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  • #16
    In the Red Army General Staff's second collection study, cited in post #2 above, notes close, broken terrain, such as forested, swampy terrain in the summer offered the best locations to conduct their 'linguistics'.

    Target areas had to be studied in detail. The approaches to target areas and exit routes had to be identified as well as the deployment of the enemy, location of command and observation positions, communication centers and paths of communication.

    How deep the 'hunters' penetrated the German positions depended on the distance to the target and the nature of the terrain. As a rule, patrols usually did not exceed 10-15 km total distance and usually penetrated the front line three to six km in depth.

    The duration of the operation depended on how much was known about the target, how far it is from the front line, and how prepared the team is for activity in the German rear.

    The hunters were armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades, and knives. Travelling as lightly as possible for stealth and ease of movement, they would carry, depending on the situation, a gag, rope, and a flare pistol. They received fortified rations with high caloric content. Their equipment and clothing depended on the season and weather. Routinely, the clothing and equipment of the hunter teams resulted from the situation, the availability and types of materials. In some cases, the patrol members wore camouflage smocks; however, improvisation was the rule.
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
      Hunting tongues was a night operation. Patrol against patrol at night is like submarine against submarine without sonar, just limited hearing.
      But the defender would have some natural advantages here,

      I have heard it said such patrols would search and try to exploit the boundary between adjacent units, assuming they are less guarded..

      Do you sources mention such practice ?

      High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
      Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

        But the defender would have some natural advantages here,

        I have heard it said such patrols would search and try to exploit the boundary between adjacent units, assuming they are less guarded..

        Do you sources mention such practice ?
        Not so much less guarded but rather an area between different units that had a lapse in close coordination and interlocking fires.

        Several sources note when the front line traces took on a static disposition, the requirement for the hunts increased in preparation for impending offensives. With experience, the Red Army command's penchant for detailed information was extremely high. As one post-war source noted, "it was sufficient to locate 60-65% of the enemy locations to successfuly break through defenses." In organizing a hunt patrol, the sector of the patrol itself was carefully studied. The most convenient approaches and entry points were selected, and observation positions for observers and artillery observers fixed. The routes of movement of the German patrols and sentry points were identified. Observation was conducted over the course of several days by the commander and part of the soldiers who were to participate in the patrol. Hunt patrols often obtain documents listing the German units along the front line. Usually for the Red Army chiefs of intelligence, these just raised more questions like the percentage of strength for the listed units. A priority element of information was the size and location of reserves. Additional information requirements raised by hunt patrols could be determined through further reconnaissance patrols or a reconnaissance-in-force.
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

          I have heard it said such patrols would search and try to exploit the boundary between adjacent units, assuming they are less guarded.
          This point reminds me of a talk that I had with an Israeli reconnaissance battalion cdr during the Yom Kippur war. He was in Adan's Divisions which broke through the Egyptian defense on the east side of the Suez Canal, then crossed the canal, and struck towards Suez City. The recon cdr mentioned that his unit have found the boundary between the two Egyptian corps.

          I asked him how they know the boundary was between two corps. He replied, we did not know it was a boundary between two corps, that was worked out later by intelligence analysts. What we knew was we had found a boundary between units because the discipline on tying down canvas and equipment to vehicles was discernible--one was well-disciplined and the other very lax.

          The vulnerability of the corps boundary was the fact that the two corps did not directly coordinate laterally, but both would answer back to the next higher headquarters for coordination. This passing between a third party HQ meant there would be time lags in coordination and responses. Hence, it proved instrumental in Adan's division punching into North Africa, essentially bringing the war to an end.
          Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 13 May 19, 12:38.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
            I asked him how they know the boundary was between two corps. He replied, we did not know it was a boundary between two corps, that was worked out later by intelligence analysts. What we knew was we had found a boundary between units because the discipline on tying down canvas and equipment to vehicles was discernible--one was well-disciplined and the other very lax.
            That sounds familiar yes, tnx.

            I checked de Brack (1830s) and indeed he rates prisoners and deserters (and even travellers) as the #1 source for learning the movements of the enemy, over reports from spies, reconnaissance, and what he calls "indications"..

            With this conventional "wisdom" in mind, it would be obvious to, when prisoners and deserters are few, go out to capture a few
            Last edited by Snowygerry; 13 May 19, 09:27.
            High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
            Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
              Marauding Red Army reconnaissance patrols, called 'Hunts' (poiski), infiltrated German forward fighting positions and rear areas seeking to capture prisoners, documents, and, at times, inflicting losses on the enemy. The 'Hunt' patrol became a method by which tactical commands conducted a surprise raid with the specific objective to capture a 'tongue' (yazyk)--an information prisoner. In these unique 'hunt' patrols, the reconnaissance scouts were known as 'hunters', and their search for 'tongues' were playfully referred to as 'linguistics' (yazykovedenie--the science and study of tongues.
              Who would have been the must sought-after Germans? Did the "linguists" target anyone in particular, like when SOG went looking for lead truck drivers?
              I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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              • #22
                Originally posted by slick_miester View Post

                Who would have been the must sought-after Germans? Did the "linguists" target anyone in particular, like when SOG went looking for lead truck drivers?
                Generally, a captured German soldier with his soldier's book possessed a significant amount of useful and reliable information. In the soldier's book Red Army interrogators found the soldier's battalion and regimental unit numbers. Pocket litter and other papers found on a captured tongue regularly betrayed interesting bits of information. Soviet intelligence analysts poring over uninteresting letters and seemingly unintelligible scraps of waster paper determined many useful facts about the German units, such as morale, rations....

                A junior officer would know more of unit dispositions, unit strengths, readiness and plans/orders.

                For specific higher grade officer, I ran across General Colonel Aleksei Zaitsev, a captain at the time, recalled in his memoirs a capture in late August 1944. he was commander of the 38th Rifle div's recon group. During the Yassy-Kishinev operation, he received the mission to capture a Romanian division commander. The Soviet High Command was interested in the Romanian military leadership's reaction to Soviet announcements offering to accept the Romanians who gave up resisting the Red Army.

                Zaitsev led his team right into the division headquarters and the division commanders office. Pulling a pistol, Zaitsev told the Romanian commander that the Soviet command wanted to talk with him. Zaitsev guaranteed his safety. Cautioning the Romanian general to remain silent and to collect the papers on his desk, they walked out of the headquarters and got into the division commander's car. They drove to the edge of town where they dismounted and began the trek back to Red Army lines. For Zaitsev, 'unfortunately, I never found out about the fate of our biggest 'tongue' in all the war".
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                • #23
                  Another interesting capture, in June 1944, during the Belorussian operation, the reconnaissance element of the 164th rifle Division, 39th Army capture two very important prisoners.

                  They capture the LIII Army Corps commander, General Friedrich Gollwitzer, and his chief of staff, Colonel Schmidt who provided an interesting substantiation of the army's reconnaissance efforts. In candid conversation with General lyudnikov, cdr 39th Army, Gollwitzer admitted, "You located our weak positions. Russian forces broke both legs, on which our corps stood. I did not understand from where you could have had such detailed information about our units."

                  Lyudnikov showed Gollowitzer the army's situation map, a compilation of the Soviet reconnaissance efforts in the preparation period for the operation. On the map were marking of the 53rd Army Corps' units and its neighbors, system of defense and location of firing points. An eyewitness described the German commander's reaction, Gollwitzer for a while attentively studied the map. Then, looking at Schmidt pensively uttered, "If the inscriptions here were in German, I would consider that this was the working map which I used for the beginning battle."
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
                    Who would have been the must sought-after Germans?
                    I believe, most POWs captured were sentinels in trenches/outposts or random folk in shelters/bunkers. In static trench warfare conditions, at least.

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                    • #25
                      Doesn't the whole concept somewhat contradict present day military doctrine that suggests that prisoners are not a reliable source of info since they tend to tell what they think their captors want to hear ?

                      Personally I'd trust my own spies and scouts, before I rely on intelligence gathered from captured prisoners,

                      deserters may be yet another matter ?

                      Of course capturing some and identifying their unit and parent unit may be intersting in itself, regardless of what info they choose to give.
                      High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                      Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                        Doesn't the whole concept somewhat contradict present day military doctrine that suggests that prisoners are not a reliable source of info since they tend to tell what they think their captors want to hear ?
                        Can you give a military doctrine reference and quote for that observation? You may also want to check present day "water boarding" results?
                        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                          Can you give a military doctrine reference and quote for that observation? You may also want to check present day "water boarding" results?
                          Eh, I could quote something like this :

                          https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm2-22-3.pdf

                          "Source and Information Reliability Matrix - Appendix B."

                          But I was rather hoping for a more casual discussion of the subject among *amateur* historians




                          Of course with a multitude of small patrols capturing prisoners over a period of several years as it was on the Eastern Front - any "source" would quickly "move up the table"..

                          In every instance the rating is based on previous reporting from that source. If there has been no previous reporting, the source must be rated as "F".
                          High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                          Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
                            Of course capturing some and identifying their unit and parent unit may be intersting in itself
                            That was a prime motive, I guess. Naturally there were also soldier books and other documents captured from POWs or dead which served the same purpose.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                              Eh, I could quote something like this :

                              https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm2-22-3.pdf

                              "Source and Information Reliability Matrix - Appendix B."

                              But I was rather hoping for a more casual discussion of the subject among *amateur* historians

                              For most of my career, I was a Humint officer: ran agent net in Vietnam; Special CI Ops in Germany, and had within my CEWI Bn an Interrogation platoon.


                              Appendix B is the standard for qualifying information from any source and content for agents(spies) or POWs: The highest is A-1 Reliablity Confirmed (means previous info from source has checked out and confirmed by other means). At the other end of the scale, F-6, means source and content cannot be judged (source is probably first time and no confirmation). The in-between ratings can very along the scale. A POW would vary along the scale.

                              I received an additional skill identifier--historian, while on active duty and have written military history (primarily on the eastern front WWII) in over 150 articles and reviews in scholastic, professional, and commercial journals/magazines. Hence, one can see your reference and quote does not substantiate your opinion. The "Hunting Tongues" article (which I am quoting from prior research) was published in The Journal of Soviet Military Studies, December 1989.

                              What you consider a "casual discussion among amateur historians" means to me that you only want to bat around your opinions. I don't have the time to run down those kinds of rabbit holes.
                              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                                A POW would vary along the scale.
                                Obviously yes, that's why I asked.

                                What you consider a "casual discussion among amateur historians" means to me that you only want to bat around your opinions. I don't have the time to run down those kinds of rabbit holes.
                                Carry on then, tnx for replies
                                High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                                Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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