SfEMCRAKDUM FOR: The Director of Central Intelligence
MILITARY THOUGHT: "The Strike Groupings
y Major-General of Tank Troops A. Shevchenko
Enclosederbatim translation of an article which appeared in the TOP SECRET Special Collection of Articles of the Journal "Military Thought" ^'Voyennuyaublished bv the Ministry of Defense, USSR, and distributed down to the level of Army Commander.
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MILITARY THOUGHT: "The Strike Groupingsront", by Major-General of Tank Troops A. Shevchenko
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Followingerbatim translation of an article titled "The Strike Groupingsritten by Major-General of Tank Troops A, Shevchenko.
This article appeared in0 Third Issuespecial version of Voyennaya Mysl (Militaryis classified TOP SECRET tVfhe Soviets andirregularly. It is distributed withinof Defense down to the level ofhird Issue was sent for typesetting
Major-General of Tank Troops A. Shevchenko
odern offensive operationront, despite the decisive role played by nuclear/missile weapons, the need to create strong and mobile strike groupings (udarnaya gruppirovka) remains. By the strike groupingront one shouldnit of forces and weapons intended for the destructionarticular grouping of the enemy by the use of means of destruction and by maneuver. In practice, strike groupings will be comprised of formations included in the compositionront with their allotted forces and weapons. Since these groupings are Intended -for the successive performance of tasks in particular directions andpecific depth, we consider lt Inadvisable to Include in their composition the forces and weapons remaining at the disposal of the commander of the front. ront's forces and weapons may be used in support of the combat operations of several strike groupings and also for the performance of other tasks for the front.
Exploiting the results of nuclear/missile strikes delivered by the weapons of the front and of the General Headquarters (Stavka) of the Supreme High Command (VGK) the Strike groupingsront must be capable of destroying the enemy In short periods and of occupying his major installations and lines in depth.
During the course ol the past war and also in exercises and maneuvers in the postwar period there was and there stillendency to create strike groupings chiefly from the large units which combine strike force and mobility,rom tank divisions. In the creation of front strike groupings at the present time, special preference is given to tank armies. It is considered tbat they constitute "the basis of the strike groupings of the first echelonront".1
The use of tank armies as the strike groupingsront under modern conditions will become more difficult. It is known tbateries of recent training exercises there were certainin the use of tank armies. The Minister of Defense and the Commander-in-Chief of Ground Troops noted substantial shortcomings In the use of tank armies by both sides at the exercise conducted by the Commander-in-Chief of Ground Troopsne of the reasons for these shortcomings is the change in the conditions of conducting combat operations brought about by the appearance of nev means of combat.
Considerable influence is exerted on the use of tank armies by the state of modern means of intelligence and destruction and also by tbe enemy's ability to counter the maneuverank army by maneuvering of his own motorized large units. The enemy will concentrate the main efforts of his intelligence on the detection of the tank army and, having detectedillarge part of his weapons of mass destruction for strikes against it; this may put the army in an extremely difficult position, sharply reduce its combat effectiveness even before the beginning of combat operations, and also diminish the speed of its advance. Ao ve know, such dlffioult conditions for operations by tank armies did not exist during World War II.
1. Tank Troops and Their Use In Modern Operations. Voyenizdal,age 31
In connection with the fact that it has now become easier to detect the appearanceank armyront and that modern means of combat make it possible to inflict serious damage on ithort time, the commitment ortank army to battle will be extremely difficult. Thus, in tho9 exercise, the forward movement ofh TA (Tank Array) of the "Easterners" was detected by the intelligence of thend during its approach to the line of deployment, surface nuclear strikesotal yield oftwere delivered against it. Undoubtedly, under real conditions such strikes would sharply reduce the combat effectivenessank army.
In the past war, the organizational structure of the enemy's infantry divisions (his basic largo units) hampered their use for maneuvers intended to contain the operations of tank armies and tank and mechanized corps. Modern infantry divisions are capable of performing these tasks more successfully. Moreover, armored divisions, the number of which has Increased, may be used for these purposes.
Modern offensive operations are characterized by more frequent shifts in the efforts of the front's troops from given directions to others. hifts demand the rapid creation,In selected directions, of strike groupings composedufficient' number of tank large units. ank army is usedtrike groupingront, its maneuver,hift of the front's effortew direction, will be impeded. aneuver will be difficult to hide and its conduct willreat deal of time.umber of cases, the tendency toank army to perform the most important tasks will resultituation in which the large units included in its composition will be held in reserve unnecessarily. This was the case during the9 exercises withh Tank Array (TA) which did not take part in combat operations for seven days.
In the course of an offensive operation, tank armies are often obliged to perform tasks vhlch are difficult to fulfil vith the forces of tank divisions. In these same exercisee,h TA vas obliged, by tbe course of events, to conduct combat operations connected vithrossing of the Dnepr and expanding the brldgohead. The operations of the army wore contained, it suffered large losses, and did not succeed in its task. h TA, which as supposed to force crossings of the Dnepr and Pripyat and to operate in wooded terrain, was putifficult situation. In the course of the front command-staff exercise held in the TransCarpathian Military District inhe 7th TA bad to resort to combat in order to cross the Carpathians.
In connection with the changes which have taken place in tho organizational structure of the troops, it has bocome more difficultank army to be separatedombined-arms army. Today, tho organizationombined-arms large unit has changed radically. Bifle divisions have given place to motorized-rifle divisions which are superior in their technical equipment to the former motorized corps which were used as independent mobile groups or within the composition of tank armies. If one takes into accountombined-arms army may also have tank divisions, lt becomes clear that the tank army does not possess the advantage over the combined-arms army that it had in the years of World War II. The modorn combined-arms army, evenmall complement (three motorized-rifle and two tankas approximately the same number of tanks and assault guns (SAD)ank army (three tank and one heavy tank divisions).
The difficulty of separating the tank army from the combined-arms army may lead to operations by two armlosingle zone oringle line, which will adversely affect the performance of combat tasks. The operations of the 2nd TA andt Army
(A) in tho Pomeranian Operation and also ofh Tank Corps (TK) of the 2nd TA and then the Berlin operation serve as good examples of this. imilar accumulation of troops ln modern conditions, there may be great losses from enemy nuclear strikes.
It should be pointed out that inank armyront strike grouping, its safeguarding is made difficult, particularly in the coverage of its flanks and in the consolidation of captured lines. In the9 exercises the fact thath TA vas not able to secure its flanks with its own forces was one of the reasons for its encirclement south of Kiev. To'Safeguard the operations of tank armies, front commanders allotted motorized-rifle divisions to themumber of exercises.
The use of the tank army as the basic front strike grouping leads in many cases to patterns in the plan of operations and makes it easier for the enemy to find the axes in which the primary efforts of the attacking troops are concentrated.
The difficulties examined above, concerned with tho use of tank armies in offensive operations, force one to ask tho question: Under modern conditions, does one need tank formations (obyedineniye) at all?
It should be noted that the opinion has been expressed in our military press that in many cases it is advisable toank armyifferent composition. Thus, Marshal of Armored. Rotmlstrov writes, "The operationsank army organized along modern lines and reinforced by two or three divisions were testedar game conducted between academies. In this game, its director repeatedly reinforced the tank.army with several divisions in order to make lt possible for it to break away faster from the main forces of the front and towift offensive into the depth of the enemy's territory".1 In thisormation superior
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in offensive capabilities to the tank army of the usual composition was created. Actually, this wasombined-arms army composed chiefly of tank divisions.
In our view, under modern conditions, it is inadvisable to have such formations as the tank array. Front strike groupings should be combined-arms armies which include the necessary number of tank divisions concentrated on the most Important axes. The roleront strike grouping may be uccessfully performedombined-arras army comprised of two or three tank and two or three motorized-rifle divisions.
A modern offensive may be conducted under the most varied conditions. Durings its course, in certain directions and at certainask which has been assigned may be performed more successfullyarge unit possessing the qualitiesank division and, in another direction and at another time,arge unit with the qualitiesotorized-rifle division. In view of this, tank and motorized-rifle large units should be combinedormation whichtrike grouping.
Certain comrades who persist in believing that it is necessary to retain tank armies and their special roleuture war aro, at the same time, forced to admit that "The modern flexible organization of combined-arms armies which allows the motorized-rifle and tank divisions included in them to vary in their composition and which permits their transfer in case of necessity from one army to another, in order to create an army of the required make-up, favors,arge degree, the effective use of the army in an operation. The new organizationombined-arras array permits the modern front to be more flexible in its use of tank divisions In the decisive directions of an offensive and of armored troops in an offensive operationhole".! And, further, "The flexible
1. Marshal of Armored. Rotmistrov.
Armored Troops and Offensive Operations,page
organization of our new combined-arms array, which willtrong armored grouping within its composition,ront to perform the tasks assigned to itank army".2
Also worthy of attention in this respect is the statement of Marshal of Armored. Rotmlstrov that "In some instances it will seem more expedient to reinforce the compositionront, not with tank armies, but with individual tank large units which, together with the regrouping of the large units In the armiesront, can be set upombined-arms army (or armies) of the required composition which approximatesank army in structure'*.3
The experience of postwar exercises shows that the need to make up for the inadequaciesank or combined-arms army sometimes makes it necessary to attach motorized-rifle divisionsank army or to increase the number of tank divisionsombined-arms army. In such situations, tank and combined-arms armies will be distinguished from one another chiefly by the ratio of tank to motorized-rifle divisions. This ratio must be in accordance with the particular situation: In certain cases, the number of tank divisionsormation must exceed the number of motorized-rifle divisions, in other cases, there must be fewer of them. One thing which is indisputable, however, is that tank divisions today must be used notomogeneous formationankut in combination with motorized-rifle divisions,ithin combined-arms armies. In tho courseront offensive operation, depending on the situation (the nature of the enemy's operations, the conditions of the terrain,he ratio between tank and motorized-rifle divisions in armies may change sharply in one direction or the other.
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A combined-arms army, which consists mainly of tank divisions, can fulfil the roleront strike grouping with great success. ombined-arms army consisting of eight or more divisions will become cumbersome and of poor mobility. In thistrike grouping may in practice be composed of several tank and motorized-rifle divisions (three orore precisely, this will be, as lt were, the skeleton of the strike grouping; essentially, the divisions comprising it will perform the tasks which are now ssignedank army.
A combined-arms army, whichufficient number of tank divisions, will possess great striking power and firepower, maneuverability, and the ability to advanceigh rate. The availability of such armies would produce favorable conditions for the concealed establishment of strike groupings and for the delivery of surprise strikes against the enemy.
The reinforcement of combined-arms armies with tank divisions by the successive introduction of the latter from the reserves of the front ensures the necessary dispersal of forces and weapons; divisions will not be concentrated in limited areas, as sometimes happensank army is committed to battle.
More favorable conditions are created for changes in the direction of the main strike. By introducing individual tank divisions, supplementing those of the comblnod-arms army already operating in thetrong grouping can be created in the required directionhorter time andoncealed fashion. At the same time and to the extenteserve of tank large units may be createdront by
detaching then from armies in vhlch there Is no
any need to center the basic efforts of the front;
divisions from this reserve may subsequently be
into the zones of other armies. Such use of tank divisions prevents their being held in reserveong time and is conducive to the vider maneuver of large unitsrontal scale.