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Originally posted by JasonC:

As a data point on infantry without cover to speak of advancing through defending MGs in WW II, consider Omaha. It counts as a bloody shambles by WW II standards. But they got off the beach. The defending formations (352 ID and elements of 716 ID) had 680 MGs and 114 81mm mortars, but only a portion of these were directly on the beaches hit. 174 MGs and 33 81mms are likely figures for the immediate defenders. (The defender's div arty also have 10000 rounds, but certainly did not expend them all). The battle took hours and the US lost 2400 men. The Germans lost 1200, and didn't stop them.

The defenders have to not only make you hit the deck, they have to persuade everyone to stay there, when they can choose their own moments to be brave (by reaching "OK" or "alerted" again). And that just takes a lot more sustained firepower than breaking one 3 minute charge by having everyone shoot.

It certainly works in CM, so anybody who isn't doing it should try it. Oh and by the way, the same tactics work when you do have cover, just separated by bits of open you occasionally have to cross. Once you are used to attacking this way, moving infantry across maps with actual cover on them seems like a walk in the park.

Similar incompleteness marked the fortifications on D Day. On the east coast of the Cotentin, strong points and resistance nests were spaced about 875 yards apart; between the Orne and Vire Rivers they were 1,312 yards apart. [103] Most of them were field fortifications, sometimes with concreted troop shelters and sometimes embodying concrete gun casemates. Of the installations in the 352d Division sector only 15 percent were bombproof; the remainder were virtually unprotected against air attack. [104] The fortifications had no depth whatsoever. According to the commander of the 716th Division the forty to fifty fortified resistance centers in his sector were beaded along the coast like a string of pearls. [105] Generalmajor Horst Freiherr Treusch von Buttlar-Brandenfels, OKW operations staff officer, had warned after his inspection trip of Normandy defenses in January that if the enemy broke through one strong point there would be a gap of three or four kilometers into which he could advance unhindered. [106] The abandonment of the Zweite Stellung meant that to a large degree this condition still prevailed in June.
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URD - in my tests I was breaking the first Russian squad at 450m. They don't get far after you open up. If you shoot at a longer range is takes more ammo, that is all.

Should men pin more easily and recover more slowly than they do in CM? Perhaps. But CM is already bloodier than the real deal was, over the course of a whole CM game. We also expend far more virtual ammo than the real participants did. Perhaps the reason is they did not fire so much at men who were already hugging the dirt, and they hugged it longer.

It is not, however, that MGs should slaughter whole units to the last man at 500m and don't because they are undermodeled. There are way too many fights over several wars in which lots and lots of MGs were firing for long periods of time, that men nevertheless walked away from, for that.

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BK myth, what is right and what is wrong.

Yes the French had more tanks and technically superior ones in gun armor terms. Though not in soft systems or training. Yes the usual journalistic line about the Maginot line is pure buncomb. It was a useful fortification system, which the French intended to pivot on in order to fight a mobile battle in Belgium rather than in France. (So if trench warfare recurred, it would not be on French soil, etc). Yes there was no air-land battle master plan coordinating air with armor.

Around the debunking of those easy targets he weaves his own tale. His own tale is buncomb, itself. No the French weren't winning everywhere else. They were losing even the frontal fights, badly. They managed to check the Germans in about three places, after which the Germans just slide over to the nearest hole and resumed the advance.

He gets around to the Meuse breakthrough like it was an afterthought, and readily corrected. Um, no, it was the decisive passage of the campaign.

He pretends the higher ups just froze when there was plenty of opportunity to counterattack and destroy the penetration. Um, they did counterattack, repeatedly, and failed. Poor combined arms coordination, for one thing. The German infantry defeats the first French armored counterattack after the crossing, before their own tanks have been ferried across the river.

Then the bigger and later ones are supposed to be "nearly" successful. Um, Rommel stopped the Arras counterattack by excellent combined arms coordination and the formation of a gun front, which unsupported tanks predictably failed against.

The Brits just ran away. Horsefeathers, decades old blame games made out of whole cloth. He probably found some nose in the air French Lt. Col being snippy in his memoirs, and we are supposed to believe whatever he bitched about decided the campaign.

The higher command froze - true, but they had excellent reason to freeze after their whole plan (advance the mass of maneuver into Belgium and engage the Germans frontally there) was clearly revealed as a massive trap exactly anticipated and decisively sprung, all the instant counterattacks had failed, and therefore the force they had counted on to fight the war was cut off. It was also losing frontally, even before the news of being isolated reached the men.

In response to your own statement - of course there was pandemonium in the rear areas *of the cut off force*, *after* it was cut off. The chaos when it comes is the retreat to the coast. That was the whole point of the plan - annihilation battle against a surrounded enemy.

Which is more than just Russian style local odds gathering, but rather less than "pure maneuverism". It was the German doctrine since Moltke the elder, that you encircle to destroy, combining operational initiative with the merits of a tactically defensive stance. It dates to the success against Austria back in 1866 (which showed the combination, operational attack and tactical defense), and to the encirlement defeat of the French at Sedan in 1870. With modern artillery and breechloading rifles, you want men prone and shooting not charging straight ahead.

The success in 1940 had nothing to do with mere politics nor entirely imaginary British cowardice. It had everything to do with outright military defeat by a smarter adversary. Manstein's plan did not depend in any essentials on technical means - they helped, but you could have won a WW I campaign with the same decisions (see Tannenberg, for example).

Wouldn't have been as fast (though Tannenberg took less than a month, too), the breakthrough at the Meuse instantly giving encirclement of the Allied left was technical means, a motorized all arms force, etc. But you could have broken off that wing and smashed it, with methods the Germans had been using for 70 years, and the degree of success their plan showed in outthinking the enemy.

Once the Brits are back in England weaponless and wet, and the French army has been cut in half, why shouldn't the French leadership panic? They don't have anything left that can stop the Germans at that point. The second half of the campaign, the actual conquest of the rest of Franch, is as deterministic as Poland. It is not like the French gave up before that second offensive. They fought, but they knew they had already lost.

Why? Odds, that's why. The success of the first half of the campaign created a strategic odds ratio they could not hope to redress, on top of the clear advantage in leadership and skill the Germans had just shown. Annihilation battle as a strategy works just fine. When the Germans broke through, they did not head for Paris, they went for the channel ports - to kill half the army, not to scare the politicians. What actually scared the politicians, entirely rationally, was the destruction of half their army.

One might ask, could the French have somehow managed a feat of mobilization as great as the Russians in 1941, and replaced the lost half of their army as fast as it was destroyed? They might have tried to better, certainly. Panic and defeatism might have been somewhat in evidence already, on that score. But the main difference between the two is clearly just strategic depth. In a month, the Germans are to Smolensk, in 1941. That is 400 miles from the border. France is only about that big.

Breakthrough worked fine in both cases. The enemy did not understand modern mobile defense principles. Nobody did yet, even the Germans. There was a doctrinal offense dominance, because somebody had figured out how to use entire panzer corps on the attack, but nobody had yet figured out how to stop them. They knew how to stop a tank brigade - a gun front. But not a coordinating attack at a chosen weak point by an all arms motorized corps.

Nobody did, when the attack was conducted correctly by someone with good doctrine and equipment etc, until Kursk. The solution is mobile reserves in enourmous depth, to counter the attack concentration with one's own in one's own operational rear. But nobody knew such things in 1940.

Then there is his silly paen to the valiant Dutch, who proved - what exactly? That the Germans were vincible, I suppose. His nomination for "Finns in western Europe". Except, of course, they lost (oh right so did the Finns - but they kept a country when they lost, at least).

That part was just silliness. Trying to say, if everyone had fought like the Dutch... Eh. The French fought in Belgium and they lost frontally, then they also had Germans cutting them off and predictably collapsed from ammo starvation, confusion, the need to retreat pell mell to the sea, etc. They were beaten, he doesn't want to say by a superior enemy because he is trying to debunk myths not arrive at the truth. So wherever the conventional wisdom is actually wise, he has to come up with something outlandish to say.

Can anyone get away with full bore, baffle 'em with static on the command net instead of hurting them, manueverism? I don't see why anyone would think so, and I don't think anyone ever has. I see that (not why) some people want to pretend so and preach so etc. But it is to me a fundamentally silly desire. When the reality of how it works is quite plain and understandable. It is like trying to save face for past theorists instead of looking at what actually works.

Guderian read Hart and Fuller, right? He knew the whole "full bore" story line. What is the first thing he does to reduce it to practice?

Fuller - tanks must be allowed to operated alone, at their own speed, and not tied to the infantry. But Guderian knows there are bridges to take, that forests exist, etc. So he puts infantry in trucks and subordinates them to tanks, instead of listening to Fuller.

Hart - the purpose of an indirect approach is to paralyze the enemy with confusion, strike for deep objectives, induce command shock yada yada. Guderian standing over a map table where his pretend force has just crossed the Meuse, has to tell the ref what he proposes they do next.

Here is Paris; there is the channel. Guderian is not military history writer but a serving general trained in the staff system that goes back to Gneisenau, steeped in his military traditions and familiar with every detail of the campaign of 1870. The channel from Sedan 1940 will reproduce the success of Sedan 1870 on a grander scale, it is obvious, it is the Right Move.

He can praise them to the skies for their theories about the decisive role of armor and the value of a breakthrough, but he does not believe for a second their extreme statements that depart from sound existing military principles. He is not an ideologue who thinks that military principles, merely by being past and traditional, must be mistakes and errors to be constrasted with the glorious New Thought that differs from them on principle wherever it can, to make a splash.

He knows a sound military principle when he sees one, he doesn't need a theorist to tell him which is which. Infantry being useful is not a theoretical proposition to joust against, but an obvious truism. Destruction of the enemy force as the goal of military operations is not a theoretical proposition to joust against, it is the actual practice of every great captain in recorded history. So he just ignores their wild statements and impliments the sound ones, as easily as you or I would correct a student's errors in a middle school math problem.


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One question to the author of this post:

I tend to play 5000 points QB´s with Assault on a medium map. (60-65 rounds variable) Rarety on.

Maps a decided by chance sometimes, sometimes

prepicked. All vs. Human players on the eastern front.

Honestly I don´t know what you guys are playing mostly when competing against human opponents, but this my favorite. I would play huge maps with these odds, but it gets even slower in computing inbetween turns :( .

Now since the topic is about firepower and the way to use attrition (in both men and ammo) in your favor, how broad would your actual "Schwerpunkt" be?

Cover can´t really be an issue to you since it varies every so and so meters any way (as long as its not a plain plain or forest only map).

I have tried various front lenght with small to tiny forces left and right. I made flank attacks and double flanking, massive center etc etc.

Do you have a general idea of how broad your advance will be?

To the movement critizism:

(Btw. I liked most of it and many aspects of Adams criticsm or the differences he saw in between your styles were not obvious to me. Like firepower tactic not making use of the initial success or the concentrated shock, as if you company with 1-2 squads ahead isn´t pure concentration)

The thing is, sometimes maps tend to have KEY positions imho.

1. Example

If you have few houses, few trees and few hills you end up with 1-3 hills dominating the map. Not necessarily in terms of firepower, I agree that constand HMG fire over 800m is not automatically the key to win.

But with good vision the lonely hill covers the only way and also a perfect way to spot your movement. It´s not even about you spotting him (some defendes never dare to move anyway), but him spotting you. "Oh, you have only 4 StuGs, how nice to you". "Oh, you are pulling some ATG up front, thx for intel". Also, your company colums would suffer more from artilley shelling then very thin spread lines, I think we agree on that. You can´t screen that hill with fog forever.

Also your FO´s on that hill may finally have a position to direct fire on almost any corner of the map.

2. Example

Unfortunately villages in QB do not get flags inside. But still they may be a threat to your attack. Not the lonly 2-story house, any big caliber can simply tear it down, but the whole complex. Villages offer good cover from the front and they are right in the middle.

Some of the flags you need left of it, some right. The bulk of the needed flags is in LOS from the village (of course not in wood only or very hilly terrain). Thus ATG´s and Tanks hide at the enemies side of the village for your flank to come. You have to come. Because without the flags you won´t win. They can turn 90° without any danger, while you actually can´t since you don´t know what he offers on his left or right wing.

3. Field fortifications. Now I must say that I make very intensive use of wire, mines and TRP.

I can easily spend over 1000 points of my 5000 into that inflexible and passive stuff. BUT, as far as my games tell me it can save your day.

About 25% of the tanks I immobilize or I take out are hit by mines. And those companies that received double their front length in wire and additional AP-Mines and TRP held out against any enemy it seems. Now the plan to move along a certain way, narrow but with depth, may just stumble across something really nasty.

If you didn´t think carefully, from treeisland to treeisland, thought about every hill and all possible routes to move, you might get stuck easily. Because you decided your attack is here, here and nowhere else. With a great confidence you advance. And of course the overwhelming force of very deep structured attackers might pierce the obstacles after a while, but time is crucial and certainly your normal schedule could very well be upset, no?

And this might be the advantage for an rather movement centred tactician I believe.

He spots more then 100m barbed wire.

He won´t go there. He will choose another way and might, with a quick change of his attack route, safe some time. Especially since this guy thought about several attacking routes anyway, most likely. I know this doesn´t work everytime, and maybe you get spooked of by nothing but wire, but maybe it was worth the reorganisation.

For me speed in the initial advance is vital.

I often use recon vehicles, not to actually spot units (somehow not even snipers are able to spot anything unless it fires, funny) but to lure out fire, scout for wire and of course mine fields. (The Detection Device is called sound :( )

I have a plan, yes. I do mass forces, most likely yes. But my "Schwerpunkt" is flexible to a certain extent.

[ April 05, 2005, 11:55 PM: Message edited by: GS_Guderian ]

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The thing is, sometimes maps tend to have KEY positions imho.
I think you are perhaps misunderstanding the argument. JasonC has said that the idea of an attritionist is to trade off ammo for enemy casualties at the best possible rate. This means that gaining cover, or good places to shoot from are of course to be reccommended, since they allow your units to 'eat' a lot more fire when in cover, and be in an advantageous position to fire on enemy units who are moving in opne ground etc.

Also, on the strategic use of maneuver, I guess it's worth pointing out the Russian doctrine of Deep Operation, whereby they would smash through a narrow front, and mobile mechanised formations would deepen the breakthrough, enveloping enemy units still on the front line and forming 'pockets'. I believe that this strategy was particularly successful in the Russo-Japanese war, even if the Russians didn't exactly come out of this with a win.

So I think that, often, maneuver at a strategic level should be designed to form pockets, which the attacker's reserve forces can mop up while the mobile units continue on, crushing logistics and hopefully stopping the enemy from regrouping sufficiently. Even if the enemy does regroup, the act of breaking so far through the front line means that you not only don't have to fight on your own land - so you can happily bleed the area dry for defense - but also that you are now another step closer to the enemy's cities, which, when taken, should hopefully cut the enemy's recovery rate.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

The apparently natural way most players think about infantry fighting in CM revolves around maneuver concepts and movement. You see where your men are on a map. You see the bodies of cover on that map. You think in terms of owned areas of cover, how far your men have reached.

Now what exactly did I understand wrong?

For me this means that JC does NOT necessarily think about the owned areas of cover. Tree Islands and hills aren´t his main focus, correct?

Of course he uses cover along the path he steamrolls, but his priority is to go where the enemy is, not where you can go the fastest or where you can gain a significant position.

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First to GD on huge QBs. I don't play those. One, I have a job (lol). By which I just mean, I take my time when I play and fiddle with lots of little things, so a big fight like that would take a lot of my time. If I have that much time, I'd rather run a CMx10 campaign than a single monster sized battle.

Two, I don't think the auto maps work at all on that scale. They are way too wide for their depth and the scale of forces. Typically you get something like 1.75 km deep, with the attacker given ~350m of it as set up zone. The defender get a km or less. The attacker can walk to the edge of the defender's set up zone, and as soon as he reaches it, have LOS clear to the back of the map.

Which splits the defender side to side, by interlocking a fire lane with a gamey bottomless pit. In the real deal, the defender has a whole country back there. A position 5-6 km deep for the forward operational units. Plenty of reserves to shove forward opposite a local concentration. All of these have been neutered by the mere shape of the map. There is nothing realistic in that.

The attacker still has the ability to concentrate side to side, along the frontage. But the proper doctrinal counter, a layered defense and reserves that counter concentrate, has been artificially prevented. A defensive reserve trying to move along the front has too far to go and is far too exposed. The result is a single optimal exploitation of the mere shape of the map, that pays no attention to history or the player's rival decisions or choices etc.

You just pick the part you will kill, chop in 1-2 places, screen the rest, and kill the chopped up bits. You can do this by advancing overwatch forces only a few hundred meters to get front to back LOS.

I also don't recognize your statements about AT mines being so dangerous in this context. Seems to me, the attacking tanks can pretty much live outside the whole defender's set up zone, and still shoot whatever they want.

You'd need a custom map more like 2 km wide by 3 km deep, instead of one nearly 4 wide and less than 2 deep.

I also don't think the scale works in other respects. Arty is neutered in such a giant QB, for instance. What do I mean? Well, the way it is represented in CM is single FOs one per battery with aimed fire at what that guy can see. In a battalion or smaller fight, that is a reasonable approximation to actual practice.

The big expection, Russian map fire, is reasonable on maps of limited size. You effectively have a fair amount of info at set up about what locations are likely to be fought over.

Now make it a regiment scale fight. To get realistic levels of support, you'd be talking 9 FOs and upward. But they'd task much more flexibly at that scale, not all need to be tied to exactly this 2-man unit. By forcing that unrealistically to be decided "beforehand", you effectively increase the point odds disparity along the front. (The attacker chooses where to mass, the defending FOs are not mostly opposite that point, etc).

Then you have to wait for recon, which hasn't occurred before "go". Therefore, map fire doesn't really work. Realistically, they'd know a lot more, at the time they made an actual fire plan. As much as you know in a giant CM fight after 15 to 30 minutes, and that you can guess on a smaller map from the limited areas involved.

Now, ignoring all of that to talk about general methods I use for the measures you talked about. Obstacles. I will approach obstacles and even make them my route of advance if I think they are deterrents rather than an MLR. Which I judge based on what is behind them, cover wise, the usefulness of the route in other respects, etc.

As the Russians, I typically have small teams of pioneers, HQ and 2 squads being a common group. They are along with their DCs. If I encounter AP mines in cover, I may keep going with other units but the nearest pioneers also come over. If I find a second tile, then I blow a gap and people go through it, rather than around. Typically at a rate of 2 units per minute, slowing on the other side to wait for more help.

With wire, I put the company and weapons in the cover on my side of it. Then one platoon moves to the wire, a half squad scout first. They all go stationary on my side of the wire, even in open ground. Then a single unit gets a "move" order and waypoint that just crosses the wire, nothing else. Everyone else is stationary. The next unit has a similar order but padded with pauses so it doesn't move out yet.

On the other side, the unit looks for attacker cover - brush or rocky e.g. and goes stationary until its whole platoon crosses. I don't push for good cover that defenders might be in. If there is no fire, I will cross 2 units per minute at separated locations. Once the first platoon is completely across, the next moves to where it was and repeats. Overwatch is still in cover on my side. I won't risk FOs or on map 82s in wire, but anyone else will go when it is their turn. It can take 10 minutes to cross even an undefended wire obstacle using this "drill".

If I take fire at some point, only 1-2 units are actually in the 100% exposure actual wire. They rout, certainly, but small potatos. The others, it depends on the range. If the range is long, it is the typical story - eat his ammo and rally. Stationary men are using "hide" if they are too far for full IDs. If the range is short enough for IDs, then the overwatch weapons fire and so does all the infantry at or across the wire. I expect firepower to put the defenders heads down, not to cross while they are shooting. When they are, the crossing drill resumes.

Understand that I only do this if my original diagnosis of the wire was, as a bluff meant to make me avoid a route. Particularly if a lot of it is in dead ground or looks like it is meant to deny cover (the wire strand across a scattered tree approach route is a perfect example).

As for AT mines, the basic story is I don't advance tanks farther than I need to, to get LOS to one enemy at a time. I figure, they've got one main gun, they only need one target. They need a new one when that one is dead. They walk their LOS forward gradually, with the limit of their LOS just ahead of my infantry. The tanks themselves are typically quite ways behind. The only exception is reverse slope situations, where to cover the spot ahead of the infantry they have to come forward a fair ways. A light tank can go first and they can use column if I think there is any chance of mines. Pioneers come over if they hit any. Etc.

The only serious use of obstacles that worries me in this sort of strategy is the "shield" for an MLR. Meaning, the guy puts 10 tiles of wire or AP mines in a string, and then puts most of a company of infantry behind the same sector, too. What bugs me about this is that it is hard to get at those defenders to kill them, not that it is hard to take the ground they are on.

I send arty if I think it is what is going on - or direct HE in quantity. As for where I advance, I am willing to build a base of fire right at the edge of his obstacle belt in this case, to shoot him from. But I don't try to walk on top of him, if this is what I think he has. I send bullets not bodies across, in other words.

As for the need to orient on the flags, I don't know how many times I have to say it before anybody takes it literally, but I don't pay any attention to the flags. (One minor expection below). In the last 5 minutes of a small fight, maybe in the last 10 minutes of a big one, I may send little details to get awarded the ones I already "own", and if the enemy is basically busted otherwise, maybe a piece of living armor to contest another he has, that I think is weak. But for basically the whole game, they are just plain off. I don't even remember where they are. I really don't care. I orient on the enemy and kill them.

The only time I pay attention to them, the small exception, is when targeting "map fire" arty. I consider it more likely there will be enemy in covered areas near, or ahead of, the flags, so I am more likely to target those and other bits of woods. And this is just trying to anticipate enemy positioning to kill his men better with inflexible arty - not about caring about getting the flags myself.

If I win the firefight, and I mean really and truly *win* the firefight, I am going to win the game. No placement, no gamey set of moves, no time limit, no scoring system, can stop it. The enemy force is the only thing that can hurt me or take away points from me in the long run. If it is gone well before the end, scoring takes care of itself. If it isn't, I still expect my own force to be more or less alive, and to have hurt them enemy. If I get a draw, fine, I didn't win the firefight so I don't expect a win.

As for villages, I don't consider them particularly effective forms of cover for defenders. I don't avoid them as routes, don't pick them either. A light building is fine cover for an attacker, lousy for a defender compared to what he could have. Stone buildings are rare in Russian village maps. And they are more vulnerable to direct fire HE than foxholes (better against mortars and indirect). So I chuck a little HE into them, big deal.

In terms of getting into a village, it is a standard application of packet movement drills. The company accumulates in cover short of the village proper. When weapons are in place to overwatch, the first platoon approaches the village, a scout leading. They grab a few buildings or they don't because there are defenders in them (they head for light ones, incidentally).

If there are defenders there, they murder the poor half squad on point. The rest of the platoon is close enough for full IDs. All overwatch hits the shooters. The near platoon goes stationary and fires at them. One squad on advance goes to a building if one seems clear. I am not remotely scared of firefighting infantry in 25% cover with my overwatch, and the formation at risk is at most the lead platoon.

If instead the platoon gets a foothold in the buildings, then they stop moving. Completely. The next platoon gets a new set of buildings to head for - typically hiding behind the first set (in open ground but expecting full LOS blockage forward) on their way to them. Same drill, only now there is also a platoon in the buildings able to fire back from nearly point blank range and cover. Repeat. When the whole company of squad infantry is in the village, the overwatch can move there too and the point moves out again.

As for rapid approach marches, in the first few minutes I am typically moving only the lead platoon in my full columns, at the same time patrols etc are moving up elsewhere. The idea is just to initially look more like a lot of spread out platoons, on line. By minute 5 this pretense is gone and he can probably see my main groups moving out. (Of course I like dead ground routes as much as the next person, but I don't expect to always have them).

Then the speed depends on the enemy reaction to that point. If he is dead quiet, I am quite willing to have the front guys use 70m advance and everyone else move, at least for the first 400m or so. If he is harassing with a few MGS, 50-70m advances are the order of the day, with move while in cover. If the fire is more serious then the full packet movement drill, a few at a time using short advance.

He either pays me time or he pays me ammo. He can choose which, but he pays. Meaning, if he wants all his ammo remaining after I make the initial approach, then I make that initial approach (to the edge of his set up zone or just shy of it) in 5 minutes. If he makes it take 10 minutes, he spends ammo (at least from his MGs etc) to do it.

Once I am near the edge of his set up zone, the packet movement drill is in full force. I slow down. I expect only LPs in the first bits of cover he could have set up in, but I don't rush them with a whole company. There could be an MLR instead. A half squad therefore goes first, the first platoon moves by advance in the open and move to contact inside cover, 2 by 2, the FO is bouncing his aim point to keep the shells 2-3 minutes out just ahead of the point, etc.

The motto of such advances is very far from being "furstust with the mostust". It is "slow is smooth, smooth is fast". Attacks lose more time *after* contact, from being broken at first trigger pull, than in packet movement drills. The speed I care about is, how long after first serious fire from the defenders before I have my men stationary and dishing out serious fire back. Time from ambush to trigger, not time to reach the enemy location.

I'm not going to reach any defended location until the defenders thereof are shot to rags. He decided which spots to defend. I pick which spots to attack - I do not turn that over to him by reacting to his choices in predictable ways. I am downright stubborn. My overall plan may well adapt, once, to what I see him trying to do. But it is not an attempt to avoid him - on the contrary. Find, fix, murder.

On important hills or other large bits of terrain, I do consider them, sure. But as big LOS blocks first of all, not as places I have to live in. They are good targets for planned arty. During the fight, I want to dominate the near side of them by fire, from whatever range my weapons allow. Then I want to circle them, walking my LOS around them. I expect this to gradually reveal defenders. In a case of a hill, if I can hug it high up with infantry but never cross the crest, that is best. I expect fire dominance on my side of it, ergo safety. I then slowly rotate where my side is, increasing the total angle around the hill I "own".

On my choice of routes, they will take terrain into account, certainly, but they are not dictated by terrain. It is not that I am ignoring wide scouting reports and where the enemy is, to focus on always going where I think the ground is good. That is just as predictable. The point is to let the place the attack falls be my decision. Arbitrary, from Olympus, so let it be written...

Not the ground's decision. Not the enemy's decision, by placement of his forces or of obstacles. I consider a defender chosen route dangerous and a willfully independent, attack chosen route optimal. If my plan overall is wing attack on the right half of the board, nothing dictated this, I just plain picked it out of the ether. Any enemy that happen to be there, I intend to destroy. Any reserves he happens to move over, I will destroy in turn, when I can. I push as slow or as hard as the enemy and ground dictate, but I didn't pick where on that basis. I just plain picked, command push.

What I expect from this approach is that the enemy has to correctly be strong with a full MLR in an arbitrary spot on the map. I consider the likelihood of that low. Defenders readily get coverage everywhere, and kill sack strength somewhere. My gradualist, attrition attack methods work best when they eat the lesser covering forces, and then make the defender dance to my own coordinated tune. Keeps all my firepower integration ducks in a row - overwatch in the right places, planned fire missions ahead of where I am going, etc.

I consider pursuit of break-in by aggressively shoving everyone along the apparently least occupied route, the best way to find a kill sack. In my experience, defenders aren't idiots, they are devious. My long suit is not guessing where they aren't. I expect a defender to be longer on real time intel (occasional special terrain exceptions, fog, etc but that is the rule), but shorter on lasting firepower. So I play in my long suit, not in his.

I'll reply to some of Adam's stuff in a separate post.

[ April 07, 2005, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Dschugaschwili - issue your own challenges and game invitations please. It is not polite to say to third parties, "why don't you and him fight". It treats said third parties like performing bears, rather than men in charge of their own affairs. I don't think you intended any offense, don't get me wrong. I am just telling you how it comes across, so you are aware of it.

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Adam - first the full bore maneuverism question. I don't think it works except against people who don't know what they are doing. I've no doubt there are any number of brigades that go through the NTC that fall into that category, and where the captains haven't the foggiest what to do if the LTC isn't on the radio holding their hand. But that is greenness, not the essence of warfare.

By the time they have seen the elephant, men know their jobs and are exacting critics of the senselessness with which their immediate superiors are performing theirs. Dollars to donuts, if you shove the place of decision down an echelon, the decision improves. Lord knows plenty of front line commanders had good reason to want to blow up their own rear HQs, so why is doing it for them supposed to produce paralysis?

I am exaggerating, of course. But the expectation that armies fall apart because the muckety muck can't issue reams of orders every three minutes strikes me as a self important delusion of muckety mucks, more than a sound theory of warfare. Most seniors officers make few decisions that matter in the course of an engagement, and a solid half of those decisions can't be implimented due to ordinary friction. A solid third of those that are implimented, were flat wrong (because of poor intel, delay, etc).

Combat is chaotic. Live combat power is flexible. Forces operating on sound principles aren't taut ropes that fall apart if everything doesn't go exactly as planned. They are internally redundant, with 3 of everything. They have reserves, all around and adaptive deployments, chains of escalation to call on in the event of local failure on some lesser scale.

Are there forces in history that do not know what they are doing, that are vulnerable to such failures because of it? Yes, certainly. Especially when there are new, unexpected elements of the equation, that the forces were not designed for, did not anticipate, that cause methods they relied on to break down not episodically but systematically.

Losers sometimes lose because they make mistakes. Being ready to capitalize on enemy mistakes is a good idea. Counting on them making big honking fatal ones exactly as you hope, on the other hand, is not. It is a lousy idea, a good way to gamble and lose. Confusing their mistakes with your own prowess is a good way to catch "victory disease" and bite off way more than you can chew.

I'll deal with the Manstein question in a separate post.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

...Two, I don't think the auto maps work at all on that scale. They are way too wide for their depth and the scale of forces...

Granted, but that´s all I can get unfortunately and I don´t know a better way to get a fresh map anytime I want. But I absolutely love the overall size of medium - huge maps. Otherwise I might just stick to Close-Combat anyway.

Asides often enough small hills, forests effectivly block LOS for tanks, forcing them to get closer. Depends on the landscape, of course.

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The reason Manstein pushed so hard is he understood his own role in the German operational plan and the problem it was supposed to set up for the Russians. He was trying to make that problem as hard as possible, being much less concerned with how hard it made his own.

He did expect the German infantry following in his wake to close up, rapidly. He figured most of the Russians between him and those following forces would be trying to get away as fast as possible. The ones that weren't, would probably be trying to slow down said infantry. He didn't expect them to succeed at it for long.

He had made routes through them, that some of his following forces would be able to move along. They would thus be able to flank just about every blocking position the Russians attempted. Just send some subunit right in Manstein's wake, make 15 miles, turn off right or left, and help out wherever the hold up was. A Russian force trying to stop the follow up guys might slow them or make them deploy. But it could not easily form a solid position.

(In the event they did, he'd have sent one division back along his own previous route, and made them face two ways. While holding the points he had reached with the rest of his force, just not pushing further in the meantime).

He sees the big Russian problem as reforming a continuous front. Where will they try to do so? They want terrain - good defensive terrain will let modest forces screen most of the new continuous front. And let reserves concentrate wherever the Germans mass, trying to get through it again. So, he scans the terrain he is advancing into with a defender's eyes. Looking for continuous full line obstacles. He expects they want to delay shy of such positions, while bringing all the forces they can to it, to man it, before the Germans reach it.

So he wants to reach any point actually astride such an obstacle ASAP. It is intimidation. You can't form your new front along the Dvina and just screen it. I am already across. You will have to send a force strong enough to fight my whole corps, and without a river, and mass it at the point I crossed. Not a screening force for the rest of the river. But oh, my supporting infantry will be up in a few days. So within a few days of that big force sent directly at me, you will also need that whole screening force along the whole river.

Deduction - you will need a massive force already right at the Dvina yesterday. If you don't have it - as Manstein bets - then you are being urged to eye some other linear terrain obstacle even further back, as the place to make your new line-forming attempt. Suppose you decide the Dvina is the new line anyway. You race every reserve you have, in front of me and all along the river, deployed wide.

What is going to happen if I manage to keep going and make it even 20 miles further? You are going to have to withdraw that whole spread out force along the river, again. Racing me. And I'll be on the main road, you get to go the back routes. I'm motorized, you are on foot.

That's the risk. What's the upside? The best you can hope for is containing me and holding the line of the river. OK, in a few days my infantry follow up closes with your new position, all along the river line. Now we can screen you, too. We can mass anywhere we want. I've got a bridgehead to attack out of, already. We can mass opposite some loop and do the usual thing. You have no realistic prospect of regaining any terrain on our side of the river, certainly.

What is the alternative? You don't have to race everyone so far forward. You can form a line without risking another withdrawal or encirclement, farther back - say at the chokepoint between the lakes shy of Leningrad, south of the city.

Manstein doesn't know where they will try to stand. He doesn't know how much they have, that they can send his way. He is just playing his role, make their problem of forming a new front as hard as possible.

What happens later with Vatutin's counterattack? They manage to send a tank division with infantry at his front, to fix him, and then sneak an infantry division across his right, from the part of the front closer to Moscow. The infantry get there by exploiting the poor terrain. Manstein's forces are primarily grabbing road net. They aren't spread out deep in the woods.

What lets it happen is, the Russians have enough forces ahead of the Germans again, instead of half behind them running to get back level with the leading German penetrations, aka running for their lives. Enough infantry facing the right way and in contact for several days.

When an infantry force makes contact, at first they just block the road, then they deploy, then they dig in, then they probe and grab the unoccupied bits ahead of them, as they patrol etc. Well, some of them find there are woods areas that the mobile parts of the German force aren't occupying. A thin screen along a road won't stop a serious force crossing that road, woods to woods, at right angles to it. The Russians put a rifle division across Manstein's rear.

The reaction then is, go over to the defensive in front, can call for supports. The German force is not just this spearhead. They've got other armor elsewhere, on its own missions. They divert some to free Manstein again. That Russian RD has to face two directions, same as Manstein's force does. The Germans send enough, get off the roads, and go smash them. The overall operational result is delay and a diversion of effort.

Which the Russians cash in, to form a solid defense south of Leningrad. Operationally, the counterattack is a limited success, because it buys them to time for that. The Russians would have liked to have killed Manstein's whole force before the German relief got there and killed their cutting RD. But they did not manage to pull that off. One armored division attacking Manstein in front, wasn't enough to smash his pocket. The Russian armor was failing uniformly, every time it tried, so that isn't too surprising actually.

That is the operational story, the facts of the case and the motivations etc. Asking what it means for the strategies we are discussing, is a further subject. Basically the Germans were implimenting a maneuver dislocating strategy. They were trying to catch Russians before they could withdraw, and prolong that retreat by not letting them make a stand. At the Dvina that worked.

A little farther on, they didn't get through every possible defense location fast enough, the Russians had enough strategic mobility in the form of rail to drop several armies in front of them, between them and Leningrad. New armies. By the time those were there and had a bit of time to deploy in front of the German spearheads and engage, they pulled off the half success "delay but no kill".

The principle the Germans were applying is the same one I described in WW I as strosstruppen break in tactics. The leading parties shove as far into the position as possible without regard for flanks. They hold the trench junctions, gum up the redeployment of reserves etc. Naturally that means they can wind up in close melee with such defending reserves as do manage to get to the scene - which is basically want happened to Manstein's group, up on a larger scale.

And just as in WW I, defenders had strategic mobility in the form of rail etc to bring up reserves even after a successful application of these tactics cracked the line, in WW II the Russians had the rail mobility and the depth to drop new armies in front of Leningrad. Motorized forces and aggressive handling made it much more effective in 1941 than in 1918. There wasn't any scar tissue of former moonscape to drag heavy arty across with horse teams.

If the Russians hadn't had great depth - in space to burn, in reserves to rail in - it would have been decisive. As it was, it made for a near run thing and very high Russian losses (all the forces falling back in front of the German infantry, too slowly in places, etc). Eventually Leningrad gets cut off despite the Russians successfully forming a line south of it - because that line can be hammered, too. But the city holds out, it is not reached in a coup de main etc.

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GD - Um, I get lots of small hills and small woods but no big continuous ones. And I can take my pick of the small hills near the edge of the defender's set up zone, so as to thread LOS lines clear to the back of the map. I think it is easy. If you want to see every location, or get to the flags, maybe you need to go further sometimes. But just cracking the defender into digestible sections, lengthwise along the front, can be done without risking a single AT mine hit, on typical maps like this. Then you just put tanks on the hills opposite the section you are currently "digesting", etc.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

GD - Um, I get lots of small hills and small woods but no big continuous ones.

Must be chance then, but I often find spots suiteable to defend from without the immanent threat of enemy HE. But you are propably right, that many attackers are pushing to much and loose tanks because of impatience.
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Manouevrists. Bah. Dangerous buggers, because they preach war can be won on the cheap.

If more theoretical strategic thinking was attritional, we'ld have fewer wars methinks...

E.g. of Schleiffen had planned to defeat France via Verdun tactics, not some glorious end run, probably no WW1. Or if the Japs thought past the first 6 months, no Pearl Harbour...

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Manouevrists. Bah. Dangerous buggers, because they preach war can be won on the cheap.

If more theoretical strategic thinking was attritional, we'ld have fewer wars methinks...

E.g. of Schleiffen had planned to defeat France via Verdun tactics, not some glorious end run, probably no WW1. Or if the Japs thought past the first 6 months, no Pearl Harbour...

Ah but how did Germany conquer both France and Poland without some level of maneuver strategy.

In addition, I would say that the Schlieffen plan failed not because there wasn't enough maneuver in it, but because the maneuver element was damped down too much. The younger Moltke transfered far too many forces from the North breakthrough force, and put them on the South force. This was foolish, because the whole idea was too produce a 'turning' motion, cutting off the French and allowing a quick victory in Paris. That was the original plan, anyway, but who can say whether it would have worked...

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Wisbech meant that deterrence failure and expecting to win on the cheap go together. It is a familiar thesis - the best case for it I know was made by John Mearsheimer (a prof of IR at the University of Chicago) in a book called "conventional deterrence".

The overall point is we'd rather not have wars. People who think they are going to win cheaply are much more inclined to start them. As often as not, they are completely wrong and we get long costly wars of attrition anyway. Wars so costly nobody in their right mind would have started them, if they saw that cost beforehand.

To me the moral is, plan for a war of attrition and don't start anything unless you would pay even that price. Don't expect the other guy to be a tenth as rational. If he is, gravy. If you win a war more cheaply than you expected, gravy. But you won't start them thinking they are cheap or readily winnable, only to find they are expensive or lost.

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Further remarks about the Manstein case. The basic situation is a parallel pursuit, in effect. The German armor is through the Russian line, its infantry is largely still on the western and southern side of that line, but portions of that infantry are immediately behind the German armor, following in their cleared wake. The German armor is not just Manstein - he is one of two corps advancing along parallel axes.

The force killing threat in all of this is that the front line Russian forces will fail to get away north and east in time. The German armor is not numerous enough, in the wooded terrain of the north, to fan out behind three Russian armies and cut them all off. But it can lead the German infantry forward. That infantry - two armies of it - is numerous enough for that.

The German armor heads northeast. If the Russian infantry remains stationary in their south and western positions, fighting the German infantry, then the portions of the German infantry following the armor fan out right and left behind each corps. They turn every Russian position. Especially those between the two German mech corps, but also those between the left one and the Baltic. Those three Russian armies will therefore die if they stay where they are.

So they have to run, northeast. The German armor is ahead of them in a parallel pursuit race. The finish line of which is not Leningrad, but any place the rest of the Russian army can form a new continuous position. Forming a new line is meant to hold territory, sure. But it is also meant to rescue the three Russian armies to the west. And to protect the forces that form the new position, from having the same thing done to them - all forces and positions are first and foremost about protecting themselves, each other, etc.

Stavka orders an attempt to hold at the Dvina. Two mech corps have already failed to slow the breakthrough. The second echelon army in the area is told to hold the Dvina, though parts of it were southwest of the river and have already been passed. Another reinforcing army is provided, slightly toward the Moscow axis. And one mech corps.

Watch the correlation of forces. The Germans have in aggregate 2 mechanized corps and 2 infantry armies. Initially, the Russians have 2 infantry armies backed by 2 mech corps, and an additional infantry army in second echelon. But two of those infantry armies are behind the German mech within days of the invasion, and both front area mech corps have shattered before two weeks have passed.

So the new correlation of forces is - one second echelon army near the Dvina. One new one helping from the Moscow axis. One more mech corps. And 2 armies backpeddling, trying to get away. If all reach the Dvina, it is 4 infantry armies, half of them admittedly weakened by then, and a mech corps, against 2 infantry armies and 2 mech corps. With a defensive posture and a river, in wooded country. That ought to be enough to hold.

But suppose instead the 2 retreating armies can't get away, and the Germans have a bridgehead over the Dvina. Then the correlation of forces would become, 2 Russian armies, one still arriving and the other already penetrated, plus one mech corps of dubious quality, facing most of 2 infantry armies, and 2 mech corps of excellent quality. Not going to be enough. I said "most of" to account for the fact that some of the German infantry will be busy for a week or so bagging the Russian infantry left in the southwest.

So those are the stakes at the Dvina. The Russians are trying to make a near goal line with their reserves, that their own infantry still to the southwest can actually make their way back to. Rescuing them, sheltering them as they shake out and reform, etc. The Germans are trying to make it impossible to form a defensible position at the river line, fast enough. With the idea that the southwestern Russian infantry will be stuck on the wrong side of the river, without help, in the German rear - if the Russians form their next line farther back.

This basically works, though the Russians manage to withdraw fast enough along the Baltic coast that some of them get away. The attempt to form a new defense at the Dvina fails completely. The front commander is sacked, his command has lost 90,000 men to this point. Stavka has to spend precious strategic reserves, in the form of its newly forming armies, on the Leningrad front, to make a new line south of the city from fresh forces. In August, 4 new Russian armies are sent to the Leningrad area.

July was dicey because it wasn't even clear they'd have time for that. They had one ad hoc army facing south from Leningrad, plus whatever got back from the Dvina position, basically. The guys along the Baltic were losing badly and backpeddling as fast as they could (properly), but alive. The shoulder toward the Moscow axis was OK, because a new infantry army could slide over from there when needed etc. In between was a cut up mess, with remnants of the original force, the penetrated second echelon army, reserves railed in, etc.

The left of the two German mech corps - not Manstein's - managed to punch through that mess to within 70 miles of Leningrad, with an infantry corps right behind it. There it stalled, hitting the south facing Leningrad area army. The doctrinal thing now was for the other mech corps in the panzer group to deliver another blow beside the stalled one. Manstein was not able to, because Vatutin's counterattack had cut off his leading division. Instead, the German drive stalled out, armor was sent to free his force - successfully.

A couple weeks later everything is back to the deployment German doctrine wants, basically. But the reason the first panzer force to reach the outskirts of Leningrad can't grab it immediately is (1) there is a reserve army there (2) it isn't the whole panzer group, only its "left hand" (3) the "right hand" (Manstein) is being held, farther away, by Vatutin's counterattack.

Just explaining the operational circumstances a little more fully. I hope it helps.

[ April 08, 2005, 07:01 AM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Great thread Jason.

Personally I find the Leningrad front really interesting, particularly when the Germans go on the defensive after they complete the encirclement at Shlissel'burg and the Soviet counter attack at Tikhvin in Nov-Dec 1941.

While it was never the main sector of the war, I think it is perfect to study the evolution of Soviet operations and the way they mature throughout the war.

From the Liuban offensive in early 1942 which ends up with the destruction of the 2nd Shock Army in the swamps west of Miasnoi Bor and the fights around Siniavino in 1943 to the Leningrad-Novgorod offensive in Jan 1944, the front line stays pretty much the same.

At first, it is kind of disheartening to watch all the successive offensives planned by the Stavka unfold and fail to break the blockade while suffering terrible casualties each time.

The fights around Siniavino were so costly that it got the reputation of a graveyard for Red Army soldiers.

But by 1944 things have improved tremendously for the Soviets. They have opened a corridor south of Lake Ladoga with Zhukov's operation Spark the previous year and the January 1944 offensive finally forced the Germans to withdraw to the Panther line.

In 2 years they managed to overcome ammunition and fuel shortages, poor command and control and coordination of forces as well as a lack of (or poor use) of reserves for the exploitation phase of their offensives. The fact that Stalin gets less and less involved directly surely played a big role too.

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Originally posted by Cannon-fodder:

In addition, I would say that the Schlieffen plan failed not because there wasn't enough maneuver in it, but because the maneuver element was damped down too much. The younger Moltke transfered far too many forces from the North breakthrough force, and put them on the South force. This was foolish, because the whole idea was too produce a 'turning' motion, cutting off the French and allowing a quick victory in Paris. That was the original plan, anyway, but who can say whether it would have worked...

Supplying War by van Creveld has some interesting things to say about that. Namely, (a) that the German army didn't have enough transport to keep the existing forces in the right wing on the move, and (B) the road net through Belgium couldn't have handled all of it if they had. By the time the Germans reached the Marne, they were almost a spent force, not for lack of numbers, but because they were worn out.


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"what role does the cutting of supplies play anyhow?"

The threat of it plenty, the reality of it did not seriously matter in this instance but certainly did in others at the same time or not long after, farther south.

Suppose the Russian infantry armies that have been penetrated just curled into pockets and defended in place. They wouldn't be terribly vulnerable to "flanking" if not even trying to hold a thin linear position. They could move men from one side of the pocket to the other on interior lines, provided it was small enough, and thus deal with enemy attempts to concentrate on this or that area of the perimeter.

But there is a problem with this. They don't get more ammo in a steady stream. They can't stand up to infantry corps with hundreds of artillery pieces unless their own arty can dish it out as well. Which requires hundreds of tons per day per division. Which they aren't going to get, if surrounded.

The Russians formed some massive pockets farther south, containing armies or multiple armies. They all evaporated pretty rapidly. Why, what happened inside them, and outside them? Did they panic and fall down awestruck at the thought that someone was behind them? No.

The germans rings the pockets with infantry and its organic weapons, with on call arty. The eastern face were often held by mobile division forces at first, because they often formed those walls of them. The motorized infantry divisions in the German motorized corps got this duty often. Before others caught up, the infantry component of the PDs too.

Then the Russians inside try to break out, typically eastward at first, but shifting the point up to 90 degrees for deception or hoping to find a weak point etc. Occasionally groups do, filtering back through the woods even though the road net is German held. Some just go partisan in swampy forests. But lots of them frontally attack hasty German infantry defenses and get shot to rags. Arty ammo gives out in days, then unsupported infantry attempts it.

The Germans do take losses in these fights and need men for it, but they have all the high cards. This is how the bulk of the outsized Russian losses of 1941 occur. Some remain in a pocket that has repeatedly failed to break out, until their ammo is exhausted. They can't even defend themselves at that point. The German infantry ring contracts. Eventually some surrender.

In the case of the AG North operation, the Russians avoided this on the largest scale, though smaller versions of it did happen occasionally. But the threat of it was ever present. I mentioned that the German motorized corps alone were not enough to keep 3 infantry armies surrounded in woods terrain. But that the German infantry was numerous enough for this. That means, if the German infantry gets behind them as well, they are going to die in a lopsided annihilation battles under highly unfavorable circumstances. So they run, etc.

Notice what the mechanism is - ammo starvation. Notice moral collapse when it comes, follows objective hopelessness rather than causing it. Objective hopelessness means, trying to fight roughly equal numbers of enemies with registered artillery and a locally defensive posture, without any heavy weapons and with limits small arms ammo as well.

In CM terms, put a green 1941 Russian battalion without support weapons (HQs and squad infantry only, 100% "infantry" points, everything else stripped) and with 50% ammo, in the middle of a wooded map, say 1.2 km. Give the Germans a company (with HMGs and mortars etc) on each of two walls of it with 400m strips to deploy in, foxholes but no other obstacles, plus half a dozen TRPs and 3 105mm FOs. The Russians have an exit VC through the Germans.

Want a proof that ammo starvation and defeat by the ringing infantry and its arty is the cause? Compare Bastogne, where there is only as much infantry outside the pocket as inside, the guys inside do not try to attack out by merely wait for relief while trying to conserve their ammo - and weather permitting, they get airdropped supplies. In 1941, Russian pockets the size of multiple armies could not expect such things.

In AG North 1941, the Russians backpeddle well enough that most of them avoid this outcome. They still lose heavily because not everyone gets away.

As for the German plan and the inferior performance of the Russian armor, the Germans weren't counting on that underperformance, they flat hadn't considered what the Russian armor would do. They didn't think the Russians had nearly as much as they did have. We have them on record saying they thought Russian tank numbers had to just be propaganda, because they couldn't imagine they actually had a fleet 5 times the size of the German one.

The Germans lucked into the inability of the Russians to use their armor effectively. The enemy was making collosal mistakes, and they cashed them in. Those were not mistakes the Germans forced them into or planned on or cleverly manipulated the onset of through some elaborate razzle dazzle. It was blind luck, practically.

The Germans thought the Russians were idiots and the whole structure was rotten and would all fall apart. They were wrong in the large, but correct in one detail - the Russian mech force was not ready for prime time. Not because of lack of tanks, nor of theorists who knew they wanted corps sized all arms forces etc.

They had all those. They just couldn't get them to operate effectively under conditions of wartime friction. Poor combat service and support, poor last mile logistics, poor staff work and planning, inadequate command to deal with the problems all of those created, to manage the resulting snafus etc.

The result is that entire mech corps are given sensible operational orders to do the proper things - meet the German spearheads in the Russian operational rear, counterattack the shoulders of penetrations, etc. But time after time, a whole Russian mech corps trying to carry them out simply evaporates when it makes contact, in a matter of days. Usually with trivial losses to the Germans they hit, occasionally with initial successes lasting hours to 3 days, not longer.

My diagnosis is they are running out of fuel after being sent to spots dictated by tactical considerations, without regard for logistical ones. They have line commanders but no staffs, to speak of. They are told to get tanks to A, they get tanks to A, no fuel meets the tanks at A, the crews get out and walk. Occasionally they attack with no recon and essentially no combined arms coordination. The forward units are stopped, the rest can't accomplish anything, and when/if they try to reposition, the above happens to them.

Running a 1000 AFV mech corps under conditions of wartime friction, a limited road net, a rapidly changing battle etc was simply beyond the staff management capacities of the green (and purged) Russian officer corps of 1941. If you want to put it down to something the Germans were doing right, it was simply having efficient professional staffs that let modern motorized corps function as coherent units etc. That the Russians could not do this was entirely an "own goal". Which lasts only until the Russians learn how to correct the problem.

To correct it, they abolish the mech corps as simply too big to handle and go back to using independent brigades. Which most see as a big step backward, compared to Zhukov's concepts of full mech corps with independent operational roles yada yada. But as a practical matter, kept tanks supplied and in battle longer than a week - which the 1941 mech corps did not manage to accomplish (ever, that I can tell).

See the thread "what really happened to the Russians in 1941", for more on the failure of their mech arm. The Germans did not cause it and it is systematic. The whole 1941 campaign would have gone drastically differently, if the 1941 Russian mech corps had performed at even level of later Russian ones - even if only their KVs and T-34s had, with BTs acting like later T-60s and T-70s and all the T-26s written off.

They don't have to instantly breakthrough everytime they gang up on an infantry division, like German mech corps do - just trading off even half way when thrown into action, while stopping and fixing whatever they hit, would have sufficed to make most of the Russian plans coherent.

Instead, their counterattack forces disappear on them unexpectedly and they have to scramble to do something else, and they have no parallel force to match the German mech corps. Despite having plenty of organizationally similar formation, a sound doctrine on how to employ them at the large scale, sensible orders given to them at that scale, plenty of technically fine tanks (as well as some that aren't, to be sure) etc. They just fall apart on them the instant they move.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

Should men pin more easily and recover more slowly than they do in CM? Perhaps. But CM is already bloodier than the real deal was, over the course of a whole CM game. We also expend far more virtual ammo than the real participants did. Perhaps the reason is they did not fire so much at men who were already hugging the dirt, and they hugged it longer.

seems like we agree on the basics. i don't want more casualties, i want more realistic suppression and pinning.
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Originally posted by Dschugaschwili:

undead reindeer cavalry, JasonC:

since you disagree about the "platoon vs. 2 MGs" battle, what about you play one against each other and write an AAR afterwards?

unfortunately i don't have time for it at the moment. i hardly have time to keep up with this thread. perhaps later with a bit more meaningful setting (for example with historical outpost scenario).

IMO even the basic setting of having to test platoon vs 2 HMGs displays the flaw in the CM suppression modelling. it should be obvious that a HMG section pins down a single rifle platoon cought in the open and it shouldn't require testing. it's a bit like having to test how a Tiger fares against a lone SU-76.

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Originally posted by Adam_L:

There's also a reliance on the inability of the Russian reserve armor and their airforce to affect anything meaningful. It doesn't seem like something the Soviets could try to replicate, say in 1975 against NATO. Am I right? Is this definitely a "power play" where the Germans are banking heavily on their own superiority in fighting and handling operations? (I don't mean back on the front, but in the operations of the 56th itself)

i think you might enjoy studying the Soviet Vistula-Oder Operation of 1945. it's a totally devastating awesome operation, and qualitative superiority doesn't play such a part in it. i believe we might have seen something like that in 1975.
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Okay, I did not realise this dicussion went on here.

On Manstein and the Dvina bridges (I presume Dvinsk is the German Dünaburg?)

May I suggest reposting this one on the CMBB forum? I am sure you'll get more of a discussion there.

In the meantime, I will look up what de Beaulieu has to say on the matter. He was the Ia of Hoepner at Panzergruppe 4, and I am sure he has commented on the Dvinsk drive in his book 'Der Vormarsch der Panzergruppe 4 auf Leningrad', which I do have (somewhere). He does not have a lot of time for von Manstein though.

As for the general attitude of 'onward, and damn the flanks', von Manstein was not unique in that. I have a book written by the commanding general of IX.AK (a foot corps) on the role of IX. AK during Barbarossa and Taifun, and he is very strong on a few points:

1) written orders are a waste of time (remember, he commanded at corps level)

2) Giving your divisions concrete objectives is a hindrance - instead point them somewhere and let them loose, they know best what to do anyway (that he calls 'unity of thought')

3) The enemy in front is an issue, once you have by-passed them, they are a nuisance. Just march on and ignore them, another corps of the second wave will deal with them eventually

4) Any use of fire without maneuver is a waste of time and logistical effort (i.e. harrasment or vindictive fire)

IX.AK according to him racked up phenomenal advance rates by adhering to these policies. They constantly had enemy behind them, and long open flanks.

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