The Tactical or Operational Success. Its Signs. 2nd. Part.

(CONTINUATION)

The Signs of Tactical or Operational Success related to the Physical and Environmental Support:

Land transitability will be neutral or favorable to the operation.

Transitability is the geographical (superficial or spatial) dimension where military actions take place. It is principally framed by the superficial capacity of an area to support certain means or military capacities and their movements. It is completed today in a spatial dimension, by the range of heavy fire and aircrafts.

It has independent and absolute functions, as are the passing of specific points during a period of time, the time it takes to travel the distance between them and the not superficial simultaneity of military means. These refer on the transitability, related to how the Nature and obstacles interact with operations. Transitability also has relative functions that are generally dependent on geography. These are more concretely determined by the availability and quality of roads, railways and fluvial nets (urbanized geography), the climate, the hydrology, the orography, the season and meteorology and the hour of the day (physical geography). These functions change with different national and regional surfaces.

Transitability determines the facility or physical difficulty for rapidly maneuvering and, in consequence, determines the total time of an operation, in the phases of execution through the successive «cycles of action«. Roads and railroad networks are the most suitable physical support to obtain low times of execution in operations or high «tempos». Their transitability characteristics will be their availability in the operations zone, the road surface resistance, the traffic saturation conditions and the “narrow or critical” points existing in the ways networks and their “continuity traveling cuts”.

Roads that support a good advance pace are problematic, as outside of developed countries pave roads are uncommon. More often it is the case that a terrain is untransitable as an operational element and will require units to physically struggle in order to going on. The channels, the rivers, as continuity cuts, constitute another relative conditioner of the transitability of a zone. On one hand, they constitute an almost inevitable restraint of the impulse of maneuver. In effect, in almost any direction that follows an operational route during sufficient Kilometers, it ended up confronting the crossing of a natural or artificial water obstacle. The bridges that surpass them, as part of a road network, not always will exist or be at hand. Given the present amphibious means, the main obstacle to the transit will be offered by the water flows banks. It will be necessary to consider the slope of both banks and the characteristics of resistance, adherence, consistency, etc. of them and of their immediate approach grounds.

Resultado de imagen de MILITAR traveling grounds

One can try to use the superficial dimension, or even the spatial one, to improve transitability in different cases when good conditions do not exist. The first leads to employ a cross country mechanized formation, supported logistically. This was the imagined ideal of strategists and tacticians in the 1930s. On one hand, the best all-field or tracked vehicle moves better along a highway than across a field. For a given useful load weight, all-field or tracked vehicles have more tare than wheels vehicles. For total given weights, vehicles on tracks and on wheels that advance cross country have greater wears, more breakdowns and more fuel consumption than those that travel on highways.

Resultado de imagen de MILITAR river fording

This raises a double economic and logistic inconvenience, whose solution is very difficult. For this reason, it is ideal to operate along steady surfaces and using the railroad up to a bit more than one hundred kilometers to the front or the enemy. And to fight cross-country, taking advantage of shooting cover sectors, concealment and so on. Using the tactical characteristics of the field. Specially, rolling grounds that favor the mechanized fighting.

The spatial dimension also encompasses the impossibility, like that of saturated ground roads, of the simultaneous arrival of numerous aircraft at a given point. Or the airships fly in row, arriving at the same time, but laterally extended or they go in line to unload or arrive successively in a «single» operations point. The helicopters give more concentrated results than those of the airplanes, but these have more lifting and ordnance capacity.

Resultado de imagen de Military airborne falling

The effects of climate, season, hour, and hemisphere are superposed on these conditions, worsening or mitigating them. Orography affects transitability when it make difficult the construction of a road layout and when it increases the slope that military marches must cross. The cross-sectional passing of “height lines” can become impassable, except by defiles or mountain ports. Which create bottlenecks that collapse the maneuver impulse and prevent the deployments of the units that cross them. Fights at heights have a generic “gravity center” in order to control these passages.

Resultado de imagen de urban warfare city A RESOLUTE ENEMY  IS STILL WAITING YOU OVER THERE

When “height gradient” diminishes there exists a less evident, but more frequent and very important factor, which is the «drop». “Drop» refers to height variations of a few meters up to dozens of meters in relation to the surroundings. It appears in cross-country running, in areas of more or less waviness, in broken areas and even in roadways sections. It has also an expression in urban zones, both residential and industrial. As well as buildings, houses and facilities form «relative concealing heights«. These generate protection and danger, opportunities and risks. And are the urban expression of the «drop». The forest is a special variant of this case, with obstacles and shorts views for both enemy forces.

Urbanized or industrial zones shape numerous parallel, transverse and interweaving «drop» lines. They channel all military effort in the mentioned zones, generating innumerable «interfaces of action» with the enemy. That are frequently determined under surprise conditions. These zones definitively paralyze the impulse of the units and generate attrition (in military means) and wear (in logistical terms) disproportionate to the results obtainable by their occupation.

THE END.

Genesis and practice of the Russian strategy of deep incursion. 2nd Part.

Incursion to Tatsinskaya’s airport in the Christmas of 1942

The Deep Incursion to Tatsinskaya.

In the exploitation of the break success, Vatutin threw on December 18, the 24 Corps of Tanks (Badanov) to attack and occupy Tatsinskaya and the 25 Corps of Tanks (Pavlov), against Morozovskaya‘s airport. Behind them, advanced the 1st. Mechanized Corps of the Guard, following their moving directions, to support and stimulate it and to eliminate the resistances of the enemy units remains in his deep rear. Badanov had 5 thousand men, 300 trucks, 90 tanks T-34 and 55 light tanks T-70. These, for his characteristics of fire, armour, mobility and with 2 crew members for the multiple tasks, were not suitable companions of the first ones. The infantry brigade of the Corps had the task of the occupation the aims captured by the tanks.

Resultado de imagen de soviet infantry over tanks Soviet infantry tanks riders.

Resultado de imagen de nikolai vatutinLieutenant General Nikolai Vatutin, chief of the Southwest Front.

The orders were not right and both Corps should go on eliminating the enemy resistances in his advance sectors, distracting from his main goal. Badanov also received orders to facilitate the advance of the I Guard Army, on which he was depending and that followed him at distance, increasing the exploitation. The radio communications with Vatutin and the I Guard Army were insufficient and spasmodic, due to the increasing distance and the characteristics of his only transmitter RSB-F. That, for example, had in march 30 Km of range.

From the second day of march, the support to both mobile groups by the 17º Soviet Air Army was diminishing drastically. In a winter hard environment, with a poor road network, the armoured vehicles and the trucks of troops and supplies were advancing slow and dificultly. This did that the ground support planes of both rivals could attack, without risk, the enemy vehicles and was favoring the Germans.

Resultado de imagen de general Vasily Badanov Major General Vasily Badanov.

Both Corps of Tanks were advancing towards his aims with great effort from the drivers and deployed in brigades, forming 2 or 3 echelons of march. Seeking to save fuel and to keep controlled the almost 500 vehicles of a Corps. Only there was daylight between 7 and 15:30 hours. Though on the paper, Vatutin was waiting for an advance of 50 km per day and calculated 5 days of march to reach both aims, placed at 240-250 Km, the results were of scarcely 25 Km per day.

At 25 Km from Tatsinskaya and 30 Km from Morozovskaya the Bystraya river was traversing. The Germans placed to the south of this natural without reinforcing obstacle, several Kampfgruppen or Task Forces, created ad hoc to prevent the enemy advance and to exhaust it. Von Manstein knew this incursion and wanted to protect, by all means, the airports. This way, he withdrew 6ª Panzer Division from Hoth, to create a mobile reserve for the Group of Armies Don

Resultado de imagen de field marshal von manstein Fieldmarshall Erich von Manstein.

Against 24 Corps faced 4 small Kampfgruppen, which eroded it. The Gruppe Spang designated with the name of his command, faced in a difficult fight the 25 Corps of Tanks. Pavlov thought that it was a German small resistance and, forgetting his strategic aim and instead of flanking it cleanly, he attacked it. The Gruppe received the air support of a dozen of the dive bombers JU-87, that were returning quickly to his base to refuel, and that teared to pieces Pavlov’s unarmed tanks. The arrival of 1er. Mechanized Corps of the Guard allowed Pavlov to get out of the combat and to continue his march to Morozovskaya, though his Corps was exhausted in his combat capacity and with its fuel spoiled.

Pavlov came up to Uryupin, at 25 Km from Morozovskaya. But, the bombers placed in this airport submitted it to hard attacks, that reduced his combat capacity to 25 tanks with scantiest fuel. The Mechanized Corps, after a day of combat with the Gruppe Spang, was also very reduced and was not in conditions to support it. With which, were eliminated the possibilities of an assault to Morozovskaya.

Resultado de imagen de Kampfgruppe Spang 1942 Karl Spang, as German general.

One of the great disadvantages of these operations of deep incursion was also the absence of the logistic support to the operational units. This required them to advance, attack and occupy up to the exhaustion of his available resources. But, they did not have another option.

Tatsinskaya’s Defense.

The commaner of the airport was the lieutenant general Fiebig, commander of the VIII Air Corps of the Luftwaffe. On November, 30 he was nominated Chief of the Air Supply to Stalingrado. And he established his H.Q. in Tatsinskaya, which was occupied by the Germans on July, 21. Fiebig was a good organizer, so his appointment was justified, but he did not rise to the occasion, as tactical commander, neither in the defense, nor in the evacuation of the airport before the Soviet assault.

From the safety of Berlin and already failing the ground rescue, Goering ordered Fiebig that his men should resist in Tatsinskaya. And only will evacuate it when the Soviets already were firing in his runway. This did that Fiebig was late beyond the prudence in giving the evacuation order. And only the fogs, the enemy weariness, and the exiguous Soviet forces, 20 tanks and 55 infantrymen, who assaulted Tatsinskaya, allowed to evacuate the majority of the parked planes.

Resultado de imagen de general Martin Fiebig Luftwaffe Lieutenant General Martin Fiebig

The base force were 1800 men, without counted the crews and mechanics of the planes. They had, at the moment of the assault, 2 88 mm cannons and 4 cannons of rapid shot of 20 mm, since great part of the artillery was tranfered to the Kampgruppen entrusted to block the Soviet advances. The Germans did not organize any defense in Tatsinskaya. When the explorers of 24 Corps approached the airport in the night of 23, observed that the anti-aircraft positions were not occupied and that did not exist ground defenses.

The assault to Tatsinskaya.

Finally, at 8:30 of December 24, tanks of the 130 Brigade of tanks (Nestorov) assaulted Tatsinskaya’s airport from the east and some tanks of 54 Brigade of Tanks (in reserve) penetrated by the northwest at the end of the operation.

Until that evening, Badanov did not give for finished Tatsinskaya’s and his surroundings capture. Near 125 planes of the Luftwaffe escaped and came to other airports of the Axis. The Soviet mediocre gun fire and the impacts between planes at the takeoff destroyed 50 planes. But, the Lufwaffe already had lost 250 airplanes between November and December, 1942 during Stalingrado’s air supply, due to breakdowns, the weather and the enemy action. The Germans had 100 fallen, between dead and wounded, and 350 men were captured.

The 24 Corps still had 39 T-34 and 19 T-70. And each tank had less than 40 rounds for the principal weapon and its remaining fuel allowed it to cover 50 km. Badanov transmitted to Vatutin that he was assuming the defense of his positions.

Resultado de imagen de T-70 light tank T-70 Russian light tank.

Similar to what happened with the VI Army of the Wehrmatch, at 7:30 of the 26th, Badanov received a Vatutin’s message: «His Corps has been transformed into a unit of the Guard. You has granted Suvorov’s Order of 2º degree». But, the happiness never lasts very much in house of the poor man. The situation was indefensible and, four days later, Badanov broke, slipping, the functional, not physical siege. To which he was submitted by the different German units that were coming on the 24 Corps of Tanks of the Guard. At the end of the operation Small Saturn and by indication of Stalin, Badanov was nominated commander of the remains of the three Corps Mechanized and of Tanks that took part in this deep incursion. But, possessing each one less than 20 tanks, they were too weak to carry out a joint operational action.

THE END

Genesis and practice of the Russian strategy of deep operation.

Incursion to Tatsinskaya’s airport in the Christmas of 1942

Introduction.

After the invasion of the USSR by the 3 Groups of Armies of the Wehrmatch (North, C; Center, B; South, A) on June 22, 1941, remained clear the higher capacity and efficiency of these, opposite to the Soviet armies deployed in the border and in the strategic rear. The disorder was general in the Red Army, as evidence of his demoralization and lack of a military modern doctrine, after Stalin‘s purges of 1937. That was worried that the force and capacity of the Red Army, could turn it into a rival of the Party and of himself in the distribution of the State powers. In addition, the social characteristics of the Soviets were making them more inclined to the obedience, the resistance and the sobriety and less towards the originality, the assumption of responsibilities and the take of decisions of the commands and his men. Then, the Red Army only had some real capacity of fight in the artillery and in the almost inexahustible demography of the Sovíet country.

This prompt did that the strategists and planners of the Red Army realized that, if they wanted to survive, stabilize his nation and the army and begin to gain the war, they had to start gaining all the battles that were turning out to be strategic for this social military effort. This way, on one hand, they began to deepen and develop the operational and strategic defense, connecting her with the operational counter-offensive, establishing fortified in depth zones, areas and regions, and creating mobile reserves in the different steps of fight.

Resultado de imagen de ROTMISTROV Colonel General Pavel Romistrov, commander of the 5º Tank Army of the Guard.

For the great positive actions, of assault or counterattack and victory, of exploitation and consolidation, the high commands of the Stavka or Central High Staff of the Red Army, presided by Stalin, developed throughout several years the Tanks Armies. By 1944, in the order of battle of the Red Army existed up to six of the above mentioned strategic Armies. They were destined to operate independently in the operational (up to 80 Km in the depth) and, even, strategic rear (up to 200-250 Km) of the Wehrmatch and his allies.

His tasks were to attack, occupy, consolidate and defend some area or important city, which was not capable of offering an effective defense; to spread the destruction, the disorganization and the panic in his «zone of advance» in the enemy rear, using also the «tactical influence» that was generating on the enemy, at both flanks of it and in function to his distance to it, measure in time of arrival. Behind this great strategic unit, would advance the «mass of support» of the armies of the Soviet Front at which the Army of Tanks was subordinated. That would initiate his exploitation operations, after concluding the irruption and break of the defensive enemy front by the infantry or shock Armies of the Front or Soviet Group of Armies, due supported by the heavy fire, the engineers and the supporting tanks.

Resultado de imagen de task force baum Telegram of condolence of the General Assistant of the Secretary of the War to the family of one of the «missing persons» of the «Task Force Baum». 

This is theoretically easy and simple. But it is necessary to count for his accomplishment with the almost innumerable collective (small units, units and great units) and personnels actions, that are the source of mistakes, failures and diversions, in relation with the foreseen in the calculations and plans. It is necessary to have, to put it into practice, a military well trained organization, which guarantees the constant and sufficient flow of communications, updated intelligence and logistic. It is needed the appropriate, coordinated and convergent action of the units used in the complex and successive operations. It is necessary to count with the transitability characteristics of the areas of operations, influenced not only by his orography, but also by the network ways, the waterways that should cut more or less perpendicularly the ways, the climate, the seasons, the moments of the day. In March, 1945, the general George Patton arranged a deep incursion, not authorized by his superiors, using the Taskforce Baum (integrated by approximately 314 soldiers and 16 tanks) to 80 Km behind the German lines and at few days of the capitulation of the IIIrd Reich. His mission was to rescue a group of American prisoners, who were in Hammalburg. The result was disillusioning and the action, for painful, was not too much spread to know. The attackers were surrounded by the German forces and destroyed by his counterattacks. Only 11 % of the men returned to the lines of the famous Army III of the U.S. Army.

Antecedents and Introductions.

On November 23, 1942 at 2 p.m., the VI German Army, the most powerful great military unit of the Wehrmatch, got definitively surrounded in Stalingrad by several Soviet Fronts. The Operation Uranus was creating a strategic siege. And the contact of the VI Army and other units of the IIIrd Reich or of his allies, 267.000 soldiers of the Axis, with other units of this one by land, already did not exist. In Stalingrad, the Germans did not have the shuttle of ferries crossing the Volga, to supply the city and to re-equip and re-put the sieged mlitary units, as the Soviets had.

Resultado de imagen de friedrich von paulus Recent Marshal von Paulus surrenders his Staff in Stalingrad.

The nearest airports in hands of the Germans were those of Tatsinskaya and Morozovskaya, at west of Stalingrad. In them, the colonel general Wolfram von Richtofen, command of 4 ª Air Fleet of the Wehrmatch, placed rapidly a tasks group of transport, bombardiers and fighters, with the mission to move the military and material supplies to all the sieged ones. Von Paulus, command of the surrounded forces, was promised to deliver 500 Tm daily of supplies. But, the daily average delivered during the siege was 100 Tm. And only one day, the German aviation could deliver 500 Tm. And, in those moments, the rejection capacity of the besieged to the Soviet assaults, to break by parts the defensive zone or to reduce his area, was depending on the number and the quality of the supplies that were receiving by air.

Resultado de imagen de wolfram von richthofen  Colonel General of the Luftwaffe Wolfram von Richthofen.

On December 10, the IV Panzer Army of the colonel general Hoth initiated from Kotelnikorski, 100 Km at east of the edge of the siege, an attack to establish a ground link corridor with the defense zone of Stalingrad and to relieve the besieged. It was the operation Wintergewitter or Winter Storm. The VI Army would initiate the break of the Soviet ring, towards the helping forces, which was the most predictable direction and which did not possess the surprise factor, when these were at 30 Km of distance. The vanguard of the German forces corresponded to the reduced 57º Panzer Corps. In this operation the Soviets counter-attacked with mastery and continuously and the principal weapon of both sides were the tanks. Finally, on the 26th, this Panzer Corps was depleted and the Wintergewitter was stopping, at 46 Km from the Stalingrad’s siege.

But the Soviets, who had prepared themselves well for his winter offensive, were still keeping another disagreeable surprise to the Germans. In the Stavka, the colonel general Aleksander Vasilievsky, among other Soviet high commands, was thinking and controlling her, seeking to complete in it the German defeat in the south of Russia. Vasilievsky gave, as chief of the Central Staff, rationality and patience to the «interchanges of impressions» with Stalin.

Resultado de imagen de Aleksandr Vasilievsky  The Marshal of the USSR Aleksander Vasilievsky.

On December 16, lieutenant general Vatutin threw a strategic blow with his Front of the Southwest (the Operation Small Saturn) against the VIII Italian Army, deployed in the left flank of the Group of Armies of the Don (marshall von Manstein). In the breaking forces of the Italian front were the 1st. and 3er. Armies of the Guard, who moved forward three Corps of Tanks (one was the 25º, of the major general Pavlov) and a Mechanized Corps (bigger and more balanced in combined arms) and 9 infantry divisions. That already on the 17th had achieved diverse irruptions and breaks in the Italian front.

The crumbling of the Don’s front, at north of Stalingrad, opened several possibilities to the Soviets: a) To consolidate Stalingrad’s siege, being able to operate in the whole deep rear of the Axis, dismantling its defense capacity and pursuing the support units (logistics, aviation and artillery) and the remains and reserves of the Armies who were spreading out in her. b) To make move back the Group of Armies of the Don towards the Donetz, as a new sustainable line of his defensive front, forcing him to a rapid retreat. This forced the forces of von Manstein to shorten his lines, for, in the new front that they presented to the Soviets, to be able to have not only first line forces, but mobile armoured forces, to counter-attack the Soviet onslaughts. c) To force the Germans to keep in Rostov, near the river mouth of the Donetz, an opened corridor with his south rear, to avoid that the Group of Armies of the Caucasus (marshall von Kleist) could get cut off, as it happened with the VI Army. And could go out by it towards the new German rear at the west. d) To facilitate the final push of all the Soviet Fronts towards the Donetz and to consolidate this way all the strategic earnings obtained in his complex and extensive winter offensive of 1942.

The Intellectual Baggage of the Deep Insertions.

The theoretics of the Soviet deep operation (glubokaya operatsiya) in the period between 1928 and 1936 were the lieutenant general Triandafilov, the brigadier Isserson and the marshall Tujachevsky. This one established the Instructions for the Deep Battle (glubokiy boy) in 1935. That then incorporated into the Regulations of the Service of 1936, as military official doctrine, PU-36.

The preexisting concepts were based on the good results of the cavalry operations, singularly Cossak, on high fluid situations of fight and movement, on the operational enemy rear. And acting against small enemy detachments and the communication lines. But, the armies based on the employment of the fuel engine, to develop an operational or strategic penetration the enemy rear, and in the armored moving platforms for direct fire cannons (tanks) and trucks (infantry and artillery), had logistic needs (maintenance, rotation of crews in long marches, supplies) that were not even glimpsed by the ancient commands.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

The Tactical or Operational Military Success. Its Signs.

Introduction.

It is not a question of defining how to act, thing that already we try to do in other published articles or that they will be in a future. But that, perceiving in the operations development certain facts, guidelines or behaviors of the conflicting parts and of the objective conditions (of the ground, etc.), we will be able to diagnose a very probable forecast for the culmination of those operations.

This way, we will be able to trust in and to rest on these favorable forecasts. And to reinforce mental and physically our signs of the Tactical and Operational Military Success. To control better the fears, worries, assignments of the scanty forces, uncertainties, endless lacks, unexpected bad understanding, recoverable frustrations and the partial crises. Which will arise inevitably during the operations development.

The main Signs of the Tactical or Operational Military Success to look for:

The Signs of Tactical or Operational Success about Us:

The operational military plans will be simple, flexible and with capacities of alternative developments. They must be capable of adjusting to the unforeseen and the contingencies. And endlessly incorporating intelligence updates about the intentions and possibilities of the enemy and ground reconnaissance. This is specially important in maneuver operations.

There will exist an operational own initiative, that will allow us to develop our plans. Always using us the activity, even in the defense. And keeping endlessly the action freedom and given priority to its recovery, in case of its loss.

The own exploration and intelligence are fundamental, the more creative and risky is the operation to realizing. Reciprocally, the enemy exploration and his perceptions will be pushed back and/or be disturbed systematically. Will be included in this repulse and mixtify, the security of the units, false positions, advanced detachments and combat patrols, fogs and smokes, the combat for the wireless communications, etc.

The knowledge of the enemy and his actions will be always incomplete and imperfect. And will be extended with the evolution of the situation in relation to him. They will not be known temporarily, even positions, movements, combat readiness, deployments or fundamental units. But not those that affect us direct and tactically in our operation under way. On those we will place the gravity center of our exploration. That will be even “in force” against certain enemy hard objectives.

The own combat capacity for the propose operation will be sufficient and will be equipped, distributed and protected. Considering the friction and inevitable minor errors, derivatives of our own military activity in the hyperfunctional chaotic environment, and the necessary reserves. Our security will inexorably be kept during the operation and in the consolidation of occupied terrain. And specially defending, with combat detachments, the advance sectors of our “mobile groups” operating in the enemy operational rear.

Decisions on which tactical battle areas will be engaged, will consider: accessibility (whether they offer neutral or favorable transitability); vulnerability, whether one’s forces can apply sufficient combat capacity against an enemy, in an area that had not attracted much of his attention; transcendent, the action will produce the decision or will contribute decisively to her and the tactical result will have operational efficiency.

One example is the operational counterattack of the German Armies Group Don of Marshal Von Manstein. That was carried out between February and March of 1943 in the Donbass river basin and around the city of Kharkov. Let us remember the development of this counterattack, its tactical combats and their effect on the “sui generis” Tanks Army of General Lieutenant Popov (Group Popov), the Infantry Armies and both Tank Corps as the mobile reserve of the Southwest Front of General Vatutin and, apart and also, the 3rd Tanks Army of Lieutenant General Ribalko.

The logistics is an essential piece of the victory. When the armies are modern, mechanized and technical. And they are, this way, highly dependent on the fuels, the spares, the supplies of all kinds and on the rotation or reinstatement of units. It is supposed tactic and operationally that the means of all kinds are available and more or less nearby. To support the impulse, the fire and the operative efficiency of all the “units of action”, it is necessary to guarantee them a constant and sufficient flow of the mentioned means. Therefore, the commands must take the actions to defend the «physical support» of the logistic structure. Specially against assaults from the enemy depth or in sensitive and critical points or in the routes most far from our units. Constituted by all the “supplying routes”, from the units up to our operational rear. And that are still more important that the so called “retreat routes”. Though they could coincide in some sections. Among other things, because the modern forces must count with remaining isolated for a certain time. And keeping in this period their tasks, in agreement with the entrusted missions.

The Signs of our Tactical or Operational Military Success about the Enemy:

There will be a passiveness or operational delay in the enemy. Generally he will act with an intention that is not convergent with our own. And, at least, not harmful for our operation, especially in the first stages of the process. When she develops her impetus or push or movement quantity (combat capacity X average sustainable speed, in every stage). This sign of the tactical or operative success is a «pear in sweet», that not always will give itself so clearly, as in the following example.

It is worth to remember the development of the Blitzkrieg in the West and invasion of France by Germany in the spring of 1940. The main part of the French maneuver troops, their three more modern armies, and the British Expeditionary Force rushed toward Holland and Belgium to stop the German scythe-like advance. That was supposed directed at the interior of France and the rear of her Maginot line. The Allied High Commands, whose doctrine had not evolved, were thinking that in May 1940 Germany would repeat their “Schlieffen modified plan” of 1914 in their new invasion of France.

Resultado de imagen de INVASION francia 1940 THE OPERATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

Resultado de imagen de INVASION francia 1940 ITS RESULT

In agreement with the new plan of General Erich Von Manstein, really the “blow of scythe” was given by the Armies Group A of colonel general Von Rundstedt. Which was possessing as spear lance the Panzer Group of general Von Kleist. His five Panzer and five Motorized divisions, integrated in three Panzer Corps, were going to cross the Ardennes and to carry on a wide break in the French line around Sedan. Turning then rapidly towards the west and pressing finally on the flank and the rear of the Allied forces in Belgium. Which would find operationally isolated, with their line of communications, support of their logistics of supply, cut off.

The tactical enemy activity is inevitable. It will be permanent, harmful and even it will be unexpected and will partially affect us. But it will not be fundamental for our plans. Remember that we are looking for signs of our success, not those of the enemy. The best sign of maturity will be that it does not worry excessively to our tactical or operational commands. If this activity did not exist, it would be because the enemy was not there. To overcome and to get used to these tactical accessory crises and not be left to drag by them, harming our principal operation, is the touchstone of the serenity of the commands. Always we must bear in mind the possibility that the enemy appears tactically in «the moment and in the zone» more inconvenient and difficult for us. If it does it operatively it is that we have incurred a mistake of intelligence or of the valuation of the correlation of forces and of the enemy capacities or intentions.

Napoleon, without getting to exhaust the reserves, but without they were exceeding, attended to the different local tactical crises that appeared in Austerlitz’s battle. After the occupation of Pratzen’s heights by two infantry divisions of the Army Corp of marshal Soult. This sealed the destruction of the joint Russian Austrian army and his Austerlitz’s victory.

Resultado de imagen de Napoleon Austerlitz CREATED THE CONDITIONS FOR THE MILITARY DECISION: AUSTERLITZ.

Let’s see the process of development of the tactical containment of the Allied enemy. With the enemy forces concentration attacking the supposed tactical and operative (without protecting the line of retreat towards Vienna) Frenchmen deployment weakness. The grenadiers of Oudinot were sent from the Zurland hill to support the south flank, where the principal battle was getting away. Bernadotte advanced up to Blaswitz village, to cover the Soult’s north flank. The Murat’s cavalry reserve, in the Santon hill, the left flank (at north) of the French deployment, had to fight against Liechtenstein’s cavalry, to support the novices of Lannes’s Corp who were defending it. Kutusov managed to bring towards Pratzen part of the forces of his left wing (at south). And Soult, attacked by three sides, had to employ part of the general artillery reserve to contain the enemy with its wearing fire. Around 1 p. m. Constantine and the imperial Russian Guard counter-attacked the already tired Frenchmen in Pratzen. Their first line yielded. The cavalry of the French Imperial Guard, who had been advanced by Napoleon, supervised by marshal Béssiers and general Rapp, attacked the Russians and put them in escape. And Bernadotte, from Blauswitz, sent a division in support of the center of the punished French deployment.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

THE MILITARY SURPRISE AS ART AND HETERODOXY

Almost all the technologies, tactics and operations directed to obtaining the tactical or operational surprise over the enemy, can be benevolent considered at the edge of the regulations and existing procedure. That are practised in the different countries and groups of them or supranational alliances.

Between other reasons, to fight only according to the «book» is usually too much acquaintance and predictable. In addition, many of the general «knowledge» gathered in them are shared by different blocs and nations, even antagonistic. And it is necessary, to respect the regulations and ordinances and to look for the aim indicated by the command, as the goal to obtaining.

But the creative and decisive action must follow the one that we call the «way of the surprise«. As guide, compass, of our decisions and actions. Looking for that fleeting and juicy opportunity that arises in the development of the mutual actions between the armed rivals; those careless or vulnerable enemy weaknesses, in conditions that we can create sometimes, equally more unforeseen and unusual. To obtain our goals with more forcefulness, efficiency, elegance and rapidity. Achieving it with fewer loss of time, of men and of means. Let’s remember the basic and universal principle of the economy of the means.

Sure that following always the «book» they will be able to approach and to take to good term the common operations. But, apart from the fact that the enemy has an essentially equal doctrine and regulations, a way of fighting will be first known and then learned or dominated and, probably, up to overcome finally by the enemy. The triumphant Germans in the first period 1939-1941, with the extension of the war, allowed the knowledge and the learning of his war of combined weapon by his enemies. That finally overcame them in technologies, tactics and operations and drove them to their thunderous defeat in 1945.

And this «guide» is of special need and affection in the bureaucratized and crystallized armies. Where the unforseeable, not guilty failures, are not only a contingency to be overcame by the set. But they can be also an administrative or political weapon against the persons in charge. And where the follow-up of the «book» and the superiors orders to the letter, armour and protect the low commands of the responsibility of their acts and results.

Martin Van Creveld said that was the anteroom, before the final unworkability and prostration, of «the military organizations that were not getting up-to-date and renewing». Martin Van Creveld was expelled as lecturer, many years ago, from Israel’s Military High College.

Then, the results will be obtained increasingly at the cost of the wear and the men means and materials losses. Tending to triumph then the rival that more demographic and economic capacity has.

There arises then a corollary of this way of thinking the military thing. The zeal to avoid human falls, extended to all the modern armies or of IIIrd generation, will lead to the preventive, protective and therapeutic employment of the own heavy fire. Looking that the own forces do not have to fight at close ranges. This is called military modern technology and is highly regarded by the national armament industries. This is not more than the perversion and trick of the heavy fire. Whose functions or tasks, in increasing order of action and efficiency, are: to blind, to disturb, to neutralize or cover and to destroy the enemy in the different fighting forms and situations.

And the action over the aim will tend to the physical destruction, as guarantee of the security of the men. In the actual civil wars in Iraq and Syria, we have the examples in the exagerate and methodical bombardments on the enemies. Armed and civilians; real and suspects.

The Military surprise, looking for the enemy dislocation and shock

During his operations, the enemy deployment is conforming in the direction and with the intention that he has decided and determined, for his military echeloned means and for his logistic routes. This way, he is showing his «cards» to his rival, depending on his action tempo and he is commiting, according to those.

Our surprise can create «per se» a new «exposed flank«, another more or less critical «vulnerability» in the enemy. That he was not considering yet, that he was not waiting, nor was prepared to defend her by some of the fighting forms. That are the attack and the defense, in their varieties and combinations.

Our surprise penetrates in the enemy deployment, seeking to shock and dislocate functionally or positionally it. And, at least, to cause him losses, to occupy profitable positions for our operational development, to diminish his tempo or operational pace and to confuse, delay and disturb him in his plans and deployments. Using for it, by our part, the minimal means expense and seeking to achieve the maximum possible effect on the enemy. With which we optimize the effort of our actions, following the general principle of the economy of the available means.

When the enemy reacts, to offset and overcome the effect of our surprising action, he is adapting necessarily to our intention. And, if that one is serious, he moves away more or less from his interests and plans. With his reacting movements for the rejection and the attack to our forces, the enemy is disregarding his intention and his mission. In relation to these, the enemy is removed from them and also unbalanced. This way, a right conceived, planned and realized surprise can «prepare» the enemy for us. So, he face in disadvantage, with fewer available resources and a worse deployment, our offensive principal action. That would be already more direct, massive and orthodox.

In such a way that exist a whole range of possible effects to obtaining over the enemy with our surprising actions. That will change also according to the means destined to obtain our surprise, the conception, the preparation and the accomplishment of it and the available time, considering also the set of our operations.

THE MANEUVER WARFARE. THE CONCEPT OF THE MODERN AIRLAND BATTLE. (SECOND PART).

AN INTERPRETATION BY FIELDMARSCHAL ERICH VON MANSTEIN.

 

(CONTINUATION)

 

Results of the German counterattack and its trascendence.

Nevertheless, the booty gained was scanty. Von Manstein declared that there were approximately 23,000 dead Soviet soldiers and 9,000 captured Soviet soldiers. The materiel captured were approximately 615 tanks (probably largely recovered), 354 campaign guns, 69 anti-aircraft pieces and more than 600 machine guns and mortars. It was not possible to encircle the enemy and Soviet soldiers took advantage of this by leaving the heavy equipment and retreating. Von Manstein said that, because the extreme cold, his soldiers were bunched into small, tight groups, leaving wide spaces and lines in his rearguard, without effective cover. This partly happened because they were elite troops and because the war was without mercy.

COLONEL JOHN BOYD, AN AMERICAN TEORIST OF ITS MANEUVER THEORY.

At the beginning of March, 48th panzer Corps pressed toward the east of Kharkov and the SS panzer corps of General Halder was entrusted with recovering the long-suffering city for the Germans.

At the middle of the month, the Germans had a defensive resistant front from Tangarov to Belgorod, supported on the Mius and the Donetz. They also possessed in the south of Russia sufficient mobile reserves to push back possible Soviet operational breaks in the zone.

As late as 1944, the Soviets had 26 tanks Corps and 11 mechanized Corps. Part of them joined together to form 6 tanks Armies. Each of which had two tanks corps and a mechanized corps (bigger and more balanced inn infantry and artillery). Some mechanized Corps joined a cavalry Corps, forming a great unit similar in capacity to the tanks Army but with fewer armored vehicles and more mobility in areas of difficult transitability (marshes, mountains, woods). These were used to exploit the break in the swampy areas of the south of the Soviet Union, as that of the Pripet river in the north of Ucrania. Although never coexisted more than two or three in the order of battle of the Soviet Army.

WILLIAM LIND, A CIVIL TEORIST.

The destruction of 6 tanks Corps of the Southwest Front (especially equipped with mobile forces) and dismantled them from their “support masses, was an especially prominent, profitable and low cost operation for the Germans.

In addition, in its advance toward Kharkov between March 1st and 5th, the SS and 48º panzer Corps smashed from its flank and rearguard the Soviet 3rd tanks Army, led by general Pavel Semjonovic Ribalko. This Army was launched to relieve the forces of 6th infantry Army and had continued advancing toward Kharkov. This city that was by then, attracting all the attention and efforts from both sides.

As poor results and large losses mounted for the mobile Soviet forces, pessimism also grew in Stalin, who asked Sweden to mediate in seeking a solution to the war with Germany.

Nevertheless, the advance on Belgorod, outlining Kursk’s projection inside the territory occupied by Germany, sealed the aim for Germanys strategic summer Campaign. After all these events had passed, the strategic initiative returned to the Germans at the level of the theatre of operations.

But, beginning on July 5, delayed in relation with the victories of Von Manstein, their action gave the Soviets time to extensively strengthen themselves, to establishfortified regions” at the front level, and to assemble and organize a powerful counterattack force in the north and south of the projection. The allied landing in Sicily on the 10th of July, aborted the Wehrmachts already disastrous Operation Citadel. The Germans would never recover the strategic initiative on the Eastern Front.

GENERAL DONN STARRY, HIGH COMMAND OF THE U.S. ARMY’S TRADOC.

Was it possible to avoid what happened to the Popov group and, thus, to the Soviets strategic plans for its 1942 winter campaign and to the Soviets strategic initiative, at least in the Southern theatre of the Soviet Union?

It was possible.

We have observed, in parallel and in a very second plane with some key facts, the getting absorbed (to get very much in), the delight (to be delighted with) and the fixation (to do without other rational arguments) of Stalin, in relation with the results that he promised himself with the impelled operations by the mobile corps of the Southwest Front of general Vatutin.

General Vatutin, one of the best field chiefs of the Soviet army, died before his time at hands of Ukrainian (anti-Soviet) guerrillas, only participated in this in a minor degree. Still, the delegate of the Stavka in charge of these crucial operations (Zhukov, Vasilevsky?) remembered him the transcendence that for the Supreme Commander and for the Soviet people they had.

A little time ago, Hitler also fixated on Stalingrad. This fixation led him to squander the capacity of his best Great Unit (the 6th infantry Army of general Paulus—yes, without the aristocratic Von) in a street struggle and a force-to-force confrontation. Their enemies were arranged on a static defense. A position that they were better able to defend and maintain than were the Germans, in the gigantic steel and cement fortress that was Stalingrad.Fight in which was not counting the German superb capacity of operational movement, which reduced the effort done to a confrontation between man vs. man and machine against machine. And, thus, causing a terrible attrition to the combat and movement capacities.

We can discuss about the strategic mistakes of high chiefs. As the line of communications (branched out) is so crucial, it is necessary to protect it adequately. But this fact is obscured and blurred by the desires of commanders.

What are the possibilities of defense for the advance sector that contains the communications line?

Independently of the advance deployment of mobile groups and their support mass (which must include the securities elements adapted for marches in enemy areas), «advanced detachments» must be brought forward.

These will be integrated by 15-30 % of the forces that bring them forward and will possess sufficient operational movement and combat capacities. The time it takes for the main group to join them is a function of the transitability of the terrain and of the capacities and intentions of the enemy in the operations zone. Its mission in defensive operations is to be used asstable hinges” between the deployments of Great units, facilitating and protecting the movement of forces and supplies between them.

If the mass of support is too slow for the mobile group to continue advancing at a reasonable rate, it will end up lengthening dangerously the distance between the units and their support. This situation is very vulnerable to a mobile assault by the enemy from the depth of his zone and the sector of advance would be under threat of being cut, depending on the means and intentions of the enemy. This probability would require that amechanized group” be placed between the mass of support and the mobile group to reduce the distance between all three deployments and reducing reaction times to respond to a crisis. This would reasonably stabilize the sector of advance after the mobile group.

The mission of the mechanized group, which has less capacity for operational movement than the mobile group, will be to carried out thesector mobile defense”. And will last until the forces of the mass of support arrive to relieve it. The anti-aircraft and antitank defense plan, the centralization of reserves and the defense of key points of the area, by means ofdelay positions” and together with necessary heavy fire support, will be characteristic of the fight to stabilize the sector.

That is to say, it is necessary to sacrifice speed for safety to consolidate the stability of the sector of advance in enemy territory. A territory that does not need to be all occupied in force. Because would be defended by a mobile defense for a limited period of time. Taking disproportionate risks would be reckless and would put men, materiel and the operation in danger.

But, men (in this case, Hitler and Stalin are two examples) continue to make mistakes when faced with such circumstances

THE END.

THE MANEUVER WARFARE. THE CONCEPT OF THE MODERN AIRLAND BATTLE.

AN INTERPRETATION BY FIELDMARSCHAL ERICH VON MANSTEIN.

 

 

A little known example illustrates the omnipresent transcendence of logistics and the line of communication (more or less branched out) in operations and their final results. Between January 29 and mid-March 1943, the Soviets developed an operation called Donbass at the southwest of the Donetz. This operation forms part of what the Germans called the battle of the Donetz. And was Marschal von Manstein’s last strategic success. Which wasted by Hitler in Kursk.

 

General Nikolai Fiodorovich Vatutin, commander of the Southwest Front, created a mobile corp (under the command of general Markian Mijailovich Popov) in the Soviet Front, to exploit the break its armies had achieved at the south-east of Kharkov. The Corp was like an Army of tanks (the Soviets had five Armies of tanks in their battle order). It was integrated by 4 tanks Corps of limited capacity (3rd, 10th, 18th and 4th of the Guard), each of which was reinforced by an infantry mobile division (in trucks). For support it had the mobile Front reserve, the tanks Corps (full up) 25th and 1st of the Guard. These reserves would, at the beginning of February, pursue a exploitation direction different from that of the Popov Group. Assimilating those tactical subordination divisions into the mechanized Corps, thus making them stronger in men and heavy equipment, was hoped to compensate for the specific lack of infantry and artillery of the Soviet tanks Corps.

GENERAL VATUTIN.

Popov Group initially crossed the Donetz from a southwest direction. Its 4th Guard tanks Corp reached Krasnoarmeiskaia on the morning of February 12, after a night march of 60 kilometers from Kramatorsk. During this march, the Corp used one of its tanks brigades, the 14ª of the Guard, as anadvanced detachment”, to eliminate the tactical rubbing” in its advance sector and thus maximize its speed of advance.

GENERAL POPOV.

On February 15, General Vatutin employed his two reserve Corps in the Pavlograd-Zaporozhe direction, towards the mouth of the river Dnepr on the Black Sea. Zaporozhe was the Headquarters for the Don German Group of Armies (this Group had been called South until February 1, 1943) and the 4th Air Fleet (led by Marshal Von Manstein and General Von Richtofen, respectively) which were located in the low Dnepr.

The efforts of the Russians were aimed at trying to reach the coast and to cut the Germansland communications. But the Russians also stubbornly insisted on boasting. Their supporting forces (the rest of the Armies of the southwest Front, especially the 6th infantry and 1st infantry of the Guard) were not defending the advance sectors of their mobile forces. And these forces, advancing as fast as they could toward their ideal operational-strategic aim, stretched their communications lines to the maximum. And made them increasingly vulnerable by extending its length and, thus, the coverage required by antitank and anti-aircraft weapons supported with infantry.

The Soviets acted as if the speed of reaching the objective could, by itself, unhinge the German deployment, by cutting it off from its general Order of Battle and lines of communications towards the West. In reality, they were not given full credit to their enemys maneuver capacity, his ability to create and improvise resources and his still relatively powerful combat capacities, especially among his mobile and crack forces, in the operational zone.

THE SUPREME SOVIET COMMANDER.

Yet much of the pressure for a rapid advance came from Stalin. Probably through the Stavka, Stalin incited Vatutin to spur on Popov and the other mobile corps. Ultimately, this led to Stalins disenchantment (to the point of leading him to request a peace through Swedish diplomats) when the planned operations concluded. See Gerhard L. Weinburg. A World at Arms. Cambridge, 1944.

For their part, the Germans had difficulties in containing the Soviets winter offensive concentrated at the south of Belgorod. In the operational strategic zone of the Don Group of Armies, the Soviet forces overcame the Germans at a proportion of 8 to 1, whereas, in the case of the German Center and North Groups of Armies, that ratio was only 4 to 1.

Von Manstein maintained a front that was 750 kilometers long with 30 divisions. This left him vulnerable to envelopment on the north flank, in a maneuver that could reverse his front or turn his forces back in his operational or strategic rear. Or his forces could be broken through by a forceful action in any zone and he would be left without sufficient available mobile forces to launch an operational strategic counterattack. It was necessary to readjust the front, anchoring it on natural obstacles; and to push back the Soviet offensives toward Kiev (north flank) and the Black Sea or the Azov Sea, creating for it the necessary mobile reserves. Hitler, probably affected by the fall of 6th Army at the end of January in Stalingrad, compromised with Manstein’s requests to yield land in order to gain safety and mobility.

IN THE COVER OF «TIME» NEWSMAGAZINE…

Thus, during the first fortnight of February, the Hollidt Army moved back from the low Donetz, following the Rostov and Tangarov route and dug in again along the river Mius, approximately 80 kilometers to the west of Rostov. The 48 panzer Corps that were in action at the east of Rostov, moved to the north of Stalino, to join the 4th panzer Army of General Hoth and to form part of the mobile counterattack force.

In the middle of February, despite Hitler’s orders to resist at any price, the SS Army Kempf (formerly Lanz) evacuated Kharkov, when its north flank was enveloped by the Soviets from the direction of Belgorod. Meanwhile, the 4th panzer Army was moving back from the low Don toward positions to Stalino’s northwest. This was a difficult march of more than fifteen days over poor road conditions and railroad connections and lines. For its part, the 1st panzer Army, formerly part of the A Group of Armies in the Caucasus, could have moved back through Rostov, thanks 4th panzer Army hold on the front in the low Donetz area. And was taking positions in a front from north-east of Stalino up to the north of the Mius river.

THE GERMAN FIELDMARSCHAL’S COMMAND BATON.

With these maneuvers the Germans left the projecting in their front formed by the Don and Donetz rivers, readjusted their defensive front and managed to create an important operational maneuver force, formed by all three mentioned armies. It is important to emphasize that the Germans were not reacting to the Russians; they were adapting to the general conditions and the forces relations existing, with the expectation that they would act positively when the opportunity arose. This is probably the secret behind their operational blow (like a scythe blow) and the operational and strategicstunning waves” that they were to unleash on the Soviet Armies, which reached the enemys Supreme Commander.

On February 22, the two armored Corps (48 at the right side and the SS panzer at the left side) of the 4th panzer Army of Hoth initiated an offensive movement in the northwest direction on the communications lines of Popov Group and both independent Soviet tanks Corps of the southwest Front.

The terrain was highly favorable for using armored vehicles. Its surface was slightly wavy, allowing for extensive sight control. The narrow creeks that interlaced it were frozen.

Simultaneously there was a convergent attack by the SS Army Kempf from the west, completing the operation of the other five panzer divisions (reduced). This Army also had to prevent the advance on the Dnepr of forces from other Soviet Fronts, either around Krasnograd and Dnepropetrovsk or around Poltava and Kremenchug. This soviet attack, that was aimed at Kiev, was of a larger scope and, therefore, had scantier prospects for success before the spring thaw. The army SS Kempf had limited capacity to reject it.

It is worth emphasizing that, at the time, the 4th Air Fleet of General Richtofen enjoyed air supremacy over the operations zone and his aircraft could support the objective of cutting the enemys communications with up to 1,000 daily sorties.

THE FÜHRER ADOLF VISITS HIM IN ZAPOROZHE, TO CALM DOWN.

The Russian armored vehicles and truck columns were moving back toward the north and north-east at a distance of between 15 and 20 kilometers from the Germans, making them prey to the German divisional and army Corps artillery and aviation.

It was not a question of thesurrounded bag”-style operations that the Germans had carried out in 1941. The area being covered was larger, the German combat capacity (mainly based on infantry forces with artillery and antitank weapons) was scanty and the Soviet forces were elite mobile units with great fire and shock capacities. And knew the danger presented by the loss of its logistical support, at least their commands.

On February 23 both armored army Corps (the SS and 48th) of the 4th panzer Army were converging on Pavlograd. They cut the communications line of the Popov group, which was situated around Grishino, and of the 25th and 1st of the Guard tanks Corps (the mobile reserve of the Southwest Front) which were already approaching Zaporozhe, although not yet in full force. Likewise, the Germans severely struck the 6th infantry Army (at the west of Isyum), following the Front’s mobile reserve, and the 1st infantry Guard Army, which was behind the Popov group, before they cross the Donetz, moving back to their rearguard.

This temporarily liquidated the combat capacity of the Southwest front (General Vatutin). Unless that front focused on reorganizing and re-equipping itself and covering its casualties. And also tried to revive its combat morale by encouraging cohesion and retraining its units and small units.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

THE CHINDITS: FORCES OF DEEP INCURSION.

AN OPERATIONAL EXPLOITATION OF THE ENEMY REAR

A process that we will call of «cascade surprise» was created at the south of the operations theater of the Far East by the British general Orde Wingate at the beginning of 1.944. For it he used the deep incursion force, type light reinforced division, called the Chindits. This name is taken from the Burman god Chinthe, the protective god of the religion (or of the State), that could attack the enemies from nine different directions… His principal mission was to cut the internal communications of units (advance and retreat) and supplies (supports, substitutions and replacements) of the Japanese forces, that were opposed to the advance, at the north of Burma, of the Americans Chinese forces of general Stilwell. These were advancing from China towards the south, with the aim to conquer the Burman populations of Mogaung and Myitkyina and also to occupy and assure the zone at the south of these railway knots, so creating for them an area of stable rear. With it, they were seeking to be able to permanently open and extend a road and a pipeline from the north of Assam, in India, to Yunan, in China.

THEIR PATCH, FROM CINTHE GOD.

This would allow to supply a fleet of American bombardiers and their fighters escorts with base in Yunan. That would be destined to reinforce the effort of war of the wrecked Chinese, who were fighting from 1.937 their own war, against the Japanese expansionism in the continental Asia. And that were now unmotivated up to a point, that Chiang Kai Check wanted to go out of the war. This hypothetical armistice would liberate around 25 Japanese divisions, that were situated in China, operating and placed, to be destined where the Imperial High Staff considers to be suitable. For example, to accelerate the invasion of India, to include it in the «Co prosperity’s Asian Zone» that the Empire of the Japan was praising for the “Oriental and the Pacific Asia”. Under his politician and economic influence, opposite to the Western alien Powers.

OPERATIONS ZONE.

A conventional advance from India, by the Fourteen British Indian Army of the general Slim against this deep Japanese rear and from an expected and protected flank, was impracticable. Due to the distance to cross; to the area to winning and assuring; to the tenacity of the Japanese infantry soldiers; to the number of the Japanese deployed forces «in the same way and opposed direction”, as the Nippon were trying to reach the already nearby border of India with Burma, and to the difficulty of the the jungle fighting. That was a «thick» enviroment for the movements of the ground forces of both rivals, with obstructed and very nearby sights and where were abounding the tropical diseases.

 

The Development of the Operations.

The «second Chindit expedition» was inserted in March of 1.944, on the basis of the operational experience acquired the previous year with the first one. Where Wingate verified two essential parameters for the foreseen operations: that British Indian «line forces”, specifically trained for these tasks of deep incursion, could fight the Japanese in the jungle; and that these forces could indefinitely be supplied by air, as the Allies had the air supremacy in his operations zone and possessed enough air transport capacity for the task. They took part as incursion forces, the brigades 16, that from the first of February advanced afoot around 1.000 km towards Indaw, 77 and 111 of the British Indian Army, strong in more than 12 thousand men. That were joining in the 3th British Indian Division, of his «battle order». In April of 1.944 the 14 brigade joined it, landing in Aberdeen’s base, close to the way obstruction of White City, and immediately attacked several Japanese supplies depots. Wingate always thought in the employment of regular units, not about elite troops. And that their replacements were coming from the different units of the Army, specially the Fourteen Army of Slim. But did not count with the «perverse» trend of the units commands, of preferably being doing without the idlers and the problematic men, handing them over to other units. This way, the Chindits’ recruitment units had to reject at part of the candidates, as well as also those that were overcoming 40 years. Which is really an age very advanced to begin in the difficulties of the war in the jungles.

MARCHING ON: CROSSING A STREAM…

The gliders, freight planes and light aircrafts, due escorted, began to come to Broadway, in the north, and to Picadilly, in the south, of the chosen landing zone. It was a question of establishing a “fortified bolt” over the railroad and the road between Indaw, at the south, and Mohyen, towards the north, in the rear of the Japanese forces that were advancing towards the north, to China, and eastward, to India. The location of the place of the promising operational obstruction was discovered in the air reconnaissance done by Wingate, which chose her opposite to another alternative, because in the small valleys included in his perimeter, could be established, cover from the sights, all the auxiliary services of the defensive zone, as the mules, the health, the exterior communications, the stores, etc. White City, the defensive position, was due fortified by the engineers and equipped with 40 mm. anti-aircraft Bofors cannons, 75 mm. mortars and 25 pounds cannons (> 11 Kg and > 90 mm.) and Vickers 7, 7 mm. heavy machine guns. Between the hills that were framing the enclosure and that were integrating it, was installed even a runway for small airplanes.

A PACK OF MULES…

For the transport in broken and jungle ground, the Chindits were using packs of mules in all his marching columns. Each animal was in charge of a given muleteer, entrusted of his guide, care and subsistence. And not always, specially at the end of their operations, the muleteers were due trained for his trade. The packs were transporting the ammunitions, the provisioning, the heavy weapons, the supplies, the radio devices and other equipments and consumables. The train of mules of every unit was very vulnerable to a Japanese assault. Also, the animals of the redoubts, where it was difficult to bury them or to due protect them under covers, were vulnerable to the Japanese heavy fire. With it, the mules trains was turning into a serious vulnerability of the units. Since without it the operations of march and attack, consubstantial with the Chindits ethos, were impossible in this fighting ground of so difficult transitability. Bad going is not as precise definition and concept.

In the operations zone, the climate was hard, the comfort, which relieves the efforts of the war, was scanty, the life was rough and the woodland diseases seriously and repeatedly affected the men and the beasts, in high percentage and intensity, during the few months of operations in the Burma jungles. And the general task of harassment and weakening of the Japanese forces in their communication and supplies lines of towards Chinese and Indian fronts was carried out. The strategic operational concept that sublied was the exploitation of the Japanese deep rear, where were abounding his tactical and operational vulnerabilities and the absence of combat availability or readiness, on having been removed his forces from the combats fronts. The Chindits managed to fix indefinitely in this rear around two and half Japanese divisions, dedicated to their control and pursuit, or, around 2,5 times their own combat capacity.

Analysis and Interpretation of the Chindit Second Campaign.

The Chindits operations are exploitation actions in the enemy rear by enough and mobile forces. These are inserted deeply in it by their own aviation. This is not the usual case of the attack and breakthrough of a sector or strip of the enemy front. And then the irruption of “mobile corp”. That advances within the enemy rear to exploit his vulnerabilities; to destroy his units in reform or in march to their initial bases; to turn up the fighting fronts of his units at the defensive, so collaborating in annihilating them; to capture or destroy all kinds of logistic enemy means; to attack his valuable and vulnerable units (artillery, engineers, command and control, communications); to temporarily occupy ground communications hubs, defiles, mountain ports and riverheads and lakeheads, etc.

The necessary coordination of the “mobile corp” with his «support mass” or “immediate supporting rear”, is realized in this campaign by a stable, sufficient and not bothered airway. Whose link of union with the Chindits operational brigades (-) and battalions (+) are the fortified blocking bases (White City, Broadway, Aberdeen, Blackpool) established within the Japanese zone. And that were acting as “initial bases of depart” of their attack operations.

It was calculated that the Chindits caused more than 12 thousand losses to the Japanese forces, with their loss in combat of only a few hundreds of men. But the Chindits neither defeated decisively any Japanese great unit, nor conquered any relevant enemy position. So his transcendence, for the Allied military plans and the importance of the actions against the enemy, remained dispersed, appeased and darkened by the great maneuvers of the war in this South Asian theater and for the strategic and operational interests of the three great actors in it: British and Indians, American and Chinese.

GENERAL ORDE WINGATE.

After Wingate’s unexpected death in a plane crash, his successor, general Lentaigne, established in Blackpool, at around 100 km at north of White City, another fortified obstructionist position, as alternative and reinforcement of this. And since the Chindits operations and the interest of the war was moving more towards the border with China, the Chindits stayed already under the command of the Americans. And Stilwell, gave to them the task of a “great light conventional unit”, coordinated with the effort towards Birmania of the American Chinese forces. With the missions to attack in force from the south the positions over which those were advancing. It is of indicating that the same Lentaigne, which did not have the creativity, the ancestry, the respect between his equals and the will of Wingate, managed to partly accepted Stilwell’s conventional and orthodox points of view, in relation to the operational employment of the Chindits.

At the beginning of 1.944 Stiwell had one unit of «deep raiders”, the so called «Merrill’s Marauders». But they did not have the scope, the projection, the capacity and the operational conception that the Chindits had from the beginning, in his second incursion of this year. In addition, without the substitutions and replacements needed, used as another American Chinese advance spear in the Burma campaign and plagued by the infectious diseases, the combative efficiency of the Chindits plummeted very soon. And, a few months later, in 1.945, they were already totally demobilized.

THE SOVIET OPERATIONAL STRATEGY III.

(continuation)

THE TANKS ARMIES AS SUMMIT WEAPON OF THE ART SCIENCE OF THE SOVIET WARFARE.

Its structure, its operational characteristics and its performance according to the Soviet military Theory and in the practice. The practical failures of the Soviet deployments.

His tactical and operative employ in the marches and combats.

Once inserted the tanks army inside the enemy operational zone, his employ was generally much separating of the Soviet theory of the mechanized modern war of «maneuvers». The mechanized or tanks brigades were often used in untidy or even rash form. They were separated and simultaneously looked for many aims, using the maximum possible operating speed: To displace towards the west, pushing them, the major possible number of enemy units or other times, to cut off them. To liberate many populations, villas and places. And to attack in a too much broad sector, all the enemy units that were occupying defensive positions in it.

The logistics left a lot to be desired even for these elite units, as they were moving away from his lines and were consuming his initial resources. The units and small units were lacking equipments, armament, supplies, ammunitions and food. And the scanty and late restoration of the long-suffering falls, dead, injured and sick men, had very soon and almost permanently the units below his maximum authorized endowment. This tightened to the maximum the resources and men was leading to the units to a chronic lack of sufficient combat and operational movement capacities, in the spears of advance detached by the battalions, in the way of companies and even platoons. And without these combined joint capacities it is not possible to exercise a real, solvent and devastating “influence” on the enemy. That would move towards the units and their commands in the shape of “waves of commotion”, through the enemy rear. Except that, during a time, the enemy believes it or is in worse operational conditions that the attacker.

Frequently the offensive operations were realized without operational exploration, not even of combat, lacking the small attacking unit of information or intelligence about the enemy, his means and supports and his positions, and let’s not say on his intention. The formation of assault, even in these elite infantry units was usually the more or less thin line of advance (in «guerrilla»), formed transversely in the direction indicated by the chief of company command to the platoons chiefs, without any intentional deployment in depth and with scanty support of organic heavy machine guns or mortars. It is worth indicate that in last 2 complete years of war (spring, 1943 to spring, 1945) it was very normal, according to the above mentioned thing, that the endowment of a company was from 20 or 30 to 50 men, as the maximum.

When the aim was important or extensive, 2 companies were deployed by wings, serving the rough direction given as limit between their advance strips, to prevent them from intermingling the platoons. It was then very possible to count with artillery support from the brigade. For example, a battery of reactive artillery of 132 mm., the Katiuskhas, with 4 rockets launchers with 16 tubes each one on Zil 6X6 trucks, that were shooting more or less simultaneously, turning the surface target into a destruction zone. Or, in case of see or be waited enemy tanks, they were receiving the support of a 2 or 3 tanks T-34-85 platoon. Or, later, type JS-2 with the 122 mm. cannon, with a much slower shooting speed. Since, for industrial difficulties, it had the projection load separated from the perforation or explosive round. Already in 1944, with the foreign territory occupied by Germany very restricted, it was frequent to see the Tigers or Panthers or the assault or antitank cannons, supporting German small and fixed defense positions.

The German fortification works, in the great majority of his fixed rejection positions, were scanty and of circumstances, except in the big occupied populations. They consisted in more or less long trenches, infantry foxholes and shooting positions of the heavy weapons, and vertical cuts and reinforcements of the natural obstacles. Generally, they had too much reinforced and hided points, which could be used then as alternative positions, and they were lacking men to manned these. The usual ignorance of their enemy, was often leading that the attacking Soviet line, without noticing, was left to approach up to the last tens of ms. of the supposed defensive occupied positions. Then, it was counter-attacked from flank or reverse by one or two of German infantry platoons, commanded by an energetic official, that had slipped out of the defensive perimeter and were remaining hidden. The security lack to the flanks and of proper depth deployment of the attacking forces, as well as battalion reserves, provoked that the attacking unit was destroyed and repelled, with more or less falls. The Germans did not usually pursue. And sometimes, taking advantage of his enemy reverse, they get from their positions at full light and without major measures. And to retreat. And even, without being received, to move to another defense support point more in their rear.

Neither the Soviet tanks units were enduring too much better. They were using in their marches or even in the assaults, too much known and stereotyped deployments, and without taken care habitually of the exposed flanks. This could be taken advantage by some German veteran tanks unit. The count Hyazinth Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche and Camminetz is almost not known in West. For the simple reason he fought during almost 4 years of war in the East front. He managed to be rewarded with the Gentleman’s Cross of the Iron Cross (that was hung of the neck). And that he was successively adorning it with the Oak Leaves and the Diamond swords for her. He was one of the best commanders of a panzer regiment. And his successes might assume at equal parts, to a good tactical sense and a particular knowledge of the Russian idiosyncrasy. He gave his better tactical blow being already major general and commander of the panzers of the North armies group, in the autumn of 1944. His front sector was in calmness, being reorganized the Soviets, and Hyazinth Strachwitz sensed beforehand where they would attack on having renewed the offensive. With only 4 tanks he deeply penetrated behind the enemy lines and established an ambush over the supposed approximation zone of to the front. In its moment appeared at full speed a small Soviet tanks unit, completely ignorant of the presence of the German tanks, that was destroyed. More tank units were approaching and followed the same luck. Incredibly, the Soviet commanders allowed that the massacre should continue, without establishing the combat exploration or the march security or, at least, verify the origin of the enemy so precise fire. After about an hour of the first shot of German cannon, in the ambush zone (killing zone) were lying the smoking and deformed remains of 105 Soviet tanks. Almost equal of inexplicable was that the count returned behind his lines with his 4 intact tanks.

The Soviet great combats in the German rear.

When the Soviets were waiting the presence of the panzer corps or divisions, that were the only enemy great units that could attack their mobile corps with profit, the tanks army was advancing in the German operational zone with more prudence. His marching groups were forming a deployment that was guaranteeing tactical cohesion, protection against surprises and combat capacity.

The fuels supply was the first Achilles’ heel of the Soviet great mobile units. Though the infantry divisions of the Fronts were always continuing after their mobile corps, to support them, consolidate the enemies’ clear regions and garrison the populations, their pedestrian speed was insufficient to reach them rapidly. This way, sometimes a mechanized or tanks corps could remain aground and isolated. And on him were falling rapidly all the mobile reserves that the Germans could have to hand in the zone and which employment was not unprotecting other sector. On having known their near forced detention, the mobile corps were immediately going on to the defensive action and were establishing their campaign fortifications. The mechanized corps resisted well, in spite of the falls. But the tanks corps, smaller and less complete, were swept off easier by the panzer and their mechanized infantry. These cases happened even in 1944.

In these cases, always came a moment in which it was supposed that the Soviets had fought well and that already they could not win, nor get out of the combat and move back. Then, the crews and the soldiers of these elite units were dispersing in small groups, leaving behind their valuable heavy equipments and were trying to infiltrate up to their lines. And this was very difficult to get. But this was a war for the survival and mercilessly. And already Stalin had indicated the luck of the Soviet prisoners of war, if they were managing to survive the captivity in the deep rears of the Reich, his allies and the occupy countries. And that had surrendered too soon to the Germans, specially at the beginning of the war. Charging the enormous military national effort in their following comrades and the people. «Nothing will be forgotten, nobody will be forgotten”.

When the situation was difficult, the Soviets were not hesitating to spend an Army of tanks to stop the enemy by pure attrition.

In the tanks battle of for Prokhorsvka’s villa on July 12, 1943, as part of so called Kursk’s battle, faced the 5º tanks army of the Guard of the general Romistrov against 2º panzer army corps of the SS, commanded by general Hausser. The Soviets were counting with approximately 900 tanks and assault cannons, but were not joining any of the modern SU-152 assault cannons, the so called «beasts killer» (Tigers, Panthers) and the majority (around 500) of their tanks were T-34 76,2 mm, which could not distantly perforate the Tigers’ frontal shielding. The Germans had around 600 tanks (of them, approximately 100 were Tigers) and assault cannons. But none of these were of the Ferdinand or Elephant model. These only were used in the north attack on Kursk’s salient.

The Germans advanced towards the village with the Tigers forming the top of a great blunt wedge, with the Panzer IV and III covering the flanks and the assault cannons in its interior. The Soviets went to get them. The shock of the armored masses of both armies transformed in a fierce and chaotic whirlwind. The speed and the great maneuverability of the T-34 allowed them to very rapidly advance to reach the nearby fighting distances. Which would allow them to attack the Tigers with fruit and preferably at the flank. These would lose this way their advantage of being able to do effective fire at long distances and keeping the invulnerability of his frontal shield. The combat developed in multitude of small actions between 2 or 3 tanks.

The result of the battle was undecided. The Germans lost approximately 300 vehicles, including numerous Tigers, and the Soviets suffered the fall of approximately 450 vehicles. Though initially the Soviets moved back, remaining the Germans in control of the area, the Soviets recovered it little later. With what the Germans could not recover all their damaged or broken down tanks, which were total falls in their units.

The modern evolution lines of the Soviet operational strategy until 1989.

After the irruption of the Fronts or Soviet groups of armies in Eastern Europe and all the broad of the front of the East, the Soviet theoretics and the high commanders realized the need to change the structure of their tanks armies and corps. In effect, the urban, industrial and semi urban areas of the European East were demanding a major employment of the infantry support for the fight in them. They were new types of areas, full of obstacles to the advance and innumerable covers and/or «concealing relative heights», highly suitable to the active defense in depth. Here, the mechanized infantry (it was begun to call also motorized, though it was using the «combat» armored vehicles) was the principal weapon of the fighting. Also in the predictable future, a possible tactical nuclear war or not towards the Western Europe, would even accentuate this need of the motorized infantry.

It is not until 1965, 12 years after Stalin’s death, in which are started recognizing the contributions and the works of the mentioned theoretical purged military men. Assuming already to each person theirs ones and not as part of an ambiguous and impersonal Soviet military collective popular thinking school.

In turn the tanks armies and theirs corps and divisions units were adapting and changing. This way were created the so called «operational maneuver groups» (O.M.G.), destined to the exploitation in the lands of West Germany and Benelux in the decided operational directions. They could be formed by one or two tanks armies, reinforced in infantry and artillery. But their battle orders changed with the time and with the appearance of the atomic tactical weapon (missile, air and artillery). This brought the dispersion of the deployment after the irruption in several tanks and mechanized corps. That would advance very unfolded by all the attainable ground routes of the enemy area, to avoid to turn into an eligible target for the atomic fire. Also for they would have to approach with rapidity and unfolded to the “forward limit of the enemy positions”. The speed of march and the precision and range of the heavy direct fire would compensate their dispersion and the loss of shock. So achieving an effect of «crumbling of the enemy rear» thanks to the higher number of insertions and exploitations in the Western Front and its depth rear.

THE SOVIET OPERATIONAL STRATEGY.

THE TANKS ARMIES AS THE SUMMIT WEAPON OF THE ART SCIENCE OF THE SOVIET WARFARE.

Its structure, its operational characteristics and its performance according to the Soviet military Theory and in the practice. The practical failures of the Soviet deployments.

From 1943, after the breakthrough of the German semi continuous fronts by the shock or infantry armies of the Soviet Fronts or «armies groups», these sent their more mobile great forces, the tank armies, to the interior of the enemy operational zone. To keep intact their combat and of operational movement capacities, it was tried that they were not taking part in the previous irruption, breakthrough and securing operations in the passing sector, at charge of the mentioned infantry or shock armies.

Prolegomena.

Everything approximately begins with Tujachevski’s «bad» experiences, as commander of the Western Front in the war of 1920 of the USSR against Poland. This way, inferred «the inability to destroy the enemy army in a wide modern front, with an alone blow, in a great battle. What was forcing to achieve this strategic goal by means of a series of battles». The guide of this battles succession would be the operational strategy. So giving coherence, strategic sense and joint in the time and space to the military efforts and decisions. Before the «costly» successes of industrialization of the Five-year Soviet Plans, until the 30s of the 20th century, the operational level remained limited to this successive series of battles. Because the Red forces were integrated essentially by infantry, artillery and cavalry. Weapons restrained, by their essential limitation in the advance speed, to always using this string of victorious battles towards his strategic goals in the military theaters.

Parallel, other Soviets theoretics were working on a new, «more «scientific» strategy, as would correspond with the country «new order», for the employment of the Red Army. So, V. K Triandafillov published in 1929 the book «The nature of the operations of the modern armies». And in the Field Manual (ustav) of the Red Army of 1929, coordinated by A. A. Svechin, many of his ideas were included. In February, 1933, the army issued his Provisional Instructions to organize the battle in depth, which were extended in March, 1935. And the Field Manual of 1936, prepared with Tujachevski’s supervision, which already had 44 years, and Yegorov, was establishing the basic principles for the deep battle and the variants of the operations in the enemy rear. Triandafillov died prematurely on July 12, 1931 in an aviation accident near Moscow. This saved probably him of suffered a few years later the politician paranoiac pursuit of Stalin. The Stalinist purge of the 37s and 38s materially liquidated a generation of high commanders and officials, that had devoted themselves to the study, definition and development of the military operational art. This way, Egorov, Kamenev, Svechin, Tujachevski, Uborovich and others less out-standing, were purged and executed. Their ideas and theories in development turned pale and were guarded, up to well entered the Great Patriotic War. The great units necessary for the employment of operational theory were dismembered in their basic components or units of every Arm, for their easier conduction and employment. And the frightened surviving commanders became much more conservative, stick on to the received orders as limpets, and unwilling to assume even the calculated risks. These insanities inconstancies and caprices of the envy and the poor self-esteem of a predator and distrustfully Red Fuehrer, incapable of the minor empathy, cost more than million casualties to the Red Army, in the first months of the war in the East.

Introduction.

The tanks armies, which only reached the number of sixIn the whole immense Soviet Order of Battle, were using principally in the most promising strategic or operational and even political directions, of the whole extensive war front in the European East. And according to the criteria of the Stavka or High Staff of the Soviet armed forces, under the direct control of the comrade Stalin. Therefore, many groups of Soviet armies or Fronts were not possessing them. They were the elite of the elite of the great Soviet units. And for their men’s endowment and equipments it was tried that were the best available ones and to full theoretical endowment, at least before their insertion in the enemy rear. This way, at the end of 1943, when the Soviet war machinery was acting in full sweeping offensive, only 320.000 men belonged to the mechanized or motorized forces, from the total of more than 4 million men of the Soviet Ground Forces. The need to provide them those, like the aviation, the navy and the artillery with the better educated and trained troops, was letting the infantry numerous forces (around 490 divisions, which were in stable number from 1943) with the most awkward men and the worse formed and equipped. Though the Red Army of the Workers and Peasants (RKKA, the Russian Рабоче-Крестьянская Красная Армия, Raboche-Krestianskaya Krasnaya Armia) was not called officially Soviet Army until 1946, for practical reasons we prefer calling him this way in this work.

The development of the mobile forces and their aims in the Soviet military doctrine.

When one speaks about the massive assaults, by successive big waves, of the Soviets, it is necessary to look for the tactical and human explanation of in the iteration of efforts that marks their doctrine. And in the military and yet imperfect school formation of their men, specially the infantries. Nevertheless, to the favorable and unfavorable characteristics of his national fighting for the survival, in the so called «Great Patriotic War», they could adapt all their social, economic and military efforts. Creating, for example, a number very limited of tanks and cannons of assault models, sobers, easy to handle, hard, rapid, with fuels more advantageous in their combustion Carnot’s cycle and with great fire power, already from the beginning. And that then made for many tens of thousands of units. Delivering a sub-machine gun to many infantries, forcing them this way to assault the enemy, to make him to feel the neutralization massive fire at their shooting effective distance (not more than 70 meters), to have some opportunity to live then. Towards the half of the war, the Soviets had working the incredible number of 310 officials’ schools, with more than 350.000 cadets, which formed during the war approximately 2.000.000 new officials. These were in charge, in their small units, together with the NCO, of giving a more or less military formation to the replacements that in them were received, proceeding from the successive levies of men and women of any age and condition.

The high Soviet commanders knew that, on an equal footing, their men were more worse soldiers than the Germans, especially in the offensive operations. Therefore, they had to win at least all the battles that were turning out to be transcendental in their effort of war. First to survive and, then, to conquer Germany and extend their recently established «political social order» in the Eastern Europe. The secret was residing in the exploitation of the enemy operational zone. That was badly defended by a first line without operational depth, chronically scanty of sufficient and effective antitank weapons, and, especially, chained to a rigid repulse, without transfer of space, by the myopic and distrustful top Nazi directives. And the designed weapon, from the doctrine of the deep penetration, developed by the ill-fared marshall Mikhail Tujachevski and others until 1936, and desperate taken again after the first great reverses in the war, was the top use of the select and scanty armies. That theoretically might reasonably penetrate several hundreds of km in the enemy rear.

In the rest of the large sectors of the front, the Soviets either were kept in the defense. And they were masters in the establishment and functioning of strengthened, almost impenetrable areas, zones and even «regions». Or their infantry divisions, with the support of their very scanty organic tanks or that assigned in tactical subordination and reinforced or not with some Katiuskas’s brigade and some heavy artillery regiment, to realize secondary assaults with limited aims. If the operation was more promising, the Stavka could assign to them some mechanized corps, the mobile more important great unit, always centralize controlled, or, at least, a tanks corps. Though during 1941 and 1942, 80 % of the heavy and campaign artillery was divisional, already at the beginning of 1944, 65 % was not divisional and was integrated to great independent units, the artillery divisions, formed by regiments. This organization was serving to concentrate it crushingly and very effectively in the most promising directions, decided by Stalin and his Stavka, and to facilitate and assure the break in.

The operational zone, its functions and weaknesses.

The operational zone, with a depth in this epoch from 18-20 km to 75-80 km from the front, is the geographical space where develops the process of turning the «mass of support» from the strategic rear (forces, supports, communications, logistic organization and HHQQ) into «units of action», specialized and qualified for their employment against the enemy, with the type of fight decided or imposed by him.

The critical elements of this zone, which is the physical support of that military activity, are: the communications of all kinds: the spaces of maneuvers and operations (zones of units unfolding, waiting, reorganization, re equipment, preparation, advance, provided with covers or non enfilade towards the enemy); the units of engineers and of operational reconnaissance (I include both them for their shortage, importance and universality of employment); the logistic means (centers of data processing and of operations control, warehouses and manipulation means, long distance and delivery transport and delivery areas); and the intelligence centers and those of the operational controls.

The operational zone must have the sufficient depth to be able to contain, deploy, drive, supply and direct the sufficient number of units close to the front, following the necessary spears of advance or attack. To repeat the efforts against the enemy and to obtain the tactical aim that raises or are decided. One differs very marked in the real depth (used) between the zones of the two antagonistic or enemy rivals, indicates a latent tactical weakness of one of them. Either for less military resources or for a slower advance or deployment for the combat of his strategic reservations, from his deep rear. This can be detected by the aviation of exploration. Deprived the active forces of a front of their operational zone, which makes able, supports and stimulates them, the survival of the whole front sector affected is impossible after a short time, for depletion or consumption. The moral effects of the loss of the positive expectations help to precipitate the collapse of this front. The forces will tend to move back or to be called towards the rear, to treat to protect the functional elements that allow them to operate tactically. In effect, for the defense of the operational zone, given the combative defenselessness of her “functional elements” and the scanty combat readiness and the lack of cohesion of the units that wait, reform and are re-equipped there, only we can possess in general the operational already prepared reserves, preferably mobile, and with the deepest and slower reserves of this sector or of the contiguous ones.

The presence in force of a tanks army, deployed in numerous more or less parallel routes of march, fulling all the available roads and paths, generates a great threatening «sector» and always unforeseen in the enemy rear. With an «operational efficiency» extended to his right, to his left side and towards the front. The «real threat» exercised by the mobile groups is a direct function of the distance to their possible aims, measure in «reaching times»; of their «operational movement capacity» to approach them and of their «combat capacity» to damage or occupy them. This creates an «influence», a gigantic «leverage» on the enemy affected zone, altering, dismantling, breaking it and, even, making it prematurely collapse, and without great attrition combats.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

THE BEGINNING OF A CIVIL WAR IN SYRIA II.

(continuing)

About the «Muslim Brothers» (MB) as political modern «organization» there is profusion of available information, which is constantly updated. But the MB are different from a «political association», according with our Western use and understanding. Their function is eminently social in a wide and deep sense. Like is the Islam as religion. That is based on five props represented by a «opened hand». The jihad is added to those, as a collective blood effort in Al-lâh’s path, for the defense and extension of the lands of Dar-al-Islam. The Islam expresses by sacred actions (rites), necessary to be imbued and blooms in the personal and collective soul of the believers. And these «acts and ritual actions», from the Salat (his daily prayers, which re-join the whole present group), passing for the Roza or fasting in the Ramadan month and the Hajj or multitudinous peregrination to the Mecca, to the Zakat or charity (expressed as canonical alms for the Umma, administered by the ulemas, imams or sheiks). They are collective and highly composing the local or regional Muslim community. The MB are like a legal «confraternity», with the due distances, of the Islam. And with the Zakat they support services of social attention of all kinds (schools and madrasas, clinics, hospitals, help to persons and families). These forge the community in a «unit of general action» effective and resistant. That is of very difficult repetition or reply for the laymen, the atheists and other potential enemies.

On February 4, 1982, after a time of pacific active opposition, the Syrian MB Sunnis, tried an armed revolt in Hama’s city against Hafez al-Assad. His brother Rifaat al-Assad directed the military repression. Surrounded, isolated, without heavy armament, or supplies, the uprising MB were squashed by February 28. It is calculated in more than 20 thousand the rebels dead men during in the combats and in the later pursuit and mopping up. The consulted values range between 10 thousand and 40 thousand. Which indicates that they neither are checked, are not even trustworthy, coming from antagonists sources or fickle authors.

It was the epoch in which these mobs were not constituting a part of a social extensive, deep and determined action. But rather an activate «rebel military area». That was seeking to attract, after his first armed successes, wide sectors of the Sunnis Syrian population. Then, they were seditious without sufficient popular support. Not all the MB were even revolted. And that, therefore, could and must be submitted or swept by the established authorities, as irretrievable and odious rebels.

The dynastic government of the Assad and his political equipment have stopped forming a socialist and national regime a lot of time ago. As they neither represent or defend, nor integrate, the particular and collective interests of their nation. Now only support and protect the members of the social religious oligarchy. That monopolizes and distributes in different degrees the institutional, social and economic power of Syria. The Syrian regime is crystallized, without fluency, so much socially, as ideologically and administratively. And is turning into the shell of a «social political fruit», shriveled, sterile and empty.

A Panorama of national and military Strategy of the Civil War in Syria.

Strategically and in the medium term, the regime of the Assad and his institutional skeleton of the Baaz lay party and their supporters of the Republican Guard and the Air Force, the chiefs and many officials of the Army and the high ranking posts in the Administration, is finished.

Their outrages, the social fractures and the grinding time applied and caused to their heterogeneous people are too much. In order that the beginning revolutionary process (of abrupt change of regime and of political structures) has an acceptable and permanent “reverse” in Syria.

Operatively and in the medium term also, the SNA «monitored and encouraged» by the Republican Guard and the Military Security, has a wide operational movement capacity; a consistent logistic network of stores, warehouses, long distance transport and distribution transport and an IT system, that allows the control and direction of her; a sure flow of armament and equipments for replacement and a simply resounding combat capacity, against their armed semi regular and irregular enemies.

In this level of activity, it is of emphasizing the absence of the Syrian Air Force, in the combats, harassments and skirmishes that take place. It is an Army branch, technical, minority and loyal to the al-Assad, where came from daddy Hafez. That would act as air support, rebel movements interdiction and bombardment of their volatile and slightly definite “support rears” and bases of all kinds. She does not have counterinsurgency specific planes. That allow, flying at low speed, to fix the target and concentrate in it the fire, minimizing his action over not belligerent. As those of the Bronco and his derivatives family and even the old Mig-17.

Then, her employment in a revolt against poorly armed rebels and with diffuse and intermingled “fronts” with populations and neighborhoods of cities. It might give place, though more remotely that in the Lybian case, to the decision of a “military foreign intervention” of variable implications against the regime. The intervention, in this case, with the thorny and difficult political and geostrategic exposition that imply: the reluctance to her of China and Russia; the frontier nearness of The Lebanon and Iran;the natural and inconvenient allies of the regime alauí (chii) and the considerable major population of Syria, in comparison with Lybia. So, she Is stopped by the lack of direction, leadership and moral courage and of ideological and political definition of the so called Western «powers». The artillery, which is less visible and spectacular for the present and absent public, is freely used by the SNA, including the heavy organic tubes of the infantry. It is of emphasizing that in the Eastern Front war, the campaign, heavy and reactive artillery caused up to 45 % of the total losses of both rivals, against to 5 % attributed to the assault artillery and other 5 %, to the aviation. And 35 % of the losses assumed by the heavy organic weapons of both infantries. And this, taking apart that other tasks of the artillery also were to disorganize the enemy movements, to destroy equipments and fortifications and the harassment.

Tactically, the Syrian regime supported by the SNA is in conditions to defeat indefinite but not perpetually all his armed opponents. Any rebel armed force that faces him directly or that tries to defend her positions in a rigid defense without yielding space will be annihilated. The only opportunity that the armed opponents have is precisely not to be drawn by the Army to a lost combat in advance. His technologies and tactics must be the constant and far-sighted mobility; the dispersion and the infiltration, for the moment, in the urban fighting; the small, dispersed and more or less simultaneous or sequential actions in a sensible area; the echeloned escape; the fight with very limited goals and with advantageous temporary conditions; the systematic giving up of positions, forcing the enemy to deploy and prepare again. They can win for the rebel armed forces the necessary time to survive. And to manage to glimpse the victory, against the brutal national and international, political and social wear, which will suffer Bachar al-Assad’s regime, in exponential proportion to the repression time he exercises.

THE BEGINNING OF A CIVIL WAR IN SYRIA

The Syrian troops cause hundreds of dead and injured civilians in their attack to Homs’ city since Friday, 3rd of February. Justifying themselves with making “hot pursuit” of a group of supposed regular rebels in retreat. These actions in force spread already to other cities and small populations of the west of the country. This would be the summary of the news that are received from Syria during February. And with them an important qualitative change has taken place in this masked war. That is increasingly near to burst out and to develop and spread, with the typical characteristics of an armed sustained internal conflict.

Geographical Conditionings of the military Theater of Syria. His operational Characteristics in the Modern War.

Syria is fundamentally a flat country. The life and activity of his inhabitants is assembled and supported by 2 great rivers, the Orontes, which flows from north to south, and the high section of the Euphrates, which crosses his extensive and desert plains of the East, in south-east direction. A thin heights chain, the Ansariyya, which extends in its southern part in the Antilibano and Hermon mountain ranges, now close to Damascus, limits his narrow coastal plain, with Mediterranean crops. At the east of this heights succession, the Orontes, which feeds the irrigation of different crops from the Gab natural depression, allows different urban emplacements, principally Hama and Homs, from north to south. Around the Euphrates, the life sustains, thanks to the irrigations from the river and Tabqa’s dam, in the cities of Raqqa and Day the-Zawr and other minor populations.

As we have seen, the Syrian territory offers a favorable area for the operational movement and marches of the mechanized and motorized units and small units. That are capable of rapidly crossing large and surprising distances for their enemy. Using for it departure bases in their operational rear. This allows also that, any semipermanent concentration of the Syrian Free Army (SFA) could be easily reached, isolated and annihilated by the National Syrian Army (NSA) of Bashar al-Assad.

The Prolegomena of the Civil War in Syria.

Till now the combats between the rebels and the NSA were harassments, skirmishes, ambushes and small assaults to populations, which did not have the character of a «circle and siege», even partially and temporarily. All those had two key characteristics: they were very limited in time and did not have any operational projection. The falls of both «rivals», compared with those of any armed conflict that boasts, were ridiculous. On the other hand, many «minishocks» were not even detected by the normal observers or the international press.

The NSA has made one more step towards the crushing of the revolt, still in his tender buds. But already armed and spreading in «spots» over the whole west of the country. Using also in his «task», the artillery, the infantry heavy weapon and the heavy direct fire of the tanks. Heavy fire that, till now, seeks to sow the panic between the enemy soldiers and his civil supporters and the neighbors of the redoubts and strong temporary rebel points. Without that, with the direct and indirect support of their fires, take place military ground actions of operational transcendence. Only there happens the employment of «groups» of snipers by both parts. The select military men infiltrate and establish themselves, forming a short, discontinuous and broken front line, that covers a sector or strip of great frequency of movements in the population or city. And the rebels realize the neutralization action of the military snipers. And, while the panic produces the people’s move out, but rarely the flanks overflow, the soldiers advance, rolling in the created «emptiness». But without penetrating in it in force and decisively, to dismantle the rebel defense. Or to divide in sectors the enemy enclaves, as maneuver before their mop up by parts.

The self named Syrian Free Army in the Syrian Civil War.

It is a conglomerate of dispersed and unlike forces. That come from the intermittent desertion of small groups of members of the different forces of the NSA. There do not exist elements of the Air Force, which we know, between the rebels. The SFA is far from constituting an organic stable and consolidated structure. His order of battle is constituted, in his pinnacle, by the regional «brigades». These operate tactically in the “urban bed” of the Orontes. Looking only for limited goals of harassment or sudden attacks against the security forces and local important authorities. They do not have intention of defending the goals that are occupied. And they shelter at once, more or less deployed, in the nearby mountain chains. Or, forming small but integrated units, in some neighborhoods of the turbulent cities of Homs, Hama and other populations.

This rebel Syrian army, is better qualified and trained that the local «brigades» (hundreds of Lybian improvised «qatibas», in the style of «sans cullottes» or of the Iranian «basijs») of the questionable Libyan National Counsel of Transition. At least, his men possess a unit of doctrine, regulations and armaments. They have plenty of the varied personnel weapons, including the RPG family and her improved HEAT rockets of hollow lcharge and free flight and some heavy infantry armament (mortars and machine guns). His great weakness is his penury of armored vehicles, of artillery and of the antitank organic weapons of the companies and the specific battalions for antitank fighting. And the lack of a logistic stable network, sufficient and provided regularly.

Here also exists the social psychological phenomenon of raising in 2 or 3 degrees the category, the real size and the capacity of the real deployed and operative units. And that, for stale, does not cheat anybody.

Other active Protagonists of the Civil War in Syria.

The Syrian Army is the army of the nation. And it is formed proportionally as her, by a majority of sunnies recruits. That is which feeds, together with NCO s and junior officials of same origin, as an exuberant nursery, the ranks of the FSA. The Army is formed by approximately 200 thousand persons, most of recruit. The potential of the nation for a supported annual recruitment is around 220 thousand men. And it can reach even more than 320 thousand persons, with the first mobilization. Army is integrated by 3 army corps and varied and numerous independent units, with all the branches and available services. Within his upbringing is included a «political indoctrination». Not as severe, extensive and constant as that in the Communist armies, that look to imbue them with hatred towards the Zionist enemy and with loyalty to the Government and the Party.

The Army is «observed and controlled» by a younger brother of Bashar, Mahir, from his headquarters of the Republican Guard (the Haras al-Jumhuriyya). And by his brother-in-law Asef Shawkat, who directs the whole State Security, through his different institutional branches. In all the military «units» are «observers» of the Military Intelligence. Also there are several «Special Forces»units, formed exclusively by alauits volunteers, that nowadays received the joint name of «Force of Rapid Deployment», at the usage of other national armies. They are light infantry reinforced units, with the highest level in motivation, training and combat readiness.

If we want to speak about the combative efficiency of the Syrian Army, we have to depart from his specific “combat capacities». Definite and calculated by colonel Trevor Dupuy. And that refer to real values exhibited in conflicts. The last ones, calculated from the Yom Kippur’s War, were giving a value of 2,54 Syrian soldiers for one of the Tsahal. This was placing them over Jordanians and Egyptians, with values below 2. For more than 20 years, an improvement is perceived in the quality of the military personnel. And the junior officials receive now more tasks and are promoted also by his value, within the habitual parameters of the Arabic armies.

In this multicolored social military scene, are also present a few purely local autonomous militias, without operative connection between them. They do not exist in all the places and neighborhoods. There are out of the Baaz and his politician paramilitary militias that, for the moment, are inactive. Those try to keep a minimum of social internal order and the safety and the movement of the citizens and goods in the different enclaves, small populations and slums where they act. Their armament is merely the infantry personnel weapons and hunting firearms, in very varied number and composition depending on their location and contacts. Both the «task groups» of the SNA and the rebel bands keep, in this period of development of the fighting, a tolerant status quo with these civil militias. Which realize a suitable civil police labor for all.

In many alauits neighborhoods operates a paramilitary governmental militia (the «habiha»), formed by select militants of the Baaz. In different Sunnis neighborhoods act irregular armed rebels from the Muslim Brothers. It is very scanty the presence of radical religious Salafists and his furthermore exiguous local appendices. The past suicide attacks in Damascus were ascribed to them. This introduces a “social instability factor” in the “real parameters” of this war. That performs major effect and importance, that would correspond to it by the number and aggressiveness efficiency of these social religious radical Islamic. Finally, there also are «Sunnis irregular volunteers» from Iraq, without pays since the retreat of the USA. That would be crossing the Syrian border and her Eastern desert, to join the armed fight against the regime of the Baaz.

(to be continued)

THE PRINCIPLES OF WAR

What are they? How many there are? How do they serve?

A historical analytical tour from the Fighting Kingdoms of the ancient China up to their modern expression for the irregular or asymmetric war

The so called «principles» of the war or advises for good acting in it, which also are permanent, so as are reinterpreted with good sense and flexibility, are the compendium of «what to do on war. Nevertheless, not always were agree the authors or the doctrines to define or to enumerate them, the results being characterized by its extreme diversity before the same phenomenon.

Following their best theoretical experts and skilled users.

Following General André Beaufré, Clausewitz proposed three fundamental principles: the concentration of efforts, the action of the strong on the weak and the decision by the battle in the principal operational theater.

Nevertheless, the reading of his book «On the War» allows to extract at least other eight conclusions, milestones or advices in his great work. And they have the character of principles of the war. These would be: Simplicity in the plans and executions. Concentration on the enemy and relative economy of forces in other sectors, to help to get it. This way, the establishment of a principal effort and enough reserves to guarantee it through time. The surprise, as multiplier of the own military capacities. Superiority of the defense, which must be active, as a fighting form. Need of the offensive, to obtain positive and/or decisive results at the operational and strategic military levels.

Liddell Hart proposes six positive principles: Following a flexible and adaptable plan, to prosecute a constant goal, fitted to the available means, looked for by means of the line of action that offers the less resistance of the enemy and, therefore, the most unexpected for his deployment and following an operational direction that offers us alternatives and, therefore, that disconcerts and disperse the enemy forces. And two negatives: to not throw the forces in an unique blow or attempt, while the enemy is on guard or in conditions to elude or resist that blow and not to repeat in the same form or direction an assault, if it has previously failed. We can synthesize all this saying that: it is necessary to apply our concentration against the enemy weakness, once his forces are dispersed, and if before they were not, by our calculated enticing deployment dispersion .

Though Napoleon commented frequently and wrote very much on the principles of the war, he did not enumerate them anywhere. In presence of the marshal Saint Cyr he once commented: «If some day I have time, I will write a book describing so precise form the principles of the war, they will be understood by all the soldiers, being able to study the war as easily as any another science». The general John Frederick Charles Fuller, from the study of Napoleon’s campaigns, deduces undoubtedly that him used the following ones: Employment of the rapidity, faith in the resolution of the offensive, the surprise, the concentration in the decisive point (not necessarily the weakest in all his battles) and a carefully projected defensive system.

There have been really done diverse collections of the Napoleon’s maxims and military rules. Considered the best and first of all, the published in Paris in 1.827 and which was almost immediately translated to the rest of the principal European languages, certainly the Spanish. It is said that Stonewall Jackson was taking a copy of this opuscule in his rucksack. The colonel G. F. R. Henderson, biographer of Napoleon, considers that this summary «contains a complete enough account, in the Napoleon’s own words, of the great universal principles of the war». In this famous edition there appear 78 maxims, which were extended in other 37 rules in the later editions. But, theMilitary Maxims» of Napoleon constitute rather atactical breviaryof approximately 35 pages, adapted to the technology of his time, similar to the expressly wrote and with bigger extension, already in the epoch of the mechanization of the war, by the Swiss colonel Frick.

For his part, Fuller analyzing Clausewitz and departing from his phrase, «the war only is a duel on a large scale», he is deducing up to seven general principles for the conduction of war, explained through a of box fight paraphrase. Those are: The conservation of the goal. The security. The mobility in the action. The utilization of the offensive. The surprise. The concentration of the forces. The economy of the forces. These Fuller’s principles were accepted and assumed by the North American military doctrine from 1.921, with the due updates in its exhibition and possibilities of application, and adding those of simplicity and unit of control.

The French traditional strategic school represented by the generalissimo Foch, victor of I World War, summarized the strategy in two principles: the economy of forces and the freedom of action. For its generality and abstraction they can be applied to all the tactics and strategies. General Beaufré summarizes them in to reach the decisive point thanks to the freedom of action, obtained by means of a good economy of forces.

The school of the North American great strategy or total strategy represented by the general Maxwell Taylor used, during its confrontation with the U. S. S. R. in the long cold war, two basic principles of performance: the adjustable dissuasion and the flexible response.

Stalin, the great victor of the II World War, whom was asking ironically, «how many divisions has the Pope? « (now we will see the reason), defined the five Soviet principles of the war, which he called «operational permanent factors»: The stability of the national civl rear, the fighting and political moral of the Army, the quantity and quality of the divisions, the armament of the Army and the organizing skill of the cadres, officials and commanders.

These are in contrast with the so calledtransitory factors, of which only one has been specified, the surprise. Surely because it was the only one that Stalin mentioned as such, in the period following its lucky use at the strategic level by the Germans, on having invaded the U. S. S. R. The Soviet exhibition of the mentioned principles, necessarily does not mean that there do not exist other principles, that are so valuable as them in the military Soviet doctrine. But only that are not mentioned as such by her.

In «The Art of the War» of Sun Tzu there are also definite the roots of the principles of the war. They are not stated explicitly as in the West, but they appear expressed with that global sense of the Chinese philosophy. Which seeks to bear in mind everything at the same time, the particular thing and the general. More as an intimate perception and an experience, than as a «check list», a prescription handbook or a vademecum.

On the principle of the offensive SunTzu says:

«The invincibility resides in the defense, the opportunities of victory, in the attack». «When you have enough means, the suitable thing is the defense; when you have more than sufficient means, the assault.» «Those who are expert in the art of defending, hide themselves under the land of the nine folds; those who are expert in the art of attacking, advance as launching from the ninth sky. Thus, they are capable of be protected and insuring themselves the total victory at a time».

(to be continued)

THE BATTLE OF AUSTERLITZ

The Battle of Austerlitz or the Battle of the Three Emperors.

The French Crowning of her War of 1805 against the Third Coalition.

Introduction. Reasons of the war. England Promotes the Third Coalition against France. The First Movements of the Belligerents.

The first series of the wars that arise immediately after the French Revolution ended with Loeben’s (in 1801) and Amiens’ (in 1802) Peaces. But between France and England the intervals of peace were at the time only respites, to be able to continue their inevitable fight for the supremacy and the survival in Europe. In May, 1805 the war exploded between France and the so called Third Coalition, created the previous month by Russia, Austria and England, her promoter. An excited William Pitt sent generously the English gold to her continental allies.

The main part of the French army was at the time lodged along the coast of the English Channel, preparing himself to invade England. But the threat for the army in campaign, which was the real strategic goal of the Napoleonic wars (let’s remember that the occupations of Madrid, Vienna, Moscow, were not decisive), was arising in the East, by the armies of the Russian and Austrian Empires.

In September, 1805 Napoleon moved his «Army of England» to the Rhine, deploying his 208.000 men between Mainz and Strasbourg and renamed he the «Great Army». The French “Grande Armée” was formed by 145.000 infantrymen and 38.000 troopers, joined 7 Army Corps, each one at the orders of a French marshal, a great cavalry reserve commanded by the marshal Prínce Murat and the Imperial Guard, directly under Napoleon; to them 25.000 allied Bavarians were added.

Taking as usual in him the initiative, Napoleon decides to give the first strategic blow against the army of 72.000 Austrians that, at the orders of the general Mack and the archduke Fernando, son of the emperor Francisco II, was advancing towards Ulm, without waiting the arrival of help from their allied Russian.

Napoleon is going to use against the Austrians what we can call an operative effort of gravity center. The characteristics of the process of establishment and functioning of that one are the originality, the flexibility of the deployment, the consistency, its not predictability by the enemy and the efficiency. The operational gravity center supposes the centripetal action of all the means and their lines of action, of the «branched out» activity of all the units and services. Not necessarily coincidental, but convergent and resultant in their synergy, in their efficiency and in the result. By means of the different and coordinated lines of advance or of action, we induce uncertainty and insecurity in the enemy, disperse his capacity of rejection and disturb his Defense Plan and its systematic conduction by the commands.

In an ample advance of his independent Army Corps, the Grande Armée (about 210,000 men) quickly crossed the center of Germany, from the Rhine to the Danube, between September, 25 and October, 6. With this, it operationally interposed between the Austrians (about 40,000 men) and their allied Russian forces that went to help them. The Austrians did not understand the need of the rapidity of the movements, thinking only about the battle, as the only instrument of the decision. The French initiated the crossing of the Danube on October 7, 1805 and, during the following week, Napoleon converge most of his Army Corps in an enormous restricting spiral on Ulm, while a Corp with enough forces watched for the arrival from the east of Russian General Kutuzov.

General Mack made, in vain, several attempts at rupturing Napoleon’s forces, applying his greatest efforts in Haslach and Elchingen. Both Austrian commanders quarreled among themselves and Archduke Fernando, with his 6,000 troopers, separated from the main force and tried to escape to the northeast. But Archduke Fernando’s forces were surrounded and beaten by the cavalry Corps of Murat, near Trochtelfingen. Another 12,000 Austrians surrendered in Neustadt.

On the other hand, General Mack and the rest of his men (about 27,000, after the mentioned battles), with Napoleon’s overwhelming forces at the doors of Ulm since October, 14, came out the city and laid down their weapons at the feet of mounts Michelsberg. The capitulation was signed by General Mack on the 20th. The campaign, without properly battles, cost Austria more than 50,000 men (around 70%) of her initial forces of about 70,000 troops.

The Second Phase of the War: the Battle of Austerlitz.

The shining campaign of 1805, after the easy operational victory over General Mack in Ulm, reached its peak in Austerlitz.

Under command of General Kutusov, the Russians who went to aid Mack did not let themselves be caught by the Fench. They returned the way they came, heading first toward the east and soon toward the north of the Danube, thus moving Napoleon further and further away from his bases. The capture of Vienna on November 12th was useless for him, because Kutusov continued to refuse to fight, avoiding even two French traps tended by Murat. The general was looking forward to meeting with the forces of General Buxhowden and the Czar, near Olmutz, before opposing the French. On November 20th, about 85,000 Russian and Austrian soldiers concentrated; also present were the Emperor Francis and the Czar Nicholas.

Napoleon, who had initiated the campaign against Mack from his positions along the Rhine with about 210,000 men, was now about 720 kilometers from them. The losses due to the incessant marches, battles and the necessity to guard his line of communications had reduced Napoleon’s operational army to 55,000 men, who were under his direct control.

The Creation of Napoleon’s Battle Plans.

But Napoleon, often neglected and trusted, demonstrated his better moments in crises times. At age 36, only one year after his coronation, Napoleon reached the zenith of his military career. During the first days, Napoleon mainly prepared his enemy. Pretending weakness, his cavalry vanguards backed down from contact with Cossack patrols near Olmutz. Next, he evacuated the town of Austerlitz and, still more demonstratively for a defensive approach, evacuated the heights of Pratzen. He was even especially courteous to the Russian pedantic envoy Count Dolgorouki, escorting him personally to the French advance parties. The allies tentatively offered an armistice to him, waiting to win time for Archdukes Charles and John to approach from the south with around 122,000 Austrians.

On the first of December the allies advanced from Olmutz and occupied Pratzen. Meanwhile Napoleon received reinforcements from Army Corps I and III (commanded by Marshals Bernadotte and Davout), who went from the garrisons of Iglau and Vienna in their line of communications. This increased his strength to more than 73,000 men.

Napoleon was now going to offer as bait his debilitated right flank to the allies. Who were anxious to secure a victory over the hated young emperor and had come to believe that this was possible. In addition, an allied victory and penetration in the zone behind Napoleon’s lines, will cut him the retreat toward Vienna. This would also leave the French Army in an isolated, hostile land, surrounded by enemies, without reinforcements at hand, and in a situation of enormous numerical inferiority (a strategic triumph!). That was already too much for Czar Nicholas (his presence inevitably interferes with the authority of a Commander-in-Chief in a campaign) and many young generals, who disregarded Kutusov’s advice of prudence. Also, the doubts of the Emperor Francis could be ignored, because three-quarters of the troops were Russian.

The imbalance of the enemy seeks to turn vulnerably his deployment, before the imminence of a combat, to optimize our results and to minimize our losses in it. The imbalance of the enemy, together with his functional incapacitation for combat, must allow us the action on his critical vulnerabilities. Looking for his disorganization and disintegration, with the minor attrition (in capacity of combat) and the minor wear (in capacity of operative movement) possible for us. For this, it is required the determined, flexible and imaginative military action. The intellectual human means of the Army, through the commands, are put here in proof and in tension.

The effective factors of the enemy imbalance are the surprise, the deception and the fantasy or appearances, that always are perceived as real and evident by him. Using them, we establish in the enemy a false impression, of opportunity, or apprehension, or distraction, which tries to induce him to operate erroneous and harmfully for him, without proposing or knowing it. On having looked and been orientated towards a fantasy, his combat capacities adopt and relax in an erroneous, inconvenient deployment and, especially, vulnerably against us.

When for the imbalance we use the opportunity, we look for the exaltation of the enemy. The opportunity must be something appreciated by the enemy, a tactical advantage, which arises suddenly as consequence of the flow of the situation or at the beginning of it. She cannot turn out to be as offered by us, because then would not intervene the mentioned factors of the surprise and the deception. Though she can appear as something neglected or failed to take advantage by us. These are the qualities that the opportunity must possess, in order that the enemy perceives in her not a trap, but the attractive and / or important benefit. The weakness is a good fodder for the arrogant. The profit is a good bait for the avaricious and / or meticulously.

Are there different baits? Yes and no, and which is used can vary according to the opponent’s psychology and interests. But remember that only the strong (such as Napoleon) can pretend weakness, and only the intelligent can appear to be clumsy or confused before a calculating opponent.

A combination of these aspects of the opportunity is what Napoleon used to unbalance the Austrian – Russian allies, preparing them to be conquered easier.

Do exist a medicine for this menace? Yes, false impressions can be avoided if there is sufficient intelligence (collected from operational and tactical reconnaissance) to form the commands a correct assessment of the situation. And if the «correct sense» (one of the «operational systems» developed by us in our book «On the Nature of War») of the commands exists in them.

The First Military Movements.

At the right of the French deployment, which extended about 6 kilometers, General Le Grand received only the skeleton of a force with which to maintain the line from the Goldbach stream to the town of Zokolnitz, in the direction of Vienna. He was promised the aid of the division of Friand of Army Corps of Davout. At the north, near Santon, which was fortified, the French left flank rested. It was entrusted to the V Corp of Marshal Lannes, to part of the troops of Bernadotte and to a reserve of cavalry under the command of Murat. Both flanks had a defensive function. In the stream of Bosenitz, the town of Puntowitz and Zurland hill, from south to north, the main body of Army Corps I and IV (this under the command of Marshal Soult) was concentrated. With them were part of the cavalry of Murat, the division of Oudinot, the artillery reserve of the French Army and the Imperial Guard.

The deployment of the allies was more oblique, running about 10 kilometers from the town of Aujest Markt to the heights of Goldbach. It was strong in the left flank and very reinforced in the center, but was weak and distant on the right flank. This last was covered from north to south by the forces of Bragation, the cavalry of Lichtenstein (concentrated near Austerlitz) and the Corp of Constantine, as a central reserve (the Russian Imperial Guard that had 8,500 elite men), located at the northeast of Krenowitz and that geared with the reserve Corp of Kollowrath, at the west of that town.

The Battle is been Prepared. The Tactical Plans of Both Rivals.

Napoleon’s plan anticipated that the allied decision to send troops to the French right flank would greatly debilitated their center, at the northeast and southeast of the town of Pratzen. To take advantage of this, the Corp of Soult would advance on the plateau where the center was based, breaking the allies’ hinge deployment. The French forces that stayed as reserves would penetrate through the rupture and encircle the allies’ right or left flanks from the north or south.

More than half of the allied forces, at the command of General Buxhowden, would breach the front of the Goldbach stream, block the highway to Vienna and then advance north, having swept all the French positions. Shortly after the rupture, the reserve of General Kollowrath (about 15,000 men) would descend from the heights of Pratzen to seize Puntowitz, thus breaking the hinge of the French line. A third force (with less than 18,000 men) at the orders of General Bagration and the Prince of Liechtenstein, would approach Santon and would fix the French forces there. This was the allied tactical plan.

The Development of Austerlitz’s Battle. The Allies, seduced, fall down in Napoleon’s immense Tactical Trap.

At 4 in the morning on the second of December, the first anniversary of the coronation of Napoleon, both armies began their movements. By 9 a.m., when Buxhowden’s troops were totally fixed and a part of the Kollowrath’s reserve had descended behind them, Napoleon ordered the assault of the Pratzen heights. The two divisions of Marshal Soult occupied the zone quickly, surprising and condemning the allied Army.

From now one, the only French operational problem, would be to resolve the different local crises that would emerge without doubt, without getting to exhaust the tactical reserves.

The grenadiers of Oudinot were sent from the Zurland hill to support the south flank, where the main battle was evolving. Bernadotte advanced to the town of Blaswitz, to protect the north flank of Soult. The cavalry reserve of Murat on Santon hill opposed the cavalry of Liechtenstein, to support the green infantry of the Corp of Lannes, that were wavering. At about 10:30 in the morning, Kutusov was able to bring toward Pratzen part of the forces of his left wing and Soult, attacked on three sides, had to employ part of the artillery reserve of the French Army, to contain the enemy’s ceaseless attrition fire.

Napoleon advanced his headquarters and the Imperial Guard, the only reserves not yet been brought into action, to Putowitz, on the slopes of Pratzen. At about 1 p.m., Constantine and the Russian Imperial Guard attacked the tired French in Pratzen. The French first forward line yielded. But the cavalry of the French Imperial Guard, under the command of Marshal Béssiers and General Rapp, attacked the Russians, who fled. Finally, Bernadotte, from Blauswitz, sent a division in support of the critical French center.

The tactical crisis had been passed. Napoleon could now finish off his triumph and looked towards the south, where was the enemy left flank.

The remaining forces of Soult, Le Grand and Davout and the French Imperial Guard concentrically attacked the dispersed men of Buxhowden. At about 3:30 p.m. the battle was over. On the other hand, General Bagration retired from Santon, and Kutusov and both emperors and their entourages fled from Krenowtz and Austerlitz, under the protection of the Russian Imperial Guard.

The Consequences of the Battle of Austerlitz.

The French had lost 11,4% of their troops (about 1,300 dead and 7,000 wounded or disappeared). Allied casualties were 16,000 dead and wounded and 11,000 unharmed taken prisoner; about 33% of their forces. In addition, 180 cannons and 45 flags were taken by the French.

The Third Coalition had disappeared in a short and shining campaign of two great battles. In distant England, the news of the disaster caused William Pitt, lose all his hopes, to say: «Put away the map of Europe». He died within a few months.

Napoleon distributed ample rewards to his Great Army: he gave pensions to all widows, adopted the orphans, allowed them to add Napoleon to their names and gave them a state education, and he gave all marshals and generals two million francs in gold.

«Ordinarily, a battle inclines completely towards one side from the beginning, even though there may not appear to be sense in it. This effect is often attributed to the distinct dispositions taken before the battle. Sometimes there is also the lack of discernment by a general who fights a battle in unfavorable conditions for him. It is in the nature of things that the march of a battle resembles a slow and gradual alteration of balance, weakly indicated in the beginning, and later becoming progressively and more constantly visible and strong. The result is an oscillation much less in diverse senses which one could imagine, according to the capricious and unreal descriptions of battles». It is almost certain that Clausewitz was thinking in the battle of Austerlitz when he wrote these words.

The Ardennes Battle.

Introduction.

The Intervention of Patton’s 3rd. Army in the Counterattack against the German Penetration in the Ardennes in the Winter of 1944. An Example of the Operational Employment of the Tempo, or Measure of the Proper and Effective Rapidity with which the Operations are Executed.

It is an example where appear highlighted certain qualities of a great mobile force. Which allow she to successfully overcome the high operational requirements that are asked to her. We will concentrate principally on the mental processes, on the organizational characteristics of the Great Unit, together with its long service, which made it possible to rapidly and forceful react to a very difficult exigency.

The beginning of the Allied problems in the West Front.

On December 16, 1944, Patton was keeping his 10 ª Armored Division in the village of Thonville, ready to follow the attack on Saarlautern, a population over the Sarre. Then, when everything was ready, Eisenhower ordered Patton the suspension of the offensive of 3rd. American Army in the territory of the Sarre, foreseen for the 19th. The events in the front of the VIII American Army Corps in the Ardennes, had suddenly caught, not only Eisenhower, but also Bradley, Commander in Chief of 12 º American Armies Group, where the mentioned Corp was fitted. And Montgomery, Commander in Chief of the British forces, which were operating in the north end of the European Operations Theatre.

How did work the Allied Intelligence?

Being prepared for his offensive in the Sarre, colonel Koch and his G-2 section of the 3rd. Army, had not limited themselves to the study of the enemy situation in his own front. From October, they were worrying with the increasingly numerous and clear evidences that the Germans were accumulating reserves in the front of 1st. American Army. Among them, they identified Panzer divisions, Mechanized Infantry divisions and Parachutists’ divisions. All were elite units and not simple rearguard or garrison current divisions.

The mystery was, why? It was a question of counter-attacking in Aachen’s area, where 1st. Army of the Lieutenant General T. G. Courtney Hodges was attacking? Were they destined for a attrition attack against the North flank of 3rd. Army, when this was penetrating beyond the Sarre? If they were not going to be used against any of these American advance axes on the German Reich, where was supposed that they would be? Which was the explanation of the high enemy railway transit (traffic is merchandising) on both sides of the Rhine?

At the north of 3rd. Army, in the Ardennes, the VIII Corps of general Middleton was keeping a front of 120 Km., between Monschau and Echternach. The general Middleton was possessing almost five Infantry divisions, two of which had not entered in combat yet and other two that had been severely punished in the recent combats of 1st. Army in the Hürtgen’s forest.

The more the colonel Oscar W. Koch was thinking about it, less he liked the situation that was presenting, opposite to the north flank of his Army. Called the «spark» of the 3rd. Army, Patton always had in the «war room» of Koch, which were the different probabilities of the estimations of a situation. And in the pure field of the intelligence, the general was relying on one of the most penetrating and brilliant brains of the sections G-2 or S-2 of the H. Q. and Staffs of the US Army.

In a meeting of commands and the H. Q. of 3rd. Army, on December 9, Koch presented the situation. In the front of the VIII Corps were 2,5 times the number of enemy divisions that were facing against all the 3rd. Army of Patton and 3,5 times the number of those who were facing against the 7 º American Army of the general Patch, in the south flank of 3rd. Army. Also, the enemy was relying on a rested and re-equipped Air Force, capable of putting in the air a thousand airplanes during a limited period of time. The area in front of the VIII Corps, continued Koch, was not unfavorable for the development of offensive enemy operations: none of the water streams that were crossing it, constituted important obstacles to the ground transit, the area was offering abundant covers to the sight and the Americans were not supporting in it defensive organized positions.

In general in Europe, with all the types of existing amphibious means, the principal obstacle to the modern military transit of motorized units will be offered by the banks of the water streams. It is necessary to consider the slope of both shores. And the characteristics of resistance, adherence, consistency, etc. of their ground and their immediate approximation areas. It is supposed that the enemy, prepared for the operational rejection, controls or has destroyed the bridges that cross them, for being evident bottlenecks of the ground terrestrial transit network.

The colonel Koch summarized saying that the enemy had a wide numerical advantage in the sector of the Ardennes, which had slowly and constantly achieved. And that, in his opinion, a secondary attack against the area in question might be «a shot in the threatening arm to the Germans». This was a possibility that had to be born in mind.

Patton prepares his alternative operational plans.

The briefing caused a deep impression in the meeting assistants. Among whom were Brigadier Hobart R. Gay, H. Q. chief of 3rd. Army, the commanders of the 3rd. Army Corps and some division generals. In the discussion that followed, was decided that nothing had to do that could disturb the preparation of the great attack of 3rd. Army over the Sarre on the 19th. But they must initiate immediately the planning to face the situation that would develop, if the enemy carry out an attack against the front of the VIII American Corp. In addition, the mentioned plans not only had to consider the protection of the exposed north flank of the 3rd. Army. But also the accomplishment of a 3rd Army’s counterattack in the north direction.

Patton finished the conference with these words: «We will be in conditions to face anything that happens». Patton, as Bradley, believed in assuming calculated risks. But Patton, unlike Bradley, who was who had the reputation of sensible, prudent and meticulous, was covering his bets. So, it was unjust, superficial and uncertain, to declare or think, being based in his opera star’s behavior, that Patton was in general acting by premonitions, hunches, conjectures or by impulses of the moment.

Well, but, what’s up?, Was only Patton who had a competent reconnoissance and intelligence services in all the US Army of the European theatre?

Let’s see the most significant and involved cases in the West front: The colonel Benjamin «Monk» Dickson, 1st. American Army’s G-2, presented in November a memorandum to Lieutenant General Courtney Hodges, Commander in Chief of this Army, in which he was valuing the situation at the front with Germany. And was estimating that was impossible for the Germans to launch any operational attack. Nevertheless, in December, colonel Dickson detected an unusual high moral in the German prisoners of war captured by his 1st. Army. And the appearance of slogans as «for Christmas, Aachen (where the Americans were attacking) will be of the Fuhrer». The colonel thought that his previous valuation had to be checked and on the 10th emitted his «intelligence estimation» n º 37. In which he was affirming that in the next 15 days anything could happen in the mentioned front. But this forecast did not have practical consequences. Hodges asked Eisenhower for reinforce his Army with the sending of other 2 divisions and this request was not attended.

On the other hand, brigadier Edward Sibert, G-2 of 12 º American Armies Group of general Bradley, thought that colonel Dickson was missed and that no division must be sent in support of 1st. Army. In addition, simultaneously, Brigadier E. T. Williams, G-2 of the British Armies Group of Marshal Montgomery, affirmed that the Germans were unable to launch an attack in these moments. After the offensive of the Ardennes, Williams asked clearly for excuses, recognizing «the wrong that I was». Nevertheless, general Sibert kept silent and did not comment anything on his great judgment mistake. That moved to definitively increase the lack of Allied preparation for the repulsion of the enemy.

The Fuehrer’s ambitious plans, to be developed in the incoming campaing.

Adolf Hitler was then physically, emotionally and mentally very diminished. His nerves were broken, since the unsuccessful conspiracy to murder him in July of that year. By means of a bomb that exploited in his meetings room, full of high commands, and that he worked out miraculously alive. His physical and mental situation and the very unfavorable course of the war for Germany, were making him specially inclined to be a prey of false illusions. That always are more or less real and founded, because the expression of an alienation always takes forms and contents from the real environment and culture. Probably perceiving a spiritual link between Prussian King Frederick the Great (who always was fighting in global disadvantage and taking advantage of the central position of Prussia in his wars), and he, Hitler commented to his generals, that he also was going to take the offensive and to reach memorable successes. In spite of the fact that his military fortune was in the lowest level of the whole war.

In May, 1940 the Panzer Divisions had used with great success the forest areas of the Ardennes to initiate the Battle of France, in spite of their recognized difficulties of transitability or ground ongoing. Hitler was hoping that they could make the same thing now, at the end of 1944, facilitating to his mechanized units a comfortable and surprising sector of irruption and a clean breakthrough in the great Allied front of the West, to then cross the Mosa and to continue up to Antwerp. This was the principal Allied port, near to Germany, for unloading and reception of men, equipment, supplies and replacements, for the Allies. Who were preparing themselves for bursting in a wide strategic front in the Reich. With this strategic operation, Hitler was trying to isolate also in a great bulge towards the north and between the sector of advance of his Armies and the sea, the 1st. Canadian Army, the 2 º British Army and the 1 º and 9 º American Armies.

If the theory does not adjust to the practice, worse for the theory …

If the ring was closed and was kept adequately firm, the Allies would face the dilemma of a second Dunkerke or the piecemeal destruction of their isolated and without supply Armies in a great strategy bulge. These surprising and adverse circumstances would create the conditions in order that the Western Allies were recognizing the difficult and costly thing, that was going to be to obtain the victory in the German Front. With it, they might more easily accept a partial armistice with Germany. Which would dismantle the international coalition against her. Then she would remain free to face the Soviets in the East. That already were dangerously approaching to the borders of the Reich in overwhelming force. And this would give the necessary time to the German investigators and engineers, to develop and implement new and sophisticated weapons systems, for offsetting and overcoming the almost inexhaustible pushing flood of men and means of the USSR.

Since a long time ago, the German principal chiefs and commanders had realized the difficult, useless and even dangerous thing that was to discuss with the Fuehrer, facing directly his ideas. So, it was very difficult that they were deciding in these moments, to seriously advise him against a very matured by him plans. On the other hand, the objective strategic and operational conditions of 1940 were not those of 1944. The Germans had taught with their successive and repeated during more than 4 years successes, the secrets of the modern mechanized war to their enemies. And both the Soviets and the Americans had adapted and improved them, in the operational and tactical levels of their own military activity. The Staffs calculations done for the operational needs of the mechanized forces and the reserves of existing fuels, indicated that only there would be available 75% of the necessary fuel for all the foreseen offensive operations. This was trying to be corrected by the optimistic prediction that many of the reserves deposits of the Americans, would be captured during the rapid German advances through the operational enemy rear.

During the crossing of the Ardennes in 1940, the German advance axis in southwest direction was favored by the orientation that were following in this area, the scanty paths that were crossing it. The axis of advance proposed at ends of 1944 was going in the northwest direction, with little available tracks. And let’s not forget the enormous weight increase achieved in these 4 years by the medium and heavy tanks. In addition, in relation to the cross-country advance, this direction was going in opposition to the disposition and the outcrops of the fields of the zone.

The decided sector for the great attack had a width of approximately 140 km, and was going from Monschau, in the north, to Echternach, in the south. At the right of the German deployment was 6 º Panzer Army of the SS, commanded by the SS General Sepp Dietrich. In the center, would advance the 5 º Panzer Army of von Mantteufel and at the south, the 7 º German Army, entrusted to protect the whole south flank of the German penetration. These large units were fitted in the B German Armies Group of Marshal Walter Model, who was depending on Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, named very recently as German Commander in Chief of the West Front.

The reaction of the Allied High Commands before the confirmation of the very bad military news.

In the first hours of December 16, when the first reports were received about what was going to be the most important battle for the Americans in the European theatre, Hodges ordered the movement of the 9th Armored Division, which was taking part in the attack against Roer’s dams, to support the VIII Army Corp. This division, together with Patton’s 10th Armored Division, would later take part in the defense of Bastogne’s siege.

With the first news of the attack, only Eisenhower, among all High Commanders, perceived that it was something of importance. Contrary to Hitler’s suppositions, the Allied High Command answered in a coordinated form, moving immediately the armored reserves of both adjacent armies. The 7th Armored from the north (destined to defend St. Vith) and the 10th Armored of Patton from the south, in Middleton’s support. This rapid response turned out to be one of the keys of the campaign of the Ardennes. Finally on the 17th, Eisenhower dispatched his last reserves, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions from Reims to Bastogne.

On the evening of December 19, a high-level meeting was summoned in Verdun to make decisions that would affect the campaign. Present was General Devers, Commander of the 6th American Armies Group, deployed south of Bradley’s. The «general situation» and «enemy situation» Staff maps showed that von Mantteufel had obtained a clean breakthrough. And that his forces were passing rapidly through the gap between Bastogne and St. Vith.

Eisenhower succeeded in his initial commentaries: «The current situation has to be seen as an opportunity for us and not as a disaster. I only want to see smiling faces at this conference». Patton proposed that «We have the temple to allow these damned bastards should advance toward Paris. Then we will isolate and chew them». His response coincided with his 3rd Army’s flexible and powerful capacity of operational movement. But the High Commanders, Eisenhower and Bradley, preferred a cautious approximation. Their plan was based on firmly holding all the edges of the penetration. Then, this would be restrained by the blockade of the highway knots, so vital for the Germans, at St. Vith and Bastogne, where the forces of the 5th Panzer Amy of von Mantteufel were advancing. Behind, at the rear, a defensive line would be reinforced and incorporating the Moos in the general rejection plan. Then, a massive counterattack would be launched over the Germans by Patton’s forces.

Eisenhower asked Patton, «when can you attack?». Patton was prepared, as we saw. After the meeting on the 9th, he had several contingency plans. Therefore, he answered with serenity and sureness: «On December 22, I can attack with 3 divisions». Patton was referring to the 4th Armored Division and the 26th and 80th Infantry Divisions, integrated in his III Corps, which would advance following the Arlon-Bastogne axis. For Eisenhower the response was an improper to a cardinal question. He did not know that Patton had studied closely the possibilities and, over all, was prepared to lead them to the end. Eisenhower’s impression rose from the fact that he was a general of the old school and was now dedicated to the high strategic and political matters of the European theatre. Therefore, he did not believe that anyone was capable of making a 90 º turn in the axis of advance of a modern army and to carry out a march in winter, in opposition to the direction lay of its principal communications lines.

Patton gets his orders and acts with a model rapidity and capacity, fruits of the collective previous work and the experience of his 3rd. Army.

After telling Patton off, Eisenhower authorized a 1-2 day delay for the attack. After the meeting Patton called his headquarters to report which offensive option the 3rd Army was going to follow.

The south flank of the 5th Panzer Army was defended by the 7th Infantry Army of General Brandenberger. For his mission he counted with 3 Infantry Divisions and one of parachutists. But Patton’s counterattack came long before the German planners had calculated. Nonetheless, the difficulty of the ground area and the tenacious German resistance by select and committed with their mission troops, restrained the advance in force of the 3rd Army over the 5th Panzer Army and its supply lines.

Patton was advancing in a wide front, between Echternach and Materlange. In less than 48 hours of receiving Eisenhower’s orders, 2 American Divisions, the 4th Armored being one of them, advanced over Bastogne. After a week, the «supporting mass» of the Army, including approximately 250000 men and more than 90000 vehicles of all kinds (fitted in 17 divisions) had moved north between 80 to 115 kilometers, during a very bad winter weather.

The 3er. Army operational turn from its positions on the Saar towards the Ardennes, can not be compared for its difficult and size with any other Rommel’s maneuvers in the north of Africa or those of the Colonel General von Rundstedt’s «A» Armies Group, in France during the spring of 1940, also crossing the Ardennes. And the results were proportional to the showed efficiency.

On January 29, at the end of the battle/campaign of the Bulge-Ardennes 1944, Patton reported the following losses:

3rd American Army                       Germans

Personnel

Dead                        14879                                        96500

Wounded                 71009                                      269000

Prisoners                   —                                          163000

Lost                         14054                                          —

99942                                     528500

Equipment

Light tanks                  270                                           —

Medium tanks              771                                        1268

Panthers and Tigers    —                                            711

Guns                          144                                         2526

How and why all these worked?, to get their operational and tactical goals.

The operational efficiency of the movement of any operational group, can be quantify by his «movement quantity». This would be the product of his «combat capacity» (measure in human means, equipment and machines) by his «speed» in a given direction and sense. This product can also comparatively value, the equal or major efficiency of a relatively small and very rapid mechanized group (an armored or mechanized brigade) opposite to that of his «supporting» mass or main army body. Which has detached it and which moves much slower, deployed by the whole road network of the zone of march.

A «direction change of a force», or «military vector», of a mobile group in march or already deployed for a mission, slows down enormously his «operation speed», during a time that is an inverse function of the commands capacity and of her organization at all the levels.

These estimations can seem excessively theoretical or quantitative; proper of tests or war games for the H. Q. But it is important not to forget that the Soviet Doctrine, for deciding whether or when tackle their military offensive and defensive, both strategic and tactical actions, is based on calculations of the almost determinant principle of the «both forces correlation» (sootnoshenie sil) and how it evolves in the operational zone or theatre.

There exist several ways of optimizing the tempo in the different operations of a modern army:

«Combat capacity» attrition and «operational movement capacity» wear actions, due to unnecessary combat and unproductive movements, must be totally avoided. It is necessary to have a good logistics and a sufficient and protected line of supplies. Both, as dynamic and static supports of the recovery and the maintenance of the operational capacity of the units. It is necessary to consider always in our favor the area transitability or getting a useful (not necessary the geographic good one) ground ongoing.

The situation and its evolution must be analyzed from a perspective that is above our level of execution. This way the tactical unit will seek to tune how it looks operationally, by focusing on the desired result and exploiting opportunities with his parent unit. Contingency and alternative plans always must exist.

The command structure must be simple and their instructions, always as simple as possible and clear. The general intention and mission must be at the forefront at all times. The commander must decide and initially communicate his intentions, giving missions to his sub units. And to create and move the unit’s operation «gravity center», as a unifier and multiplier factor of the collective operational effort. Subordinates must act in decentralized ways and coordinating their actions to the maximum. It is here that implicit communication – the rapid, easy and often nonverbal communication that occurs between people who have worked and cooperated together for a certain time – becomes very important. Though this theoretically goes against the transfers, as a more rapid way of promotion.

To optimize the operations, the actions of the commander and the H. Q., all unit internal communications, the general experience and training, the advanced, sufficient and continuos control by the commander and by way of the staff, the exploiting opportunities and the use and renewal of suitable reserves are highly important and essential. That is to say, the structure and her functionality must be qualified to act effectively at increasing speeds in the fighting and maneuvering operations.

Recommended Books on Guerrilla Warfare.

In this «blog» I present since a long time ago, a list of «recommended books on military theory «, that is very visited. I have to admit, as a deficiency, that in it I have not included any book on the guerrilla warfare. The actual, historical and social importance of the irregular war phenomenon is unquestionable. And, nowadays, almost all the «guerrillas» are easily called «terrorist». It was what the colonial powers were doing with the national movements of liberation in the 40s, 50s and 60s of last century. It was what Napoleon’s Frenchmen did in Spain since 1808. Spoiling with it the objective and theoretical approach that must preside any serious approximation for the liquidation and popular eradication of the rebellious armed «outbreak». I want to correct now the mistake and to specially extend my commentary on the topic.

Introduction.

The guerrilla warfare is so ancient as the humanity. Probably it arose simultaneously and successively in numerous human primitive dispersed settlements. In those somebody, not necessarily a coward or a weakling, decided not to risk being suffered wounds and mutilations, so frequent and shared, in the so called «singular fights». So he attacked his enemy, waiting for him ambushed and by means of an unexpected cudgel blow.

These intelligent actions were also the first stammering applications of the so called «maneuver warfare«. In which we try to surprise and to overcome the enemy from a «position» or «attitude» of advantage. For, finally and achieving the decision, to finish off him or, at least, to give him in to our will. This latter inevitable part is the one that sometimes neglects too much the «theory» of the «maneuvers warfare». Without accepting clearly and completely that both expressions are opposite and complementary, but not antagonistic, «forms», as both reins of a horse cart, of the better called «modern warfare«.

During the World War II and in the following stage called of «decolonization of the peoples», the guerrillas had a spectacular bloom, through all the continents and in almost all the types of political systems. It turned into the fighting way of the weakest militarily speaking. And it turned out to be often effective. This established its freedom fighting «halo», a bar and armchair romanticism and a mirror of a certain generational unconformity. Nowadays, at the ever present guerrilla war, some overseas theoretic call it pompously and pedantically «asymmetric warfare». They are the same experts who also call it the «fourth generation warfare«. As if they had discovered the phenomenon of the «social political irregular military warfare». And they return to put in the side of the villains, without any exception, as the colonialist nations did in the 40s, 50s and 60s of last century, to whom tackle it.

The Terrorists and Legitimate Belligerents in the Guerrilla Warfare.

Terrorist is who systematic and deliberately uses the physical violence against non military or non fighters enemy personal targets. Looking with it to extend the fear, the discouragement, the paralysis or the ruin to a whole society, an ethnic group, a social national demarcation. The terrorist makes of the enemy unarmed civilians his principal goals. For the high benefit that he obtains this way for his interests, in hurts, mutilations and deaths, and the high safety that these actions carry to him during their execution. The terrorist is usually a religious or ideological fanatic. The cognitive twisting that suffers, derived from his amoral perversion, makes him to perceive in a very special, subjective and faulty way, the facts and the objective elements that define and frame, the always complex conflicts and sociological realities of the countries, religions and races.

It appears immediately in the irregular political military revolt, the problem of the legitimacy of the armed belligerency. Not everyone that rise up in arms, to defend some ideas or to protect some rights or some people, makes it legal and legitimately. The Conventions of Geneva and of The Hague establish some juridical procedures that frame the legal legitimacy of the armed fighting.

The irregular forces must go uniformed, carrying their weapons at sight and commanded by their chiefs. Is this sufficient? Well, no. Some groups of armed drug-traffickers also go this way. It is necessary also that the guerrillas, the national guard, the Home Guard, the self-defense forces of the people or of the territory, etc. do it in name and authorized by a established state. That occupies with sovereignty, at least, a part of his national territory. This condition is so restrictive that, during the Second World War, only the partisans or Soviet guerrillas fulfilled this requirement.

On the other hand, the fact that they are illegal fighters or not legally recognized, does not directly and socially assimilate them to bandits or criminals. This way, often, in altars of the social peace and of not enraging the civil protracted armed fighting, the governments agree to carry out their counter guerrilla campaign, without exasperate the used military methods and the spirits of the persecuted ones.

The more recommended books.

The «Partisan Warfare» book of the academician Otto Heilbrunn treats extensively the complex phenomenon of the guerrilla war, up to reaching the depth of an Treaty on the topic. It is based on the Communist model and, more particularly, on its Asian outbreaks in the middle of the last century: Mao’s China and the experience of the Vietminh of Nguyen Giap against the Frenchmen, the Americans and his compatriots.

This is profitably completed with the two volumes’ work «War in the Shadows» by Robert Asprey. That treats through not very long chapters the guerrilla war along the numerous and different historical stages. And that dedicates a big enough extension to the Chinese and Vietnamese experiences. Probably because they are more contemporary and there exists on them more material.

I, in my military theory book «On the Nature of War», dedicate a sufficient annex to expound out the tactical, operative and strategic aspects of the guerrilla warfare. And those of the effective counterguerrilla multiple and diverse fighting. Basing on the facts described by these and other authors.

With all this, we will have a rich theoretical base of the social, political and military mechanisms of the guerrilla warfare. And of the war sustained in multiple fronts against this kind of irregular armed fight. And a sufficient, but very wealth-producing reference, by its brushstrokes and specific circumstances, of the path of the phenomenon that we treat. With its intermittent and recurrent appearance along the History.

In another level, it is also very interesting the book «Guerrilla Warfare» by the general Georgios Grivas (alias, Dighemis, name of war). Why? For several reasons. The National Organization of the Cypriot Fighting or Ethniki Organosis Kipriahou Agonos (more known between ourselves as E. O. K. A.), organized and carried out for forty six and a half months, an independent nationalist guerrilla campaign. That was alien to the numerous communist experiences «of national liberation» of the epoch. These last very rarely were appearing before their peoples, precisely and openly, as «Marxists Leninist». They did so in Greece between 1946 and 1949 and in Malaysia between 1947 and 1960. And, in both cases, they were defeated and liquidated. And, precisely, by the British Army.

The Cypriot guerrilla was a guerrilla limited to a small, too small country, with an extension of only 9300 Km2. One of the initial conditions that Mao Zedong was claiming for the beginning and later strengthening of the guerrillas, was that their country had depth, extension. That allowed the guerrillas to establish thier first refuge bases, in zones protected by its inaccessibility. The Cypriots carried out a difficult guerrilla war, for the scanty of the countryside, their limited resources (approximately 600 thousand inhabitants, and a part was the Turkish community), the force of the enemy and the lack of good hiding places, circumscribed principally to Troodos’s volcanic clump, at the south of the island and with great mining wealth, crowned by the mount Olympus of 1953 m. of altitude. The daily Londoner «Daily Herald» published that a marshall, three generals and forty thousand British soldiers were not capable of defeating the EOKA. It seems that the marshal Montgomery declared that «the EOKA was strategically unbeatable». Finally, the Greek Cypriots did not obtain the Enosis, or political union with Greece, but the independence of their island from Great Britain.

Why did Cypriots triumph? Because the Greek Cypriot people was firmily and culturaly tied and melted (in this help the undubitable support of the Ortodoxian Church, directed by Nicosia’s Archbishop Macarius, later the first President of the Pepublic of Cyprius) to his scanty, effective, motivated and long-suffering guerrillas. And so, in spite of the fact that the Turkish Cypriots collaborated with the British and that the EOKA had to distract in several moments part of her scanty resources to neutralize them. The guerrilla elementary action groups were formed by 4 to 6 men; those who could hide together and without cohesion loses in the group. For the major actions 2 or 3 guerrilla groups were meeting for and coordinating by a superior operational command. Because their guerrilla organization was sufficient, well constructed and very flexible. Because their commands knew their weaknesses, which were great, and so defined a strategic sufficient goal: To get and keep a military suitable and indefinite pressure, by means of military actions, sabotages, propaganda and popular actions, destined to tire and discourage the British and their Government. Grivas, in his «General Plan for the Revolutionary Action in Cyprus» was emphasizing, «it is not necessary to believe that we, by means of this way and procedures could get a material and total defeat of the English forces in Cyprus. We rather look for their moral defeat, harassing and upsetting them in such a way that, ultimately, we obtain the objective of the fighting. That was until the end our strategic goal. We owe the success to the fact of having stuck firmly to it».