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The Americans and NATO

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The Americans and NATO - 6/23/2012 11:25:40 PM   
Mad Russian

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American, and for the most part all NATO, officers are taught to think on their feet. There is a doctrine but often times a local situation requires something different than the 'book answer'.

The Soviets acknowledged this in their own training and thoughts about dealing with American combat units.

"One of the serious problems in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals on their doctrine nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine."

That description fit perfectly with the American units I trained with. You did whatever the situation required to turn the situation positive for your forces. There were few officers that went by the book all the time.

At the FPG level there would be few Soviet officers that would not be expected to go by their book and use their doctrine.

Good Hunting.



The most expensive thing in the world is free time.

Founder of HSG scenario design group for Combat Mission.
Panzer Command Ostfront Development Team.
Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm Development Team.
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RE: The Americans and NATO - 6/25/2012 3:51:50 PM   
PK Krukov


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"Doctrine" for Western militaries usually meant a 'tactical framework' which provided tools the commander would use as applicable. It shunts thinking along certain directions, for instance the mechanized infantry of various nations fought differently based on their nation's doctrine (conception of) mechanized infantry: German Panzergrenadiers always fought differently than Canadian mechanized infantrymen, as a function of doctrine.

There is also technological-tactical interplay in doctrine. For example the Canadians fought similarly to the Americans or British in the M113 or the FV430, respectively. When the technology changed because of a doctrinal shift in what mech inf should be, the Canadians retained M113 and the old way of fighting because Warrior and Bradley are such radically different vehicles to the M113.

Most Western training involves familiarizing the leader with the contents of his "toolbox" and how they are best used, then letting him have at it based on personal creativity and ability.

For the Soviets, doctrine was much more comprehensive because their leaders needed to be told how to think. They were shown the toolbox, how to use everything in it, and then given a list of tools and situations they needed to be used in, figuratively speaking. While one can hammer a screw into a bit of lumber, it's not very efficient. If parts of his toolbox are missing, a NATO commander may very well try to use the box itself to hammer that screw in if that's what's needed. A Soviet commander takes longer to figure out the same, as the manuals do not include "How to hammer nails without a hammer" and their culture did not encourage thinking outside the box. Wartime experience seems to have solved many of these problems at the small unit level in veteran units during WWII, but with tempos and expected loss ratios so much higher for modern warfare, this probably wouldn't have worked for them then and won't work for the Russians today.

The best way to view Soviet tactical doctrine is in light of the following phrase regarding their culture: What is not expressly permitted is forbidden. (As opposed to us: What is not expressly forbidden is permitted.) That is why their manuals tend to be so hefty and go into so much detail about the sky being blue.


Ac her forþ berad; fugels singað, gylled grœghama. Wyrd bið ful aræd.

(in reply to Mad Russian)
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