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Discussion of Soviet Offensive Tactics

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"2. Poor Command & Control capabilities. Lack of radios and comparatively weak junior leadership means it's easier to break C2, which in turn means problems for morale. Additionally, many leadership elements consist of 1-3 men, so the chances of having the HQ wiped out in one shot is pretty good."

I think this will be the "killer" playing the soviet side in the game.

Their will be fewer units to call in off-board artillery and maybe it will also take

longer to get it in.

If you have to use some HQ teams as forward observers it will damage

command and control this will be very interesting to see when the game

comes out.

Still, I think I will play the soviet side more often than the german side

if you look at the armour, the T34/85 and SU85 which was pretty common by

June 1944 where better Tanks than the M4 Sherman.

And the firepower from the SMG Company, I can't wait to see that in acton.

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An interesting aspect is Soviet philosophy which de-emphasized individualism in favor of collective action. I was struck while in Moscow how they seemed to reserve their honors for the artillery wing as the war winner, and de-emphasized tankers (eg a Russian Wittman) as that would be elevating an individual above the collective, and that went against Soviet/Communistic philosophy.

(Yes, they honored individuals like Zhukov etc., but that shows something else - Soviet hypocrisy, or maybe they just needed someone elevated to sit at the same table as Patton?)

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I think you might be reading too much into the "collectivism" theme. The Sovs seem to have had no problem celebrating individual feats of arms, including awarding more than 11k "Heroe of the Soviet Union" medals and giving succesful fighter aces, snipers, etc. plenty of media coverage.

Maybe the reason we don't read about Sov "Wittmans" is that no Soviet tankers knocked out dozens of German tanks...

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Rules are the same. The lack of radios, lack of robust HQ units, small tank platoons, etc. produce different results within the same rules.

It sounds like there's nothing to interfere with a human player changing plans on the fly so long as the units involved have suffered very little damage. (Plus, I assume, changed-plans shouldn't involve arty.) But it's going to be tough to get scattered, rattled units into new positions.

So... perhaps plan and prepare for one group to do the breakthrough, then another the exploitation, then have some reserves tasked with mop up? Hmm.

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I am wondering if the command structure will be reflected in

1. less HQ units and perhaps no leaders inherent in the squad itself. Reliant then upon the higher level HQ to maintain C&C. A loss (or out of contact) of a leader would then have a huge impact upon squad morale.

2. Longer wait times for arty to simulate the pre-planned attacks. I am not too knowledgeable about Soviet artillery doctrine but after reading the posts it appears that they did not have much low level access to artillery. Though like everything this got better as the war progressed.

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It sounds like there's nothing to interfere with a human player changing plans on the fly so long as the units involved have suffered very little damage. (Plus, I assume, changed-plans shouldn't involve arty.) But it's going to be tough to get scattered, rattled units into new positions.

Yes, one of the weaknesses of CM, as a sim, is the inability to seriously interfere with the player's "Borg" abilities. This means all players have more control and ability to coordinate than any real world battlefield commander or subordinates. The more ridged things were in real life, the less realistic they are in CM. Inherently speaking. Unfortunately the more restrictions we make, the less fun the game is to play. In fact, if we did things completely realistically you'd make your plans on paper and the game would send you back the results on paper. So people arguing from a position of absolute realism need to keep in mind that it's unlikely they really want what they are asking for.

That being said, there are ways to influence player behavior so that they are rewarded for staying within reasonable historical control/coordinate parameters. It might be more subtle than obvious, but generally speaking if you try to command Soviet forces as you would American or German... chances are you're not going to do nearly as well as if you commanded them more like a Soviet commander would. Which does mean...

So... perhaps plan and prepare for one group to do the breakthrough, then another the exploitation, then have some reserves tasked with mop up? Hmm.

Right. Just because the game doesn't FORCE you to do this doesn't mean you won't see benefits from voluntarily doing it.

Steve

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yes, very good summary.

The big difference between the Soviets and the US/CW, is that the Soviets did not care what casualties they suffered as long as they got the job done. As a German corporal captured in Normandy said: "Americans use infantry cautiously. If they used it the way Russians do, they would be in Paris now."

In the attacks on june 22-23, the Russians massed as much as 10 regiments, plus armor support against 1 German regiment to achieve the breakthrough.

Once the Breakthrough was achieved, Tank Forces pushed deep into the German rear. What was new in Bagration compared to previous attempts against Army Group Center, was that U.S. 4WD trucks allowed Mech infantry to keep up with the Tanks AND kept the supply lines open. Soviets only started running out of supplies when they were over 300 km from their depots, at which point, they were past Minsk and all this over secondary dirt roads.

The Germans had assumed that if they could protect the main highways running through Vitebsk, Mogilev, Orsha and Brobuisk, that any Soviet force running around in their rear would run out of supply and eventually be mopped up. In hindsight, that turns out to have been a slight miscalculation. :D

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At the moment, if a team is split off from a squad and ends up not having a team "Ldr" or "Asst", you'll see that its Leadership score is likely to be much lower than the teams that get the Ldr or Asst, which tend to be the same level as each other. This is most often the case at the moment when a squad is split into 3 teams, since western forces tend to have two "leadership-qualified" chaps per squad.

If the Russkies don't have any Asst, any split squad will be leaderless and have a lower score there.

AIUI, every pTruppe has a leadership score, too. Sometimes a "third team" or even a team who's lost their "Ldr" or "asst" will have only a slightly reduced Leadership score, because the "next in command" actually has a decent score himself. If the Leadership score of the element is derived from the single score of the "Ldr" pTruppe, and Russian "non-Ldr" are assumed to have -2 scores because they're just not trained that way, any split or decapitated squad will have Leadership -2, which IME has a marked influence on how the element behaves under fire.

The same applies to command elements, too, I'd think. Having the platoon leader drop instantly to -2 because there's no platoon sergeant would be a hit.

Reading Steve's posts, it seems he is also suggesting that, if you want the feel of Russians, not fiddling too much with the "Typical" soft factors would be a good idea. I expect you will find the tactical constraints significantly looser if you bump "Typical" up to "Elite/+2". Which is only right and proper.

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A remarkable percentage of the German's problems came down to the fact that they just never got their logistic's train mechanized enough to support their fancy toys at the pointy end. I am not entirely clear how much of this can be blamed on Hitler's idiocy, the army command as whole, or simple resource restraints.

Clearly none of it got better when they lost control of their airspace so completely that allied ground attack pilots were hunting locomotives like they were deer.

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The same applies to command elements, too, I'd think. Having the platoon leader drop instantly to -2 because there's no platoon sergeant would be a hit.

The disconnect occurs when the original commander has already leadership ratings in the cellar. This is an area where more granularity may be beneficial. E.g., a 1-10 range in place of the existing 1-5 (+2,+1, -, -1, -2) spread.

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One of the cool things to see is how Soviet tactics progressed as the war went on. JasonC's post is a pretty good summary of how they figured out what worked and what didn't, then changed what didn't. The Germans, on the other hand, never really figured out how to combat these tactics in total. For much of the war they seemed to rely upon the flaws in Soviet execution rather than developing tactics that were suited for combating well executed plans.

The Soviets liked to use about 90% of their strength at the front at any given time. Or put in other terms, 9 up 1 back. This meant that for every Regiment there was about a Company in reserve, for every Division about a Battalion in reserve. For Western forces it was theoretically 2 up 1 back, though often this was impractical due to losses and/or too large a sector of front.

Once again this shows that the Soviets had a sort of all or nothing gambling style. Having most of their forces committed at once meant near maximum offensive power delivered at once. But if things went wrong they had to withdraw the forces and swap them out with fresh ones instead of feeding in reserves for the forces currently employed. And if there were no replacements handy, then everything went to Hell pretty quickly.

Steve

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Here's some examples of how this relates in CM terms. Imagine yourself as the Soviet commander of an assault on German positions. The Germans have a decent in depth defense backed by the usual combined arms support units. You are in command of a battalion sized force with a battalion of tanks (21 in total). Plenty of artillery and mortars too.

You'd first figure out where the enemy units are. If the scenario author is doing this correctly, Soviets should have a pre battle intel bonus since they would know this sort of thing in real life.

Artillery would be tasked to destroy the forward most German positions, suppress/destroy support weapons, and harass anything to the rear. As the battle progresses artillery is shifted to support weapons using Regimental and lower artillery assets (mortars and 76mm guns).

One company would be sent against the German trenches en mass. Their goal is to take the trenches, that's it. There is nothing in the game that prevents you from doing more, but here's why you do NOT want to plan on doing more:

Casualties

You need to assume that your first company is going to get shot up very badly in the process of taking the trenches. If you plan on using them for something else then your plan is likely to fail. So plan on them taking the trenches, but nothing more.

Second company is there as a backup for the first company in the event it can't break through. However, the primary goal for the second company is to open up a corridor through the German lines to something far back at the other end of the map. Depending on the scenario designer it could be a land feature (like a hill or a village) or it could be the map edge. Whatever it is, second company should be tasked with making sure this route is open. Again, like the first company... losses are to be expected and accepted.

If you have any artillery left, at this point it should be focused on breaking up any counter attacks and/or shifted deeper into the German defenses.

Third company is there as a backup for second company. However, it's main task is to reinforce the first company to make sure the corridor is secure and that German stragglers/counter attacks don't threaten it.

Depending on terrain conditions you would likely want some amount of your tanks to be allocated to one or more of these attacks. Probably a company of tanks with 2nd rifle company, but perhaps it should be with 1st rifle company. Again, that's more an issue of how much good you think the tanks can do. And again, you should plan on losing them so that you don't rely upon them for more than this.

Once 3rd rifle company is in place then the balance of your tanks should go straight through to the objective on the far side of the map. Anything that gets in their way should be engaged only to the extent that is necessary.

Steve

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It might be more subtle than obvious, but generally speaking if you try to command Soviet forces as you would American or German... chances are you're not going to do nearly as well as if you commanded them more like a Soviet commander would.

I have a suspicion that Bil is about to put that claim to the test ;)

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c3k would have given the authentic Soviet command experience, including a DAR peppered with exhortations for his troops to attack, attack, attack and setbacks attributed to a lack of moral fibre.

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I have a suspicion that Bil is about to put that claim to the test ;)

I was thinking that too. No matter what it will be interesting.

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The disconnect occurs when the original commander has already leadership ratings in the cellar. This is an area where more granularity may be beneficial. E.g., a 1-10 range in place of the existing 1-5 (+2,+1, -, -1, -2) spread.

I see no disconnect with a leader that's no more effective at bossing an element than any other member of that element. Plenty of crummy commanders out there. Plenty of rookies promoted to assistant team leader who couldn't lead a horse to water. And if you're thinking of the other way around, the cases where a survivor is a better leader than their nominal superior (the grizzled platoon sergeant babysitting the wet-behind-the-ears Rupert f'rex) I'd consider their leadership qualities subsumed into the original rating (they'd be exerting their leadership in spite or in support of their commander's weaknesses), so such individuals are ipso post facto only present if the element's command rating doesn't drop when the Ldr dies... All we can see is the outputs.

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The Russians were incurring massive casualties (by western standards) throughout the war: beginning, end, middle. Even in the period of Bagration they suffered massive losses...worth it of course, at least at this point of the war there was a better ROI for these casualties. So this was hardly a case of Wavell's 30,000 routing the whole Italian army with just a few casualties.

It means that if anyone is expecting an easy time for the Russian of a CMRT quick battle where both sides just grab 3000 points and go at it, they might be rapidly disabused...

Fortunately as the Russians were advancing and liberating territories, they were also conscripting replacements on the spot, this helps replace losses. I suppose it meant that there were always X amount of raw recruits in any unit that was being rebuilt after heavy losses. Most likely this limited tactical finesse as well, or at least shaped what they could accomplish with what they had to work with. Certainly the strength of one's NCO corps comes into play here. No doubt there was also this terrible hurry to get to the end before the western allies?

Los

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It means that if anyone is expecting an easy time for the Russian of a CMRT quick battle where both sides just grab 3000 points and go at it, they might be rapidly disabused...

Unless the fact that you have to use a Russian Company to do what the Heer would use a Platoon for means you can buy a Sov Company for the same points as a Heer platoon...

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On replacements, by 1944, most were freshly drafted 18 year olds. Russia had a baby boom in the early 20s, 3-3.3 million men were turning 18 in each of 1942, 43, 44. 1 million were in territories occupied by the Germans leaving a pool of 2-2.3 million. The Soviets inducted 90% each year as they turned 17. Standard practice was to train them for up to 6 months, send them to their units after they turned 18, at which point they would receive another 1-2 months training. These 18 year olds probably made up 1/3 or more of a typical infantry unit.

You also had a second group who were men from liberated territories, called "Booty Troops". Basically all the eligible men were drafted. Those that were 17 to early 20s and had no military training whatsoever followed basically the same training path as the 18 year olds decribed above.

Those that were in their mid-20s or older, who had already done their prior military service, including former partisans, were sent directly to combat units after a short refresher course. There were probably at most only a few hundred thousand coming from this source.

The Red Army took in 5 million recruits in 1943-45. Most would have come from the 18 year old draftee pool.

By way of comparaison, Germany only had about 600,000 young men turning 18 each year.

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They also had specialist medical units who were tasked with returning wounded tankers to the front, to form the veteran core of fresh units. One of the GTA commanders even had an iron brigade, specially composed of veterans and tasked with cracking open defences and leading city assaults.

It will be interesting to see how CMRT challenges many people misconceptions and preconceptions of the Red Army. Why can't they split into teams? I've seen real combat footage, photos (you can tell, the camera man is shaking) of Soviet units in ad-hoc teams, often a DP team covering an attack, or small groups in BUA's. Games which artificially impose national characteristics often entrench stereotypes and invariably favour the Germans.

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