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 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. (SECOND PART).

AN INTERPRETATION BY FIELDMARSCHAL ERICH VON MANSTEIN.

 

(CONTINUATION)

 

Results of the German counterattack and its trascendence.

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

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

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

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

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

WILLIAM LIND, A CIVIL TEORIST.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END.

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

AN INTERPRETATION BY FIELDMARSCHAL ERICH VON MANSTEIN.

 

 

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

 

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

GENERAL VATUTIN.

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

GENERAL POPOV.

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

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

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

THE SUPREME SOVIET COMMANDER.

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

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

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

IN THE COVER OF «TIME» NEWSMAGAZINE…

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

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

THE GERMAN FIELDMARSCHAL’S COMMAND BATON.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

THE 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)