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Old December 18th, 2016, 09:53 PM   #41
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Perhaps, it is necessary to deepen on this very elaborate doctrine developed during long years , in order to clarify it.
Deep battle encompassed manoeuvre by multiple Soviet Army front-size formations simultaneously. It was not meant to deliver a victory in a single operation, instead, multiple opérations,which might be conducted in parallel or succesively would indice a progressive catastrophic failure and disorganization in the enemy's defensive system.
Operation Bagration in June 1944 is an iconic exemple.

1/ Roots of Deep Battle are in the aftermath of the war against Poland and in Frounze military thinking based on mobile warfare.
In1929 Vladimir Triandafillov and Tukachevsky formed a partenership to elaborate the principles of the tactical and operational phases of a new revolutionnary military doctrine.
In response to their efforts and in acceptance of the methodology, the Red Army produced the "provisional instructions" for organizing the Deep battle manual in 1933.
The concept of Deep battle was not just offensive.

2/ The defensive phase of Deep battle involved indentifying crucial strategic targets and securing them against attack from all direction trying to conduct elastic and deep defence .
The goal of the defence in depth concept was to blunt the elite enemy forces, which would be first to breach the Soviet lines several times, causing them to exhaust themselves.
When the ennemy had become bogged down in Soviet defences, the operational reserves came into play.
This modernization of the concept of defence in depth is mainly dued to the works of Isserson.

3/ The operational offensive order of Deep battle included 3 echelons.
_ 1st echelon acting as the first layer of force in charge of the breaktrough (tactical).
_ 2d echelon support the breaktrough and the reserve exploit it (Deep operation).
_ 3d echelon positionned on either flank of the combat zone to tick-down enemy reinforcements via means of diversion attacks and blocking defence (strategic).

Diagram below is explicit about the third step concept (Deep operation) between the strategic and the tactical, the corps forces breach the tactical defences (in blue) and the fresh second echelon follows trough the gap.

4/ The theorical modus operandi of the offensive succeeded in inventing a new concept of shock army improved by Varfolomeev .
- The first echelon uses raw firepower with massive infantry attack supported by heavy tanks (T50, then KV1) and mobile medium artillery like a "steamroller" with big firepower.
- The second echelon operational reserves combines firepower and mobilty (BT tanks, then T34). Operational units were heavily formed from mechanized, motorised and cavalry forces.
In official literature, Varfolomeev stated that the forces pursuing the enemy operational depth must advance between 20 and 25 kilometres a day!
- The third echelon secures the flanks.

Offensive preparations must be concealed in the eyes of the enemy. The effect of surprise is crucial (Maskirovska), it is in the responsability of a specialized staff.
Offensive is preceded by multiples attacks of diversion.
All echelons are supported by aircraft.
Second echelon could coordinate its action with airbones unit dropped up to 100 kilometres behind enemy's front line.

5/ According to a report by the Staff of the Urals Military district in 1936, a shock army would number 12 rifle divisions, a mechanized corps and independent mechanized brigade, three cavalry divisions, a light bomber brigade, two brigade of assault aviation, two squadrons of fighter and reconnaissance aircraft, six tanks batallions, five artillery regiments, plus two heavy artillery batallions, two batallions of chemical troops.

The shock army of 1936 would number some:
300, 000 men
100, 000 horses
1, 688 smaller-calibre and heavy calibre guns
722 aircraft
2, 853 tanks.

As we can see, Deep battle is very different of the Blitzkrieg and much more precise and elaborate than this last.
In the mid-thirty, Soviets already had one complete Shock army with T26, BT tanks and heavy T50 tanks with Air Force and paratroopers. But all materials became quickly obsolete and needed to be replaced.
All that was gave up between 1937 and 1940, only the manufacture of new tanks (KV1,T34), in replacement of former ones, remained from Deep battle during this period.
If purge wouldn't existed, i wouldn't bet on the Wehrmacht if this last had to fight against former Stavska decimated by Stalin, decisive German's defeat would occured sooner than in real history.

Last edited by phil1904; December 18th, 2016 at 11:46 PM.
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Old December 28th, 2016, 03:11 AM   #42

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This is beginning to sound like a blind alley. As much as 'Deep Operation' might be attested to, I do think it was more a generalised concept than specific orders of battle and operations, and refers to little more than a watered down parallel to the German offensive strategies - which of course were tied to terrain, objectives, politics, and available forces as often as any other offensive mounted during that war by anyone else.
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Old January 19th, 2017, 04:56 PM   #43
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BARBAROSSA DERAILED: The Battle for Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941, Part 1

in the purpose of relancing a little this thread, here is the example of a battle i find tactically and strategically "interesting".
i think it's the first example of the confrontation between the two doctrines: the Blitzkrieg and the Deep Battle.
i think it's also, the first stage of a coherent strategic though which began to take shape among the Soviets (with great difficulties) since July 1941.
The battles of Smolensk, Kiev, Vyasma-briansk having the aim of deroting, delaying and exhausting the Germans before the decisive and final counteroffensive of Moscow.
of course i'm inspired by the famous and excellent book of Glantz.
WWII and other Book Reviews: Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk 10 July-10 September 1941 (volume 1) by David Glantz

After crushing the firstline Soviet armies in brutal three week cauldron battles at the border, the steamroller German army group center continued deeper into Soviet territory during the opening days of Barbarossa.
The twin armored spearheads of Army group Center were Panzer Group 2 under the command of general Heinz guderian and Panzer Group 3 under extremely capable tank general Hermann Hoth.

General Hermann Hoth commanded Panzer group 3 of German Army Group Center during the drive against Smolensk in the summer of 1941
Click the image to open in full size.
Panzer III with infantry
Click the image to open in full size.

Their coordinate offensive on July 10, 1941, unleashed the battle of Smolensk, a bloody struggle.
Smolensk occupied a strategically valuable "land bridge" on the way to Moscow, known as the "Smolensk Gates" in Russia.
The 45-miles wide neck of land between the headwaters of the Dvina and Dniepr Rivers was the traditional invasion route.

On July 2, Stalin dispatched the top Red army commander, Marshal Semyon K. Timoshenko, to take charge of the Western Front.
Timoshenko's reconstituted Western Front was created from second-echelon armies belonging to reserves of the high command.
Spread out along almost 400 miles of front, from Idrista in the north to Rechista in the south, were the 22d, 20th, 30th and the 21st Armies.
Another two armies allocated to Timoshenko's command, the 16th and 19th, were moving up from Ukraine.
Both sides were racing against the clock.
The Soviet command was rushing forward newly created units as soon as they were mobilized and deployed them in one echelon without significant defense.

In the same time, a struggle over the character of ongoing operations was taking place within the German high command.
Hitler demanded that the hard-charging Panzer generals like Hoth and Guderian slow down, allowing infantry units to catch up.
Further, during the first weeks of July Hitler began talking about halting the eastward advance once the vicinity of Smolensk had been reached and turning the Panzers of Army Group Center north toward Leningrad and south into the Ukraine.
Another faction was strongly advocating continuing the rapid push to Moscow.

Planning his attack against Smolensk, Field Marshal Gunther Von Kluge, in overall command of both Panzer Groups, intended to fracture the Soviet Western Front and annihilate the bulk of its forces in familliar cauldron battles.
The epicenter of the German attack was concentrated against the area of the Vitebsk-Orsha-Mogilev line.
The XXXIX Motorized Corps belonging to Hoth's Panzer group 3, was to strike from Vitebsk to Demidov and from there to Yartsevo.
The XLVII Motorized Corps from Guderian's Panzer Group 2 was to attack from Tolochin, to Orcha and then to Yelnya.

German armored thruts advanced to quickly surround Russian units, executing the typical giant pincer movements of the Blitzkrieg.
Click the image to open in full size.

Advancing on the right flank of Guderian's group, the XLVI and XXIV Motorized Corps were to form a smaller pocket around Mogilev and then push southeast to Roslaval.

The weakness of the German plan lay in the fact that supply lines were getting seriously overstreched and the supporting infantry armies marching on foot were over 60 miles behind the fast-moving Mechanized Corps.

To be continued in the next episode.
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Old January 19th, 2017, 06:37 PM   #44
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Did you type this or get it from online? Is it your words?
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Old January 19th, 2017, 09:48 PM   #45
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I type this on my own, inspired by style of phrases I read, with the help of a dictionary, a translator and a lot of time and personal effort (I struggle to improve my poor English).
I would rather have you ask me this in the future by private message, I find your post a little bit petty.
In addition I study a method of English, I work hard and under condition that I have enough time to read again(and read again) to correct my typos, I think I begin having the capability to post in a correct English.
I think that now, you have no longer any doubts that these are my own words.

Last edited by phil1904; January 19th, 2017 at 10:28 PM.
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Old January 20th, 2017, 12:35 AM   #46

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Great post.
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Old January 20th, 2017, 06:14 AM   #47

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I think there's a tendency to analyse this sort of offensive in terms a wargamer would be familiar with as the sole controlling character. Generals in world war two could not micro-manage every aspect of such a massive operation. They would plan, sometimes in detail if enough time is available (which rarely is on a potentially mobile front), but the auctioning of the overall plan is the field of sub-commanders, and that includes confrontations as much as rear echelon. Yes, a certain of coordination is possible and indeed desirable, but then, if a sub-commander cannot act because a general wants to okay everything, then the army will not be able to respond to situations quickly enough. The success of any army in WWII operations is communication - plans are all very well but as Market Garden proved, they can and at times will go horribly wrong. Without communication logistics cannot supply the means to fight nor can units coordinate or react effectively.
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Old January 20th, 2017, 08:56 AM   #48

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Deep operations was a brilliant operational art with a legacy in Tukhachevsky's use of cavalry and rapid, reckless advance in the RCW.

I'd disagree with you that Soviets were the first innovators of operational art, however. I'd say they were the first ones who codified it. Napoleon's battles were won more through operational art than battlefield strategy, but he detested theory and refused to codify his intuitions, a job left to later historians. Jomini did some work on operations, but left most of his work to precise tactics. Clausewitz focused on strategy.

Both Deep Operations and Blitzkrieg were sets of improvisations working together more than grand strategies, but they differed in the depth of thinking in the operational area, which you've explained very well. The Soviets won the war through their better operational management - Soviet logistics in WW2 were brilliant, and their ability to supply and keep up massive offensives, most notably Bagration, were real winners, even when the Germans remained a potent fighting force to the war's end.

Blitzkrieg was a purely tactical idea that linked into some vague strategic concepts but never considered operations. Operational thinking helped the Soviets manage their economy of force, while German economy of force was out of whack.

I'd compare Operational vs. Tactical art to time management vs. business/marketing tactics.

The Germans were like CEOs listening to consultants making a million recommendations. They were all good, but the Germans didn't have time and resources to implement all of them.

The Soviets were like CEOs that first figured out how to keep everything running as fast as possible, and how to work as long as possible without fatigue.

German tactics in Blitzkrieg were heavily - excessively - influenced by Schlieffen's manifesto collection called Cannae - the cult of the envelopment. They knew exactly what would win every war but were logistically caught off balance by their inability to optimally allocate their resources.

The Soviets in deep operations thought several moves ahead. Instead of simple envelopment-at-all-costs like the Kiev pocket by the Germans, they focused on deep pushes and resource management.

Soviet doctrine in WW2 is probably the only scramble-free doctrine in history. The remarkable coherence of the whole system (no holes needing to be filled in), and also of the Soviet economic plan of the time is amazing.

I'm glad you started this thread - deep operations is probably the first time you could fight a war by the book and expect to win with few improvisations.
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Old January 20th, 2017, 01:41 PM   #49
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BARBAROSSA DERAILED:The battle for Smolensk 10 July- 10 September 1941, Part 2

I continue the comparison between the Blitzkrieg and the Deep battle focusing for the moment on the tactical aspect.
In the beginning of July, things are going quite well for the Germans.
The Blitzkrieg, in spite of many Soviets counterattacks dominates the battlefield.

Germans plans were slightly delayed when on july 6, Timoshenko launched a determined attack against Panzer Group 3 from Vitebsk area toward Lepel, using the 5th and 7th Mechanized Corps.
However the poorly coordinated Soviet attack went it with no reconnaissance and ran into prepared germans antitank positions.
During the following days, the two Red Army Mechanized Corps were repelled with severe losses by a combination of Lutwaffe air attacks and the direct fire of antitank artillery.
Couterattacking the reeling Soviet formations on July 9, Hot's 7th and 18th Panzer Divisions punched a hole between the Soviets 20th and 22d Armies and captured Vitebsk.

Soviet soldiers killed on their position during the Battle of Smolensk and, also, to not forget what is behind words and maps when we deal with strategy and tactic.
Click the image to open in full size.

On July 10, Lt.Gen. Ivan Konev, commander of the 19th Army, counterattacked with two available divisions, the 220th Motorized Rifle and the 162d Rifle.
They suceeded in a first time, however they sustained prohibitive losses and failed back.
A panic was beginning to spread trough many units of the 20th and 22d Soviet armies.
Despite efforts of senior Soviet officers to control the panic, Hoth's Divisions pushed the 19th Army east and encircled the right flank of the 16th and 20th Armies north and west to Smolensk.

The encirclement of Smolensk.
Click the image to open in full size.

On the same day, Guderian's LVII Motorized Corps, came close to linking up with the northern pincer and completely surrounding the two Soviet armies.

General Heinz Guderian observes troops movements during the rapid Wehrmacht advance into Russia, he's still smiling
Click the image to open in full size.

Launching his attack across the Dniepr River on July 10, Guderian established several vital bridgeheads on the east bank.

After holding the defenses of Orsha for several days, some Soviet units trapped within the small pocket, fought their way clear before the German's ring had a chance to solidify.
Attempting to relieve pressure on Mogilev, the Soviet 21st Army launched an attack on July 13 and recaptured Rogachev and Zhlobin which had been lost on July 9 and continued moving to Bobruisk.
The surviving 16th Army units began frantically organizing defenses of Smolensk.
In spite of a fierce resistance, the Germans 29th Motorized Division was in complete possession of Smolensk by the evenning of July 16.

Things will start to get more complicated for the Germans in the next episode.....
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Old January 20th, 2017, 01:44 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Foundry View Post
Great post.
Such a compliment from such a "specialist", you've made my day
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