Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 8
1) The breakthrough of the positional front in the shortest possible time transformed the positional war into a maneuverable war - and significant spatial fluctuations were observed.
2) The breakthrough of the positional front almost never turned into a battle of attrition. The defender did not have time to pull up sufficiently in time (mainly because of the weakness of the communication lines), and he managed to stop only after a big backward bounce.
3) The breakthrough of the position front was almost always a means to implement another operational maneuver (bypass, coverage) and never an end in itself, as it was on the French front.
4) The tactical failures of the Russian army in the first battles of positional confrontation are explained, first of all, by the lack of artillery in its combat formations. Maximum artillery densities were achieved during the 1917 summer campaign. But artillery volumes increased on the main fronts of the First World War in disproportionate proportions: thousands of guns were attracted to the French front and hundreds on the Russian front.
5) If the breakthrough front width on the French front increased all the time, reaching 1918-70 km in 80, then on the Russian front the breakthrough front width decreased. In 1915, it was 35-40 km, in 1916, 18-20 km, in 1917, 10-15 km. The reduction of the front made it possible to concentrate more significant forces and resources on the strike sector.
6) The system of defensive positions was constantly improved, but did not reach the state that defensive positions had in France in 1918., While maintaining the linear nature of the war.
7) Russian troops have learned to properly carry out engineering training areas. The engineering assault bridgehead during the preparation of the Lutsk 1916 breakthrough had 1-2 parallel full-profile trenches carried forward 3 km from the main positions. And when preparing for the 11 Army Corps offensive in 1917, the bridgehead consisted of several lines of trenches pushed forward to a depth of 3 meters. From the enemy to the nearest tranche of the bridgehead, the steps provided for in the 150-200 instructions remained. It is characteristic that simultaneously with the preparation of bridgeheads, the defensive structures were strengthened in those combat areas where the enemy was chained.
Noting the specifics of military art in a positional war in general and on the Russian front in particular, it should be noted that between the number of advancing infantry and the number of fire weapons that support its attack there is a certain ratio, in violation of which the infantry will not succeed or buy it too low by price. The art of command is to define this ratio. The maneuver of large fire masses (artillery) prepared the success of small (infantry). In the process of fighting for the mastery of the enemy position "maneuver of fire" and "maneuver of movement" were one.
The tactical feature of the fortified bands was their continuity (absence of flanks) and great depth of defense. With defense on broad fronts, it was impossible to be strong enough in all combat sectors - it was the fortified bands that gave the opportunity to win enough operational time.
When attacked, fortified lines allowed the defender with relatively weak forces to firmly hold relatively large sectors of the front in order to concentrate the main forces on the most important directions.
The breakthrough of a fortified position demanded tremendous moral and physical tension from the troops. In most offensive operations (both in the French and the Russian fronts) chaos reigned in the actions of the advancing infantry. Chaos led to huge losses in manpower and deprived the command of the ability to do something and properly manage the events.
This disorder was the result of a combination of two reasons: one of them was rooted in a misconception about the nature of an infantry attack in a positional war (the command initially considered an infantry attack to be a rush that should be escalated with the help of automatically following waves of chains). the fighter himself was the magnitude of the moral order. Describing the last reason, the front-line soldiers noted that the excited state of the fighters quickly turned their movement into a real “flight to the enemy”, accompanied by a shout of “hurray”, indicating more a loss of spiritual balance than of conscious prowess. The fighter ran from the obstacle to the obstacle - until the moment when, out of breath, he became powerless to do anything and lost his composure. As a result, obeying only his own intuition, he eluded the leadership of his superiors and lost the ability to continue the fight. The significance of the losses incurred and the mixing of combat units gradually increased the disorganization of the unit, reduced its outburst. As a result, a part reached a barrier, which it did not have enough strength to overcome - the rotation of parts was the only way to overcome this situation.
Adopted by the German command in January 1918. The instruction indicated that the units must conduct an offensive battle until their forces are completely exhausted. So, E. von Ludendorff wrote in his instructions that the attack must be carried out by the same division - continuous movement to a depth of 8-mi kilometers or more. Moreover, he emphasized that the idea of replacing one attacking division after one day of combat should be discarded - the infantry, skillfully led, must retain its combat capability in order to conduct an offensive battle for many days and advance as much as possible.
On the contrary, the Russian command, seeing what causes the death of personnel of military units during the summer campaign of 1915, more carefully treated their troops. A note on performing operations on the South-Western Front in December 1915 and the North and West in March 1916 agreed to a slower development of the operation - if it helps to avoid big casualties. And the Instruction for fighting for the fortified bands, issued by the headquarters of the 5 Army, indicated that the units that had made the breakthrough had to gain a foothold on the reached turn (i.e., not moving forward to complete exhaustion), giving the opportunity to act into the breakthrough parts of the development of success (maneuverable parts).
The Russian army in 1916 had significantly fewer capabilities with regard to the use of artillery and ammunition in breaking through the enemy’s positional defenses than the British, French or German armies. Under the conditions of the positional period of the war, most Russian corps occupied the front in 20 km and more, that is, a front on which the 1-2 armies were to operate in the event of an offensive. Low density of troops, as well as problems in the field of artillery weapons and ammunition supply, had a more than significant influence on the effectiveness of defensive and offensive operations in a situation of positional warfare.
Therefore, in the Russian army, special attention was paid to the choice of the most effective form of a breakthrough. It was the Russian generals, who were faced with the need to save resources, developed distinctive and effective ways of overcoming the positional impasse (A. A. Brusilov, R. D. Radko-Dmitriev. N. N. Yudenich in this context we don’t mention, because in Caucasus front, a single positional front was absent).
A positional war made very special demands on command. Fighting in a positional war was particularly difficult for command, primarily in terms of the possibility of exercising continuous control of the military masses. The dispatch of large units of infantry into battle resulted in the mixing of units, the loss of direction, that is, weakened the stability of the command, deprived of the opportunity not only to manage, but often even to know the position of its units. The further the advancing infantry advanced, the more complicated the battle management became. In addition, it was required to provide jewelry interaction of all the armed forces.
Coordination of combat engagement of infantry, artillery and attached special forces was the responsibility of the division commander. At the beginning of the battle, his direct influence on the first line of attacking infantry was limited only to observation (the battle itself was conducted by regimental and battalion commanders). At this stage, the division commander intervened in the sphere of activity of subordinates only when such intervention was justified by correcting the noticed errors. If the battle line stopped before reaching the target milestone, it ensured further advancement - directing the actions of the artillery masses and bringing its reserves into action.
In the context of a war of maneuver, it was the division that had all the necessary means sufficient to accomplish the assigned tasks. In the situation of a positional war, despite the means of reinforcement, the division’s power was not enough.
Under the conditions of an offensive battle of a positional war, the army corps was the combat unit within which all tactical means were combined to organize a breakthrough operation. The corps commander, in addition to exercising general leadership, operated on the actions of his reserves and corps artillery. The combat power of the corps was only enough for the 3-4 of the day of uninterrupted combat in a positional war.
Only the army was the smallest operational unit, sufficient to carry out an offensive operation in a positional war.
Thus, the army was an alliance implementing the operation, the corps was a unit that combined tactical means to organize the offensive, and the division was a combat unit.
Positional warfare is also characterized by widespread involvement of technical specialists - for example, in the conduct of chemical warfare. For the organization of gas attacks, special trenches were built to be carried in front of the front line (between it and artificial obstacles). Standards set the flow rate of not less than 150 kg of toxic agent per 1 hectare of area. As a rule, the 1 gas meter was installed on every 5 - 10 meters on the front and 400-800 meters in depth. Gas guns were installed at the level of the second line of trenches.
During the period of positional warfare, Russian military art was constantly being improved and on the whole corresponded to the level of the French Front. For example, if during the preparation of an offensive operation in Champagne on the 32-km front, the French took out 200 thousand cubic meters. meters of soil, in preparation for the operation of the 2 Army Corps of the Russian 7 Army in May 1916, the 7 cube was taken out on the 169700-km front of the offensive. meters of soil.
The breakthrough forms of the positional front received the most vivid development on the Russian front. If at the beginning of a positional war the Russian command proceeded from the concept of delivering a strong strike on one front, then in March 1916, within the framework of one (Naroch) operation, it launched two simultaneous (but separated by passive sections) blows - on the Northern front from the Jacobstadt region on Ponevezh (5-I army) and on the Western front - from the region of Pastavy - oz. Vishnevskoe in the direction of Vilkomir (2-I army). In the summer of 1916, 2 front-line operations of the Western and South-Western fronts were also carried out. Moreover, the latter, in turn, consisted of a series of simultaneous army strikes on a broad front.
The role of the increased material and technical support of the Russian army in the 1916 campaign contributed greatly to the initial successes of the South-Western Front, and at the same time the expenditure of these resources led to the failure of the autumn campaign. A. A. Brusilov wrote in this connection that the relative unsuccessfulness of the combat operations of the armies of the Southwestern Front during this period, as compared with the May offensive, is mainly due to the fact that heavy artillery shells were accumulated then, and we could suppress artillery fire the enemy, while at present the enemy is superior to Russian forces by the force of heavy artillery fire, while the latter lack projectiles for howitzer and heavy artillery.
The chief of staff of the South-Western Front also wrote that as early as July, the actions on the South-Western Front had taken on "some random character": some units were attacking, while others stood; there was no general management; the losses were quite serious, the shells were spent in huge quantities, and the results were negligible - including because the attacks were carried out in violation of the basic principles developed by combat experience.
Strengthening the breakthrough artillery with batteries from passive combat areas, the Southwestern Front managed to bring the total number of light and heavy guns to 45-50 on 1 km of the main attack front (for example, 11 in May 1916). In some cases, the breakthrough was also successful with 30-40 guns on the 1 km of the strike site - but this was usually where the suddenness of the strike or the weakness of the enemy artillery eliminated the need for counter-battery combat (2 and 40 army corps in May g.). In 1916 operations, when the Russian army significantly increased in material and technical terms, it was possible to have on 1917 km of front (without trench artillery) from 1 to 56 light and heavy guns (the percentage of light batteries ranged from 66 to 50 from this number).
Thus, the experience of the positional offensive operations of the Russian army in 1916-1917. allows you to select the average density of guns on 1 km of front (without trench artillery) equal to 50-ty artillery barrels. This is 2-3 times less than the standards of the French Front - but in this situation, the Russian army achieved impressive success. She learned to fight in a positional war.
Speaking of defense in the period of positional warfare, it should be noted that it was during this period that the concept of a fire system was born as one of the basic elements of defense construction. The system included areas of concentrated rifle and artillery fire (on the approaches to the leading edge, at the junctions between the units, on the flanks, and sometimes in the depth of defense), as well as at the boundaries of the artillery barrage in front of the leading edge. The gaps between the support points also overlapped by fire. Important attention was paid to the creation of "fire bags" located in the depth of the defense. The system of organization of fire troops built in conjunction with natural obstacles and engineering obstacles. When used in the defense of artillery with 1916, the command of the Russian army has become wider and more active in massaging artillery facilities in critical areas. This circumstance entailed the centralization of artillery fire control at the level of military units. Artillery barrage found wide use in repelling enemy attacks.
The practice of artillery counter preparatory training (the so-called “counter artillery strike”) was widely used to disrupt the enemy’s chemical strike. To enhance the effectiveness of the use of artillery in a defensive battle, divisional and dowry artillery began to form infantry support fire groups - by the number of combat sectors.
Given all the above specifics of the fighting on the Russian front during the period of positional struggle (from the end of 1915), it can be stated that a non-positional war was established on it in the western sense of the term, but rather stabilization of a solid front was observed. Fighting in East European theaters in 1916-17 wore a predominantly position-maneuverable character.
- Oleynikov Alexey
- Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 1
Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 2
Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 3
Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 4
Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 5
Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 6
Break through the wall without breaking a head. H. 7
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.