Did the Red Army learn to defend?
One of the most common opinions about the reasons for the failure of the Red Army in the border battle is the assertion that the Red Army in the future military clashes with the West will only attack. Therefore, they say, the troops in the USSR taught only offensive actions, without giving any attention to defense [Kiev Red Banner: Essays stories. 1919-1988 with .142]. And so, when Germany struck first, the Soviet army did not know how to conduct defensive battles, began to suffer one defeat after another.
So still taught the Red Army defense or not?
Let's leave the military regulations aside. They have always been, among other chapters, "Offensive" and "Defense". Let us dwell on current policy documents. Every year, in November — December, an order was issued to NGOs in which they summarized the results of combat training in the last academic year and set tasks for the new academic year. In the second part of the order, tasks were set for the next academic year. It is indicated (for each branch of service and service) that it is necessary to work out first of all, what to pay special attention to. The themes, terms and number of military exercises from regimental to exercises on the scale of districts are painted.
Below we submit two such orders in abbreviated form (only that in relation to defense).
ORDER NKO USSR №0120 from 16 May 1940.
“The experience of the war at the Karelian-Finnish theater revealed the largest flaws in combat training and education of the army ...
... 7. All-arms commanders to study the combat properties of the armed forces ... skillfully set them the tasks, organize and maintain interaction with them in all types of combat ...
... 1. Over the summer period 1940 to work out: a) attack and defense of the UR by a rifle regiment; b) an offensive battle (reinforced by sp, kp, sd, cd) with overcoming the obstacle line ... d) a defensive battle with the equipment of the obstacle line; ...
1. The basis of infantry training put mastering melee every fighter and unit. Teach all fighters to quickly navigate the terrain, skillful use of a shovel, rapid short dashes, crawling, disguise, skillful combination of fire and movement on the battlefield, decisive bayonet strike and accurate aiming shot. To train soldiers and subunits to immediately dig in at all stops, the second echelons are to develop the trenches made by the previous divisions, bringing them to full profile ...
... 5. Teach the commanders and units to counteract the environment through careful reconnaissance, decisive, bold strikes in the flank and rear of the enemy, which carries out a detour. Teach commanders and units the ability to get out of the encirclement and surround the enemy themselves.
6. In all tactical exercises, train fighters and units in the skills to fight in the trenches and the message moves both in offensive combat and in defense ...
... XIII. ENGINEERING TRAINING.
1. All branches of the army practically learn:
1. Skillfully and quickly dig in under enemy fire ...
4. Strengthen defensive areas. ... In addition, the engineering troops to work out ... setting up of minefields and surprises, and overcoming them, masking defensive structures and works, equipment of escarpment on the ground ...
... XVII. The defense of the fortified area.
1. Work out the following topics: a) defense of a stronghold (company area) and a defense unit (battalion area) until the approach of field troops; b) defense of UR by troops of the fortified area; c) the defense of the reinforced rifle battalion in the UR and a counterattack by the rifle battalion of the enemy that broke through the release; d) defense of the area of the UR: rifle regiment - 2 exercises, rifle division - 2 exercises. 50% of all exercises to spend in the conditions of the night, smoke and long-acting agents.
Work out: a) control of the battle of the dota and a group of dots of field troops and in cooperation with the field troops; b) reconnaissance, combat support, combat in front of the front edge and deep in the defense of the UR and evacuation of the sick and wounded during the battle; c) operation of the internal equipment of the facilities and the procedure for its restoration; d) the communication scheme of its area of defense and the latent control of troops in the SD ... " [Veremeev Yu.G. Did the Red Army learn defense?
So, we see that the new People's Commissar Tymoshenko demanded to pay serious attention to the training of troops on the conduct of defense.
ORDER NKO USSR №30 from 21 January 1941 "On the results of the combat training of the Red Army for 1940 year and tasks for 1941 g.".
“... IV. General training.
... 2. In the current year, to work out the following combined-arms themes (each topic on a regimental, division, and corps scale):
- a defensive battle in winter and summer conditions with the organization of obstacles in the assault; ...
... 5. The military councils of the districts (front) and the armies plan to conduct:
- joint command and staff exercises of combined arms headquarters with the headquarters of special combat arms (artillery RGK, tank, aviation and etc.); - combined arms exercises for the winter and summer periods, given that by May 15, 1941 there should be a well-coordinated battalion-division and a tank company in a defensive and offensive battle ...
... 8. In defense, to teach infantry in the selection of terrain, the organization of the fire system, the production of engineering works, the correct disguise and the stubborn defense of their positions. To teach how to fight tanks ...
... XII. ARTILLERY.
... 2. Artillery units and units to teach:
- in defensive combat: flexible maneuvering with concentrated fire in preparing the enemy for attack and in repelling it ...
... XVII. ENGINEERING TRAINING
... 2. Teach all kinds of troops:
- to build barriers together with engineering and chemical parts, to explore and overcome them in summer and winter conditions;
- to build the simplest shelter from the cold (tents, huts, dugouts)
- skillfully and quickly dig in, build trenches in any soil, in the snow and mask them ...
... XXII. The defense of the fortified area.
... 2. In parts of the SD hold:
- in April — June — one tactical doctrine with combat shooting as part of a dota garrison and a reinforced rifle platoon; one defense exercise of the UR stronghold together with a reinforced rifle company; one exercise on the defense of the unit of the UR together with a reinforced rifle battalion;
- in July — September - two tactical exercises with live firing in the group of pillboxes (strong point) and a reinforced rifle company; two exercises on the defense of the SD unit in conjunction with a reinforced infantry battalion; one teaching on the defense of the UR unit together with the reinforced rifle regiment ... ” [Veremeev Yu.G. Did the Red Army learn defense?
So, the army learned to defend. The question here is different. As can be seen from the document, the basic exercises for coordinating the actions of units and subunits were planned for the summer — autumn 1941. In the spring of 1941, this needs to be taught to new recruits and by the summer to teach them to fight is unrealistic. Therefore, only by the autumn the Red Army could reach a certain degree of combat readiness.
Secondly, if you were able to conduct a defensive fight well, then with an opponent’s advantage over 5-6 [Statyuk I. Defense of the Baltic States. 1941, c.6] , and on the main directions sometimes in 10-12 times [A.A. Martirosyan The tragedy of June 22: Blitzkrieg or treason? C.306] , with a low density of troops per kilometer of the front (see above) and under the domination of enemy aircraft in the air, this will be difficult for you. Let's add here another retreat of your neighbors on the right or left, and the likelihood of the enemy entering the flank - very few people want to fight in an environment. In addition, it should be noted that Directive No. XXUMX prescribed to keep a stable defense (and this in the absence of artillery and tank support in the first days), which in that situation led to the fact that the Soviet units simply dismantled or destroyed in a short time. It would be better to act according to the plan of B. Shaposhnikov, in which the defense should have been active, with a maneuver, including a departure to more advantageous positions. This was facilitated by the lack of a solid front in the initial period of the war.
And the last - on the technical and educational level of the soldiers of the Red Army and combat experience. Two thirds of the population of the USSR lived before the Second World War in rural areas, and the level of education and skills in handling recruits from villages and villages was depressingly low in most cases. Talk about the experience of driving a motorcycle or car did not have to.
Thus, initially only due to a more competent and technically trained soldier, the Wehrmacht had a significant advantage over the Red Army. The Soviet leadership was well aware of these problems, and before the war, literacy classes were organized, and the soldiers along with military training were taught to read and write. By the way, this was partly due to the extraordinary popularity of the Red Army among young people, who not only did not seek to "retract" from military service, but were eager to serve!
Despite the titanic efforts to eliminate the illiteracy of the Red Army soldiers, it was still very far from the average literacy of the German army. German superiority also grew due to a higher discipline, individual training and a well-thought-out training system, originating in the “army of professionals” - the Reichswehr.
This was aggravated by the fact that at first the junior commanders were absent from the Red Army as a class. In other armies, they were called non-commissioned officers, or sergeants (and the Russian tsarist army was no exception). They were like the “backbone” of the army, the most disciplined, stable and efficient part of it. In the Red Army, they did not differ at all from the rank-and-file soldiers neither in their education, nor in training, nor in experience. It was necessary to attract officers to perform their functions. That is why in the management of the Soviet rifle division before the war there were three times more officers than in the German infantry division, and the latter had 16% more personnel on staff [Romanycheva N. The Red Army is the strongest of all?].
As a result, in the prewar year, a paradoxical situation developed in the Red Army: despite the large number of commanders (in June 1941, 659 thousand), the Red Army constantly experienced a large shortage of command personnel relative to the state. For example, in the 1939, for one commander in our army there were 6 soldiers, in the Wehrmacht - 29, in the English army - 15, in the French - 22, and in the Japanese - 19.
In 1929, 81,6% of cadets enrolled in military schools came only with elementary education in the 2 — 4 class. In infantry schools, this percentage was even higher - 90,8%. This was explained not only by the low average level of education in the USSR, which, though slowly, but thanks to a consistent state program continued to rise. The negative role played by the practice of providing benefits for admission "by origin." The lower the social status (and, consequently, the level of education) was from the parents, the more willingly they took to the officer courses of the Red Army. As a result, illiterate cadets had to teach elementary things (reading, writing, addition, subtraction, etc.), spending for this very time that a German cadet spent directly on military affairs.
In the army, the situation was no better. On the eve of the beginning of the Second World War, only 7,1% of the command and commanding staff of the Red Army could boast of higher military education, the average was for 55,9%, accelerated courses were for 24,6%, and the remaining 12,4% did not receive any military education at all. In the "Act of admission of the People's Commissariat of Defense of the USSR" to Comrade Tymoshenko from Comrade. Voroshilov said: "The quality of the training of commanders is low, especially in the company-platoon link, in which up to 68% have only a short-term 6-month training course for junior lieutenant." [Beshanov V. We were not quite ready yet ... S. 77]
And of the registered 915 army reserve commanders and fleet 89,9% had only short-term courses behind them or had no military education at all. Even among 1076 Soviet generals and admirals, only 566 received higher military education. Moreover, their average age was 43 years, which means they did not have much practical experience. The situation was especially sad in aviation, where out of 117 generals, only 14 had higher military education. None of the commanders of air corps and divisions had it [On the elimination of illiteracy in the Red Army].
The first bell rang during the Winter War: during the Soviet-Finnish war, the mighty Red Army encountered unexpectedly stubborn resistance from the Finnish army, which could not be considered strong either in quantity or in equipment or training level. Immediately surfaced significant flaws in the organization of the training of personnel of our army. The scourge of the prewar Red Army remained mediocre discipline, constant detachments of personnel from military training for economic and construction work, frequent regrouping of troops over great distances, sometimes to unprepared and not equipped areas of deployment, weak training and material base and inexperience of commanders. Simplification and formalism of training flourished, and even a banal deception (as they said, “fraud”) during inspections, exercises and live firing. But the worst thing is that all this was flooded out already in the conditions of the outbreak of World War II, when the Wehrmacht, in front of the whole world, including the leadership of the USSR, defeated much stronger opponents than the Finns. Against the background of these victories, the results of the Finnish campaign, frankly, looked very pale.
It seems that it was precisely by the results of the Soviet-Finnish war that great changes occurred in the Defense Commissariat. 14 May 1940 New Commissar S. Tymoshenko issued an order No. 120 "On the military and political training of troops in the summer period of the 1940 school year." This order clearly stated the identified shortcomings in the Red Army:
“The experience of the war at Korelo-Finnish theater revealed the biggest shortcomings in combat training and education of the army. Military discipline did not stand at the proper height ...
The training of commanders did not meet modern combat requirements.
The commanders did not command their units, did not hold tightly in the hands of subordinates, losing themselves in the total mass of fighters. The authority of the commanders in the middle and junior link is low. The weakest link was the commanders of companies, platoons and departments, which, as a rule, did not have the necessary training, commanding skills and professional experience. ” Tymoshenko was well aware that a big war was not far off, and emphasized: "Training troops to bring closer to the conditions of combat reality." In the order number 30 "On military and political training of troops for the 1941 school year" from 21 January 1941, this wording becomes extremely tough: "To teach troops only what is needed in war, and only as done in war" [Beshanov V. We were not quite ready yet ...]
But there was not enough time for such studies. Our army had to grasp the basics of military wisdom under bombs, in the course of a fierce struggle with a strong, skillful and ruthless adversary who did not forgive even the slightest mistake and severely punished each of them.
A few words about the combat experience. The presence of combat experience is an essential component of the combat capability of the troops. Unfortunately, the only way to acquire, accumulate and consolidate it is to directly participate in hostilities.
The fired soldiers know how to perform their tasks under enemy fire, and the fired commanders know exactly what to expect from their soldiers and what tasks to set for their units, and most importantly, they know how to make the right decisions quickly.
Of course, the Red Army had a fresh combat experience. However, he could not be compared with the military experience of the Wehrmacht in European wars. The scale of the battles on the CER, at Lake Hassan and the campaign to Poland was small. Only fights on the river. Khalkhin-Gol and the Finnish campaign provided an opportunity to "fire" a number of Soviet commanders. But, let's face it, the experience gained in Finland was very, very ambiguous. First, the battles were fought in the very specific conditions of the North-West theater, and even in winter. Secondly, the nature of the main combat tasks faced by our troops was very different from what they had to face in 1941. Of course, the Winter War made a big impression on the Soviet military leadership, but the experience of breaking through the fortified defenses of the enemy was not useful soon. , only at the final stage of the Second World War, when our army entered the territory of Germany with its pre-war stationary lines of fortifications. Many important moments in the “Winter War” remained untested and had to be studied under German strikes. For example, the concept of using large-scale mechanized compounds remained completely untested, but it was precisely the mechanized corps that were the main shock power of the Red Army. In 1941, we paid the price for this. [http://www.istpravda.ru/bel/artifacts/5677/]
Based on the foregoing, we can draw the following conclusions about the reasons for the defeat of the Red Army in border battles in the summer of 1941.
First. One of the main reasons is the strategic miscalculations of the highest military and political leadership in certain areas of the main attack. As we noted above, the Soviet leadership, with the beginning of 1941, began to lean toward the idea that the main blow would be delivered through Ukraine. And in general, this was true, but only until 17 in March of 1941. On this day, Hitler decided that the main blow would be delivered in the center of the German-Soviet front, in Belarus. For two weeks, Soviet intelligence, based on new data, also began to consider this area as the main one. But considering does not mean knowing all 100%. And, as it were, it would still not be possible to transfer additional forces to reinforce Zapov. In addition, the blow in the center did not fit into the Soviet plans, which were designed for flank attacks - the option of "ticks". And a strong blow in the center would be a perilous dispersal of forces, an absolute gamble. Unfortunately, this adventure was a success.
Second. Errors in operational and strategic calculations based on the confidence that war will begin with border battles and only after that will the main forces of the enemy be brought into battle. In fact, the enemy fully deployed his troops and immediately began large-scale offensive operations with the concentration of large forces in narrow sectors. The strikes were delivered to the entire depth of the operational structure of the troops using aircraft and mobile units — tank and motorized. This made it difficult for the Soviet troops to organize a stable defense.
The third. An unacceptable miscalculation was made in determining the timing of bringing the Soviet troops on full alert. Directive No. XXUMX was received late by district headquarters, and the troops in most cases received corresponding orders already when they were fighting. Although some commanders, at their own peril and risk, arbitrarily brought units to combat positions on the border. But there are few such whites. And it is not known what would have happened to them if it were not for the war. By the way, the directive itself contained certain inaccuracies. So, in the second paragraph it was said - not to succumb to any provocations. But try to understand when they are shooting at you, when shells are torn around - either this is a provocation, or already a war. Therefore, by the beginning of the war, the troops of the border districts were not ready to repel the German strike.
Fourth. The very plan of repelling German aggression was counter-offensive. It was based on the idea of a powerful retaliatory strike with the subsequent transition to a decisive offensive on all fronts. Conducting a strategic defense and other options for action have practically not been considered. We were convinced of this when we considered operational-strategic games on the maps. In games, the initial period of the war was defined as beneficial for the Soviet side. For such self-confidence and had to pay in the summer of 1941.
The fifth. Serious miscalculations were made by the Commissariat of Defense and the General Staff in assessing the real balance of forces between the parties. Recall the intelligence reports, where the data on the number of German divisions did not correspond to reality: their 103, or 120. Actually the divisions were 191. Also these are miscalculations in determining the content of the initial period of the war, in creating a group of troops to repel aggression. At the initial stage, according to plans to cover the border, it was planned to repel the enemy’s attack with a sturdy defense and prevent it from entering Soviet territory. But with the number of troops that were at the border, it would be better to lead not resistant, but active, maneuverable defense. As a result of the grouping of troops created, the divisions held a defense in one echelon, which, with a powerful attack, easily broke through, while the second echelon troops were located in 150-300 km from the border and could not come to the aid in time. This gave the enemy the opportunity to beat the Soviet troops in parts.
The sixth. The defeat of the Soviet troops in the border battles in that situation was inevitable due to the numerical superiority of the enemy in most areas, not to mention the main ones. The tragedy was that the Soviet divisions in the first echelon were much smaller than the German ones (with their almost equal opportunities). So, in PribOVO in the first echelon there were only 7sd versus 21 German divisions. That is 3: 1. Classic option. And despite the fact that the German division is stronger than the Soviet division, on average, 1,6 times, the advantage is almost 5 times. And here we are concerned with the issue of the ability and ability of the Soviet troops to defend themselves. So, no matter how you defend yourself, no matter how brave your soldiers are, without the presence of reserves with such an advantage to the enemy, you will not be able to do it well. Because any breakthrough on the flank or in the front line of a neighbor inevitably leads to withdrawal - at best. And just to leave you, too, will not give.
And the last. The failures of the Soviet troops at the beginning of the war were caused by the presence of a number of temporary, but serious advantages of the German fascist army. This advantage primarily consisted in the fact that the enemy concentrated on the western borders of the USSR a fully mobilized, large army, which had a wealth of experience in waging a modern war. Hitler's military machine used the human and material resources of many European states. At the same time, the Soviet Union did not put its armed forces on high alert for repulsing aggression. All this happened mainly as a result of the miscalculation made by Stalin in assessing the military-political situation (think of the possibility of war between England and Germany, Stalin’s desire to delay the war at least until 1942), he believed that the existence of a non-aggression pact guarantees the USSR the near future from the war with Germany. As a result, all necessary measures to strengthen the country's defense, and especially to bring the border districts to alert, were not taken in a timely manner.
Stalin had reliable information about the concentration and deployment of the fascist German army on the Soviet borders and its preparation for the attack on the Soviet Union. But he regarded them as contradictory, inaccurate, provocative. He was aiming not to push the Soviet government to take such steps, which could be used by the fascist clique to break the non-aggression pact. For this reason, Stalin, who single-handedly resolved the most important military issues, in early June, 1941 prohibited the commanders of the western border districts from withdrawing troops to fortified areas and putting them on high alert. Those measures that were taken in this direction on the eve of the war turned out to be insufficient or belated. Although it should be said about the directive from 18 June 1941, which obliged district commanders to bring troops into combat readiness. 19 June issued a directive of the General Staff on the withdrawal of front-line directorates on field points, on masking airfields and so on. In both documents, the date of execution was indicated: 21-22 June 1941. It turns out that Stalin and his entourage were warned about the war in four days . And the directives seemed to have begun to act ... But proper alertness did not happen.
The initial successes of the Germans turned out to be possible because the Soviet troops were not deployed in the border areas and put on alert, despite the aforementioned directives. Therefore, they failed to create a steady solid front of defense and repel the onslaught of the enemy. His tank groups, with the support of aviation, were rapidly moving forward. The Soviet units, advanced from the depths towards the enemy, could not stop him and were forced to retreat.
As a result of a powerful first strike, the enemy inflicted substantial losses on the Soviet troops and in the first days of the war reached a considerable superiority in forces and assets on the entire Soviet-German front. Having seized the initiative and having achieved dominance in the air, the enemy put the Soviet troops in extremely difficult conditions of the armed struggle.
The state border cover plan from 11.03.1941 (abbreviated).
The instance is unique.
Central Committee of the CPSU (b)
In connection with the large-scale organizational events being held in the Red Army in 1941, I am submitting for your consideration an updated plan for the strategic deployment of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union in the West and in the East.
I. Our probable opponents.
The current political situation in Europe forces us to pay exceptional attention to the defense of our Western borders.
A possible armed clash may be limited only to our western borders, but the likelihood of an attack from our Far Eastern borders from Japan is not excluded.
An armed German attack on the USSR could involve Finland, Romania, Hungary and other German allies in a military conflict with us.
In this way. The Soviet Union must be prepared to fight on two fronts: in the west - against Germany, supported by Italy, Hungary, Romania and Finland ...
Ii. Armed forces likely opponents.
Currently, Germany has deployed 225 infantry, 20 armored and 15 motorized divisions, and a total of up to 260 divisions, 20 000 field guns of all calibers, 10 000 tanks in 15000 aircraft, including 9000-9500 combat weapons.
Of the specified number of divisions, 76 divisions, of which up to 6 tank and 7 motorized at the present time are concentrated on our borders and in 35 divisions - in Romania and Bulgaria. If the war with England ends, it can be presumed that of the existing 260 divisions, Germany will leave at least 35 divisions in the occupied countries and up to 25 divisions in the interior of the country. Thus, before the 200 divisions, of which up to the 165 infantry, 20 armored and 15 motorized, will be oriented against our borders.
Finland will be able to put up against the Soviet Union 18 infantry divisions.
Romania currently has up to 45 infantry divisions and 700 combat aircraft, of which we can expect that not less than 30 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions will be used against the Soviet Union, up to 2700 guns of all calibers, 400 tanks and 600 aircraft.
Hungary will be able to set up 20 infantry divisions, 2 moto brigades, 850 guns, 350 tanks and 500 combat aircraft against the USSR ...
Iii. The likely operational plans of the enemy.
The General Headquarters does not have documentary data on the operational plans of the likely adversaries both in the West and in the East.
The most likely assumptions of the strategic deployment of possible opponents can be:
In the West.
Germany is likely to deploy its main forces. in the southeast of Sedlec to Hungary, in order to strike at Berdichev, Kiev to seize Ukraine.
This blow, apparently, will be accompanied by an auxiliary blow in the north from East Prussia to Dvinsk and Riga or by concentric attacks from Suwalki and Brest to Volkovysk and Baranovichi.
... In the south, it is possible to expect a simultaneous transition with the German army in the offensive in the general direction of Zhmerinka by the Romanian army, supported by the German divisions.
With the allegedly stated variant of Germany’s actions, the following deployment and grouping of its forces can be expected:
- North of the lower reaches of the river. Zap Bug to the Baltic Sea - 30-40 infantry divisions, 3-5 tank divisions, 2-4 moto-divisions, 3570 guns and up to 2000 tanks.
- South of the city. Zap Bug to the border with Hungary - up to 110 infantry divisions, 14 tank, 10 motorized, to 11500 guns, 7500 tanks and most of its aircraft.
The possibility is not excluded that the Germans will concentrate their main forces in East Prussia and on the Warsaw direction, so that through the Lithuanian SSR they can inflict and deploy the main attack in the direction of Riga or on Kovno, Dvinsk.
At the same time, it is necessary to expect auxiliary concentric attacks from Lomza and Brest with their subsequent development in the direction of Baranavichy, Minsk ...
The most likely actions of enemy navies are:
a) blockade in the Baltic Sea,
b) the provision and landing of assault forces in the area of Libau and in the fortress of the Moonsund archipelago;
c) the desire to break into the Gulf of Finland and force our fleet to go east;
d) in the North Sea, Germans may develop cruise operations and submarine operations by blocking our ports in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.
The Italian fleet will strive to transfer its main operations to the Black Sea ...
Iv. The foundations of our strategic deployment.
If necessary, the strategic deployment of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union on two fronts, our main forces should be deployed in the west.
The rest of our borders should be covered with minimal forces ...
To conduct operations in the west and on the Finnish front are appointed:
V. Basics of our strategic deployment in the west.
The deployment of the main forces of the Red Army in the west with the grouping of the main forces against East Prussia and on the Warsaw direction raises serious concerns that the struggle on this front may lead to protracted battles.
I report the basics of our strategic deployment in the West and in the East, asking for their consideration.
1. Deployment pattern in the West on the 40 map ver. in 1 dm.
People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR
Marshal of the Soviet Union
__________________ S. Tymoshenko.
Chief of General Staff K.A.
__________________ G. Zhukov.
Major General _______ Vasilevsky.
November 11.3.41, XNUMX
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