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Deep battle was a military theory developed by the Soviet Unionmarker for its armed forces during the 1920s and 1930s. It was developed by a number of influential military writers, such as Vladimir Triandafillov and Mikhail Tukhachevsky who endeavoured to create a military strategy with its own specialised operational art and tactics. The concept of deep operations was a national strategy, tailored to the economic, cultural and geopolitical position of the Soviet Union.

In the aftermath of several failures or defeats in the Russo-Japanese War, First World War and Polish–Soviet War the Soviet High Command (Stavka), focused on developing new methods for the conduct of war. This new approach considered military strategy and tactics, but also introduced a new intermediate level of military art; operations. The Soviet Union was the first nation to officially recognise the third level of military thinking which occupied the position between strategy and tactics.

Using these templates, the Soviets developed the concept of deep battle and by 1936 it had become part of the Red Army Field Regulations. Deep operations had two phases; the tactical deep battle, followed by the exploitation of tactical success, known as the conduct of deep battle operations. Deep battle envisaged the breaking of the enemy forward defences, or tactical zones, for fresh uncommitted mobile operational reserves to exploit by breaking into the strategic depth of an enemy front. The goal of any deep operational was to inflict a decisive strategic defeat on the enemy and render the defence of their front more difficult or impossible.

During the 1930s, the resurgence of Germanymarker in the era of the Third Reich, saw German innovations in the tactical arena. The German methodology used by the Germans in the Second World War was named "Blitzkrieg". There is a common misconception that Blitzkrieg, which is not accepted as a coherent military doctrine, was similar to Soviet deep operations. Rather, the consensus among historians is the Soviet method represented a proper military strategy based on a clear set of principles and is no way similar to "Blitzkrieg". (See: What is Blitzkrieg?).

Despite producing the most sophisticated military doctrine which would have given the Soviet Red Army an advantage against its enemies, the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin initiated a purge against his enemies, both real and imagined, in the Soviet military. The Officer Corps was nearly destroyed and the personalities that had conceived deep battle were labelled traitors. Most were executed by the state after show trials. The deep operation concept was thrown out of Soviet military strategy as it was associated with the denounced figures that created it. The abandonment of deep operations had a huge impact of Soviet military capability. Before the purges in 1937, the Soviet Union's armed forces were highly advanced and organized. Entering the Second World War after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Soviet struggled to relearn the discarded lessons. By late 1942 the Soviets had recovered sufficiently to put their concept into practice. Soviet deep battle was used to devastating effect on the Eastern Front after the Battle of Stalingradmarker, allowing the Red Army to destroy hundreds of Axis divisions and play a vital role in the Allied victory by 1945.


Before deep battle

Russian military thinking had changed little over the course of three centuries prior to the 1920s. The Russian Empiremarker had kept pace with its enemies and Allies and performed well in the major conflicts it had been involved in the run up to the 19th Century. However, despite some notable victories in the Napoleonic Wars and Russo-Turkish Wars, its defeats in the Crimean War, Russo-Japanese War, First World War and a series of defeats against Polandmarker in the Polish–Soviet War highlighted the inferiority of Russian methodology in organisation and training.

After the Russian Revolution, the new Bolshevik regime sought to create an entirely new military system, that reflected the Bolshevik’s revolutionary spirit. The new Red Army was a mixture of the old and new methods. It still relied on the enormous manpower reserves of the state, but after the 1929 industrialization of military industry brought the Soviet Union up to the technical standards of other European nations. Once this had been achieved, the Soviet turned their attention to solving the problem of military operational mobility.

The linchpins in this development were Alexander Andreyevich Svechin, Mikhail Frunze, and Tukhachevsky, who promoted the development of military scientific societies and identified groups of talented officers. Many of these officers entered the Societ Military Academy during Tukhachevsky’s tenure as its commandant in 1921–1922. Others came later, of which were Nikolai Efimovich Varfolomeev and Vladimir Triandafillov who made significant contributions to the use of technology in deep offensive operations.

Roots of deep battle

In the aftermath of the wars with Japanmarker and Polandmarker several senior Soviet Commanders called for a unified military doctrine. The most prominent was Mikhail Frunze. The call prompted opposition by Leon Trotsky. Frunze' position eventually found favour with the officer elements that had experienced the poor command and control of Soviet forces in the conflict with Poland. This turn of event prompted the laters replacement by Frunze in January 1925.
Mikhail Frunze
Mikhail Tukhachevsky
The nature of this new doctrine was to be political. The Soviets were to merge the military with the Bolshevik ideal which would define the nature of war for the Soviet Union. The Soviets believed their most likely enemy would be the capitalist states of the west and such a conflict was unavoidable. The nature of this war would cover four major points :.

  • Would the next war be won in one decisive campaign or would it be a long struggle of attrition
  • Should the Red Army be primarily offensive or defensive?
  • Would the nature of battle be fluid or static?
  • Would mechanized or infantry forces be more important

The debate became a choice, with Alexander Svechin advocating a strategy of attrition whilst other's like Tukhachevski, thought a strategy of decisive destruction of the enemy forces was needed. This was in part because the Soviet Union was still not industrialized, and was economically too weak to fight a long war of attrition.By 1928 the ideas of Tukhachevski had changed to the point that he considered that warfare, given the nature and lessons of the First World War, was almost certainly going to be one of attrition. He determined, however, that the size and vastness of Soviet geography ensured an amount of mobility was still possible. Svechin accepted this, and allowed for the first offensives to be fast and fluid, but ultimately decided it would come down to a war of position and attrition. This event would need a strong economic and politically indoctrinated peoples to outlast the enemy.The doctrine pursued by the Soviets was offensively orientated. Tukhachevski's neglect of the defensive pushed the Red Army toward the decisive battle and cult of the offensive mentality, which along with other events, caused enormous problems in 1941.

Unlike Tukhachevski, Svechin determined the next war could only be won by attrition, not a single or several decisive battles. Svechin also argued that a theory of alternating defensive and offensive action was needed. Within this framework, Svechin also recognised the theoretical distinction of operational art that lay between tactics and strategy. In his opinion the role of the operation was to group and direct tactical battles toward a series of simultaneous operational objectives along a wide frontage, either directly or indirectly, to achieve the stavka's ultimate strategic target(s). This became the blueprint for Soviet deep battle.

In 1929 Vladimir Triandafillov and Tukhachevski formed a partnership to create a coherent system of principles from the concept formed by Svechin. Tukhachevski was to develop the tactical and operational phases of deep battle; the tactical deep battle and deep battle operations. In response to his efforts and acceptance of the methodology, the Red Army produced the Provisional Instructions for Organizing the Deep Battle manual in 1933. This was the first time "deep battle" had been mentioned in official Red Army literature.

Basic principles

The principle of deep battle

Deep battle encompassed manoeuvre by multiple Soviet Army Fronts-size formations simultaneously. It was not meant to deliver a victory in a single operation, but rather multiple operations conducted in parallel or successively would induce a catastrophic failure in his defensive system.Each operation served to divert enemy attention and keep the defender guessing as to where the main effort, and main objective, lay. In doing so, it prevented the enemy from dispatching powerful mobile reserves to this area. The supporting operations had significantly important strategic objectives themselves and were to continue their offensive action until unable to progress any further. However, they were still subordinated to the main/decisive strategic objective determined by the Stavka.

Each of the operations along the front would have secondary strategic goals, and one operation would usually be aimed towards the primary objective.The strategic objective, or mission, was to secure the primary strategic target. The primary target usually consisted of a geographical objective and the destruction of a proportion of the enemy armed forces. Usually the strategic missions of each operation were carried out by a Soviet Front. The Front itself usually had several Shock Armies attached to it, which were to converge on the target and encircle or assault it. The means of securing it as the job of the division and its tactical components, which Soviet deep battle termed the tactical mission.

Terminology, force allocation and mission table.
Mission Territory Actions Force allocation
Strategic aim Theatre of operations Strategic operation Strategic unit (Front)
strategic mission Strategic direction Front operation Operational-Strategic unit (Front)
Operational Mission Operational direction Army-size operation battle Operational unit (Shock Army/ Corps)
Tactical mission Battlefield Battle Operational-tactical unit (Shock Army/Corps/Army Division)

The concept of deep battle was not just offensive. The theory took into account that all forms of warfare, and decided both the offensive and defensive should be studied and incorporated into deep battle.The defensive phase of deep battle involved identifying crucial strategic targets and securing them against attack from all directions. As with the offensive methods of deep battle, the target area would be identified and dissected into operational and tactical zones. In defence, the tactical zones, forward of the objective would be fortified with artillery and infantry forces. The outer and forward most defences would be heavily mined making a very strong static defence position. The tactical zones would have several defence lines, one after the other, usually 12 kilometres from the main objective. In the zone some 1 - 3 kilometres from the main objective, shock forces, which contained the bulk of the Soviet combat formations were positioned.

The goal of the defence in depth concept was to blunt the elite enemy forces which would be first to breach the Soviet lines several times causing them to exhaust themselves, reaching culmination point. Once the enemy had been bogged down in Soviet defences, the operational reserves came into play. Being positioned behind the tactical zones, the fresh mobile forces consisting of mechanized infantry, foot infantry, Tank forces, and powerful tactical air support would engage the worn down enemy in a counter-offensive, either destroying it by attacking its flank, or driving it out of the Soviet tactical zone and into enemy held territory as far as possible.

Isserson; the factor of depth

Gerogii Isserson was a prolific writer on military tactics and operations. Amongst the most important works on operational art were The Evolution of Operational Art (1932 and 1937), and Fundamentals of the Deep Operation (1933). The later work remains classified to this day.

Isserson was focused on the role of depth, and the role it played at the operational and strategic levels. According to his view military strategy had moved on from the Napoleonic times and the strategic of a single point (the decisive battle) and the Moltke era linear strategy. The continuous front that developed in the First World War would not allow the flanking moves of the pre 1914 period to resurface. Isserson argued that the front had become devoid of open flanks, and from that point onwards military art faced a challenge to develop new methods to break through a deeply echeloned defence. To this end he wrote, "we are at the dawn of a new epoch in military art, and must move from a linear strategy to a deep strategy".

To achieve this, Isserson calculated the Red Army's attack echelon must be of 100 to 120 kilometres in length. He estimated the enemy tactical defences, which would layer about two lines, would be shallow in the first instant; stretching back some 5 to 6 kilometres. The Second line would formed behind, and be made of 12 to 15 kilometres of defensive depth. Beyond this lay the operational depth. This would be larger and more densely occupied than the first, embracing the railheads and supply stations to a depth of 50 to 60 kilometres. Here the main enemy forces were concentrated. The third zone, beyond the operational depth was known as the strategic depth. This zone served as the vital link between the country's manpower reservoirs and industrial power-supply sites and the area of military operations. In this zone lay the headquarters of the strategic forces, which included the Army Group level.

Isserson, much like Varfolomeev, divided his Shock Armies into two. One to undergo the tactical mission of breaking the enemy forward (or front line defences) and the other to exploit the breakthrough and occupy the operational zone whilst destroying enemy reserve concentrations as the attempted to counter the assault. The exploitation phase would be carried out be combined arms teams of mechanized, airborne, infantry and motorised forces.

The breadth of the attack zone was a critical factor in Soviet calculations. Isserson asserted an attack over a frontage of 70 to 80 kilometres would be best. Three or four Rifle Corps would make a breakthrough along a front of 30 kilometres. The breakthrough zone (only under favourable conditions), might be expanded to 48 to 50 kilometres, and addition of another Rifle Corps. Under these conditions, a Rifle Corps would attack along a 10 to 12 kilometre front, with each division in the Corps' first echelon allocated a 6 kilometre frontage. A fifth supporting Rifle Corps would make diversionary attacks along the flanks of the main thrust to tie down counter responses, confuse the enemy as to the area of the main thrust and delay his reserves from arriving.

Tactical deep battle

Once the strategic objectives had been determined and operational preparation completed the Red Army would be tasked with assaulting the tactical zones of the enemy front in order to break through into its rear, allowing operationally mobile forces to invade the undefended enemy-held area to the rear.The Soviet Rifle Corps was essential to the tactical method. As the largest tactical unit it formed the central component of the tactical deep battle. The Rifle Corps usually formed part of a larger operational effort and would be reinforced with tanks, artillery and other weapons. Several Corps would take part in the attack, some with defensive missions and others with offensive assignments. These were known as holding and shock groups respectively.

The order of battle was to encompass three echelons. The first-echelon, acted the first layer of forces would come into immediate contact with opposing forces to break the tactical zones. The follow on echelons would support the breakthrough and the reserve would exploit it operationally. The holding group would be positioned on either flank of the combat zone to tie down enemy reinforcements via means of diversion attacks or blocking defence.Nevertheless, despite the diversion being a primary mission, the limited forces conducting holding actions will be assigned geographical objectives. Once the main thrust has defeated the enemy's main defence, the tactical holding forces were to merge with the main body of forces conducting the operations.

In defence, the same principles would apply. The holding group would be positioned forward of the main defensive lines. The job of the holding echelons in this event was to weaken or halt the main enemy forces. Should this be achieved, the enemy would be weakened sufficiently to be caught and impaled on the main defence lines. If this failed, and the enemy succeeded in sweeping aside the holding forces and breaching the several main defence lines, mobile operational reserves, including tanks and assault aviation, would be committed. These forces would be allocated to holding and shock groups alike, and were often positioned behind the main defences to engage the battle worn enemy thrust.

The forces used to carry out the tactical assignments varied from 1933 - 1943. The number of Shock Armies, Rifle Corps, and Divisions (mechanized and infantry) given to a strategic front constantly changed. By 1943, the year the Red Army began to practice deep battle properly, the order of battle for each tactical unit under the command of a front were:

Rifle Army

  • 3 Rifle Corps
    • 7-12 rifle divisions
  • 4 artillery regiments
    • One field artillery regiment
    • One anti-tank gun regiment
    • anti-aircraft artillery regiment
    • One mortar regiment
  • One signal regiment
  • One communication battalion
  • One telegraph company
  • One aviation communication troop

Stavka operational forces
  • 1-2 artillery divisions
    • 3 artillery regiments
    • 3 tank destroyer regiment
  • 3-4 tank or self-propelled gun brigades
  • 10 separate tank or self-propelled gun regiments
  • 2 anti-aircraft divisions
  • 1-2 mechanized corps

These forces numbered some 80 - 130,000 men, 1,500-2,000 guns and mortars, 48-497 rocket launchers, and 30-226 self-propelled guns.

Rifle Corps
  • 3 Rifle divisions
  • One artillery regiment
  • One signals battalion
  • One sapper battalion

Rifle Division
  • 3 Rifle regiments
  • One artillery regiment
  • One anti-tank battalion
  • One sapper battalion
  • One signal company
  • One reconnaissance company

The division numbered some 9,380 men (10,670 in a guards rifle division), 44 field guns, 160 mortars and 48 anti-tank guns.

Deep operation

Soviet analysts recognised that it was not enough to break through the enemy tactical zone. Although it is the first step and crucial, tactical deep battle offered no solution about how a force could sustain an advance beyond it and into the operational and strategic depths of an enemy front. The success of tactical action counted for little in an operational defensive zone which extended dozens of kilometres and where the enemy held large reserves. Such enemy concentrations could prevent the exploitation of a tactical breakthrough and threaten the operational advance.
The Deep Operation.
The Corps forces breach the tactical front defences (in blue) and the fresh Second Echelon (mechanized operational exploitation forces) follows through the gap.
Air strikes hit enemy enemy reserves before the Second Echelon engages them.
Other Corps launch delaying and diversion assaults on either flank of the enemy tactical defence.
This was demonstrated during the First World War, when initial breakthroughs were rendered useless owing to exhaustion during the tactical effort, limited mobility, and a slow paced advance and enemy reinforcements. The attacker was further unable to influence the fighting beyond the immediate battlefield, due to the limited range, speed and reliability in existing weapons. The attacker was often unable to exploit tactical success in even the most favourable circumstances as his infantry could not push into the breach rapidly enough. Enemy reinforcements could then seal off the break in their lines.

By the early 1930s, however, new weapons had come into circulation. Improvements in the speed and range of offensive weaponry matched those of its defensive counterparts. New tank, aircraft and motorised vehicles were entering service in large amounts to form divisions and corps of air fleets, motorised and mechanized divisions. These trends prompted the Red Army strategists to attempt to solve the problem of maintaining operational tempo with new technology.

The concept was termed "deep operations" (glubokaya operatsiya). It emerged in 1936 and placed within the context of deep battle in the 193 Field Regulations.The deep operation was geared toward operations at the Army and or Front level and was larger, in terms of the forces engaged, than deep battle's tactical component, which used units not larger than Corps size.

The forces used in the operational phase were much larger. The Red Army proposed to use the efforts of air forces, Airborne forces and ground forces to launch a "simultaneous blow throughout the entire depth of the enemy's operational defense" in order to delay his strongest forces positioned in the area of operations by defeating them in detail; to surround and destroy those units at the front (the tactical zone, by occupying the operational depth to its rear); and to continue the offensive into the defender's operational and strategic depth.
Vladimir Triandafillov
The central composition of the deep operation was the Shock Army, acting either in cooperation with each other or independently as part of a strategic front operation. Several Shock Armies would be subordinated to a strategic front. Triandafilov created this layout of force allocation for deep operations in his Character of Operations of Modern Armies, which retained its utility throughout the 1930s. Triandafilov assigned the Shock Army some 12 - 18 Rifle Divisions, in four to five Corps. These units were supplemented with 16 - 20 artillery regiments and 8 - 12 tank battalions. By the time of his death in 1931, Triandafilov had submitted various strength proposals which included the assignment of aviation units to the front unit. This consisted of two or three aviation brigades of bomber aircraft and six to eight squadrons of fighter aircraft.

Triandafilov's successor, Nikolai Efimovich Varfolomeev, was less concerned with developing the quantitive indices of deep battle, but rather the mechanics of the Shock Army's mission. Varfolomeev termed this as "launching an uninterrupted, deep and shattering blow" along the main axis of advance. Varfolomeev believed the Shock Army needed both firepower and mobility to destroy both enemy tactical defences, operational reserves and seize geographical targets or positions in harmony with other operationally independent, but strategically collaborative, offensives.

Varfolomeev and the composition of deep operations

Varfolomeev noted that deep and echeloned tactical and operational defences should call for equal or similar counter responses from the attacker. This allowed the attacker to deliver a deep blow at the concentrating point. The new technological advances would allow the echelon forces to advance the penetration of the enemy tactical zones quickly, denying the enemy defender the time to establish a new defensive line and bring up reinforcements to seal the breach.

Varfolomeev sought to organise the Shock Armies into two echelon formations. The first was to be the tactical breakthrough echelon, composed of several Rifle Corps. These would be backed up by a series of second line divisions from the reserves to sustain the tempo of advance and to maintain momentum pressure upon the enemy. These forces would strike 15 to 20 kilometres into enemy tactical defences to engage his forward and reserve tactical forces. Once these had been defeated, the Red Army Front was ready to release its fresh, and uncommitted operational forces to pass through the conquered tactical zone and exploit the enemy operational zones.

The first echelon used raw firepower and mass to break the layered enemy defences, but the second echelon operational reserves combined firepower and mobility, something lacking in the former. Operational units were heavily formed from mechanized, motorised and Cavalry forces. These forces would now seek to envelope the enemy tactical forces as yet unengaged along the flanks of the breakthrough point. Other units would press on to occupy the operational zones and meet the enemy operational reserves as they moved through his rear to establish a new defence’s line. While in the operational rear of the enemy, communications and supply depots were prime targets for the Soviet forces. With his tactical zones isolated from reinforcements, reinforcements blocked from relieving them, the front would be indefensible. Such a method would instigate operational paralysis for the defender.

In official literature Varfolomeev stated that the forces pursuing the enemy operational depth must advance between 20-25 kilometres a day. Forces operating against the flanks of enemy tactical forces must advance as much as 40-45 kilometres a day, to prevent the enemy from escaping.

According to a report by the Staff of the Urals Military district in 1936, a Shock Army would number 12 Rifle Divisions; a mechanized Corps (from its Stavka operational reserve) and a independent mechanized brigade; three Cavalry divisions; a light-bomber brigade, two brigades of assault aviation, two squadrons of fighter and reconnaissance aircraft; six tank battalions; five artillery regiments; plus two heavy artillery battalions; two battalions of Chemical troops. The Shock Army would number some 300,000 men, 100,000 horses, 1668 smaller-calibre and 1,550 medium and heavy calibre guns, 722 aircraft and 2,853 tanks.

Deep operations engagement

Having organized the operational forces and secured a tactical breakthrough into the operational rear of the enemy front, several issues took shape about how the Red Army would engage the main operational enemy forces. Attacking in echelon formation denied the Soviet forces the chance to bring all their units to bear. This might lead to the defeat of a Shock Army against a superior enemy force.

In order to avoid such a situation, echelon forces were to strike at the flanks of enemy concentrations for the first few days of the assault, while the main mobile forces caught up. The aim of this was to avoid a head-on clash and tie down enemy forces from reaching the tactical zones. The expected scope of the operation could be anywhere between 150 and 200 kilometres.

Should the attack prove successful at pinning the enemy in place and defeating its forces in battle, mechanized forces would break the flank and surround the enemy with infantry to consolidate the success. As the defender withdrew, mechanized cavalry and motorised forces would harass, cut off, and destroy his retreating columns which would also be assaulted by powerful aviation forces.

The pursuit would be pushed as far into the enemy depth as possible until exhaustion set in. With the tactical zones defeated, and the enemy operational forces either destroyed or incapable of further defence, the Soviet forces could push into the strategic depth.

Intended outcomes; differences with other methodologies

In principle, the Red Army would seek to destroy the enemy operational reserves, his operational depth and occupy as much of his strategic depth as possible. Within the Soviet concept of deep operations was the principle of strangulation if the situation demanded it, instead of physically encircling the enemy and destroying him immediately. Triandafillov stated in 1929:
The outcome in modern war will be attained not through the physical destruction of the opponent but rather through a succession of developing manoeuvres that will aim at inducing him to see his ability to comply further with his operational goals.
The effect of this mental state leads to operational shock or system paralysis, and ultimately to the disintegration of his operational system.
The success of the operational manoeuvre is attained through all-arms combat [ combined arms ] at the tactical level, and by combining a frontal holding force with a mobile column to penetrate the opponent's depth at the operational level.
The element of depth is a dominant factor in the conduct of deep operations both in the offensive and defensive.

The theory moved away from the Clausewitzian principle of battlefield destruction and the annihilation of enemy field forces, which obsessed the Germans. Instead deep operations stressed the ability to create conditions whereby the enemy losses the will to mount an operational defence.An example of this theory in practice is Operation Uranus in 1942. The Red Army in Stalingradmarker was allocated enough forces to hold the German Sixth Army in the city, causing attrition which would force it to weaken its flanks to secure its centre. Meanwhile reserves were built up, which then struck at the weak flanks. The Soviets broke through the tactical zones of the German flanks and exploited the operational depth, closing the pocket at Kalach-na-Donumarker.

The operation left the German tactical zones largely intact. But by occupying the German operational depth and preventing their retreat the German Army forces were isolated. Instead of reducing the pocket immediately, the Soviets tightened their grip on the enemy forces, preferring to let the enemy weaken and surrender, starve him completely, or a combination of these methods before delivering a final destructive assault. In this way the Soviet tactical and operational method opted to siege the enemy into submission, rather that destroy it physically and immediately.

In this sense, the Soviet deep battle, in the words of one historian, “was radically different to the nebulous ‘blitzkrieg’” method, although it produced similar if more strategically impressive results.

Deep Operations in practice

The impact of the purges

Deep Operations were first formally expressed as a concept in the Red Army's "Field Regulations" of 1929, and more fully developed in the 1935 Instructions on Deep Battle. The concept was finally codified by the army in 1936 in the Provisional Field Regulations of 1936. By 1937, the Soviet Union had the largest mechanized army in the world and a sophisticated operational system to operate it.

However, in 1937 the 'Great Purges' of 1937 to 1939 removed many of the leading officers of the Red Army, including Svechin, Varfolomeev and Tukhachevsky.The purge of the Soviet military liquidated the generation of officers who had given the Red Army the deep battle strategy, operations and tactics and who also had rebuilt the Soviet armed forces. Along with these personalities, their ideas were also dispensed with. Some 35,000 personnel, about 50 percent of the Officer Corps, three out of five Marshals,; 13 out of 15 Army Group commanders; 57 out of 85 Corps Commanders; 110 out 195 Division commanders; 220 out of 406 Brigade commanders were all murdered. Without the personnel and strategy, Stalin destroyed the cream operational and tactical competence of the Red Army.

Deep Operations during World War II

The surprise German invasion (Operation Barbarossa) subjected the Red Army to six months of disasters. The Red Army was shattered during the first two months of war. Thereafter, it faced the task of surviving, then reviving and maturing into an instrument that could compete with the Wehrmacht and achieve ultimate military victory.

Soviet military analysts and historians subdivide the war into three distinct periods. Although the Red Army was primarily on the strategic defensive during the first period of war (22 June 1941–19 November 1942). The second period of war (19 November 1942 – 31 December 1943), which commenced with the Soviet strategic counteroffensive at Stalingrad, was a transitional period marked by alternating attempts by both sides to secure strategic advantage. After the Battle of Kurskmarker the Soviets had firmly secured the strategic initiative and advanced beyond the Dnepr River. The Red Army maintained the strategic initiative during the third and final period of war (1944 – 1945) and ultimately emerged victorious.

Major proponents

See also



  1. Naveh 1997, p. 179.
  2. Harrison 2001, p. 4.
  3. Harrison 2001, pp. 4-5.
  4. Cody and Krauz 2006, p. 229.
  5. Harrison 2001, p. 123.
  6. Harrison 2001, p. 126.
  7. Harrison 2001, pp. 129-131.
  8. Harrison 2001, p. 126.
  9. Harrison 2001, p. 140.
  10. Harrison 2001, p. 140.
  11. Harrison 2001, pp. 187-194.
  12. Harrison 2001, p. 187.
  13. Watt 2008, p. 673.
  14. Glantz 1991, p. 40.
  15. Harrison 2001, p. 193.
  16. Harrison 2001, p. 193.
  17. Harrison 2001, p. 204.
  18. Harrison 2001, p. 204.
  19. Harrison 2001, p. 204.
  20. Harrison 2001, p. 205.
  21. Harrison 2001, p. 205.
  22. Harrison 2001, p. 189.
  23. Harrison 2001, p. 190.
  24. Harrison 2001, p. 190.
  25. Glantz 1991, p. 124.
  26. Glantz 1991, p. 124.
  27. Harrison 2001, p. 194.
  28. Harrison 2001, p. 194.
  29. Harrison 2001, p. 194.
  30. Harrison 2001, p. 194.
  31. Harrison 2001, p. 195.
  32. Harrison 2001, p. 195.
  33. Harrison 2001, p. 196.
  34. Harrison 2001, p. 197.
  35. Harrison 2001, p. 197.
  36. Harrison 2001, p. 197.
  37. Harrison 2001, pp. 197-198.
  38. Harrison 2001, p. 198.
  39. Harrison 2001, p. 199.
  40. Harrison 2001, p. 200.
  41. Harrison 2001, p. 200.
  42. Harrison 2001, p. 200.
  43. Watt 2008, p. 677.
  44. Watt 2008, pp. 677-678.
  45. Glantz 1991, p. 25.
  46. Glantz 1991, p. 89.
  47. Glantz 1991, p. 88.
  48. Glantz in Krause and Phillips 2006, p. 248.


  • Glantz, David M., Col (rtd.) Soviet military operational art: in pursuit of deep battle, Frank Cass, London, 1991. ISBN 0-7146-4077-8
  • Habeck, Mary. Storm of Steel: The Development of Armor Doctrine in Germany and the Soviet Union, 1919–1939. Cornell University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8014-4074-2
  • Harrison, Richard W. The Russian Way of War: Operational Art 1904–1940. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 2001. ISBN 070061074X
  • Krause, Michael and Phillips, Cody.Historical Perspectives of Operational Art. Cente of Military History, United States Army. 2006. ISBN 978-0160725647
  • Naveh, Shimon (1997). In Pursuit of Military Excellence; The Evolution of Operational Theory. London: Francass. ISBN 0-7146-4727-6.
  • Simpkin, Richard. Deep battle: The Brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii. London; Washington: Brassey’s Defence, 1987. ISBN 0080311938.
  • Watt, Robert. Feeling the Full Force of a Four Point Offensive: Re-Interpreting The Red Army's 1944 Belorussian and L'vov-Przemyśl Operations. The Journal of Slavic Military Studies. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. ISSN 1351-8046

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