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How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Discussions on all aspects of the Spanish Civil War including the Condor Legion, the Germans fighting for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Felix C on 18 Jan 2013 22:01

Would the Basque region uses Spanish Regular Army?

Soviet advisored new units Soviet doctrine?

I presume Spanish Officers and NCOs who stayed with the Republic maintained Regular Army training unless they were superceded by Soviet? Correct?

How much of this doctrine would incorporate lessons learned from the First World War.

Would it be primarily training as used for colonial operations?
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Ironmachine on 19 Jan 2013 18:43

The doctrine in force was that of the Doctrina para el Empleo Táctico de las Armas y los Servicios, approved by Royal Decree of 11 June 1924. The infantry tactics were developed in the Reglamento Táctico de Infantería from 1929. These documents reflect the lessons learned in the First World War, but few from the campaigns in Morocco, which were considered of little value.
More or less, this was the doctrine employed during the Civil War.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby HFK on 19 Jan 2013 19:34

Hello Ironmachine,
You say" from the lessons learned in the First World War". Since Spain was not active in fighting during World War 1, how could they learn any leesons >
Regards, Harry
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Ironmachine on 19 Jan 2013 21:15

Not only the countries taking part in a war can learn from it.
How could they? As usual. There were Spanish military observers that followed the changes that were happening, the new doctrines elaborated by the fighting countries were estudied, officers were sent to other countries to study in their military academies....
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Felix C on 19 Jan 2013 21:42

Yes. I believe there were observers and post war literature was translated by military attachees as that was part of their duty.

I wonder how different Spanish Regular Army and Soviet doctrine? Soviet experience in the Civil War and Polish War with much reliance on cavalry vs. WW1 experience with fixed positions, automatic weapons and artillery.

Appears the terrain in Spain favored more of the WW1 approach rather than open warfare in Russia.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Ironmachine on 20 Jan 2013 08:42

Spanish doctrine followed the French model, but with distinctive features.
Infantry was still considered the main arm. Close combat with the bayonet was still regarded as possible, but the main weapons were to be the machine-guns. Tanks were mentioned, but they were not given much importance.
Artillery was described as the "main destruction weapon". Anti-aircraft artillery is introduced. Heavy combat tanks were considered as artillery weapons.
In Cavalry there was not much evolution. Horsed cavalry charging with the sabre was still considered the mission of cavalry.
The Engineer branch received a number of diverse missions.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Felix C on 20 Jan 2013 13:25

There must have been Soviet influence in new units
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Ironmachine on 20 Jan 2013 17:42

I doubt that influence was of any importance.
First, it must be considered that the number of Soviet advisors in Spain was relatively minor. Sources differs as to the total quantity, but a good estimate could be about 2,200 in total and no more than 500-600 at the same time. Given than a significant number of them were fighting in their own units and that many others were non-military personnel (policemen, bureaucrats, engineers, translators...) and than from the rest many were "advising" higher levels of commands (Army, armies, corps...), the real number of Soviet advisors that could have had an influence in the training of new units had to be necessarily negligible. And the EPR did have a huge number of units (battalions and mixed brigades).
Apart from the tank units, where the Soviets had the monopoly on training, I don't see any real influence in the doctrine of the EPR. Besides, one must take into account that the actual limiting factor was the type and amount of available weapons. It would have been very difficult to use the Soviet doctrine (or any modern doctrine) while not having anything resembling the Soviet TO&Es.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Orwell1984 on 21 Jan 2013 00:40

Image
http://www.amazon.com/Republican-Army-S ... 161&sr=1-3
This book is scheduled to be released in English in April of this year and it looks like it touches on some of the questions you raised.
This is a long-awaited translation of a definitive account of the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. Michael Alpert examines the origins, formation and performance of the Republican Army and sets the Spanish Civil War in its broader military context. He explores the conflicts between communists and Spanish anarchists about how the war should be fought, as well as the experience of individual conscripts, problems of food, clothing and arms, and the role of women in the new army. The book contains extensive discussion of international aspects, particularly the role of the International Brigades and of the Soviet Russian advisers. Finally, it discusses the final uprising of professional Republican officers against the Government and the almost unconditional surrender to Franco. Professor Alpert also provides detailed statistics for the military forces available to Franco and to the Republic and biographies of the key figures on both sides.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby paulrward on 23 Jan 2013 01:10

Hello All ;

I must respectfully disagree with a comment made by Mr. Ironmachine, "Horsed cavalry charging with the sabre was still considered the mission of cavalry."

The three basic missions of the cavalry, in virtually every nation that has ever used them, are:

1. To scout for the Army, and prevent enemy cavalry from scouting their Army by screening it's movements,

2. To harass enemy lines of supply and communication, and prevent the enemy cavalry from doing the same to friendly lines of supply and communications, and,

3. To take advantage of any retreat by the enemy, preventing the retreating enemy army from breaking contact with friendly forces, in order to turn the enemy retreat into a rout, and, in the case of a retreat by their own army, to prevent the enemy cavalry from routing the friendly army.

Only in the third mission, when the cavalry may be called upon to attack retreating infantry or artillery, or to counter-attack an enemy cavalry unit, would the cavalry be called upon to charge with sabers. And, as the Poles proved in the battles against the Soviet Union at the end of the Great War, a cavalry charge with sabers against a disorganized enemy can be gruesomely effective.

In the SCW, both sides made use of horse cavalry in regions where the terrain was unfavorable to mechanized units, and it was effective.


In fact, certain intelligence reports in the 1970s indicated that the Soviets were considering deploying horse cavalry units aboard specially built, extra-large nuclear submarines for the purpose of carrying out amphibious attacks on unprotected shoreline areas. When questioned about this possibility, one senior General in the U.S. Army's Strategic Planning Division stated that this combination of submarines and cavalry could prove to be " A real stinker to deal with..."


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby pugsville on 23 Jan 2013 08:00

What training? What doctrine? The early part of the war the various Militias had almost no training, other than learning on the Job, Orwell's account of the POUM militia training was pretty restricted to boy scout parade ground drills (and shambolic at that) of no use what so ever, ammunition was so short there was no real weapons training. In the later half the republican army took over from the militia mostly (sort of took them over) and the communists were active in it's creation but were focused of the political struggle leveraging their control of weapons to gain political power, the aim being to disarm the other political parties, which the Militias were tied to introducing 'discipline' and 'organization'. No doubt there were attempts to improve training and instill doctrine but on whole there was very little of either.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Ironmachine on 23 Jan 2013 08:35

paulrward wrote:I must respectfully disagree with a comment made by Mr. Ironmachine, "Horsed cavalry charging with the sabre was still considered the mission of cavalry."

I can't see much of a disagreement, but perhaps a misunderstanding. Certainly, the wording I used was far from perfect. I was not trying to say that this was the only mission of Cavalry in the Spanish Army, but that it was the "goal" of the Cavalry. The Cavalry Branch in the Spanish Army considered itself above all a "combat" arm, and desired combat above all other missions. And in combat the charge with cold steel was still viewed as the "ideal"; dismounting to combat with fire weapons was a secondary consideration.

paulrward wrote:The three basic missions of the cavalry, in virtually every nation that has ever used them, are:
1. To scout for the Army, and prevent enemy cavalry from scouting their Army by screening it's movements,
2. To harass enemy lines of supply and communication, and prevent the enemy cavalry from doing the same to friendly lines of supply and communications, and,
3. To take advantage of any retreat by the enemy, preventing the retreating enemy army from breaking contact with friendly forces, in order to turn the enemy retreat into a rout, and, in the case of a retreat by their own army, to prevent the enemy cavalry from routing the friendly army.

I think you forgot the first basic mission of the cavalry, which is, plainly and simply, combat. Yes, after World War I the idea of horsed cavalry in direct combat was not widely popular, so to say, but in Spain it certainly was, and as such it was covered in the 1924 doctrine. Certainly, all those other missions that you mention were to be carried out by the Spanish Cavalry. But combat, on horse and with the sabre, was "the mission", at least in the minds of the Cavarly officers. Perhaps this was one of the few "lessons" from the Rif War that got into the doctrine, but anyway it was there.
It is worth noting that the Spanish Army in 1936 had 10 cavalry regiments in the Peninsula. Of them, four were corps units, which certainly were intended to carry out the missions you mention. But the other six were grouped in a cavalry division, with an artillery regiment and other minor units, which was obviously a "combat" unit.

paulrward wrote:Only in the third mission, when the cavalry may be called upon to attack retreating infantry or artillery, or to counter-attack an enemy cavalry unit, would the cavalry be called upon to charge with sabers.

Actually, the cavalry may be called upon to attack infantry, cavalry or artillery in any circunstance, and could do it by charging with sabers. Certainly by the time in question that idea would not be seriously considered in most Armies, but the Spanish Army had its own ideas about that matter.

paulrward wrote:In the SCW, both sides made use of horse cavalry in regions where the terrain was unfavorable to mechanized units, and it was effective.

In the SCW, both sides made use of horse cavalry in all regions. Whether the terrain was unfavorable to mechanized units or not was not an important factor, because there were not enough mechanized units as to exclude the use of horsed cavalry in those areas favorable to them.
National cavalry was quite effective, republican cavarly not so much, because their training was not good enough. Forming an effective cavarly unit was much more difficult than forming an effective infantry unit.
And in fact the SCW gives us a remarkable example of horse cavalry charging with sabre against an enemy that was not retreating: the Battle of the Alfambra, in 1938. There the 1st Cavalry Division charged Republican positions and routed the enemy.

paulrward wrote:In fact, certain intelligence reports in the 1970s indicated that the Soviets were considering deploying horse cavalry units aboard specially built, extra-large nuclear submarines for the purpose of carrying out amphibious attacks on unprotected shoreline areas. When questioned about this possibility, one senior General in the U.S. Army's Strategic Planning Division stated that this combination of submarines and cavalry could prove to be " A real stinker to deal with..."

And we have the classic question: are we talking about real cavalry or about mounted infantry? :)

Regards.
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Re: How was the Republican Army trained? What doctrine?

Postby Spearfish on 23 Jan 2013 12:39

An interesting point about the Soviet advisors was that they had relatively limited experience of operations at division level or above and, in particular, staff training. There was no staff training facility in the Soviet Union until 1936 and the best any Red Army officer could hope for was a 'dusting' of staff procedures and responsibilities in a short cause at the Frunze military academy a serious shortage in their military education. In any case Red Army officers tended to loathe staff work so the majority were little better than glorified regimental or even company commanders. This was one reason why the big mechanised formations of the Red Army failed in the 1930s, and their formal disbandment in 1939/1940 was by Kulik and his friend Pavlov who both served in Spain.
Thios does not mean to say the Red Army did not produce some good officers capable of leading divisions, corps, armies and army groups (notably Zhukov) or good technicians but the overall quality was pretty low, they had tours in Spain which were too short to make an impact and often their advice was ignored
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