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Slightly O/T - Soviet Forward Recon/Deep Penetration in WW2


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Was reading the links to stuff Suvorov wrote on the Spetznaz provided by Kettler. (Thank you by the way) Anyways he makes reference to Soviet forward elements doing deep recon, and just raising hell in front of the advancing armies. Interesting reference to fighting in Manchuria later in 45 too, but Im more interested in Post Bagration through to Berlin. Any good stories, links, anything?

The idea has captured my imagination for the moment...

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Sublime,

Please read this

http://english.battlefield.ru/omsbon.html

and this personal account.

http://english.iremember.ru/infantrymen/49-vladimir-zimakov.html?q=%2Finfantrymen%2F49-vladimir-zimakov.html%3Fq%3D%2Finfantrymen%2F49-vladimir-zimakov.html%3Fq%3D%2Finfantrymen%2F49-vladimir-zimakov.html

Here's a chapter from Suvorov's INSIDE SPETSNAZ. Inter alia, Suvorov was a Military District level intelligence officer, a Spetsnaz training officer, and later, a GRU officer in Europe supporting terrorism (to destabilize the West) and conducting espionage with considerable success before defecting.

http://militera.lib.ru/research/suvorov6/03.html

Recommend we continue this over at either CMBB or CM Afghanistan, where we already have a tremendous amount to stuff on Spetsnaz under the thread "Interesting Documentary."

Regards,

John Kettler

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LukeFF,

I can't speak to histories I haven't been able to read, but when it comes to what's covered in his books on Spetsnaz, the GRU, the Soviet Army of the Cold War and similar, this guy not only has the goods, but the proof of his correctness is as close as the Internet. I discuss many issues related to his claims here and supply links so people can see for themselves.

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=106597&highlight=suvorov%2Frezun&page=2

The Wiki on him has a great deal of information about him and his writings of which I was unaware.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Suvorov

The notion of Stalin's attacking first and Hitler preemptively responding to the threat is well discussed here, from a variety of perspectives: con, neutral and pro.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_offensive_plans_controversy

Regards,

John Kettler

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the second on the debate over stalins intentions is a very interesting read.

A good thesis idea from suvorov. I dont know if I necessarily believe it - but then again i wouldn't put such perfidy against stalin. no one can know for sure but ISTR that it's become somewhat accepted fact that if barbarossa hadnt been launched the soviets would have attacked around 1942. Now whether or not they planned to expand the war to conquer all of europe, or were indeed planning to use germany in a proxy war to weaken both the germans and western europe before rolling over the exhausted combatants Im not so sure of. oh to be a fly on the wall in stavka hq when these things were discussed...

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Suvorov is a brilliant storyteller and observer of the human condition -- AQUARIUM is on my top 20 list of favourite books -- but yeah, he's deep in fantasyland for anything he hasn't witnessed with his own eyes. That whole ICEBREAKER thesis (basically Hitler beat Stalin to the punch by 6 weeks) is pure rubbish, and is likely prompted by some other you-had-to-be-there agenda that was likely obsoleted by the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Deep in vaults in Ottawa, I have no doubt, are contingency plans for the prompt military occupation and administration of portions of America in the event the Superpower decapitates itself up in a nuclear war that somehow spares Canada (what the heck is that novel called again?). The existence of documents does not imply intention to act. Even though if I'm put to it I'm sure I can cherry pick substantial "evidence" that Canuckian hordes are poised to swarm across the American border at any moment!

Re the OP, it isn't all that surprising that by 1945 the Soviets had finally mastered the art of conducting deep insertions of airborne/airlanded combat detachments into enemy rear areas, even though they never tried that in Eastern Europe (Yugoslavia, maybe?). Just as the US had reached the point where it could almost casually drop Rangers or OSS men on top of Corregidor, prison camps, Thailand, etc. Complete mastery of the skies does help a lot (probably why neither side risked such tricks with the Germans, as moribund as the Luftwaffe was by then).

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Suvorov is a blowhard and a proven liar. You should regard pretty much anything he says as fiction.

The Russians did have military intelligence in foreign countries, GRU agents providing human intell. Didn't particularly care where the front line was, but mayhem wasn't their role, gathering information was. GRU special operations for commando style work in the deep enemy rear date only to the early postwar period (late 1940s).

The Russians did send agents to coordinate partisan operations in the occupied interior, when the fighting was inside prewar Russia. Not "recon" particularly, though.

Recon forces in the rifle portion of the army had night infiltration as their standard mission and were expected to spend days at a time in German rear areas. They avoided combat, and gathered intel by stealth and observation. They also focused on taking prisoners, who were interrogated without mercy for additional information.

Recon in the mech arm was conducted by dedicated motorcycle mounted formations, and did not practice infiltration as a major method. They just flooded the road net with small subelements to put eyes out on all routes, avoiding heavy contact but eating up all uncontested ground. Their reports then served to guide the tank formations, which remained concentrated.

Cavalry formations practiced deep penetrations and raiding as main activities, particularly in the winter months and year round in the forested north. They worked by moving through terrain considered impassable by modern motorized armies - marshes, deep forests without road or settlements, and the like. They probed such areas with small mounted patrols to find gaps in enemy positions only covered by indirect fire or patrols, not permanent stationed infantry. Then they passed through such gaps with whole divisions at a time in night marches, occasionally fighting to blind the nearest posts while it happened, but often not needing to.

Once in the operational rear, they then raided rear area installations, blocked routes with set ambushes, destroyed rail lines and the like. Intel was not a primary focus of their operations, disruption and diversion of enemy forces to sweep out large rear areas was. They moved off whenever larger enemy combat forces moved opposite, exfiltrating through the same marginal terrain areas, or by linking up with a front line attack by conventional rifle or mech forces.

The Russians supplemented the above sources with air recon and some signals intelligence, though both were relatively unsystematic by German or western standards.

It isn't mostly rifle recon doing raiding, it is mostly cavalry and in larger groups. Rifle recon is kidnapping isolated sentries to get information, at the most, and often just watching enemy movements from hiding for days at a time, before returning to report what they learned. Mech force recon spreads out thinly ahead of the tank forces, but checks relatively easily, halting for even light forces and just recording where those are.

How it mostly worked in WW II. I hope it helps.

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That whole ICEBREAKER thesis (basically Hitler beat Stalin to the punch by 6 weeks) is pure rubbish, and is likely prompted by some other you-had-to-be-there agenda that was likely obsoleted by the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Everything that I have read more or less substantiates that. One thing to consider is that throughout the first half of 1941 several Soviet top generals, including Zhukov, were advocating a pre-emptive attack against German forces building up in Poland and Rumania. But Stalin kept telling them no, no, no. The time was not ripe in his estimation and he needed to keep Hitler mellow for another year. One place to read about this and several other interesting aspects of the time is Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia by Gabriel Gorodetsky. I suppose it is possible that Suvorov heard rumors of generals advocating an attack and misunderstood them to mean that Stalin had actually given the order.

Michael

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Well hey, the Dictator next door has spent his entire adult life foaming at the mouth about Bolshevism; of course you're going to assume that sooner or later you'll be fighting his impressive war machine. And sometimes the best defence is a good offence, fine and dandy. So assuming that it doesn't get us shot for Trotskyite left deviationism, let's think about these things, work up some map exercises, etc.

But that's a LONG way from supporting ICEBREAKER, especially that tosh about 15 airborne divisions sitting in the Crimea ready to flutter down and seize the Ploesti oilfields. I think all that time sitting around shivering while on spetsnaz exercises went to the guy's brain a little. He's the classic hammer looking for nails everywhere.

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"I suppose it is possible that Suvorov heard rumors of generals advocating an attack and misunderstood them"

Or, he is just a professional liar (sort of the "GRU agent" job description) who trolled for controversial claims to make to get himself noticed.

And to make a few bucks in the grand old capitalist tradition. "There's one born every minute."

Michael

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mjkerner posted a link to a site called AllWorldWars, which is where I found this Suvorov presentation in a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute. Was going to read the Francis Gary Powers debrief but found this when I went back to look for the Powers piece. Unfortunately, the video quality seems to be poor.

http://www.allworldwars.com/videos/Suvorov/Victor-Suvorov.html

Regards,

John Kettler

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LukeFF,

Debunked by whom, pray tell? Thus sayeth Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shtrafbat

Air Force

In addition to the infantry and mine clearing penal battalions, which represented the majority, there also were also air force penal squadrons. Pilots or gunners serving in air force penal squadrons were at a marked disadvantage in obtaining remission of sentence via a combat injury since the nature of air combat usually meant that any injury was fatal. Pilots received no credit for missions flown, and were normally kept in service until they were killed in action. Former Soviet Air Force pilot Artiom Afinogenov recalled the use of air force penal squadrons near Stalingrad:

"Penal squadron pilots were sent to the most dangerous places, first of all, to Volga bridge crossings, where the future of Stalingrad was decided, to air fields and enemy tank concentrations. So it was only penal squadrons that were sent to attack these targets, yet these operational flights were not taken into consideration. You keep flying missions and killing Germans, yet it is held that nothing happens, so nothing goes on your record. To be released from penal service you have to be wounded in fighting. But when a military pilot is flying a mission, the first wound he receives may very often be the last one."[10]

The death rate among gunners serving in penal squadrons was exceptionally high. While prisoners assigned as gunners could theoretically clear their sentences after surviving ten missions, like the infantry they were frequently transferred to penal mine-clearing units before reaching this total.[2]

(My comment)

While not quite as bad as shooting a prisoner in the back of the head while en route to delivering a clemency petition, here is the experience--with an outcome not much different (Ibid.)!

"Trampler" mine-clearing battalions

"Smaller battalions were established out of the infantry units to clear minefields as 'tramplers' - unarmed men who ran through the minefields ("trampled") ahead of regular assault forces to detonate land mines.[9] The worst of all the penal battalion assignments, the tramplers were prepared for their grisly suicide missions by being heavily fortified with vodka rations by their leaders before attacks. Trampler battalions were assembled from the penal infantry units for major attacks and were usually wiped out to the last man,[2] with their mangled bodies reportedly "marking the safe passage corridor of the late-war Red Army through any minefield".[1]

Regards,

John Kettler

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Wicky,

You apparently saw Suvorov mentioned in the first footnote, defaulted to Auto Reject, but utterly failed to notice Footnote [10].

[10] ^ Voice of Russia, Interview of Artiom Afinogenov (2003), Article (2003)

Now, what ever was he on about?

Former Soviet Air Force pilot Artiom Afinogenov recalled the use of air force penal squadrons near Stalingrad:

"Penal squadron pilots were sent to the most dangerous places, first of all, to Volga bridge crossings, where the future of Stalingrad was decided, to air fields and enemy tank concentrations. So it was only penal squadrons that were sent to attack these targets, yet these operational flights were not taken into consideration. You keep flying missions and killing Germans, yet it is held that nothing happens, so nothing goes on your record. To be released from penal service you have to be wounded in fighting. But when a military pilot is flying a mission, the first wound he receives may very often be the last one."[10]

So, Suvorov's statement would appear to only amplify the basic message. What he says on the matter seems, from the clarity and precision of exposition, to be wholly consistent with the basic Russian military approach to things.

Consider, that if the Russians would do everything detailed in The Glass House to an officer cadet--in peacetime, a cadet whose offenses didn't merit an actual penal detachment, what wouldn't they countenance for a traitor, an enemy of the people, a coward, a saboteur?

Remember, The Glass House is Suvorov's personal, first person account of his particular sojourn in hell. If you haven't read it, you really need to. Until you do, you'll have no clue how things worked in the Red Army.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/49115133/Suvorov-The-Liberators-My-Life-in-the-Soviet-Army-1981

Regards,

John Kettler

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Did you click the link to the read the original article?

http://www.vor.ru/55/Stalingrad/History_4_eng.html

Though I'm sure it was there at one time - what's in doubt is Suvorov who you unquestionably believe.

http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?122425-Il-2-Rear-Gunners-A-deliberate-sacrifice

In his book "Inside the Soviet Army", Viktor Suvorov alleges that the lack of protection for Il-2 rear gunners was part of a deliberate policy. Suvorov claims that from 1942 on, all Soviet airfields had attached penal companies of air gunners. Such companies were made up of prisoners who were considered to be "enemies of socialism" or "enemies of the people." The air gunners were not provided with either armour protection, or allegedly, parachutes and were reliant entirely on their machine guns to ensure their own survival. The death rate among the air gunners was exceptionally high and Suvorov alleges that the Marshal of the Air Forces, A.E. Golovanov, came up with a special device to keep the guns pointing up after the gunners were killed. Otherwise attacking Luftwaffe pilots would realise the air gunner was dead and concentrate on that aircraft. According to Suvorov, prisoners who survived could theoretically clear their sentences after nine missions. The prisoners, however, were always transferred to mine clearing or other units for "medical reasons" before this could happen.

Many Il-2 pilots and rear gunners do not remember seeing or hearing about any prisoner crews, and German propaganda may have broadcast this claim as well. In recent years documents from the Soviet archives have come to light indicating that the Soviet Air Force did in fact use "Penal squadrons" in some situations,but although they may have been considered expendable, there is no evidence that even they would have been deliberately sacrificed.With respect to armor protection, most Il-2s produced after 1944 and the follow-on Il-10 had armor for the rear gunner.

The initial omission may well have been result of the rear gunner being a design afterthought for a single-seat aircraft that was implemented during the crisis years of the war, rather than a deliberate act.

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Recycling Nazi wartime propaganda is Suvorov's constant practice. He is never original, his entire schtick consists of repeating chosen pieces of such propaganda, expecting that a Russian GRU agent repeating it will make it seem more true, and expecting to be applauded for it by its original sympathizers. Even in the most famous case, his allegations about Stalin's war plans, they are literally lifted directly from Hitler's speech defending the invasion to the German public when the war was announced.

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It doesn't matter. John feels a Deep Need to be in possession of Mind Blowing Secret "Blue Pill*" Knowledge That Proves Everything You Ever Thought You Knew Is Maskirovka, and then to shout it from the rooftops. He and Suvorov were born for each other.

But unlike Aleisteir Crowley, the Baghwan or L Ron Hubbard, I assume it doesn't get him laid. And if it does, I'd prefer not to know anything.

Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter!

* or was it red pill? i forget.

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Wicky,

I do NOT unquestionably believe Suvorov. Rather, I look at what he has to say, compare that with all the knowns, look at things from a Russian perspective, look at the draconian penalties in Russian for a laundry list of offenses, a practice which continues to this day. Order No. 277 was in deadly earnest, and Hero of the Soviet Union Loza has described his own direct experience as an impromptu barrier detachment, where he was forced to shoot his fellow soldiers who'd been overwhelmed in a Panzer attack.

The Wiki makes clear the gunner was NOT inside the armored envelope, which covered the engine and the cockpit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilyushin_Il-2

The armored tub, ranging from 5–12 mm (0.2-0.5 in) in thickness and enveloping the engine and the cockpit, could deflect all small arms fire and glancing blows from larger-caliber ammunition. There are reports of the armored windscreen surviving direct hits from 20 mm (0.79 in) rounds. Unfortunately, the rear gunners did not have the benefit of all-around armor protection, especially from the rear and to the sides and suffered about four times more casualties than the pilots. Added casualties resulted from the Soviet policy of not returning home with unused ammunition which typically resulted in repeated passes on the target.[33][page needed]

Even after the plane was redesigned somewhat, the rear gunner remained horribly exposed to weapon fire. (Ibid.)

Il-2 Rear gunners

Heavy losses to enemy fighters forced the reintroduction of a rear gunner; early Il-2s were field modified by cutting a hole in the fuselage behind the cockpit for a gunner sitting on a canvas sling armed with a 12.7 mm UBT machine gun in an improvised mounting. The semi-turret gun mount allowed the machine gun to be fired at angles of up to 35° upwards, 35° to starboard and 15° to port. Tests showed that maximum speed decreased by between 10 and 20 km/h (6.2–12.4 mph) and that the two-seater was more difficult to handle because the center of gravity was shifted backwards.[36] At the beginning of March 1942, a production two-seat Il-2 with the new gunner's cockpit began manufacturer tests.[36] The second cockpit and armament increased all-up weight by 170 kg (374 lb) so the flaps were allowed to be deployed at an angle of 17° to avoid an over-long takeoff run. The new variant had a lengthened fuselage compartment with an extended canopy offering some protection from the elements. Unlike the well-armoured cockpit of the pilot compartment with steel plating up to 12 mm (0.47 in) thick behind, beneath and on both sides as well as up to 65mm thick glass sections, the rear gunner was provided with 6 mm (.23 in) thick armour, only effective against rifle-calibre rounds. [36]

The armored tub, ranging from 5–12 mm (0.2-0.5 in) in thickness and enveloping the engine and the cockpit, could deflect all small arms fire and glancing blows from larger-caliber ammunition. There are reports of the armored windscreen surviving direct hits from 20 mm (0.79 in) rounds. Unfortunately, the rear gunners did not have the benefit of all-around armor protection, especially from the rear and to the sides and suffered about four times more casualties than the pilots.

So, if you want to have the VVS equivalent of mine tramplers, what better position can there be for enemies of the State than rear gunner? And who also is supremely motivated to do a great job as tail gunner?

Penal units are separate administrative entities, and as combat units, are used, wherever employed, for the dirtiest and most dangerous of tasks, thus both saving the lives of loyal soldiers and getting rid of the the enemies of the State. Any nation which would send its own soldiers marching through a minefield to clear it is not going to care about a tail gunner--other than that it's better to not lose the plane! It matters not whether the gunner was deliberately left exposed, for the net effect to the poor SOB in the tail gunner's seat is exactly the same either way.

Regards,

John Kettler

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JasonC,

I rather doubt the Nazis could recite chapter and verse from obscure Soviet accounts, as Suvorov does with ease and fluidity. His depth and breadth of knowledge strikes me as anything but BS.

Did you watch the Hudson Institute presentation? If not, you might wish to do so, since it would help inform your arguments.

LongLeftFlank,

Considering I've not only been nothing but kind to you, but have also devoted hours to trying to get you what I perceive as important data for your amazing mods, I fail to see why you're being so nasty regarding me. If you can't handle things which upset you, then don't read them.

Regards,

John Kettler

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JK - Do you know what it means to say that someone is a *career agent* in the GRU, for decades, then sells his information to the other side to promote himself? Do you know what the GRU was? What it did, how it operated, who it recruited, what they did professionally every day, from breakfast to bedtime?

Professional. Liar. Disinformation is his entire job description. For decades. Grok please.

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