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"The Soviet Formula for Success in World War II:..." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2017 3:52 p.m. PST

… Deep Operations to Defense in Depth.

"From the time of Peter the Great, Russia embarked on path to increase their military strength that made it possible for it to become one of the greatest powers of the world. In the process, military doctrine evolved and changed to meet the circumstances of the day. When Peter assumed the throne in 1689, it was a thoroughly medieval dictatorship, untouched by the modernization trends in the West. Although Russia had fought sporadic wars with Poland, Sweden, and Turkey during the seventeenth century, its approach to war remained medieval. This changed rapidly under Peter the Great and began the integration of western military thinking. In his book War and the Rise of the Nation State, Bruce Porter cites the Russian historian Vasili Klyuchevsky who maintains that overtaking the West militarily was the undeviating goal of Peter's reform program. This obsession passed onto his successors as well, launching Russia on a three-century-long course of formidable efforts to keep pace with the Western military advances. In her essay The Making of Soviet Strategy Condoleezza Rice writes that by 1928, Russian military thinking, lead by V. Triandifilov, the head of operations and administration of the Red Army, began to evolve into a theory of successive operations. He argued that decisive victory could only be achieved if the enemy did not have an opportunity to regroup.

Triandifilov's concept was further developed into a doctrine of deep operations and war of maneuver. However, by the time of the German invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941, advocates of positional warfare, a strategy dependent on defensive fortifications and maintenance of territorial position, were beginning to have a voice in military policy formation but the invasion did not allow time to change the course of Soviet thought and training. As a result, the Soviets were caught between preparations for the war of maneuver and the war of position. As the war went on, the Soviet response to the German invasion changed from a strategy of deep operations, utilizing cavalry and mechanized formations, to one of defense in depth, which involved command and control changes, a reorganization of the force, rapid reconstitution of formations, the relocation of industries to the east, and a scorched earth policy. The Soviets went to great lengths to encourage their forces to defend in depth and to use active, flexible tactics. This change in strategy eventually permitted the Soviet army to return to the offensive and defeat the German army.

To better understand how Russian military thought and doctrine evolved to deep operations, it is helpful to go back to the time of Peter the Great. In some ways, the new Russian empire under Peter resembled the new kingdom of Prussia. In both countries, the state arose primarily as a means of supporting a modern army. Russia developed autocratically, in conjunction with a landlord class which was intimidated into state service and which in turn held peasantry in serfdom. In the eighteenth century Peter achieved Russia's expansion into Europe and its transformation into the Russian Empire through several major initiatives. He established Russia's naval forces, reorganized the army according to European models, streamlined the government, and mobilized Russia's financial and human resources. Under Peter, the army drafted soldiers for lifetime terms from the taxpaying population and it drew officers from the nobility. In 1722, Peter introduced the Table of Ranks, which determined a person's position and status according to service to the Tsar rather than to birth or seniority. Even commoners who achieved a certain level on the table were ennobled automatically. Peter wanted to equip Russia with modern technology, institutions, and ideas. Peter's reign raised questions about Russia's backwardness, its relationship to the West, the appropriateness of reform from above, and other fundamental problems that have confronted many of Russia's subsequent rulers…."
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deephorse01 Aug 2017 4:02 p.m. PST

About the Author:
Walter lives in Pennsylvania. He is pursuing his masters degree in history and writes articles for numerous publications. He is currently writing an historical fiction novel about the Einsatzgruppen (a task force of mobile killing units that operated in German-occupied territories during World War II).

I wouldn't have thought it necessary, nor lucrative, to write fiction about the Einsatzgruppen. Straightforward historical fact should be sufficient.

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