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  #61  
Old 06-24-2009, 09:36 PM
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Rainbow is doing a wonderful job with a more local perspective on things, and we're trying to coordinate our effort with his, and Deacon and Fusilier have provided us valuable input on Canada.
What has happened to DeaconR? I miss him.
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:18 PM
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What has happened to DeaconR? I miss him.
I haven't heard from him since September. His email address is bouncing.

I hope he's ok...
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:43 AM
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Kill shit? Sounds messy
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:04 PM
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I haven't heard from him since September. His email address is bouncing.

I hope he's ok...
He is ok. He plays in my online game. His email has changed a few times in just a couple months, and has been a bit busy.
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:01 PM
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He is ok. He plays in my online game. His email has changed a few times in just a couple months, and has been a bit busy.
Could you please let him know from me that I'd love to hear from him again. DeaconR is a good guy and in the past his forum contributions have been intelligent and thoughtful.
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:41 PM
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I have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on the real world Soviet Army immensely. I want to offer a few specific items without writing my customary essay.

At the risk of sounding like a pundit for the Quartermaster Corps, modern warfare is an exercise in logistics to a degree that is truly difficult to comprehend. The sheer tonnage of fuel and large caliber ammunition to be moved from place to place is almost beyond imagining. Add in spares, and moving and organizing all of this gear requires an effort that is probably beyond that of any nation on Earth. Yes, even beyond the United States. More so than any other war, World War Three (the Twilight War) would be characterized by relatively brief periods of almost unimaginably intense mechanized combat separated by lengthier periods of moderate activity and near-quiescence. Logistics would drive these cycles.

The Soviet Army doesn't have enough trucks. There is the bottom line. The West doesn't have enough trucks, but the situation is closer to tolerable in the West. At the start of the Twilight War, the Soviets understand their limitations better than the West understands their own, and Soviet doctrine, equipment, and training are designed to operate with Soviet logistical limitations in mind. In 1995, the Soviets understand that they are going to surge ahead 200-300 kilometers, then stall. This is why all supply and support goes to the most successful subordinate formation at any level of command. The Soviets go into the war understanding that they cannot possibly support all of their forces equally; nor can they predict who is going to achieve success. (Obviously, they have a strong interest in trying to do so, but who doesn't?) Given that the offensive is going to stall due to lack of fuel, ammunition, and spares, whatever is available at any given moment must go to support whichever formation is achieving a breakthrough. Ideally, the Soviets will accomplish against the West or China what the Germans accomplished against the Soviets in 1941: the encirclement and annihilation of major commands. The fact that said encirclement and annihilation didn't end the war on favorable terms for the Germans doesn't mean the idea isn't worth trying. The Rhine is much closer to Berlin than Moscow is to Berlin. (I have my doubts that the capture of Moscow by the Wehrmacht would have ended the war in Eastern Europe, anyway.)

The Twilight War puts the Soviets in a bad position. The Soviet Army is set up to deliver a knockout blow. Support for combat formations is spartan by Western standards. This is fine in the short term, but over the long haul there will be real trouble. Granted, Soviet equipment can better tolerate periods of low or no maintenance, but sooner or later the machines with poor maintenance will break down. This is one reason the Soviets have so many tanks. Create a table showing how many tanks will break down over the course of a three-week campaign; see how many are available at the end of that time; adjust the number of tanks available at the start of the campaign to get the desirable number at the end. Basic and brutal math, but this is the thinking of people who used that pattern successfully in World War Two and who planned to upgrade it for the next big show.

The war in China puts the Soviet Union's entire basis for waging war off-balance. The army that has been set up for a lightning offensive finds itself bogged down in extended operations. Becoming bogged down is not merely an inconvenience for the Soviets. Bogging down exposes the inherent weaknesses of the Soviet Army and of the Soviet state.

Getting back to the trucks, the war in China requires more trucks than the Soviets want to commit. As the front line moves further into China, the supply line moves forward. Use of captured rail can help ease the logistical burden, but the rails are quite vulnerable to action by Chinese partisans, etc. The lion's share of stocks must go by truck. Soon, the triple whammy of extending supply lines, breakdowns, and losses to enemy action threatens to strand the Soviet forces in Manchuria on a hostile beach. Trucks must be drawn from elsewhere. The v1 chronology refers to this fact by mentioning that vehicles come out of the civilian pool.

The Soviets have trucks in reserve, true enough. These are going to be drawn upon. The Soviets can make more trucks. However, unfortunately for the Soviets their industry is already heavily committed to war production. It's safe to say that in the 1980's, the Soviet economy is on a war footing. There isn't much slack to take up in terms of war production. Adjustments can be made, of course; the Soviet people can be forced to live with yet less. However, the Soviet military already is consuming the lion's share of manufacturing, metals, fuels, and educated manpower. "Ramping up" production means something completely different to the Soviets vis-a -vis the West.

Consequently, the demand on trucks in the Far East is a tremendous problem for the Soviets. The logistical weaknesses serve to undo much of the maneuverability and firepower of the Soviets. The BMP-3, impressive as it seems, is not useful in its primary role with empty fuel tanks, empty ammo bins, or broken tracks. The Tiger was undone principally by its demands on an already badly weakened German logistical situation. The Soviet Army in China would find itself in much the same position.

As trucks come out of the reserve units to make good losses in the Far East, the Soviet reserve system is going to lose a good deal of its potency. Again, the trucks coming out of the reserve aren't going to be replaced. New trucks are going straight to the front. Therefore, combat formations called up aren't going to have the kind of mobility or logistical staying power called for by Soviet doctrine—itself not exactly a formula for abundance.

As an example of how serious this problem can be, one need look only at the two most recent wars in the Persian Gulf. In Desert Storm, the US Army was on the verge of running out of some key items after four days of intensive operations. The show would have rolled on anyway, but corners would have had to have been cut. Every day of operations thereafter would have exacerbated the problem. And let us never forget the operational pause in the race for Baghdad in 2003.

The Soviets will have certain advantages in Germany when the Bundeswehr commences operations. The Soviets will be fighting defensively, which will give them certain advantages. Also, the GSFG is the most likely of Soviet commands to retain the best part of its trucks. Stocks are close-at-hand. Nevertheless, losses in wheeled transport among the Soviets in Germany are going to be pretty darned serious. Were it not for the fact that the NATO offensive in April 1997 moves through Poland, where the Pact has had plenty of time to lay mines and can use rail to offset the weaknesses in trucks, the Western powers probably would have demolished the defenders. As it is, the West's own logistical problems, combined with what must have been a truly daunting series of obstacle belts running east from the Oder, combine to turn a potential war of maneuver in Poland into a war of moving attrition.

Okay, I said no essays and I meant it. I enjoyed reading all of your posts, gentlemen.

Webstral

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  #67  
Old 06-26-2009, 12:08 PM
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Interesting post, Webstral. What accounts for the dearth of trucks in the Red Army? Just to clarify, is this a problem that the Soviet army had, IRL (as of the late '80s, when the alternate history of the Twilight World diverges from our own) or is this shortate something that you've established as part of your game world? This strikes me as somewhere where the WTO nations could really help out. I can see Soviet calls for an increase in military truck production from Tatra (Cz) and STAR (Poland) as a way of supporting the war effort in China (before PACT troops were "requested") and thereafter.

I agree that logistics would be a huge problem on both sides. As folks have mentioned, the strain posed by the Soviets' war with China would be great, getting worse, of course, when the second front opens up in Europe.

You've gotten me thinking seriously about NATO's logistics issues. With France uncooperative (and Belgium, to a degree), all war shipping would have to come in through ports in Holland and Germany, which would be incredibly vulnerable to bombing (conventional and later, nuclear) and mining. With only a couple of major ports in operation, supply problems for the NATO armies would become greater and greater as their operations headed closer to the Soviet Union and further from those ports.

There's a direct historical parallel here. Part of the Western Allies' difficulty in advancing across western Europe during WWII was logistical. Before Antwerp was liberated and cleared, supplies could only come in through a couple of damaged ports in France. Since Allied bombing had wrecked most of the rail system in France, most of the supplies had to be trucked. Even with the American's considerable stock of trucks, there was an incredible strain on operations and some Allied armies had to be held back so that vital supplies could be delivered to others. There was a constant struggle between Montgomery and the American generals over whose army/corps would get supply precedence and therefore be able to continue its advance. Ike almost sacked Monty a couple of times because of his incessant and sometimes insubordinate calls for supply precedence.

This problem also existed, to a degree, on the Eastern Front. The Soviets were bound by some of the same limitations. The Soviets were still able to conduct sustained operations across a very broad front and over much greater distances than the Western Allies, though. Of course, there were seasonal limitations on offensive operations and some offensives did have to be stopped due to supply issues but, at least later in the war, the Soviets did a better job, on the whole, managing logistical problems than did the Western Allies. It helped that the Soviet soldier required much less in the way of supply tonage to operate than the British or American soldier did. This is one area in which the Twilight Red Army would have a distinct advantage over NATO armies.

It seems strange that the USSR would have forgotten these lessons from the past.
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  #68  
Old 06-26-2009, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus
Interesting post, Webstral. What accounts for the dearth of trucks in the Red Army? Is this a a problem that the Soviet army had, IRL (as of the late '80s, when the alternate history of the Twilight World diverges from our own) or is this shortate something that you've created as part of your game world?

I agree that logistics would be a huge problem on both sides. As folks have mentioned, the strain posed by the Soviets' war with China would be great, getting worse, of course, when the second front opens up in Europe.

You've gotten me thinking seriously about NATO's logistics issues. With France uncooperative (and Belgium, to a degree), all war shipping would have to come in through ports in Holland and Germany, which would be incredibly vulnerable to bombing (conventional and later, nuclear) and mining. With only a couple of major ports in operation, supply problems for the NATO armies would become greater and greater as their operations headed closer to the Soviet Union and further from those ports.

There's a direct historical parallel here. Part of the Western Allies' difficulty in advancing across western Europe during WWII was logistical. Before Antwerp was liberated and cleared, supplies could only come in through a couple of damaged ports in France. Since Allied bombing had wrecked most of the rail system in France, most of the supplies had to be trucked. Even with the American's considerable stock of trucks, there was an incredible strain on operations and some Allied armies had to be held back so that vital supplies could be delivered to others. There was a constant struggle between Montgomery and the American generals over whose army/corps would get supply precedence and therefore be able to continue its advance. Ike almost sacked Monty a couple of times because of his incessant and sometimes insubordinate calls for supply precedence.

This problem also existed, to a degree, on the Eastern Front. The Soviets were bound by some of the same limitations. The Soviets were still able to conduct sustained operations across a very broad front and over much greater distances than the Western Allies, though. Of course, there were seasonal limitations on offensive operations and some offensives did have to be stopped due to supply issues but, on the whole, the Soviets did a better job managing logistical problems than did the Western Allies. It helped that the Soviet soldier required much less in the way of supply tonage to operate than the British or American soldier did.

It seems strange that the USSR would have forgotten these lessons from the past.
The dearth of trucks was a problem their entire economy faced, even with the massive KAMAZ and other truck plants. This shortage extended to the army - the mobilization stockpiles of equipment frequently had near-complete equipment sets as far as AFVs, artillery and small arms, with no cargo trucks (they did have communications vans and similar specialized vehicles). Late-mobilizing and low-readiness divisions use trucks rounded up from collective farms and industrial facilities. (However, in the 80s, as a reaction to American 'deep strike' tactics, the Soviet Army in Europe established a number of heavy truck brigades to counteract some of the anticipated NATO interdiction of rail lines across Poland. Many of these were tank transporters to bring forward second and subsequent echelons from the Western USSR). The callup of trucks from the economy furthers the strain on the already struggling Soviet state, reducing crop yields and production of war material.

The Soviets planned to get around these limitations with massively agressive tactics - as Web explained, to win the war before they ran out of supplies. And they, like NATO, stockpiled massive quantities of supplies in theater. (Sometime read up on the disposal problems the Germans faced after unification - something like 300,000 tons of abandoned ammo!)

The logistic issues drive a lot of the campaigning. (And in many ways the analysis I do is focussed on these sort of issues - I'm a former supply sergeant that worked at a variety of levels, I did sealift planning for the U.S. government for a while and still work for the U.S. Department of Transportation in the maritime field). We've been very aware of the ports issues - NATO faces some serious problems by being limited to Dutch, German and Danish ports. (They are for a while able to bring in non-war material through Antwerp and French ports - bulk food, fuel, some raw materials). I've proposed that one of the reasons the Dutch and Danes join the war is as a reaction to Soviet conventional attacks that attempted to interdict the flow of supplies (see my site's document). The strategic pauses in operations in the European theater - such as between the ejection of Pact troops from East Germany and the advance across Poland - serve several purposes. First, they offer a new situation on the ground for the diplomats to attempt to work out an end to the war. Second, they give the air forces an opportunity to attrit and interdict enemy ground troops (similar to the U.S. air war in 1991), and finally they give the logisiticians time to allow units to replenish after the last action, build up supply dumps and improve some of the infrastructure that will be needed to support the next advance (repairing rail, strengthening bridges, etc.)

As to the parallels with WWII, I heartily agree! Patton was famous (notorious?) for his disregard for logistics issues - he was extremely upset when the umpires in pre-war manuevers announced that he had "lost" an engagement after his tanks ran out of fuel and ammo. To sustain the advance across France, the US Army stripped units (such as air defense and tank destroyers) of all trucks larger than jeeps to bolster the Red Ball Express. The situation on the Eastern Front was worse than you describe - while the Soviet soldier received less support, the tonnages of artillery ammunition were staggering, and the Red Army frequently had to halt offensive operations due to logistic issues (the failure to link up with the Warsaw uprising was partially due to real logistic issues.

As far as NATO's advance across Poland, it will be difficult to maintain. First, I imagine that the east bank of the Oder will be fortified in multiple layers, similar to the defenses arranged for Kursk in 1943. As Pact forces retreat. the devestation they leave behind will present NATO with significant obstacles. Much of the Polish road network will need extensive reconstruction work (and my post-Cold War experience with Polish roads is that they are pretty damn atrocious, I can't imagine how bad they were in the 80s), and the requisitioned Western European civilian trucks (that bring supplies forward to corps-level depots, where Army tactical trucks pick up the load) will have a lot of maintenance issues (setting aside the issue of finding drivers after former conscripts are called back to military service). There will be little riverine traffic, with most tonnage on the Oder damaged or destroyed during the December-March strategic pause, and the rail network thoroughly destroyed by the Soviets (over the objections of the Poles, who are torn between wanting to slow the NATO advance but also not wanting to destroy their nation's infrastructure).
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
What accounts for the dearth of trucks in the Red Army? Just to clarify, is this a problem that the Soviet army had, IRL (as of the late '80s, when the alternate history of the Twilight World diverges from our own) or is this shortate something that you've established as part of your game world?

In real life (in the 1990's) the Soviets don't have enough trucks to support their existing forces. They have a tremendous number of trucks, but they are insufficient for the task of supporting their enormous forces. No one has enough trucks to keep up with the demands of a mechanized army for very long, although the US Army has as favorable a truck-to-fighting vehicle ratio as any army in the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
This strikes me as somewhere where the WTO nations could really help out. I can see Soviet calls for an increase in military truck production from Tatra (Cz) and STAR (Poland) as a way of supporting the war effort in China (before PACT troops were "requested") and thereafter.
A keen observation!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
You've gotten me thinking seriously about NATO's logistics issues. With France uncooperative (and Belgium, to a degree), all war shipping would have to come in through ports in Holland and Germany, which would be incredibly vulnerable to bombing (conventional and later, nuclear) and mining. With only a couple of major ports in operation, supply problems for the NATO armies would become greater and greater as their operations headed closer to the Soviet Union and further from those ports.

There's a direct historical parallel here. Part of the Western Allies' difficulty in advancing across western Europe during WWII was logistical. Before Antwerp was liberated and cleared, supplies could only come in through a couple of damaged ports in France. Since Allied bombing had wrecked most of the rail system in France, most of the supplies had to be trucked. Even with the American's considerable stock of trucks, there was an incredible strain on operations and some Allied armies had to be held back so that vital supplies could be delivered to others. There was a constant struggle between Montgomery and the American generals over whose army/corps would get supply precedence and therefore be able to continue its advance. Ike almost sacked Monty a couple of times because of his incessant and sometimes insubordinate calls for supply precedence.
The v1 chronology has long pauses in the action which I believe can be explained by the logistical and manpower problems of both sides. Anglo-American forces reach the Oder within a short period of time after crossing the Inter-German Border in early December, 1996. Granted, the offensive doesn't take on the drive-by qualities of Operation Desert Storm, but four fresh Anglo-American mechanized corps slashing across northern East Germany is too great a force for the battle-weary Pact forces to hold back for long. We can explain away the pause from January to April politically: the NATO civilian leadership wanted to give the Soviets a chance to come to their senses and the bargaining table. However, it's quite likely as well that SACEUR and his subordinates were obliged to report to the US President that USAEUR and its corresponding Allied formations were incapable of continuing the offensive into Poland right away.

The NATO offensive into Poland "gains momentum" in April. Warsaw isn't surrounded until June. This is not a lightning operation. I believe the combination of logistical pinch and well-prepared Soviet-doctrine obstacles employed in the greatest depth explain the apparent plodding nature of the NATO drive across Poland.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
This problem also existed, to a degree, on the Eastern Front. The Soviets were bound by some of the same limitations. The Soviets were still able to conduct sustained operations across a very broad front and over much greater distances than the Western Allies, though. Of course, there were seasonal limitations on offensive operations and some offensives did have to be stopped due to supply issues but, at least later in the war, the Soviets did a better job, on the whole, managing logistical problems than did the Western Allies. It helped that the Soviet soldier required much less in the way of supply tonage to operate than the British or American soldier did. This is one area in which the Twilight Red Army would have a distinct advantage over NATO armies.

It seems strange that the USSR would have forgotten these lessons from the past.
I'm not sure the Soviets have forgotten the lessons of the past as much as they find themselves obliged to work within certain limitations. The degree of mechanization of the Red Army in 1944 is a mere fraction of the level of mechanization of the Soviet Army in 1996. At every level of the fighting, the ability of the troops to consume ammunition, fuel, and spare parts has grown geometrically in fifty years. Even in a command economy, it's hard to sell the purchase/manufacture of trucks versus tanks, artillery, and APC to civilian leaders. Soviet doctrine has acknowledgement of this problem built into it: all available support goes to the most successful command. Everyone else goes hungry.

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Old 06-26-2009, 02:13 PM
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I think I had read somewhere that the East Germans had the smallest military forces in the Warsaw Pact, but where seen as the most professional military personnel... And they had seemed to be the most loyal to the Socialist / Communist ideals and where the strongest allies behind the Iron Curtain that the Soviets had. Or did i get that mixed up?
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Old 06-26-2009, 03:35 PM
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I think I had read somewhere that the East Germans had the smallest military forces in the Warsaw Pact, but where seen as the most professional military personnel... And they had seemed to be the most loyal to the Socialist / Communist ideals and where the strongest allies behind the Iron Curtain that the Soviets had. Or did i get that mixed up?
The East Germans were considered to have the best trained troops in the Pact, and one of the best equipped.

The Bulgarians take the cake for being the most loyal. When things started to fall apart in the late 80s Bulgaria was the one that the USSR had to pressure to liberalize. Their KGB was also even more out of control - its widely beelieved that they were behind the plot to assasinate the Pope. (I'm also aware of some attempted assasinations they tried to pull in the US).

Fully mobilized strength of Pact armies:

East Germany: 11 divisions
Bulgaria: 12 divisions + 5 tank brigades
Hungary: 3 corps, each slightly larger than a division (5 combat brigades each)
Czechoslovakia: 15 divisions
Poland: 20 divisions

So Hungary by far had the smallest army.
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Old 06-26-2009, 03:57 PM
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Wow.. I didn't know that Hungry has such a small military. I thought the soviets inate distrust for the Germans would have kept them the smallest armed force... I guess it kind of works for my idea that the Soviets allowing the East Germans to create two air assault brigades patterned on the Soviet model... (one of these brigades was part of the DDR Army that went to the Far East Front in my alternate timeline concept....
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Old 06-26-2009, 04:23 PM
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I've also heard that the Cold War Polish military was considered pretty capable, in terms of both the quality of its troops and equipment. Given Chico's numbers (thanks, Chico), it was also the largest of the Pact armies.

Currently, they have quite an impressive little arms industry of their own and, by most reports, their GROM SF built up a pretty good rep while operating with other Coallition SF in Iraq.

I think Hungary also produced its own line of military trucks during the Cold War but I could be remembering incorrectly. I'll have to do a little research.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natehale1971
I think I had read somewhere that the East Germans had the smallest military forces in the Warsaw Pact, but where seen as the most professional military personnel... And they had seemed to be the most loyal to the Socialist / Communist ideals and where the strongest allies behind the Iron Curtain that the Soviets had. Or did i get that mixed up?
The Germans had one of the larger Armies. Yes they had one of the most loyal one too. They Soviet exploited the same loyal traits that the Nazis exploited of the General Staff of the German Army.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:52 PM
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I've also heard that the Cold War Polish military was considered pretty capable, in terms of both the quality of its troops and equipment. Given Chico's numbers (thanks, Chico), it was also the largest of the Pact armies.

Currently, they have quite an impressive little arms industry of their own and, by most reports, their GROM SF built up a pretty good rep while operating with other Coallition SF in Iraq.

I think Hungary also produced its own line of military trucks during the Cold War but I could be remembering incorrectly. I'll have to do a little research.
Yes, the Poles were pretty loyal, due to the Soviet reinforced the fear of another Germany Army coming to take over. Notice Poland was didn't have Group of Soviet Force, even though they played host to Air Force and various other unit. One of the main reason for this is due to the unique situation of Poland being sold out by England and US. With the fact that there were Polish units made Poland unique. It was one of the first countries of the pact to be armed, with unit that former fought with the Soviet who already had Soviet General in command.

Like many of the other Pact nation the Defense Minister for many year longer than others were Soviet General, or those loyal to the Soviet. This is one of the reason why the Warsaw Pact was only formalized after NATO was create. To the Soviet High Command why would they have defense treaty with nations that already answer to them to begin with.

Again by the 1980s the Soviets had regretted not keeping a large force in Poland since the Polish Army seem unwillingly to move against the Solidarity as fast as the Soviet felt it should of been dealt with. Only when did they take action, they did so to keep the large part of the Soviet Army and units of allies out. Not that the Soviets were in any shape to invade like they had with Hungary and Czechoslavakia in the 50s and 60s. Both of these nations had paid a price of hosting much large Group of Soviet Force in their countries afterwards.

And quite frankly the Soviets were once before whipped by the Polish back in 1921, and they were quite capable of give them a bloody nose that they didn't want the west to witness. Along with using the best equipment that had been position to be used against the US and NATO, not a nation that was for all purposes still a client state.
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Old 07-11-2009, 05:54 PM
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I game across this article http://www.alternatewars.com/WW3/the..._never_was.htm today and offers some insight into Soviet thinking.
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:20 PM
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Good article. Thanks for the link, JHart.

I think that we all agree that the Red Army of the later Cold War years had several severe limitations but I still don't think that any of them would have been crippling. The author's assertion that late '80s Soviet doctrine advocating the use of battlefield nukes was a direct result of the Soviet high command's realization/admition of its technological inferiority vis-a-vis NATO is speculative, as the author himself admits. He may be right, but we must remember the temporal divergence that occurs around 1990 in the timeline. More on that a little later.

NATO had a clear qualitative edge by the late '80s, of that there can be little doubt. However, Soviet military science and technology were catching up, rather than falling further behind. As I pointed out in a couple of previous posts, the Soviets were in the process of rolling out several major land, sea, and air weapon systems that were comparable qualitatively, if not superior (e.g. the SU-27) to their NATO counterparts. In reality, the deployment of many of these systems was radically slowed (if not stopped altogether) by the faltering Russian economy.

This is where the divergence in the timelines comes in. In reality, the Soviet Union dissolved in '91, its economy in a tailspin, its political and social structure falling apart. Consequently, the Russian Federation (formerly the core of the Soviet military) suffered greatly as funding was all but cut off. The sorry state of the Russian military in the early to mid nineties only reinforces the idea that its predecessor was likewise a paper tiger. I've already debunked this logical fallicy earlier in this thread. What I'd like to focus on now is the way that history would have differed had the Soviet Union remained united, solvent, and fearful of NATO.

I would postulate that the Soviet Union of the v1.0 timeline would have recognized the limitations of its conventional forces in the early nineties- largely as a result of the Red Army's relatively poor performance in the Afghanistan war- and set about correcting them via a comprehensive reform program. The reversion to the strategic battle plan relying on tac-nuclear weapons described in the article was, in this scenario, merely a stopgap measure while the USSR initiated their military reform program. This program would focus on improving the training of its soldiers, especially its NCOs and junior officers. It would also address NATOs technical superiority by not only accelerating the roll out of more modern systems, but by upgrading existing systems (retrofitting combat aircraft with air-to-air refuelling equipment, older model tanks with thermal imaging systems, etc.). Instead of holding them in reserve, much older systems (e.g. T-54/55/63; Mig-21/23/35, etc.) would be sold off to the USSR's various client states (not WTO countries) to help offset modernization costs and create a leaner, meaner military.

Since the Soviets WTO allies were never fully trusted by them and given only a secondary role in Soviet strategic and operational military doctrine, they would be directed to support the Red Army's modernization program by increasing the production of military trucks, thereby ameliorating the Red Army's logistical weaknesses. Where possible, the other WTO armies would undertake their own modernization programs but their roles would be remain secondary.

The Red Army of T2K c. '95 would still win as far as the "correlation of forces" goes but it would also have made great leaps towards in catching up to NATO in terms of troop and hardware quality. In would still lag behing overall, but the gap would not nearly be as great as it was in '88 (IRL).
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:14 AM
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A friend has just found and loaned me his copy of Red Army. I'm looking forward to reading it. I always felt the red army was given a raw deal by authors so it'll be interesting to read from another perspective.
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:37 PM
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@Raellus: That is all well and good, but remember this will not happen in a vacuum. If the Soviets begin a comprehensive effort to upgrade their weapon systems in the late 80s/early 90s, than surely NATO will respond likewise. The V.1 timeline could up seeing far earlier deployments of a number of weapon systems...F-22, A-12, RAH-66, Crusader artillery and an improved Abrams Block III.

I'm not saying that the Soviet Union is doomed, but the West had major advantages that could not be made up within the command economy of the Soviet Union. Computer technology, driven more so by market demands than the military, made advancements in electronics systems continue at a break-neck pace in the West. Many of these systems, GPS, Cell-phones, internet, encryption and others, are fully dual use. The technology is applicable to both civilian and military needs. And while it is possible for the Soviets to gain access to these technologies through the gray market, creating an integrated system for military use would be extremely difficult and even harder to maintain once the ball dropped.

The Soviet Union needs full fledged market reforms along the lines of China, but I don't see that happening. I see the Soviet invasion of China as the last gasp of a failed system. West Germany realized this and gambled. Unfortunately, the fears of a united and militaristic Germany held the Warsaw Pact together while simultaneously destroying NATO. The US and its allies did not win handily because of two factors...Italy and Greece's betrayals and nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union was long past its prime but refused to go quietly into this dark night.

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Old 07-12-2009, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin
@Raellus: That is all well and good, but remember this will not happen in a vacuum. If the Soviets begin a comprehensive effort to upgrade their weapon systems in the late 80s/early 90s, than surely NATO will respond likewise. The V.1 timeline could up seeing far earlier deployments of a number of weapon systems...F-22, A-12, RAH-66, Crusader artillery and an improved Abrams Block III.
Yes, I've never argued that this would not happen. I think you overstate the impact those systems would have, though. All of them are so expensive, they were either cancelled outright (Crusader, RAH-66) or only fielded in very limited numbers (Raptor). Even the relatively robust and powerful, market-driven economy of the U.S. would be severely strained by the continued development, purchase, and deployment of these systems in significant numbers. They would likely exist in the Twilight World, but in relatively small numbers.

As for technology in general, it can be a significant force multiplier to be sure, but I tend to discount the "Wonder Weapon" mentality somewhat. A lot of hi-tech systems don't operate as advertised operationally, or break down relatively easily under harsh battlefield conditions. It's probably not a fair comparison since there are other causal factors at play as well, but Hitler's high-tech weapons were unable to stem the Allied tide in WWII. His faith that relatively small production runs of technically superior tanks (Panther, Tigers, etc.) would offset the Soviet's numerical advantage in armor (and almost everything else for that matter) proved to have been seriously misplaced. He made the same mistake believing the jet-powered ME-262 would be able to tip the balance in the air against the numerically superior western Allies' air forces. I think Western armies are still a little too in love with their technology. Vietnam and Afghanistan prove that technological superiority alone does not win wars.

The cornerstone of my proposed Soviet military reforms of T2K '89-'95 is the improvement in the training of NCOs and junior officers. Upgrading existing weapon systems is also part of these reforms, but plays only a secondary role in improving the capabilities of the Red Army.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin
The Soviet Union needs full fledged market reforms along the lines of China, but I don't see that happening. I see the Soviet invasion of China as the last gasp of a failed system. West Germany realized this and gambled. Unfortunately, the fears of a united and militaristic Germany held the Warsaw Pact together while simultaneously destroying NATO. The US and its allies did not win handily because of two factors...Italy and Greece's betrayals and nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union was long past its prime but refused to go quietly into this dark night.
I agree with you, to a point. I've conceded that reforms, especially technological ones, would further strain the already stressed Soviet economy. I'm also of the opinion that this strain motivated, in part, the Soviet invasion of China. I just don't see the Soviet military- its political and economic systems, maybe- of T2K '95-2000 as "long past its prime."

Hitler said something along the lines of "kick in the door and the whole rotten house will fall down" about the Soviet Union. He could not have been more wrong. I am simply asserting that it is the height of folly to grossly underestimate any enemy, especially one with the combat history of the Soviet Union.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:59 PM
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Ironically, the Pact probably plays a role in Poland quite similar to the role China plays in Manchuria and northwest of Beijing. In the same fashion that the Chinese probably counter Soviet superiority in firepower, mobility, and technology with extensive fixed defenses involving minefields, water obstacles, reinforced concrete fighting positions, and even underground galleries, the Soviets probably use the January-April break in fighting along the Oder to prepare very dense defenses making the most of AT guns, ATGM carriers, and T-55s firing from keyhole positions on the flanks of the most obvious (or most practical) avenues of advance. The front-line divisions of the Group of Soviet Forces Germany probably would be held back for the purpose of counterattack. Under these circumstances, the Soviet pattern of using standardized battle drills would be more effective in defense than the same patterns would be in defensive war of maneuver. AT guns and ATGM that might not be able to defeat the front slopes of the M1 series would have much better results when firing from prepared positions on the flank.

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Old 07-12-2009, 08:22 PM
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I agree, Web. In the v1.0 scenario, the Soviet's would have the relative luxury of being able to trade space (i.e. the GDR and Poland) for time. Fixed defenses manned by lower readiness divisions would slow and grind down the NATO forces enough to ready the Red Army's better quality manuever formations for an eventual counteroffensive. Losses to NATO's high-tech weaponry would be extremely difficult to replace in a timely manner. This scenario is pretty much what happened during WWII at Kursk, with devastating results for the German military.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
I agree, Web. In the v1.0 scenario, the Soviet's would have the relative luxury of being able to trade space (i.e. the GDR and Poland) for time. Fixed defenses manned by lower readiness divisions would slow and grind down the NATO forces enough to ready the Red Army's better quality manuever formations for an eventual counteroffensive.
You speak the truth, brother! (The only issue is how many of those lower readiness units do they have... Soviet Vehicle Guide outlines a strangely extended mobilization period! But the Polish Army has one reserve and one mobilization-only army, plus numerous internal paramilitary troops, which are more than capable of digging in to defend their homeland!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
Losses to NATO's high-tech weaponry would be extremely difficult to replace in a timely manner. This scenario is pretty much what happened during WWII at Kursk, with devastating results for the German military.
The main source of replacement high-tech weaponry for US forces is the equipment left stateside by deploying POMCUS troops, mostly III Corps. The issue is getting it moved across the North Atlantic in winter during and after the Battle of the Norwegian Sea, with Soviet subs and raiders on the loose (or, more accurately, widespread fear of Soviet subs & raiders) and demand for shipping to deploy forces to the Persian Gulf, Korea and National Guard units to Europe (including such questionables as sending the 40th ID from California to Europe, likely via the Panama Canal).

By the time the losses from Advent Crown start mounting, US industrial production is able to make up most of the losses. (The US enjoys the benefit of a pre-war buildup of industrial capability - production is ramped up for export sales to China much in the way that US production in 1940 and 1941 was increased to meet demand from France and Britain). US tank numbers at the front don't start dropping until the start of the tactical nuclear exchange. (Send me a PM if you want the spreadsheet where we ran the AFV loss model.)
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chico20854
US tank numbers at the front don't start dropping until the start of the tactical nuclear exchange. (Send me a PM if you want the spreadsheet where we ran the AFV loss model.)
Without agreeing or disagreeing on losses v replacements for M1s, I'm quite curious whether you have run numbers for tank crews. Also, did you devise formulae for APC and IFV losses. I believe this is where NATO is going to suffer the greatest losses, although some smart fellows may decide that the only way to get through Pact defenses is with dismounted attacks. Then the question becomes one of infantry replacements. I'd hate to be a rifleman slogging it out through Poland's defensive belts. Talk about earning you CIB!

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Old 07-13-2009, 12:51 PM
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I'm not one to overly praise the Red Army, but I'm not dissing it much either. In the three month long drive across Poland, NATO will be in for a very rough time. BUT man-for-man and vehicle-for-vehicle NATO will have the advantage and prove to be the superior fighting force. If not, than why did the Soviet Union have to resort to tactical nuclear warfare on July 9, 1997?

Sure Poland would be a meat grinder, but modern wars such as the Falklands, Iraq (1991), Israel versus Arabs and others have shown that technological superiority (and crew training/experience) is paramount. NATO advances over 600 kilometers in about 90 days (4/2/1997 - 7/9/1997). This is an advance of about 7 km/day. Not exactly blitzkrieg, but not too bad given that the WP has had 4 months to prepare for the NATO offensive.

If anything the V.1 timeline severely under estimates the economic and political strain being felt in the Soviet Union. And while the Soviet military may have been very tough, history has shown us that the USSR itself was rater fragile. In the end the Red Army is unable to protect the Motherland and the Russian leadership is forced to use nukes. This action is the surest sign of defeat.

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Old 07-13-2009, 04:09 PM
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I'd like to see your AFV loss model, Chico. I really admire how scientific you guys are being in your assessments.

I'm a huge fan of the M1A1 and Challenger tanks but I'm not sure that they would fare as well against the Red Army as they have against the Iraqi Army. They steamrolled the Iraqis in '91 and '03 but the Iraqis- even their "elite" (LOL) Republican Guards divisions- were never as capable as the front-line units of the Red Army. Against masses of top-of-the-line Soviet tanks (not the cheap export versions), ground and air launched ATGMs, unguided AT weapons, AT mines, artillery, etc., I think NATO tank losses would mount fairly quickly.

I didn't used to think this way. Based on the M1's combat record in the First Gulf War, I had concluded that it was pretty much invulnerable (if used properly) to anything the Soviet Bloc could throw at it. It was the Israeli's experience in Lebanon a few years ago that convinced me that the modern battlefield is becoming increasingly dangerous for even the most modern MBTs. Hezbollah guerillas firing Soviet-made ATGMs (AT-13 & AT-14) manufactured during the early and mid-90s* were able to knock out and/or destroy the Israeli's Merkava Mk. IVs, arguably the world's most advanced and heavily armored operational MBT in the world today.

*These would, therefore, be available to Soviet troops in the Twilight War.

Benjamin, you have a fair point. It's hard to argue with the canonical rate of NATO's advance or the Soviet's first use of battlefield nukes. I do believe that the surprise of the West German's attack coupled with the strains of fighting a full scale war against the PRC go farther in explaining both the Soviet's loss of ground (which may have been somewhat deliberate) and their decision to make the battlefied nuclear than any inherent inferiority in the Soviet armed forced, though.

I respectfully disagree with you regarding the overall superiority of the Israeli and British weapons during the campaigns you mentioned. For just one example, during the '73 Yom Kippur war, Soviet-made Syrian tanks had infrared spotlights while the Israelis' western made Centurions, M-48s, M-60s, and Super Shermans did not, putting the Israelis at a distinct disadvantage during night engagements. The Egyptian's integrated AAD network of Soviet SA-2 and SA-3 SAMs and ZU-23-2 SPAAGs took a significant toll against the vaunted IAFs American Phantoms and Skyhawks. In the Falklands, the RN couldn't counter the Argentinians' Exocet missiles and many British troops swapped their semi-auto FN SLRs for the Argentinian's full-auto FN FALs. IMPO, it was the superior training and experience of the Israelis and Brits that allowed them to triumph, not their technological superiority.

I guess, from a purely gaming standpoint, there seems little point in playing against the remnants of a sucky enemy. On that basis alone, I feel the need to defend the equipment and fighting men of the Red Army.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
In the Falklands, the RN couldn't counter the Argentinians' Exocet missiles and many British troops swapped their semi-auto FN SLRs for the Argentinian's full-auto FN FALs. IMPO, it was the superior training and experience of the Israelis and Brits that allowed them to triumph, not their technological superiority.
I'd have to agree that, in the Falklands at least (I don't know much about the Arab-Israeli wars) the deciding factor was morale and training, not equipment. The only difference between the British SLR and the Argentinian FAL, as you've mentioned, is that the SLR didn't do full-auto. At least, not officially: I've heard from several ex-soldiers that inserting a match in the correct place made it fire full-auto. I seem to recall that many of the British attacks were night attacks because the British thought they had more night-vision equipment, when in fact the Argentinians had more.

As for the Exocets, the Royal Navy was lucky that Argentina hadn't taken delivery of it's full order, and France refused to deliver the remainder, so the Argentinian navy only had relatively few, and had to use iron bombs when the missiles ran out.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:22 PM
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I worked on the vehicle losses for the DC Group, in consultation with my compatriots... We did not use the current Iraq War, or the 1990 Persian Gulf War... the loss model was developed from statistical experience during world war II (although admittedly we had to make some judgement calls), additionally, we figured in recovery rates (from the Arab Israel Wars in 1967 and 1973), new vehicle delivery (based on the industrial mobilization chico mentioned above, and doctrinal industrial mobilization schedules), as well as field & depot battlefield vehicle recovery rates... in the previous mobilization for war document we touch on how crews would be replaced as that document details the number of recruits turned out on an annual basis (again based upon coldwar era mobilization doctrine), and specifies the armor training sites.

It may not be perfect, and grad school has interfered with my completing the other vehicle types and losses listed on the first page, but it's a start...
Attached Files
File Type: xls Global Losses.xls (274.0 KB, 138 views)

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Old 07-13-2009, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avantman42
The only difference between the British SLR and the Argentinian FAL, as you've mentioned, is that the SLR didn't do full-auto. At least, not officially: I've heard from several ex-soldiers that inserting a match in the correct place made it fire full-auto.
I was shown how to do that when I was in the ARES and that was what we were armed with. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Legbreaker knows that trick too.
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Old 07-13-2009, 10:43 PM
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There's a couple of different methods actually, all officially frowned upon (and attracting a charge).
The problem with the methods I know is that unless judicious application of a file is involved (or a replacement part installed), the weapon is only capable of automatic fire and looses the abilty to be placed on "safe" (at least quickly).
The better option, if possible, is to lay your hands on the automatic support version (DAMN RARE!) known as the AR (Automatic Rifle), the L2A1 I think. Equipped with heavier barrel and bipod it uses larger 30 round magazines (instead of the standard 20) which unfortunately empty far, far too quickly.

Give me something belt fed anyday. Yes, they're almost always heavier, but you don't need to reload as often and recoil is much less of a factor.

Regarding the FAL and SLR, there are a few differences, but mainly in the fact that one is build to metric and the other imperial (millimetres and inches). They are still basically the same weapon although don't try swapping parts, or even magazines from one to the other and expect it to work properly!
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