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Rod Robertson

Just Jack:

That last post was too long by half! Your “throw everything at the wall and something will stick” approach to writing and discussion is like being hit with a literary shotgun – messy and jarring! But your points are well taken and will be addressed momentarily.

“La!”, means, “There!” in French and connotes,”There, It is done!”. It can be used in everything from regular day to day conversation to dueling with fists or swords.

When I was 6 and 1/2 years old a younger American cousin accidentally shot me in the arm with his older brother’s 22 rifle. When I was a teenager a Canadian cousin of mine and myself used to fight all the time, half the time for fun and half the time out of anger. During one spirited duel he was gripped by blind rage and he stabbed me in the upper left thigh with a knife while I was trying to beat him senseless with a bicycle! He won that fight, but I won the war. Alas, he passed away about fifteen years ago as a result of a motorcycle accident, I miss him.

Soviet on-call fire missions could go in two directions during a maneuver/march engagement. 1) To the organic artillery under the maneuver commander’s control, like the battalion of 120mm mortars integral to each MRR or a battery of 122mm SP How. attached to an advanced guard party. Such arty would be very responsive to the needs of Btn. or the Regt. Commander. Company and Ptn commanders could ask for and hope for access to arty but the decision would be up to their superiors. 2) To the RAG, DAG or AAG under the arty group commander’s control. Such arty would be far more volumous and effective potentially but would not be as responsive or flexible as organic arty assets.

The key to understanding this dichotomy is initiative. The Soviet offensive was so structured and so finely tuned that initiative could screw things up very badly. Everything was planned and timetabled down to small local details. If a commander diverted from the plan he could seriously imperil the greater operation so control was centralized and initiative was viewed with suspicion as it could be a source of fatal friction to the plan. The Soviets realized that no plan survives contact with the enemy and that contingencies would have to be made, but they also believed that no enemy could survive contact with their plans and that if they could hold the plan intact for as long as possible they could breakthrough and flood the NATO middle and rear areas with Operational Maneuver Groups (OMG’s) and win the war quickly. All this depended upon being able to move huge volumes of troops, vehicles and war material over limited numbers of routes at the fastest possible speed in a hostile EW and possibly NBC environment which would hamper or stop electronic communication, command and control badly (field phones notwithstanding). The only way to do this was to follow the plan. If the initiative of one Regt. commander blocks a route even temporarily, the knock-on effect causes frictional ripples which magnify themselves more and more and interfer with plans and timetables until the collateral friction brings the advance to a halt that is short of strategic and operational objectives. So while initiative is valued at the very local and tactical level, it is also feared and discouraged at the operational and strategic level. Centralization of command was seen as the cure for the disruptive interference which could be caused by initiative.

It is important to remember that this system was developed for the high intensity and potentially NBC environment in Europe. Different doctrines were used in say Afghanistan from 1979-1989 where the flexibility of arty was greater and more responsive to the needs of smaller combat formations.

I know I probably missed some of your many points but you shot gunned so many that this is all I can manage in one post. I’ll respond more completely when I have more time.

Cheers and this is a cracking good discussion.

Rod Robertson.