Russia in World War One.

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Plain Old Dave
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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Plain Old Dave » 17 Sep 2018 21:26

BDV wrote:
17 Sep 2018 17:03
Yes, what, exactly
Exactly what Grant did in the Summer of 1864: make the German Army in the East the tactical and strategic objective. A meat grinding campaign of attrition.

Re: numbers. The 1914 Russian Army was larger than the German Army and nearly as large as Germany and the Austro Hungarian Empire combined.

We'll include reserves as mobilization was one of the causes of war.

Russia: 5.9 million

Germany: 4.5 million

Austro-Hungarian Empire: 3 million

Britain: 975,000

France: 4 million

On the Eastern Front, Germany could rely on being outnumbered; Germany still had to defend against France and Britain on the Western Front. Even including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 2:1 is about right for the Eastern Front. Equipment? Obsolete Berdan rifles and 44 Smith and Wesson revolvers will kill Germans as effectively as Mosin-Nagant rifles and Nagant revolvers.

But, manpower. Some figures say over 10 MILLION Russians served in WW1. A huge country that's only vaguely European and stretches a good way around the globe. The real question is, could Russia grind the Germans and Austro-Hungarians on the Eastern Front to pulp before Comrades Lenin and Trotsky become well known? Or would a more aggressive Secret Police find them and riddle them with .44 Smith and Wesson bullets?

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by maltesefalcon » 18 Sep 2018 00:05

Plain Old Dave wrote:
17 Sep 2018 21:26
BDV wrote:
17 Sep 2018 17:03
Yes, what, exactly
Exactly what Grant did in the Summer of 1864: make the German Army in the East the tactical and strategic objective?
I'll double check my history books, but I'm reasonably certain Grant never attacked the German army in the East in 1864 or any other year.

Plain Old Dave
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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Plain Old Dave » 18 Sep 2018 00:39

maltesefalcon wrote:
18 Sep 2018 00:05
Plain Old Dave wrote:
17 Sep 2018 21:26
BDV wrote:
17 Sep 2018 17:03
Yes, what, exactly
Exactly what Grant did in the Summer of 1864: make the German Army in the East the tactical and strategic objective?


I'll double check my history books, but I'm reasonably certain Grant never attacked the German army in the East in 1864 or any other year.
Sigh.

Just like Grant made the Army of Northern Virginia the strategic and tactical goal, the Russians make the German Army the strategic and tactical goal. No cities, no terrain. Just keep grinding them down. The Russians could absorb casualties no other army could.

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by maltesefalcon » 18 Sep 2018 00:45

I was making a joke...sorry. :D

Plain Old Dave
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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Plain Old Dave » 18 Sep 2018 03:00

Hard to pick up on these things through text on screen.

Back to the topic at hand; I'll sum up:

Fall of 1914. The Battle of Tannenberg happens just like in OTL, but the Germans for whatever reason are incapable of concentrating force like they did RL. So instead of the curbstomping the Russian Army got, Tannenberg is a strategic and tactical draw. Both sides lose roughly the same number of casualties, neither gains or loses any significant ground.

Some nameless Colonel at the Russian High Command, in a moment of clarity, realizes they have a tremendous strategic advantage: Manpower. Realizing that while they have six million men under arms, they can double that with little effort and have one' of the largest Armies on Earth. Our Colonel is a student of the American Civil War and realizes what Grant was up to in Virginia in the Summer of 1864: Waging a war of attrition his enemy doesn't have deep enough pockets to win. So, instead of attempting to win a Napoleonic decisive single victory to end the war, the Russian High Command makes the German Army in the field the tactical and strategic objective; 'wherever Fritz is, there we shall be. Instead of an Austerlitz, the Russian battle plan is a "victory of a thousand skirmishes," grinding slowly and inexorably away at the Germans. There are plenty of farmboys in Georgia to replace a thousand casualties, the Palitinate (beautiful country, I've actually been there), not so much. Russia, being only vaguely European, could reasonably be expected to be much more tolerant of huge casualty lists and an Army inexorably moving Westward.

Jenna Coleman, Clara in Doctor Who, said the scariest monsters are the ones that DON'T move fast. They don't NEED to.

Russia spends 1914 slowly driving West through Poland. What does Germany do? Pull troops from the Western Front? Does the Race to the Sea look different? First Ypres? Moving ahead, with a Battle of Poland in 1914, it's hard to see Germany having resources for Verdun. A lot of the German soldiers that OTL were at Verdun would have been KIA in Poland or Prussia...

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BDV
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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by BDV » 18 Sep 2018 03:12

Those extra men need training, weapons, and officers. Russians have none of the three. In OTL they used their existing manpower to ground the KuK armies to dust.

If they don't KuK will do what you propose to the Servians; followed by the addition of the entirety of the KuK army to the Allied side in the EastEuropean debacle (kiss Entente Italy, Entente Romania goodbye if KuK curb stomping of Serbia is prompt.)

For what in exchange? An inconclusive bloody draw in the Kasubian Marshes?
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

Plain Old Dave
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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Plain Old Dave » 18 Sep 2018 11:55

Strategy, strategy, strategy.

The reason OTL the Central Powers were able to come a hairbreadth from winning in 1917 was no real concern with the Eastern Front. An aggressive Russia in 1914-15 makes resource allocation a real concern for the Central Powers.

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by ljadw » 18 Sep 2018 12:47

It would maybe better to leave phantasialand and to return to reality ,which is :
peace-strength of the Russian army : 68 understrength infantry divisions :
51 west of the Ural
7 in the Caucasus
10 in Siberia
After the mobilisation a few additional divisions were created in 1914.
Mobilisation plan was
NW Front : 1 +2 Army : 9AC = 18 divisions
SW Front : 4 Armies : 16 AC = 32 divisions ( of which one from the Caucasus )
Forming :
9th army : 4 AC = 8 divisions
10th Army :5 AC = 10 divisions (from Siberia, Caucasus and Turkmenistan ) .It would take months before 10th army would be operational .
Russia had only a small number of reservists, and only a part of them could be called up at mobilisation

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Stiltzkin » 18 Sep 2018 15:09

The reason OTL the Central Powers were able to come a hairbreadth from winning in 1917 was no real concern with the Eastern Front. An aggressive Russia in 1914-15 makes resource allocation a real concern for the Central Powers.
Yes, I agree. This should be obvious. In order to win WW1 you have to do the following: Defeat Russia (1917), defeat France and occupy it for Anglo-American support to cease (failed). WW2 was the reverse.

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Art » 18 Sep 2018 18:59

Plain Old Dave wrote:
17 Sep 2018 21:26
We'll include reserves as mobilization was one of the causes of war.
Russia: 5.9 million
Russian Army upon mobilization had some 4.5-5 mln men. In the months that followed there were additional drafts of reservists and recruits, but they were mostly untrained.
Some figures say over 10 MILLION Russians served in WW1
About 15 million by the end of 1917 (see N.Golovin).
Realizing that while they have six million men under arms, they can double that with little effort and have one' of the largest Armies on Earth
The stock of rifles available in 1914 was 4.65 mln (about equal to the wartime authorized number), production in 1914 was minuscule. Also availability of guns was another limitations: it was impossible to field more divisions that it was made historically without decreasing allocation of artillery to a division (which was already relatively smaller than in other major armies).

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Terry Duncan » 18 Sep 2018 21:16

Plain Old Dave wrote:
16 Sep 2018 19:26
An interesting question developed in another thread that seemed worthy of discussion here.

Russia.

While Brest-Litovsk wasn't til March 1918, Russia had been in chaos since at least later 1916. This enabled Germany and the Central Powers to reallocate resources, such as the U boat campaign that was 2 months from forcing England out of the war and the offensive that resulted in the French mutinies of 1917. Germany had to hold the line in a 2 front war, but without Russia, she HAD to go for broke to force Britain or France out before the Americans could participate in any appreciable manner after our declaration of war in 1917. But let's back up about 3 years.

Russia was an agrarian power in 1914, but she had the same strategic advantage the US had during the Civil War: Manpower. This is interesting and gives us an idea of the scale we're talking about; in 1914, Russia had nearly 7 million troops quickly available for battle, including reserves and excluding draftees. This is very close to what the Central Powers had, combined. Some figures allow that Russia had a manpower pool of another 5-7 million. Russia was not an industrial power, having been beaten pretty convincingly by the Japanese in 1905. However, 1914 Russia had the exact same strategic advantage the United States had in 1861, the same one that has served Russia well in conflicts going back to the days of Fredrick the Great: Manpower, the Russian Steamroller. The sole reason the Civil War drug on for four years was there was no real will at the National Command Authority level to make use of this huge advantage. Once Grant took over in the East, though, and started making use of his main advantage, a nearly bottomless pool of manpower, Confederate defeat was a simple matter of time. Grant could make good on losses from meat-grinders like The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor and Lee COULDN'T.

So, 1914.

Let's consider Tannenberg with a General in charge OTHER than Samsonov, and a National Command Authority structure willing to accept tremendous losses. Tannenberg as a slugfest similar to the Wilderness in May 1864; our nameless Russian General accepts a tactical stalemate and presses on towards Germany, realizing he has nearly as many troops to draw from as the Central Powers do, combined. He has sustained a lot of casualties he can replace, while the Germans have sustained a lot of casualties they CAN'T.

Floor's open.
In a perfect world then you may have a case for fighting a massive attritional war, but as Art has pointed out, the ability of Russia to actually equip all the manpower theoretically available to them was very limited. All the powers suffered this problem in 1914, none of them had allowed for the expenditure of artillery shells and the need to replensh existing formations took precident. Even with minimal losses it would have taken Russia until 1916 to even start fully making use of the masses of manpower available to them, rather like it took Britain until that point too, as there was simply not the industrial base to support such a massive army quickly.
Plain Old Dave wrote:
16 Sep 2018 20:38
Logistics is overrated. Just like Sherman's Army did in 1864, the Russians coild live off the land.
Oh dear. Sherman's army was tiny by WWI standards. In Napoleon's time armies had grown to a size it had become impossible to live of the land efficiently. After Borodino the Russians forced the much reduced French army to retreat down the same line it had advanced over already, and there was nothing left to feed the troops. This was for an army of under 200,000 people, so still small by WWI standards, and as soon as any army would be forced to halt in a given location it would run out of supplies and food very quickly. There is also the small problem of ammunition for the artillery, an army only carried a day or two of ammunition by the standards of 1914, so logistics is very important unless you wish to send a mob armed with clubs and spears into Germany hunting food and caring for little else.

The best option for Russia is to fight a delaying war until she has had time to bring her numbers to bear, fully trained and equipped.

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Plain Old Dave » 19 Sep 2018 01:37

Re: logistics.

A number of nations pressed captured arms into service; not particularly difficult to imagine an arms-strapped Russia pressing captured 1888 Commission Rifles and 1898 Mausers along with captured ammunition into substitute standard service; they bought 1895 Winchester lever action rifles OTL. Or using the German quartermasters as Russian quartermasters; one motivation for Confederate troops was captured US supplies.

There are strategic questions too.

Do England and France take advantage of the pressure on the Eastern Front?
Does Germany attempt to knock out one smaller Ally a year as in OTL?

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Art » 19 Sep 2018 08:32

Just to be clear: with 4.7 million rifles Russia could field an army of 6 million men or even larger. That could be done by taking rifles from trains, artillery, engineer, service elements, replacement units etc. All armies learned this sort of economy during the war, the problem was that in August 1914 they were not ready for it psychologically. But, of course, 12 million men is beyond any realistic planning. And you still have the problem of supping replacement rifles to compensate for losses (Russian production in 1914 was quite limited), and there were other bottlenecks like availability of artillery, officers, horses, wagons etc.

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by pugsville » 19 Sep 2018 09:29

Plain Old Dave wrote:
18 Sep 2018 03:00
Some nameless Colonel at the Russian High Command, in a moment of clarity, realizes they have a tremendous strategic advantage: Manpower. Realizing that while they have six million men under arms, they can double that with little effort
your verging over to complete and utter fantasy another 6 million men under arms with LITTLE effort.

Where do the officers uniforms, boots, ammunition, guns, food come form. Doubling the amount of men on a front
you have to double the logistical pipeline, number of trains, wagons m horses etc.,

The Russians had a low officers to men ratio and where always struggling to lead the men they had, they were desperately short of basic weapons, the railways network was desperately over worked from the start.

Impossible for more men at the front could not be fed and supplied, there was simply not the logistical capability in the railway network to move move food around even if the weapons, food and ammunition were available.

Logistics define what is possible.

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Re: Russia in World War One.

Post by Art » 19 Sep 2018 10:38

pugsville wrote:
19 Sep 2018 09:29
they were desperately short of basic weapons,
In August 1914 the Russian Army didn't really experience any large lack of weapons. For the size of forces that were actually fielded, it should be reminded. "Logistics" argument is mostly invalid: by the end of 1916 the army on the front was twice as large as in 1914, had more artillery and consumed far more ammunition. And in 1916 Russian railroads were in worse shape than two years ago. Railroads were not a bottleneck. Weapons and other materiel were.

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