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Old 06-20-2009, 03:39 PM
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Default In Defense of the Red Army

I just finished Red Army by Ralph Peters, a fine novel of WWIII set in Europe. What sets this novel apart from contemporaries like Red Storm Rising and Team Yankee is that it is written entirely from the POV of its Soviet protagonists. It's very well written and focuses more on the various characters (from lowly NCOs to general officers) than on militiary technology. It doesn't reference specific weapon platforms, allowing the reader to imagine either a MiG-27 or SU-35, depending on his/her preference. It pulls no punches in examining the faults of the Soviet Military of the mid to late '80s, but it also highlights several of its comparitive strengths.

Anyway, it got me thinking about a conventional war in Europe between the Soviet Union/WTO and the U.S./NATO, circa the mid '80s or, following the v1.0 timeline, the late '90s.

A lot of folks seem to hold the opinion that the Soviet Union, even at the height of its military powers, could never have had significant successes against NATO forces in a conventional land/air war in Europe. They make several arguments to back up this assessment. I'd like to take some time to rebutt some of these arguments and then open a discussion.

1.)The Soviets had inferior military technology.

True, in almost every category of military hardware, NATO gear was superior. NATO gear has repeatedly trumped Soviet gear over the years, most recently in Iraq. But, one must keep in mind the way in which that Soviet gear was used (see point #2). And, for the most part, Iraq's Soviet/Russian gear was of the export variety, meaning that it did not have the full capabilities of the platforms used by the Soviets. In other words, a Soviet MiG-29 would have better radar, avionics, and missiles than an export model employed by Iraq or Serbia. Some Soviet systems have proven to be remarkably capable. For instance, modern Russian ATGMs were able to able to savage Israeli Merkava Mk. III and IV MBTs in Lebanon a few years back. The Merkava IV is arguably the most modern and heavily armored tank in the world and around a dozen were destroyed by Russian-made ATGMs. I believe a Soviet SAM shot down an F-117 in the Balkans. Other Soviet systems, although less capable than their NATO counterparts, have proven track records of robustness and serviceability.

2.) Soviet model armies have repeatedly been defeated by Western model armies. This proves the superiority of the Western model and the inherent inferiority of the Soviet one.

Yes, the Iraqis followed, to a degree, a Soviet model. The Iraqi army was, for all intents and purposes, a joke. It was poorly led, poorly supplied, poorly motivated, etc. This trend was also in evidence in the varios Israeli-Arab wars of the '60s and '70s, in that the Western model IDF repeatedly defeated its more numerous, Soviet model adversaries. But simply because a Soviet-backed military fell to a de facto NATO model army, does not mean that the same thing would have occured had it been the Red Army vs. NATO. This sort of "once-removed" argument is not valid. If it were, what would it say about the U.S. when the South Vietnamese, who it trained and supported with massive amounts of American hardware, were decisively defeated by the Soviet-supported North Vietnamese army?

3.) The Soviet officer corps was poor in quality, with rigid systems of command that discouraged junior officers from showing innitiative.

This is true, to some extent. Conscripted Soviet non-coms especially were of low quality, having received very little training and lacking the experience that comes with years of voluntary service. But, historically, the Soviets have shown a surprising ability to adapt and evolve under harsh battlefield conditions. The Soviet army of 1941 was slow, under-supplied, and poorly led. But, by 1944, the Soviet Army was arguably more flexible and better led than its western Allies and their German adversaries. Hitler underestimated the abilities of the Red Army. I would argue that we not make the same mistake.

4.) The Soviets suffered through a long and ultimately unsuccessful war in Afghanistan. If they couldn't defeat the Afghani Mujahadin in the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan, they couldn't possibly have defeated NATO armies on the forrested plains of Europe.

This argument doesn't hold much water. Comparing an unconventional, guerrilla war in the difficult terrain of Afghanistan with a conventional war in Europe is comparing apples and oranges. The U.S. was unable to achieve its strategic objectives in Vietnam. Four presidential administrations tried and failed to defeat the communist insurgency in Vietnam. In keeping with the arguments made by detractors of the Red Army, it follows that the U.S. and its allies, unsuccessful in Vietnam, could not have defeated the Soviet Union in Europe. Furthermore, the U.S. and its NATO allies have still not pacified/stablilized Afghanistan after nearly a decade of occupation and military operations there. Does this mean NATO could not have defeated the Red Army of the late '80s? What's even more telling is the relative superiority in technology enjoyed by U.S./NATO forces today, as compared to the Soviet Army of the 1980s.

5.) The Soviets performed badly against the Chechnyans in the mid to late '90s. This proves that the Soviet Army wouldn't have performed well against NATO.

Once again, this is the same sort of apples to oranges argument outlined in #4. And, the Russian Army that bogged down in the streets of Grozny was an army that had suffered near on a decade of financial and institutional neglect after the collapse of Soviet Communism. This was not the fully funded Red Army of the '80s. It was a severely under-funded, ad hoc military with extremely low morale and very poor training (due largely to lack of funds). Imagine if the U.S. military's funding was cut by 75-90%. Would anyone expect it to perform as well in combat as it would have at its full funding levels?

6.) Conscript armies, like the Red Army of its heyday, are inferior to volunteer armies, like those of the U.S. and most of NATO.

Once again, this is true, but to a very small degree. But look at how well the mostly conscripted Red Army performed late on in WWII. Look at the combat record of the Israeli Army, most of which is made up of conscipts and reservists (themselves former conscripts). Furthermore, one could argue that the Soviet soldier is in some ways superior to his western counterparts. He's used to living with less than most westerners. He's tough, fit, and used to deprivation, harsh discipline and following orders. Many Red Army units were responsible for producing some, if not most, of their own food. This agricultural skill/experience would prove invaluable in the later years of the Twilight War.

Also, having a largely conscript army would help streamline mobilization because many reserve and newly mobilized units would have at least rudimentary military training already, due to their earlier conscript experience.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now, here are two more arguments in favor of the Soviet army that are often wilfully overlooked or casually dismissed.

A.) Weight of numbers. The Red Army had more of everything- men, tanks, artillery tubes, aircraft, etc. than NATO. The only area in which the opposite was true was in naval power. Even if the Soviets lost men and material at a rate 3x that of their enemies, the Red Army would still outnumber them. The Red Army's superior numbers in artillery would prove especially troublesome for NATO.

B.) Experience. By the time the Twilight War kicked off in Europe, the Red Army- especially its officer corps- would have operational and tactical combat experience from their campaign in China. As any combat veteran can tell you, there's simply no substitute for experience. Soviet general and staff officers would have invaluable hands-on experience which most of their NATO counterparts would lack.

There you have it. The arguments of a Red Army apologist. Let the debate begin!
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Last edited by Raellus; 06-20-2009 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:22 PM
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That was the biggest fear NATO had during the cold war. Bodies on the front-line.

They were far better geared than the WP, but the kill ratio needed to keep on top of any WP attack was something stupid like 50:1.

Now the Coalition forces in the Gulf War in 91 didn't even reach that number against a army that was basiclly in retreat by the time the ground forces got involved.

The general thought going around Germany if the cold war ever did go hot but with no nukes involved was the WP would reach the channel ports within 7 days thus stopping alot of reinforcements getting to the front.

The only way NATO would be able to stop or shall I say slow the advance would be with tac-nukes. NATO thus would be damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

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Old 06-20-2009, 06:04 PM
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I think using the IDF conscript army as an example is a bit misleading. Without wishing to get too political, I'll just say my limited experience from the few Israeli's I've met has given me the impression that as a culture, they have a lot of self confidence. Put them in a uniform, give them top class equipment and training and convince them their homeland will be crushed if they dont fight, and its a far cry from a Soviet peasant being press ganged, fed on raw potatoes and issued with kit they soon find isn't as good as the stuff the other guy has.
The IDF may have a lot of conscripts, but they're motivated, well trained and well equipped.
The Soviets weren't, except during WW2 when their enemies thought them subhuman and ethnically cleansed them. In a very real sense they were fighting for their survival.


I prefer to think of the hypothetical Soviet invasion of Western Europe in the following terms :
Imagine the latter half of WW2, but give the Allied forces low morale and poor leadership, and the Germans naval & air superiority and remove Hitler's tactical and strategic blundering from the equation.
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Old 06-20-2009, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O'Borg
Put them [the Israelis] in a uniform, give them top class equipment and training and convince them their homeland will be crushed if they dont fight, and its a far cry from a Soviet peasant being press ganged, fed on raw potatoes and issued with kit they soon find isn't as good as the stuff the other guy has.
It sounds like you're referring to the modern IDF. The IDF of 1948-1967 was equipped with cast-off, second-grade weapons and equipment (Shermans, Super Mysteres and essentially stolen Mirages, FN battle rifles, etc.). That they did as well as they did against the lavishly Soviet-equipped armies of the Arab states speaks volumes about the average Israeli's (of that generation, at least) fighting prowess. I guess that kind of proves your point, huh? That said, your description of the average Soviet conscript sounds like it was given by a Wermacht staff officer during the planning for Operation Barbarossa. That was a bit of a mistake back then. I don't think it's very wise to make that mistake again. See my next response to your argument.

In more recent times, the technologically superior IDF has had trouble with guerilla-style adversaries (The second Lebanon War and the recent fighting in Gaza). This has been with 100% air superiority.

Quote:
Originally Posted by O'Borg
The Soviets weren't, except during WW2 when their enemies thought them subhuman and ethnically cleansed them. In a very real sense they were fighting for their survival.
I'm sure that the Soviet propaganda apparatus would whip up the Red Army with reminders of what a unified, militarily aggressive Germany was capable of doing to Mother Russia. After West German army (in the v1.0 timeline) crossed the frontier into East Germany, I think your average Soviet soldier (or prospective soldier) would have little trouble finding the motivation to fight hard on their western front. Plus, as I mentioned in my original post, some Red Army units would already have combat experience from China (and some officers and non-coms would have served in Afghanistan). I really don't think the image of press-ganged, potato-eating, simpletons is entirely fair or accurate, especially by the time the Twilight War kicked off in Europe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by O'Borg
I prefer to think of the hypothetical Soviet invasion of Western Europe in the following terms :
Imagine the latter half of WW2, but give the Allied forces low morale and poor leadership, and the Germans naval & air superiority and remove Hitler's tactical and strategic blundering from the equation.
This is an interesting way of looking at it. I'm still not sure, given the conditions you listed, that the Germans could have achieved more than an operational stalemate against the massive weight of Allied men and material. That's kind of what we're looking at in the later stages of the Twilight War.
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:36 PM
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I'm with you Raellus in thinking that the Red Army would've been a lot harder to defeat than people think. Too often people are pointing at the rapid decline seen in the 90s and early 2000s as "proof" that the Soviet Union was a hollow shell of military power. I think those times were more indicative of the degradation that occurs when national morale coupled with massively suffering economy did to the military. Those things wouldn't have occurred in the middle of a war like the Twilight war.


And the general lack of "awesomeness" by our forces in Kosovo against Serbian forces seems to support my idea that: on the desert, we're something to be feared with our gadgetry, but put us in the mountains, with low clouds and forests and AAA and an enemy who's not stuck on open, flat ground and we're not the super amazingness that we appear in the desert. We're good, no doubt, but we're not going to inflict the massive losses that we saw in the desert. An awful lot of tanks, vehicles and men left Kosovo after some 60 days of constant air strikes.

Against the Soviets we would have suffered many more losses against many more foes.
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Old 06-21-2009, 04:43 AM
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Agreed. Nobody can say for certain what would happen, but I don't think it would be a decisive victory for NATO.

Often the centerpiece of the counter argument that the WP would fail miserably is by relating a hypothetically WW3 with what happening in both Iraq wars. I feel that is a poor comparison and isn't evidence at all.

Anything else I'd add would be simply echoing your statements.
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Old 06-21-2009, 06:17 AM
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I am impressed with your reasoning Raellus. I hope the DC Working Group read this thread.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:55 AM
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Default I agree with Raellus

I think the analyzis is valid. Also the technological superiority that west often boast is not as advanced as we think / thought.

Lack of real enviroment testing and steady propaganda on our side led us to believe that our stuff and our organization is so and so much better.

The basis for stating this is contradictory. Nato nuclear weapons strategy was made to beat back the superior numbers of the soviets .Meaning that our gear and organization couldnt do it alone.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:56 AM
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It's basically the same way I've thought the war would progress. As you've stated Rae, the Soviets, and almost all of the countries in the WP had experienced combat in China for at least nine months (the timeline is unclear as to when exactly war broke out - sometime in 1995, presumably in the second quarter from how I read it).
Sure, most of those experienced units were still in the east, but it's not too much to believe veterans were rotated out back west and into training and command positions (especially the wounded).

I believe given the circumstances leading up to the war we're presented in the histories, the initial sucess of NATO most definately would have been neutralised, then reversed by the WP forces. Also, given the usual reluctance of so called "free" western democracies to implement conscription until the last possible minute, NATO reserves in the initial months would have been extremely limited.

Just imagine for a moment. War in Europe breaks out with the bulk of WP forces already committed in the east. Is there a pressing need in the eyes of the populace to sign up immediately? No, they've been told for decades their "boys" are worth fifty of those filthy commies.

Time goes past and all the ready units have been committed for the drive east. China falls apart (something nobody saw coming in a hurry, but nobody saw nukes being used either) and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of battle hardened WP troops and equipment are released to Europe.

And so the various governments begin recruiting in ernest, perhaps a few even implementing conscription. Now they've got the troops, but it'll take months to train them all to combat readiness, equip them, and send them over to the front lines, all while the remnants of NATO units are desperately trying to hold back the hordes of the WP bent on recapturing their homelands and teaching those child eating capitalists a lesson!
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Old 06-21-2009, 11:08 AM
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I have to agree that, if the Soviets were "up" and willing and ready to fight, they could do NATO a LOT of damage. If they've had time to prune out the deadwood (both people and policies) that accumulates in peacetime, the likelihood of that happening increases. I have to wonder, though, how easy it would be to support a fight against the Chinese, make the Far Eastern Front(s) into wartime-capable forces, and shuffle the Western and Southwestern Fronts' leadership and forces into wartime status, too.

If anything, I think the Western and SW TVDs might fall apart even quicker than in canon, if they are really caught flat-footed by the German unification.

Along those lines, though, I and some other had disagreements with Peters' ending: the West German government threw in the towel, seeing the civilian casualties the Soviet forces were deliberately inflicting. Peters is a really good writer and analyst, however, so I am willing to chalk it up to literary license.
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Old 06-21-2009, 11:43 AM
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Deleted a duplicate post.

Personally I feel the declassified materials released since 1989 drastically lower my opinion of what the USSR was capable of long term. They could have caused incomprehensible damage to western Europe in a short conflict, possibly destroying NATO but IMO internal pressures and logistical issues would have dealt them a serious blow if the conflict went on beyond 3 months.

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Old 06-21-2009, 12:23 PM
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See, I view the ability of the Soviets to enhance the longer something goes on. Look at the Soviets preceeding World War 2. On paper they could probably hold out 1-2 month tops. How long was it before they came roaring back and whalloped the Wermacht in WW2? It was certainly well after 2 month of fighting.

The whole thing that people tend to forget is that Russia has this weird sort of perseverence under adverse pressure. Sure, we might have been able to stymie the Soviet advance, but what are we going to do? Sit there? No...we'd try pushing back...going into Russia. And that would create a major issue, not only in terms of what we can do, but what we'd do to the Soviet mindset.

So I certainly see the Soviets lasting longer than 3 months. And the longer they last, the nastier they'd get, IMO.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:34 PM
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I guess the speed of the breakup of the Soviet Union makes me think that the Politburo would have lost control of the remote areas after a certain amount of time. A starving population due to a lack of trucks and fuel plus interdiction of the trans-Siberian railroad would also cause severe issues. I am not really doubting the army I am doubting the strength of the "Union" in the USSR.
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimace
See, I view the ability of the Soviets to enhance the longer something goes on. Look at the Soviets preceeding World War 2. On paper they could probably hold out 1-2 month tops. How long was it before they came roaring back and whalloped the Wermacht in WW2? It was certainly well after 2 month of fighting.
In T2K, not only are the Soviets not receiving military aid from the US/UK, but she has to fight them as well. Also, who is going to open up a second front against Germany in T2K? France?
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kato13
Personally I feel the declassified materials released since 1989 drastically lower my opinion of what the USSR was capable of long term. They could have caused incomprehensible damage to western Europe in a short conflict, possibly destroying NATO but IMO internal pressures and logistical issues would have dealt them a serious blow if the conflict went on beyond 3 months.
I'd be interested to read this stuff. I'm not sure exactly what materials you're referring to but I am aware of the great internal and external pressures the Soviet economy was under during the late eighties. It simply could not compete with capatalist systems in the global, free market economy. But we're talking about a wartime economy here and that is quite different. A command economy has certain advantages over free market economies in wartime. For example, workers need not be paid in cash. Resources needed for war-related production can simply be commandeered instead of paid for. The USSR had a wealth of natural resources and wouldn't need to look outside its borders for much, negating the need to use hard-to-find hard capital. The Soviet Union prior to WWII was no economic powerhouse but it was able to mobilize and retool its industries to produce massive amounts of military hardware. In many ways, the pre-WWII economy was in worse shape than the USSR or 1989. The West simply doesn't have those luxuries.

Most wartime economies rely on defecit spending, and a command economy allows for a certain degree of added leeway that capitalist economies won't sanction. Just look at the defecit the U.S. has run up during the last 8 or so years which was due, in large part, to financing two "low-level intensity" wars. If anything, the western [capiltalist]democracies may have more trouble ramping up and maintaining the flow of weapons, munitions, and supplies under high-intensity war conditions. If the argument is that the Soviet Union couldn't have paid for a full-scale, two front war, it could just as easily be argued that the NATO nations couldn't have either.

With almost a year of full-scale combat with China under its belt, the Soviet Union would be well on its way to achieving a wartime economy. As Leg pointed out, reserve units would already be at least partially mobilized and factories would already be cranking out replacement weapons and munitions by the time Germany sprung its surprise reunification party. In that regard, at least, the Soviets would certainly have a leg up on the West.
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copeab
In T2K, not only are the Soviets not receiving military aid from the US/UK, but she has to fight them as well. Also, who is going to open up a second front against Germany in T2K? France?
Yes, but the Soviet military c. 1989 was much larger and more capable than the Red Army c. 1941. It wouldn't require the thousands of trucks, tanks, guns, and aircraft it so desperately needed during the first couple of years of WWII.

One great advantage of the Soviet Union of the '80s was the sheer size of its military, and, as I've mentioned already, the massive numbers of trained reservists (former conscripts) ready to be mobilized at relatively short notice. The West simply couldn't match the WTO's ability to quickly call up huge numbers of troops. This would give the Red Army a significant strategic and operational advantage in the first three months of a European War. Mobilization in the WTO would be well underway before the West even got started.

If the Soviet Navy could somehow interdict reinforcements and munitions shipments from the U.S. to Europe, this edge could be maintained or an even wider gap opened. But this is a topic for a naval warfare thread.
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Old 06-21-2009, 03:45 PM
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As a cold war soldier with boots on the ground from 74-84 (two tours) in FRG, all I can say is during the first tour (74-79 prior to the upgrading of armored units to M1/M2 series vechicles from M60/M113 series) I encounted NO one in the US forces (of course I was not an orficer, but....) that counted the threat of the Red Horde as a push over. In fact there was a joke at the time floating around after SHAFE commander was asked the question about the Reds being on the Rhine in a week.. Troops in the field responded "Only if they can get fuel in Frankfurt." Depending on HOW and when the show would start some of the first tank battles would be fought by units exiting their motorpools.

This pessamistic attitude changed some when the M1/M2 came into the theater about 1980 (second tour) supported by Hogs (A10) and Apache gunships, though everyone still realized it was a 'slow'em down for REFORGER troops to get on the ground' scenario. We all realized, at the lower levels even if the brass as optimistic, it would NEVER be a walk in the park. Numbers do count and we knew that even with superior weapons and markmanship/gunnery, every shell had to be a kill shit, which most everyone also realized was NOT probable. I will say there were periods of pucker factor during both my tours.

When and how would they gain the best results if they decided to attack NATO? During the period of Dec 20- Jan 6 (many troops celebrating the holidays and many on leave) and attack from garrison with no and minimal warning. I knew this and my first Christmas was a shock there when at midnight the flares and fireworks were set off and I was home asleep. Cheeseeeeeeeee... I knew they were in the wire for sure. Paranoia will destroy ya, but it can also keep you alive if controlled.

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Old 06-21-2009, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
If the argument is that the Soviet Union couldn't have paid for a full-scale, two front war, it could just as easily be argued that the NATO nations couldn't have either.
IMO the Soviet economy was a house of cards. In your opinion a pure military economy might add tape to the cards, in my opinion it would be like trying to take said house on a cross country drive. This was a nation with tremendous productivity problems under the best of situations, the chaos of war would not help them any IMO.

The USSR had complete top down power. If they could have waved their hand and established even a partial wartime economy to improve their long term productivity problems, why didn't they. I agree with you is that patriotism (at least in the ethnically dominant Russian areas) could be used to offset the some of the hardships of war, but in the militarily suppressed areas, including the outer provinces and eastern Europe, I am not sure how well patriotism would counter the pain of an empty belly.

You are also right in you assertion that what happens in the Atlantic would be the determining factor, as the US would not suffer anywhere near the disruption as Europe and the USSR would. Until you throw nukes into the equation US productivity (especially in agriculture) would be a tremendous long term strength. Again what we have learned about the weaknesses of the Soviet Navy don't help their long term prospects IMO.
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Old 06-21-2009, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targan
I am impressed with your reasoning Raellus. I hope the DC Working Group read this thread.
Thanks, Targan. I hope I've given them something to think about.

One last thing before I give someone else a turn.

Although it is true that most NATO weapons systems/platforms were (and continue to be) superior in most respects to Soviet gear throughout the Cold War, it bears keeping in mind that shortly before the collapse of the USSR, the Soviets were starting to roll out some pretty capable systems. Due to the massive military funding cuts that started around '91, most of those systems either withered on the vine or were ordered/employed in only very limited numbers. I think many of us tend to imagine the late '80s matchups of Challengers vs. T-72s, or F-15s vs. MiG-23s when we try to envision the Twilight War. Soviet reserve units are often tooling around in T-55s and BMP-1s. By the Twilight War, the Soviets would be fielding considerably better front line gear and better gear would have trickled down to many second and third line units. Here's a brief list of stuff well down the pipeline by 1991, IRL:

The T-90 tank, combining and upgrading the best features/components of the T-72 and T-80.

The BMP-3: probably the most heavily armed IFV in the world.

The BMD-3: ditto for airborne troops.

The BTR-90: a marked improvement in the series, with a heavy armament in its own right.

The 2S19 152mm SP gun.

The SU-30/32/33/34/35: Several very capable air superiority, multirole, and strike members of the excellent SU-27 family.

The Kamov KA-50 Hokum attack heli (and probably a couple hundred Mi-28 Havocs).

The An-94 assault rifle: This is a bit of a late addition, but it combines a fairly revolutionary firing mechanism with tried and true Kalashnikov features.

And perhaps even a regiment or two of T-95 tanks...

In the Twilight timeline, by 1996, these systems would have been in fairly widespread service with Guards and Category I divisions, freeing up the next lower level of gear (T-72s, BMP-2s, MiG-29 etc.) for Category II divisions and so forth, in a sort of trickle-down effect of major weapons systems. In 2000, you might still see a few T-62s and MiG-21s, but, by '97 those would be used in deep reserve units only.

After the nukes, though, a lot of old T-62s and T-55 and such would likely still be in reserve storage, ready to head for the front. NATO likely couldn't match that.
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Old 06-21-2009, 04:46 PM
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The USSR had complete top down power. If they could have waved their hand and established even a partial wartime economy to improve their long term productivity problems, why didn't they?
You're right, Kato. They wouldn't have been able to sustain it during peace time (I think I mentioned this), just as our U.S. economy will not be able to sustain massive defecits built up, in large part, to wartime military budgets for very much longer. I'm just saying that the Soviets would have the means, and probably the will, to tighten the "People's" belts during wartime and forestall, at least, a total collapse of their economy. IRL, they couldn't expect their people to accept such measures when peace existed.

In order for the v1 timeline to work, one must suspend disbelief and accept that the Soviet peacetime economy was sustained until '95 or so before wartime economic measures were put in place. By '97, pretty much every power involved in the Twilight War has an effed-up economy. If one's not willing to accept this, then there's the v2 and T213 timelines to choose from.

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Originally Posted by kato13
I agree with you is that patriotism (at least in the ethnically dominant Russian areas) could be used to offset the some of the hardships of war, but in the militarily suppressed areas, including the outer provinces and eastern Europe, I am not sure how well patriotism would counter the pain of an empty belly.
I agree that the more reluctant Soviet republics wouldn't readily accept the added privations of a wartime economy. In canon, the other shoe drops in 1999 or so when various Soviet republics break away. I'd have to research it more but it seems odd that the GDW folks had entire Soviet divisions made up of particular ethnic groups. In canon, many of these groups mutiny at the first opportunity. It was my understanding that, IRL, different ethnicities were separated and mixed in with majority Russian soldiers, partly in order to avoid such situations.

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Originally Posted by kato13
You are also right in you assertion that what happens in the Atlantic would be the determining factor, as the US would not suffer anywhere near the disruption as Europe and the USSR would. Until you throw nukes into the equation US productivity (especially in agriculture) would be a tremendous long term strength. Again what we have learned about the weaknesses of the Soviet Navy don't help their long term prospects IMO.
I'm not saying interdiction of Atlantic supply routes would harm the U.S. economy or its industrial base, just that it would further hinder the flow of fighting men and material to Europe. This could have had dire consequences for the hard pressed NATO units fighting off the masses of the Soviet/WTO armies in Germany.
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Old 06-21-2009, 05:13 PM
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In order for the v1 timeline to work, one must suspend disbelief and accept that the Soviet peacetime economy was sustained until '95 or so before wartime economic measures were put in place.
Since the fall of the Berlin wall I have had the Soviets find massive Oil reserves on their Chinese Border. After reading "The Bear and The Dragon" I added large gold veins spanning the Sino/Russo border. This helps me explain how the Soviet economy could survive and adds another reason for the initial Soviet/Chinese conflict.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:50 PM
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Since the fall of the Berlin wall I have had the Soviets find massive Oil reserves on their Chinese Border. After reading "The Bear and The Dragon" I added large gold veins spanning the Sino/Russo border. This helps me explain how the Soviet economy could survive and adds another reason for the initial Soviet/Chinese conflict.
Nice. This would work either with or without the fall of the Berlin Wall (i.e. in either the v1 or v2 timeline).
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:47 PM
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Numbers do count and we knew that even with superior weapons and markmanship/gunnery, every shell had to be a kill shit, which most everyone also realized was NOT probable.
Kill shit? Sounds messy
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:53 AM
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Targan, Rae;
We've had many of these discussions of this very nature. And to be sure, the Red Army is no pushover by any means. But let's keep in mind a few factors:

1. This is not the "Ivan's decided to take a Sunday Drive to the Rhine" scenario. Matter of fact, she's been in a ruinous war in China for the last year or so before NATO gets involved and it's making Afghanistan look like a live-fire exercise. Whole divisions are being wiped out, war stocks are being dipped into, and with Web's timeline (which is the basis for a lot of our work), he has a lot of that stock being given out to the Third World. So, Ivan doesn't have AS much to work with. It's not a significant dent, but it's there. Most of the breakdown for Ivan between 1995 and 1997 is logistical, (never a Soviet strong suit) as for example, the whole of the Soviet endeavor in China is being resupplied one of three ways:
  • The BAM railway
  • The Trans-Siberian railway
  • By sea through the arctic.

All of these are hideously vulnerable. In the west, once the USAF and RAF enter the fray, I'd say Air Superiority, if not local air dominance at times, is a given..The SAF is tired from the op tempo in China and has according to canon, stripped the western military districts for aircraft to support the effort in China. Wanna guess what happens after the SAF and Warpac airfields are dealt with? Interdiction round the clock.

2. The Soviet Army is tired. Alluding to point 1, the casualty rate in China has been nothing short of horrendous. Whole divisions are gone and the Soviets are trying to run a war through two railways each a single track in either direction. In the West, they're down a Combined Arms Army and several Air Armies (see point 1). China is a drain on the Soviets, one they cannot win short of use of WMD, which they resort to in July of 1997. Only then does China collapse.

3. Does this mean we have underestimated the Soviets? I don't think so. But simple comparisons using the aforementioned "traditional scenario" will not work in all cases. The conflict is wider, and certainly not on anything approaching the terms the Soviet Union would prefer. By the time November of 1997 rolls around, she is facing complete economic collapse, and the military may still lose in the west even with the use of tactical nuclear weapons if the new wave of American forces is allowed to arrive in theater. There is no Soviet navy to interdict the convoys anymore, the Soviet Long Range aviation forces would be slaughtered in any conventional bombing campaign against North America...Thus, the escalation to strategic attacks against the US is almost a foregone conclusion.

As for equipment, we've taken quite a few approaches in that regard, but I'll let Chico handle that as he's been handling most of the "crunchier" factors.
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Old 06-22-2009, 11:06 AM
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The Soviet Army is much more capable than lot of the forces that model after them. The engagements in Yugoslavia should give a better picture what will probably happen. As Grae, if, and that a big if, did hold and we move towards the Soviet Union, the war becomes another creature that many in NATO didn't want to think about.

Now a lot depends on if the Soviet had been at war with like China before or not. Either way they will still have a large force in Easter Europe. Much like Desert Shield/Storm where the US had to keep the same size force in Europe, even if they brought NG and Reserves units into Germany to free Regulars for service in the Middle East and reducing the war stock in Europe. The Soviet would be no different. Yeah they would strip units here and there, the Pact would still provide headache if NATO attacked, and they would have more than enough to offer a initial black eye if they had attack.

Either way, depending on the tide of the war, Tactical Nukes would be used. Now, would they be NATO, Pact, or French is up for debate. If NATO hadn't used them by a point, the French would for sure done so to slow the Soviets down. On the other hand if NATO was able to stop the flow, and started to enter Poland, I don't think the Soviet would have a problem of making the region of the Warta River a radioactive parking lot. In Soviet war games this was done, but the Soviets told the Poles that it was NATO nukes.

Then again once they start using Nukes it doesn't really matter who owned previously of it going off. One thing is for sure, both side will try to equal the other and get one up. France wether it was actively in the war or sitting on the sideline would be hit, just to keep their troops from joining later. Everyone will be having a bad day.
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Old 06-22-2009, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
Targan, Rae;
We've had many of these discussions of this very nature. And to be sure, the Red Army is no pushover by any means. But let's keep in mind a few factors:

1. This is not the "Ivan's decided to take a Sunday Drive to the Rhine" scenario. Matter of fact, she's been in a ruinous war in China for the last year or so before NATO gets involved and it's making Afghanistan look like a live-fire exercise. Whole divisions are being wiped out, war stocks are being dipped into, and with Web's timeline (which is the basis for a lot of our work), he has a lot of that stock being given out to the Third World.
Why, exactly, would they be giving away their reserve military stocks? This doesn't make a lot of sense being as the USSR is engaged in a major war against China. I'm not sure why some folks are so quick to accept arguments that weaken the T2K v1 USSR and so quick to dismiss arguments that strengthen it. I should make this into my thesis statement. Perhaps this is why I feel the need to keep bringing this issue up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
Most of the breakdown for Ivan between 1995 and 1997 is logistical, (never a Soviet strong suit).
Never? This is a bit of an overstatement. By 1944, the Red Army was supporting massive numbers of troops, tanks, and aircraft in a steady, innexorable advance over hundreds of miles. I do see your point about the vulnerability of Soviet supply routes to the China front but I'm not sure how it's germaine to your arguments regarding the war in Europe where there would be hundreds of overland supply routes between Mother Russia and the front in Germany/Poland.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
In the west, once the USAF and RAF enter the fray, I'd say Air Superiority, if not local air dominance at times, is a given..The SAF is tired from the op tempo in China and has according to canon, stripped the western military districts for aircraft to support the effort in China. Wanna guess what happens after the SAF and Warpac airfields are dealt with? Interdiction round the clock.
Air superiority a given? How is this not an underestimation? Is this based on the U.S.'s performance against the Iraqi AF? Serbia? We've already established that this is not a fair or accurate comparison. Even if the Soviet Air Force was as depleted as you claim, the Soviets still have a massive ground-based air defense network in eastern Europe. Whether it could be eliminated so easily is still up for debate. Even if Europe was stripped on first-line combat aircraft, much of it could and no doubt would be sent back to Europe ASAP after the German gambit. The Soviets always placed a huge emphasis on defending its airspace and NATO's AFs would have been a much greater threat than the Chinese AF. I would argue that the Soviet AF on the China front would be stripped and the bulk of its aircraft rushed west if for no other reason than to defend the Motherland from the mere threat of NATO air power.

I'm also of the opinion that you are overstating Soviet air losses in the East. For one thing, the Chinese AF of the v1.0 timeline could not have been as powerful in '95 as it was in reality, but Web and others seem to be predicating Twilight Chinese AF capabilities on relatively recent developments instead of in keeping with the alternate v1 timeline. With tensions high between the Soviets and Chinese, the Soviets wouldn't have sold SU-27s to China as they did IRL and China's indigenous air industry wouldn't yet be able to produce anything approaching that quality. They only just started to produce their own indigenous 4th generation fighter during the last couple of years, IRL. Aircraft provided to China by the West as military aid would take time to train on and deploy operationally and by that time, most of the "original" Chinese AF would be destroyed. It's not like if you can fly a MiG-21 knock-off, you can just hop into the cockpit of an F-16 and go to town- at least not very effectively. Imagine a fresh-out-of-training Chinese pilot in an F-20 or whatever going up against a Soviet ace in a MiG-29 or SU-27.

I think Webstral's China timeline, although of excellent quality overall, departs somewhat liberally from canon in the beefing up of the Chinese AF.

And once again, by the time that W. Germany launched its forced reunification, Soviet war industries would be operating at close to full swing. As long as attrition of trained pilots wasn't too high, replacement aircraft could eventually be fielded. In this regard, at least, the WTO would have a leg up on NATO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
The Soviet Army is tired. Alluding to point 1, the casualty rate in China has been nothing short of horrendous. Whole divisions are gone and the Soviets are trying to run a war through two railways each a single track in either direction. In the West, they're down a Combined Arms Army and several Air Armies (see point 1). China is a drain on the Soviets, one they cannot win short of use of WMD, which they resort to in July of 1997. Only then does China collapse.
I see your point here, and I think it's a good one. Perhaps I understated the negative effects of the war with China while trumpetting the valuable tactical and operational experience the Red Army would gain from it. But, I think that Abbot makes an important point that the Soviets would not trust the West enough to severely deplete their "occupation" armies there by shipping them all off to Europe. Although canon describes the strain on the Red Army's forces in Europe, I'm not sure where it mentions only one CA army and several AA armies left behind. If this is canonical, I apologize and I will have to rethink this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
There is no Soviet navy to interdict the convoys anymore, the Soviet Long Range aviation forces would be slaughtered in any conventional bombing campaign against North America...Thus, the escalation to strategic attacks against the US is almost a foregone conclusion.
No Soviet Navy? Now I'm confused. Even if, as canon describes, the Soviet surface navy was bottled up and destroyed early on in the war, there would at least be a few SSNs, SSGNs, and diesel boats out there, staking out the sea lanes. Also, if the Soviets could somehow neutralize or suppress NATO airpower in the GIUK gap, they could still strike at convoys with land based Backfire and Blackjack bombers. I would never argue that those assets would be used to attempt conventional bombing of targets in the CONUS.

No, the Soviet navy couldn't cut the sea lanes, even temporarily. But just one large RO-RO ship sunk and the U.S. could lose close to an armored bigade in one fell swoop. How long would it take for that kind of loss (of tanks and such, not shipping) to be replaced? Would the NATO armies have time to wait? I'd argue that the strategic supply lines between the U.S. and Europe are far more vulnerable to interdiction than the lines between the U.S.S.R. and Europe. To suggest that the Soviet navy would be impotent against NATO is the ultimate in underestimation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
As for equipment, we've taken quite a few approaches in that regard, but I'll let Chico handle that as he's been handling most of the "crunchier" factors.
I'm looking foward to hearing from him.

In closing, I just can't see how canon can be supported if the v1 timeline's Soviet military is as crap-tastic as some folks seem to be claiming. Against NATO air superiority and naval superiority, and a fast, uninterrupted flow of fresh U.S. troops and hi-tech (read "superior") weapons and equipment that you are arguing for here, how could the WTO hold out as long as canon describes? Are you suggesting that the use of tac-nukes is the only way the Soviets are able to compete on the European battlefied? If so, then I've got to stick by my assertion that the Soviet military is being wilfully underestimated.
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Old 06-22-2009, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus
Why, exactly, would they be giving away their reserve military stocks? This doesn't make a lot of sense being as the USSR is engaged in a major war against China. I'm not sure why some folks are so quick to accept arguments that weaken the T2K v1 USSR and so quick to dismiss arguments that strengthen it. I should make this into my thesis statement. Perhaps this is why I feel the need to keep bringing this issue up.
I concede here, but YMMV.

Quote:
Never? This is a bit of an overstatement. By 1944, the Red Army was supporting massive numbers of troops, tanks, and aircraft in a steady, innexorable advance over hundreds of miles. I do see your point about the vulnerability of Soviet supply routes to the China front but I'm not sure how it's germaine to your arguments regarding the war in Europe where there would be hundreds of overland supply routes between Mother Russia and the front in Germany/Poland.
Actually, the major limiting factor in Soviet offensives during WWII was the spearheads outrunning their supplies. Yes, this occurred to all sides but the Soviets actually had a real problem with it especially since the Germans retreated sometimes faster than the Soviets could catch up (Then again, Hitler's meddling ameliorated this, much to the Soviet Army's joy). As for the Twilight 2000 side, it is germane. China is going to fall apart once NATO enters the war..The BAM and Trans-Siberian are going to be hit hard by cruise missiles and air attacks...and cut. Not to mention in the West, we're probably going to try to hit just about every bridge over the Warta.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
superiority a given? How is this not an underestimation? Is this based on the U.S.'s performance against the Iraqi AF? Serbia? We've already established that this is not a fair or accurate comparison. Even if the Soviet Air Force was as depleted as you claim, the Soviets still have a massive ground-based air defense network in eastern Europe. Whether it could be eliminated so easily is still up for debate. Even if Europe was stripped on first-line combat aircraft, much of it could and no doubt would be sent back to Europe ASAP after the German gambit. The Soviets always placed a huge emphasis on defending its airspace and NATO's AFs would have been a much greater threat than the Chinese AF. I would argue that the Soviet AF on the China front would be stripped and the bulk of its aircraft rushed west if for no other reason than to defend the Motherland from the mere threat of NATO air power.
Remember the Luftwaffe's already done some of the work penetrating that air defense network, and said network has been the subject of 40+ years of ELINT work. We know a lot about it...there will be losses, but in the end, we'll take it down. Canon agrees with us...see Black Madonna.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
Why, exactly, would they be giving away their reserve military stocks? This doesn't make a lot of sense being as the USSR is engaged in a major war against China. I'm not sure why some folks are so quick to accept arguments that weaken the T2K v1 USSR and so quick to dismiss arguments that strengthen it. I should make this into my thesis statement. Perhaps this is why I feel the need to keep bringing this issue up.
I concede here, but YMMV.

Quote:
Never? This is a bit of an overstatement. By 1944, the Red Army was supporting massive numbers of troops, tanks, and aircraft in a steady, innexorable advance over hundreds of miles. I do see your point about the vulnerability of Soviet supply routes to the China front but I'm not sure how it's germaine to your arguments regarding the war in Europe where there would be hundreds of overland supply routes between Mother Russia and the front in Germany/Poland.
Actually, the major limiting factor in Soviet offensives during WWII was the spearheads outrunning their supplies. Yes, this occurred to all sides but the Soviets actually had a real problem with it especially since the Germans retreated sometimes faster than the Soviets could catch up (Then again, Hitler's meddling ameliorated this, much to the Soviet Army's joy). As for the Twilight 2000 side, it is germane. China is going to fall apart once NATO enters the war..The BAM and Trans-Siberian are going to be hit hard by cruise missiles and air attacks...and cut. Not to mention in the West, we're probably going to try to hit just about every bridge over the Warta. Also, I don't know if you're aware of this, but EVERY truck driver in the Soviet Union was a military reservist. So, if you call these guys up, as well as reacquisition a lion's share of the air and rail transpo in the country, it's going to strain the civilian sector, a lot as time goes on..hence the economic collapse argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
I'm also of the opinion that you are overstating Soviet air losses in the East. For one thing, the Chinese AF of the v1.0 timeline could not have been as powerful in '95 as it was in reality, but Web and others seem to be predicating Twilight Chinese AF capabilities on relatively recent developments instead of in keeping with the alternate v1 timeline. With tensions high between the Soviets and Chinese, the Soviets wouldn't have sold SU-27s to China as they did IRL and China's indigenous air industry wouldn't yet be able to produce anything approaching that quality. They only just started to produce their own indigenous 4th generation fighter during the last couple of years, IRL. Aircraft provided to China by the West as military aid would take time to train on and deploy operationally and by that time, most of the "original" Chinese AF would be destroyed. It's not like if you can fly a MiG-21 knock-off, you can just hop into the cockpit of an F-16 and go to town- at least not very effectively. Imagine a fresh-out-of-training Chinese pilot in an F-20 or whatever going up against a Soviet ace in a MiG-29 or SU-27.

I think Webstral's China timeline, although of excellent quality overall, departs somewhat liberally from canon in the beefing up of the Chinese AF.
True, but you underestimate the other factors that China would have...a ton of gun based ADA assets...supplemented by Western supplied GFCS systems and missiles...and those don't need as MUCH training. As that equipment arrives in theater, Soviet losses are going to go up. Also, Chinese militia units are going to hit airfields in the Soviet rear any way they can. Will they get to the SU-24s and TU-22s? No, but they will give the SU-25 and MiG-27 bases a rough time. Not to mention? Manchuria, flying in winter and with Tchaikovsky, most of the raids are at night...accidents and PM failures happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
And once again, by the time that W. Germany launched its forced reunification, Soviet war industries would be operating at close to full swing. As long as attrition of trained pilots wasn't too high, replacement aircraft could eventually be fielded. In this regard, at least, the WTO would have a leg up on NATO.
They are, with no slack if anything else happens....NATO entering the war broke the back of the Soviet Union economically. The trained pilot numerical advantage would only last for a while....

Quote:
I see your point here, and I think it's a good one. Perhaps I understated the negative effects of the war with China while trumpetting the valuable tactical and operational experience the Red Army would gain from it. But, I think that Abbot makes an important point that the Soviets would not trust the West enough to severely deplete their "occupation" armies there by shipping them all off to Europe. Although canon describes the strain on the Red Army's forces in Europe, I'm not sure where it mentions only one CA army and several AA armies left behind. If this is canonical, I apologize and I will have to rethink this point.
The Soviets are doing this because they are desperate. They didn't commit enough troops to decide the matter in the first place in Manchuria. And GSFG isn't going to be invading Germany anytime soon, so moving a Category I Army East is not going to be a disaster. It's alluded to in canon...as with the earlier comment, I will post the quotes when I get home, am at work now(things are a bit slow right now). Those Cat I forces in Germany are required...and why mobilize Mobilization Only divisions if things aren't going badly.

Quote:
No Soviet Navy? Now I'm confused. Even if, as canon describes, the Soviet surface navy was bottled up and destroyed early on in the war, there would at least be a few SSNs, SSGNs, and diesel boats out there, staking out the sea lanes. Also, if the Soviets could somehow neutralize or suppress NATO airpower in the GIUK gap, they could still strike at convoys with land based Backfire and Blackjack bombers. I would never argue that those assets would be used to attempt conventional bombing of targets in the CONUS.

No, the Soviet navy couldn't cut the sea lanes, even temporarily. But just one large RO-RO ship sunk and the U.S. could lose close to an armored bigade in one fell swoop. How long would it take for that kind of loss (of tanks and such, not shipping) to be replaced? Would the NATO armies have time to wait? I'd argue that the strategic supply lines between the U.S. and Europe are far more vulnerable to interdiction than the lines between the U.S.S.R. and Europe. To suggest that the Soviet navy would be impotent against NATO is the ultimate in underestimation.
They aren't...We have the Soviets doing things like Primus and other actions to attempt to do SOMETHING. But the fact is, by early 1997, the Soviet fleet is gutted and most of their forward bases around the world have either been badly damaged (Camn Rahn Bay) or occupied (Aden). Cuba is neutral and the Backfire regiments have had the heart ripped out of them. In short, they could kill NATO merchants, but not in any significant number to prevent the reinforcement of Europe. Therefore...those units must not be allowed to leave the US.

Quote:
In closing, I just can't see how canon can be supported if the v1 timeline's Soviet military is as crap-tastic as some folks seem to be claiming. Against NATO air superiority and naval superiority, and a fast, uninterrupted flow of fresh U.S. troops and hi-tech (read "superior") weapons and equipment that you are arguing for here, how could the WTO hold out as long as canon describes? Are you suggesting that the use of tac-nukes is the only way the Soviets are able to compete on the European battlefied? If so, then I've got to stick by my assertion that the Soviet military is being wilfully underestimated.
In this scenario...in a Soviet thrust towards the Rhine, it's different...they aren't having competing strains on their logistical networks, they aren't in a war that's eating whole divisions by the battle and flooding hospitals in the Soviet Union...The Soviet Army was a OFFENSIVE instrument. It was designed to strike hard, and strike first. In a defensive arrangement in a fight not on Soviet soil with a ruinous war that's sending thousands of shattered vets home and making the breadlines long even by Soviet standards? That's a damn open question.
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Old 06-22-2009, 03:48 PM
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I hope the DC Working Group read this thread.
We are. Things have been hectic! (But the subway is all fouled up tonight so I'm not getting home anytime soon!)

Jason has stated some of his feelings. I'm working on the Soviet orbat and am more optimistic about Soviet performance. There are a heck of a lot of units! (As far as Soviet reinforcements from the West: 1 CAA from GSFG, 1 from Byelorussia, 1 from Ukraine, 37 tactical aviation regiments (3 Air Armies, roughly) plus Long-Range Aviation and Naval Aviation bomber regiments, and 2 Polish, 2 Czech, 2 East German and 1 Bulgarian division plus Hungarians & misc. other Pact allied brigades).

We made some adjustments to the model Soviets in GDW's Third World War wargame. We made the T-90 (GDW T-90, not IRL upgraded T-72 that is now called T-90) on par with the M1A1. Likewise, the BMP-3, in service with Cat A & B Divisions in the Western USSR, is nasty. On the air side, the Soviets have some really dangerous aircraft out there, gleaned from Paul's Best Aircraft That Never Was page.

As a result of this discussion, I'm going to suggest that we raise the proficiency ratings of Soviet units in the Far East to levels on par with US troops. (Proficiency covers a multitude of factors - morale, training, C3I capability, robustness of the logistical system, efficiency of loss replacement, etc. In many of these areas the Red Army is deficient, but combat experience in China would fix many of those deficiencies in units in combat. Given the size of the Red Army and the strains on the Soviet economy, I'm not sure that they would spread meaningfully across the system in the 15 months or so before war breaks out in the West. The Afghanistan model - where reforms took a few years to spread as the the conflict went on - is my model here, cognizant of the apples-oranges of guerrilla war in Afghanistan vs armored combat in China.) When those units come back west they will be a challenge for NATO units. (I also model the learning effect of combat experience for Soviet units entering action in Iran from Afghanistan - the 103rd Guards Airborne Division is as tough as the Marines that come to evict it from Bandar Abbas)

Those units coming back to the West will, unfortunately, be a slow process due to the limited transportation network through Siberia (finished goods - in 1996 vehicles, ammo & troops - go East, raw materials go West). With a war economy those raw materials are going to be in great demand, and the sea route - which in the 80s took roughly half of all Soviet westbound tonnage, mostly through the Indian Ocean - closed. In the winter there will be a trickle of cargo going by road, but the roads are unpaved (even now!) and impassible for many parts of the year (and trucks capable of travelling long distances on such roads are best used to support forward armies, requiring so much maintenance & support as to be almost useless).

As far as the amount of new equipment in service, I'm modelling fairly significant numbers. Soviet tank production 1990-1995 averages 3000 per year (plus exports), APC production almost as high. Total Soviet tanks in service are about 63,000, 2/3 T-64 or later (additional thousands are in non-Soviet Pact service), with an additional 15,000 T-55 series tanks and WWII-vintage AFVs in reserve. This is enough to equip 190 of the roughly 280 Red Army divisions at full strength, and the remainder (mobilization-only) at about 50% of full strength. Soviet artillery strength is about 30,000 tubes (mortars over 120mm, MRLs, guns & howitzers). (And many of the non-Soviet Pact have over 2000 tubes each!) And the equipment sent to the Far Eastern Front is not top of the line gear - there's no need for it to be, since the vast majority of the PLA is equipped with cheap Chinese copies of Soviet equipment of 1955 vintage. So the brand-new T-90s, BMP-3s and Su-27s are sitting in the Western military districts, facing NATO.

The vast amounts of Western aid don't ever really start arriving in quantity enough to change the course of the war - by the time Western nations negotiate arms export contracts, ramp up production, figure out how to deliver the weapons past a Soviet blockade, train Chinese troops to use them and adjust Chinese tactics to use Western weapons - the war in the West is raging and the production gets diverted to NATO use.

By way of comparison, the US starts the war with about 16,000 tanks in inventory, many of which aren't assigned to combat units, and a little less than 10,000 artillery tubes. The NATO allies bring more in, but overall they're outgunned at day one.

The war is rough on both sides - the Luftwaffe is trashed by Frontal Aviation interceptors (and it might have been wiped out had Soviet airfields in Germany not been attacked by NVA forces on the first day of the Reunification). The Soviets have some tricks up their sleeves - such as anti-AWACS long-range AAMs, Shtora active-defense anti-ATGM systems and 200-knot torpedos - that catch NATO off guard, and NATO's vaunted high technology is shown lacking when the stockpiles of the latest generation munitions run low. (It turns out that the major reason that development of 105mm gun armed light AFVs was dropped in the mid-80s was the discovery that most 105mm NATO tank gun ammo couldn't penetrate a T-72 frontally, based on secret tests of T-72s captured in 1982 in Lebanon. Ever wonder why there was the big push to upgrade all the US tank units in Saudi Arabia to M1A1 in 1990-1? And this was for Iraqi model T-72s!) Like Grae said, every shot has to be a kill shot (or at least I think that's what he meant), when you're outnumbered 3 to 1, even more so when you're attacking. The Eastern European transportation system is not nearly as robust as the one in Western Europe, even before Pact troops implement a scorched-earth fighting withdrawal, so the NATO advance is limited due to the difficulty in sustaining logistic support (late summer 1944, anyone?), moreso because so much NATO logisitic planning in the Cold War involved extensive use of Western European civilian transport - barge, rail & road (although NATO troops would not be forced to fight back hordes of panicked friendly civilians!).

I also agree with Raellus on the morale factor. The Soviets (and Poles and Czechs) don't really need a lot of hard-core propaganda for the population to get whipped into a frenzy about German military adventurism - many of the population has first-hand knowledge. On the same time, many NATO troops are going to have a harder time getting fired up about supporting the German effort - sure, they're all for liberating Eastern Europe from Communism, but the commies didn't burn their grandfather's farm like the Germans did to the Polish soldier! (and Dutch and Danish troops also have the same historical memory of German adventurism as the Poles, Soviets and Czechs).

And on to the naval war. Early on, NATO has a rough time getting reinforcements across. There's a MAJOR naval battle going on in the Norwegian Sea. Most civilian shipowners aren't letting their ships leave port, control/reporting measures are still getting started, unknown Soviet Primus raiders and subs are running around worldwide. Thousands of merchant ships with peacetime cargoes are at sea, and the US has six divisions worth of war reserve equipment (the peacetime equipment of the six divisions that flew into POMCUS sites) to move to Europe, get unloaded without use of Belgian or French ports and moved close to the front (but not so close that it's vulnerable to SSM attack, airstrike or Spetsnaz raid). The USN is in a frenzy to get every possible ship to sea - bringing older ships out of reserve, integrating recalled reservists, upgrading ships, training & retraining sailors, hastily finishing vessels under construction and getting them brought into service with vastly curtailed shakedowns of crew and equipment, and trying to integrate the US Coast Guard into its structure. It's not really that the USSR is able to shut down the North Atlantic sea lane, its that the USN isn't sure what it (the USN) or the USSR is capable of doing, or even how to do it.

So these are some of my thoughts! I hope they help explain a little of where I am coming from on the Soviet war effort.
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Old 06-22-2009, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by chico20854
So these are some of my thoughts! I hope they help explain a little of where I am coming from on the Soviet war effort.
Excellent! I am almost completely mollified by your revised take on the matter of Soviet military capability, Chico. It seems to be in keeping with the T2K v1.0 canon while allowing for updated equipment and corrected OOBs. If this is the consensus among the DC Working Group, I can definitely live with it.

Jason, thanks for getting back to me. I understand, now, why your argument regarding the limited number of supply arteries between the Russian heartland and the China front. I agree that U.S. airstrikes and conventional cruise missile strikes could seriously disrupt those lines of supply, I'm not sure they could cut them completely. That's some harsh territory deep in rather vast Soviet territory. At least for the roads, you would have to hit them round the clock to shut them down. Train tracks would take longer to repair. However, canon backs you insofar as the collapse of Soviet operations in the Far East after NATO becomes fully involved in the war so I concede here. Your point was germaine. Chico's point about two-way traffic also supports your position.

As to Chinese AAD, your expaned argument seems to contradict the one you make for the relatively easy defeat of Soviet ground-based air defenses. If the extensive Soviet/WTO AD systems are so vulnerable to ARMs and such, why wouldn't the NATO systems introduced piecemeal into China and not fully integrated do so much better against the Soviet AF?

Anyway, after reading your posts over again, I started to doubt my memory of the v1.0 canon timeline so I double checked.

This is what canon has to say about starting Red Army strength in Germany at the time of the Bundeswehr incursion.

---“Despite the initial surprise, the fifteen Soviet divisions remaining in Germany put up a spirited resistance and were soon joined by two more divisions from Poland and three from the garrison of Czechoslovakia. By November 15th, there were also two Czech divisions and four Polish divisions in Germany… “ p. 24

That’s a total of 20 Soviet divisions and six WTO divisions standing up against the Bundeswehr (and select DDR units) only. I can find no mention of the exact makeup of these divisions but it is unreasonable to assume that the Soviets would have left Germany garrisoned almost exclusively by airmobile troops (essentially light mechanized infantry). Canon further supports this viewpoint, “By the end of November, the Bundeswehr was in serious trouble.” Unless you’re presupposing that the W. German military sucked, this strongly suggests that the Soviets had adequate armored and mechanized forces in place prior to the German invasion. Furthermore, by the time the Americans enter the fray, it stands to reason that at least several Soviet/WTO are already on their way back to Europe from the Chinese front.

Even if they're reserve units, with the T-95s, T-90s, and T-80s in service with first-line units, those second-line units would be equiped with T-64s and T-72s. Although not on the same level as the Leopard II, M1A1, or Challenger they'd still be more capable of putting up a stiff fight than the T-62s and T-55s many folks still imagine fielded by most (if not all) Soviet reserve units.

Here’s what canon has to say about the strength and capability of the Soviet AF at the same germinal point in the European theater of the Twilight War.

---“Soviet Frontal Aviation had left their most modern aircraft in the west; these were qualitatively a match for the Luftwaffe and quantitatively more than a match.” p. 24

Even thought the FGR would achieve strategic, operational, and tactical surprisen during the first couple of hours of the reunification-by-force, they could probably only put the Soviet AF in E. Germany out of action for 24-72 hours, and that primarily through damaging airfields as opposed to destroying large numbers of Soviet fighters on the ground. That would allow the FGR AF to support ground ops during that time without fear of Soviet air power. Eventually, however, Soviet airfields would be repaired and fighter assets based further from the border would enter the fray. I imagine MiG-29s and SU-27/35s going up against FGR F-4s and small numbers of FGR Eurofighter Typhoons. I'd say the edge would go to the SAF here. In the meantime, Soviet SAMs and ADA would have started to take its toll on FGR strike and attack aircraft.

Here’s what canon has to say about Soviet interdiction of the sea lanes between the U.S. and Europe.

---“Scattered commerce raiders did break out, however, and by year’s end were wreaking havoc on the NATO convoys bringing ammunition and equipment across the Atlantic.” P. 24

So, any mention of NATO air supremacy and an impotent Soviet navy at the outset/early stages of the European War directly contradicts canon.

Anyway, Jason, my main point is that the Soviet military-industrial complex needs all the help it can get to account for its performance against both China and in Europe. I've tried to come up with some arguments that build it up enough to account for the course of the the pre-nuclear WWIII described by the v1.0 canon. I've tried to be realistic. Immasculating the Red Army with arguments about how it really actually sucked balls and was never a legitimate threat to NATO IRL, doesn't help reconcile what's been established by canon (I'm not saying that you're guilty of this.).
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Last edited by Raellus; 06-22-2009 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:08 PM
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We are. Things have been hectic! (But the subway is all fouled up tonight so I'm not getting home anytime soon!)
I'd like to say thanks to all the posters on this thread! I was so busy working on my post that I didn't skip out of the office early (no boss today) and catch an earlier train http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...l?hpid=topnews. (I go through there twice a day).
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