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What could the Red Army have done better? 1941

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  • What could the Red Army have done better? 1941

    It's mid-June 1941, and Stalin has been given a number of warnings regarding the intentions of Nazi Germany. What should heor the Red Army have done, could have done, to improve the situation they will find themselves in on 22 June 1941?

  • #2
    Well for starters start withdrawing to the original border with Poland get to the Stalin Line. Allow units to withdraw when at risk at being surrounded. Leave more weapons behind for partisans. Just off the top of my head

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    • #3
      There is nothing he could have done:

      1) There were signs of an invasion,but they were not reliable


      2)When there were more reliable indications,it was to late


      3)Only a small part of the Soviet forces was stationed at the border,most was far away

      4) The situation of the Red Army was that bad,that nothing could be done that would prevent what would happen

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ljadw View Post
        There is nothing he could have done:

        1) There were signs of an invasion,but they were not reliable


        2)When there were more reliable indications,it was to late


        3)Only a small part of the Soviet forces was stationed at the border,most was far away

        4) The situation of the Red Army was that bad,that nothing could be done that would prevent what would happen
        The question wasn't what could the have done to prevent what would happen, it was what could they have done better to improve their situation.

        The words improve and prevent aren't synonyms, shocking, I know.
        Кто там?
        Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
        Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
          It's mid-June 1941, and Stalin has been given a number of warnings regarding the intentions of Nazi Germany. What should heor the Red Army have done, could have done, to improve the situation they will find themselves in on 22 June 1941?
          This is one of those questions which would have to presume an entirely different way of thinking on the part of Stalin and the Soviet military leadership than that which actually occurred.

          The main problem with Stalin and the military leadership's reasoning was that they operated on the basis of two interconnected presumptions:
          a. that even Hitler and Nazi Germany would not be so perfidious as to launch a surprise attack against a so-called ally or at least attack a nation which has signed a non-aggression pact with it and which was busy fulfilling the terms of a commercial agreement which benefited both nations.
          b. that if Hitler and Nazi Germany were to attack the Soviet Union, it would be on the basis of a clear break down in relations, would be preceded by a declaration of war, and would involve some period of time for the redeployment of German forces.

          The latter presumption is especially important for this was the basis of Stalin's so-called intention of attacking Germany first - as claimed by Suvorov and others. I am going to disagree with a ljadw's post and assert that the bulk of the Soviet main battle forces, including most of the mechanized units, were indeed in forward positions near the border. However, Stalin, along with Zhukov and Timoshenko (who wrote the main Soviet war preparation plans in the spring of 1941) were operating on the assumption that if relations broke down between Germany and the USSR, and if Germany were to declare war on the USSR, Germany would require time to redeploy its forces and this would be the time for the Red Army to launch a preemptive strike. Hence, the main Soviet offensive forces were placed near the border in two groups - one near Bialystok and the other near L'vov.

          Any proposal for improving the situation the Red Army found itself in on 22 June 1941 would have to first require the Soviet leadership rejecting the above mentioned presumptions. Having the Red Army take up positions on the Stalin line would have meant rejecting what the Soviet leadership believed at the time to be their best chance of achieving a victory: striking at Germany before Germany was able to redeploy its forces to the East once a state of war already existed. It is perhaps to the USSR's credit that they did not believe a supposed allied nation could act with such perfidy and genuine underhandedness as Hitler in fact did in launching Operation Barbarossa. Yet, this was also their main failing.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
            It's mid-June 1941, and Stalin has been given a number of warnings regarding the intentions of Nazi Germany. What should the Red Army have done, could have done, to improve the situation they will find themselves in on 22 June 1941?
            Where do you want to start? Virtually everything connected to the Red Army in 1941 was screwed up. Probably the biggest single thing they could have done is to improve their communications network, from Moscow to the Military Districts, within the Military Districts themselves, and within the units that comprised the defense. Many units floundered without orders or coordinated effort and were captured or defeated in detail.

            The tank park was in a woeful state. Most of them were obsolete and worn-out, awaiting replacement. They had been neglected and were generally in poor mechanical condition, without an adequate supply of spare parts.

            The construction of new airfields in the recently acquired territories was given to the NKVD, (the government's landlords and property managers), who were months, if not years behind schedule in constructing new runways, dispersal facilities, hangars, fuel storage tanks, anti-aircraft defenses, and other necessary installations. Typically, not enough priority was given to the work with little oversight and no attention to detail, such that the VVS was concentrated on relatively few airfields without adequate dispersal or defenses, which resulted in the VVS in the border districts being decimated in the opening hours of Barbarossa.

            Those were three serious failures that would have been relatively easy to prevent. It gets to be a long list, if you start writing them down.

            You might reacll this post: RKKA Capabilities in 1941, which I made a while back.

            Regards
            Scott Fraser
            Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

            A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
              The question wasn't what could the have done to prevent what would happen, it was what could they have done better to improve their situation.

              The words improve and prevent aren't synonyms, shocking, I know.

              Well,in the OTL,they couldn't have done anything to improve their situation : it would take months to improve their situation .Sokolov mentions that whole divisions fell apart while marching to the border,and this ,BEFORE having been attacked by the Germans .

              Before 22 june,this could not be changed .The Soviet army was a Potemkin village .

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Skoblin View Post


                I am going to disagree with a ljadw's post and assert that the bulk of the Soviet main battle forces, including most of the mechanized units, were indeed in forward positions near the border.

                a) In his diary, a relieved Halder wrote: Thr Russians accept the battle,they are going to the border: this means: they were not near the border

                b)Solonin mentions that whole divisions fell apart while going west

                c) The Germans are giving the following POW numbers :

                june :112.784

                1-10 july:253.588

                11-20 july:234.566

                21-31 july:213.092

                In %


                june : 14

                1-10 july :31

                11-20 july :29

                21-31 july : 26


                That's indicating that on 22 june,only a small part of the Red Army was stationed at the border .

                For the tanks,the figures are that the june losses were some 40 % of the losses for june and july .

                d) If I am not wrong,Zetterling is saying the same,but, I have to look .
                Last edited by ljadw; 20 Nov 13, 05:13.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                  a) In his diary, a relieved Halder wrote: Thr Russians accept the battle,they are going to the border: this means: they were not near the border.
                  What could Halder know about Soviet dispositions? He was a janitor, looking at the sweepings after gathering what remained of the Red Army. The numbers, as usual, reveal very little other than that the Soviet Union lost a tremendous number of men.

                  One thing you are not considering is the difference where men are on a map and where they are on the ground. The order to mobilize the Red Army was given with days of the order to mobilize the Wehrmacht. The mobilization was a shambles. Red Army was very short of transport and moved very slowly over roads. There were not enough tractors, for instance, even with those used in agriculture. The rail network was also overwhelmed, with the difficulties compounded by lack of coordination and more particularly, with the demand that units move by night so as not tip off the Germans.

                  The result? Units were strung out for up to 200 miles, scattered all over the map with many units lacking essential equipment that was delayed, far to the rear. When you look at the map this is not evident, because generals sometimes think in abstract terms, especially those generals. As the Germans scooped up the remains of a scattered, shattered army, they encountered the remaining parts of the many units that had recently arrived at the frontier. Of course, they also encountered new units that were raised, but the numbers, as usual, are deceptive.

                  The protracted and confused mobilization, the deployments, the poor leadership, lack of command and communications systems, lack of coordination, the poor level of equipment, inadequate ammunition and fuel allocation, lack of training, poor vehicle maintenance, inefficient logistics, inadequate national infrastructure... what a disaster!

                  It's hard to see what they could have done worse. In the confusion that followed Barbarossa, it's also hard to know much more than the designation of the units that were no longer on the map.

                  Regards
                  Scott Fraser
                  Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                  A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                  • #10
                    Combat Training.


                    A lot of the Red Army's training time was spent on political training pre-War. That time would have been better spent in combat training.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                      That's indicating that on 22 june,only a small part of the Red Army was stationed at the border.
                      We seem to be arguing at cross purposes.
                      I stated:
                      the bulk of the Soviet main battle forces, including most of the mechanized units, were indeed in forward positions
                      This does not imply that the bulk of the Red Army as whole was in forward positions.
                      The most powerful Soviet formations at that time were the mechanized corps. At the start of the war there were some 29 mechanized corps in existence. However, far from all of them had been completely organized and even fewer of them had the planned number of tanks. Even less of them had been equipped with T-34s and KV-1s. Of these corps, the most powerful and best equipped ones had indeed been placed in foreword positions not far from the border. To wit:
                      12 Mechanised Corps at Varniai, Lithuania
                      3 Mechanized Corps at Kaišiadorys, Lithuania
                      11 Mechanized Corps at Volkovysk, Belorussia
                      6 Mechanized Corps at Bialystok, Belorussia
                      13 Mechanized Corps at Surazh, Belorussia
                      14 Mechanized Corps at Kobrin, Belorussia
                      17 Mechanized Corps at Novogrudok, Belorussia
                      22 Mechanized Corps at Rovno, Ukraine
                      15 Mechanized Corps at Brody, Ukraine
                      8 Mechanized Corps at Drogobych, Ukraine
                      9 Mechanized Corps at Shepetovka, Ukriane
                      24 Mechanized Corps at Proskurov, Ukraine
                      4 Mechanized Corps at L'vov, Ukraine
                      16 Mechanized Corps at Chernovtsy, Ukraine
                      2 Mechanized Corps at Beltsy, Moldavia
                      18 Mechanized Corps at Tarutino, Moldavia

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                      • #12
                        It looks as though the first couple of weeks will be more or less a write off, as in the OTL. But are there actions that could have been taken during those two weeks to mitigate the disaster? And can the later battles, Smolensk and Kiev be handled better?

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                        • #13
                          Skoblin and Scott Fraser, all great points! It's a pity I can't rep you now. Of all the points noted by Scott in his first post in this thread I'd say the construction of a greater number of airfields was the most realistic proposal. Had they constructed more of even basic airstrips, aircraft losses would've been much smaller. The biggest loss of planes in the early phase of Barbarossa was caused not on the first day due to the element of surprise but over the next few days because the planes which survived the first attack had nowhere to relocate. As for the maintenance of tanks and training of tankers, I'd say it was a systemic fault which reflected Soviet (or maybe generally Russian) attitudes to such delicate and "impalpable" matters, and it could not be corrected in a matter of a few months - rather a few centuries.
                          Last edited by ShAA; 21 Nov 13, 01:39.
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                          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                            There is nothing he could have done:

                            1) There were signs of an invasion,but they were not reliable

                            Fat Hermann hmself called up Comrade Stalin and told him what was gonna happen!


                            2)When there were more reliable indications,it was to late

                            Mein Kampf was written before Hitler came to power.


                            3)Only a small part of the Soviet forces was stationed at the border,most was far away

                            2,000 aircraft being destroyed on the first day alone is enough to prove this statement false.

                            4) The situation of the Red Army was that bad,that nothing could be done that would prevent what would happen

                            Maybe if Stalin hadn't launched the great purges their might have been more effective officers around (and more bad ones to).
                            Stalin is an interesting figure. He purged the Red Army of its officer corps and his role as commander in chief cost the USSR big until he learned to step aside. Dispite this he can be praised for the massive industrialization project that began before the war regardless of how brutal it was.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Axis of Evil View Post
                              Stalin is an interesting figure. He purged the Red Army of its officer corps and his role as commander in chief cost the USSR big until he learned to step aside. Dispite this he can be praised for the massive industrialization project that began before the war regardless of how brutal it was.
                              Stalin is one of the most enigmatic leaders in history. There is no doubt that he was a nasty man — violent, brutal, ruthless and at times cruel, totally selfish and with no visible evidence of a conscience, an "equal opportunity" oppressor. Still, the bloody groundwork he laid through his industrial mega-projects made it possible for the USSR to triumph over Nazi Germany and emerge as one of the dominant superpowers in the world. Trying to reconcile that has confounded scholars and editorialists for decades.

                              Regards
                              Scott Fraser
                              Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                              A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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