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03 April 2016


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"The only number that opposition usually knows better are POWs."

That's no doubt true. But how would you define opposition in this context?

Not military archives too? Am I supposed to think that relatives e.g. Red Cross search attempts wasn't one way or another connected, or that military archives showed no interest in in these lists too?

Never mind that it may mean serious troubles to connect the data in the larger context of official reports back home, to the extend they survived - chaos at one point -- and relatives without notice wanting to get information?

Babak Makkinejad

That a war against Russia is being publicly discussed is itself an indication of a colossal failure of statesmanship.

The Twisted Genius

This reminds me of the evolution of Airland Battle doctrine from the active defense doctrine. I attended IOBC in 76 and IOAC in 80-81. At that time our doctrine was almost exclusively focused on war in Europe. How do we keep our troops from being ground under the treads of the 3d Shock Army? In 76 the discussions were fairly pessimistic about our chances. In 80-81 there was a little more optimism although we young captains were still skeptical. All hope seems to be pinned on "servicing targets from stable firing platforms" - a euphemism met with universal derision in Building 4 of the Benning School for Boys. It meant keeping the TOWs out of range of the advancing Soviet tanks while picking off echelon after echelon of T-64s and T-72s. The instructors would dismiss our questions about suppressive fires, smoke and terrain masking. We had two Egyptian colonels in our IOAC class. One was a motorized rifle company commander at the battle of Chinese Farms in the Sinai where he helped bloody the Israel armored attack. They were recent products of the Soviet military education system. We asked them if our doctrine would blunt a full scale Soviet offensive in Europe. They weren't too impressed with our talk of "servicing targets from stable firing platforms." They said we were f@#ked.

I found an interesting Strategic Studies Institute paper on "The Airland Battle and the Operational Maneuver Group" published in 1983. It's valuable, at a minimum, from a historical perspective.


William R. Cumming

Is there an open source history of employment of Depleted Uranium rounds and their effectiveness? Who uses them? Armor only?

Neil R

"Who uses them? Armor only?"

No. A-10 Avenger guns used DU rounds. IIRC the Marine Corps Harriers also used them for their guns as well. M2/M3s also had APFSDS rounds with DU as well.


"I don't think that Breedlove and his staff, nor his successor truly understand the level of Russian determination to not let history repeat itself."

I think it is more complex than that but what is true--it took "Western" media a couple of months to even notice that people of Donbass were wearing (still do) St. George's ribbon, which is a direct link to Great Patriotic War and Guards formations. References to Russian/Soviet/Russian military history and experiences are always there. In fact, in Russia you can not occupy a power position if you didn't serve in the Armed Forces without valid reasons to skip service (chronic illness, family circumstances, special academic talents etc.).


Not military but NKVD archives would be my guess, but I never researched this matter.

scott s.

Thanks for the article. I am interested in organizational issues, and find that many military historians seem to rush past this (often relegating them to "administrative matters") in an effort to get to the battles.

Currently I see USA is dumping the Brigade Combat Team concept and going back to Divisions -- DIVARTY is re-created and Sustainment Brigades look like DISCOM. The latest wrinkle is aligning National Guard/Reserve elements to Active and vv.

I'm also interested in the USA cavalry and wonder if the US concept which seems to me more mission based than hardware (tank) based is unique to USA or employed in other armies?

Neil R


"This reminds me of the evolution of Airland Battle doctrine from the active defense doctrine."

There is no NATO defense posture today other than do the unthinkable or surrender. Europe isn't my area of interest and I welcome corrections. But briefly perusing public domain information on orders of battle, I see that the Bundeswehr has *two* Panzer brigades (3 if yu count the seedcorn like the 9th Lehr) and two PG brigades. They also have 1 mountain infantry and 1 airborne brigade in addition to two infantry BNs in the Franco-German Brigade. The Poles? 1 armored division and two mechanized infantry divisions. The Czechs? Two mechanized brigades. Hungary? 2 infantry brigades. You get the idea. The British Army has 10 brigades and IIRC they were due for even more downsizing.

The numbers aren't just the only problem. The most important aspect of alliance warfare is integration. Do they even share the most rudimentary set of common operational concepts and terminology today? Unless I'm mistaken the Poles use both old former Soviet equipment as well as whatever they bought off the bargain bin during the Great German Panzer Sale after the German reunification. How many NATO states have even come close to 2% GDP goal?

I see absolutely no reason for the United States to again stand up the alliance. There is no reason for us to drive Russia and China into a tactical alliance just because fools in both political parties suffer from delusions of imperial grandeur from their "unipolar moment." If Europe wants to maintain the alliance, let them pay the price of coordination. If not, well I could quote von Rundstedt's comments after Keitel told him of the failure of a German counterattack in July 1944 and say, "Make peace, you fools!"

As for OMG and AirLand, Starry, Richardson, Otis and many others who had corps/div commands in the mid '70s all rejected Active Defense which really was something the FRG and the Heer wanted for political reasons. The Germans were among the last to transition to ALB as they just didn't want to give an inch of their territory even after numerous discussions on Soviet echelonment.


Neil, Chris. Et al,

Sans a Purple Heart or a sustained exchange of fire no officer should be calling themselves a "combat veteran" in OEF/OIF if they were a field grade or above.


Sounds like an "unnatural selection" of the opportunists over professionals. In consequence, it is hard to imagine what could make clean the family name of Rumsfeld. He might enjoy his wealth (whatever means it has been gotten by), but humans are social animals and Rumsfeld most likely knows that he is perceived as a dishonorable man by the decent intelligent people. http://www.democracynow.org/2006/5/5/retired_cia_analyst_ray_mcgovern_takes


"The descriptive phrase which sticks with me of that administration is "impenetrably ignorant".
That was a rather charitable characterization. In the time past, an engineer of a bridge would stand underneath it on a day of opening the bridge for a heavy traffic. These scoundrels, Rumsfeld & Co (Wolfowitz is a prime example) have never risked their lives and careers for either principles or protection of homeland. And what could be expected from a Congress that kneels before Bibi (AIPAC).


These figures are only about infantry.
If you add, cavalry,engineers,artillery,medics and so on you will find your 12/15 000 estimate.
Most of the time you need 6 to 8 people to support 1 first line soldier.
Hope to have solve your problem !

different clue

Babak Makkinejad,

Perhaps "statesmanship" is not the point or the goal, and perhaps it never was. If the OverClass Governators anticipate rising discontent among the citizenry as the carefully engineered poverty deepens and spreads through such means as Forced Free Trade Agreements and suchlike, the Governators might want to re-instate a long range Cold War to re-impose social discipline and obedience among us masses.

So the more people that blogs like this manage to reach and mind-expand as to who is really creating the rising tension with Russia ( hint... it isn't being created by Russia), the more people are resistant to the Governators' pleas to join and support the New Cold War and the harder it becomes for the Governators to manage and contain us masses. The Bernie-supporters are one group of citizens who won't buy into the Borg's New Cold War and the Trump-supporters are another group of citizens who won't buy into the Borg's New Cold War. That's two big and growing grouploads of people who are thinking outside the Borg more and more and more. The "captain" is beginning to lose control over the "engine room".

different clue

William R. Cumming,

How depleted are the Depleted Uranium rounds? What percentage of radioactive U-235 and/or any other radionuclides do they contain among and between their majority of stable U-238 atoms?


Thank you. I didn't realise so many of those not more or less actually fighting were included in unit totals. I thought the 6 to 8 people would be in the bureaucracies and factories and essential services back home.

Trey N

I'll be glad to take a stab at it. I became fascinated with the Eastern Front while playing Drang Nach Osten! back in 1974, and have collected a small library of books and wargames on the subject since.

The Soviets could have done without the actual tanks and planes that Lend-Lease provided. They rightly considered most of these to be inferior to the models they were producing themselves, and consigned most of the Western tanks to training formations.

What did make a huge contribution to the Soviet war effort was the logistical equipment: trucks, jeeps, radios, LOC gear (inc steel rails and locomotives), canned food, boots, etc etc.

The 4WD Studebaker trucks were especially important during the spring and fall rasputitas. While German 2WD trucks were immobilized in the mud, the American vehicles could continue to succesfully operate. This was a major factor in the pursuit to and beyond the Dneiper River after Kursk in fall 1943, and especially in Operation Bagration in June 1944. Hitler's plan to defend Byelorussia has been discredited in hindsight, but given what was known at the time it made sense: the festungs of Vitebsk, Orsha, Mogilev and Bobruysk blocked the main roads traversing the swamps and forests of White Russia, and the Germans considered the terrain between the roads impassible for major Soviet operations. The American trucks and jeeps provided the means to do what the Germans thought impossible: bypass their roadblocks with major mobile formations. The destruction of Army Group Center would almost certainly not have been as complete a victory without Western Lend Lease aid.

If by your ? you mean "what would have happened if Britain, France and the USA remained completely neutral from the get-go, and Germany and Russia would have fought it out one-on-one from 1939/1941/whenever" -- well, that's a completely different question.

Historically, Hitler the Soviet Union at the perfect time. After the Tukhachevsky purges his armor doctrine was discredited and large Soviet armored formations broken up. German success in Poland and France with their panzers caused the Soviets to reverse course, but they were in the middle of reorganizing and equipping their armored corps when the Germans invaded in June 1941. They were also in the middle of dismantling the Stalin Line fortifications on their old 1939 border and relocating them forward to the new border with Germany. Allies in the war or not, the Germans would have faced a much tougher and better-prepared opponent in the East if they had waited to invade until 1942.

IMHO, the key consideration is the successful Soviet industrialization of Russia in the 1920s and 1930s. When they were able to evacuate a large number of those factories to the Urals and beyond in the weeks and months after the German invasion, their eventual victory was almost assured. Their big Achilles heel was dependence on the oil of the Caucasus: if the Germans had managed to capture those fields, and assuming the USSR was confronting the Nazi-led Great European Anti-Bolshevik Crusade all by itself, then Hitler might conceivably have achieved his plan of conquering the Soviet Union up to the Urals.

All things considered, once the Soviets managed to weather the initial shock of the invasion the odds of an eventual German victory greatly diminished as time passed. Perhaps a more interesting question, however, is: could the Allies have defeated Germany in WW II without the Soviet Union???

Trey N

German General von Senger und Etterlin addressed this issue in his memoirs of WW II. He noted that non-military people he spoke with were usually amazed to learn that "only" 1,500 - 2,000 casualties could render an entire division hors de combat, not realizing that out of a division of 12,000 men, only 2,000 were combat infantrymen "at the tip of the spear." He also noted that the other 10,000 support troops were usually not serviceable replacements, lacking the training and experience of the veteran landsers.

Providing trained infantry replacements to front-line units was a problem that bedeviled all armies in WW II (and pretty much throughout history, for that matter...).



A couple of points: 1 - civilians always seem to think that whichever side has the best toys wins. 2 - Operational level skill counts a great deal. pl



You may also see the dynamics of policy and grand strategy discussion between Allies prior to Tehran Conference. It is very revealing.



I am the last one who would dispute that the US view was shaped by selfserving biographies of German generals.

However, Glantz had the disadvantage that at the same time as his books were published the historical department of the Bundeswehr published the series "Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg" which is when it comes to the German side the best you can get, quite a surprise after the hot debates around Volume 4. :-)

My beef (as scientist) with Glantz is that he in some instances uncritcally accepted Soviet numbers for the German side, when better were available. Frieser does IMHO a better job.

To compare Glantz with older works misses completely the point. You discuss with or against "Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg", not against "Lost Victories". :-)


"Incidentally, Zetterling was not accusing the Soviets of intentionally inflating numbers, he claims that there is a natural tendency of armies to inflate the damage that they inflict on their opponents. Also, whenever you are in a defensive phase of a battle, you cannot double check your original estimates. Zetterling's rule can be summed up as 'whenever possible, use an army's own archives to document their losses'."

But Zetterling does accept that many Soviet losses were wrong and German losses in Soviet sources were inflated when Soviet losses were high. :-)

You can check many good discussions in the archieves of the Dupuy Institute.


Thank you. I knew that the Roman legionaries were often skilled craftsmen, but also fought in the line and had thought the same still applied albeit to a lesser extent.

That however raises another couple of questions. One is whether there remains any utility in the old views of the citizenry as minutemen or conscripts, levy or fyrd. The specialization seems to have been taken further.When might cheap Chinese made battle robots replace infantrymen?

The other is about classification. The higher level units seem to include an increasing proportion of what in previous eras would have been regarded as camp followers, baggage train or artillery park, or even the central bureaucracy. Surely a lot of these could be administered separately with sections allocated to the fighting formations as required and not counted in their totals.Is their inclusion perhaps attributable to a tendency to hoard everything a big unit might need in case there's a shortage and they miss out?

Trey N

The US military had the longest "tooth-to-tail" ratio in WW II, largely because it (along with the British) was the most motorized of all the combatants. The Soviets had the shortest ratio, the Germans were in between the two extremes.

The USMC has always taken great pride that "every Marine is a Rifleman first", in addition to his specialty. It's too bad that they finally met a foe they couldn't overcome: the PC Bureaucracy. They did, however, put up a valiant fight and a heroic rearguard action against allowing women in the combat arms.


Try N

"From the Halls of ..." Oh, come on! The marines never fought the Wehrmacht. pl

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