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Scrapper_511

OOB and doctrine in the 80's and today.

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Even though Soviet tactical art had the regiment as the basic combined arms unit, I think that the stereotype/template that "everybody under regimental level is incompetent" may not be necessarily true.

I found these quotes from an Allen E. Curtis on another forum, the same guy who was editor of Red Thrust Star which sheds some light in Soviet tactical flexibility.

Fully agreed on this - I long ago gave up arguing that "Soviet minor tactical commanders are not incompetent" because when I say that, it is apparently perceived to mean that I am saying "All Soviet commanders from platoon to army corps are the equivalent of a Guderian-Patton love child." I've grown tired of arguing the opposite. However, while perhaps not "incompetent," it has been the experience of my mates and it has been seen in my reading that commanders below regimental level are generally not as good as they should be.

However, if you bar the experiences of the First Chechen War in assessing tactical competence, where the platoon and company commanders seem to be stronger in the Second Chechen War, the 'falling down point' is still at battalion level. But, and I want to make this clear, the Russian Army in Chechnya is not analogous to the Soviet Army in many, many ways - despite what many Westerners believe about Russian tactical competencies because of "Chechnya 1" or Russian equipment capabilities because of DESERT STORM.

For the Soviets, all I've been told from talking to RA veterans who served with the USSR was an emphasis on battle drills. I do not remember which divisions they served in, but it is most probable that they did not serve in equivalents to the Iron MRD.

With regards to Afghanistan:

- The Soviets correctly identified that their fully mechanized force structure was not well suited to counterinsurgency warfare, or the terrain in Afghanistan. They did not perceive the war in Afghanistan as being counter-insurgency as it would be defined by D. Kilcullen or J. Nagl (or the US military establishment, since those two theorists participated in the formation of the new US doctrine on COIN) because Soviet ideology does not permit the concept of a popular resistance to a Marxist-Leninist government. [The Bear Went Over The Mountain, Grau]

The development of the Armoured Group/bronegruppa was as much to have something to do with the unit's organic vehicles when the unit was dismounted and operating on a hilltop OP/security position as to provide tactical commanders with more mobility. The Soviet emphasis on combined arms - the Infantry, Artillery and Armour - means that whenever possible, the 'bronegruppa' would simply have been a standard motorized/mechanized unit with its dismounts.

- To us, what looks like "ridiculous application of firepower" is simply the Soviets conducting enemy-centric counterguerilla warfare according to their basic principles of combined arms: shell them to pin them in place, close with and destroy them with armour-supported infantrymen. The guerilla response to that was to operate inside terrain where artillery had a difficult time delivering fires, or to operate inside the Soviet's decision making loop by attacking and then dislocating immediately to prevent being pinned under a barrage and subsequently destroyed. From "The Other Side of the Mountain" by Grau, we see mention of Mujahideen fear of box barrages/blocking fires, particularly when Soviet units had an understanding of the lay of the land, thus reducing the guerilla's ability to simply take the goat trail that isn't being hit by regimental artillery.

- Units were almost always undermanned. Disease was rife; something like 40% casualties (do note; not all of them lethal) can be attributed to diseases. I believe Grau, in the very well known Bear Went Over The Mountain, has listed at least one instance of a Soviet garrison spreading cholera or typhus to the local population. Exactly the opposite of what one would expect as a Western military observer. Units had a weak dismount strength in any case, and patrols under platoon size were rarely conducted after the initial stages of the war, partially because sections did not - on average - field enough men to make one or two sections a sufficient force.

One of the major factors contributing to Soviet undermanning and "bunker mentality" in Afghanistan was the redeployment of Central Asian-raised formations to other TVDs while Eastern European troops were shipped in. This was done for reasons of 'political reliability,' as evidently the Politburo did not trust the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Kazakhs to remain loyal to CPSU while operating against the Pashtuns, Dari, and other ethnicities in Afghanistan... which include Uzbeks and Tajiks. Therefore you had guys from Leningrad who have no idea what a dry heat is shipped to Afghanistan, baking in an oven, surrounded by people they have zero familiarity with, doing something radically different than what they were trained for. I blamed the Politburo for the force substitution because the Stavka clearly didn't have an issue with it when they drew up the invasion plans in the first place. This is quoted either in The Bear Went Over The Mountain or "The Soviet-Afghan War", which is the Soviet General Staff study of said war and I strongly recommend it.

The search for ways to provide battalion and company commanders on the future, non-linear battlefield with more maneuver was one of the primary reasons why the bronegruppa concept was developed, not manpower problems.

Was this not the primary reason driving the development of the combined arms battalion? I don't see how an all-armour bronegruppa concepts fits within the emphasis put on combined arms.

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Was this not the primary reason driving the development of the combined arms battalion? I don't see how an all-armour bronegruppa concepts fits within the emphasis put on combined arms.

Take a look at the "Non-Linear Combat" study I posted earlier. It provides some tactical examples of bronegruppa employment at the battalion level.

However, while perhaps not "incompetent," it has been the experience of my mates and it has been seen in my reading that commanders below regimental level are generally not as good as they should be.

Very true. The "good" commanders would be assigned to command battalion-size divisional forward detachments, combined arms battalions of Unified Army Corps and battalions as part of operational maneuver groups. The "who were not as good" majority were probably familiar with the tactics and techniques, but would not carry them out due to a lack in ability and only operate as part of a regiment.

Edited by Tac Error

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