The Opportunity as Command’s Instrument for Victory

Introduction.

The opportunity arises from the play of dialectical actions between the opposing units. Opportunity is the tactical, even operational, weakness that arises in an enemy sector or is about to do so. We can act on it and even precipitate it with our combined weapons system in an «action interface» especially favorable to us. In opportunity always underlies an enemy error. If this was insurmountable for him, it would be due to the unforeseen, surprising circumstances that concurred. Opportunities are a useful and advantageous feature provided by the dialectic of actions in the chaos of war.

The intermediate objectives foreseen in the plans are not opportunities. They are forecasts derived from the planning and the well-founded resolution of the command. When contacts with the enemy begin, its achievement begins to be tested, as Moltke said, in the dialectics play.

Functioning.

Of this play in a chaotic environment, independently of the greater or smaller deviations from plans, will arise the opportunities and the dangers. The dangers would be the enemy opportunities on us. Both are unexpected, but accessible and exploitable during a certain time. The reason of the unpredictably of the opportunities in the time is in the number almost infinite of variables and individual and collective actions that concur to define asituation” and the successive cycles of action in which it develops.

The opportunity arises when the enemy fails to use his forces and means of support. It can originate in differences in the qualities of enemy forces and in the transitability of a given terrain, that debilitates a defense or the momentum of an attack. It also appears in the negligence of the enemy in presenting an exposed flank, that is, an interface of action real or potential favorable with us, not properly taken care of by him to face our available combined arms system. The opportunity is an emptiness in combat capacity that arises in a cycle of action for a unit, or a sector, that is unprotected and neglected for long enough allowing it to be detected and exploited by the enemy.

It is necessary to take advantage of opportunities quickly. The dynamics of interaction in a chaotic environment makes opportunities unattainable after a short time. The succession of cycles of action continually modify circumstances.

Developing.

To detect opportunities at any level of military activity, intelligence is necessary (elaborated the exploration and reconnaissance and converted into useful, continuous, sufficient knowledge) and the sufficient presence of the corresponding command. To take advantage of them, simple and vertical communication is necessary, supported by implicit communication between subordinate leaders and mobility, flexibility and combat capacity available in the units and commands involved. If the opportunity is transcendental, the tactical or operational center of gravity of the military means is transferred to it by the command. If it is important, their use must contribute concentrically to its creation and development.

The same characteristics just mentioned, but focused on ourselves, are the ones that, in turn, will protect us from enemy dangers or opportunities. This will prevent its appearance, compensate for the danger or mitigate its presence and reduce our time of vulnerability. If despite foresight and care, surprising or unexpected circumstances concur in its appearance, even due to a mistake on our part, the means to be used are the last two actions mentioned for its detection and use.

What is that sufficient presence of the commander? The one that allows him to take advantage of the opportunities that arise at his level of activity. All of this is directly related to the two different command styles or forms for carrying out the tasks of the different levels of command.

Tactical command must be exercised bySensing the “action interface” with the enemy, exchanging actions with him on the ground. The limit of tactical command is clearly in the brigade. And, in large operations or in the attack or in the armored forces, it probably reaches in greater or lesser degree to the division, whose commander must drive forward the march or the attack behind the first important marching force of the bulk of the unit.

The command of the army corps is clearly an corps’ operational management and must have a broader perspective of the whole. As well as a greater distance from direct contact with the enemy, which overcomes the interface of action and its immediate rear. This gives the command breadth, vision, serenity and security.

In the immense chaos that is created in a combat, the foresight of the command can impose and outline its evolution in a direction and sense.

Like the effective command, is capable of «searching» and «feeling» the enemy’s signs of weakness and discouragement. And then he prepares the forces that he will use in the persecution and the support that he will give them. Putting them under the command of an energetic, spirited, leading and lucid commander.

The command must prepare «rapidly available forces» in the units under its command. For example, a mixed company in the battalion; a combined arms battalion in the brigade. In such a way that the appearance of the opportunity, close and surprising, allows him to take advantage of it. Since the surprise will help the opportunity to be seized at first by a relatively small force of their own. And that may soon be reinforced by the bulk.

Example of the effective, non-physical presence of a High Command.

Erich von Manstein directed the counterattack operation of the German Armies Group Don, mainly against the Soviet Southwestern Front of General Vatutin, from his headquarters in Zaporiya. By mid-March1943, the Germans had eliminated six tank corps in the order of battle of Vatutin, recovered Kharkov and settled a resistant defense front from Tangarov to Belgorod, supported in the Mius and the Donetz. They also had enough mobile reserves in the south of Russia to reject possible soviet operational ruptures in the zone. And, after the setback of Stalingrad, they had recovered the strategic initiative, at least in the southern theater of operations.

HITLER, WORRIED, VISIT MARSHAL VON MANSTEIN AT ZAPORIYA, UKRAINE.

An attack against the Kursk salient, completed its formation by von Manstein‘s advance on Belgorod, which would have begun in April, then had a chance of success due to the lack of Soviet preparation.

This same offensive, which began in July 1943, determined that no more mistakes by the German High Command (Hitler) were of any importance: then, the subjet of total strategy or state strategy was no longer who would win the war, but how long it would take to do so.

A Failure in the effective presence of command.

Let’s see an example of an inadequate presence of the commander, in relation to the echelon that he is supposed to command. It starred Rommel in North Africa in November 1941.

Rommel’s advanced command post in the desert.

Mistakenly believing that the British armor was dispersed after some fighting, Rommel ordered to concentrate his Panzers on the Libyan-Egyptian border. Directly dedicated to it, acting as a regimental commander, he was involved in the repulse of a British attack. He was even isolated with his command vehicle, due to a mechanical problem, for half a day at the front.

This temporarily deprived him of control of operations in Tobruk. This was Rommel’s main operational objective, while resisting the German siege was the main objective of the English. Due to this unjustified distraction, Rommel had to abandon the attempt to take that fortified port, located in his operational rear, which he could have consolidated for his defense of his won territory.

In less than a month, the advances of the English tanks and infantry forced him into a long retreat towards Tunisia. He had to give up almost all the ground he had gained since March, when he arrived in Africa, until he recovered and was able to fight back, as British pressure lightened.

Fallen Russian Generals in Ukraine.

Russian Generals missing from their Battle Forward Post in Ukraine

Introduction.

There are hundreds of videos of Ukrainians neutralizing Russian air, naval and ground vehicles. That more than fighting at close distances, it seems that they pose as if they were shooting ducks at a town fair.

Cuatro generales rusos muertos en Ucrania en 20 días, tantos como en  Afganistán en 10 años

These videos are mostly produced by almost unknown film companies.

And sometimes even a supposed Russian general falls almost in the battle’s first rows.

Developing.

A general never accompanies or stands in combat with a platoon lieutenant or company captain or a battalion commander or lieutenant colonel.

His tasks are not to hit shots. Nor haranguing the men around him. Or drive them into combat by his example. That is done by the officers in charge of the units and the non-commissioned officers in immediate command of the soldiers. Who know their soldiers like nobody else. Or will it not be so here?

Ucrania mata en un mismo día a dos generales rusos y pone en evidencia el  grave problema del ejército de Putin

The task of the general officer is to conceive and conceptualize the combat and the maneuvers of his tactical units, fulfilling the Tasks and Missions of the Army in campaign.

And, facilitate the means in: combined arms units; anti-tank, artillery and air support for them and the logistics for it: from health to supplies of all kinds, from fuel to ammunition, through maintenance teams and removal of damaged vehicles and kitchens and food distribution to the collection points of the units.

Baja en el ejército ruso: muere el alto general Sukhovetsky - AS.com

He harangues and drives the commanders and chiefs of units dependent on him. And, to all the soldiers on rare occasions.

To fulfill Those, fulfilling the universal principle of the economy of human and material means. That is, following the best and most optimized use of it.

And, as I have said before, the death of a general is a national disaster. And, the death of a 4-star general, commander-in-chief of an army of many tens of thousands of soldiers, is a national catastrophe.

Simply because they are very important military assets.

US HIMARS rockets, latest evolution of reactive artillery.

Introduction.

Reactive artillery has changed a lot since the Soviet times of World War II. That the so-called Soviet Katiuskas rockets scattered fear among their enemies. For its persistence, simultaneity and its fire wake and noise when flying. Its range was 4 to 5 km. and the carrier truck weighed about 5 tm.

It consisted of a military truck on which was placed a battery of 10 or 12 tubes rocket launchers of caliber of the order of 80 to 122 mm. The battery was fixed in the direction of the front of the truck and it was oriented towards the target. Several rocket trucks formed the smallest tactical support unit.

Lanzacohetes Katiusha

«No matter how long a man is exposed to bombing. He will never be immune to fear of it. Machine gun or rifle fire can be frightening, but it cannot be compared to the sensations that fill the throbbing hearts of men, when the sounds and whistles of aerial and terrestrial bombs are perceived approaching». F. Mowat. The Regiment. Toronto, 1955. pp. 162-163.

Another example of a weapon designed both to demoralize with this said effect, and to cause damage and casualties, was the Junkers-87, known as the Stuka. Their sirens were placed to produce a terrifying high-frequency screech as they dive over the target at high speed. A British officer described the effect of the weapon during a dive bombardment received by his men in the spring of 1940, which caused only ten injuries and destroyed three trucks: «The boys were completely broken. After the bombardment, the officers and some sergeants got up and tried to restart the activities. But, the men were lying or sitting in complete daze. And it was necessary to push or drag them to wake them up.” L. Deighton. Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk. London, 1979. Page 247.

Well, but what you are telling us happened a long time ago, with normal forces.

Well, let us point to the repeated case of a battalion-type or multi-company infantry unit, dismounted, deployed, and advancing to the attack. That, in several cases, they were units such as the Guards or the Highlanders, considered among the best in the world. As soon as it was subjected to effective fire from the enemy and suffered some casualties, especially if they were some officers and non comissioned officers, it would freeze on the ground and stick to it. It immediately transmitted that it had been pinned down and requested reinforcements to get out of trouble, unable to react on its own. General Richard Simpkin. Race to the Swift. London, 1994. Page 214.

Tactical utilities.

The advantage with conventional artillery is that its barrels have to withstand the tremendous explosion of smokeless powder. This initial push along the barrel is what propels the bullet throughout its mileage travel up to target. Those rifled barrels require advanced metalworking and the explosions and bullet paths coming out of the barrels wear them down quickly and need to be replaced.

In reactive artillery, the cannon is replaced by the launcher or rail that directs the rocket towards its target. This is impelled by propellant at the rear, behind the warhead. The fiery trail of the booster is perfectly visible during launch and part of the flight.

Sistema BM-21

This flight was governed by ballistic physical laws. There was no direction of flight, once the rocket was flying off the ramp.

These reactive artillery fires were not very precise. They were really designed to neutralize the enemy located on a surface target, which generally became a zone of destruction. The fires were directed at open, non-urban land.

Soldiers placed in individual or group positions with adequate cover or fortifications survived well.

Evolution.

The Soviets liked this artillery, which was part of their doctrine of using abundant and overwhelming heavy fire in breakout operations of the enemy fronts.

The Katiuskas were replaced by the Soviets with the BM-24 reactive launchers, first, with about 7 km. range, and BM-21, from 1964, with a range of 15 km. The configurations were the same, a bank or batteries of free-flight rocket launchers loaded in the back or gondola of a truck.

HIMARS system.

Other nations began to be interested in this type of weapon. Looking for more precision and combat readiness of vectors. To obtain a plus of efficiency and utility against the Russian armament.

We see that in the name they mention its improved mobility and they do not do it with its precision. When it is what stands out to crush very sensitive enemy targets and, above all, specific ones, such as parts of the logistics system, communications, command posts and concentrations of enemy offensive means.

The HIMARS launcher of high mobility

The secrets of success are multiple and act in synergy to achieve their effectiveness. One is that the rockets have a modern and sophisticated MILITARY GPS system. That allows the rockets to be directed precisely to the indicated target, in a directed flight. The effective range of simple multiple rockets is about 90 km.

Then there is the suspension system of the all-terrain trucks, with less than 11 tms of weight, which allows the rapid movements of the truck on not very rough terrain. And the handling is clean and fast. The reloading of the 6 rockets of a mobile platform is completed in 10 minutes.

The Russians in the Ukraine try, usually in vain or too late, to locate the Ukrainian HIMARS batteries using drones. To annoy the Russians, the Ukrainians use fake HIMARS launchers and continually change the location of the real ones.