Alfred, here is a sidebar issue for you to comment on. I'm playing against the AI in an enhanced version of Ironman where the Japanese AI has been considerably upgraded. Astonishingly in early '42 the Japanese AI INVADED the USSR. This has proved interesting in terms of play for a number of reasons. First, I've never played the Soviets and learning their equipment has been unique, second it seems even in this version that upgrades in Soviet planes don't come quickly,really late 44 so I'm stuck with bi-planes as my main fighters for YEARS, third, ship reinforcements are non existent (the game allows for a few DDs and one CA before late 44) and finally the Japanese seem to be able to field TONS of folks! Thus the Soviets are force to fight with older equipment from day one until late 44 without much being brought from "mother Russia"! Given the pressure that we all know the USSR faced in the Western front, I was wondering if this is realistic or should the game allow for more allied "stuff" to be shipped West if an early invasion DOES occur? Did the original game ever take into consideration that the Japanese player would want to invade the USSR early in the game? In a real player vs. real player test does the reinforcement schedule change if the Japanese attempt such an early intervention? Given the lack of reinforcements (if this lack is built in given that the game was "hard wired" for a late '45 Soviet intervention), it would appear that it might be an interesting move for a human Japanese player. Thoughts? Has anyone reading this actually tired an early 42 invasion in a stock or other scenario? What were the results?
I'll comment on the basis of memory recollection without doing first the extensive searching to refresh my memory which would be necessary to give a focussed answer.
1. There have been a very limited number of publicly reported Japanese attacks against the USSR. Of those the outcomes have diverged markedly. What is clear from the exemplars is that if Japan is to attack the USSR it
(a) must be done ASAP (preferably 7 or 8 December 1941 if possible)
(b) be part of a coherent opening strategy with the necessary assets in position on day 1 of the attack
Lowpe's current AAR is a very good demonstration of the disasters that await Japan upon a late and unprepared attack.
Even a well prepared and timely Japanese attack will show that the raw materials and industrial booty which can be gained are not an adequate substitute for the goodies available in the SRA. Soviet goodies, particularly the oil on Sakhalin Island, are a nice additional bonus but the SRA goodies must be captured.
The other point about the Soviets is that, unlike China, it is not feasible for Japan to capture all of the Soviet Union. The best that can be expected is to establish a frontline anchored on Lake Baikal. This means that substantial Japanese assets will need to remain to contain the Soviets. The Kwangtung Army is therefore not to the same extent the usual strategic reserve from which units can be removed to be sent off to fight in China or elsewhere.
2. The Soviet Air Force is weak in terms of
- very limited availability of modern aircraft models before late 1944
- small starting airframe pools and very limited replacement rates
- low quality pilots, a laggard pilot training regime and an inadequate pilot replacement rate
A prepared and timely Japanese attack can fully exploit these weaknesses. However as Lowpe's AAR clearly demonstrates, if not prepared properly, the Soviet air force deficiencies will be masked and by sheer weight of initial numbers can achieve local air superiority. The Soviets with local air superiority is a nightmare for Japan for not only is it a significant tactical consideration to be factored into the land combat, it poses a significant strategical threat against Home Island industry. It therefore can weaken Japanese air power in the SRA.
3. The Soviet navy is an under appreciated Allied asset. One of the few things regarding the USSR which the devs altered for AE from classical WITP was the initial disposition of the Soviet navy. In classical WITP, the Soviet navy was present ab initio on the map. This allowed the Japanese player to do a Pearl Harbor on Vladivostok with the result that the Soviet navy could be virtually eliminated as a major consideration from Day 1. To avoid this unwanted action (from the devs POV who considered it to be very gamey), in AE the Soviet navy is positioned as a Day 2 reinforcement. There is therefore no Soviet navy available to be "Pearl Harbored".
It is true that the Soviet navy is very weak in terms of initial and subsequent reinforcement of ships larger than DDs. It is however very well equipped with plentiful subs. Like the Dutch subs, Soviet subs have good working torpedoes but unlike the Dutch geographical situation, the positioning of Soviet naval bases allows for potentially very effective sub operations in Japanese home waters in early 1942.
The Soviet merchant navy is sufficiently sized and located that it can undertake amphibious operations from day 2 onwards. A lightning quick, with very short warning time, amphibious operation can be undertaken by the Soviets. A similar operation launched by the USN will usually provide a much greater warning period which allows time for relocating Japanese assets back to the Home Islands/sortieing the IJN to meet the invasion fleet on the high seas.
Unlike the Soviet air force which can be largely neutralised with a well prepared initial attack plan which gives Japan local air superiority, the Soviet naval threat can only be fully addressed by the permanent deployment of Japanese assets which are equally sorely needed in the SRA.
4. It is not just a value judgement as to what Stalin's reaction to a Japanese attack would be, equally as important is the scarcity of English language publications on Soviet OOBs and deployments. The AE devs have noted the lack of hard data, particularly compared with that available from the Anglo-Saxon powers, regarding Soviet OOBs and deployments. The result is that there is a certain amount of guess work regarding Soviet forces.
To work out what might be bundled together into an emergency Soviet reinforcement package in the event of an early Japanese attack (similar to what happens if Japan triggers the emergency packages for India, Australia, New Zealand or the USA) would be a very subjective and difficult exercise. When combined with the total discounting of the merits of an early Japanese attack on the USSR, the effort required to produce an emergency reinforcement package was simply not considered worthwhile.
Unlike the triggers for the other Allied emergency reinforcement packages, a Soviet package would have a unique element. The others are sole dependent on terrain triggers. The same cannot be the trigger for the USSR as any Soviet terrain or hostile air overflight activates the Soviets. Instead a time trigger would be more appropriate. Should the Soviet emergency reinforcement package be triggered only whilst the Non Aggression Pact was in force. If so that would leave Japan with a 3 month window of opportunity to attack, between the termination of that Pact in May 1945 and the hard coded automatic Soviet activation in August 1945, without triggering the package.
Within the Non Aggression Pact timeframe, not all time periods are equal for soliciting a Soviet response. Logistics is a very real consideration which needs to be taken into account. In the case of the other Allied emergency reinforcement packages, the logistical sleight of hand is employed that the emergency reinforcement packages become available on day 1 of the trigger being pulled. This sleight of hand is mitigated to a certain degree by having the majority of the package arriving off map and thus a certain limited logistical delay is built in as the off map assets are brought on map. This logistical delay cannot be built in to a Soviet package. The Soviet off map base is directly connected to the frontlines and assets can be easily and quickly moved forward from there to the frontline. No need to assemble shipping to bring the Soviet emergency LCUs and air units on to the map.
There is a more important logistical consideration which applies only to the Soviets. Due to it's structure, and the wartime operating conditions which applied, Soviet railway transportation was not particularly quick. Movement from the western parts of the USSR to the Urals would normally take some weeks to complete. From the Urals to Vladivostok is not only a further immense distance, it was largely on a limited capacity Trans Siberian railway. One of the great and usually much underappreciated achievements of the Soviet war effort was the transfer in only 3 months of the Soviet forces from Germany to attack Japan in August 1945. That was accomplished after 4 years of wartime logistical experience and with no other pressing demands on the transportation network. It would be optimistic to believe that a similar exercise could be undertaken within 3 months in 1942 when the Soviets are fully engaged in a fight to the death with Germany. Consider how long it took in 1941 to redeploy the Siberian units which fought in the battle of Moscow.
Putting aside the paucity of English language sources, depending on when Japan attacked and assuming Stalin was even predisposed to sending reinforcements off to fight Japan (and that is a very optimistic assumption to have prior to the conclusion of the battle of Kursk), just what could be spared? Absolutely nothing in 1941 as not only every available unit was rushed to confront the Germans but the Trans Siberian railway is occupied transporting from the east to the west. The railway could not do both directions simultaneously.
The second half of 1942 provides a window when theoretically some units not required immediately for tactical combat, could in theory have been moved east. But ... but ... those units tactically "available" were in fact not strategically available. The entire strategy behind the Soviet Operation Uranus, and it had been in the making for months, was to husband every single asset which could be spared from direct tactical employment along the entire frontline, for the great Stalingrad counter attack. Chuikov was provided with only the bare minimum to keep Paulus occupied whilst the great counter stroke was being prepared. Even then keeping Chuikov adequately resourced for his task was a major drain on Soviet resources. IIRC often Soviet infantry was ferried overnight across the Volga without rifles and were expected to pick up rifles and ammunition from fallen Soviet soldiers.
Personally I find it most implausible that faced with a Japanese attack, Stalin would shift any assets at all from the German struggle to reinforce the still substantial assets left in the East. The results achieved by Japan in Siberia in 1918-20 would have been foremost in Stalin's and STAVKAs mind. Then against very weak Russian opposition, in an area largely under the control of White Russians, the Japanese expedition was able to gain territory until logistics eventually limited what Japan could achieve. Japanese logistical deficiencies remained in the 1940s and even without further reinforcements, the in situ Soviet forces remained formidable and had as recently as 1939 demonstrated their prowess. To Stalin and STAVKA, all territory east of Irkutsk and Lake Baikal could be lost without any real detriment to the Soviet war effort against Germany. The only real consequence of losing that territory would be a minor impact on the receipt of Lend Lease but this was not a major problem. Most Lend Lease came up from Persia, both the North Sea and Pacific routes being supplementary. The importance of the Persian route can be seen in the willingness of the Soviets sending into Persia troops to secure the route.
5. You may feel like Japan is throwing tons of troops at you in this scenario. What you are overlooking is that the Soviets have tons of tanks and artillery. Even without the T-34, Soviet armour fields tanks which can wreck havoc on the Japanese "hordes". With local Soviet air superiority too, Soviet LCUs will be formidable and very difficult to stop. Without air superiority, the Soviet LCUs with all those tanks and artillery remain tough nuts to crack.
6. A significant disadvantage to Japan from having the Soviets active is that automatic overland supply can then flow from Soviet bases to Chinese bases. So not only will the pool of units which can be withdrawn from the Kwangtung Army to fight in China or elsewhere be less, the Chinese defences will be much stiffer as they get to eat piroshkis and potatoes, and drink vodka.
7. Overall, should there be an emergency reinforcement package in the event Japan attacks the USSR early. In theory, considering the other Allied emergency reinforcement packages, it could be argued that there should be one. Personally I'm not totally convinced that the existing emergency reinforcement packages are warranted. With the exception of the American one, the others are quite subjective. For example, the Indian package is largely founded on the premise that the invasion of Madagascar would not proceed and units earmarked for it would instead be diverted to India. But what if Japan crosses the Indian LOD when the historical Madagascar operation was in full swing? Where is the justification for then using the exact same occupied forces in the package. Not to forget the real logistical considerations which apply to redeploying any real unit to a different theatre.
The real reason why any Allied emergency reinforcement package exists in AE is to rein in Japanese players who avail themselves of game mechanics to undertake historically implausible actions. The packages allow for Japanese players to undertake extreme what ifs but present them with a commensurate cost which the game mechanics otherwise do not impose. I would speculate that the classical WITP designers and subsequently the AE devs were of the view that in the event of an implausible unhistorical attack on the USSR, the existing game mechanics already impose a commensurate cost without the need for creating a Soviet emergency reinforcement package. Combined with the difficulties they would need to address in creating such a package, I can easily see why the coding and database effort to do one was not considered to be warranted.
< Message edited by Alfred -- 4/24/2018 2:07:37 AM >