THE MILITARY SURPRISE: concepts, effects, realization and types. 2nd. Part.

(CONTINUATION)

The three cavalry regiments of the brigade had a total of 27 officers, 228 N.C.O.s and 1,740 soldiers mounted on German horses. All those who could, carried sub-machine guns –either the MP-38 or MP-40- instead of the 7.92 mm K98 carbines. They were supported by 30 heavy machine guns (MG-34 on tripods) and 72 light machine guns (MG-34 with bipods). Their heavy support fire was provided by a battery of 6 light howitzers of 75 mm for each of three hippomobile regiments. As external support they would have artillery fire, either centralized or from the divisions placed in its flanks, for the attached observers and officers were accompanying it.

Resultado de imagen de carretas del país soviéticos Country wagons moving forward in a huge Russian plain…

They were also supported by an engineers company (pioneers) and a sanitary company. By means of a park of Russian country wagons, each dragged by a pair of native horses, the supplies, replacements, ammunitions, medical forces, etc. of the brigade would be carried to them. They also had a motorized supply column.

The nature, the structure of the brigade and its support were perfectly adapted to the mission and contributed to its simplicity. It even received the support of a tanks company (14 tanks) for the attack, when the reconnaissance saw the possibility for use it.

Another key aspect of the mission was intelligence, acting already before the conception of the operation. This provided the most complete knowledge of the enemy and operations zone. Intelligence was a combination of information acquired by all the units, that was continually updated. It allowed better definition of the mission, assignment of the means and units, and training preparation. It also allowed for more appropriate adjustments or changes in plans, etc.

Another indispensable factor in this extraordinary or heterodox operation was the training and trial of the mission. The brigade trained for 4 to 6 weeks before its activation, in areas similar to the future operations zone; this fulfilled the security factor.

The training with tanks was not done, because its employment was not foreseen. And one of the problems that arose during the operation was that communication between the cavalry and tanks was poor. In the thick wild forests the wireless radios did not work well and it was necessary to use the existing wire telephony. But these were not enough for adequate communications between all the small units.

Resultado de imagen de frente del este 1942

A characteristic of the training in these special missions is that that it must be as complete as possible, in agreement to its peculiarities. And a full trial, including the total foreseen time, is always necessary. For example, to verify the resistance of certain equipments and not only its good functioning, as would happen in a partial or incomplete test.

The brigade and 5th panzer division were in their departure positions 10 days before the start of the march towards the contact. The Soviets were not capable of detecting the activation of this unit, so the security factor remained fulfilled.

Immediately, the brigade, with the help of the tanks troops, carried out an intense reconnaisance of the intermediate area and the enemy positions (advanced combat troops and the forward limit of the defense). It was deduced that the tanks’ support in the attack was possible (in a narrow sector), if a necessary adaptation was effected in the tracks accessing the area. This innovation would add an important shock capacity and heavy direct fire to the assault, especially in the irruption, in the struggle for enemy fighting positions and in the interior of the defense zone (artillery, units in disorder or in retreat, transport, supplies, etc.)

The factor surprise was going to be achieved by the tactical innovation and the unexpected action in «field of action» chosen for the attack. It is important to remember that the Soviets were prepared and fortified against an attack that they knew was coming. In addition, since the beginning of the war the Soviets had shown themselves to be masters of defense and in disguising positions. Still, the Germans hoped that a strong attack on an unexpected place would dislocate the enemy’s combat capacity and means of defense. The German plan allowed no practical reaction time to the enemy.

Resultado de imagen de frente del este 1942

With this, the speed of action factor is obtained by the attacker. This allowed the Germans to overcome rapidly their principal vulnerability: the initial contact with the enemy in the decided «interface of action«, in which always can be produced unexpected setbacks in the face of potentially bigger forces, until the law of the action is imposed on the enemy.

As the mission begins, there is uncertainty or friction, due to the enormous number of individuals and units involved; mistakes, that are a function of the small failures that happen inevitably in all the human actions that comprise a mission; enemy action, until the fire supremacy and maneuver deprive him of initiative; opportunities, in the shape of favorable situations not foreseen by the Germans and which the commands of the small units must exploit in order to fulfill the mission.

To be able to act this way, the extraordinary or special troops must possess the commitment factor, which involves the acceptance and recognition of the entrusted mission, its important consequences and its real possibilities of success in these conditions.

A couple of days before the assault, the engineers were making progress through the forest boundaries with mechanical saws. They constructed a reinforced path and carpeted it with middle logs cut up “in situ” and arranged about a meter apart. This was to give sufficient firmness to a route up to the Soviet minefields which would support the tanks added to the hippomobile brigade in tactical subordination, which slowly initiated its advance a little later. The noise of the saws and the engines of the vehicles was drowned by the flight of reconnaisance planes at low level and sporadic harassment fire.

The joint assault began on July 2, 1942.

The hippomobile brigade had to cross 15 kilometers of forests and marshes to reach the Soviet positions. At its right was the 5th panzer division attacking, which acted as the normal force or mass of support for the assault. Its left flank was supported on this area of difficult ongoing, covered by weak infantry forces (about a company). Until, on the 3rd day, a German infantry division began its assault through this sector.

At 3 a.m. the tanks advanced close to the cavalry troops, taking advantage of the general artillery preparations. They were accompanied by engineers’ troops. The minefields were immediately detected and the engineers cleaned the area around the passing paths to extend its width. Suddenly, the forwards tanks and cavalry reached the limit of the Soviet position of defense in this decided «field of action» over them.

Resultado de imagen de 9º ejército alemán Rzhev Model saves the day for the 9th German Army.  Column of Soviet military prisioners.

In a single thrust they burst in, breaking the Soviets’ first lines of defense. After this, the tanks were kept in reserve, since the enemy position stretched through an unknown wooded area. That morning the cavalry managed to penetrate 6.5 kilometers inside the Soviet position.

The whole time the train of country wagons was capable of advancing supplies, replacements and munitions to the tired men.

For its part, the 5th panzer division could not advance despite its superior capacity of shock and means, and suffered heavy losses by very well camouflaged Soviet forces in depth.

Around midday, a hippomobile regiment turned to attack the principal enemy positions from the east. To reach them, it had to cross a swampy forests zone where the water was knee-high. At dusk, the brigade had control of a sector of the principal road inside the Soviet position, breaking the Soviets’ tactical cohesion and turned it untenable.

Just after midnight on the 4th, Soviet resistance was collapsing in the area of assault of the 5th panzer division and hippomobile brigade. This crossed another swampy forest area of 10 kilometers depth and emerged at the operational enemy rear. Here was a scene of chaos filled with abandoned vehicles and stroked columns and groups of troops and soldiers. Arrival of the panzer forces accelerated the decline of the 39th Soviet infantry army as an organized and effective force.

That same day the whole sector of this army collapsed and the German infantry divisions of Walter Model’s 9th army converged on its interior by all its assault sectors.

In the 11 days that the operation lasted, the Germans captured 50,000 Soviet prisoners, and around 230 tanks and 760 artillery pieces.

THE MILITARY SURPRISE: concepts, effects, realization and types.

The common or general tactical surprise is that which is normally or frequently used and that is known and expected. There is one case we take as example, which is to ambush or hostilize enemy forces who come to help or rescue a group of their own immobilized and/or besieged by us. This attack is logical to do so, because the forces in march, and especially when the urgency drives them, are especially vulnerable: because of the weakness of their flanks, for their scant reconnaisance and greater ignorance of their marching grund to combat, and for their deployment or marching column more or less frayed.

The attack is to be made using sequential or simultaneously different techniques: ambushes, even employing small units; free shooters lines; shutts of the advance routes and his wings with mines; bombardments of the artillery and the unit’s organic mortars, using registered fire on the routes or its singular points; attacks of the own or allied aviation; appearances and assaults by an our «combat group» (of combined arms?) in his immediate rear or covering it in a flank of the itinerary that is favorable for our protection (heights line, edge of forests, industrial and urban areas).

It is necessary to use necessarily this common surprise. But, the attacker must not repeat his set of tactics and military technics during short periods of time. In order that our attack is not so predictable, also in the details and manners, which facilitates his rejection to the enemy. Since with our routine, we are announcing the enemy which is our game, showing him the cards. And, let’s know that, even with these precautions, we are teaching him to fight.

With the mentioned variety, his combinations and the opportunity of use, the enemy will not be able to take sufficient measurements for the rejection. Since the variants of action that we can use are sufficiently different and numerous.

This is a tactical surprise, in the same level in which we are unrolling ourselves. That will allow us to increase the attrition (on the means) and the wear (of the men) of the enemy. And, even, to place and move more favorably with regard to him. But the total results will depend on the development of the set of the raised operations. Based on the forms of fight, the movements and the involved men and means.

Resultado de imagen de walther model Colonel General Walther Model.

This way, this surprise less elaborated conceptually produces fewer fruits that have operational or decisive transcendency. Everything indicates that, in order that it should take place and increases qualitatively the transcendent efficiency in our actions, it is necessary that the quality of the surprise reaches another dimension in his action.

It is necessary, so, in the operational level of the surprise, that this would be an «ungrateful surprise» for the enemy. That has catastrophic effects, though they are local, on him, at the beginning. And that the «commotion waves» in the area or the affected sections, propagate for the enemy military system attacked. Damaging his capacities, his general and grupal moral (a section, the fighters of a weapon) and his intentions and perspectives. It would be equivalent, in the raised scene, to an «exploitation of the success» of our actions. That are encouraged and perfected by the operational surprise obtained.

The following battle during World War II illustrates the use of unexpected «field of action» on the enemy, and the use of ordinary and heterodox forces. That allowed General Walther Model to take the initiative and destroy a Soviet army inserted in his operational rear.

During the winter counter-offensive of 1941-1942, the Soviet Union military had penetrated the operational rear of the 9th German army of Colonel General Model. It was integrated in the Central Armies Group, under the command of Fieldmarshal von Kluge. The Germans withdrew to positions near populated areas, tacked between them by its artillery fire and keeping open a few, precarious communications lines between the units. Thus helping maintain the operational stability of the army’s defensive area.

The Soviets had crossed the lines of the semi-continuous front, crushing weak German positions and setting up in the german rearwarsd the 39th infantry army and the XI cavalry corps (mobile forces for areas of difficult ongoing), a total of 60,000 men. Their deployment was protected in the semi wild forests and marshes between Boly and Rzhev, the principal regional city, and was supplied by a route that edged by Boly and continued to Nelidovo at the north of the zone. These Soviet forces were also in operational hibernation, waiting for the late thaw of the Russian spring.

This powerful enemy nucleus, in coordinated action with Soviet forces at the front, could compromise the German summer offensive (1942) by cutting the supply lines of the 9th army. For this reason, it was necessary to liquidate it before tackling a new campaign.

Under the instructions of General Model, a movil force was put together. This formed a hippomobile brigade with the reconnaisssance forces (a reduced battalion) of each eight divisions of infantry of 9th army, all of which had all ground transit capacity.

Resultado de imagen de batalla Rzhev The Rzhev’s projection was formed after the Soviet counter-offensive in defense of Moscow.

The mission of this brigade was to slip through enemy flanking sectors not covered by the security and principal positions of the enemy. Once in enemy territory, they were to wait for a principal important attack, to begin fighting in the enemy’s interior with the hope of occupying defense nucleus positions. The German aim was to severely unsettle the Soviets’ deployment and the conduction of their defense plan.

By using its forces in the unexpected «field of action«, the Germans hoped to recover the freedom of action to impose on the enemy the law of the action. The objective was simple, but its attainment was difficult.

The brigade, which was to penetrate the Soviet zone, was led by the 5th panzer division of Major General Gustav Fehn. That were the principal interarms forces and the mass of support or normal forces. They were to proceed following the principal reinforced surface road of the zone. Which passed from Olenino in the north and followed the western slope of the Luchesa river.

Soviet troops (39th infantry army), inside its defense zone clung to this road and had an antitank deployment (obstacles and guns). The Soviet flanks were thin but protected on each side by extensive minefields. Its right flank rested on the inhospitable and impassable woods and swamp lands of the deep valley of the Luchesa which, in the Soviets’ thinking, protected them against serious attack. The Soviet command foresaw what must be the German’s principal effort against them and deployed their forces with creativity and inventiveness.

Only healthy, strong, veteran soldiers who worked well together and whose units had cohesion could be used in this mission. It was not work for garrison troops brought from the German rear or the occupied countries. Because of this, Walther Model did not hesitate to deprive his infantry divisions of its only mobile units of maneuver to use in this battle.

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)

News on Modern Conflicts. Novedades en Conflictos Modernos.

Utilizamos esta Sección de Novedades para dar a conocer en avance los próximos artículos que irán apareciendo en las distintas «categorías» de temas de esta página, dedicada a conflictos y crisis modernos.

The Combat and the Operational Movement as the Essential and Complementary Opposites of War.

Combat and operational movements are not antagonistic forces. Rather, they are necessary and complementary forces. That move harmonically and opportunely our military resources in the effort to achieve the objectives that an enemy would violently denies us. Combat is the utilization of combat capacity, while operational movement refers to the employment of the operational movement capacity of a military system.

El Combate y el Movimiento Operativo como Opuestos Complementarios Esenciales de la Guerra.

Ambas operaciones constituyen un «par de fuerzas” no antagónicas, necesarias y complementarias para emplear armónica y oportunamente los medios militares, buscando obtener unos objetivos que nos niega violentamente un enemigo. El combate consiste en la utilización de la capacidad de combate y el movimiento operativo se basa en el empleo de la capacidad de movimiento operativo, ambos de un sistema militar.

The Writing in the Study of the Military Themes.

There is something important in the writing, as instrument of fixation and reflection of the learned theme. Not simply to make a summary or a few notes of the well-read thing.

This is what has motivated me to preparing and presenting a brief summary of the function, which exercises the writing for the student of the Military Topics. As seal and final flourish of the preparation or the control of a text that his intelligent reader will make good use of it.

La Escritura en el Estudio de los Temas Militares

Hay algo importante en la escritura, como instrumento de fijación y reflexión de lo aprendido. No simplemente para confeccionar un resumen o unos apuntes de lo leído.

Esto es lo que me ha motivado a preparar y presentar un breve resumen de la función, que ejerce la escritura para el estudioso de los Temas Militares. Como marchamo y broche final de la preparación o del dominio de un texto que será aprovechado por su lector inteligente.

La campaña del Khalkhin-Gol (Mongolia) de 1939.

Zhukov detiene el expansionismo japonés hacia la URSS…

En 1939, en sus remotas fronteras orientales, la URSS sostuvo una corta y dura guerra con el Imperio japonés. En esa época la atención de Europa, el núcleo del mundo entonces, se centraba en la suerte inmediata que iban a correr Checoeslovaquia y Polonia. Además, los nombres de Manchuria o de Mongolia eran poco conocidos en Occidente. Sin embargo dicha guerra regional iba a tener una consecuencia trascendental para Europa y su destino. Gracias a la rápida y decisiva victoria de la URSS en ella, los soviéticos no tuvieron que sostener 2 años después una guerra en dos frentes convergentes y extensos, a cargo de sus dos grandes enemigos, los imperios japonés y alemán.

Ello permitió a la URSS resistir y sobrevivir a las poderosas y sucesivas embestidas estratégicas y operativas alemanas, hasta fines de 1942. A partir de Stalingrado y, sobre todo, Kursk, las tornas se volvieron. Y la vieja Rusia, que parece renacer y crecerse en la desesperación y con dificultades terribles, comenzó una crecida militar firme, sostenida, progresiva e irresistible, aunque muy costosa, hasta Berlín.

THE MILITARY SURPRISE: concepts, effects, realization and types.

This way, this surprise less elaborated conceptually produces fewer fruits that have operational or decisive transcendency. Everything indicates that, in order that it should take place and increases qualitatively the transcendent efficiency in our actions, it is necessary that the quality of the surprise reaches another dimension in his action.

It is necessary, so, in the operational level of the surprise, that this would be an «ungrateful surprise» for the enemy. That has catastrophic effects, though they are local, on him. And that the «commotion waves» in the area or the affected sections, propagate for the enemy military system attacked. Damaging his capacities, his general and grupal moral (a section, the fighters of a weapon) and his intentions and perspectives. It would be equivalent, in the raised scene, to an «exploitation of the success» of our actions. That are encouraged and perfected by the operational surprise obtained.

The following battle during World War II illustrates the use of unexpected «field of action» on the enemy, and the use of ordinary and heterodox forces. That allowed General Walther Model to take the initiative and destroy a Soviet army inserted in his operational rear.

LA SORPRESA MILITAR: conceptos, efectos, realización y tipos.

Así, esta sorpresa menos elaborada conceptualmente rinde menos frutos que tengan trascendencia operativa o decisiva. Todo indica que, para que se produzca y aumente cualitativamente la eficacia trascendente en nuestras acciones, es necesario que la calidad de la sorpresa alcance otra dimensión en su acción.

Es necesario, pues, en el nivel operativo de la sorpresa, que ésta sea una “sorpresa ingrata” para el enemigo. Que tenga efectos catastróficos, aunque sean locales, sobre él. Y que las “ondas de conmoción” en el área o las secciones afectadas, se propaguen por el sistema militar enemigo atacado. Dañando sus capacidades, su moral general y grupal (una sección, los servidores de un arma) y sus intenciones y perspectivas. Ello equivaldría, en el escenario planteado, a una “explotación del éxito” de las acciones propias. Que son animadas y perfeccionadas por la sorpresa operativa conseguida.

Veamos un ejemplo de cómo el empleo de un “campo de acción” inesperado para el enemigo y el uso apropiado de las fuerzas ordinarias y heterodoxas, con sus respectivas características de actuación, permitió al general Walther Model, tomar la iniciativa, crear una sorpresa ingrata y destruir un ejército soviético insertado en su retaguardia operativa.

Qassem Suleimani, la Espada Desenvainada del Imperialismo Iraní

Hacia las 0:30 hora local del viernes 3 de enero de 2020, los EEUU mataron al general Quassem Suleimani cuando se retiraba del aeropuerto de Baghdad, a donde acababa de llegar en un vuelo directo desde el aeropuerto de Damasco. Se emplearon en el ataque dos drones Reaper, probablemente de la CIA, que lanzaron 4 cohetes Hellfire II AGM-114 de cabeza explosiva (H.E.), guiados por láser, (nombre, el “Fuego del Infierno”) sobre los dos vehículos sin especial blindaje, que los llevaban a él y a sus 9 acompañantes a Baghdad.

Introducción.

El Oriente Medio es la región geopolítica más convulsa y furente de nuestro mundo. Y por su cercanía, importancia energética y formar un nudo de comunicaciones entre tres continentes, es especialmente trascendente para nosotros. En esa región del Suroeste de Asia se dirimen varios conflictos armados y paralelos.

LA EXPLORACIÓN Y LA INTELIGENCIA COMO SISTEMA OPERATIVO.

La exploración y el reconocimiento del terreno generan información de los diferentes niveles de actuación militar. Entonces debe ser convertida en inteligencia. Ésta es el conocimiento razonablemente fiable y suficiente del enemigo, de sus intenciones y capacidades, y del terreno en sus posibilidades de lucha, transitabilidad, etc. Que nos permitan tomar una resolución fundada sobre el empleo de nuestros medios y de las formas de lucha, en función de nuestros objetivos.

THE SOCIAL PROPAGANDA. CHARACTERISTICS AND MEANS.

Being an eminently practical phenomenon, the praxis of propaganda is defined by «norms or principles of action«.

Propaganda must be «simple, easy.» Both in its structure and in its concept and transfer to its «objective.» Therefore, the basic concepts of our doctrine and interests must be sought and exploited with it. And state and present them in a clear, easy and appropiate manner. Both in the words (texts and slogans) and in the images we use for their diffusion and impregnation in the social group. And taking into account the means employed and the immediacy and depth that our ideas have to acquire in the group to which are directed.

LA PROPAGANDA SOCIAL. CARACTERÍSTICAS Y MEDIOS.

Al ser un fenómeno eminentemente práctico, la praxis de la propaganda se define por unas “normas o principios de actuación”.

La propaganda debe ser “simple, sencilla”. Tanto en su estructura, como en su concepto y transferencia a su “objetivo”. Por ello, se deben buscar y explotar con ella los conceptos básicos de nuestra doctrina e intereses. Y enunciarlos y presentarlos de una manera clara, fácil y oportuna. Tanto en las palabras (textos, consignas y lemas) como en las imágenes que empleemos para su difusión e impregnación en el grupo social. Y teniendo en cuenta los medios empleados y la inmediatez y profundidad que tengan que adquirir nuestras ideas en aquél al que van dirigidas.

La Voluntad de Defensa de una Sociedad.

Y la Estrategia, la Estrategia Operativa y la Táctica, como Niveles de su Actuación Militar

Llamamos “voluntad de defensa” de una nación a su capacidad para propiciar, crear, desarrollar y mantener unas fuerzas de defensa, que cuenten con el apoyo necesario y sinérgico de la economía del país y de la diplomacia del estado. La voluntad de defensa es una expresión de la voluntad de ser y de la capacidad vital, incluso biológica, de una sociedad.

Este concepto supera y perfecciona a la así llamada guerra híbrida o de V generación. E implica y supone el empleo de todos sus “medios de intervención” ortodoxos y heterodoxos por el grupo social beligerante.

Como tal expresión, será sana, normal y suficiente, cuando las fuerzas de defensa y el apoyo diplomático y de la economía nacional que se les brinde a aquéllas, sean adecuadas y proporcionales a los objetivos políticos de la sociedad. Y también, a las posibles amenazas que tenga que soportar, tanto desde el interior de su territorio como desde el exterior, bien de su región geopolítica como de otras.

Esta capacidad y su actuación en los diferentes casos brotan de una “moral nacional” correcta.

The Will of Defense of a Society.

And the Strategy, the Operational Strategy and the Tactics, as Levels of its Military Actuation

The “will of defense” of a nation is its capacity to cause, create, develop and maintain defense forces. The strength of the defense forces, in turn, rely on the necessary support of the economy of the country and the diplomacy of the state. The will of defense is an expression of the will of being and the vital capacity, even biological, of a society. This concept overcomes and perfects the so called hybrid war or of V generation. That implies and supposes the employment of all his «orthodox and heterodox means of intervention» by the social belligerent group.

As the term implies, will of defense is healthy, normal and sufficient when defense forces and the strength of the country’s economy and the quality of state leadership and diplomacy are proportional and adapted to the political objectives of society. These must also be adequate to the possible threats that the country may have to oppose, both within and out the country, within its geopolitical region or other sources of threat.

This capacity and its performance in different situations stems from a correct “national moral”.

The modern Hybrid Warfare. The Multifunctional, Total or Multisubject Wars.

Now, closing the historical and definer curl, the wars of V generation are called hybrid or multi functional wars, which, really, always have existed. With the major or minor participation of each one of the «available means of intervention» (Foreign Relations, regular and irregular Armed Forces, Economy, Cybernetics, etc) in the social group, to obtain the «functions of intervention» search for. Forming a “means” mix, adapted to all situations and confrontation theaters.

Not for nominating nowadays with an exotic and new word, preferably foreign, one makes this way a «mean or a function of intervention» fresh and promising. The problem is that the ignorance of the history, still the recent one, impoverishes the new concepts, ideas and situations of conflict. Without winning in application, efficiency and cognitive capacity with it. With this, only it falls or repeats the previous history, returning to learn it. And that, as in a spiral screw, only changes the phenomenon temporal «plane of execution«. Where are kept safe and now partly secret, the different «essential parameters» of the phenomena of the conflicts and fights.

La Guerra Híbrida moderna. La Guerra Multifuncional, Total o Multidisciplinar.

Ahora, cerrando el bucle histórico y definitorio llaman guerras de V generación a las guerras híbridas o multifuncionales, que, realmente, siempre han existido. Con la participación mayor o menor de cada uno de los “medios de intervención” disponibles (Relaciones Exteriores, economía, cibernéticos, Ejércitos regular e irregular, etc.) en el grupo social, para conseguir las “funciones de intervención” buscadas. Formando un «mix de medios», adaptado a los distintos teatros y situaciones.

No por nominar hoy en día con una palabra exótica y nueva, preferentemente extranjera, se crea así un “medio o una función de intervención” fresco y prometedor. El problema es que el desconocimiento de la historia, aún la reciente, empobrece los nuevos conceptos, ideas y situaciones conflictivas. Sin ganar en aplicación, eficiencia y capacidad cognitiva por ello. Con esto sólo se incide o se repite la historia anterior, para volver a aprenderla. Y que, como en una hélice helicoidal, sólo se cambia el “plano de ejecución” temporal fenoménico. Donde se mantienen incólumes y ahora ocultos en parte, los distintos “parámetros esenciales” de los fenómenos y epifenómenos de los conflictos y luchas.

Reflections about Spain and Catalonia

The nation is one and unique by essence. And it arises from the commitment of the citizens to live in community. And it is kept and preserves in the defense of this union, which is loved, against his enemies of inside and outside. A nation is provided with one social politics selfconsciousness. And collaborate to create and support it the history, the tradition and the customs, and the own language and moral sense. And contribute secondly to it the own ethnia and the territory, that not always exist, specially the first one. This way, the territory of a country is not a nation. Nor it is not the inarticulate population of a territory under an only one government.

Though the territory that occupies is necessary to give a nation the possibility of supporting a social administrative structure, that guarantees the exercise of his sovereignty. In a nation fit several not antagonists ethnias. Because his base is the life together conviviality, the respect and the rights and duties for all. And so long as they love this «harmonic set» of persons and his well-being, peace and jointly progress destinies.

When the nation is loved by his components and there exists in them the desire to serve and defend her in community, the concept of the mother land appears. Both ideas are interrelated essentially. And, the absence of the patriotism or the shame to practise it by members of a «social political community», leads to the defenselessness and the dismemberment of his nation, in major or minor degree. Being formed then «groups of associate individuals» with dissolvent ideas and interests of the naional group.

It is not of surprising that the Defense Forces of a nation are, as institutions and in his members, which hoist, teach and practise the patriotism, as one of his essential virtues. Because it is possible only to die for what is loved. The Defense Forces of a nation are the specialized set of the «nationals or patriots» for the belligerent and complete Defense of his «national country«.

Reflexiones sobre España y Cataluña

La nación es una y única por esencia. Y surge del compromiso de los ciudadanos de vivir en comunidad. Y se mantiene y conserva en la defensa de esa unión, que se ama, contra sus enemigos de dentro y de fuera. Una nación es dotada de una auto conciencia socio política. Y colaboran a crearla y vertebrarla la historia, la tradición y las costumbres, y la lengua y el sentido moral propios. Y contribuyen en segundo lugar a ello la etnia y el territorio propios, que no siempre existen, especialmente la primera. Así, el territorio de un país no es una nación. Ni lo es la población inarticulada de un territorio bajo un único gobierno.

Aunque el territorio que ocupa es necesario para darle a una nación la posibilidad de mantener una estructura socio administrativa, que garantice el ejercicio de su soberanía. En una nación caben varias etnias no antagonistas. Porque su base es la convivencia, el respeto y los derechos y deberes para todos. Y con tal de que amen ese “conjunto armónico” de personas y sus destinos de bienestar, paz y progreso en común.

Cuando la nación es amada por sus componentes y existe en ellos el deseo de servirla y defenderla en comunidad, aparece el concepto de la patria. Ambas ideas están interrelacionadas esencialmente. Y, la ausencia del patriotismo o la vergüenza de profesarlo por miembros de una “comunidad socio política”, lleva a la indefensión y a la desmembración de su nación, en mayor o menor grado. Formándose entonces grupos de individuos asociadoscon ideas e intereses disolventes del conjunto nacional.

Genesis and practice of the Russian strategy of deep attack.

The Soviets tried to have a scientific unbeatable study for his military art. Like his social economic doctrine was based on the supposedly scientific postulates of Marx and Engels. Taken to the practice by the Bolsheviks led by Lenin. And achieving an undoubted success in the stages of conquest of the Power and his indefinite and ferreous maintenance, the phases of force and oppression, by the central and inevitable postulate of the proletariat dictatorship.

One of the paradigms of his military doctrine was the attack to the deep rearguard of the enemy. That is the low abdomen of his military deployment. There, the units have his refuge, his site to rest and, also, to reform or to be equipped; from there they begin the marches to form his assault deployments near the lines.

To seek for the attack at these enemy areas, without combat availability and much more vast and vulnerable than that he presents near the front, was a characteristic of the military Soviet theory.

We will see here how this was generated and was implemented. Creating for it, the appropriate specialized units and the successive adjustment of the strategic previous ideas. Up to having, in 1944 and until the end of the war, 6 Tanks Armies in the order of battle of the Soviet Army, new name of the Red Army of Soldiers and Peasants. Those were endowed with the most prepared soldiers and the best equipments and logistics support of the USSR.

And we will see how the friction, the failures and the human mistakes, the exhausting efforts of the commands, the central direction without clear and elaborated criteria (inevitable initially to any doctrine) and the climatology, do that the studied and implemented plans are scarcely fulfilled in the practice, after the first days of operations.

Génesis y praxis de la estrategia de Rusia del ataque profundo.

Los soviéticos pretendían tener un estudio científico imbatible para su arte militar. Al igual que su doctrina socio económica se basaba en los postulados supuestamente científicos de Marx y Engels. Llevados a la práctica por los bolcheviques liderados por Lenin. Y logrando un éxito indudable en las etapas de conquista del Poder y su mantenimiento indefinido y férreo, las fases de fuerza y opresión, a través del postulado central e inevitable de la dictadura del proletariado.

Uno de los paradigmas de su doctrina militar era el ataque al interior de la retaguardia del enemigo. Que es el bajo vientre de su despligue militar. Allí, las unidades tienen su refugio, su sitio para descansar e, incluso, para reformarse o equiparse, desde allí comienzan las marchas para formar sus despliegues de ataque.

El buscar el ataque a estas áreas del enemigo, sin disponibilidad para el combate y mucho más extensas y vulnerables que las que presenta junto al frente, era una característica de la teoría militar soviética.

Veremos aquí cómo ésta se generó y se fue implementando. Creando para ello, las unidades apropiadas especializadas y el ajuste sucesivo de las ideas estratégicas previas. Hasta tener, en 1944 y hasta el final de la guerra, 6 Ejércitos de Tanques en el orden de batalla del Ejército Soviético, nuevo nombre del Ejército Rojo de Soldados y Campesinos. Aquéllos estaban dotados con los más preparados soldados y los mejores equipos y logistica de apoyo de la U.R.S.S.

Y veremos cómo la fricción, los fallos y los errores humanos, los esfuerzos agotadores de los mandos, la dirección central sin criterios claros y elaborados (inevitable al principio de toda doctrina) y la climatología, hacen que los planes estudiados e implementados apenas se cumplan en la práctica, tras los primeros días de operaciones.

THE HATE, THE  WAR  AND  THE  EVIL

The Hate is always an untidy passion. What might arise initially in the soul as competition and emulation, ultimately displays as distaste, repugnance or rivalry. It is a primary reptilian feeling of survival, compound or mixed with the dread and the rage towards other one, which is perceived as foreign, different and menacing. So, the hate expresses always as negative and destruction, still potential.

The mental Gordian knot of the hate, only can be cut by the collective overcoming. And this is carried out personally, exercising a broad mindness generosity and the personal effort of overcoming and oblivion the circumstances that shaped «that situation«.

The War arises in the armed collective clash. In the violent dialectics of two social rivals groups. That employ the weapons for the attainment of certain aims, which are exclusive for both.

Other one of the vices that the «civilized» members of the tribes have acquired is the excessive greed. And with her, her corollary and the easy way to satisfy her, the rampant corruption. The social equality in the tribes, his «ideological rough republicanism», was guaranteeing the use and reasonable enjoyment of the resources by all the members.

The Evil is conceptually the lack and the denial of the good, which is the only virtue or effort (as stable and permanent value) that is positive. And the primary negative force that generates the hate in a wide sense, not necessarily violent, is the one that gives force, life and permanency to the evil of the man.

The Evil as concept, as immaterial entity, needs from instrument, a vector, a vehicle, to display in our physical world. And this material vehicle is provided by the untid and uncontrolled passions of the men, already dominated and dragged by the hate and his corollaries passions. In which and by means of them, the Evil displays enslaver, overflowing and superhuman.

The putrid, inhuman, insane ideas come from the sewage, pits and black wells of the human intelligence and soul. And they are the valid, sure and permanent instrument for the periodic manifestation of the Evil within the humanity. This Evil, unattainable for the reason and the human capacities, is the temporal manifestation of the Misterium Iniquitatis.

EL ODIO, LA GUERRA Y EL MAL

El Odio es siempre una pasión desordenada. Lo que podría surgir inicialmente en el alma como competencia y emulación, se manifiesta al final como aversión, repugnancia o rivalidad. Es un sentimiento primario, reptiliano, de supervivencia, compuesto o mezclado con el temor y la ira hacia el otro, que se percibe como ajeno, diferente y amenazador. O sea, el odio se expresa siempre como negatividad y destrucción, aún potenciales.

El nudo gordiano anímico del odio, sólo se puede cortar con la superación colectiva. Y esto se lleva a cabo personalmente, ejerciendo la generosidad de miras y el esfuerzo personal de superación y olvido de las circunstancias que conformaron “esa situación”.

La Guerra surge en el enfrentamiento armado colectivo. En la dialéctica violenta de dos grupos sociales rivales. Que buscan por las armas la consecución de determinados objetivos, que son excluyentes para ambos.

Otro de los vicios que han adquirido los miembros “civilizados” de las tribus es la codicia desmedida. Y con ella, su corolario y su modo fácil de satisfacerla, la corrupción rampante. La igualdad social en las tribus, su “republicanismo ideológico”, garantizaba el uso y disfrute razonable de los recursos por todos los miembros. Y el zakat o limosna canónica musulmana y el apoyo de su colectivo suplían los casos de orfandad, viudedad, enfermedad, calamidades, etc.

El Mal es conceptualmente la falta y la negación del bien, que es la única virtud o esfuerzo (como valor estable y permanente) que es positivo. Y la fuerza primaria negativa que genera el odio en un amplio sentido, no necesariamente violento, es la que da fuerza, vida y permanencia al mal del hombre.

El Mal como concepto, como ente inmaterial, necesita de un instrumento, de un vector, para manifestarse en nuestro mundo físico. Y este vehículo material se lo proporcionan las pasiones desordenadas e incontroladas de los hombres, ya dominados y arrastrados por el odio y sus pasiones corolarias. En las cuales y mediante ellas, el Mal se manifiesta avasallador, desbordante y sobrehumano.

Las ideas pútridas, antihumanas y vesánicas provienen de las cloacas, de los pudrideros y pozos negros de la inteligencia y del alma humanas. Y ellas son el instrumento válido, seguro y permanente para la manifestación periódica del Mal en la humanidad. Este Mal, inasequible para la razón y las capacidades humanas, es la manifestación temporal del Misterium Iniquitatis.

THE SPANISH NACIONAL POLITICS

A STERILE AND INEFFECTIVE INSTRUMENT

The dispersion and inefficiency that the authorities show in the complex labor of uniting the popular wills and in implementing clear policies of reinforcement of the national unity and of control of the hackneyed and unsuccessful ideas of dissolution and substitution of that one, have different original reasons.

A nation does not congregate and galvanize, re-joins and advances with procedure, laws and regulations. Called to juridically confine the public thing. A nation is not governed in times of dangers and incipient decadences only by the economic and accounting ideas and policies. That only serve to create and preserve the material wealth. But that at least nowadays can not avoid the hardness and the cruelty of the phases of crisis and decadence of the economic successive cycles. That literally can crush the collaboration between the social strata and deepen their differences. And these policies are bored, affected and pissquiets. Because the action of the money, which is his essence, has these natural qualities.

This makes and defines a rachitic, defensive politics and without worthy horizons of the best efforts. And, also, serious and reliable of the duty. As serious and reliable were Cervera’s, when they sank his fleet in Santiago de Cuba and Montojo’s, when the same thing happened to him in Manila to his Spanish fleet of the Pacífico, presences.

The lack of virtues in the exercise and the example of the power and the leaders, have drained and withered the right of the country, as political national instrument.

LA POLÍTICA NACIONAL ESPAÑOLA

UN INSTRUMENTO ESTÉRIL E INEFICAZ

La dispersión e ineficacia que demuestran las autoridades en la compleja labor de aunar las voluntades populares y en implementar políticas claras de refuerzo de la unidad nacional y de control de las trasnochadas y fallidas ideas de disolución y sustitución de aquélla, tienen varias causas originales.

Una nación no se congrega y galvaniza, se reune y avanza con normas, leyes y reglamentos. Llamados a encorsertar jurídicamente la cosa pública. Una nación no se gobierna en épocas de peligros e incipientes decadencias solamente con las ideas y políticas económicas y contables. Que sólo sirven para crear y conservar la riqueza material. Pero que ni siquiera hoy en día pueden evitar la dureza y la crueldad de las fases de crisis y decadencia de los ciclos económicos sucesivos. Que literalmente pueden triturar la colaboración entre los estratos sociales y ahondar sus diferencias. Y esas políticas son aburridas, melindrosas y meaqueditas. Porque la actuación del dinero, que es su esencia, tiene esas cualidades naturales.

Esto crea y define una política raquítica, defensiva y sin horizontes dignos de los mejores esfuerzos. Y, también, seria y cumplidora del deber. Como serias y cumplidoras fueron las presencias de Cervera, cuando le hundieron su flota en Santiago de Cuba y de Montojo, cuando le ocurrió lo mismo en Manila a su flota española del Pacífico.

La falta de virtudes en el ejercicio y el ejemplo del poder y de los gobernantes, han drenado y agostado a la derecha cabal del país, como instrumento político nacional.

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 FROM 1920 TO 1990.

(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.

The structure and combat capacities of the tanks armies.

They were formidable war machines. Each one was integrated by 2 tanks corps and a mechanized corp, with all the auxiliary services and necessary supports. Having a very variable personnel, between 40 and 65 thousand men, according to the availabilities of means and workforce and the needs of the different operational plans of the Stavka.

The first unit that was according to this concept was activated in June, 1943. Previously also existed “great mobile units” like so called. But they really were conglomerates of tanks brigades reinforcing infantry divisions, generally «of the Guard». The most famous was probably the «Group Popov», commanded by the general of this surname. At the beginning of 1943 was employed against the operational rear of the Don armies group of Marshall Erich von Manstein, that operated in all the south of the USSR. It was thrown by the Southwest Front of general Vatutin in the direction Pavlograd-Zaporozhe, towards the mouth of the river Dnepr in the Black Sea. Seeking to isolate and surround all the German forces at the east of the river, in a large-scale reproduction of Stalingrado’s Soviet ring, which had just fallen down in the Red Army‘s hands. The principal counterattack thrown by Manstein against the group Popov, was in charge of 48th panzer army corp and a SS panzer corp. Both forming the 4th panzer army under the command of the colonel general Hermann Hoth, which destroyed it. Erasing it from the Soviet Battle Order, until it was reformed and re-equipped and re-trained its units.

By 1944 existed up to 26 tanks corps and 11 mechanized corps in the Soviet army, but until January was not activated the 6º tanks army. Sometimes a tanks army had 2 mechanized corps, but this was very rare, because these were the most necessary great and scanty units of the operational Soviet strategy. On the other hand, for fighting in the areas of bad or difficult “transitability” (with more conceptual wealth that only «bad ongoing»), forests, mountains and snow covered or swampy zones, the Soviets were using a combination of a mechanized corp with other of cavalry. Of these mobile horse-mechanized armies never were more than 2 or 3 in the Soviet Battle Order. These and the tanks armies could be equivalent in power, punch and operational movement capacity to the German panzer army corps. But these were always more numerous, for example, even in the year 1944 the Germans were counting with between 10 and 18 panzer corps, it is true that with very different capacity, according with the available means.

The Soviet tanks corps was equivalent to the panzer division. It was formed by 3 battalions of main battle tanks and 3 infantry battalions, supposedly mechanized or motorized. It was completed by some artillery and heavy tanks or assault cannons and other auxiliary units. It theoretically had 240 tanks and assault cannons, while the panzer division had up to 150 vehicles of these types. Nevertheless, this one was better balanced as combined arms great unit. Possessing 12% more men (up to approximately 13.300) and 20% more infantry, better mechanized (approximately 4.500 men).

The mechanized corps was the major unit «type western division» formed by the Soviets. In relation to the panzer divisions, it was possessing 26% more of men, 17% more of infantry and 152% more of tanks and assault cannons, which were partly replacing certain deficiency in artillery, which was always towed, not self-propelled. It was much more than a panzer grenadiers division and was equivalent to the major panzer divisions. But his lack of motorized transport, 19% less, was making it less consisting in his operations that the German last mentioned.

For its part, the Soviet shock armies were great units formed by infantry divisions, generally of the Guard, reinforced by some artillery divisions and several tanks brigades of (that were equivalent to the mentioned «battalion» and had approximately 65 tanks) and engineers brigades, according to the plans of the Stavka. They were destined to assault the most strengthened and defended extensive positions in the German front. And to guarantee the irruption, without taking care so much their losses.

Their operational movement capacity was very deficient.

A great handicap of the Soviet tanks armies was the absence in them of the infantry combat vehicles or of transport (carriers), lightly armored and generally roof opened in this epoch, for the supposedly mechanized infantry. Destined to accompany the tanks, across all the grounds. Forming part of the mechanized or tanks brigades, which were the tactical subunits of those.

During their advance, the infantries in occasions had for their transport North American Studebaker, very resistant trucks. And other times they had to travel very much. Though the most frequent was that the infantry battalions mounted, as unexpected riders, on the tanks of the tanks battalion of their brigade. In any case, as the missions were many and divergent, in the operational surroundings of their aim, the infantries were dismounting and covering afoot the last tens of km up to his arrangement zones. These flying columns operating in depth in the German rear that was crumbling, were systematically attacked by the German aviation, which caused large devastations in they, at least in material. In addition, when they were going towards specially sensitive aims for the Germans, in which these were concentrating their tactical aviation, the mobile groups were forced not to circulate by day.

Why could this happen with so important units Soviet units? Because the Soviet fighters, which bases and airports were staying deeply behind his lines, did not have sufficient action range to watch and protect permanently all their journeys. And neither they were always carrying in their “marching groups”, organic anti-aircraft defense means. That would complicate more their weak and meager logistics. This was stopping them in that advance without consideration to the losses, which the middle and low chiefs were using

excessively. To fulfill the severe requirements that their Superiors were marking and the political deputies were monitoring about their fulfillment. It was frequent that in the attached epigraphs of the commanders orders, specially «of combat «, was including the paragraph «I will submit to a martial court the official who does not use to the maximum his means».

(to be continued)

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 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.