) stated that German 1939 campaign in Poland was a realization of hitherto abstract idea of deep operations. And many similar statements in the same book with an analyzes of the Polish campaign. I guess he possessed something like an expertise.
                              Perhaps. On the other hand, military theorists like to stick their own label on succesfull military operations to prove their own foresight

                              I must admit that I dont really see anyting new and fancifull in the German attack on Poland other than the use of new technology. How was the German operations in Poland in 1939 more a deep operation than their attack on France in 1914?


                              Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                              That was termed "successive operations", i.e. a series of operations, one following after another. If we use Soviet terms that Fall Gelb and Fall Rot in 1940 were successive operations, Belostok-Minsk and Smolensk in 1941 were successive operations etc. No actual disagreement here.
                              Applying a Soviet framework to German operations does not make them similar. Fall Gelb was the great encircling operation intended to defeat the French Army and the French nation. Fall Rot was basically a a pursuit operation, hammering the last nail in the French coffin.

                              I'll give you, that German operations in the USSR had some resemblance to Soviet theories of "deep battle", but I think they were at least in part a function of the inability of the German Army to defeat the Red Army in one operation as they had defeated the French.
                              As I read Hitlers directive for the campaign, Soviet forces were to be destroyed in encirclements after which the remains of the Red Army was to be pursued in direction of the Moscow and the industrial areas in the Donetz-basin. In other words something very much like what happened in France.
                              The Germans failed and had to find ways to continue, but lets not elevate their failures into a "deep battle" concept

                              Comment

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