STAVKA

Post descriptions of your brilliant victories and unfortunate defeats here.

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STAVKA

Post by Nemo121 »

Second try at a place for some strategic discussion as it relates to AARs and gameplay. Everyone's welcome, with the exception of FatR- I'd ask him to respect this request. For those who disagree with that request: I'll point out that this is done on advice of the moderators and if you disagree with their advice to me and me acting on it you are free not to post in this thread. I'll post the first two pieces of discussion on Deep Battle here. I'd ask people to keep things to the operational/strategic layers, at a minimum in terms of discussion here although I'd encourage anyone interested to create a similar tread for tactical-technical/gameplay issues which, I'm sure, would be of interest to players also.

Of note: This topic was requested. If you have other requests post them here and hopefully discussion will form around those topics also. I think too many good discussions are being lost in AARs which slip off the top pages and I think there is value in trying to contain these types of discussions in one thread which can linger and be a resource for new and old players alike. The intention of this thread is to be both interesting and instructional. Please bear that in mind when posting.


Deep Battle.

Deep Battle cannot be considered outside of the geographical, historical and political context from which it originated. To do so would be to miss many of the foundations and assumptions on which the Soviet doctrine of Deep Battle was built and which helped guide its development.

Political:
The communist dialectic as first espoused by Marx and Engels had at its heart the idea of the levee en masse albeit in political terms as opposed to Napoleonic military terms. Throughout The Communist Manifesto is an attempt to identify the part with the whole through continuously stressing that the communist revolutionary group must strive to break down barriers which divide the proletariat ( town-dwellers vs rural, skilled machine workers vs unskilled workers etc ) in order to create the necessary mass for change.

Certainly you cannot just apply The Communist Manifesto to military thought without some adjustment but as the basis of much of the thought which went to shape the thinking of the developers of Deep Battle the concept of the collectivism of struggle and the artificiality of barriers to the development of thought and conflict it must be considered. Nowadays we would probably take a post-modernistic view and use hermeneutics to explain how the difference between tactical, operational and strategic is, to some extent, a social construct existing because those who adhere to it agree that it exists. Recognising that these delineations are social constructs invariably leads us to the realisation that social constructs are not immutable but, rather, subject to re-interpretation, replacement and re-contextualisation.

As such when they applied their dialectical methodologies to military strategy ( as opposed to socio-economic change ) it was reasonable to expect that the Soviet military thinkers of the time ( late 1920s ) would examine not only the new technical and tactical innovations of the First World War and the Civil War but would also examine the actual philosophical underpinnings of the social construct that was/is strategic thought in much the same way as Clausewitz examined the underpinnings of Napoleonic strategic thought and published a summation ( and to some extent re-interpretation based on dialectic methods ) which utterly changed the understanding of warfare from an age in which condotierri and geometric/positional warfare etc could be the norm to an age in which the levee en masse, conscription and destruction were the goals.

Geographical:
The Germans viewed operational and strategic art as a race against time; time to achieve a breakthrough, time to achieve a strategically decisive result, time to utilise interior lines of communication to emulate Friedrich II. The British viewed it through the prism of Empire, secure in the knowledge that the Empire had far larger reserves of manpower to be fed into the charnel house if only they could utilise their geography and professional core of troops to buy the time necessary to, a) import willing cannon fodder and b) utilise the professional core as cadres for the levee en masse. The French viewed it as an attempt to restore the inviolability of the borders of France whilst avoiding the utter ruination of future generations with the attendant social issues. The Soviet military thinkers most commonly viewed their operational and strategic art as an attempt to either utilise or overcome geography.

Obviously the above is an over-simplification but in the same way that time and its primacy can be seen throughout the German development of auftragstaktiken so can the sheer vastness over which modern battles were fought combined with the ease with which defensive reserves could be moved over that space relative to the difficulty faced by reserves committed by the attacker be seen as prime drivers of the primacy of geography as a driver of Soviet military thought.

Historical:
The historical dovetails somewhat with the geographical in that the Civil War and the First World War demonstrated the sheer geographical scale of battles. Also though the history of the First World War and the Civil War demonstrated the importance of operational tempo ( massed cavalry actions were still found to be operationally decisive during the Civil War ) and the ease with which it could be frustrated ( the ease with which cavalry were stopped during the First World War ) they also showed the importance of technical solutions to tactical problems. The Soviet thinkers of the time even came up with an agglutinated compound phrase to describe this which translates as “technical-tactical”. This is important because it shows how they viewed the technical characteristics as directly leading to tactical characteristics and how the technical and tactical were irrevocably linked. This drove much of their zeal to modernise the Red Army since when they viewed a tactical problem they did not limit themselves to thinking of a way to deal with it with current weapons systems only but allowed themselves to dream and consider new weapons systems whose technical characteristics would solve the tactical problem handed them. Combine this willingness to look to wholly new solutions with a growing industrial base and a dialectic which recognised that many boundaries were ethereal and actually just social constructs and it becomes easy to see why the Soviet military thinkers were able to create such a revolutionary doctrine as Deep Battle.

I think that’s enough stage-setting for now. Obviously this is a hugely simplified account since it is fitting on a forum and not a book. It does however, I believe, explain why they were able to come up with some of the viewpoints and solutions I’ll outline later.
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RE: STAVKA

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And now for the history of the development of the doctrine of deep battle.

When Trotsky was replaced as commander of the Red Army by Frunze a discussion about how the Red Army would conduct future operations gathered speed. Basically in the initial stages there were two views:

a) Svechin aruged that all future wars would be wars of attrition - on the basis that when nations fielded armies of several million men spread over several hundred or even thousand miles the only feasible strategy was one of gradually grinding them down since decisive victories could only be of local importance.

b) those like Triandafillov and Tukhachevsky who argued that it would be possible to achieve strategically decisive victories even in modern total mobilisation types of conflict.

As ever an accomodation was found to be possible in which the first phases of combat would be fluid and could be used to decisively shape the latter stages of the conflict, which would be attritional in nature. In the end Triandafillov, Tukhachevsky and Svechin came to agree that in between the tactical and strategic layers of conflict was a linking layer, called the operational layer. As time passed the smallest unit capable of operating independently on the Operational layer came to be the division.

Basically the tactical layer was everything which happened at the sub-division level ( within direct fire and indirect (divisional ) fire range of the enemy front line ), the operational was everything which happened between the tactical and the strategic layers and the strategic layer basically began at the level where armies were being moved around. Sound vague? Well, it is. You have had lots of different attempts to clarify those differences but sometimes a little ambiguity is good since at different times the distance to the strategic layer varies based on the technical-tactical characteristics of the weapons systems - e.g. the onset of airpower increased the operational depth and pushed the strategic depth farther from the front line. So, the boundary between tactical, operational and strategic is fluid and very much based on the tactical-technical characteristics of the weapons systems available. So, a little ambiguity is good. One other way of thinking of the strategic depth was that area which lay in between the enemy's factories and training camps ( back in Germany ) and the beginnings of the support echelons for his front-line troops ( tank repair yards, supply dumps etc ). You had the front line trenches ( tactical ), you had the artillery, support troops, supply dumps, repair yards and railheads ( operational ) and then between those and the German border you had the strategic. ( obviously they didn't express it in terms of German forces. That's just me making the example easy.)


So, what was the goal of the deep battle?
Basically it comprised the Soviets co-ordinating multiple operations ( they could be concurrent or they could be consecutive, or some mix of the two ) over space and time in order to create a cascading deterioration in the strategic situation which, eventually, dislocates the enemy's entire strategic defensive arrangement and forces the enemy to transition from a stubborn, relatively static defence into a retreat - which the Soviets hoped to transition into a pursuit and rout with the attendant increase in casualties.

In order to achieve this goal the Soviets parcelled out forces as follows:
1. The Division which undertook the tactical mission on the battlefield.
2. The Corps/Army ( eventually all Corps transitioned to Armies ) which undertook the operational mission in the operational direction.
3. The Front ( comprised of several Armies, let's say 4. 3 of these would be Rifle Armies while the 4th would be a Mechanised or Tank Army. The Front's mission would be to use its Armies to achieve operationally important breakthroughs and then unleash the Tank or Mechanised Corps in order to turn that successful operation into something strategically decisive. )

Again it is a little vague but, basically the Divisions fought like demons on the front lines. The Armies were responsible for using their subordinate divisions as pinning forces and identifying one as the breakthrough division. This division would break through its opposition and create a gap which would be widened by Army-level assets until such time as the Mechanised/Tank Corps could pass through the gap and race deep into the enemy rear in pursuit of operational objectives. At this point in time the Army would have achieved its operational level objective ( passing a Tank/Mechanised Corps into the enemy rear so it could capture the operational objective ).

Now the Front would get in on the act. It would, once notified of the operational breach in the enemy line begin getting its exploitation force ( later called an Operational Manoeuvre Group ) moving and pass them through the gap in the line in a drive on distant strategic objectives which would be so vital to the enemy that taking them would dislocate the entire current defensive line and force it to withdraw.


What were the problems with this concept in view of the technology of the 1920s?

1. You had to have artillery superiority in the tactical and operational zones in order to achieve the breakthrough and suppress enemy interdiction of the routes of advance. This is why the Soviet Union developed such a large artillery park AND also invested so much in long-range guns ( what we, in the west would view as Corps-level assets ). The need to ensure appropriate levels of artillery support for the various phases also explains much of the reason why the Soviets had such large artillery groupings at Army and Front level.

2. All this talk of sweeping advances is all well and good but one of the prime lessons of the First World War was that the defender could bring their reserves into action to close off a breach more rapidly than an attacker could bring their reserves into action ( across cratered ground ) to exploit it. Thus a means must be found to move the offensive reserves into action quickly ( APCs/IFVs/desantniki ) and also another means should be found to suppress the enemy reserves and prevent their movement ( it is for this reason that about half of any Soviet armoured formation ( including MBTs ) which was assigned a break-in or exploitation role would be assigned a primary recon mission - their job was not just to break through but to let higher HQs know where the enemy reserves were so those reserves could be fixed by artillery and airpower ). The means of suppressing the reserves were airpower and artillery.

3. RECON: If you were to pick the right portion of the front to attack and break through in you needed excellent recon. You also needed excellent recon into the enemy's operational depth so you could begin guessing where their reserves might be and could mount artillery, air or guerilla strikes on those reserves to fix them in place while you were passing the exploitation forces through.

4. Simultaneity.
Really, when you look at the deep battle concept you see that for it to succeed the entire depth of the battlefield had to be engaged and suppressed simultaneously. This necessitated the development of longer-range artillery and airplanes capable of operating into the enemy's operative depth ( the Il-2 is the best example of this and very much a philosophical precursor of the Mi-24/28 --- although the Mi-24 was better because it could also carry troops, which the Il-2 couldn't ) as well as the Red Army fetish for airborne and special operations troops. When WW2 began the Red Army had more airborne troops available than all other armies in the world combined. That didn't last long of course but it does go to show you the importance they attached to airborne troops - why? Simple, drop 1,000 airborne troops on a bridge and you can stop enemy reserves using it AND ensure it is still present when your own mechanised troops reach it in order to pass into the enemy's strategic depth.


So, what might a deep battle set up look like?
1. RECON, RECON, RECON. Find and ID every enemy formation possible to a depth of at least 50 km.

2. Assign guerillas and paratroops multiple LOC, communications and HQ targets throughout the enemy operational depth with a view to disrupting C3 and also holding chokepoint bridges/roads etc.

3. Army-level artillery strikes at enemy operational reserves. Airstrikes at enemy operational reserves.

4. Airstrikes and artillery strikes on enemy tactical reserves.

5. Massive firestrikes on selected portions of the enemy front, ideally blasting several holes through the front in front of major road nets ( running at 90 degrees to the front, the Soviets aren't interested in anything paralleling the front quite yet ).

6. Infantry units advance and move through the gaps in the enemy line, turning left and right as they pass through the enemy line in order to secure and widen the shoulders ( to ensure they are wide enough to allow firstly divisional and then later Army and Front level assets to pass through ) whilse still driving deeper into the enemy's tactical depth. Ideally they break through the enemy's tactical depth using just divisional-level assets. If necessary though Army-level independent sub-units could be used to complete the divisional breakthrough into the operational depth ( better to use independent sub-units than to have the Army Mechanised Corps bogged down in the tactical zone ).

7. Once the Rifle Division had complieted the tactical mission ( breaking into the operational depth ) the Army level assets would pass through and conduct the operational mission in the operational direction ( towards the operational objective ). As those units advanced they would seek to bypass opposition, using their preponderance of recon assets to ID and call airstrikes and firestrikes on those positions. Throughout the whole of parts 6 and 7 airstrikes and firestrikes on enemy reserves in the tactical and operational depth would have continued in order to fix enemy forces in place. IN addition neighbouring fronts would be expected to pin the enemy forces and reserves facing them through a combination of pinning attacks, maskirovka and deep strikes by airpower and artillery.

8. Once the Operational breach had been verified the Strategic Direction would have committed its independent sub-units to ensure the survival of the breach and its Strategic Reserve/Operational Manoeuvre Group in order to drive into the enemy's strategic depth. There was a recognition that this would draw in the enemy's strategic reserve and that defeating this strategic reserve would probably necessitate at least one huge meeting engagement between the OMG and the enemy's mobile strategic reserve.

Prokhorovka was an example of the Soviets committing a portion of their strategic reserve to the operational level in order to avoid the Germans in the southern axis of Kursk breaking through into the Soviet operational depth. Why was this? Simple, they knew nothing they had ( short of a strategic level Tank Army ) at the operational level would stop the Germans so they committed 5th GTA in order to stop the Germans. While its goal and level were different this sort of meeting engagement was what the Soviets recognised would happen when strategic reserves met. Their view, of course, was that even if their opponent could stop one such breach in this way they'd just unleash another planned offensive and so on and so forth until, eventually, the enemy strategic reserve would be so worn out and/or dislocated that they'd get a strategically decisive breakthrough.

This was, largely, their plan at Bagration - which, together with the Manchurian offensive - comprises the acme of deep battle in WW2.


Defence in Depth is basically setting up in order to avoid being defeated by the offensive portion of the deep battle doctrine and involves doing everything you can to avoid the initial breakthrough, avoid having your reserves ID'ed and pinned and to stop enemy exploitation forces without being destroyed yourself. Manstein's "back hand" at Kharkov in '42 is an excellent example of this.

Obviously the above is only a very basic overview of a very complex topic but this isn't a book or a presentation at a War College so please judge it in that light.

Next: The importance of echeloning and the myth of the absence of reserves in deep battle.
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RE: STAVKA

Post by modrow »

Nemo,

thanks for the 2nd attempt. I appreciate your reposting.

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RE: STAVKA

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RE: STAVKA

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Weapons & C3I

Post by Crackaces »

If I might comment. I might suggest that military doctrine is dictated not only by the principles you suggest, but by the fundamentals of Weapons lethality and ranges related to C3I. Over time technology has either produced weapons & ranges that prohibit maneuver and/or have produced technology that improves C3I & maneuverability to counter those weapons. I would cite France '40 as the example whereas Rommel simply out maneuvered more lethal and ranged weapons due to much better C3I and maneuverable platforms. I might cite the American Civil War as the quintessential example of the opposite.

As a student of the Fulda Gap/20th Guards Scenario the Soviet Army employs deep battle as a constant force disrupting NATO C3I and rendering the ability to execute "REFORGER" meaningless. [For the US the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions personnel are flown in and retrieve in place equipment UK units as well]. These scenarios often started with chemical warfare attacks because in a deep battle the maximum amount of disruption early favors the attacker. Also, chemical warfare favors the many as there are no slight wounds [Monty Python Black night skit <smile> ] -- any compromise of protection results in a causality. This in my opinion the Soviet concentration on deep battle , at least in that scenario, was in fact all a moot point as often commanders sought [in simulation of course] approval to use nuclear weapons in response to chemical attacks. An American Civil war situation in my mind where all engaged parties are in the death zone with very little maneuver. IN short, deep battle as I understand the concept requires C3I/Maneuverability to counter weapon range and lethality.

The deep battle mantra also did not serve the Soviet's well in Afghanistan. The rapid deployment and shock against an already scattered force was wasted effort. It was more akin to taking a hatchet to water. Every stroke was filled in. Eventually the Soviet Mothers of young boys trying to execute this plan had their say.

There were one doctrine of deep battle that were interesting to me as I understood this concept. I think an example would be the production of the Backfire Bomber. This platform was primarily designed to deliver weapons deep into a battle space very much unlike USAF doctrine at the time, which was focused on delivering weapons deep into the Soviet Strateigc space. The Valkyrie was such an example IMHO.
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RE: STAVKA

Post by modrow »

Nemo,

2nd thanks in a row. Your writings just improved my understanding of your post #7 in jrcar's Clubbing baby seals AAR notably, which sort of illustrates that this is not just interesting from a theoretical point of view.

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RE: STAVKA

Post by Nemo121 »

Crackaces,

And, as I understand it, one of the issues the Soviets had with that sort of training - NATO forces requesting release of battlefield nukes - was that they:
a) didn't believe that such release would be granted as smoothly during a real war ( when the Germans can, understandably, have been expected to quibble ) and thus the training didn't reflect probably reality in combat
b) believed that the actual friction generated by such a request during real combat would have actually aided their attempts to sow disunion amongst NATO - which would have been one of their primary aims.

I don't have a huge amount of time for Tom "Weapons systems work as though they weren't built by the lowest bidder" Clancy but one thing I think he did well in his WW3 novel was show how a maskirovka may have preceded any conventional ( or quasi-conventional ) ground war in Europe. They wanted 72 hours of hesitation. With that they hoped to be on the French and Dutch borders, negating REFORGER and presenting mainland Europe with a "Red or Dead" choice and America the choice of escalating or going for a second bite of the cherry with Britain as its offshore base ( since it is reasonable to assume that the mainland would have either fallen or been subverted into proxy status in the decade following a ground war ). There's some supposition there obviously but the bottom line is that, from what I understand, the Soviets believed the request for battlefield nuclear release would have been so delayed as to allow them to achieve their dislocation of the line and turn the war into a pursuit where nukes would be of limited utility. If they were wrong then, from their point of view,
a) that's one reason why they echeloned deeply - lose one echelon to nukes and the next knows to take up the previous echelon's mission.
b) NATO forces in defensive positions with well-identified nexuses of communication, movement and reserve forces were more vulnerable than their mobile forces moving in echelon but advancing by multiple routes before concentrating near the front.

Obviously some of that is supposition but, again, based on Soviet writing, I believe, reasonable.


In terms of C3I and manoeuvre. The Soviets would have lumped that under technical-tactical characteristics .... characteristics which actually drove and were driven by the doctrine of Deep Battle. You have to bear in mind that the Soviets used very different terminology for these things: e.g an artillery strike is a "firestrike", the development of the assault rifle vs semi-automatic rifles, the IFV vs APC, M1 vs M60, TOW vs Dragon, the JSTAR vs visual overflight/satellites, SOSUS vs P3s, the B-2 vs B-1s etc would all have been, in their parlance, technical-tactical developments in which the technical characteristics of the new weapons systems extended either the tactical ( M1s with 120mm guns can kill T-72s at far greater range than M60s with 105mm guns can, TOW-IIs with tandem warheads promised greater effectiveness vs ERA, and was countered by the Soviet technical-tactical measures of Drozd and Arena ( and others ) ), operational ( JSTAR, various versions of RIVET - which moved from being operational assets into being strategic assets as the range of their COMINT/ELINT capabilities increased into the 300+ range ) or strategic ( SOSUS, B-2 etc ) ranges of the various weapons systems.

One reason they had such a love of the Mi-24 was that in their mind this was an IFV capable of ignoring terrain, moving more rapidly than tanks or AFVs, blasting holes in the enemy front lines themselves ( don't forget, doctrine called for Mi-24s to be deployed in Battalion and Regimental strength along a single axis in support of ground thrusts. None of this paired up hunter killer stuff that the AH-1s and AH-64s were doing at the time ), deploying spetsnaz troops into the operative depth of the enemy in order to attack HQs and nuclear-capable units and launching paralysing strikes against enemy tactical, operational and strategic reserves ( once they entered the operational zone ) while they were strung out in column of march along predictable routes of advance. Basically those Hinds were mana from heaven to Deep Battle in the 1980s - no wonder they were pissed when the Mujahadeen showed that dinky little FIM-92s could take it down.


So, different terminology but they would definitely have agreed with you that the technical characteristics of various weapons systems have, over time, increased the ranges which can be considered tactical, operational and strategic such that the strategic depth in WW1 is now firmly in the lower end of the operational depth of modern combat formations.
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RE: STAVKA

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To re-posit a question from the earlier thread, how can Deep Battle theory be applied to the PTO, if at all? I understand there are significant differences in geography from Eastern Europe, but I can imagine certain principles carry over regardless of geography, cultural and other factors.
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RE: STAVKA

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I'll get to that. Basic answer though. Deep Battle is about recon, knowing the enemy's capabilities and intentions and then fixing their assets in place ( or misdirecting them ) at the front line, in their operational depth and strategically until such time as your forces can break through to such that the enemy's previous front line is no longer strategically maintainable.


Let's take India as an example:
You are advancing into India from Burma as the IJA. The Indian Army is deploying into forest hexes to gain the advantage of defensive terrain. You have spread your forces and so have they in order to cover the whole front and prevent you slipping through. Your forces and theirs intermingle in the same hexes. Goal 1: The Tactical Zone along the Burma Front ( using Soviet designations and force correlations here ) is pinned in place. If they retreat from the forest hexes hey will allow you to break out into the open ground beyond and concentrate your forces on a small portion of theirs. In addition by inviting them into jungle terrain you reduce their ability to react to any sudden advances you have - takes a long time for infantry and tanks to march out of a jungle hex.

Your air force conducts strikes into the Calcutta region, attriting the enemy air force in what appears to be a battle in support of the Burma Front but is, actually, a subsidiary operation by Burma Front air assets to attrit the RAF to such a point that it cannot interfere with operationally significant amphibious landings when they appear. In the meantime KB prevents Allied naval forces from moving around Ceylon and, with the support of Netties operating out of Port Blair conducts strikes to deny port and airfield facilities in Ceylon to Allied naval and aerial forces.


Phase 2: Amphibious forces, LRCAPed by the Burma Front's airforce and the Operational Manoeuvre Groups Aerial support move in to the Calcutta area landing armoured forces and some infantry south of Calcutta. Some of the infantry invest Calcutta preventing the operational reserves there from intervening as the armoured force begin to race north towards Delhi. Additional infantry units march eastward, threatening to pocket the Indian Army forces in the jungle holding off the Burma Front.


Phase 3: As the landings take place around Calcutta a nice little force-efficient maskirovka would be for an "invasion fleet" ( multiple AKs with some xAPs loaded with minimal troops - just in case a sub got a shot in and the enemy noted there were no troops in the xAPs ) mates up with KB and begins to move north along the coast of India towards Karachi. No Allied player could ignore such a move and the intent will be to pin his strategic reserves in place along the coast near Madras and Karachi as the Allied player would expect an amphibious landing in his rear if he were to move his strategic reserve south from Madras/Karachi into the Calcutta region.


Phase 4: With the operational reserves pocketed by infantry around Calcutta, the Operational Manoeuvre Group racing north towards Delhi, sending small units westward threatening to link up with an amphibious invasion, the Indian Army forces on the Burmese border moving backwards towards Calcutta but being pocketed between a couple of divisions blocking their escape from behind AND the Burma Front transitioning into the pursuit and the Allied strategic reserve being fixed in place by a maskirovka it can be seen that Deep Battle tenets can be applied to the Pacific War.

Phase 5: As you move into the second Operation ( the reduction of the coastal cities ) KB would support landings at Socotra and Diego Garcia to support Netty and Zero bases designed to interdict the new Allied Strategic Depth ( that distance between Madras/Ceylon/Karachi and Africa/Arabia ) while IJA forces settled in to siege Madras/Karachi.

Obviously you have to take it that on some occasions the landward Front will be the pinning force and not the breakthrough/exploitation force but with those minor modifications the concept of pinning enemy operational and strategic reserves, unleashing an Operational Manoeuvre Group into the enemy strategic depth dislocating their defensive line strategically ( with an armour-heavy Operational Manoeuvre Group heading for Delhi with tendrils snaking out towards the west coast of India I'm sure everyone can agree that the Indian Army forces facing the Burma Front would try to retreat and the forces in Calcutta would either retreat or be pocketed in a festung by manoeuvre units - In either case the tactical front line and the operational reserves would be removed from the equation in terms of resisting exploitation into the strategic depth. In essence, they'd be dislocated, just as is Deep Battle's aim. ) and gaining a great strategic victory - the clearing of the interior of India and a breakthrough along the deadlocked Burma Front without the huge casualties which conventional massed, frontal assaults would cause.

That's a simple example obviously ( and I wouldn't point to it as a fully worked out operation so there are flaws and aspects I've left out obviously ) but it shows the goals of pinning operational and strategic reserves, dislocation of the tactical front at a minimal cost in terms of fighting ( theoretically the Burma Front wouldn't have to dislodge them since they'd flee in order to avoid getting cut off from behind by the amphibious landings --- only to find themselves trapped in open ground by superior forces a la Bagration) and resetting for the next phase ( with redefined tactical, operational and strategic depths. One key is to note that during the first Operation the Soviets would be planning for the second phase ( that phase in which the Allies had pulled back into the coastal cities and were trying to move their strategic reserves from Arabia/Africa into India ) and would already have forces allocated to taking the crucial nexus points for those deep strategic reserves. Ideally these (Socotra and Diego Garcia ) would be taken by airborne forces but Japan doesn't have that capability, hence the use of amphibious forces. Loading those amphibious forces onto the decoy xAK/xAP fleet is just a nice economy of force measure.
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RE: STAVKA

Post by Cribtop »

Very helpful indeed.

And now, the kicker to me. I find it easy to engage in such thinking from the Allied point of view, but it is difficult from the Japanese. Not because they are Japanese per se, but rather because finding an obtainable decisive dislocation of Allied forces is quite difficult. One can invade, conquer and invade again without materially altering the outcome in many events (assuming auto victory and Allied morale failure a/k/a Sudden Carrier Loss Syndrome are off the table). I recognize that these principles can be applied to the strategic defense and to counterattacks against various targets in the Allied strategic depth, but again, what can Japan hit that actually knocks the Allies out or, more likely, prevents the Allies from achieving auto victory prior to game end?
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RE: STAVKA

Post by Nemo121 »

Well, think of it this way.

A nation may have multiple Strategic Directions. Each Strategic Direction has several Fronts ( each front comprising several armies, each army comprising 4 to 5 divisions ). So, a Front might comprise 4 armies ( 3 on the front lines and 1 in reserve as the Operational Manoeuvre Group ) comprising 20 divisions. A Strategic Direction might comprise 4 Fronts ( 3 on the front lines, 1 in reserve ) for a total of about 80 divisions. The Soviet Union can be envisioned as having 1 Strategic Direction aimed at the Pacific, 1 aimed at China, 1 aimed into the Middle East/Turkey, one into southern Europe, one into central/northern Europe and one into Norway/the Atlantic ( mostly comprising the Northern Fleet with few troops ).

For the Soviet Union to win a war it had to achieve victory in the Central European Strategic Direction and, ideally, a draw or better in the northern and southern European Strategic Directions. In addition the Chinese SD had to keep China out of the war, the Pacific one had to keep the US Pacific fleet engaged so that it didn't come to the support of the Atlantic fleet and swamp the Soviet Northern Fleet etc.


For Japan, since it is facing such outsize opponents no single Operation or even strategic victory will gain it ultimate victory. However a combination of victories in 2 or more Strategic Directions could prove decisive.

I envision Japan as follows:
1. Indian SD
2. DEI SD ( later aims towards Oz )
3. Chinese SD
4. Pacific SD
5. Soviet SD

In most games most players only ever win a partial strategic victory in the DEI SD.

If Japan could win complete strategic victory in two of these Strategic Directions I think they would win the war. Complete victory means the occupation of the enemy population centres and means of production. Only the Soviet Union, China and Australia/India ( albeit to a lesser extent ) offer the possibility of complete Strategic Victory ( defined as removing their ability to prosecute a war by means of driving them off the map/utterly eradicating their forces and occupying their on-map means of production/resupply ). If the Japanese could remove China, India and Oz from the war then I think they'd have a good chance of winning a victory in military terms ( making their perimeter so strong that it wouldn't be broken except at unbearable cost and, if so, at far too slow a rate ). If they could remove China and India or China and Oz from the war then I think they could hold out for so long as to make the cost unbearable- and win through VP or morale failure.

So, you don't necessarily win a war through victory along a single Strategic Direction. You may have to knit a couple of big wins and a few draws together to get a winning position. Of course that's highly unlikely in-game which is as it should be.

Morale Failure is a valid thing to aim for though and you can do that even in a losing position. SCLS _ Sudden Carrier Loss Syndrome - for example has won many a game [:D]
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RE: STAVKA

Post by desicat »


This is basically a re-post from Hartwig's AAR. To apply Deep Battle concepts in AE I think an important concept and hurdle to overcome is the Operational Pause. Nemo's example of Japanese operations in Burma/India is very good operationally (IMHO) but in summarizing Cribtop's 2nd reply - to what Strategic purpose or end? AE seems to be designed to make a the type of victory Nemo contemplates in 4 of the 5 SD directions mentioned by Nemo prohibitively difficult.

I'm not sure even a successful Deep Battle operation by Japan into India is useful in the long run unless it is coupled to a Strategic plan (which Nemo usually has).

"I have given your question about applying Deep Battle concepts to AE some thought (...a dangerous pastime I know...) and would like to toss out the following.

The US Navy and USMC make a point in their OMFTS concept to point out that they are trying to establish a doctrine that prevents an "operational pause".

Soviet Deep Battle was first envisioned as an attempt to restore maneuver to the stagnant battlefields of WWI. Breakthroughs occurred but couldn't be exploited, the operational pause always proved to be fatal to the initiative.

So is it possible to avoid operational pauses in AE? In my opinion a lack of amphibious combat shipping seems to prevent Japan from conducting overlapping offensives except possibly in the first few months of the war. I don't think I have even seen any Japanese player try to leapfrog into the Indian Ocean or deep into the DEI without extensive operational pauses. They have many things to do and only so many forces available, so it may be that a sequential deep battle isn't an optimal use of time or force.

So that leaves the Allies. They have the shipping and they have the available shipborne air power - but do they have the requisite targets? The choke points around Sumatra and Singapore with the accompanying land based airbases make that hostile territory for sequential operations. Ditto for an assault from Australia in the DEI. That leaves the Northern route, the Solomon Islands, and the Central Pacific.

Two examples of possible Deep Battle 'like' engagements can be attributed to Canoe Rebel. In his game against John the 3rd he struck Iwo Jima and then had a follow on strike into a dot hex off coastal Japan. Taking Iwo allowed the dot hex strike, and possession of the dot hex and subsequent build up made the retaking of Iwo impossible.

The second example again comes via Canoe Rebel, this time against Chez. CR took Paramashimo (sp) north of Japan and IMHO if he had planned for it he would have had an opportunity to follow up with a second invasion. I am not criticizing his play for at the time it was a bold move, but I did suggest he reinforce his success with follow on operations. CR decided against this for numerous valid reasons including his defense of Sumatra and the triggered Japanese reinforcements. A deep battle approach here would have had CR capitalize on his success at Para and drive in on an unprepared Japanese defense. Such an attack would have required a response using the KB - an outcome CR was hoping for anyhow. Would the operation succeed? Tactically probably not, the second island assault could possibly fail or be retaken. Operationally? Possibly if the second operation succeeds, or prevents an assault on Para or takes out a significant Japanese combat element. Strategically? Probably. If the Allies hold Para Japan is doomed in the long run. If Para is taken but it requires KB intervention, taking the Japanese most powerful force away from the decisive point of Allied commitment (Sumatra in CR's case) then the Operation would be labeled a success.

Was that what you were looking for Hartwig? Thoughts?"
ADB123
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RE: STAVKA

Post by ADB123 »

Nemo - Thanks for the great summaries!

I have a question - why weren't the Soviets able to apply the Deep Battle approach to the German attack in 1941? I've always read explanations of the initial German successes say things like "Stalin purged the Military Leadership prior to the outbreak of War", but was that really the reason?

Thanks in advance for your time -

ADB
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bigred
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RE: STAVKA

Post by bigred »

I was thinking of the soviet design process for the t34 when i read this quote:
This drove much of their zeal to modernise the Red Army since when they viewed a tactical problem they did not limit themselves to thinking of a way to deal with it with current weapons systems only but allowed themselves to dream and consider new weapons systems whose technical characteristics would solve the tactical problem handed them. Combine this willingness to look to wholly new solutions with a growing industrial base and a dialectic which recognised that many boundaries were ethereal and actually just social constructs and it becomes easy to see why the Soviet military thinkers were able to create such a revolutionary doctrine as Deep Battle.

---bigred---

IJ Production mistakes--
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RE: STAVKA

Post by herwin »

I might even still have a copy of this in my Virginia condo.
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RE: STAVKA

Post by herwin »

ORIGINAL: ADB123

Nemo - Thanks for the great summaries!

I have a question - why weren't the Soviets able to apply the Deep Battle approach to the German attack in 1941? I've always read explanations of the initial German successes say things like "Stalin purged the Military Leadership prior to the outbreak of War", but was that really the reason?

Thanks in advance for your time -

ADB

Most Red Army officers in 1941 were well out of their depth.
Harry Erwin
"For a number to make sense in the game, someone has to calibrate it and program code. There are too many significant numbers that behave non-linearly to expect that. It's just a game. Enjoy it." herwin@btinternet.com
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Crackaces
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Operation Market Garden

Post by Crackaces »

If I could expose my ignorance, I would say that operation Market Garden would be the perfect contrast of a Western military thought process and Deep Battle. Here everything is about getting objectives. In fact intellgence that indicates forces that might get in the way is ignored so the plan of getting objectives is not impinged upon.

I would contend for example that the Soviets would welcome the news of a Panzer division and modifify the plan to engage it rather than ignore the intellgence.

We all know what happend .. but let me describe my thoughts on Deep Battle and how a Soviet attack might have unfolded.

Instead of draining Patton of supplies he would be allocated just enough to make what we know of in WitP as a "shock attack." A bloody total diversion a ala Romaina when in fact Latvia was the target. As the Germans were convinced that the oil fields were the target, the Russians burst through in the north. I might content if the Russians executed Market Garden they would do something similiar -- a "real" attack investing lives and reosurces unimaginable to the Western way of thinking. In fact, the Germans would think they got a great victory .. but the real attack is yet to come.

The Allies landed paratroops as a force to secure bridges -- the objectives. The Soviets would bring bridges with them since the objective is to detroy the ability to resist -- not to get across some damn river. If it takes 5 - 10 days more it does not matter because the plan starts with disruption and not getting somewhere. In fact, I would content the Soviets would throw away a couple of Guards Armies in a shock attack at Eindhoven just as a "eye opener" and then land paratroops not at Arnhem, and certainly not in some remote corner off the world to march somewhere, but in the middle of the LOC for the Battle Space. This troops are not to secure some tatical or operational objective, but to strategically disrupt the ability of the Germans to respond.

The differences are stark just in that paragraph.

So instead of a "Bridge too Far" ... "Comrade we have failed . only 4 SS and 2 Wehrmacht Divisions have been destroyed ....." [8D]
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RE: Operation Market Garden

Post by Nemo121 »

Cribtop, Desicat,

I'm not sure I really understand where the issue you are concerned about seems to lie. Deep Battle, or any other operational or strategic art, doesn't guarantee victory irrespective of the overall force correlation. Any doctrine is about doing things better than you previously did those things but there's no doctrine I know of which can conjure victory irrespective of the overall strategic situation.


Operational pauses and Deep Battle: I don't think that the conduct of operations in the DEI/India/Oz by most players can be used as any sort of guide as to what is and isn't possible using the concepts of Deep Battle. The reasons are manifold but I'll list the main culprits here:
1. I read most of the AARs being posted here and I would suggest that only very rarely do any of them truly deal with the strategic layer rather than just purely operational matters. If you aren't dealing with the strategic layer then you are going to put together disjointed operations which have nothing to do with any Deep Battle doctrine.
2. Timidity: Seeking simultaneity throughout the tactical, operational and strategic depths of the enemy in order to break mobile forces into their strategic depth in order to dislocate their entire defensive line is something most players would find either too risky or dismiss out of hand as being impossible OR ( and this might be the majority ) just wouldn't be the sort of thing they had ever considered as being possible and so it wouldn't even enter into their mind as being a possibility.

Bottom line though, you can't use the majority of players here as part of an argument as to whether operational pauses are necessary since the majority won't envision or pre-plan concomittant or consecutive operations phased such that they serve a larger strategic goal and minimise operational pauses. Also I'd point out that Deep Battle never said there shouldn't be such a thing as pauses following operations. They recognised that you'd need to bring in supplies, reinforcements etc etc following an operation which smashed 100 to 200km through the enemy lines. So I really don't see how the presence or absence of a pause after an operation does or doesn't move the argument about Deep Battle forward one way or the other. Perhaps I'm missing something in what you're saying?


ADB,
Good question. The reason the Great Purge of 37/38 is highlighted as being one of the main reasons why the Soviet Army performed so poorly is because it so devastated the leadership of the Red Army. Here's some facts and figures for you in order to highlight just how severe it was ( I think in the West many don't realise just what a bloodbath it was ). 3 of 5 Marshalls were executed ( these would have been commanding the Strategic Directions and heading up the Army as a whole and the General Staff ), 13 of 15 Army Commanders ( these were the Front commanders ), 50 of 57 Army Corps commanders and 154 out of 186 Division commanders. There's a bit of quibbling about whether some of these were just expelled and sent to count trees in Siberia or whether they were all executed. A significant majority of those of Colonel rank and above were executed while those below the rank of Colonel were mostly just sent to Siberia or back to some collective farm to be a good little kulak.

Those who survived were, invariably, either the most politically connected ( political generals are rarely good combat commanders ), the most stolid and stupid ( since Stalin could rely on unimaginative, stupid generals not having the imagination or organisation to actually threaten his position ) and those who were not "contaminated" by Western ideas ( those Generals who had read a lot of English and German military theory or visited Europe or the US to develop their military education/understanding were singled out as threats and almost all executed... While the Army suffered a lot of executions the navy fared even worse with about 90% of its senior ranks being executed - many feel this was because the navy was most likely to have been "contaminated" by meeting foreigners ).

So, imagine a military in which the smart guys who could read foreign languages, had imagination, had spoken with foreign officers interested in doctrine AND who had developed your doctrine and taught it at your War Colleges or who were just unfortunate enough to be popular with their soldiers were all taken out and shot. Now imagine promoting up into those newly vacant positions NOT the guys who were best suited to those positions but the guys who you thought were most scared, most stupid and least likely to have an original idea.

Now imagine that army 2 years later going to war against the Germans of 1941. About 80% of your divisions are led by people who were probably pretty poor Bn commanders 2 years ago. THESE divisions are your operational manoeuvre elements. Also remember that IF these guiys showed initiative over the past 2 years they would probably also have been taken out and shot.

The Armies or Corps to which these divisions are attached have about a 90% chance of being commanded by a guy who was probably running a regiment (maybe a division ) 2 years ago and who, again, had been promoted not because he was good but because he was dumb, quiet and knew never to do anything which he hadn't been told to do.... preferably in writing and in triplicate.

And so on and so forth. Deep Battle was a pretty complex doctrine. Even if we forget about all of the above just remember this. Most of the guys who taught that doctrine at Frunze and elsewhere had also been taken out and shot in 1937/38, the guys who developed that doctrine had ALL been taken out and shot and the guys who followed that doctrine in the divisions, armies etc were the imaginative guys who were also taken out and shot. End result if you were a dumb ( but not so dumb you'd do something stupid ) Red Army General you knew three things:
a) odds were you'd never been to a Staff or War College and learnt any of the Deep Battle or staff stuff
b) you were delighted you'd never been to Staff or War College cause everyone who'd been was dead
c) expressing ANY interest in this Deep Battle stuff would mean you'd be next to be lined up against a wall.

End result: Doctrinally and from a leadership point of view the Red Army was in a terrible position. I think a far worse position than most realise. Additionally there were significant issues with the modernisation programme ( which meant the Red Atmy went to war without modern communications gear and with the wrong mix of vehicles and without sufficient spares ) which weren't recognised by the higher leadership ( since it tended to shoot the Generals who pointed out those problems while rewarding the guys who shut up and kept quiet ).

Red Army of 1941:
Leadership: Abysmal with only a few exceptions - those guys who survived the purges and the initial defeats were the guys who rose to positions of authority and by 1943 were leading the Tank and Mechanised Corps/Armies which eventually did such damage to the Germans.

Doctrine: If you knew the doctrine you had about 80%+ odds of being executed. If you talked about it this went up to about 100%. So, doctrinally poor.

Equipment: Massive shortfalls which weren't rectified cause reporting them often got you shot.


One other point about how bad the situation was re: doctrine and staff training. In 1942 and 1943 when the Soviets wanted to go on the offensive they actually didn't have enough surviving staff trained officers to give each Front ( a collection of Armies which could comprise 20 to 25 divisions ) enough staff officers to do a competent job so, instead, they stripped the staff-trained officers who were competent from the line formations and created a staff officer reserve at STAVKA level which they sent to whichever Front was going to conduct a major offensive in order to help plan that offensive. In 1942 they started off with only enough staff officers to help a Front at a time, by 1943 they had enough trained that they could parcel them out to several fronts at a time and by 1944 they were pretty much up to speed and could begin assigning them permanently to front-line formations again.

That's the equivalent of the US in 1943 only having enough trained staff officers to conduct one amphibious invasion or 1 land battle at a time and having to fly this small group of staff officers from the Pacific to Europe or Africa if they wanted to launch an attack in that theatre. When you put it in those terms you can see how bad things were.

Obviously Armies and Fronts DID have staff officers but what I'm talking about here is STAVKA gathering the best together when they realised a lot of their early summer 42 offensives failed due to lack staff training and experience.
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Nemo121
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RE: Operation Market Garden

Post by Nemo121 »

bigred,

Aye, that's a good example.


herwin,
DAMN, you are lucky. I've never managed to come across a copy. [:(] I have a nice collection of early armoured warfare booklets including one hilarious one by a British tank officer published in 1942 talking about how the German tanks were inferior and this newfangled "Cruiser Tank" design would sweep all before it but Simpkin's Tukhachevsky... No, never even read it [:(]


Crackaces,
Hmm, I think that's very much the Western view of Soviet strategy but I don't think that's the Soviet view. In a strange way the Soviets were actually quite sensitive to casualties in their doctrine. What I mean by this is that in most Western Armies casualties were a numeric thing. If you lost 10,000 men then that was terrible and losing 1,000 wasn't as bad. Why? Lots of reasons, democracy, free media and, for the British, the constraint on their ability to maintain formations in the field was not the depth of their manpower but the RATE at which it could provide trained infantry replacements.

To the Soviets in many cases losing 1,000 was worse than losing 10,000. Why is this? Well, it all had to do with what was achieved for the casualties accepted ( and I use accepted rather than incurred, intentionally ). To the Soviets losing 1,000 men and not achieving an objective was worse than losing 10,000 but achieving the objective - since it was the job of higher HQs to ensure that the objective attained was worth the loss of manpower.

If I might use myself as an example: In my AARs there is frequent reference to my willingness to throw troops, planes and ships away with relative abandon. I always view this as an interesting East/West divide since I, personally, feel I'm being extremely economical and careful with my forces. The difference is that I'm less concerned with casualty rate than I am with total casualties over the course of the war and I believe, as Soviet doctrine would argue, that losing men at a more rapid rate because of high operational tempo can result in breakthroughs which end the war quickly and, in the long run, serve to reduce overall casualties.

E.g. I'd be quite upset if I lost 2 DDs doing some stupid, worthless mission which achieved nothing but would be delighted to lose 4 BBs, 8 CAs, 10 CLs and 20 DDs in capturing an objective I felt was worth 4 BBs, 8CAs, 10CLs and 20 DDs.

That's why I usually talk of the Soviets "accepting" casualties instead of incurring them. If the recon is right, the staff work is right, the force correlation is correctly determined and the enemy reserves ( operational and strategic ) are fixed in place then you can, as commander, know with a high degree of precision just what losses you'll suffer in frontal attacks necessary to create the breach which your exploitation forces can move through into the enemy's strategic depth. For a Soviet commander then they make the decision to "accept" those necessary loses in order to dislocate the entire front and, overall, win the war more cheaply than if they had to grind forward along the entire front slowly.


Also I'd make the point that in Deep Battle the objective was pretty much always geographical. Destroying x armoured divisions might be welcome but a Soviet commander who turned down an opportunity to blow the entire German front open by running for Arnhem and, instead, chose to carry out some lateral attack against 9th or 10th SS forces south of the river would have been taken out and shot - and rightfully so. If 9th or 10th SS units had been south of the river the Soviet commander would have detailed some of his independent sub-units to screen the flank while his main force pounded up the road towards Arnhem and his reserve sat somewhat centrally ready to either punch through Arnhem ( if the main force proved incapable of doing so ) or to stop the 9th or 10th SS from cutting the road ( the former would have been much preferred for obvious reasons ).

The next echelon ( another armoured division ) would then, ideally, have passed through the gap in the enemy lines at Arnhem and driven hell for leather for the next river line and set of bridges hoping that by breaking through at Arnhem whilst the 1st echelon was fully engaged with enemy operational reserves ( 9th and 10th SS ) they'd get an opportunity to break into the enemy's Strategic Depth and dislocate the entire enemy defensive line.

Arnhem was nice but since the enemy's operational reserves were located there it was actually not the place to stop. You have to punch past the operational reserves in order to get into the strategic depth. I used to play the Panther Games games of Arnhem and would handle the Allies as though they were Soviet - even though they weren't TO&Ed or OOBed for that - and the games invariably ended up with the German operational reserves (9th and 10th SS ) getting drawn into a battle around Arnhem while a Tank Division crossed the river elsewhere and raced past Arnhem towards deeper targets with independent sub-units split off to screen their left flank ( they usually passed Arnhem to its east ) against any attempt by German operational reserves to disentangle themselves from Arnhem. I'm not saying I'm the acme of Soviet operational art obviously but I do think this idea that they were seeking force on force engagements at all times is very much a western myth. They were more subtle than that.
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