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.

The Russian Campaign for the Donbass’ Basin.

Introduction.

When the Russians have attacked the vast area of the Donbass, as the Center of Gravity of their military efforts in eastern Ukraine, they have done so by employing other, more primitive tactics, if possible.

Russian attempts to employ their modern combined weapons units, the Mobile Battalion Groups, a kind of demi mobile brigades or light brigades, against the ecumens of Kyiv, in western Ukraine, or Kharkov, in eastern Ukraine, were met with unexpected defeats. Thanks to the effective rejection tactics of the Ukrainian units, employing a mobile defense with cession of space and a favorable terrain for defense, almost always.

After the capture of Mariupol, with its port to the Sea of Azov and its gigantic steel industry Azovstal, the time came to attend and occupy the Donbass’ basin, with the oblast (province) of Lugansk, to the north, next to the Russian border and the oblast of Donetz, to the south, towards the peninsula of Crimea, occupied already in 2014.

In this new performance of the Russian Army, «support» heavy fire is no longer such. It has, as an Army Branch, an Own Use, «per se«. That it is surgical and almost total destruction of Ukrainian positions. This guarantees greater survival to their soldiers in the assault on those positions. Operation, on the other hand, that will rarely be important already.

These are not brilliant tactics, nor exemplary ones they use.

SwashVillage | Cómo Ulysses S. Grant ganó el sobrenombre de Subvención de  rendición incondicional
GENERAL ULYSSES GRANT

They are similar to the Attrition and Wear tactics employed by Grant at the end of the American Civil War. He systematically chased Lee and attacked him, not caring too much about the cost. But, he wore him down inexorably. And it led him to his surrender at Appomattox in April 1865.

As he won and as in the war is debatable almost everything, Grant was commended for his perseverance, definition and concentration on a decisive goal and other things…

Or, those used by Foch, Generalissimo of the Allies in the Western European theater in 1918. Who hammered uninterruptedly the German positions in some sectors. Until breaking them, bursting behind their lines and trying a shallow exploitation. That always broke the opportune German operational counterattack. And, that only changed his effort to other sectors, when the German resistance was strong or hardened in them.

Ferdinand Foch, general francés y comandante supr...
GENERALISSIMO FOCH, ALLIED SUPREME COMAND IN 1918

But this unfailingly exhausted the means available to an adversary inferior to the Allies. And, it led Germany to a humiliating surrender before them. And to the dismemberment of the Second Reich and the establishment of the Weimar Republic. That did not direct positively the desires and wishes of the German people.

They are the tactics of the great mace or hammer on the anvil. In contrast with indirect actions and maneuvers of other generals and theaters of operations and epochs. They have the elegance, cleanliness, speed and efficiency of Foil fencing.

These Russian tactics are more costly, long and bloody. And, they are applicable when:

One’s means are far superior to those of the enemy.

The Russian’ Command and Control structure does not respond effectively to the needs of modern warfare. Regarding the complementary use of maneuver and combat, according to the needs of the command and the taking advantage of the opportunities that arise.

Politicians Only ask the military for victory.

Own commands are mediocre and subject to a «zero fault» control by their superiors. Above all, such commands lack imagination and freedom of action.

We will see bad, costly and painful results.

Campaign’s General Development.

Tactical mobile battalions attack in a sector of between one and three km, according to the intensity of the effort that the brigade leaders want to apply in the area. The mobile battalion, which is the effective autonomous tactical unit of the Russian Army, possesses its own organic artillery. But, for certain missions seeking the wear and tear of the enemy, the division can assign them even one more artillery group in direct support, coming from the reserve of it.

Los posibles escenarios militares para una invasión rusa de Ucrania -  Infobae
PARTIAL PHOTO OF A RUSSIAN MOBILE BATTALION IN PARADE

The advance by an attack strip is carried out by a mechanized or motorized infantry company and a tank company, with the corresponding services of the battalion. As fighting takes place on enemy urban terrain, villages and districts, command is exercised by the infantry chief. Which the tanks support from positions further back. Using their powerful cannons with direct fire and HE-type charges, against enemy infantry «support points» and «resistance nests» and anti-tank positions in the infantry zone. In the appearance of Ukrainian tanks and/or Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Russian tanks or a part of them, as decided by the tank command, would quickly switch to anti-tank ammunition and/or smoke charges, if appropriate.

Rusia tendrá en órbita 150 satélites para 2025
RUSSIAN SATELLITE

There is no operational exploration by parts of the Russian ground forces here. This function is fulfilled by the many surveillance satellites deployed in space. And, the «unmanned aerial exploration vehicles» or drones launched from the ground by the Army.

It is assumed that all this information collected by several different means and commands, is centralized in a common Intelligence Center.

Guerra en Ucrania: Rusia tiene drones con tecnología española, según  investigadores británicos – FayerWayer
RUSSIAN UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE

Responsible for such reception and its analysis and projection for various times, days, weeks, months. Creating a reasonably reliable, up-to-date, continuous and timely Intelligence. That would facilitate to the ground commanders of brigades or mobile groups, in charge of operations.

The mobile battalions in contact only advance a small combat exploration for their different Weapons. To narrow down and outline the various immediate targets that correspond to them.

If the Artillery, Rockets and Tactical Aviation were used at heart in any of the battles of the Campaign, the Russian ground troops would have as mission in that battle the occupation and consolidation of the objective to «assault». In which there would no longer be enemy soldiers, because they would probably have withdrawn in advance to the attack of the Russian ground force.

The Command, the Friction and the Mistakes

Exposition of a complex real case, highly illustrative.

This is illustrated by mistakes that affected Germany’s plans and strategies during the war with the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1945. During this war, Hitler and his commanders pursued a policy, strategies of state,total strategies and operational field strategies, many of which were plagued by poor decisions.

Still, knowing that erroneous, slanted or incomplete decisions had been made, in those circumstances, could anyone within the Wehrmatch have avoided the mistakes or serious mistakes of Germany’s actions?

Conocer los primeros pasos políticos de Hitler nos ayuda a lidiar con los  ultras de hoy

In the campaign of 1941, Germany lacked a clearly defined objective and this divided its military effort. Germany’s principal attacks were dispersed between Leningrad, Kiev and Moscow, without existing a single objective of June 22, 1941. Both Leningrad and Kiev were given their own importance, rather than be treated as intermediate goals within a larger campaign. Moscow was not emphasized as a primary objective until October, when the possibility of a reasonable conquest had already disappeared.

Given the demographic and geographical characteristics of the USSR, it is absurd to pretend that the main objective was to annihilate the Red Army before the «Moscow meridian». Even if the top brass of the Wehrmatch wanted to recreate a large encirclement and annihilation operation in several successive battles.

Heinz Guderian fue un criminal de guerra? - Quora
General Heinz Guderian

The diversion towards Kiev of the Second Panzer Corp of Guderian came at the expense of the effort of the Center Armies Group advancing towards Moscow. And forced its tanks to detour more than 1,000 kilometers. In practice, to estimate the attrition of its operational movement capacity, these were equivalent to 2,000 km of distance travelled. But, despite the many prisoners captured in Kiev, these were not sufficient to force Stalin to surrender, because this was disregarded at the time.

In September 1941, Leningrad could be taken by the Northern Armies Group. Hitler’s decision to surround the city was made in an effort to avoid the risk of troop losses that would come about by urban fighting, something which had indeed occurred in Kiev. But this decision tied the German Northern Armies to a secondary target. If the city had been taken rather than surrounded, the Northern Armies Group, despite their delay, could join the Center Armies Group to assault Moscow or to reinforce the march of the Southern Armies Group toward the Caucasus the following year, seeking for an economic fundamental target.

Now, occurs a huge mistake of Hitler. And it happens at the level of grand strategy, national strategy or total strategy.

El Antisemitismo de Stalin – El Financiero

In 1941, more than 50 million Slavs, living in Ukraine, White Russia or Belarus and the Baltic countries, expected the Germans as liberators of the unbearable yoke of the Stalinist communists. Between 1931 and 1937, “Little Father Stalin” had deliberately and calculated massacred some 5 million Ukrainians, for the mere fact of being them. And, never is any «fault» of the whole of a country, of an ethnic group.

Ukraine was the grain barn of the USSR and, during the Five-Year Industrial Plan, Ukrainian agricultural resources were diverted towards the objectives of that Plan. The peasants were not assigned seeds and the remaining ones were kept to eat. The peasants were required to deliver abusive quotas of milk, meat and crops. Stalin approved genocide supposedly for the sake of his ideology.

After the victorious passage of the Wehrmatch, Himmler sent the SS. To take care of the Slavs, the Untermensch, the undermen or human subbeens. To obtain cheap, slave labor to the service of the Reich.

And, instead of accepting them and joining a large close and favorable rear, with all the millions of men available as allies. Capable of performing internal tasks of defense of the territory and of first protection of the immense line of communications from the Reich to the Eastern Front. And to integrate them to some extent into the «auxiliary forces» of the Wehrmatch, like the Romanians. And producing in Ukraine goods and services for the Germans. Hitler immediately alienated the will of the Ukrainians: employing the Vesanic occupiers of the SS, who killed them directly or banished them to Germany.

La Guerra Partisana en la URSS - La Segunda Guerra Mundial
Soviet partisans.

And the ex-Soviet rear was filled with anti-German partisans. That was the only «strategic guerrilla» of World War II. Since it was directly dependent on a constituted state and was an operational auxiliary of the Red Army. Which gave it certain characteristics of «belligerent of right«, distancing them from the simple outlaws or bandits.

In the summer of 1943, when the Soviet guerrilla war reached its peak, some 250,000 partisans were fixing half a million German and allied troops (from Russians, Italians, Hungarians, rear police, to German garrison units). The Germans of the first line were only used in large operations of encirclement and annihilation of guerrillas. Even the small garrison forces, usually a section, with a core of Germans, maintained a proactive behavior: they had to send to patrol periodically to half a section or to join it with an external force, gathered for a more ambitious operation.

Nikolai Vatutin. Gran maestro delantero
General Nikolai Vatutin

In 1942, German troops were within 100 kilometers of Moscow. Nevertheless, Hitler changed the strategic attack of the campaign to the south and its more economically profitable objectives; a change that his generals did not understand. By making that decision, Germany lost forever the possibility of capturing Moscow or Leningrad. Later, Hitler made the delayed decision to divide the South Armies Group, with one part proceeding to the Caucasus and the other advancing toward Stalingrad. The result was that neither Armies reached their objectives.

The acceptance of a battle of attrition and not of maneuvers (this was impossible) in Stalingrad, led the German Army to lose during it its greater and better operational movement capacity, against the Soviet Army of masses, almost inexhaustible. Later, by not allowing the rapid withdrawal of the German 6th Army from that city, when the Soviets established their operational encirclement or, better, before that, causing the German forces debilitating losses due to the lack of suitable and defended supply lines.

Erich von Manstein: de estratega favorito de Adolf Hitler a ser su peor  enemigo
Field Marshal Erich von Manstein

Hitler’s decision, in spite of all the criticism it provoked, to fight a late the battle with Soviet forces based in Kursk. Which could have been attacked in April, just a little after Erich von Manstein’s scythe blow against the flanks and rearward of the Soviet Voronezh Front or Armies Group of Voronezh of colonel general Vatutin and the Mobile Group of deep incursion of general Markian Popov, which marched towards the Dnieper’s mouth, centered the German armies again on a secondary target. Even worse was that Germany’s invaluable armored tanks that spear-headed the advance in Kursk (moving hard in rhombus – or armored shaped wedges or Panzerkiel) foundered, when they encountered Soviet antitank in deep deployments forming even “fortified regions”.

Markian Popov - Wikipedia
General Markian Popov

The result was similar for the Panzer Divisions, even reinforced by Tigers battalions and the new Ferdinand heavy assault guns, to what Germany infantry divisions faced in Stalingrad: pitting direct force against direct force and high troop looses for both side, were the parity in men and Germany’s superior preparation and tactical doctrine dissipated in the face of concentric high fires.

When a German was worth as a combatant what three or four Russians, according to the conscientious studies of the American colonel Trevor N. Dupuy, from the results of multiple battles of World War II.

(to be continued)