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Thread: Going Deep: The Red Army in World War II

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    Default Going Deep: The Red Army in World War II

    Yesterday in my 20th Century Warfare course I was taking my students through the intricacies of "deep battle"—the Soviet warfighting doctrine that arose in the interwar period, came to fruition during wartime, and eventually helped inform U.S. doctrinal reform in the 1980s (the era that witnessed the rise of "AirLand Battle").

    It's an important topic for students of the war. With all the attention we lavish on the Germans and the Americans in World War II classes, the Red Army rarely gets the credit it deserves. Oh sure, just about everyone now accepts the truth that the Soviets bore the brunt of defeating the Wehrmacht on land. The vast majority of the German army at any given time was deployed in the East, and that's where it suffered its most catastrophic defeats, just about one a year, in fact: at Moscow in 1941, Stalingrad (1942), Kursk (1943), and Byelorussia (Operation Bagration) in 1944. Still, there has been a tendency to belittle the fighting qualities of the Soviet army, to attribute its victories to size and mass and numbers alone, to portray it as a big beast with a single-digit IQ, or better yet, as a mindless steamroller that simply flattened everything in its path.


    That is in incomplete portrait, however, and I'll go on record: these guys were good. Before 1939, the Soviet army had a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking and experimental military forces in the world. Guided by the fertile brain of Marshal M. N. Tukhachevsky, the Soviets devised a doctrine they called "deep battle": huge armored formations (styled "mechanized corps") crashing through very narrow portions of the enemy line, feeding in more men, tanks, and guns along the same axis in one irresistible wave after another (echelons, they were called), smashing hostile resistance and driving far into the depth of the enemy position. He also stressed the notion of "consecutive operations." Modern armies had grown so large and had such enduring recuperative powers that it had become impossible to destroy them in a single battle. You had to keep pounding them in repeated large-scale offensives, landing a series of non-stop blows on the enemy that would not let him reform his line or recover his equilibrium.
    http://www.historynet.com/going-deep...rld-war-ii.htm

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    Moderator James's Avatar
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    I don't think many here are going to argue that the Red Army wasn't effective in what they did.

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    I'm going to suggest that the Red Army's deep penetration doctrine was indeed the worlds most advanced - until most of it's adherants were purged and replaced by a bunch of idiots whose main credentials was loyalty to Stalin.

    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    I don't think many here are going to argue that the Red Army wasn't effective in what they did.
    Especially post 1943. The "human wave" thing was a nice sop to the egos of German generals who'd been outfought, but it didn't even begin to cover the manner in which they'd also been out-thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    I don't think many here are going to argue that the Red Army wasn't effective in what they did.
    Well, I do. Perhaps my understanding of the word "effective" is different - in my book it stands for high gain by comparatively little effort. As a rule, Soviet offensive successes needed something of a three times superiority in men and material to work and were usually marked by extremely high losses (of their own troops). And yet they got only so far in every consecutive offensive.

    I think that this whole story about how the "stupid German generals with their inflated egos" were outtought by the oh-so-clever Russians (whose generals often had their own well-sized egos by the way) is to a good deal a myth. On average, the German generals were the better ones. Or put another way: had the numerical odds been even, the Wehrmacht would not only have won the war, it would have walked all over the Soviet force.

    Please remember: over the whole war, Soviet KIA were on average between two and two and a half times higher than that of their German adversaries. Or put another way: had the USA changed sides, let's say in winter 1942/43, and provided the Germans with as much material as they otherwise did for Stalin's armies, and additionally begun an invasion equivalent to Overlord in Summer 1944 that would have finally bound almost a third of the Red Army, those stupid Germans would have won the war against these clever Russians.

    Just for the record: I do not, as the article above says, "attribute its [the Soviet] victories to size and mass and numbers alone" and "portray it as a big beast with a single-digit IQ, or better yet, as a mindless steamroller that simply flattened everything in its path". I did never say anything about the Soviets being "mindless" or even stupid. But for the Red Army, a huge superiority in numbers simply was an essential part of their success, since they did not (at least until the end of the year 1944, afterwards the Wehrmacht was essentially falling apart) surpass or even match the German quality of fighting power.

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    What do you call strategic scale surprises and defeats like Bagration then?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune View Post
    I did never say anything about the Soviets being "mindless" or even stupid. But for the Red Army, a huge superiority in numbers simply was an essential part of their success, since they did not (at least until the end of the year 1944, afterwards the Wehrmacht was essentially falling apart) surpass or even match the German quality of fighting power.



    [IMG]http://img850.imageshack.us/img850/7905/ur****map2.jpg[/IMG]
    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune View Post
    Please remember: over the whole war, Soviet KIA were on average between two and two and a half times higher than that of their German adversaries. Or put another way: had the USA changed sides, let's say in winter 1942/43, and provided the Germans with as much material as they otherwise did for Stalin's armies, and additionally begun an invasion equivalent to Overlord in Summer 1944 that would have finally bound almost a third of the Red Army, those stupid Germans would have won the war against these clever Russians.
    Coulda woulda shoulda, doesn't matter. Stick to historical facts not alternate screwed up scenarios.
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    The Germans had their strategic style successes as well. "Bagration" was a massive defeat, no question, and the one really big exception to the (otherwise very correct) rule that the Soviets always had much higher KIA losses than the Germans. But again, it was achieved against forces which were numerically much smaller, starving and deprived of material, while the Wehrmacht leadership had to face the possibility of an upcoming American/British invasion in the West. "Had the odds been even" even Bagration would have been a different story. There was no greater general efficiency of the Soviets, neither in fighting power, nor in leadership smartness. At the end of the day they did win because of much greater numbers (in men, material and casualities) and because America was on their side.

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    The odds were never going to be even though were they. You know, invading a country much larger than yourself in every respect is going to mean that. And Bagration happened after Overlord.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune View Post
    There was no greater general efficiency of the Soviets, neither in fighting power, nor in leadership smartness. At the end of the day they did win because of much greater numbers (in men, material and casualities) and because America was on their side.
    An overused argument you can find on any YouTube video about Operation Bagration, Ur****, Berlin Strategic Offensive, ect.

    Your beloved Reich ****ed up and failed against the Bolshevik Untermensch, deal with it. The Tzar ****ed up when he entered the war with the Axis and was overthrown by the commies, but do you hear me moaning about it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune View Post
    On average, the German generals were the better ones. Or put another way: had the numerical odds been even, the Wehrmacht would not only have won the war, it would have walked all over the Soviet force.
    if you are the book writer...see to wiki, if you forgot, that this da best generals, planned to finish the war- this easy trip, in 3 months. at least they could be slightly more clever.

    Please remember: over the whole war, Soviet KIA were on average between two and two and a half times higher than that of their German adversaries. Or put another way: had the USA changed sides, let's say in winter 1942/43, and provided the Germans with as much material as they otherwise did for Stalin's armies, and additionally begun an invasion equivalent to Overlord in Summer 1944 that would have finally bound almost a third of the Red Army, those stupid Germans would have won the war against these clever Russians.
    you started Overlord at the time, when question about Germany defeat, was already solved. nothing could stop the red army. that's why you started Overlord.
    so I think, you ll start Overlord against russia, if germans reached Siberia alone...so - never. Because without your Overlord russians were already in europe in 1944 summer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hisroyalhighness View Post
    Coulda woulda shoulda, doesn't matter. Stick to historical facts not alternate screwed up scenarios.
    I try to stick to them. Germany utterly lost the war and were pretty much destroyed as a nation and lost all of its self-confidence. The present day Federal Republic is only a pale shadow of the nation which had been founded in 1871, and that is because of the defeats in the two world wars, especially the second one. The defeat was total, and I will have to live with it, and wether I like it or not is entirely immaterial. But, wether you like it or not, it was not the supreme Soviet or Russian efficency, or smartness, or fighting prowess which brought Russia the victory but numbers. Soviet losses were much higher, that is also a fact.

    Besides, any russian gloating is not very appropriate: for all this effort and all those casualities almost everything that the Sovietunion conquered during WWII is already lost again - in the West, Russia is essentially back to the borders of Brest-Litowsk by now (in the South it is less). That is the overall state of Europe and the West, isn't it? All the grandness of the British and French Empires, the erstwhile power of the Germans, the glory of the Austrians, Spanish, Portugese....amazing how that all has come and gone in such rather short a time, historically speaking. Russia is really no exception here. Only America still maintains its state of global hegemony which it has acquired during WWII and then through the collapse of the Sovietunion. For now, and the outlook is not too great. But for Europeans and Russians pretty much all the laurels of past wars have withered away already.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune View Post
    But, wether you like it or not, it was not the supreme Soviet or Russian efficency, or smartness, or fighting prowess which brought Russia the victory but numbers.
    Yeah that's why Russia managed to completely annex Fin... Oh wait!

    Besides, any russian gloating is not very appropriate: for all this effort and all those casualities almost everything that the Sovietunion conquered during WWII is already lost again - in the West, Russia is essentially back to the borders of Brest-Litowsk by now (in the South it is less).
    Who gives a **** about land? Russia has enough.

    It's a victory because the Russian people(general term) were not exterminated nor enslaved by goosestepping morons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune View Post
    Soviet losses were much higher, that is also a fact.
    if it makes you happy...then...it makes you happy.
    we had this casualties to save our people, our land, our descendants from complete elimination, and yes it costs lives. many lives.
    but you are happy that we paid a lot, mister?
    wanna see you, when somebody will eliminate your people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by merk666 View Post
    if it makes you happy...then...it makes you happy.
    we had this casualties to save our people, our land, our descendants from complete elimination, and yes it costs lives. many lives.
    but you are happy that be paid a lot, mister?
    wanna see you, when somebody will eliminate your nation.
    He's a Reich apologist who misses the time of droning He 111s and the clanking of Panzer IVs. I don't know why I keep responding to him; maybe I'm a masochist.

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    The Germans had a professional army and the Russians a conscripted one that had to learn on the job. Either way this was the end result.
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