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Discussion of Soviet Offensive Tactics


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IMHO, where the rigidity of Soviet tactics most applies to CM is in the kind of scenario objectives you might see. Much more so than other nationalities, a low-level Red Army commander was often expected to continue to attempt to achieve his assigned objective, regardless of cost.

Well, I'd say that a great majority of the official and community scenarios and QB maps for CMBN and CMFI kind of adhere to the above.

But besides that, I totally agree with what you say, YankeeDog. I wonder if we might ever see stuff like 'linked objectives' in CM. That is, objectives which do not become active (and award any points) until its 'pre-condition' is met. That would railroad the player in a gentle way and probably help the AI immensely.

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True to a point, but the GTA commanders were still complaining about rigidity and lack of initiative in some of the units, especially the rifle regiments. The spear, the armoured divisions had evolved substantially, Kursk really being the start of the process of putting doctrine into action (fortifications did not halt the Germans, the armoured reserves and subsequent mobile threats to their flanks did) other units less so, especially as they had the greatest amount of new recruits, due to high casualty rates.

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Regimental control might impose delays, but top down edicts, from a well placed RHQ, could move massive amounts of flesh and steel to a critical point at a critical time. Not all Soviet breakthroughs were because of attrition, the Germans were tactically more impressive, but they took an age to release operational reserves. Reading Soviet accounts, they moved operational reserves around like a board gamer moved counters.

Agreed, but we're still talking about a tactical battle with a sweet spot of about 1 hour's real time. So moving things around to critical spots probably didn't happen within the tactical setting. In fact, in doing research on the breakthrough at Orsha I saw exactly that. HUGE operational reserves waited around twiddling their thumbs because the expected area of breakthrough didn't happen. But the next day an opportunity opened up in the neighboring sector (11th Guards Army) and they funneled forces through the unexpected gap. Massive success and definitely shows timely flexibility at higher levels. But not relevant to a CM sized battle.

Contrast that with the German side where the frontline commanders were begging for operational flexibility and were told "Nein! Schtay Püt!" Eventually some of the commanders ignored the orders and fell back anyway. But it was too late. Arguably a timely withdrawal wouldn't have changed the end result much, but it's difficult to argue that the delayed reaction helped.

Another reason for the rapid breakthroughs and exploitations, which wrong footed the Germans, who sulked and blamed Hitler after the war, and sold the Allies a crock about their overall military superiority.

True and not true. True that the Germans going over to the Western Allied side, and writing books, did not give the Soviets the sort of credit they should have. Nor did they give Western Allies credit either ("Americans only won because of artillery" BS).

But Hitler's interference and the toadies he installed absolutely shortened the war. In each and every major German military disaster there is evidence that the commanders on the ground were advocating a different course of action. For example, they would have abandoned Stalingrand, they would have called of Zitadell, they would have released armored reserves from Pas-de-Calais earlier, they would have shortened the line in winter/spring 1944, they wouldn't have attacked in the Ardennes, they... well... you get my point! Note that this isn't post fact hindsight. There's ample evidence on the record that higher level interference played a significant role in pretty much every major large scale German defeat and rarely played a role in it's successes.

Steve

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my son...wants to play chemist.

Interesting, where I come from we call that a "dealer". To each his own. (just joking)

I do agree with your observation about "Generation Next". As a teacher, I have the privilege of working with many capable young adults. I just hope "our" generation (aka "The Boomers") give them a chance to reach their full potential.

Sorry for derailing the thread...it's what I do.

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Also as a teacher I have the dubious honour of trying to salvage many of my students from the sludge modern UK culture has immersed them in.

Again true Steve, but Hitler also became a very convenient excuse to cover up major professional balls ups by the 'professionals'. The Generals were all too keen to coattail him in the glorious years, and all to quick to 'despise' him when it turned sour, i.e. people fought back effectively.

Your Orsha example can be used at the CM level, by use of clever scenario design, Soviets win if they reach x, sod the losses, Germans win if they can stem the tide for y turns. When's this damn thing going to be available?

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Sorry for derailing the thread...it's what I do.

Let's try not to, eh? That's what we have the Peng Thread for.

Again true Steve, but Hitler also became a very convenient excuse to cover up major professional balls ups by the 'professionals'. The Generals were all too keen to coattail him in the glorious years, and all to quick to 'despise' him when it turned sour, i.e. people fought back effectively.

Absolutely. And the German military did it with WW1 as well. Wasn't their fault they had crappy strategies and unrealistic expectations... it was the "stab in the back" from the starving, grief stricken, exploited masses that were to blame.

However, in this case I think the German military, on the whole, had a lot more claim to Hitler screwing things up than the civilians of 1918. Besides the military records, there is also the fact that the military tried several times (as early as 1938!) to kill Hitler and arrest the top leadership. The disasters of June on both fronts was a central reason for the July bomb plot's extensive support within the military. So thoroughly, there were instances of SS commanders being tacitly involved, if not at least looking the other way.

There is also a pretty solid record of German leadership being canned for voicing contrary opinions or, in many cases, ignoring Hitler's directives. Doesn't take a genius to know what negative effect that would have on the others. Er, because that was the point of the removals!

If the German military leadership had done none of these things, then their collective case that Hitler screwed things up would be weak at best. Just like it was in WW1. But there is such a clear record of the military TRYING to get Hitler out of military operations which CLEARLY were being adversely affected by his decisions.

Anyway, the point is well taken that as the war went on the Soviets became more flexible and creative operationally, the Germans less. Soviets were always better Strategically IMHO and the Germans remained better tactically through the end of the war. But when you have the resources, being better at Strategy and Operations will win the war. Being the best Tactically means you'll lose the war with better first person stories of heroism to tell.

Your Orsha example can be used at the CM level, by use of clever scenario design, Soviets win if they reach x, sod the losses, Germans win if they can stem the tide for y turns. When's this damn thing going to be available?

Soon :D

Steve

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How do you enforce your house rules? Simply refuse to play anyone who doesn't agree to abide by them? I'm genuinely curious.

I would also like to see them, if you have a link.

They are enforced via threats and whatever other means of intimidation I can muster.

Actually, it's never been an issue. Some of them are negotiable (more like preferences than rules) but some are not, for example, artillery bombardment of the attacker's setup zone.

I can post them as soon as I replace the power supply unit on the computer they are stored on. Tomorrow, maybe.

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Given what Soviet operational art was capable of from 1944 on, it would probably be a wise choice to research the Soviet operational situation for any given tactical engagement or battle of interest.

For example, the initial assaults of the Soviet strategic offensive operations in summer of 1944 could easily make for a terrible scenario. One of quickly dwindling assets for the German player as he is hit by ferocious rocket and artillery barrages, thick coverage from direct fire artillery, all the while with 60% or more of German tactical positions known and 10 to 16 times the number of Soviet forces attacking. Something less powerful would have occurred, of course, though likely in less important areas of operation that were expected to maintain pressure rather than force a breakthrough.

Probably the scenario most agreeable to what CM personifies is the exploitation battles fought by the tank armies as they advanced toward their operational objectives. There were many locations along their advance where ad hoc defenses were put together by German forces. Not to mention the vital battles to hold objectives by these very same tank armies until main forces caught up as German strategic reserves counterattacked.

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Probably the scenario most agreeable to what CM personifies is the exploitation battles fought by the tank armies as they advanced toward their operational objectives. There were many locations along their advance where ad hoc defenses were put together by German forces. Not to mention the vital battles to hold objectives by these very same tank armies until main forces caught up as German strategic reserves counterattacked.

I feel like the demonstration scenario being played out by Bil and Elvis kind of represents something like that on a small scale

Michael

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I feel like the demonstration scenario being played out by Bil and Elvis kind of represents something like that on a small scale

No argument there, Michael. My comments were of a general nature, not a response to the demo being played out. Which I'm eagerly keeping my eye on just to see what happens!

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The interesting thing is that something of the sort could reasonably be set in BN during the August-September pursuit following the Falais pocket.If I had the energy to put together a scenario or two, that's the subject I would have used. I think players would have found it a refreshing change from the bocage fighting.

Michael

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Let's try not to, eh? That's what we have the Peng Thread for.

Absolutely. And the German military did it with WW1 as well. Wasn't their fault they had crappy strategies and unrealistic expectations... it was the "stab in the back" from the starving, grief stricken, exploited masses that were to blame.

However, in this case I think the German military, on the whole, had a lot more claim to Hitler screwing things up than the civilians of 1918. Besides the military records, there is also the fact that the military tried several times (as early as 1938!) to kill Hitler and arrest the top leadership. The disasters of June on both fronts was a central reason for the July bomb plot's extensive support within the military. So thoroughly, there were instances of SS commanders being tacitly involved, if not at least looking the other way.

There is also a pretty solid record of German leadership being canned for voicing contrary opinions or, in many cases, ignoring Hitler's directives. Doesn't take a genius to know what negative effect that would have on the others. Er, because that was the point of the removals!

If the German military leadership had done none of these things, then their collective case that Hitler screwed things up would be weak at best. Just like it was in WW1. But there is such a clear record of the military TRYING to get Hitler out of military operations which CLEARLY were being adversely affected by his decisions.

Anyway, the point is well taken that as the war went on the Soviets became more flexible and creative operationally, the Germans less. Soviets were always better Strategically IMHO and the Germans remained better tactically through the end of the war. But when you have the resources, being better at Strategy and Operations will win the war. Being the best Tactically means you'll lose the war with better first person stories of heroism to tell.

Soon :D

Steve

More damming is the payoff to just get complainers to stop complaining. For instance Gurdian continued remonstrations on operation citadel (kursk) were halted after awarding him with extensive estates in Poland. After receiving 937 ha of Polish land he no longer publicly complained about the upcoming attack, and full stopped complaining about Hitlers poor war decisions. Note he started complaining again publicly and in private after the Sovet's liberated Poland and he was fired by Hitler from the office of Chief of General Staff in March 1945.

The massive Konto 5 slush fund created in order to bribe German military official compounded the Nazi's poor military control/competence with silencing and ameliorating military critique.

Note that Von Palus's monthly payments halted (Aug 1943) not because he lost an entire field army and Stalingrad but because he went on soviet radio and blamed Hitler for the loss at Stalingrad.

(Goda, Norman 2005)

Incompetence, corruption, bribery, one has to marvel that it held together at all for any length of time.

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And after July's failed bomb plot, there was always the People's Court and pianowire to keep the military leadership in line. And before that there was the Fritsch-Blomberg Affair. Yup, the Nazis made it pretty clear very early on... you're either with us or against us. And by "against" they meant having an opinion too much to the contrary.

There was also the feeling by some that they had no choice but to knuckle down and try to win because of the horrible things they had either done on behalf of the Nazi state or had in some way facilitated. Last night I stumbled upon a website showing trial evidence used in warcrimes trials. All I was trying to do was find out some combat history of the 256th Infantry Division and instead found pictures of dead kids next to their naked raped moms in their area of operation (Rzhev area). I much prefer it when I Google things and accidentally get a bunch of porn.

Anyway, to bring this back around on topic... by this point in the war the German leadership seems to have been painfully aware that their ability to conduct sensible military strategy and operations was majorly compromised by long standing interference by Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy. Ironically, Stalin and the Communist leadership were doing vastly more right than they were wrong. Given what we know about how the Third Reich waged war, it's as I said before. It's not surprising that they lost the war, it's surprising they did as well as they did.

Steve

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I haven't read too many instances of nice tidy polite wars to be honest. You'd think with as long as mankind has been on this rock we'd learn to behave better but we haven't really come much further than the times of Genghis Khan and Mao Tse-tung more recently. All I know is there's always an agenda in war and it's never a good one for the vast majority of the common people on either side of the fight. The Nazis and Communists were no different. Currently who knows how many people die of malnutrition in North Korea everyday so some dbag weenie can amass a bigger military and WMD's?

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There are no clean wars, but there are certainly dirty wars. And of course there is room within for a range of behaviors due to individual actions. The war on the Eastern Front is one of the dirtiest in modern times. I also find it rather "humorous" that the Soviets made such a big deal about the Nazi's 3 years of deliberate murder and misery inflicted upon the survivors of 20 years of deliberate murder and misery.

But I fear I have got us a bit off topic :)

Steve

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There are no clean wars, but there are certainly dirty wars....The war on the Eastern Front is one of the dirtiest in modern times.

War by its very nature is brutal, but the war in the East was brutal with few if any redeeming features. It was about as nasty as human beings could make it at the time. That's one of the reasons I have been shy about making a close study of this theater. It is a tale of unrelieved vicious ugliness.

Michael

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Hi,

One of David Glantz best...

Soviet – German War 1941 – 1945: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay.

http://sti.clemson.edu/publications-mainmenu-38/commentaries-mainmenu-211/cat_view/33-strom-thurmond-institute/153-sti-publications-by-subject-area/158-history

All the best,

Kip.

PS. Soviet : German casualty ratios were a lot closer than many like to believe by ’44. If you upgrade Soviet ’44 losses to account for Forgotten Battles and discharged due to disability and sickness you get a figure of 2,738,000. German losses for Nov’43 to Nov’44, counting the same way... including disabled due to wounds you get 2,100,000. Scarily close given that the Soviet Front Armies were three times the size. German frontline units were suffering far higher attrition rates than Soviet units, on average, from about August ’43 onwards. German frontline officers, NCOs and men of all ranks had on “average..” a far shorter shelf life than their Soviet opponents. From mid ’43 onwards.

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Not to mention the fact that the Soviets were on the strategic offensive for this entire period. Assuming equally capable opponents (which is clearly not the case here), you would normally expect the attacking side to take higher casualties in exchange for gaining territory.

Depends on how superior the attackers actually are. With 3:1 total odds, and the operational initiative, local odds could be sufficiently stacked in the attacker's favour to strongly mitigate their casualty rates, even if it was only the artillery that concentrated...

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