Red Army casualties and performance

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.
paulmacg
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Post by paulmacg » 17 May 2006 16:46

Qvist wrote:Perhaps it would be more appropriate to attach that judgment to the period October 1941 to November 1942, as the Kiev battles in September were probably the last major fighting in which more or less systematically raised and trained peacetime formations made up a significant part of the soviet formations involved.
I think that once Guderian made his southward turn in September is the point at which the Red Army gained the time it needed. That is why I chose that month as the low point, but I can easily go along with October or November as being the upper end of that time.
Yes, but the fact that they underwent a learning process does not neccessarily mean they were particularly effective while doing so. If you follow the structure of soviet units through this period (in f.e. Zaloga/Ness' Red Army Handbook, which devotes considerable attention to that), you see that during this period Soviet formations of all types were very weak (by establishement I mean) in all kinds of support elements, from radios and vehicles to artillery pieces. There is also a clear tendency to more smaller (and simpler) formations. On 22 June 41, the RKKKA had 198 Rifle Divisions and 5 Rifle Brigades. On 1 January 1942, it had 389 RDs and 159 RBs, by 1 July 42 425 RDs and 144 RBs.
Well, another clear tendency at that time was the concentration of assets at higher levels based on need and always keeping in mind the necessity of future operations. My point is that the 1942 losses can be perceived in more than one way. Yes, rifle divisions are receiving less support and fewer men, but at the same time the Stavka is doing its best to put together an effective strategic reserve that will be capable of much more than simply plugging holes. In other words, weaker divisions are being deployed against the German advance while others are being kept in reserve for a counterattack on a large scale. I do not think it is any secret that the counteroffensive at Stalingrad was being planned long before it actually happened.

One can argue, and I am in fact arguing, that the Stavka, after its initial blunder at the beginning of the campaign season, is waiting for the Werhmacht to spread itself thin. The intention was always there and the forces were slowly assembled to make it a reality.

Having said this, the Wehrmacht contributed a great deal to its own eventual defeat by dividing its forces and setting strategic goals beyond its means. This can partially be blamed on a lack of intelligence. The Germans believed they were facing a Red Army on its last legs struggling to put men in the field when in reality they were fighting only the troops that the Stavka deemed necessary to commit.
The biggest contrast is however in motorised and support formations - tank strength is deployed in Tank Brigades and independent Tank batallions, with severaly limited independent support resources. The mechanised brigades so vital for their support do not appear until very late in 1942, and motorised brigades not until spring 1942. More importantly, they lack any higher integrating formations which could contain their various support resources on a more
than ad-hoc basis. Similarly, artillery resources of all types are almost exclusively independent batallions and regiments rather than, as later to a large extent, brigades and divisions. By 1 january 1943 a marked change is already evident, this is not the case by 1 July 1942. During this period it is also generally true that Fronts had much sparser resources with which to support their subordinate formations than they did later, which further aggravated the consequences of the fact that a larger proportion of the forces lacked any real integral resources of that kind.
Yes, but was the Red Army as a whole weaker in mid-1942 than it was in 1941? I am arguing that the recovery from 1941 was already well underway by that time.
Well, on what do you base the judgment that its quality rose? In the summer battles in 1942 they were beaten at even more disfavorable cost than in the previous year, despite being very considerably stronger, by weaker German forces who were by all accounts of lesser quality than in the preceding year, so that would seem to me somewhat counterintuitive judgment (though of course it depends on what you take as the starting point for comparison). It seems a more reasonable interpretation to me that the numerous steps instigated to rebuild and restructure the RKKA qualitatively and organisationally did not bear clear fruits until late in that year, and that in the mean time they had no other option but to get along with what they had. The "chose to sacrifice lives and space for the strategic reserve that it needed to counterattack", apart from being somewhat questionable as an overall perspective, explains nothing in this regard. The point was not to acquire a strategic reserve - they already had one, which is how they managed to survive the brutal losses taken in the spring and summer. The point is rather that this strategic reserve would not become a prime instrument of victory until organisational and restructuring efforts that were still underway in mid-42 had been completed.
Firstly, the Germans might have been at their own low point, but they were also, at least initially, restricting their strategic goals to a much more manageable size and were fighting on the southern flank. Until they hit the open spaces closer to Stalingrad they were in a much better position than in 1941 from which to concentrate their efforts.

Also, the Soviet winter counteroffensives were extremely costly to a Red Army that was already badly depleted from Barbarossa. A hasty offensive in the spring which played into the hands of a well-planned German offensive put them even more behind the eight ball.

None of this necessarily leads to the conclusion that their is a low point in quality in the RKKA.

In fact, judging by the end result at Stalingrad, something happened in 1942 that did not happen in 1941. Comparing the respective offensives from those 2 years it is blatantly obvious that conditions had changed dramatically. My opinion is that there are two possible factors: German (combined with its allies) weakness or Soviet strength. Both would seem to me to be the case. The Red Army had grown structurally, generated a sizeable and manageable armoured force and developed enough support to sustain an effective offensive over vast distances. The Germans, for their part, had spread themselves thin and bled themselves excessively at Stalingrad.
If so, then these mistakes must have been fairly consistent, because the exchange of losses is consistently worse in 1942 than in 1941 (though a point of doubt here are the insecurity of the 1941 Soviet data). Also, in 1941 the Red Army was deploying much weaker forces (numerically speaking) and labored initially under exceptional difficulties that were not present in the following year.
Yes, but the results are entirely different. Why?

Cheers

Paul

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Post by Doppleganger » 17 May 2006 19:19

paulmacg wrote:In fact, judging by the end result at Stalingrad, something happened in 1942 that did not happen in 1941. Comparing the respective offensives from those 2 years it is blatantly obvious that conditions had changed dramatically. My opinion is that there are two possible factors: German (combined with its allies) weakness or Soviet strength. Both would seem to me to be the case. The Red Army had grown structurally, generated a sizeable and manageable armoured force and developed enough support to sustain an effective offensive over vast distances. The Germans, for their part, had spread themselves thin and bled themselves excessively at Stalingrad.
Well, that something was that the Red Army was able, for a myriad of reasons, to encircle one entire German army and part of another. In 1941, the Germans retreated and no mass encirclement took place. The reason for the German debacle, it can be argued, is much more to do with German dithering in the critical months of July and August 1942 and a faulty operational plan, i.e. they allowed themselves to be sucked into an urban nightmare of a battle whilst leaving their flanks critically exposed. Whilst there must have been Soviet learns from 1941, how quickly these would have been widely implementated is open to speculation. IMO Stalingrad was a much bigger reflection on German mistakes than Soviet operational improvements.

I'd be interested in what your thoughts are on my previous post, namely that the Soviets were on a timer to get "The Great Patriotic War" finished before an internal collapse took place. This rush may explain why Soviet casualties appear to be higher than necessary for the gains made.

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 17 May 2006 19:55

Hello Paul
Well, another clear tendency at that time was the concentration of assets at higher levels based on need and always keeping in mind the necessity of future operations.
Yes, but that in itself is nothing special for this period compared to others - the point is not so much the existence of a numerous strategic reserve in the late autumn - which existed already earlier, and certainly also later as a matter of normality - but rather that what time was needed for was restructuring and building of new types of formations - in other words, organisational change as distinct from increase in numerical strength.
My point is that the 1942 losses can be perceived in more than one way. Yes, rifle divisions are receiving less support and fewer men, but at the same time the Stavka is doing its best to put together an effective strategic reserve that will be capable of much more than simply plugging holes. In other words, weaker divisions are being deployed against the German advance while others are being kept in reserve for a counterattack on a large scale. I do not think it is any secret that the counteroffensive at Stalingrad was being planned long before it actually happened.
What has this got to do with the losses though? That a strategic reserve was being maintained and further built up does not mean that forces deployed were weaker than earlier - on the contrary, they were significantly stronger. Roughly twice as strong in fact as at similar times in the preceding year. The key factor here is the massive expansion in the size of the Red Army that went on at exactly this time, and which meant that they did not have to pay for the building of that reserve by weakening their forces in the short term. Again on the contrary, they were both strengthened at the same time.
One can argue, and I am in fact arguing, that the Stavka, after its initial blunder at the beginning of the campaign season, is waiting for the Werhmacht to spread itself thin. The intention was always there and the forces were slowly assembled to make it a reality.
Could you amplify this a bit? I find myself having to make numerous assumptions about exactly what you mean when attempting to address it.
Having said this, the Wehrmacht contributed a great deal to its own eventual defeat by dividing its forces and setting strategic goals beyond its means. This can partially be blamed on a lack of intelligence. The Germans believed they were facing a Red Army on its last legs struggling to put men in the field when in reality they were fighting only the troops that the Stavka deemed necessary to commit.
Yes, I agree it seems clear that the Germans were very significantly underestimating the Soviet force potential both in the short and the long term - again.
Yes, but was the Red Army as a whole weaker in mid-1942 than it was in 1941? I am arguing that the recovery from 1941 was already well underway by that time.
No, as said, it was much stronger - not much less than twice as strong in fact. The point was if the general combat power/performance/quality of its units had increased or decreased since the summer of 1941, and to me there seems to be several things that point clearly towards the latter - which would not be strange, given that they were in the midst of reorganisation and were fielding forces that were unsatisfactory in several respects.
Firstly, the Germans might have been at their own low point, but they were also, at least initially, restricting their strategic goals to a much more manageable size and were fighting on the southern flank. Until they hit the open spaces closer to Stalingrad they were in a much better position than in 1941 from which to concentrate their efforts.
I would not say the Germans were at their low point, but most analysis support that there had been a general drop in quality since the preceding year. Many replacements had been hastily trained or combed out from other units and services elsewhere, men had been called up who had had their service deferred earlier because of limited suitability - in general, their quality drew adverse comment. Also, a not inconsiderable part of the divisions taking part in Blau had been raised through the Walküre program or been transferred from France after hasty upgrading - again, comments on their performance were unfavorable, and several gave a bad account of themselves. Also, I think you will find that the starting position for Barbarossa allowed a much better possibility of concentration than the starting position for Fall Blau - the frontage can barely have been half.
Also, the Soviet winter counteroffensives were extremely costly to a Red Army that was already badly depleted from Barbarossa. A hasty offensive in the spring which played into the hands of a well-planned German offensive put them even more behind the eight ball.
Yes, but neither of them weakened the RKKA numerically in the end - the size of the forces deployed (which does not include the Stavka reserve, as it is the strength of the operationg Fronts) increased steadily throughout 1942. Serious though the Soviet losses were (and they were not that serious in fact) , their force generation was much stronger still. Have a look at the previously posted data. I'll repeat the average monthly strength of the Fronts by quarter, and the combat losses:

Qtr.......Strength...Combat losses

I/42:....4,186,000......1 652 007
II/42....5,060,300......1 369 041
III/42...5,664,600......2 317 473
IV/42....6,343,600......1 246 243

And, for comaprison, 1941:

III/41...3,334,000......2 642 122
IV/41....2,818,500......1 516 643

Also, the I and II quarter losses in 1942 were not in any way abnormally high, and neither of these periods, comparatively speaking, made any excpetional demands on Soviet replacement capabilities. In fact, Iq losses were higher both in 1943, 1944 and 1945. The way in which the casualty situation from the Soviet point of view decline is not in the number of losses the Red Army suffered, but rather in the rate at which they were exchanged with the German - which was markedly less favorable than during any other year:

1941...1:5.2

I/42....1:5.9
II/42...1:6.2
III/42..1:6.0
IV/42..1:7.0

I/43.....1:3.8
II/43....1:3.9
III/43...1:4.9
IV/43...1:5.0

I/44.....1:4.4
II/44....1:3.1
III/44...1:2.0
IV/44....1:3.6

Ratios just as tentative as the (previously posted) data they are based on, but the tendencies are pretty clear. And it is this relation - not the size of the Soviet losses as such - that says something about relative performance.
None of this necessarily leads to the conclusion that their is a low point in quality in the RKKA.
To be honest, I don't think much of that addresses the issue of quality at all.
In fact, judging by the end result at Stalingrad, something happened in 1942 that did not happen in 1941. Comparing the respective offensives from those 2 years it is blatantly obvious that conditions had changed dramatically. My opinion is that there are two possible factors: German (combined with its allies) weakness or Soviet strength. Both would seem to me to be the case. The Red Army had grown structurally, generated a sizeable and manageable armoured force and developed enough support to sustain an effective offensive over vast distances. The Germans, for their part, had spread themselves thin and bled themselves excessively at Stalingrad.
Now I am confused, for it was precisely my initial argument also that the commitment of large mobile formations for the Stalingrad offensive meant a qualitative leap as far as the combat capabilities of the RKKA are concerned! And, I have throughout spoken of "until late 1942" for exactly that reason. The Tank armies weren't gradually phased into operations through 1942, they made their debut in that shape duiring that offensive in late November. So, where exactly do we disagree there?
Yes, but the results are entirely different. Why?
The results are different in different ways and to different degrees in different areas, and each of them have their reasons. Which results do you have in mind exactly?

cheers

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Post by paulmacg » 18 May 2006 13:13

Doppleganger wrote:I'd be interested in what your thoughts are on my previous post, namely that the Soviets were on a timer to get "The Great Patriotic War" finished before an internal collapse took place. This rush may explain why Soviet casualties appear to be higher than necessary for the gains made.
Well, I don't know exactly, but I do know that several late war operations were hurried to a considerable degree. Some of them undoubtedly suffered additional casualties because of it and I think performance must have been effected. To what degree, however, I can't say.

As far as the motivation, Glantz claims that the general atmosphere of mistrust between the Allies led to a large part of the Soviet push. I am not sure how accurate this is, but I think it likely that 1944 and 45 were, in reality, a race between the Allies to grab as much as they could. Agreements were made and, for the most part, honoured, but I think that Stalin was no fool. He certainly wanted Berlin and a significant part of Germany and, moreover, felt that he was entitled to it. I don't think there was much chance of him putting a great deal of faith in agreements when he had the capability to ensure his own gains.

How bad was the manpower problem? Well, as Qvist has shown, Red Army strength was still unchallenged, but having said that, several late war operations necessitated the use of large numbers of untrained and poorly prepared soldiers. The aforementioned Iassy-Kishinev operation, for example, was one of these. Men were taken from any and every available source, given rifles and used to flesh out seriously depleted divisions. Even so, many of those divisions were still well below established strength when the operation began.

In other words, manpower was becoming a problem which extraordinary means were being used to resolve unsatisfactorily. This leads me to believe that it must have been, at the very least, a spectre hanging in the air. For me there is little doubt that another year of war at a similar cost in lives would have exacerbated the situation to a great degree. Still, I am unsure how much more would have been necessary to bring the Soviet Union to the point where it could not continue offensive operations.

I think it more likely that, at least in 1945, the rush can be better explained by political motives.

Cheers

Paul

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Post by paulmacg » 18 May 2006 15:10

Qvist wrote:What has this got to do with the losses though? That a strategic reserve was being maintained and further built up does not mean that forces deployed were weaker than earlier - on the contrary, they were significantly stronger. Roughly twice as strong in fact as at similar times in the preceding year.
It has everything to do with losses. The Soviets deployed the bulk of their forces in preparation for an offensive by Army Group Centre against Moscow. This included the majority of their quality divisions and reserves. This led to a local German superiority of 2 million men to 1.8 million. So, while the Red Army had an overall superiority, it was actually facing a superior force in the south. This is a case of what I originally mentioned when I began contributing to this discussion. The Red Army had an overall numerical superiority, but because it was waiting for a phantom offensive in the north, did not commit those forces until the damage was done.

Not surprisingly, this inferior force suffered badly, but that is not what I am referring to. Of more interest to me is the Soviet response to these defeats. That being, a general retreat to buy time and a move to concentrate forces for a decisive counterattack. Obviously, such a decision is going to lead to increased casualties as not only equipment was kept in reserve, but also quality units. The Stavka committed only the necessary forces to occupy the Wehrmacht. All the while it continued to build up the forces that it would eventually need when the time came. The urban fighting at Stalingrad was simply an added bonus as it proved immensely costly to the Germans who could least afford it.

So, what is the point of all this? Well, qualitatively, the Red Army reached its low in September, October and possibly November of 1941. Despite costly losses in early 1942, the RKKA continued to grow in strength throughout the year, overall, but suffering from an early destruction of key forces (i.e. The Second Battle of Kharkov), a local numerical inferiority and strategic blunders that allowed for both of those conditions to exist and continue existing. In other words, the increased Soviet casualties resulted from factors other than low quality.

Obviously the failure of Soviet armoured forces in the summer of 1942 also played a large role in the outcome.
The key factor here is the massive expansion in the size of the Red Army that went on at exactly this time, and which meant that they did not have to pay for the building of that reserve by weakening their forces in the short term. Again on the contrary, they were both strengthened at the same time.
Once again, overall this is true, but forces actually fed into combat during Fall Blau were an entirely different story. The vast difference between Soviet divisions on paper and Soviet divisions in reality may play a role here. A study of organizational charts is a difficult one to undertake in relation to actual battlefield conditions. Frequently, those charts are nothing more than delayed acknowledgements of the actual strengths of divisions in the field. At other times they can be pure fantasy. They do reflect general tendencies and even may show the direction in which the Red Army wanted to go, but in terms of what each division had when it entered battle, they are almost irrelevant.

The divisions commited to battle during Fall Blau were meant to buy time. While there were quality units involved, the truth is that the real emphasis was placed on, initially, defending the Moscow axis, and, later, building a reserve capable of a decisive counterattack. While I am sure that the paper strength of Soviet divisions overall may have looked good, I doubt very much that the actual Soviet forces being decimated in the south were able to match that reality.
No, as said, it was much stronger - not much less than twice as strong in fact. The point was if the general combat power/performance/quality of its units had increased or decreased since the summer of 1941, and to me there seems to be several things that point clearly towards the latter - which would not be strange, given that they were in the midst of reorganisation and were fielding forces that were unsatisfactory in several respects.
And to me there seem to be several points that point towards the former or both, but in any case I see no reason to claim an overall low point in Soviet quality in 1942 as compared to 1941.
Also, I think you will find that the starting position for Barbarossa allowed a much better possibility of concentration than the starting position for Fall Blau - the frontage can barely have been half.
I must be misunderstanding you here, because what I am getting is that the starting frontage for Barbarossa was barely half that of Fall Blau. Fall Blau was a much more limited operation than Barbarossa. Even a glance at the map would be evidence of that. Also, whatever length the front was on June 22, 1941, it was soon thereafter much larger and with combat operations occuring all up and down its length I see little opportunity for concentration and great opportunity for dispersion. Fall Blau, on the other hand was the perfect opportunity to avoid this kind of error.
Yes, but neither of them weakened the RKKA numerically in the end - the size of the forces deployed (which does not include the Stavka reserve, as it is the strength of the operationg Fronts) increased steadily throughout 1942. Serious though the Soviet losses were (and they were not that serious in fact) , their force generation was much stronger still. Have a look at the previously posted data. I'll repeat the average monthly strength of the Fronts by quarter, and the combat losses:
Once again, those numbers do not tell the whole story and are, in fact, misleading. Combat is costly and dissipates strength far beyond casualties. The 1941-42 winter offensives took their toll on a Soviet army that was not in any condition to be fighting them. Those offensives forced experienced formations into combat that should have been allowed time to rest, refit and build on their successes. As it happened, further losses simply forced the Red Army to go into 1942 with even more inexperienced troops. Obviously this is not true to such a degree that it would represent a general drop in the overall quality of Red Army formations, but it does lend itself to a drop in the quality of experienced formations. And, experienced formations, as we all know, are worth their weight in gold on the battlefield.
Ratios just as tentative as the (previously posted) data they are based on, but the tendencies are pretty clear. And it is this relation - not the size of the Soviet losses as such - that says something about relative performance.
Not necessarily. Soviet losses in 1942 could reflect an entirely different dynamic as I have shown.
To be honest, I don't think much of that addresses the issue of quality at all.
How nice of you to say.

Cheers

Paul

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Post by Qvist » 18 May 2006 23:05

It has everything to do with losses. The Soviets deployed the bulk of their forces in preparation for an offensive by Army Group Centre against Moscow. This included the majority of their quality divisions and reserves. This led to a local German superiority of 2 million men to 1.8 million. So, while the Red Army had an overall superiority, it was actually facing a superior force in the south. This is a case of what I originally mentioned when I began contributing to this discussion. The Red Army had an overall numerical superiority, but because it was waiting for a phantom offensive in the north, did not commit those forces until the damage was done.
The Ostheer deployed some 2.6 million men along the whole Eastern Front in July 1942. It is obviously not the case that 2 million of them participated in Fall Blau. And the fact that the Red Army concentrated in the central sector does not mean it was neccessarily inferior in the south, nor that forces could not be shifted from the central to the southern sector within a timespan of several months if that was required. In any event, their overall force situation was certainly much less unfavorable than they had been in the preceding year, and even if it is correct that forces were in essence similar (which is what your above quote d data amounts to), this is no different than in the preceding year, when losses were taken at more favorable ratios.
Not surprisingly, this inferior force suffered badly, but that is not what I am referring to. Of more interest to me is the Soviet response to these defeats. That being, a general retreat to buy time and a move to concentrate forces for a decisive counterattack. Obviously, such a decision is going to lead to increased casualties as not only equipment was kept in reserve, but also quality units. The Stavka committed only the necessary forces to occupy the Wehrmacht. All the while it continued to build up the forces that it would eventually need when the time came. The urban fighting at Stalingrad was simply an added bonus as it proved immensely costly to the Germans who could least afford it.
This force was not particularly inferior, certainly not on a different scale than in the preceding year, and what is there to show that the operations in the south were uniquely unsuccesful in terms of relative losses compared to those elsewhere (there were several in both the North and on the central sector), and hence that abnormal losses suffered in the south is the explanation for the bad ratios overall? For that, you need to establish a number of things you have not established, hence, that argument lacks a basis as far as I can see.
Once again, overall this is true, but forces actually fed into combat during Fall Blau were an entirely different story. The vast difference between Soviet divisions on paper and Soviet divisions in reality may play a role here. A study of organizational charts is a difficult one to undertake in relation to actual battlefield conditions. Frequently, those charts are nothing more than delayed acknowledgements of the actual strengths of divisions in the field. At other times they can be pure fantasy. They do reflect general tendencies and even may show the direction in which the Red Army wanted to go, but in terms of what each division had when it entered battle, they are almost irrelevant.
The point this was addressed to did not concern OOB structures however, but overall strength.
The divisions commited to battle during Fall Blau were meant to buy time. While there were quality units involved, the truth is that the real emphasis was placed on, initially, defending the Moscow axis, and, later, building a reserve capable of a decisive counterattack. While I am sure that the paper strength of Soviet divisions overall may have looked good, I doubt very much that the actual Soviet forces being decimated in the south were able to match that reality.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding - there is nothing "paper" about the strength figures here quoted - they are the actual number of men deployed by the Fronts, and as said, the forces kept in reserve are additional to this. And an army that is very much stronger than its opponent does not need to be inferior elsewhere even if it concentrates in one sector.
I must be misunderstanding you here, because what I am getting is that the starting frontage for Barbarossa was barely half that of Fall Blau. Fall Blau was a much more limited operation than Barbarossa. Even a glance at the map would be evidence of that. Also, whatever length the front was on June 22, 1941, it was soon thereafter much larger and with combat operations occuring all up and down its length I see little opportunity for concentration and great opportunity for dispersion. Fall Blau, on the other hand was the perfect opportunity to avoid this kind of error.
Surely you are not comparing the frontage for all of Barbarossa with the frontage of HG Süd for Blau? The point here is concentration, and concentration is a function of forces relative to frontage. Of course the whole Barbarossa front was longer than the Blau frontage, but the forces engaged in the latter were only a fraction of the former, and their density must have been much lower.
Once again, those numbers do not tell the whole story and are, in fact, misleading. Combat is costly and dissipates strength far beyond casualties. The 1941-42 winter offensives took their toll on a Soviet army that was not in any condition to be fighting them. Those offensives forced experienced formations into combat that should have been allowed time to rest, refit and build on their successes. As it happened, further losses simply forced the Red Army to go into 1942 with even more inexperienced troops. Obviously this is not true to such a degree that it would represent a general drop in the overall quality of Red Army formations, but it does lend itself to a drop in the quality of experienced formations. And, experienced formations, as we all know, are worth their weight in gold on the battlefield.
This simply confuses strength with quality. The personell strength of the Fronts is by definition the number of men they fielded. How exactly is strength figures for the Fronts a misleading measure of the strength of the Fronts?

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Post by paulmacg » 19 May 2006 04:08

The Ostheer deployed some 2.6 million men along the whole Eastern Front in July 1942. It is obviously not the case that 2 million of them participated in Fall Blau. And the fact that the Red Army concentrated in the central sector does not mean it was neccessarily inferior in the south, nor that forces could not be shifted from the central to the southern sector within a timespan of several months if that was required. In any event, their overall force situation was certainly much less unfavorable than they had been in the preceding year, and even if it is correct that forces were in essence similar (which is what your above quote d data amounts to), this is no different than in the preceding year, when losses were taken at more favorable ratios.
I shall have to recheck this one. I'm not sure what limits Glantz put on those numbers in order to come up with them. And my above data is not data at all, but rather an opinion so you can shove your snotty little attitude up your behind. If I made a mistake it will be corrected.

And by the way, where is your opinion? I am trying to hard to find one, but I cannot.
This force was not particularly inferior, certainly not on a different scale than in the preceding year, and what is there to show that the operations in the south were uniquely unsuccesful in terms of relative losses compared to those elsewhere (there were several in both the North and on the central sector), and hence that abnormal losses suffered in the south is the explanation for the bad ratios overall? For that, you need to establish a number of things you have not established, hence, that argument lacks a basis as far as I can see.
I'm sorry I must have missed the road sign that indicated I was entering the Cambridge School of Contemporary Studies. I am offering an opinion. What exactly is your problem?
Surely you are not comparing the frontage for all of Barbarossa with the frontage of HG Süd for Blau? The point here is concentration, and concentration is a function of forces relative to frontage. Of course the whole Barbarossa front was longer than the Blau frontage, but the forces engaged in the latter were only a fraction of the former, and their density must have been much lower.
Once again, dividing the number of men by the number of kilometres does not tell the whole story. Concentration is not a mathematical formula at all, but depends very much on when and where you do it. The narrower front in Fall Blau did not spread out the German forces to the degree that they could not concentrate on critical axes when the moment came. In fact, they did just that and were immensely successful in doing so. The smaller operational area of Fall Blau allowed for that kind of concentration. If you could stop thinking in terms of numbers for ten seconds you might have seen where my argument wanted to go.
This simply confuses strength with quality. The personell strength of the Fronts is by definition the number of men they fielded. How exactly is strength figures for the Fronts a misleading measure of the strength of the Fronts?
No, I am talking about costs. And costs are costs. You pay them and you don't have the same amount of money left. I am not a fan of bogging down a discussion with piles of meaningless figure.

I am no longer interested in discussing this with you, Qvist. Adjust your attitude or offer an opinion. My ideas are valid and deserve to be treated with respect. This post has contained nothing but thinly veiled sarcasm. You have made no attempt to look at any of the valid points I have made, but have instead chosen to make semantic and, I'm sorry, quite silly, little distinctions. If you want to run your own little show, then please charge admission and make it clear at the gate. Otherwise, get stuffed.

And while you're getting stuffed, offer your own point of view in place of belittling another's with grandiose numbers that don't really say anything.

Paul

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Post by Qvist » 19 May 2006 08:14

Paul,

Well, the simple fact is that a good deal of what you have been writing in the last few posts in fact does not make much sense to me, and with the best of will I do not think they represent a tenable argument. What do you expect me to do about that, pretend otherwise? In that case, why do you bother entering into a discussion about it? Since you obviously dislike having your points subjected to comment I shall not bother to do so again, though there is no shortage of points that could be raised. I sort of thought that was how a discussion normally moved along, but you seem to have a different take on that. The comments I have made are neither sarcastic or pedantic, if you do not understand their substance or do not want to, I really cannot help that - you are confusing fairly basic concepts that have been clarified repeatedly, and I really don't see how I would advance the discussion by pretending this is not the case, or why I should. As for my own views of the issues related to 1942, I've already stated them clearly, and argued for them too. In short - if you want to develop your argument in the way you like without having it disturbed, feel free to do so.

And, please mind your tone - you have no cause to take offense at having your points subjected to criticism.

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 19 May 2006 17:42

A post by paulmacg has been removed by moderator. Personal conflicts are not to be engaged in within threads. If you have a personal beef with someone, either work it out through PM or drop it.

Michael

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Post by Doppleganger » 19 May 2006 17:46

paulmacg wrote:I am no longer interested in discussing this with you, Qvist. Adjust your attitude or offer an opinion. My ideas are valid and deserve to be treated with respect. This post has contained nothing but thinly veiled sarcasm. You have made no attempt to look at any of the valid points I have made, but have instead chosen to make semantic and, I'm sorry, quite silly, little distinctions. If you want to run your own little show, then please charge admission and make it clear at the gate. Otherwise, get stuffed.

And while you're getting stuffed, offer your own point of view in place of belittling another's with grandiose numbers that don't really say anything.

Paul
There was no need for this Paul, IMO. Having followed this thread I do not believe it was Qvist's intention to be sarcastic - he is simply stating his position. Resorting to a personal attack is completely unwarranted. Your ideas are valid and the fact that they are being debated is a sign of that. It sounds like to me that you do not take to criticism of your ideas positively. As mainly an observer to this thread I happen to side with Qvist and his argument. In fact, looking at the numerical data (and it is necessary to do so even if it's not the whole story) it's hard not to side with him.

Cheers.

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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 19 May 2006 19:33

Another post by Paul was removed. If someone feels wrongfully moderated, they can contact Marcus by PM.

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Post by Igorn » 20 May 2006 18:04

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:Another post by Paul was removed. If someone feels wrongfully moderated, they can contact Marcus by PM.
I see that only Qvist point of view is accepted in this thread and any other positions are not tolerated. Paul I can only tell you don't waste your time to argue with Qvist, Mr. Ankerstjerne and other "experts". There is a good expression in Russia: a dog is barking but caravan (convoy) is going ahead.

Best Regards from Russia,

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Post by Doppleganger » 20 May 2006 18:30

Igorn wrote:
Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:Another post by Paul was removed. If someone feels wrongfully moderated, they can contact Marcus by PM.
I see that only Qvist point of view is accepted in this thread and any other positions are not tolerated. Paul I can only tell you don't waste your time to argue with Qvist, Mr. Ankerstjerne and other "experts". There is a good expression in Russia: a dog is barking but caravan (convoy) is going ahead.

Best Regards from Russia,
Actually I think it was the personal attack that wasn't tolerated..

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Post by Marcus » 20 May 2006 19:24

As Doppleganger pointed out it was a violation of the guidelines that got the post removed, now let's get back on topic.

/Marcus

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Post by paulmacg » 24 May 2006 17:50

From Colossus Reborn by David Glantz (pg. 189-190):

Despite the Soviets' congenital reticence to reveal the actual operating strengths of the Red Army's operating forces, fragmentary evidence documents the actual strength of the Red Army's rifle forces. When Operation Barbarossa began, for example, documents indicate that the average strength of rifle divisions subordinate to the Red Army's initial four operating fronts was 9,648 men, about 67 percent of their authorized 14,483 men.

While the Red Army was mobilizing and defending in depth across the entire front in the summer and fall of 1941, the Red Army's rifle divisions seldom managed to assemble more than 30-35 percent of their authorized prewar strength or 50 percent of the 11,000 men they were authorized by their revised July 1941 table of organization. In addition, both existing and newly mobilized divisions experienced severe shortages of weapons and other combat equipment.

During early spring of 1942, the NKO and General Staff managed to increase the strength of its rifle forces, particularily those taking part in major offensives and those deployed along key strategic axes, to roughly 70 percent of their authorized manpower and close to 100 percent of their weaponry. At the same time, however, its divisions and brigades operating along secondary axes remained at 50 percent or lower fill.

When the Wehrmacht resumed major offensive operations in late May and expanded their offensive in July and August, it once again decimated many of the Red Army's refitted rifle forces, this time primarily along the southwestern and southern axes. Despite the Red Army's immense losses in the summer and fall of 1942, the NKO were able to raise and field many new reserve armies whose rifle divisions were often at or above 90 percent fill in personnel, even though they were still often defficient in weaponry and other equipment.

The heavy fighting that occured during the summer phase of Operation Blau and particularily in the rubble of Stalingrad during the fall, decimated many Red Army divisions and brigades. Often, rifle divisions that fielded over 12,000 men in early July lost 90 percent of their men in July and were filled out with replacements in August, only to lose 90 percent of their strength again in September and October. In sharp contrast, rifle divisions earmarked to spearhead the Red Army's November counteroffensives, such as those assigned to the 5th Tank, 65th Army and 1st and 3rd Guards Armies, averaged 75-80 percent of their authorized strength.
Some interesting examples:

On May 12th, 1942, rifle divisions in the Southwestern Front had an average strength of 8,000-10,000 men (63%-79%). 28th Army had 62,470 men in 6 rifle divisions and 6th Army had 101,000 men in 8 rifle divisions, 2 tank corps and 4 tank brigades. On the same date, Southern Front (9th and 57th Army) averaged 5,000-7,000 men (39%-55%). Authorized strength for all of these divisions was 12,725 men. I do not have strength figures for 21st and 38th Army.

Of note here, the Briansk Front (containing 3 armies, 5th Tank Army and 5 tank corps) was also marked to participate in the Khar'kov offensive, but was later held back by Stalin in anticipation of a German attack on the Moscow axis.

Of course, this represents the Soviet Khar'Kov offensive and the normal differential between critical and secondary axes.

Back to work. More coming.

Paul

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