Shellback is the pseudonym of somebody who began working for a NATO army construction within the Brezhnev years. He doesn’t suppose that the Chilly Battle was a lot enjoyable that we must always attempt to repeat it.
Editor’s Be aware: The creator first printed this text on Russia Insider in April of 2016. We’re republishing it now attributable to its excessive relevance to the heightened army rigidity and chance of warfare between the US and Russia. Since writing this text, Russia’s armed forces have grow to be considerably stronger. Its weapons programs have been considerably modernized and its Air Power and Navy have invaluable, (and extremely profitable) battle expertise in Syria.
With the hyper-aggressive decision simply handed by the US Home of Representatives we transfer nearer to open warfare. Thus what follows could also be apposite. In brief, the US and NATO, accustomed to low cost and straightforward victories (at the very least within the brief time period – over the long run Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo are hardly victories), can have a shattering shock ought to they ever battle the Russian Armed Forces.
Initially of my profession, within the Nineteen Seventies, I spent some years engaged in fight simulations. Most of those workouts have been for coaching workers officers however some have been executed in-house to check out some weapon or tactic. The situation was normally the identical: we, NATO, the great guys, Blue, can be deployed, normally in Germany; that’s, on the jap fringe of West Germany. There we’d be attacked by the Warsaw Pact, the unhealthy guys, Crimson. (The colours, by the way in which, date from the very first warfare sport, Kriegspiel; nothing to do with the Communist Social gathering’s favourite colour).
Over a number of years of being on the management workers I observed two issues. Naturally each Crimson and Blue have been performed by our folks, nevertheless fascinating it might need been to borrow some Soviet officers to play Crimson. What at all times fascinated me was how shortly the folks enjoying Crimson would begin getting aggressive. Their fellow officers, on the Blue facet, have been very risk-averse, sluggish and cautious. The Crimson gamers simply drove down the highway and didn’t thoughts shedding a tank, not to mention a tank firm. What was actually fascinating (we examined this within the workplace, so to talk) was that, on the finish of the day, the total velocity forward strategy produced fewer casualties than the cautious strategy. The opposite factor – somewhat chilling this – was that Crimson at all times received. All the time. And somewhat shortly.
I developed an important respect for the Soviet war-fighting doctrine. I don’t know whether or not it was primarily based on conventional Russian doctrine nevertheless it actually had been perfected within the Second World Battle the place the Soviets carried out what are most likely the most important land operations ever performed. Nothing might be farther from the reality than the informal Western concept that the Soviets despatched waves of males towards the Germans till they ran out of ammunition and have been trampled beneath the following wave. As soon as the Soviets received going, they have been superb certainly.
The Soviet war-fighting doctrine that I noticed within the workouts had a number of traits. The very first thing that was clear is that the Soviets knew that individuals are killed in wars and that there isn’t a place for wavering; hesitation loses the warfare and will get extra folks killed ultimately. Secondly, success is strengthened and failure left to itself. “Viktor Suvorov”, a Soviet defector, wrote that he used to pose an issue to NATO officers. You have got 4 battalions, three attacking and one in reserve; the battalion on the left has damaged by means of simply, the one within the center can break by means of with a bit of extra effort, the one on the suitable is stopped. Which one do you reinforce along with your reserve battalion? He claimed that no NATO officer ever gave the proper reply. Which was, neglect the center and proper battalions, reinforce success; the fourth battalion goes to assist the lefthand one and, moreover, you are taking away the artillery assist from the opposite two and provides it to the battalion on the left. Soviet war-fighting doctrine divided their forces into echelons, or waves. Within the case above, not solely would the fourth battalion go to assist the lefthand battalion however the followup regiments can be despatched there too. Breakthroughs are strengthened and exploited with beautiful velocity and pressure. Normal von Mellenthin speaks of this in his guide Panzer Battles when he says that any Soviet river crossing have to be attacked instantly with regardless of the defender has; any delay brings increasingly Soviet troopers swimming, wading or floating throughout. They reinforce success it doesn’t matter what. The third level was the great quantity of excessive explosives that Soviet artillery might drop on a place. On this respect, the BM-21 Grad, about which I’ve written earlier than, was a specific standout, however they’d loads of weapons as properly.
An particularly vital level, given a typical US and NATO assumption, is that the Soviets didn’t assume that they’d at all times have complete air superiority. The largest gap, for my part, of US and NATO war-fighting doctrine is that this assumption. US techniques usually appear to be little greater than the instruction to attend for the air to get the bottom forces out of hassle (possibly that’s why US-trained forces accomplish that poorly towards decided foes). Certainly, when did the People ever need to battle with out complete air superiority apart from, maybe, their very first expertise in World Battle II? The Western Allies in Italy, at D-day and Normandy and the next combating might function assured that nearly each plane within the sky was theirs. This assured vanity has, if something, grown stronger since then with brief wars wherein the plane all come dwelling. The Soviets by no means had this luxurious – they at all times knew they must battle for air superiority and must function in situations the place they didn’t have it. And, Normal Chuikov at Stalingrad “hugging the enemy”, they devised techniques that minimized the effectiveness of enemy plane. The Russians forces haven’t forgotten that lesson immediately and that’s most likely why their air protection is so good.
NATO commanders shall be in for a shattering shock when their plane begin falling in amount and the casualties swiftly mount into the 1000’s and 1000’s. In spite of everything, we’re advised that the Kiev forces misplaced two thirds of their army gear towards fighters with a fraction of Russia’s property, however with the identical combating fashion.
However, getting again to the eventualities of the Chilly Battle. Defending NATO forces can be hit by an unimaginably savage artillery assault, with, by means of the mud, an enormous pressure of attackers pushing on. The NATO models that repelled their attackers would discover a momentary peace on their a part of the battlefield whereas those pushed again would instantly be attacked by contemporary forces thrice the scale of the primary ones and even heavier bombardments. The scenario would grow to be determined in a short time.
No surprise they at all times received and no surprise the NATO officer enjoying Crimson, following the easy directions of push forward resolutely, reinforce success, use all you artillery on a regular basis, would win the day.
I don’t want to be regarded as saying that the Soviets would have
“received to the the English Channel in 48 hours” because the naysayers have been keen on warning. In actual fact, the Soviets had a major Achilles Heel. Within the rear of all this could have been an unimaginably giant site visitors jam. Observe-up echelons working their engines whereas commanders tried to determine the place they need to be despatched, 1000’s of vehicles carrying gas and ammunition ready to cross bridges, large artillery parks, concentrations of engineering gear by no means fairly in the suitable place on the proper time. And extra arriving each second. A ground-attack pilot’s dream. The NATO Air-Land Battle doctrine being developed would have gone a ways to even issues up once more. However it might have been a tremendously damaging warfare, even forgetting the nuclear weapons (which might even be someplace within the site visitors jam).
As for the Soviets on the protection, (one thing we didn’t sport as a result of NATO, in these days, was a defensive alliance) the Battle of Kursk might be the mannequin nonetheless taught immediately: maintain the assault with layer after layer of defenses, then, on the proper second, the overwhelming assault on the weak spot. The traditional assault mannequin might be Autumn Storm.
All of this rugged and battle confirmed doctrine and methodology is someplace within the Russian Military immediately. We did not see it within the first Chechen Battle – solely overconfidence and incompetence. A few of it within the Second Chechen Battle. Extra of it within the Ossetia Battle. They’re getting it again. And they’re exercising it on a regular basis.
Mild-hearted folks in NATO or elsewhere ought to always remember that it’s a war-fighting doctrine that doesn’t require absolute air superiority to succeed and is aware of that there are not any low cost victories. It’s additionally a really, very profitable one with many victories to its credit score. (Sure, they misplaced in Afghanistan however the West didn’t do any higher.)
I severely doubt that NATO has something to match: fast air campaigns towards third-rate enemies sure. This form of factor, not a lot.
Even when, someway, the nukes are saved within the field.
To cite Discipline Marshal Montgomery “Rule 1, on web page 1 of the guide of warfare, is: ‘Don’t march on Moscow’. Varied folks have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it’s no good. That’s the first rule.”
(His second rule, by the way in which, was: “Don’t go combating along with your land armies in China.” As Washington’s coverage drives Moscow and Beijing nearer collectively…. However that’s one other topic).