Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

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Vasilyev
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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Vasilyev » 21 Jul 2023 13:50

Duncan_M wrote:
21 Jul 2023 08:58
Vasilyev wrote:
20 Jul 2023 19:28
A bunch of quotes from Soviet military journals in ‘44-45 on training battalions for assault and other specialized tasks:

https://paul-atrydes.livejournal.com/291113.html
Ding ding, we have a winner:
"Thus, in a rifle division it is advisable to train: three battalions - as assault, one - for night operations, one or two - for crossing water barriers, one or two - for fighting in the forest. The rest of the battalions are trained as second-echelon units, and their most important task is to learn how to act without breaking away from the first-echelon battalions.

Each battalion, in addition to all of the above, is recommended to be trained in combat for a settlement, the ability to maintain formations during an offensive in the field and firing from a place and on the move, as well as fighting tanks, for which it is desirable to “iron” all personnel in the process of training with their tanks."
That is exactly what is happening in the current conflict.
The mix of practicality and necessity - limited training time - is also relevant.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Duncan_M » 21 Jul 2023 20:08

Vasilyev wrote:
21 Jul 2023 13:50
The mix of practicality and necessity - limited training time - is also relevant.
I agree about practicality and necessity. And in the unnamed present conflict, it's actually been pretty effective too. But, wow, is it callous. It's doctrine supporting tactical commanders task organizing units of cannon fodder.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Vasilyev » 21 Jul 2023 20:42

Duncan_M wrote:
21 Jul 2023 20:08
Vasilyev wrote:
21 Jul 2023 13:50
The mix of practicality and necessity - limited training time - is also relevant.
I agree about practicality and necessity. And in the unnamed present conflict, it's actually been pretty effective too. But, wow, is it callous. It's doctrine supporting tactical commanders task organizing units of cannon fodder.
I wouldn’t call assault units in the Red Army cannon fodder, instructions pretty consistently say they should be the youngest, most fit personnel. The LenF instructions I posted earlier are representative of their tasks. Break through the enemy with tanks, engineers, and SP guns, bypass strongpoints, and disrupt the integrity of the defense.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Jul 2023 20:43

Im reminded that back in my service days the USMC had a similar approach, tho it did not extend as far. Rifle battalion commanders tended to lean the training of each maneuver or rifle command to a specific mobility role. One company would do the bulk of its training in airmobile/helocopter ops, a second company spent extra time training with the amphibious tractors & tanks, The third company trained predominantly with wheeled vehicles. Truck transport and light wheeled vehicles as heavy weapons carriers. In another example the commander of the Third Marine Division directed at least one of the rifle battalions rotating into the division concentrate on anti guerrilla or insurgency ops. These focuses were cyclic, and lasted a few months or a year. Not permanent long term specialties.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Art » 22 Jul 2023 17:54

Vasilyev wrote:
20 Jul 2023 19:28
A bunch of quotes from Soviet military journals in ‘44-45 on training battalions for assault and other specialized tasks:
https://paul-atrydes.livejournal.com/291113.html
Yes, that's exactly what I had in mind.
Here're instructions from the Leningrad Front in 1945 on the organization, training, and equipping of assault groups:
That is not the most typical instruction as it says that assualt battalions should attack abreast with "normal" battalions . Other authors, whose quotes are given following the link above, generally defined the "assualt" battalions as the battalions attacking in the first wave, whereas other battalions exploited or widened the breach made by them.

One should also differentiate between "assault group" and "assualt battalion". The assault group was a composite group generally not larger then several dozen men created specifically for an attack of a known and small object, usually especially hard and resistant to artillery such as bunkers, pillboxes. buildings etc. The "assault" battalion was a battalion of normal organization reinforced for a specific attack or operation. It seems that the term itself was a grassroot initiative from the front which didn't follow high-level instructions and manuals. It was obviously believed that such a reinforced battalion could attack all the way to the artillery positions through hostile defences in short time without pauses and without being relieved, while second-line battalion would be needed to consolidate its gains and mop up the area. The rationale behind that was that the relieving the first line battalion or inserting batttalions from the second line in the process of combat was complicated and would frequently result in confusion and a loss of time and thus an attack impetus would be dissipated. Another consideration was obviously to avoid buncing up of infantry in the first line in order to minimize casualties.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Vasilyev » 24 Jul 2023 03:39

Art wrote:
22 Jul 2023 17:54
Vasilyev wrote:
20 Jul 2023 19:28
A bunch of quotes from Soviet military journals in ‘44-45 on training battalions for assault and other specialized tasks:
https://paul-atrydes.livejournal.com/291113.html
Yes, that's exactly what I had in mind.
Here're instructions from the Leningrad Front in 1945 on the organization, training, and equipping of assault groups:
That is not the most typical instruction as it says that assualt battalions should attack abreast with "normal" battalions . Other authors, whose quotes are given following the link above, generally defined the "assualt" battalions as the battalions attacking in the first wave, whereas other battalions exploited or widened the breach made by them.

One should also differentiate between "assault group" and "assualt battalion". The assault group was a composite group generally not larger then several dozen men created specifically for an attack of a known and small object, usually especially hard and resistant to artillery such as bunkers, pillboxes. buildings etc. The "assault" battalion was a battalion of normal organization reinforced for a specific attack or operation. It seems that the term itself was a grassroot initiative from the front which didn't follow high-level instructions and manuals. It was obviously believed that such a reinforced battalion could attack all the way to the artillery positions through hostile defences in short time without pauses and without being relieved, while second-line battalion would be needed to consolidate its gains and mop up the area. The rationale behind that was that the relieving the first line battalion or inserting batttalions from the second line in the process of combat was complicated and would frequently result in confusion and a loss of time and thus an attack impetus would be dissipated. Another consideration was obviously to avoid buncing up of infantry in the first line in order to minimize casualties.
Thanks for clarifying! “Наставления по прорыву позиционной обороны" would be helpful to get a sense of where doctrine ended up, but it doesn’t seem to be online.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Duncan_M » 29 Jul 2023 22:52

Vasilyev wrote:
21 Jul 2023 20:42
I wouldn’t call assault units in the Red Army cannon fodder, instructions pretty consistently say they should be the youngest, most fit personnel. The LenF instructions I posted earlier are representative of their tasks. Break through the enemy with tanks, engineers, and SP guns, bypass strongpoints, and disrupt the integrity of the defense.
I mean the present conflict, a successor to the Red Army/Soviet Armed Forces is creating dismounted assault units with a mix of their better personnel but also with small units, potentially up to company sized, that are filled with volunteer convicts, who are meant to perform the costlier types of missions that they would prefer their better forces not perform.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Art » 21 Aug 2023 06:29

One of the early (or probably even earliest) use of "assault battalions"

From a diary of general Yeremenko, commander of the Kalinin Front
9 September 1943. I held a conference with divisional and corps commanders, the army commander was also present. In every division one assault battalion is to be prepared by the time the offensive is resumed, I gave instructions how they should be trained.
From the plan of the Dukhovschina operation submitted by the Kalinin Front's command in September 1943:
...Preparatory phase - from 9.9.43 to 13.9.43.
Prepare troops for offensive and breakthrough, train assault battalions.
...
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=153104008

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Art » 15 Oct 2023 21:03

Vasilyev wrote:
24 Jul 2023 03:39
Thanks for clarifying! “Наставления по прорыву позиционной обороны" would be helpful to get a sense of where doctrine ended up, but it doesn’t seem to be online.
This instruction (Instruction on breakthrough of positional defense from 1944) didn't discuss "assault battalions" at all and contained only a passing mention of assault groups. It does seem that "assault battalion" in a form it was described in various articles and after-action reports contradicted to the spirit of this instruction.

"Reconnaissance by combat" was described in quite ample details. The instruction defined the following types of preliminary reconnaissance before the attack:
- aerial recon (mostly aerial photos)
- ground observation
- artillery reconnaissance (including visual observation and instrumental recon)
- tank reconnaissance
- engineer reconnaissance
- signals reconnaissance
- reconnaissance by combat

The objectives of the last were:
- capturing important localitlies on the forward line with good observation of the hostile defense positions
- probing actual location of the main defense line and forward trenches
- provoking hostile fire in order to check information on hostile weapons and fire system
- revealing obstacles on the forward line and in depth
- capturing prisoners and documents

Reconnaissance by combat was to be conducted on a broad front in order to conceal the place of the actual attack. It was to be planned by the Army HQ and preceeded by preliminary reconnaissance. Up to a battalion of "well-trained infantry" and 1-2 sapper platoon was to be assigned from a rifle division and supported by 2-3 arrtillery battalions, mortars, tanks and possibly smoke screens. Divisional commander was to personnaly command the operation. Reconnaissance was to be conducted in daylight and preceeded by short artillery and aerial reconnassaince. Provisions were to be made to support the succesful attack with main forces of the division.

The instruction also specified that elements of armored units can take part in recon by combat in close cooperation with infantry.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Duncan_M » 16 Oct 2023 00:29

Art wrote:
15 Oct 2023 21:03
This instruction (Instruction on breakthrough of positional defense from 1944) didn't discuss "assault battalions" at all and contained only a passing mention of assault groups. It does seem that "assault battalion" in a form it was described in various articles and after-action reports contradicted to the spirit of this instruction.

"Reconnaissance by combat" was described in quite ample details. The instruction defined the following types of preliminary reconnaissance before the attack:
- aerial recon (mostly aerial photos)
- ground observation
- artillery reconnaissance (including visual observation and instrumental recon)
- tank reconnaissance
- engineer reconnaissance
- signals reconnaissance
- reconnaissance by combat

The objectives of the last were:
- capturing important localitlies on the forward line with good observation of the hostile defense positions
- probing actual location of the main defense line and forward trenches
- provoking hostile fire in order to check information on hostile weapons and fire system
- revealing obstacles on the forward line and in depth
- capturing prisoners and documents

Reconnaissance by combat was to be conducted on a broad front in order to conceal the place of the actual attack. It was to be planned by the Army HQ and preceeded by preliminary reconnaissance. Up to a battalion of "well-trained infantry" and 1-2 sapper platoon was to be assigned from a rifle division and supported by 2-3 arrtillery battalions, mortars, tanks and possibly smoke screens. Divisional commander was to personnaly command the operation. Reconnaissance was to be conducted in daylight and preceeded by short artillery and aerial reconnassaince. Provisions were to be made to support the succesful attack with main forces of the division.

The instruction also specified that elements of armored units can take part in recon by combat in close cooperation with infantry.
Did any other militaries in WW2 do something like what the Red Army did as you describe, creating assault themed task organized battalion sized units or smaller with "elite" troops?

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Art » 17 Oct 2023 07:18

I don't see anything about "elite troops" in the text above.

Generally speaking the German military had ideas about employment of specially organized and trained assault units in offensive:
At the front is a strong spearhead with the only task to break through to the attack objective without regard for flanks and isolated hostile resistance nests.
It is expedient to employ for this task depending on the situation and mission specially built and trained assault troops (assault companies or battalions).
https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/ru/ ... ect/zoom/8

Which sounds similar to assault units in Soviet practice.

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Vasilyev » 21 Oct 2023 23:30

Art wrote:
15 Oct 2023 21:03
Vasilyev wrote:
24 Jul 2023 03:39
Thanks for clarifying! “Наставления по прорыву позиционной обороны" would be helpful to get a sense of where doctrine ended up, but it doesn’t seem to be online.
This instruction (Instruction on breakthrough of positional defense from 1944) didn't discuss "assault battalions" at all and contained only a passing mention of assault groups. It does seem that "assault battalion" in a form it was described in various articles and after-action reports contradicted to the spirit of this instruction.
What each unit and formation did in combat never seems to neatly align with a single uniform doctrine or instruction. Which makes sense, most commanders had a lot of combat experience but spottier formal military education.

The contemporary "instructions for breaking through a fortified area" has sections discussing assault groups in more detail, in the context of attacking more permanent fortifications:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=135893061

Though since the 1945 campaign saw many battles for fortresses, the instructions were relevant for more formations.

I spent some time putting together a (not exhaustive) list of Front and Army instructions, experience reports, etc on organizing assault groups/detachments/battalions in different contexts:

20th Army, mid 1942:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454348933

Northwestern Front, late 1942:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454993751

3rd Shock Army, late 1942 (populated areas):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=455034081

Central Front, early 1943 (cities, Stalingrad):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=132343312

67th Army, early 1943:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=450507210

Soutwestern Front, late 1943:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=111483967

6th Guards Army, late 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=10054322

1st Baltic Front, early 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=132880963

1st Baltic Front, early 1944 (sappers):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=153701485

31st Army, early 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=130459746

11th Guards Army, early 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454062992

11th Guards Army, early 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454062992

11th Guards Army, early 1944 (experience report):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=131236701

11th Guards Army, early 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=132880966

3rd Shock Army, early 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=153421446

67th Army, early 1944 (experience):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=135556949

55th Army, early 1944 (experience):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=135556767

67th Army, mid 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=133717605

37th Army, mid 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454916979

51st Army, mid 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=451338205

51st Army, mid 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=451338203

61st Army, mid 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454666316

3rd Belorussian Front, late 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=113937980

1st Belorussian Front, late 1944:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=455069650

1st Guards Army, 1945:

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=114242050x

3rd Guards Tank Army (cities):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136490137

5th Guards Army, 1945 (experience):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=110837172

50th Army, 1945 (fortified city):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=112418518

Red Army Printing House, 1945 (cities):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=455731872

2nd Belorussian Front, 1946 (experience, populated areas):

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136240509

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Re: Red Army task organizing of units for Recon by fire

Post by Duncan_M » 22 Oct 2023 21:11

Vasilyev wrote:
21 Oct 2023 23:30
I spent some time putting together a (not exhaustive) list of Front and Army instructions, experience reports, etc on organizing assault groups/detachments/battalions in different contexts:
Is there any way you could summarize those in English?

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