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Adam - in re "plugged in" - Fair enough, but do remember that there can be reasons to be cautious, that prompted your original concerns and recommended tactics, and the other side has counters. I'm not trying to unbalance the campaign here. Don't be surprised if right after you let your fangs grow a bit longer, a gun front or armor counterattack makes you pay for it. I just thought everyone ought to be making such trade offs consciously, knowing what works against what.

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PC may be taking my comments about knowing book too literally. I mean knowing all the relevant CM tactics and combinations of tactics that reliably bring about this or that result. Based on a comparison to chess, I called that knowing book. I do not mean the contents of printed manuals published in 1938.

In a chess game, you have to pay attention to what your opponent actually does on the board. But you also have to know openings, from book, and know them well enough to know why each move is being made, so you know the counter for every book move and the punishment for all the bad ones that depart from it too early.

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In the past i did some testing on spotting abilities and this made me think of the following drill to attack in steppe country:

I think the best recon is 4 or more crack snipers. They cannot be seen within 125m in steppe by units with binoculars(worst case scenario). They can see trenches within 200m and men firing within 250m.

What does that mean?

You can park snipers all around the map. When a sniper sees a trench formation it stays there and another sniper will go around -never getting closer than 125- and find another trench formation behind it. Use move to contact with covered arch for that and let them stop occasionaly because spotting capabilities are better standing still. Also use rotate to let them spot in different directions. Also park some snipers in locations where there are no trenches, because there might be mg's.

Now advance a halfsquad to the closest trench under command of a platoon leader or hq with lots of morale/stealth/command bonuses. With the command bonus you can keep your platoon far enough back and still have a morale boost for the halfsquad. It probably can advance reasonable. Of course enemy mg open, BUT they are spotted and located by your snipers and dealt with by either overwatch or pinning fire by snipers, which is enough for a few turns pinning.

I think this drill works excellent if there is enough steppe. Open ground would be more difficult and you also need high experienced snipers, crack or higher because the regular tend to get spotted earlier.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

It is strange to object to experienced players teaching tactical how tos on a tips and tricks forum.

If you want to debate finer grog points about the history of WW II in Russia, the CMBB forum is right over there and I will happily converse with you or anybody else about any of it, without anybody trying to teach anybody anything about how to do things in CM.

Not if I disagree with you, or question you on any point, you won't discuss it with me. You left your own 1941 thread after insulting about half the people on it for daring to question the Great Profassor Jason on his all emcompassing knowledge of WWII. You won't hold a civil discussion with anyone that is questioning your sources or knowledge. You just insult them until they leave the threads.

Trolls we are. Just plain trolls. We eat and disperse red meat. Don't bring facts to the conversation that just muddles it up. Everyone but Profassor Jason and his chosen few...

Interesting that you think I object to your teaching people about CM. That was why I came into this thread in the first place, because I thought I was going to learn something about fighting in the steppes. I had seen and been a part of your ire before in strategic settings but was hoping for something different in a tactical one. I hope that Adam and Anteportas get some helpful tips from this thread. That is what they seem to have come here for as well, and so far they aren't questioning anything you say, so they should be safe from getting insulted.

I was wrong, so I'll leave you to bask in your own glow.

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I am a bit paranoid maybe, but are Panther Commander and Jason in fact the same person. If you look at the lengthy and sometimes abstract way of writing you think so smile.gif . Maybe multiple personalities in one body?

But indeed Panther with most things I agree, but some thing should be more specific.

I, in fact, would never park a platoon of tanks in front of trenches if i know that my opponents have StuGs or better. One StuG(80mm panzer) will make short work of a platoon of T34's, especially in steppes. On the other hand a platoon of StuGs is reasonble protected against 76.2mm but lacks the ammo for trenchwork.

Maybe in the following reactions one should be more specific about the types of units, which I think would be very helpful for new players. German and russian forces are not the same and what would work against one doesnt have to work against the other

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Originally posted by JasonC:

As for your silly statements about Russians ignoring minefields and the rest of the propagandistic crap out of signal magazine, sorry, I've read too many Russian pioneer training manuals to believe a word of it. There is a reason pioneers went with every assault detachment, and no they didn't ignore mines or just walk through them. They weren't all descendents of the mongols either, they didn't eat babies, or any of a thousand other lies just as silly.

Sorry we were posting so fast that I missed some of your posts. Some very important ones at that.

Steven Zaloga in his book "Bagration 1944" states that the Soviet answer to German minefields before that time had been to drive through them. You don't seem to think much of the statements that Mr. Zaloga makes since you have responded to them unfavorably in the past.

That isn't a novel concept though. In a tactical setting all armies have used that on the spot expedient.

AND not everybody that disagrees with you gets their information from Signal magazine. Since I've never even seen one that would be a little hard. Give the world some credit Jason. Somebody else does serious study of WWII besides just YOU.

Typical IDs at the time of Kursk had 40-60 PAK...

Yes, I agree and the plan had been for them to have 200. But even then this number is less than what you would find with a Soviet RD and you don't want to acknowledge that they could have any concentration of firepower on the battlefield outside of penny packets. Who is playing with nationalistic overtones now?

Not only that but the German Army loaded the attack formations at Kursk the rest of the German Army starved for replacements in both men and material so the attack at Kursk could go in with anything close to resembling full strength. So, yes I do believe there was a shortage of German AT guns.

Or maybe I missed something...the Germans did lose the war because the Soviets outproduced them right? That means then that the Germans were short of equipment in the later stages of the war right?

PC - you don't seem to have any idea how they were deployed.

Yes, I have they were deployed in Pak Fronts in the main attack sectors where they knew the Germans were coming and had known for months. It's no great thing to win a battle when you know all the variables. The Russians did. It was HARD to stop the Germans but they held all the cards. They knew more about the German deployment than their army commanders did.

Do I think that Soviet tactics in WWII were all about not worrying about the casualties they took? Everything I read and their own manuals say so. Or maybe again I am "simply wrong". Maybe the Russians didn't lose millions of men on the Eastern Front.

Have you seen how the Soviets attacked in the same place at the same for days on end having thousands of men killed to take a hill? THOUSANDS!! Getting a company of men killed to get a field is not that big an effort against those numbers. The battlefield accounts are full of the Russian disregard for human life. The term "Human Wave" was coined to explain Russian infantry tactics. There is a real conservative tactic for you. Saves lots of lives that the Russians are concerned with saving.

*** Line up! At my order advance on the German trenches. Now Lock arms and RUN!! ***

Great regard for human losses shown there.

Quantity has a quality all it's own. Why would the Russians not care about how many men they lost in taking that field? Because at the end of the day two things had happened. They now owned the field and they could replace their losses in men and machines. The Germans couldn't and that is why the Russians won and the Germans lost.

I am thinking that maybe you should write a book. You have so much knowledge that you should share it in a more formal setting.

I am NOT being funny here.

Being able to sit down and read about WWII from your viewpoint, whether or not I agree with it, and some of it I do agree with, would be interesting. You make some good points and I would like to see how you formulated your opinions. I would also like to see the resources that you have used to get to that opinion. So if you decide to write your book I'll buy the first copy.

Your comment about me being contrarian to your positions is funny. You rarely agree with anything anybody says. So for that to be true all I have to do is say pretty much anything and I have disagreed with you.

It was interesting before I became another walkaway and leave this thread to the obtuse guy.

[ May 24, 2005, 05:22 AM: Message edited by: Panther Commander ]

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Yeah Jason you should really write a book. There are a lot of popular beliefs and myths about ww2 and you seem to have the knowledge and time to correct those.

Also some time ago you posted some remarks about a comparison between manpower of the Sovjet Union and Germany, saying that the difference was not so big as most of us imagine. The Sovjet Union had a population of 150 million avaible and germany or 80 million.

There are some more threads for example "what happened with the russians in '41" that if you combine them, would make an excellent writing.

It would be something like John Mosier's Blitzkrieg the Myth, or how the axis and allies misread the strategic outcome of ww2. Don't remember the exact title though.

So what do you think about that? There are enough ww2 junkies to make a profitable market.

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I think at least part of what Jason is getting is that the Soviets were not morons. They had their own military doctrine which placed success above all, and loss of life simply was not the worry that it was in Western armies.

The thing is, that's far, far away from "lock arms and charge". The Soviets used that tactic at times, just like they used massed firepower, deep operational maneuver, and superior infantry toughness at other times.

I talk to Red Army veterans regularly and not one of them has told me something along the lines of "You know, the Western histories are all wrong, in fact the Red Army did a pretty good job of protecting the lives of its soldiers."

Every single one of them tells me something roughly along the lines of "Our soldiers died like flies at times, if high command had a goal our lives weren't worth a kopeck."

But again, that's different from just throwing away soldiers' lives because you are too stupid to do anything else. Sure during Taifun '41 massed infantry charges were an important part of the Winter counteroffense. But during Kutuzov '43 they weren't.

The German histories of course don't point that out very much, because they lost Ukraine pretty much in its entirity during Kutuzov. This was mobile warfare, before Bagratian, and at the height of German Panzer superiority. So how do those supposedly stupid Soviets manage that success? Ukraine is about as big as France, and the roads a whole lot worse. It was human wave charges?

During the 1944 summer offensives the Red Army with roughly a 2-1 numerical superiority and 1.5 to 1 armor superiority broke the back of the Wehrmacht. It wasn't human wave charges, and it wasn't overwhelming numerical superiority.

The Germans all wrote it was overwhelming because the Soviets, having learned their lessons, concentrated forces at one point after another along the front, creating local superiorites of five and even ten to one. They created breakthroughs and they had the doctrine and the training to maintan and exploit them. And from Karelia to Romania they repeated that basic move, time after time ripping holes in a force which - if you look at the raw numbers - they had no right to even harm.

I have read all sorts of German memoirs of the period and over and over it's "We held out bravely but were defeated by overwhelming numbers." Von Mellenthin is my favorite - he simply skips Bagratian in its entirity. I guess he figures nothing militarily important happened.

But somehow, when the Germans did the same thing to the Soviets in 1941 and 1942, i.e. mass overwhelming combat power at a series of points along a front, and break the front, that's proof of German military superiority and Soviet military idiocy.

That's a double standard, in my book.

The main theme of Glantz's writing is, over and over, the Soviets got better and better at modern warfare, and by late '43 or so their army was quite as good at it on an operational level as the German army. You can dispute that if you like, but the reconquest of Ukraine in the space of a few months is an accomplished fact. The Soviets did it, and it wasn't by high-cost human wave charges.

It is difficult to exaggerate how blindingly obvious this point of view is, if you are just willing even to consider the non-German point of view. The Soviets wrote about it in their histories, their military came to the same conclusions in their internal studies, and those same Red Army veterans I talk to from time time tell me the same thing: the Germans were not supermen, their army was tough but by no means superior, and Red Army veterans learned fire and movement just like veterans everywhere else learned fire and movement - because if you didn't your chances of surviving to become a veteran were next to nothing.

The Russian-language bibliography on the East Front is the richest in any language in the world - and that makes good sense because it was their country after all.

The only way to reduce the Red Army to a bunch of goons sending 17-year-olds to mass slaughter in human wave charges is to be willfully ignorant of the Russo-Soviet side of the historical literature. All Glantz has done, for practical purposes, is finally put what the Soviets have been saying for the last half century into English.

Here's an anecdote. True story, supposedly. It's right after the war and Eisenhower in his Midwest friendliness at some meeting asks Zhukov how the Red Army dealt with minefields. Zhukov's response was right out of central planning: we attack right over them, of course.

Red infantry clearing mines with their feet became the received truth in the West, once Ike wrote his memoirs. The Soviets used infantry to detect mines, and we know that's the case because that's what Zhukov (through a translator) told Ike.

Well, maybe Zhukov was lying. Ike was a bigt ime Imperialist Capitalist - why tell him how the Red Army does business? I have no doubt Zhukov at times ordered infantry to ignore minefields, but I also know combat engineers in 1st Belorussian Front were famous for breaching obstacles, at night before the big attack took place - because I have read Zhukov's memoirs, and as Jason points out that was the standard doctrine in the Red Army.

I have talked to Red Army sappers. It's just my personal impression, but it sure seems like those guys knew about mine-clearing. I woudn't say they seemed to be overwhelmingly superior in knowledge to sappers of other nationalities I have talked to.

But there is a drill for clearing mines and, in spite they were supposedly stupid Red Army soldiers, these guys know a half century or more after they got taught it. Tapes, probing with a pointed object, which mines are booby trapped, limiting the blast with matresses if you can, all that good basic stuff.

Interestingly they had a couple of field expedient solutions to mine fields I thought were pretty clever. For one technique all you need is you need a truck, a busted vehicle that still rolls, and lots of cable. You tie the truck to the busted vehicle, then drive to the other side of the field, and then pull the busted vehicle across the field. Repeat in the other direction as necessay.

Supposedly this is pretty effective at getting rid of "most of the anti-personnel mines."

That wouldn't qualify as competent mine-clearing in a Western army, but I bet it got rid of most of the mines for a whole lot resources than what a Western sapper unit would need to do the same thing. Sure the field still would have a few mines in it, and sure eventually one of them would nail some one somewhere down the line.

But on the other hand, albeit at a somewhat higher price in human life, those Red Army sappers would definately cleared that mine field.

The bottom line here is that valuing human life less than in a western army is not the same exact same thing as military ineffectiveness. The Wehrmacht was a whole lot more ruthless with its own people than the western allies, let's not forget.

The Red Army looked at human life as a valuable but expendable resource for achieving military goals. But that's a long, long, way away from military stupidity. I can make a pretty good arguement the U.S. Army would have been a whole lot more effective tactically, if the generals didn't have to answer to the American public.

If you categorize the Red Army into "Stupid, clumsy, and only able to win by overwhelming numbers" you are fooling yourself.

It's like Glantz says. The Red Army was like that at the beginning of the war, but they learned. The Red Army by late 1943 knew they could beat the Germans, and by mid 1944 they knew they would beat the Germans.

Absolutely true the size of the Soviet populace, territory, and industry gave the Red general something the French or Polish generals never had: time to learn how to fight the Germans.

But fight the Germans the Red Army did. The veterans I talk to are pretty much unanimous: it was us, and no one else, that defeated the Germans. And not one of them has told me: And the way we did it, we simply had more bodies than the Germans had bullets.

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"the Soviet answer to German minefields before that time had been to drive through them."

They didn't in the battle he was talking about, that he actual researched, right? He was presenting it as an advance, that they weren't naive anymore. The reality is, they never really were. Then he said, drive through. He is therefore talking about their tanks, not mine detecting with infantry. The Russians in fact provided pioneers to all their mech formations from the time of the tank and mech corps structures.

But how do such things get started? You only need to know two facts, one about the overall history of historiography about the war, and the second about how Germans used minefields. The overall historiography point is much more general and may be the root of your overall attitude.

Right after the war, the US had a great appetite for information on how it had been conducted. By 1947 the west was in competition with the Russians, and by 1950 at war with their proxies. Historians made a point of seeking out German officers, particularly armor theorist ones, and picking their brains. The German generals wrote their memoires.

Much realistic high level stuff was conveyed, along with two great myths. It's all Hitlers fault was one, the officers excusing all army-source failings in Russia. And we did everything right, but just got overwhelmed by hordes of mindless zombies who didn't mind dying. These were mostly just self excusing. To some extent they were deliberately intended to make the Russians look dangerous, since the German pose was they had been fighting the right enemy all along and the west was just waking up to the need to do so. In addition, every current myth widespread in the German army got recycled - if propaganda during the war had convinced typical German officers of X, they regurgitated X to their interviewers. Every German vet's fish story ("they were thiiisss big") also rebounded in this postwar echo chamber.

To be fair, in the best of the German memoires, it was at least apparent the Russians were making very good operational moves from late 1942 on. This typically sequed into "Hitler's fault" as the officer related all his "I told 'em so"'s, and frequently the story of his dismissal.

There was a perfectly detectable fundamental problem with this entire line, even when unchallenged by other sources. The Germans were only outnumbered about 2 to 1 in Russia, in either manpower base or tanks produced over the war as a whole (a figure that might rise to 3 to 1 at worst with western commitments included, and that only late), yet they claimed inflicted losses of 5 to 10 to 1, and their only explanation for their eventual defeat was supposedly overwhelming Russian numbers, reaching they said 10 to 1 by the end. These figures simply make no mathematical sense.

It is possible for attrition to produce 10 to 1 odds against the losing side, starting from ratios as low as the mobilization factors could account for. But not when combined with 5-10 to 1 inflicted loss rates, as well. For the German story to be coherent, the Russians would have needed on the order of a billion men as a manpower base, which they clearly did not have.

Mathematically, for 2-3 to 1 mobilization odds to result in 10 to 1 eventual battlefield odds, it is not necessary for the Russians to ever inflict more than they lost. But it is necessary for the losses inflicted ratio to fall below the mobilization odds ratio, at some point in the war. Attrition subtraction can do the rest. 250 vs 100 can turn into 175 vs 50 then 125 vs 25. But for the ratio to fall, first the relative loss rate has to fall below the relative replacement rate.

Before that happens, it is possible for the loss ratio to be very high without leading to a runaway win by the side favored by it. Particularly if the overall loss rate (absolute level) is low, or the replacement rates are high. Suppose the Germans are inflicting 10 to 1 losses early, but the absolute level is 100 per month. If the Russian replacement rate is also 100 per month, the great loss ratio means the Germans are only losing 10 - but Russian strength is not declining, because their loss rate is matched by their replacement rate. Mathematically, the field forces ratio tends to remain "anchored" at the replacement ratio, like a restoring force. It takes a superior loss ratio to keep it anywhere below that level whenever it dips.

This was all detectable from the first principles of attrition reasoning regardless of sources, and was enough to show the German "line" on the war could not possibly be accurate. We now know from much more detailed returns that the Russians weathered the period when the loss ratio was highest - which was 1941 - by matching their losses with new forces fielded. The Germans failed to (in 1941), not because of anything forced by attrition logic on the battlefield, but by having a very low replacement rate, because they thought they were winning without it.

The impact of the 10 to 1 inflicted losses in 1941 was therefore thrown away. (Note that that ratio *did* suffice to give the Germans numerical superiority in the main areas in front of Moscow in late 1941 - the Germans were *not* outnumbered in the AG center sector as the start of Typhoon - but they failed to cash that in, largely because their own replacement rate was effectively zero). In 1942, fielded forces ratios rebounded to near overall odds (population, production capacity) levels.

It was very easy for the early German stuff to pass unchallenged, not only by other side reports but by simple human plausibility, because the stuff coming from the other side was even worse. It was all official line propaganda, Stalin as military genius, the glorious achievements of the red army for the motherland. Most of the higher officers on the Russian side wrote at a level of abstraction far removed from realities of battle. Lower level stuff was personal narratives that read like romantic novels and was clearly fiction from start to finish. As late as the 1970s, a typical western written book conveying the Soviet perspective said things like Tiger tanks had no machineguns so they were destroyed by fearless shock workers in close assault (a handful of Elephants at Ponyri Station exactly once turned into the whole war).

I doubt professional military officers ever bought half the German line. Nobody paid any attention to the Russian line, since it was all transparent lying. This situation lasted not for a few years but for several decades, through most of the cold war. Access to better German sources started to clear up the worst exaggerations of the German side accounts - nobody can still read Mellenthin or Raus and think they are getting the real story. The better sources were official documents in much greater detail - strength returns, battle narratives of individual divisions.

But the real revolution in our understanding of the war came in the 1980s and after, as serious Russian sources were translated and their contents became widely known in the west. Glantz led in that. Zaloga was part of it. The official general staff studies showed the Russians were not mindless incompetents unaware of the system they were manipulating.

We learned the Russians had a fully developed mobile warfare doctrine not inferior to that of the early British theorist and in most respects level with the more advanced Germans. That they were operationally sophisticated, with their moves throughout the war clearly superior on that level. That in 1941, their force failed due to poor readiness and doctrinal weaknesses, the latter of the sort shared by early western powers (combined arms etc). That strategic surprise and Russian weaknesses were critical to the 1941 results, not simply German know-how. That the Russians learned and corrected their remaining doctrinal weaknesses by midwar.

The Germans continued to inflict high loss ratios, and tactically were very strong for similar equipment provided. But all the German officer explanations evaporated. They had not outplayed the Russians with operational mastery, not after 1941. The extension of that early result into a whole war explanation, that supposedly the German generals were geniuses and the Russians were dolts, fails completely in front of an actual map of the campaign. The high level moves the Russians make are clearly superior. The Germans lose the war because they fail at the strategic level, and they have no operational skill differential to make up for it. Moreover, the high odds ratios the Germans report in some of the decisive periods was a result of superior Russian operational moves. They had more of their force at the critical points, reuse them to hit German subgroups in sequence, etc.

A large tactical skill differential is however clearly in evidence throughout the war. Not, however, of the scale of German loss claims (every Tiger didn't kill 14 tanks per afternoon without loss, etc).

To see how false the Somme picture of the link arms and charge human wave nonsense is, only requires the slightest skepticism, common sense, and arithmetic. The worst military tragedy of that kind in prior experience is probably the first day of the Somme for the British. They lost 58,000 men in one day. The attacking force was 27 divisions, larger than WW II Russian ones by a factor of 2, perhaps by a factor of 3 considering typical Russia understrength levels. Call it 50-75 RD*day equivalents.

The war in the east lasted ~200 weeks and the Russians averaged something like 300 divisions in the field. The Russians would have 400 million casualties if that were typical. Every Russian man woman and child was not machinegunned 2.5 times over, let alone overwhelm the Germans with superior numbers afterward. Again we see the German propaganda picture of the war would only make sense if there were a billion Russians, which there aren't. (Curiously, that is a reasonable all of Asia figure for 1950).

Actual Russian permanent military losses are variously estimated at 7 million to 10 million, and wounded might multiply that by a factor of 2-3. Taking the highest figure of 30 million and doing the math, one gets 70 men lost per division per day. On the lower figure, 35. In the west, the US averaged 25 men per division per day in battle losses. The range is 1.5 to 3 times and the expectation is no higher than twice.

Moreover, a large portion of those Russian losses occurred in the early part of the war, when the Germans were the ones attacking. The loss ratio was highest at that time, running 10 to 1 in 1941 and over 5 to 1 in 1942. German losses show no marked acceleration - they look like a line with only minor kinks at the time of particular battles. Russian losses fell in absolute terms when they went over to the offensive instead of defending. This is hardly consistent with the "link arms and charge" picture.

This brings me to the blown up anecdote issue. In practically every fish story about the war, one can detect a plausible real event that could give rise to the story. As color, as "sometimes even this could happen", they can make sense. Blowing single outliers into a picture of the whole war is what propaganda does, it is the way it systematically falsifies the reality.

Did Russians every just drive through or walk through German minefields? Certainly. Why, because they were indifferent to losses and did not care, or did not know enough to provide pioneer detachments to every tank corps? No. Ask the relevant question and the answer is obvious - how exactly did the Germans use their mines? What range of minefield densities did they employ? Was "a minefield" a uniform object of impenetrable density?

Answer, no. The Germans used mines to inflict losses and to deny areas, distinct ends. To inflict losses, the best minefield is very large and quite thin. It denies a large area if avoided, and avoiding it is as hard as possible. Movement through it is positively invited. To deny area, a thick front field is often used, as a form of bluff, with everything beyond the crust thin. Sometimes entirely dummy fields are used, wired and marked, with a few mines along the forward edge and nothing else in them.

You don't tell people whether the field is real or a dummy, you don't tell them where it begins and ends, you don't always use the same density, or choose that density so high movement is impactical without deadly risk. Sometimes, when absolute denial of a small critical area is the purpose, you use a deep and dense field. But this is no more the existential essence of minefieldness than every German tank was a King Tiger.

So sometimes the right thing to do after encountering a thin crust of mines is to think it a bluff and keep going. Often this decision will be rewarded. When it isn't, you have to turn around or bring up the pioneers. If the field is also covered by fire, you can get shot to pieces if you are wrong. But none of this has anything to do with the mythical billion Russians of the all Asia mongol horde, not caring whether they live or die. Propaganda takes an incident or three and pretends it does, deliberately. Later, people regurgitate the propaganda, divorced from the underlying realities.

Take the massive human waves into machineguns myth. It is a myth as a basic means whereby the Russians attacked. The losses per division day figures and the falling losses as they took the offensive give that the lie. But there are circumstances in which it undoubtedly happened. The most obvious of them is in the pocket fighting in 1941.

The Germans drove around entire armies. We see on the map that those armies proceeded to evaporate on a time scale of a week or two. German infantry divisions lined the walls of these pockets, while panzer divisions or motorized infantry typically held their eastern faces. Some Russians got out of them by infiltrating through woods and swamps, away from all the roads. Some went partisan. Huge numbers of them surrendered, completely out of ammunition. And huge numbers also were killed or wounded trying to get out, before the ammo gave out completely.

So, how did they have to fight, when trying to escape encirclement, after the artillery ammo was gone? They had nothing left but small arms and precious little ammo for those. The Germans were on tactical defense, with holes dug, MGs, and on call artillery. That is where the 10 to 1 loss ratios of 1941 came from - half the Russian losses were incurred in just such appalling conditions. They were nothing like chosen conditions, and not the standard means of attacking.

If you read the Russian tactical reports on attack how-tos, drawn from actual fights, as early as the winter of 1941-2, one gets an entirely different picture of typical Russian infantry force tactics. They have a full TOE of supporting weapons and a variety of infantry types. These all have definite roles.

They form storming parties, with pioneers, tommy gunners, and regular infantry. They fire at embrasures of pillboxes and MG nests with 45mm ATGs and 76mm infantry guns. They overwatch with their own MGs and mortars. The leading infantry detachments are quite small and composed of specialists, experts in close combat. They use SMGs and demolition charges, after approaching to close range while heavy weapons suppress individual firing points. None of which is any surprise to anyone who knows WW I tactics.

In more open fighting set pieces later in the war, there is also a definite procedure. There is an elaborate artillery fire plan. Prep bombardments by heavy guns and mortars. Rolling barrages by lighter field guns. Some field guns or SUs supporting with direct fire. The infantry advances certainly, but goes to ground when fired on, and the bombardment is renewed. German defenders describe a fire discipline dilemma - hold fire until they are close and you risk infantry melee and them getting into your holes. Fire too soon, and they go to ground safely, and you get shelled again.

The Russian infantry forces were not tactical geniuses, but they weren't morons. The Germans had to work hard to beat them. They used corps level artillery massing to break parts of an attack in turn. Reserves to counterattack the intrusions, led by modest amounts of armor whenever possible. The Russians sometimes took unnecessary casualties by trying to get infantry massing to break through. E.g. throw a regiment (with supporting fire, as above) at a company on a narrow front. That usually works but gets more people killed, as each defending MG has denser targets. And sometimes it can fail, if a corps' worth of artillery intervenes at that point - massing doesn't work against artillery, it just amplifies the damage said artillery inflicts.

German officers noticed these things as mistakes, and mistakes they were. But the sort of tactic that sometimes works by straightforward odds, and has a definite counter (defender counter-massing by reactive arty). It looked to them like indifference to losses. It was just a move and counter escalation chain that the Germans often (but not remotely always) managed to win.

"Typical IDs at the time of Kursk had 40-60 PAK...

Yes, I agree and the plan had been for them to have 200."

Who cares about the plan? They had 40-60 PAK, which is plenty to stop one tank brigade. But not a corps.

"this number is less than what you would find with a Soviet RD"

Um, TOE for a Russian RD is 36 45mm ATGs in this arm. They also have 76mm in their divisional artillery. But then, the Germans also have 105mm in their divisional artillery, in addition to their force of PAK.

At Kursk, some Russian RDs had as many as 60-70 ATGs, but no they did not have 200. The whole front echelon of 13th army had 204 guns in 44 AT strongpoints, for 32 km of front. With 4 RDs in that forward echelon. That is it, for 5 km of depth, in front of the whole German northern attack. Which had 600 AFVs in its front line forces.

The Russians did use higher level ATG formations whereas the Germans did not. The Germans used independent StuG brigades for that operational role. In the case of 13th army at Kursk, the Russians had 200 ATGs in these higher level reserve formations, to send to the most threatened parts of the front after the battle began. That was enough to double the ATG thickness in any given echelon. They had over 800 tanks in reserve. It was the tanks massing at the break-in sectors that created the tough AT defense, not the thin crust of initial ATGs nor the modest increase in their thickness created by army level reinforcement.

"you don't want to acknowledge that they could have any concentration of firepower on the battlefield outside of penny packets."

On the contrary, I am looking at their actual maps of AT defense schemes. They use a deep, continuous field of small AT cells. Each is indeed a penny packet - one battery, occasionally two facing two ways. The net attrition effect of needing to run over lots of them no doubt weakened the German armor. But that is not their main effect nor their intended effect. Their intended effect is to channel the German attack. The Germans have to pick places and send entire panzer regiments over them, to get through. Small tank forces will not.

Those few places where there are full panzer regiments, the Russians send their mine detachments in front of, string an AT brigade across - both farther ahead as a precaution and to keep the game going - and they also send their armor reserves opposite. The result is punching through a few layers of the penny packet ATGs does not get into the clear, behind them. It just gets deeper into the ATG "sea", with only already cleared routes passable for anything but a full panzer regiment. And tanks then flock to those panzer regiment positions. The ATG scheme is deep self sealing to keep the wound from ripping wide. The antibodies are the armor - and massed artillery fire, as well.

"yes I do believe there was a shortage of German AT guns. Or maybe I missed something...the Germans did lose the war because the Soviets outproduced them right? That means then that the Germans were short of equipment in the later stages of the war right?"

German output was highest at the later stages of the war, because they were slow to mobilize. They had lots of excellent weapons, an improving mix of them in fact, through mid 1944. Russian field strength increased, though not continually. In general they moderated the pace of their offensives to what their replacement stream could make good. Sometimes they exceeded it, e.g. in the winter of 1942, and again in the fall of 1943. They made ground at those times but with strength in the field falling, because they were pressing as hard as they could. German ATGs were as numerous as AFVs throughout the war, and much more evenly distributed. They killed tons of Russian armor. The Germans ran low but not out, of operational tanks, then out of both ground and infantry divisions. Before 1944 most of their losses were exchange off affairs, generally at favorable ratios. After 1944 the Russians were sometimes able to inflict more than they lost.

The main reason the Germans were outnumbered is they were so late to mobilize. Their peak tank output was as high as the Russians'. It just didn't get there until 1944, while the Russians were near their full output as early as 1942. The Russians got a higher integral with the same peak by switching production "on" two years sooner. As the war only lasted 4 years from the time of the invasion, that almost doubled their effective production time (at peak rates). As a result, they made as many tanks as the Germans made tanks and PAK combined.

The Germans could have redressed that 2 to 1 imbalance by consistently taking out multiple Russians for each item they lost. Early on, they did - but German production was low. Mid war, their production was rising but their achieved exchange rate was falling, and the two balanced. The fielded forces ratio stayed about at the overall capacity ratio, 2 to 1 to 3 to 1. Late, German production rose, but their achieved exchange ratio fell, and the Russians were able to run them out of material. With significant help in the last year in the west, to be sure - but they could have finished it themselves at that point.

"they were deployed in Pak Fronts in the main attack sectors where they knew the Germans were coming and had known for months."

Those attack sectors add up to nearly 100 km of front. And the Russians deployed to a depth of 30 km. 3000 square kilometers of PAK front don't get all that dense. Look at the actual deployment schemes in Glantz or in any of the Russian maps. The ATG strongpoints are individual batteries or pairs of batteries each km or two in multiple belts, at the onset. They keep a third of their ATGs back, to go to the actual sectors hit - because they did not know the exact tactical place for them beforehand, only the operational area.

"Soviet tactics in WWII were all about not worrying about the casualties they took? Everything I read and their own manuals say so."

Deep battle. Parallel pursuit. Assault detachment. Shock troops. Tank corps. Maskirovka. Nobody can even read a glossary of WW II Soviet military terms and think their tactics were "link arms and charge".

"The term "Human Wave" was coined to explain Russian infantry tactics."

Yes they used human waves. It is what echelon deployments, columnar depth, look like on the receiving end. No, a human wave is not "link arms and charge". It simple means a battalion attacks with leading companies, then a second wave of its reserve at any point that is holding out. Then the regiment does the same thing. And the division. And the corps. And the army. Which means a single strongpoint might be hit 5, 10, 15 times in a row if he defeats the first attack. 2-3 of them in the same tactical fight, spaced by minutes rather than hours. Each a "human wave".

What appalled the German officers about this is it violated their own hit-em-where-they-ain't, flanking-is-always-preferably, tactical doctrines. Repeated frontal assaults on positions that had already withstood similar attacks struck them as wasteful and mad. They'd go around, or try elsewhere, or use a different weapon as the primary arm. Those dang Russians kept coming again and again, frontally - bombard, assault detachment leading, line companies, go to ground if shot up, call down more arty, melee infantry to infantry in bloody exchanges if they get close.

It is almost like those dang Russians had heard of Ulysses S. Grant "we will fight it out along this line if it takes all summer". But none of that means they linked arms and charged. 400 million Russians were not shot on the eastern front in first day of Somme after first day of Somme. (Somme fighting as a whole, over 6 months, that is a closer approximation. But nobody pretends that was the stupidity of the first day endlessly repeated). Their losses per division per day were twice those of the Allies in the west, at most. And that was starting higher while they were defending, falling as they attacked, and by 1944, no different than western levels.

[ May 24, 2005, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Bigduke6 and Jason. Two very good posts. At this moment I don't have time to answer them. But I will before this weekend.

I would like to say just a couple of things in passing.

While I agree that the interviews after the war were mainly from a German viewpoint and that those interviews are given with a bias as to "why we lost the war" not all Eastern Front source information that has a German origin is that way.

One of the reasons that the German interviews were with a "why we lost the war" bias is that is what the Western interviewers were looking for. What is the reason that the Soviets won? Simple we were outnumbered and Hitler was a fool that wouldn't listen. Both good answers but way too oversimplified.

What you give no credit to are the other sources. Combat reports from during the war. Reports that had no ax to grind and that had to give no excuses to Western listeners. Also, there are the books written by combat veterans that were not General Officers. What reason could these men have for making up Soviet attacks that were almost overwhelming in number, that came at the same time, day after day with no change in time, tactics or results?

These sources I believe are credible. Jason you also quote that you have read German divisional combat reports. Since you quoted them apparently you think they are credible too. If you have read many of them you will see the pattern of Soviet disregard for human life in them.

The historians that tried to cover the Eastern Front from the Soviet side once again I think have done a credible job. But let's look at what we have from that group. Erickson, Glantz and Zaloga are the main ones. Erickson's works are the older by far, but I read somewhere that he stands by his older facts. That could be author pride or the fact that he was fairly accurate. For purposes of most of our discussions it doesn't matter. His history is of a strategic and operational level. Glantz writes his histories at the same level. Zaloga writes his history at the next lower level.

I also have books that were written by the Soviets themselves. My personal favorite is written by Chuikov. I stayed away from them for the most part because if you want to read biased accounts read the ones written by the Soviets. The one written by Chuikov isn't bad. But once again at a higher level than tactical.

So where is a non-Soviet to get information on the tactical engagements if not from German based sources? Both of you take a shot at me for having gotten my opinions on tactical level combat in the east from German sources. I don't read or speak Russian. So what does that leave me? The US reports on the Soviets? Those really are biased.

I don't have Soviet combat veterans to talk with either. Though please do us all a favor and record what they are telling you. Not necessarily for the forums but they are getting old and once they die their story goes with them.

I would also like to thank you Jason. This is the kind of post that I was hoping to get from you. Facts and your opinion. Not telling me how stupid I am or that I got all my information from Signal magazine.

I have done a lot of research on WWII as have many who post on this website. To dismiss them with cavalier comments like "horsefeathers" and "that is simply wrong" WITHOUT explaining why you think they are wrong does a huge disservice to the person you are discussing the subject matter with and also to yourself. You are possibly so intelligent that you don't see why the rest of us "don't get it". I have in fact seen you post that sentiment before.

A little history about me and us. I started making scenarios with CSDT. I wanted my scenarios to be only historically based and as accurate as I could get them so I started HSG(Historical Scenario Design Group) Some of the best reviews I've gotten on my work have come from you Jason. Until we started disagreeing here on this site. So, you either changed your mind on how I interpret tactical level WWII situations in CM, since then, or something else happened.

HSG started what we refer to as the "Hero" series. The Heroes of the Soviet Union (HOSU), Knights Cross (KC), Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) and Victoria Cross (VC) series were all started from that. In these scenarios we depict the actions that resulted in the issuing of the commendations. I am well aware of how a force of inferior size attacks and defeats a force of equal or greater size in CM. I've engineered the scenarios that do it. Judging from the reviews they are well liked.

They are also very tough and there is ALWAYS a force multiplier involved. As I told you before. A company of infantry can move across open ground and attack another company and WIN! BUT it won't be easy and you should expect to take casualties. I always hope for the best and plan for the worst. If I get the position relatively casualty free, great! If it costs me we move on from there.

The reason I don't like your idea of "The Drill" as the answer is not that I don't know the drill, but that it has a set of parameters to activate it as intended. In your case, you say that a FO is the answer. How often in CM do you come on a situation where you don't have the FO in your force mix? Then, out goes the drill and in comes leadership. You quoted the answer to be the combined arms drill to attack Soviet infantry positions in the open. What if you have no armor? How are you going to take those positions with virtually no losses with it? How will learning the combined arms attack drill help you if you have no armor to attack it with?

Lastly, I am not saying that Soviet leadership at SOME levels wasn't as good as the Germans. I don't think it was at the Junior Officer level which is where CM takes place. I don't think it was because I don't think it was allowed to be.

Now I have to go. But don't worry I'll be back. This is finally getting informative. Someplace I thought we were going in the beginning.

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Bigduke6 since you posted first I'll try to answer your comments first.

I think at least part of what Jason is getting is that the Soviets were not morons. They had their own military doctrine which placed success above all, and loss of life simply was not the worry that it was in Western armies.

Not anybody I know thinks the Soviets were morons. I think their command system was much more regimented than most armies in WWII and that caused the lower level tactics to be much more rigid.

The thing is, that's far, far away from "lock arms and charge".

I talk to Red Army veterans regularly and not one of them has told me something along the lines of "You know, the Western histories are all wrong, in fact the Red Army did a pretty good job of protecting the lives of its soldiers."

Every single one of them tells me something roughly along the lines of "Our soldiers died like flies at times, if high command had a goal our lives weren't worth a kopeck."

I believe you just proved my point about the value the Soviets placed on human life and the willingness to sacrifice bodies for terrain. No matter how small the gain.

they lost Ukraine pretty much in its entirity during Kutuzov. This was mobile warfare, before Bagratian, and at the height of German Panzer superiority. So how do those supposedly stupid Soviets manage that success?

I'm not following you here. The Germans were not at the height of Panzer superiority in 1943. That was the summer of 1941. After that things fell apart rapidly. They tried to get the superiority back by introducing the Tiger and Panthers but that didn't work because of the shear numbers of T-34's involved.

During the 1944 summer offensives the Red Army with roughly a 2-1 numerical superiority and 1.5 to 1 armor superiority broke the back of the Wehrmacht. It wasn't human wave charges, and it wasn't overwhelming numerical superiority.

The forces deployed during Operation Bagration are: 52 German Infantry Division equivalents. 553 tanks and assault guns of which 480 were StuG III's. The Soviets attacked with 118 Rifle Divisions, 8 Tank and Mechanized Corps, 6 Cavalry Divisions and 13 Artillery Divisions. During the initial phases of Bagration that allowed the Soviets an advantage of about 2 1/2 to 1 in men and about 6 to 1 in armor.

Operation Bagration is a shining example of the ability of Soviet higher staff officers being able to fight the Germans on better than even footing. They used deception to set the German defense up then they used massed firepower to destroy it. This was a brilliantly conceived and executed operation. As has been pointed out, the Soviets had learned their lessons.

One of the things they learned was that they didn't control the German Army and what worked for the Germans wouldn't necessarily work for the Soviets. They developed their own tactics both from their theories before the war and the experiences gained during the war. It helped them tremendously to have a spy ring that fed them deployment information but they still had to fight the battles on the ground.

Don't read the memoirs of German Generals looking for an objective view of the war. Read the Divisional histories, especially the combat reports. Those were written at the time and not for American Army Intelligence officers.

The only way to reduce the Red Army to a bunch of goons sending 17-year-olds to mass slaughter in human wave charges is to be willfully ignorant of the Russo-Soviet side of the historical literature.

Don't misunderstand my human wave comment. I made that in rebuttal to Jason saying the Soviets cared about the casualties that they took when trying to gain ground. I'm not saying that the Soviets resorted to human wave attacks in every attack. That of course is insane.

But it is hard to draw many other conclusions from this statement by Steven Zaloga in "Bagration 1944: The Destruction of Army Group Centre"..."as the Russians were fond of saying,'quantity has a quality all it's own'."

What is that saying? It tells me that the Soviets used what they had. They had lots of men and they used them. To get good odds in an infantry attack they attacked in mass. Or waves if you will. Why wouldn't you want to overwhelm the enemy infantry if you outnumbered them 2-3-4 to 1? It's what I would do.

As you say, the Soviets weren't morons. They had the manpower and they used it. So much so that by the end of the war they were having a hard time replacing their infanty losses. Like the Germans, Americans and British. The Red Army was the largest army in the world. Why would the term Russian Steamroller be applied if it wasn't used in mass?

Zhukov's response was right out of central planning: we attack right over them, of course.

Zhukov wasn't lying. If there was a minefield in the way that hadn't been cleared they would attack right over it. So would any other army. If you get out there and then try to stop and turn around you are going to get shot in the back. Might as well give yourself a fighting chance and try to go over it and into the enemy positions. Then at least you have a chance to live. Getting shot in the back isn't my idea of a good afternoon.

You tie the truck to the busted vehicle, then drive to the other side of the field, and then pull the busted vehicle across the field. Repeat in the other direction as necessay.

For minefields in rear areas okay. Not one covered by fire. How do you get to both sides the minefield and why do the Germans just sit back and watch you clear it? I was a combat engineer during my own tour of duty. So I know a bit about "actually" placing and taking up mines.

The Red Army looked at human life as a valuable but expendable resource for achieving military goals.

I don't know that I agree that they thought it was valuable but I do think they looked at their troops as an expendable resource. To an extent I think all higher level commanders of all armies do. I think in WWII the Soviets just looked at their men as a little more expendable than other armies.

The Red Army by late 1943 knew they could beat the Germans, and by mid 1944 they knew they would beat the Germans.

Yes, they learned. One of the things they learned was to apply overwhelming concentration of force. I also agree, by 1944 the Soviets were going to win the war whether anybody else joined in or not.

But fight the Germans the Red Army did. The veterans I talk to are pretty much unanimous: it was us, and no one else, that defeated the Germans. And not one of them has told me: And the way we did it, we simply had more bodies than the Germans had bullets.

I agree with this too. The way the Germans were beaten on the Eastern Front was with more bodies and more bullets (tanks). End of story.

Good Post.

I'm glad you joined the discussion.

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AdamL,

To lift a bit of your post

"I agree with this too. The way the Germans were beaten on the Eastern Front was with more bodies and more bullets (tanks). End of story."

My short-term point is, of course, that unless you can get the bodies to the right place, and have the bullets hitting the target, you can't win. The Soviets had roughly the same equipment and personnel advantages in 1944 as they did in 1941, totally different result.

I think a little historical excursus might be worth while here, so please bear with me as I do a run-through on the other great non-European destroyer of European militaries, and what European military history remembered about it.

I am of course talking about those fun-loving Mongols.

In the first half of the 13th century AD the Mongols obliterated most of the leading knight-and-retainer armies of their day. The khan's armies, just on the western end of their empire, penetrated to the plains of north Italy and the gates of Vienna, and it was absolutely clear that there was nothing the European military establishment could do to stop them.

The Mongol horde is a common thread in histories of the day. An overwhelming number of barbaric horsemen almost completely inhuman, and probably sent as a divine punishment against sinning Europeans.

This was all very good for preventing the European peasantry from asking the obvious question - hey, why should we pay taxes to our nobles if they can't protect us? - but of course it had little to do with reality.

In fact, and Adam you may well know this in which case forgive me for repeating it, the Mongol army was always outnumbered by its opponents. Thing was, the Khan built a military system based on unheard-of operational flexibility, ruthlessness, superior weapons, and mobility. The fastest sustained speed of any army in history, Gudarian and Schwartzkopf included, was that of the Mongals.

Europe's medieval knights, though the best armored warriors in the world and highly trained at individual combat, had no counter for units of disciplined horse archers that refused to fight hand-to-hand, had proper supply and so plenty of arrows, and were so well organized large groups of them (tens of thousands) could come at a battlefield from two directions.

Mongol military techniques flew in the face of the European heroic tradition of the individual warrior, and so shook the European ruling classes - who in those days constituted the military - to their very foundations.

The Mongols of course left West Europe for their own reasons fairly quickly, never to return. As a result, the most powerful military threat to Europe ever, well, at least until the Soviets, went down into European history as a numberless horde of barbarians who were to cowardly to fight man-to-man, one-to-one, like good Christians.

(Parenthetically, it is interesting to look at the medieval Japanese, who also were completely outclassed by the Mongols. There the military tradition held that the reason the Mongols failed to conquer Japan was because of Divine Wind, thus proving the Japanese nation's superiority in the eyes of the Almighty. Just like the European knights, the Japanese samurai never looked seriously at becoming horse archers. And they too took the myth that individual warriors win battles right into WW2, to their very great loss.)

I bet you can see where I am going with this. ;)

Before I get into how the Red Army has gone down into European history, however, I want to point out a few things about Mongols and Russians.

The Mongols as you know conquered Russia and stayed in charge there in various forms for a good two centuries. Two implications: one, the Russian Christian knightly aristocracy is out the window; the Mongols killed them all. Second, the Russians - unlike the Central and West Europeans -have to live for 250 years with proof that if your military is based on individual warrior prowess, you run the risk of becoming slaves to tribesmen far more primitive (except militarily) to your.

As a direct result, in spite of efforts by Peter and Catherine and so on to convince the Russians otherwise, the individual warrior tradition died in Russia about eight centuries ago. Sure the idea of extreme individual sacrifice, that lived on. That was a Mongol military virtue as well, after all.

But the idea that well-trained, well-equipped individual warrior could somehow win the war by defeating his less-well-trained, less-well-equippnent opponent: that concept went to its grave in Russia well before the country, as we know it, even existed.

Fast forward through the next several centuries. The Europeans get better and better at combining war and technology, and the Germans especially at using organization and discipline to make new technologies effective in combat. But even at the height of mass warfare, say 1916 or so, even in the German army the ideal of a German soldier who was a better shot, smarter, and tactically more competent than the opposition was alive and well.

Ok, now ask yourself, what happens when the Mongols' successors, the Red Army, does in the Wehrmacht - which unquestionably is the greatest European military force ever, even with the armies of Napoleon, Frederick, and the Sun King (to name a few) as competition?

Did the 20th century Europeans in their enlightenment learn from their lesson from the Mongols? After all history had repeated itself. Maybe it was time to look at the Eastern invader rationally. How did (and for the most part does) post-Wehrmacht Europe remember the Red Army's recent invasion?

To me, the parallels between European medieval histories on the Mongols, and modern European descriptions of the Red Army, are uncanny in their similarity. How does European history tell us the Red Army won?

The German histories answer: It was a case of overwhelming numbers defeating Europeans who were far superior on an individual level. We resisted the barbarian invasion bravely, we did all that men could, we were true to our oaths as European soldiers, but we lost against the horde.

That answer preserves the idea, and to my mind the myth, that individual warriors somehow win wars. It also absolves the German military of having selected a strategy to defend their society - quality not quantity - that was inherently flawed. It frees German historians from asking the unpleasant question "How is it that these supposedly primitive barbarians invaded our country, destroyed our lands, and violated our women?"

The prima facie answer is built in: because the Russians had overwhelming numbers, and being barbarians they were willing to spend as many lives as necessary to achieve their barbarian goal of destroying one of the wellsprings of European culture, the German nation.

I call that willful myopia, intellectual laziness. Numbers in battle mean little unless competently commanded, as even the dumbest member of the German General Staff knows. Barbarians don't come to your country just because they happen to outnumber you. A very good way to piss those so-called barbarians off is to go to THEIR country and start enslaving them.

There has been plenty of historical discussion over the years of German genocides against Jews and other European minorities, but the German occupation in west Russia, the Baltic region, White Russia, and Ukraine are pretty much ignored by western historians today.

I use the term "enslavement" intentionally. It wasn't Vichy France. If you honestly compare what the Germans did to the west Soviet Union, and what the Red Army did to East Germany, and compare, the Red Army was nice. The Russian army fought Germans and quit and went home in WWI. The Russian army in WW2 was in general, willing to fight to the death.

The Russians say: we were willing to do so not because we feared the NKVD or were mindless Communists. We were willing to sacrifice our lives to destroy the German invader, whose systematically evil occupation of our country and enslavement of our people made the Mongols look like a pack of Good Humour Men by comparison.

It is a big military error to give your opponent something worth fighting for. I believe it is close to impossible to exaggerate how much German

occupation policies motivated the Red Army. That error, for practical purposes, is ignored by European histories of World War Two.

Since the German Army was, according to historical myth, defeated by overwhelming numbers, the German military never really had a need to explain to German society its brutal behaviour as occupiers on the East Front. The Red Army was barbarian, primitive, and possessed with overwhelming numbers. Every German soldier can hold his head up high for fighting the good fight against the evil Communist enemy.

My point is, the only way that myth can hold up is if you reduce the Red Army in your history to a horde of unfeeling, mindless, thoughtless, unskilled monsters. The questions "Hey, maybe these Russians were just BETTER at fighting wars than we were?" or "Hey, maybe this individual warrior prowess concept has some problems" or "Maybe it's us that are inferior, we lost after all" never need to be asked.

And a good thing too, for looking straight on at stuff like that is so threating to the European military establishment, and indeed to some of the foundations of its society (ruling classes et al.) that it is consciously ignored today.

So to me, it's not so suprising that German unit histories from the war keep reporting "we wuz done in by yet another Red horde." The writer was a professional German soldier. It would take a real intellectual leap to look at the Red Army rationally - and if a person like that did, he almost inevitably would be forced to admit he did his job badly.

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Bigduke,

i agree with most of what you wrote, but the whole Nazi proganda machine was BASED ON that very 18th century nationalist / racist poetry mythology paraller that Soviet Union would be the Mongol Horde. i wouldn't read too much from it, especially regarding whole Europe - it just doesn't match reality. i really can't see what you are talking about, when you write about European military establishment: the European military establishment that i have known has ADMIRED the Red Army of WW2 for its superior operational art of war.

Soviets crashed thru German lines because Soviets managed to concentrate forces without Germans detecting it, while at the same time German lines had become too thin to properly support their military doctrine. then Soviet success followed from their superior doctrine of operational depth and exploitation.

that Germans were defeated by overwhelming numbers of lesser quality soldiers is no myth: it is a historical fact. that fact isn't contradicted with another historical fact that Germans were defeated because Soviets simply were superior on strategical level.

it has nothing to do with any racist or nationalist crap.

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URC,

It has everything to do with racism. What is it about a Wehrmacht soldier that makes him march further, shoot straighter, panic less, dig more, maintain his equipment better, learn tactics faster and better than a Red Army soldier? What is it about "German" DNA that automatically makes a German a better fighter than a Russian?

If the Germans were so hot, how come, when it was man-to-man in Staligrad, even brigades of factory workers held off Wehrmacht attacks?

The Germans in 1941 inflicted the worst military defeats in history on that same Red Army. I guarantee you the DNA in the Red Army soldiers did not change in 1944. Nor did the force ratios. So if the Germans are inherently superior, what changed so that an army of "lesser quality soldiers" - that's your term, ripped the guts out of the Wehrmacht?

The German memoir-writers, and by extension most western WW2 historians, took the easy way out after the war and repeated the Wehrmacht wartime propagada: Ivan is no soldier. He is a barbarian and there are too many of them. And oh by the way, doesn't that make NATO a fine idea?

Barbarians by definition don't learn. Yet the Red Army did, and by the latter half of the war, the Russian soldiers were teaching Germans lessons.

Don't forget that all these spiffy German histories that have convinced you and others about the superiority of ueber-panzer-fire brigade running from place to place stabilizing the situation are (1) not representative of the majority, only a small portion of the Wehrmacht was ueber-panzer mechanized and (2) those fire brigades existed to put the cap on tactical crises - and at the back of every one of those crises, somehow, was dumb old Ivan.

Bottom line: the German army invaded Russia thinking Russians were untermenschen, and Russian soldiers were bad soldiers. Wrong on both counts.

For the next fifty years apologists for those errors have been calling Russians and the Red Army barbarians not normal human beings, so as to avoid admitting they went into the fight on such moronic grounds. Instead they cite panzer unit histories as "proof" of overall German superiority.

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But the exaggeration and excuses are there, and I don't think very hard to spot. Certainly nationalism and racism pops up in those places frequently -- quite expectedly from the Nazi's.

If you read Soviet accounts of the war they are there too. If they were written during the 50's -90's.

Any book that you read is going to have a bias. I agree that Bigduke6 has a right to view the German story of "it was Soviet mass and Hitler alone that beat us." as a line of bull.

BUT the Soviet side of, "we never attacked in mass and we won the war by being better tactically", isn't all the truth and nothing but the truth either.

While the bais of certain or all of the histories that were written is a facinating subject this thread was orginally about tactics and a bit after that the drill used for managing tactical situations in the Ukriane. The subjects being discussed lately need to be in a thread all their own. They will support one. This is a subject where people close to the history get very emotional.

My recommendation Bigduke6 is that you start a thread on accurate historical recording or some such. You will get plenty of takers. Few will support your view that all things German are corrupted and all things Soviet are pure though so get ready.

I'll post some replies on the tactical and drill issues that started this thread later. I still have to give an answer to Jason's post as well.

[ May 27, 2005, 07:35 PM: Message edited by: Panther Commander ]

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Panther Commander,

You've got me a bit wrong, although fair enough I can see how it happened.

Just for the record, I am certainly NOT arguing:

1. Soviet histories are unvarnished fact.

In my opinion, Soviet histories lie too, and usually less skillfully than German histories. I would just add that that doesn't mean all Soviet histories are useless. Read Katiukov or Rokkosovsky and it's hard to believe those guys were making it all up.

2.The Soviets never attacked in mass and they were always tactically more skillful than the Germans.

I would personally say the Soviets attacked in mass whenever they could manage it, and that the Germans held a clear tactical edge until mid-1944, but after that parity was approaching and by 1945 most likely in the average small action the Red Army soldiers were more skilled than their German opponents.

The logic is too many German losses, not enough replacements, untrained teenagers into the line, that sort of thing. Meanwhile the Red losses are tailing down, officer turmoil is falling, doctrine is getting stronger, equipment is at least at parity, and eventual German victory is an obvious joke.

I confess to complicity in having hijacked Jason's thread and apologize profusely to all uninterested in things like the alleged differences between German and Russian DNA. Mea culpa.

But you have to admit, Mongols are a fascinating subject. I try and weasel them into conversations wherever I can.

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

What is it about "German" DNA that automatically makes a German a better fighter than a Russian?

nothing. it has nothing to do with genes. it has to do with things like training, equipment and doctrine.

The Germans in 1941 inflicted the worst military defeats in history on that same Red Army. I guarantee you the DNA in the Red Army soldiers did not change in 1944. Nor did the force ratios.

while Soviet genes did not change, they changed dramatically otherwise. force ratios did change a lot thru the war as well. so did great many other things.

So if the Germans are inherently superior, what changed so that an army of "lesser quality soldiers" - that's your term, ripped the guts out of the Wehrmacht?
of course Germans are not inherently superior.

a great many things changed. you can hardly compare Red Army of 1941 to the Red Army of 1945.

Barbarians by definition don't learn. Yet the Red Army did, and by the latter half of the war, the Russian soldiers were teaching Germans lessons.

exactly.

Don't forget that all these spiffy German histories that have convinced you and others

that's an unfounded expectation that doesn't fit me at all.

Bottom line: the German army invaded Russia thinking Russians were untermenschen, and Russian soldiers were bad soldiers. Wrong on both counts.

Germans simply had faulty intel on how strong the Red Army was. they thought a number of times that they had just destroyed it.

i don't mean to offend anyone by saying that German soldiers were superior in quality (at least during the first half, definately not by the end of the war). i have no personal interests here. i do admire the qualities of Soviet soldiers, like their superior courage and determination, but IMO being a good soldier has other requirements besides being a hero.

For the next fifty years apologists for those errors have been calling Russians and the Red Army barbarians not normal human beings, so as to avoid admitting they went into the fight on such moronic grounds. Instead they cite panzer unit histories as "proof" of overall German superiority.

personally i haven't heard anyone say that Soviets would have been barbarians or a Mongolian Horde. perhaps i have a distorted view on the subject because i am a Finn, but in my personal experience the "European military establishment" have openly admired the operational art of Red Army of WW2.

Nazis thought Finns were subhuman Mongolians as well. so have the Russians. big deal. it didn't matter in military things at all. i think you are giving way too much emphasis on Nazi propaganda.

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

I would personally say the Soviets attacked in mass whenever they could manage it, and that the Germans held a clear tactical edge until mid-1944, but after that parity was approaching and by 1945 most likely in the average small action the Red Army soldiers were more skilled than their German opponents.

The logic is too many German losses, not enough replacements, untrained teenagers into the line, that sort of thing. Meanwhile the Red losses are tailing down, officer turmoil is falling, doctrine is getting stronger, equipment is at least at parity, and eventual German victory is an obvious joke.

that could have been written by me. seems like we agree smile.gif

But you have to admit, Mongols are a fascinating subject. I try and weasel them into conversations wherever I can.

they indeed are, i have always enjoyed studying stuff related to the "godless Turanian hordes". i agree with your basic idea, but in my opinion you are applying it to a too wide group of people. most of Europeans not only couldn't care less about Nazi propaganda, but directly oppose it.
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"the Soviet answer to German minefields before that time had been to drive through them."

They didn't in the battle he was talking about, that he actual researched, right? He was presenting it as an advance, that they weren't naive anymore. The reality is, they never really were. Then he said, drive through. He is therefore talking about their tanks, not mine detecting with infantry. The Russians in fact provided pioneers to all their mech formations from the time of the tank and mech corps structures.

He talks about the Soviets using specialized

T-34's with minerollers for the first time in the war. That they had finally gotten to a position of aggressive engineering answers to the mine problem. The Red Army took tremendous casualties in the first half the war.

We all know that.

Engineers are a high priced commodity in an army. Expensive to train, regarding time and resources, and easy to lose. When the Red Army is operating at 1/2 to 1/4 TO&E strenghts for the Tank Brigades and Rifle units do you suppose that their engineer assets went unaffected?

Reading the engineer manuals on what was supposed to be done won't usually get you the answer on what was done. If you are normally to have a company to support the attack and now you are down to a platoon or squad what is the answer? As Zhukov said, you attack.

There is no reason to believe that the Red Army engineers were any better trained than Red Army infantry or tankers were when they were trying to stem the German tide in the mid-war years 42-43. By 44 they were better and beginning to be able to practice their art more skillfully on the battlefield.

Much realistic high level stuff was conveyed, along with two great myths. It's all Hitlers fault was one, the officers excusing all army-source failings in Russia. And we did everything right, but just got overwhelmed by hordes of mindless zombies who didn't mind dying.

You and I are in total agreement here. The Americans especially were traumatized by the Red Horde that we may soon have to fight. They did one study after another on the Red Army from the 50's - 70's. I saw several of them.

If you look at the US military equipment that was developed after the war you see it there too. All weapons designed to produce high casualties. The reasoning was the mindless Red Army horde was coming.

To be fair, in the best of the German memoires, it was at least apparent the Russians were making very good operational moves from late 1942 on. This typically sequed into "Hitler's fault" as the officer related all his "I told 'em so"'s, and frequently the story of his dismissal.

The best German sources, IMMHO, are those written during the war. The combat action reports. They were just recording the fighting and not making any conclusions to why anything happened.

There was a perfectly detectable fundamental problem with this entire line, even when unchallenged by other sources. The Germans were only outnumbered about 2 to 1 in Russia, in either manpower base or tanks produced over the war as a whole (a figure that might rise to 3 to 1 at worst with western commitments included, and that only late), yet they claimed inflicted losses of 5 to 10 to 1, and their only explanation for their eventual defeat was supposedly overwhelming Russian numbers, reaching they said 10 to 1 by the end. These figures simply make no mathematical sense.

Tank produced is a very poor judge of the actual battlefield numbers. I know you don't like to add in the Lend Lease and I'll not rehash that here. Just know that those "other" Allied tanks allowed the Soviets to send their tanks where they wanted them and send the "other" tanks to sectors that might not have otherwise had armor support.

The whole idea of the number of tanks killed compared to the number of tanks produced is wrong. A tank is only killed IF it was set on fire and burned OR was killed in enemy territory where you couldn't recover it. Both the Germans and Soviets were good at recycling armored vehicles. They had to be. For the entire middle part of the war AFV's were at a premium. They were NEEDED! In 41 the Germans didn't worry so much about recovery because they were the ones taking ground. From mid 43 on the Soviets were in that position. If you can recover the vehicle it isn't lost and doesn't need to be replaced by production figure vehicles.

This was all detectable from the first principles of attrition reasoning regardless of sources, and was enough to show the German "line" on the war could not possibly be accurate. We now know from much more detailed returns that the Russians weathered the period when the loss ratio was highest - which was 1941 - by matching their losses with new forces fielded.

Yes, the Red Army in December 1941 was larger in manpower than the Red Army of June 1941.

The Germans failed to (in 1941), not because of anything forced by attrition logic on the battlefield, but by having a very low replacement rate, because they thought they were winning without it.

Again I agree.

The impact of the 10 to 1 inflicted losses in 1941 was therefore thrown away. (Note that that ratio *did* suffice to give the Germans numerical superiority in the main areas in front of Moscow in late 1941 - the Germans were *not* outnumbered in the AG center sector as the start of Typhoon - but they failed to cash that in, largely because their own replacement rate was effectively zero).

Mud had nothing to do it?

I doubt professional military officers ever bought half the German line. Nobody paid any attention to the Russian line, since it was all transparent lying. This situation lasted not for a few years but for several decades, through most of the cold war. Access to better German sources started to clear up the worst exaggerations of the German side accounts - nobody can still read Mellenthin or Raus and think they are getting the real story. The better sources were official documents in much greater detail - strength returns, battle narratives of individual divisions.

None of those I served with did. The problem was you had to get information "somewhere" and the German side of the story was the only game in town at the time. So you had to try to see what "made sense". I am still to a large degree in that mode and you will see me make constant reference to "that doesn't make sense". I try to judge what I have actually seen done and experienced with what I have read. Rarely do the two match.

But the real revolution in our understanding of the war came in the 1980s and after, as serious Russian sources were translated and their contents became widely known in the west. Glantz led in that. Zaloga was part of it. The official general staff studies showed the Russians were not mindless incompetents unaware of the system they were manipulating.

Zaloga has been writing about the Red Army for a lot longer than Gantz. Gantz may now have more accurate sources but NOBODY tells the tactical level Russian story. Zaloga touches on it every so often but that is all you have today. That is as good as it gets. That and websites like Russian Battlefield.

We learned the Russians had a fully developed mobile warfare doctrine not inferior to that of the early British theorist and in most respects level with the more advanced Germans. That they were operationally sophisticated, with their moves throughout the war clearly superior on that level. That in 1941, their force failed due to poor readiness and doctrinal weaknesses, the latter of the sort shared by early western powers (combined arms etc). That strategic surprise and Russian weaknesses were critical to the 1941 results, not simply German know-how. That the Russians learned and corrected their remaining doctrinal weaknesses by midwar.

I agree but we are for the most part talking tactics here and I think that is where the Red Army was at a disadvantage. Strategically and operationally the Soviets did a good to stellar job. Tactically is where you get orders to take the hill at exactly 4 pm, from the same assembly area, nine days in a row. Or some other such less sophisticated answer. Don't get me wrong. I see the same thing from the Germans at times. It just seems to be more prevalent in the Soviet tactics. Not all German commanders were a tactical genius. Far from it. If they were how did they lose the war?

The Germans continued to inflict high loss ratios, and tactically were very strong for similar equipment provided. But all the German officer explanations evaporated. They had not outplayed the Russians with operational mastery, not after 1941.

I agree.

The extension of that early result into a whole war explanation, that supposedly the German generals were geniuses and the Russians were dolts, fails completely in front of an actual map of the campaign. The high level moves the Russians make are clearly superior. The Germans lose the war because they fail at the strategic level, and they have no operational skill differential to make up for it.

Which, IMO, only emphasizes the German tactical skill. The German Army in the East should have collasped a number of times. But then so should the Red Army. They both showed an amazing resilience to disaster.

A large tactical skill differential is however clearly in evidence throughout the war. Not, however, of the scale of German loss claims (every Tiger didn't kill 14 tanks per afternoon without loss, etc).

I agree.

Actual Russian permanent military losses are variously estimated at 7 million to 10 million, and wounded might multiply that by a factor of 2-3. Taking the highest figure of 30 million and doing the math, one gets 70 men lost per division per day. On the lower figure, 35. In the west, the US averaged 25 men per division per day in battle losses. The range is 1.5 to 3 times and the expectation is no higher than twice.

This too is reasonable.

Moreover, a large portion of those Russian losses occurred in the early part of the war, when the Germans were the ones attacking. The loss ratio was highest at that time, running 10 to 1 in 1941 and over 5 to 1 in 1942. German losses show no marked acceleration - they look like a line with only minor kinks at the time of particular battles. Russian losses fell in absolute terms when they went over to the offensive instead of defending. This is hardly consistent with the "link arms and charge" picture.

This is where things start to get weak. Numbers don't tell the story of how a battle was won. Only that it was.

The evolution of battlefield casualties will explain more of what I am talking about. The great amount of attacker killed in a battle is during the assault phase. The great amount of defenders killed in the battle is during the exploitation phase. It doesn't explain that the Soviet infantry didn't attack across a minefield and lose 10 or even 20 to 1 to the defenders in the assault phase. Because in the review of the battle it says that the Soviets lost 1,000 men and the Germans lost 500. That is only a 2-1 loss ratio. Overall yes. But at at the sharp end. It doesn't tell you that the Soviets lost 600 of those men taking the village that allowed them to break through while the German defenders lost only 75 men there. It doesn't tell you that there were 400 German POW's taken as the Soviets encircled a German Regiment BEFORE the German reserves showed up to plug the line.

As you pointed out to me, with guns in an Army, counting the number and dividing by km of front doesn't tell the story. Neither does comparing entire battle losses tell the story of when those men were killed and how.

Did Russians every just drive through or walk through German minefields? Certainly. Why, because they were indifferent to losses and did not care, or did not know enough to provide pioneer detachments to every tank corps? No. Ask the relevant question and the answer is obvious -how exactly did the Germans use their mines? What range of minefield densities did they employ? Was "a minefield" a uniform object of impenetrable density?

The relavent question is our problem. My relavent question is this: did the Soviets have enough engineers to support their main efforts even most of the time? With the losses they took, with the way the other arms performed, I think you can answer that yourself. Notice that Zaloga gives the Red Army credit for the Red Army engineers doing what engineers do. In this case, coming up with the same answer to minefields that other armies came up, with attaching mine rollers to their tanks.

The Germans used mines to inflict losses and to deny areas, distinct ends.

Is there another use for them I'm not aware of?

To inflict losses, the best minefield is very large and quite thin. It denies a large area if avoided, and avoiding it is as hard as possible. Movement through it is positively invited. To deny area, a thick front field is often used, as a form of bluff, with everything beyond the crust thin. Sometimes entirely dummy fields are used, wired and marked, with a few mines along the forward edge and nothing else in them.

Being a former combat engineer in the US Army I can tell that what you describe here isn't how we used mines. The one thing most gamers get wrong is that ALL engineering obstacles are to be covered by "observation and fire". In other words a minefield is not situated where you can't see it and defend it if need be.

I'm sure the minefield tactics that I was taught have evolved since WWII. So, all I'll say is a "good" minefield would be deep not wide to inflict casualties. You want them in it and where they have to keep on taking casualties to get out of it. The whole time you are hitting them with every weapons system you have.

A denial field would be as deep as you could make it. And everyday the enemy gives you, you make it deeper still.

The idea of a minefield conjures up a belt that runs for miles and in most cases that just isn't possible. Who has that number of mines to deploy and how do you get them to the point of distribution?

...you don't always use the same density, or choose that density so high movement is impactical without deadly risk. Sometimes, when absolute denial of a small critical area is the purpose, you use a deep and dense field. But this is no more the existential essence of minefieldness than every German tank was a King Tiger.

Yes you do. YOu make it as dense as you have the mines for. There is no difference in any minefield in the world. They all have the available number of mines on site, that time allows you to deploy, in them.

If the field is also covered by fire, you can get shot to pieces if you are wrong.

Today's doctrine is to cover them with fire not sure what WWII doctrine was.

But none of this has anything to do with the mythical billion Russians of the all Asia mongol horde, not caring whether they live or die.

This has nothing to do with the soldier caring about anything. It is the officer who has to execute his orders. How much does he care for the men's lives under him? AND if we link arms and charge do we get through with less casualties than if we trickle across that field in single file? That is what we are discussing here.

Take the massive human waves into machineguns myth. It is a myth as a basic means whereby the Russians attacked. The losses per division day figures and the falling losses as they took the offensive give that the lie. But there are circumstances in which it undoubtedly happened. The most obvious of them is in the pocket fighting in 1941.

I already addressed the problem of dividing losses in a battle with the tactics used to initiate the combat.

So, how did they have to fight, when trying to escape encirclement, after the artillery ammo was gone? They had nothing left but small arms and precious little ammo for those. The Germans were on tactical defense, with holes dug, MGs, and on call artillery. That is where the 10 to 1 loss ratios of 1941 came from - half the Russian losses were incurred in just such appalling conditions. They were nothing like chosen conditions, and not the standard means of attacking.

Great example of German unit histories sighting Russian wave attacks. But I wasn't sighting 1941 examples. I don't consider 1941 typical Eastern Front fighting so unless I am specifically talking about 1941 rarely use examples from that time period.

If you read the Russian tactical reports on attack how-tos, drawn from actual fights, as early as the winter of 1941-2, one gets an entirely different picture of typical Russian infantry force tactics. They have a full TOE of supporting weapons and a variety of infantry types. These all have definite roles.

They form storming parties, with pioneers, tommy gunners, and regular infantry. They fire at embrasures of pillboxes and MG nests with 45mm ATGs and 76mm infantry guns. They overwatch with their own MGs and mortars. The leading infantry detachments are quite small and composed of specialists, experts in close combat. They use SMGs and demolition charges, after approaching to close range while heavy weapons suppress individual firing points. None of which is any surprise to anyone who knows WW I tactics.

Stalingrad has been the area that has recieved credit for coming up with most of what you talk about here. That is way late in 1942 and not the "entire Red Army". That was in fact "The Drill" for the Red Army in built up area fighting. Not in open ground. The Russians didn't have the command and control to use smaller units in the field. Count the number of radios in a Soviet RD and you will begin to get a sense of why mass was used. It could be more easily controled in mass.

In more open fighting set pieces later in the war, there is also a definite procedure. There is an elaborate artillery fire plan. Prep bombardments by heavy guns and mortars. Rolling barrages by lighter field guns. Some field guns or SUs supporting with direct fire. The infantry advances certainly, but goes to ground when fired on, and the bombardment is renewed. German defenders describe a fire discipline dilemma - hold fire until they are close and you risk infantry melee and them getting into your holes. Fire too soon, and they go to ground safely, and you get shelled again.

Yes, and one thing the Soviets are never given enough credit for is their infantry recon forces which, IMHO, were some of the best during the entire war for any army. Those include recon for artillery targets. It helped that partisans were available for that work in Russia but the same results were obtained as the war moved west.

The Russian infantry forces were not tactical geniuses, but they weren't morons.

I have never said they were either.

The Germans had to work hard to beat them. They used corps level artillery massing to break parts of an attack in turn. Reserves to counterattack the intrusions, led by modest amounts of armor whenever possible. The Russians sometimes took unnecessary casualties by trying to get infantry massing to break through. E.g. throw a regiment (with supporting fire, as above) at a company on a narrow front. That usually works but gets more people killed, as each defending MG has denser targets.

These are the mass attacks that I am refering to. Of course, not all attacks were link arms and charge. You take every comment as a literal truth even when you get upset if others take your comments that same way.

German officers noticed these things as mistakes, and mistakes they were. But the sort of tactic that sometimes works by straightforward odds, and has a definite counter (defender counter-massing by reactive arty). It looked to them like indifference to losses. It was just a move and counter escalation chain that the Germans often (but not remotely always) managed to win.

We are back to the Russian saying, "quantity has it's own quality."

"Typical IDs at the time of Kursk had 40-60 PAK...

Yes, I agree and the plan had been for them to have 200."

Who cares about the plan? They had 40-60 PAK, which is plenty to stop one tank brigade. But not a corps.

What you are saying as I understand it is that only the Germans deployed AT guns in an effective way. That the Soviets didn't deploy in Pak Fronts as I have seen Zaloga, Erickson and Glantz all comment on, but in penny packets. I for one would love to see the tactical deployment maps you are looking at.

"this number is less than what you would find with a Soviet RD"

Um, TOE for a Russian RD is 36 45mm ATGs in this arm. They also have 76mm in their divisional artillery. But then, the Germans also have 105mm in their divisional artillery, in addition to their force of PAK.

Not so. Every gun in a Soviet RD is issued with AT rounds making them ALL AT guns. Count them again. If you break through a RD position every single is capable of engaging German tanks with AT rounds.

At Kursk, some Russian RDs had as many as 60-70 ATGs, but no they did not have 200. The whole front echelon of 13th army had 204 guns in 44 AT strongpoints, for 32 km of front. With 4 RDs in that forward echelon. That is it, for 5 km of depth, in front of the whole German northern attack. Which had 600 AFVs in its front line forces.

How far back was the second echelon? Were they not in supporting positions to the front echelon?

"you don't want to acknowledge that they could have any concentration of firepower on the battlefield outside of penny packets."

On the contrary, I am looking at their actual maps of AT defense schemes. They use a deep, continuous field of small AT cells. Each is indeed a penny packet - one battery, occasionally two facing two ways. The net attrition effect of needing to run over lots of them no doubt weakened the German armor. But that is not their main effect nor their intended effect. Their intended effect is to channel the German attack. The Germans have to pick places and send entire panzer regiments over them, to get through. Small tank forces will not.

These are the maps I'd like to see. Is there any possibility of getting a copy?

It just gets deeper into the ATG "sea", with only already cleared routes passable for anything but a full panzer regiment. And tanks then flock to those panzer regiment positions. The ATG scheme is deep self sealing to keep the wound from ripping wide. The antibodies are the armor - and massed artillery fire, as well.

Was this not what I said? That the ATG's were at every part of the Kursk battlefield? Sometimes I think we lose sight of what has been gone over.

"yes I do believe there was a shortage of German AT guns. Or maybe I missed something...the Germans did lose the war because the Soviets outproduced them right? That means then that the Germans were short of equipment in the later stages of the war right?"

German output was highest at the later stages of the war, because they were slow to mobilize. They had lots of excellent weapons, an improving mix of them in fact, through mid 1944. Russian field strength increased, though not continually. In general they moderated the pace of their offensives to what their replacement stream could make good. Sometimes they exceeded it, e.g. in the winter of 1942, and again in the fall of 1943. They made ground at those times but with strength in the field falling, because they were pressing as hard as they could. German ATGs were as numerous as AFVs throughout the war, and much more evenly distributed. They killed tons of Russian armor. The Germans ran low but not out, of operational tanks, then out of both ground and infantry divisions. Before 1944 most of their losses were exchange off affairs, generally at favorable ratios. After 1944 the Russians were sometimes able to inflict more than they lost.

You want me to believe that the Germans didn't have enough tanks to bring all the Panzer Divisions up to strength but they had enough AT guns to bring every German Division up to TO&E? That doesn't pass the "make sense" test.

The main reason the Germans were outnumbered is they were so late to mobilize. Their peak tank output was as high as the Russians'. It just didn't get there until 1944, while the Russians were near their full output as early as 1942. The Russians got a higher integral with the same peak by switching production "on" two years sooner. As the war only lasted 4 years from the time of the invasion, that almost doubled their effective production time (at peak rates). As a result, they made as many tanks as the Germans made tanks and PAK combined.

Okay? We agree that the Germans were outnumbered and outproduced.

With significant help in the last year in the west, to be sure - but they could have finished it themselves at that point.

I absolutely agree with you here. The Soviets would have ended the war by themselves if they had needed to.

"Soviet tactics in WWII were all about not worrying about the casualties they took? Everything I read and their own manuals say so."

Deep battle. Parallel pursuit. Assault detachment. Shock troops. Tank corps. Maskirovka. Nobody can even read a glossary of WW II Soviet military terms and think their tactics were "link arms and charge".

You have grabbed "link arms and charge" by the collar and held on. Okay, let's relegate link arms and charge back to what it was originally, an example of Soviet use of mass infantry assault. Not the preferred tactic of choice, but still used. No mass infantry attacks were the rule not the exception. Link arms and charge was the exception not the rule.

"The term "Human Wave" was coined to explain Russian infantry tactics."

Yes they used human waves. It is what echelon deployments, columnar depth, look like on the receiving end. No, a human wave is not "link arms and charge".

I never said they did. You did.

It simple means a battalion attacks with leading companies, then a second wave of its reserve at any point that is holding out. Then the regiment does the same thing. And the division. And the corps. And the army. Which means a single strongpoint might be hit 5, 10, 15 times in a row if he defeats the first attack. 2-3 of them in the same tactical fight, spaced by minutes rather than hours. Each a "human wave".

My point exactly.

What appalled the German officers about this is it violated their own hit-em-where-they-ain't, flanking-is-always-preferably, tactical doctrines. Repeated frontal assaults on positions that had already withstood similar attacks struck them as wasteful and mad. They'd go around, or try elsewhere, or use a different weapon as the primary arm. Those dang Russians kept coming again and again, frontally - bombard, assault detachment leading, line companies, go to ground if shot up, call down more arty, melee infantry to infantry in bloody exchanges if they get close.

It appalled US Intelligence officers as well.

One thing that has not been mentioned in the evolution of the history of WWII and the "truthfulness" of the claims of both sides is the Arab-Israeli wars. These were fought just like the Germans described the Soviet tactics were. They leant great credence at the time to the German histories.

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Originally posted by Adam_L:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Panther Commander:

As I told you before. A company of infantry can move across open ground and attack another company and WIN! BUT it won't be easy and you should expect to take casualties. I always hope for the best and plan for the worst. If I get the position relatively casualty free, great! If it costs me we move on from there.

The reason I don't like your idea of "The Drill" as the answer is not that I don't know the drill, but that it has a set of parameters to activate it as intended. In your case, you say that a FO is the answer. How often in CM do you come on a situation where you don't have the FO in your force mix? Then, out goes the drill and in comes leadership. You quoted the answer to be the combined arms drill to attack Soviet infantry positions in the open. What if you have no armor? How are you going to take those positions with virtually no losses with it? How will learning the combined arms attack drill help you if you have no armor to attack it with?

I have some time to spare for this. If you want to demonstrate these non-"combined arms drill" methods where you don't have armor or artillery, I'd oblige to take the defending side. I'd even be willing to do a little bit of an AAR.

If you can really pull it off without taking many casualties, you can join the campaign on my side any day. We can even use one of the generated maps from the campaign. </font>

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Originally posted by Adam_L:

Oh, I thought you were talking about the parameters Jason was giving within a CM battle itself. Sure, attacking a night from a flank in fog or somefink could work. :D

I've not seen any of Jason's maps or tactical situations. That is why way back in the beginning I asked Jason if this thread was about his campaign or a general discussion about tactics in the Ukraine. His answer was a general discussion but I think it was aimed more at his campaign.

I would like to see some of Jason's maps. The ones I have made have gotten interesting comments. Some of which I posted here at the beginning.

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