MEMO FROM RICHARD HELMS TO ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CONCERNING 'TR

Created: 9/12/1961

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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MEMORANDUM FOR: Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Special Operations)

"Trend* ln the Development of Tank Forces of

the Soviety General of the Amy A. Zhadov

Enclosederbatim translation of an article entitled "Trends in the Development of Tank Forces of the Soviety General of the Army A. Zhadov which appearedpecial TOP SECRET issue of the Soviet military Journal Yoycnnaya Myol (Military Thought).

This article vas acquiredoviet official who has provided reliable information ln the past.

FOR THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR, PLANS:

HELMS

APPROVED FOR

Military Representative of the President

Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affaire

Director for Intelligence The Joint staff

Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence Headquarters, U. S. Air Force

Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence Department of the Amy

Director of Naval .Intelligence Department of the Navy

Director, National Security Agency

The Director of Intelligence and Research Department of State

Chairman, Guided Missiles and Astronautics Intelligence Committee

Deputy Director for Intelligence

Assistant Director for National Estimates

Assistant Director for Current Intelligence

Assistant Director for Scientific Intelligence

Assistant Director'for Research and Reports

Trends In the Development of the Tack Troops

the Sovlot

Amy General A. Zhadov

Historically, Soviet military theoretical thought has responded actively and sharply to aJJ. problems of military science which have arisen with the appearance of new means of armed combat, technical equipment of amies, change In the organizational structure ofroops, and the methods of employing them in battle and operations.

Recently the pages of our Journals on military theory and special research worts have carried different opinions on the outlook for the further development of armor technology and on the organizational forms of tank groupings (obedinenlye) and large units (soyedlnenlye) In the composition of the ground forces.

In this respect the article by Harahal of Armored Troops P. Rotmistrov, "Paths for the Further Development of the Tank Troops of the Soviet Army" (Special Collection of Articles cf the Journal "Voyennayairsterits attention. In thiseries of recommendations are made concerning the outlook for Soviet tank construction end the organization of the principal large units of the ground forces whichefinite practical Interest.

At the same time lt must be confessed that the formulation of several questions and the way in which they are elaborated are not convincing.

Marshal of Armored Troops Comrade Rotmistrov gives primary attention in his article to the conditions which determine the further development of tanks, the role of armor protection of tanks in connection with the development of antitank weapons, theof heavy tanks, and several questions dealing with the organization of tank troops.

Let us examine these questions In the same order ln which they have been formulated and give our point, of view, without claiming toull exposition of the problems connected with thedevelopment of tanks and the organization of tank troops.

At the present time the basic treads in the development oftechnology have been determined above all by the availability of miss lie-nuclear weapons and by the natureuture warighly maneuverable one with the broad application of the means of mass destruction. Comrade Botmistrov speaks about this point correctly in his article.

However, it le Impossible to agree with his statement that "the tank troops, in close cooperation with missile troops and aviation, ill be the deciding power in the ground

In our opinion,oint of view is mistaken.

It is well known that large units of combined arms (tank and motorized riflether arms of troops, and aviation will,ule, successfully carry out their tasks only if the results' of missile-nuclear strikes are ably utilized. Specifically, during battles and engagements these strikes will be the main means of destroying the enemy. There is no need to prove the truth of this statement.

The rolenk,-troops in achieving the goalsattle, an operation, and of the warhole will be great, but this role should be examined from the point of view of effectively utilizing the results of missile-nuclear strikes, for these in the final analysis constitute the principal force for the destruction of the enemy.

At the beginning of his article Comrade Rotmlstrov correctly bserves that the tank combines three basic combatirepower, armor protection, andowever, in "the^acnstead of examining all of these questions .from the point of view of the natureuture war, and determining the further paths for perfecting the combat characteristics of tanks, and above all of their armament, he first and foremost promotes the concept of heavy armor plating of tanks.

Tank armament. The tankehicle and its existence is Justified if it possesses powerful armament.

It is well known that during World War II (The Great Patriotic War) the maneuverability of our medium and heavy tanks was significantly superior to the German Tiger" and "Panther" tanks, but until the middle? they were inferior in armament. These tanks, which had gunsigher muzzle velocity, and greater grazing range, caused great damage to our tanks. However, when our tanks and assault guns (SU) received guns2 mm. this superiority was practically eliminated.

In the postwarith respect to the perfection of tank armament, we have'pald more attention to raising the accuracy of fire, in motion, armor-piercing capability, and the feasibility of delivering fire at night even under conditions of poor visibility. However, the artillery systems with which our tanks are now armed are not much more powerful than those on our tanks at the end of World War II.

It is true that we have recently developed artillery systemsuzzle velocity for armor-piercing shells on tbe orderec and greater for rifled guns,ec for smoothbore guns. But oven these artillery systems, provided for tho armament of medium tanks, axe only transitional. *

An analysis of combat operations end some experience'showsmodern tank should be armed with the most modernweapons, which will enable effective destruction at aof any enemy tanks, either moving or stationary. conditions on the field of battle there will also

many other targets, such .as self-propelled artillery, protected by armor, armored carriers, armored prime movers, and various targets with light covor which must be annihilated from great distances without expending heavy-caliber artillery shells or missiles in the process. For the destruction of these targets, tanks should have, besides guns or missile: systems, other powerful armament, auch as heavy-caliber machine guns or small-caliber guns, since the machine guns now on tanks do not enable the destruction of varied end numerous lightly armored and other targetsistance. and more.

The ont'.atcmlc protection of tanks. Together vith powerful armament, modem tanks should afford dependable biologicalof the crew from tho contaminating elements of nuclear weapons, and mainly from penetrating radiation. Solving this problem only by increasing the thickness of the armor has not proven feaalble. The steel armor should guarantee the necessary strength of the hull of the tank against the effects of the blast wave. Dependable biological protection of the crew may be achieved bypecialhich will stop the stream of neutrons, or by building special structures inside the tank Into which the crew must be put. Tbe latter require structural changes in the tank, the reduction of the crewen, and the automatization of all processes of the conduct of fire, driving, and communications. The neccBsary work in this direction is already being carried out.

The armor protection of tanks. In discussing the role of armor protection of tanks, the author strongly attacks those who promote, the idea of increasing the maneuverability and transportability of ground forces large unite by decreasing the weight and overall dimensions of tracked and other combat vehicles.

Mor do we propose increasing the maneuverability of ground forces large units and units (chest) by sharply weakening the armor protection of tanks and other combat vehicles.

However, in deciding this question there cannot be yet another extreme, which,atter of fact. Comrade Rotmlstrov advances, defending the necessity of retaining heavy tanks having thick armor.

Ever since tanksassive weapon on the field of battle, .they inevitably called for the creation of new means of combating them. The competition of armor with projectiles has continuedeiilod of forty years. In this single combat between armor and antitank fire, as of today the latter has retained the advantage.

Incidentally, this is conceded even in the works of the Academy of Armored Troops which have appeared under the editorship of Marshal of the Armored Troops Comrade Rotmlstrov. Thus, in the Collection of the Works of the Academy, which appeared last year, lt is candidly pointed out that the armor protection of tanks lags behind the development of the means of its destruction, and ln connection with the appearance of antitank guided missiles, this lag

haa become even greater.

Defending the concept of powerfully arnored tanks,casts doubt upon the effectiveness of modernmissiles (upravlyayemyy reaktlvnyy snaryad -

Presenting the tactical-technical data of these missiles,potential enemies have, he categorically asserts "thatin the family of weapons of mass destruction andnot for the present afford sufficient basis forlt is inexpedient to provide our basic types of tanksarmor protection", (p.

It is well known that every weapon has its positive and negative sides. For the present even antitank guided missiles have their negative side. However, in appraising these means of combat, .Comrade Rotmlstrov emphasizes primarily their deficiencies. But this does not detract from the effectiveness of antitank missiles and the broad prospects for their development. They are becoming more and more universal and can be used not only for all types of ground combat vehicles, including tanks, but even against helicopters. It Is inconceivable not to reckon with this possibility.

The development of tbe 'PTURS, of course, does not mean that tanks have been repudiated. This merely presents us with the problem of searching out new ways of defending tanka from antitank weapons -

It is well known that the RX heavy tank was developed byWorld War II for breaching fortified areaa, defensealso for combat with enemy tanks. But ln the course of thetroope usually bypassed fortified areas. Therefore, heavyusedeans of close support of Infantry ln breachingdefenses, and especially for combat with enemy tanks. result of the large amount -of metal consumption, the high cost,Insufficientery limited number ofwere produced during the war. Instead of heavy tanks forassault guns (shturmovoye orudlye) and tanks of the enemy,toarge number of assault guns (SAU) on themedium and heavy

Therefore, our self-propelled and ordinary artillery, and also our heavy tanks, bore the main brunt of combat with enemy iTlger" tanks andassault guns- By virtue of the great weight

and alight mobility of these enemy vehicles on the field of battle, and in spite of their heavy armor, they vere successfully shot up even by our medium tanks armed vithm. guns.

Under modern conditions the problem of breaching enemy defenses will be solved mainly by atomic weapons. And, in general, tbe type of defense in place used In the last war will rarely occur.

It may now be asked, iaeed for heavy tanks to solve the problem of breaching defenses? Of course

Knowing this. Marshal of Armored Troops Comrade Rotmiatrov tries to analyze heavy tankseans of qualitatively strengthening medium tanks, reckoning that the latter are inferior in power and armor protection to the medium tanks of our probable adversaries. For this purpose, the American mediumhe basic tank of the U. S. Army, lo compared withtank. But the parameters used in this comparison do notorrect conception of the combat qualities of these vehicles. Mor* is it easy to compare an American tank with, Insofar as tho latter iseans of qualitative reinforcement of5 tank.

In the case In point, comparisons are made of parameters such as armor protection, unit of fire, engine horsepower, fuel capacity, caliber of gun, and muzzle velocity. For example, the horsepower ofJLengine, while0p engine. taking Into consideration the'relative weights of the two vehicles, the unit power ratings ore identical. The fuel capacity of the American tank Is twice as great as ours, but the rated cruising range of both tanks is practically Identical. As far as the armor protection of our medium tank is concerned, the armor on the turret isthicker than that ofhile the armor protection of the hulls is almost the same.

Despite tbe somewhat greater caliber and muzzle velocity of the armor-piercing shell of the American tank, in comparison with the armor-piercing shell of the gun on our medium tank it does not enjoy any particular advantage with respect to effectiveness.

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In comparingeavy tank withe see that the armor protection of their hulls is the same, with the exception of the armor on the turrets, where our tank has much thicker amor. In terms of armament, the muzzle velocity of the armor-piercing shells of both

tacks Is identical, and differ only la their caliber. But the presence In the unit of fire of tbe American tankubcaliber projectile (andhaped-charge shell too) rendersufficiently strong weapon for combating our heavy tank. The cruising range of0 is almost twice that of our tank. Both tanks have power plants of identical unit power rating. Consequently, their mobility on the field of battle in moderately rugged terrain is about equal.

As is evident, lt is hardly proper to speak of specific advantages ofeavy tank over the American medium and heavy tanks.1

The necessity for having heavy tanks is also based on tho fact that tho Americans have at their disposal different systems of artillery ofma. on tracked chassis, whicheans of reinforcing their medium tanks. Combat with this artillery Is supposed to be waged by heavy tanks with the thickest armor protection, as though our medium tanks were not capable of carrying out this combat over great distances. Such claims have hardly any basis.

It seems to us that in order to achieve superiority over thedo not require the production of heavy-tanks, which are threeexpensive than tho medium tanks and only slightlyharp improvement of the combat qualities of ouc mediumthe-pover"Of "their" armament.

As we pointed out above, this problem in tank construction has basically been solved successfully already. We nowank which is not inferior to, and even surpasses, the modern heavy tank in terms of armament, armor protection, and protection against the contaminating elements of nuclear blasts. Moreover, itigher rated cruising range and greater maneuverability. New models of such tanks will be armed with artillery systemsuzzle velocity for armor-piercing projectilesec, which will be capable of piercing tbe front armor on the0 tankange of more, and the side armoristance.

Therefore, there le no reason to feax that the repudiation of heavy tanks may entail the loss of our present qualitative superiority over enemy tanks.

But this certainly does not mean that we should Immediately remove our modern heavy tanks from the arsenal and have them melted down. In case war should break out, they can be used successfully for fllfllllng many combat tasks.

Having calledcientific approach to the solution of the question of heavy tanks, as we havn seen, Comrade Rotmistrov does,not propose anything new In the field of tank construction to correspond with the requirementsossible war, but merely defends the old trend tn the development of tanks, leaning solely on the experience of World-War II.

Considering exclusively the mobile natureuture war, the increased role of airborne troops, and the necessity of transferring motorized rifle divisions by air over significant dlstancos forcombat missions which may arise In tbe course of an operation, we will require,asic type of mediumight tank with powerful conventional and missile armament.

Our present light tank, theas for the present only onet Is anphibjous. But' this tank has such weak armament and large dimensions tbat it cannot be transported by air. Therefore our efforts should be directed towardlgh^_jkank_which would be powerfully armed and whose weight and dimensions would allow it to be transported by air. At the same time,ank should possess tactical mobility which would enable it to cross water barriers afloat, and high apeed on the field of battle. ank is highly necessary both for fulfilling reconnaissance tasks and for other types of combat support.

Under modernigh and reliable degree of destruction of the enemy with miss tie-nuclear weapons will often permit an attack to be carried out without the infantry having to dismount. This circumstance means that we mustighly meneuyerable armored carrierowerful antitank missile weaponmall-caliber gun or large-caliber machine gun. The design of such an "armored carrier*should have the necessary antiatomic'resistance and should assure biological protection of tbe personnel Inside. Itsshould afford the simultaneous transportationan rifle squad. In connection with this, it is advisable at the

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present time toifle platoon consisting of two squads so that its organizational structure will not be disrupted in covenant by armored carriers. It should be emphasized that evenquad would be more spunky and lively.

Marshal of Armored Troops Comrade Rotmlstrov very sharply criticizes those comrades who propose new organizational forms of tha basic large unite of the ground forces. In particular, those comrades who propose the creationnified organization of the basic large units of tbe ground forces are Just about viewed as dangerous people who have encroached on such concepts as "tank tank formations"ank armies, and tank divisions. It seems to us that it Is incorrect to speak from such positions about people who propose new forms of organization of our troops. Life itself raises problems of perfecting the organization of the troops.

Alluding to the experience of the Second World War, Comrade Rotmlstrov declares "that, not rifle divisions, reinforced by tanks, decided the success of an operation, as French military theorists thou^it, but rather tank divisions, tank corps, and tank armies"

It must be stated that Soviet military theorists and practitioners have never propounded the role of tank and combined arms large units during the past war Inay.

Everyone knows that during the Second World War the success of offensive and defensive operations waa-decided by precise coordination of rifle large units and groupings, reinforced by artillery and tanks, with tank corps and armies, along with the massive utilization and support of artillery and aviation, and also tho constant support of operations by special branches of troops and by the rear area.

Incidentally, neither the Germans nor the Americans, and the French even less so, ever succeeded in achieving such harmonious coordination. On the whole, German reliance on tank troops and aviation proved to ba unsound.

Unfortunately Comrade Rotmiatrov's discussions of thegained in Worldeglect this side of the question. Ascribing an exclusive role to the tank troops, he introduces as an example the meeting engagement at Prokhorovka on.

In his opinion, during this engagement tlie strikes of tha Oerman tank forces were countered only by our tank troops, and specifically by the Fifth Guards Tank Army under tbe command of Comrade Rotmlstrov. The Fifth Guards Army, as he writes, not only did not follow the order of the commander of the Voronezh Front on the Joint deliveryountsrthrust, but did not withstand the enemy onslaught, and left the line being held.

It is impossible to agree with such an appraisal of tbe events. For the deliveryowerful counterthruat at Prokhorovka, General Headquarters (stavka) had reinforced the Voronezh Front significantly at the expense of the strategic reserves. In this coun to rthrust there participated powerful forces of all branches of tbe troops composing this front, and by their Joint efforts (and not merely by the Fifth Guards Tank Army) halted and "then threw back to -their original position the tank corps of the enemy. We render due credit to the performance of the Fifth Guards Tank Army, which played an '. important role ln delivering the counterthruat. But other armies of tbe front also played an important role ln the execution of thla action. To ignore this fact will lead to excessive exaggeration of the role of the tank troops and, ln particular, of the Fifth Guards Tank Army.

It is well known that tbe forces on the Voronezh Front were not able toounterthruat onuly because of the extremely complicated situation on the southern face of the Kursk Arc. And ln this respect, the task posed to the troop commanders of the front was not fulfilled. Among those who did not fulfill their mission ofuly waa the Fifth Guards Tank Army. ne-sided accusation of only the Fifth Guards Amy for non-fulfillment of the order sounds clearly unconvincing and unobjective.

As far as the performance of the left flank corps of the Fifth Guards Army is concerned, which Comrade Rotmlstrov writes about, lt must be stated that onuly large units of this corps repelled the blows of superior enemy forces from the line being held. Only towards evening did the enemy succeed, by employing its superiority in tanks, ln forcing back one division of thoairly short distance.

In his article Comrade Rotmlstrov time and again emphasized the necessitycientific approach to the utilization of thegained In the last war. At the sane time, in disucoslng the

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events at Prokhorovka, he definitely digresses from thla criterion and attempts to compare Incomparable quantltites. It Is well known that the Fifth Guards Army In the engagement at Prokhorovka did not have tanks and that this substantially limited their combat capabilityattletrong tank formation of the enemy. Quite different was the situation of the Fifth Guards Tank Army, which had (together with tbe attached tank corps)anks and assault guns. In evaluating the role of tank corps and armies In operations during the last war, lt Is impossible to compare mechanically their combat capability with the combat capabilities of rifle divisions, corps, and combined arms armies. Every comparison which lays claim to being" scientific should be basedeep analysis of these and other large units and groupings of troops.

It is generally necessary to state that 'It "is impossible to take isolated examples from the experience of combat operations of the troops during World War II and on the basis of these to drawlusions about the organization as of the present and the possibilities of basic large unite and groupings of the ground forces.

It is quite clear that the most serious and dangerous error which can be committed in using examples from military history for the development of military theory is to attempt to transfer mechanically the experience of the past to the present. In spite of his great experience in military-theoretical research, lt seems to us that Comrade Rotmistrov has committed Just such an error.

Modern trends in the development of the ground forces consist of continuously equipping them with new technical means ofn this respect the relative preponderance of tanks is growing particularly fast. Under these conditions there can be no question of diminishing the role of the tank troops. We can merely consider their most purposeful organizational development.

At the present time we have two types ofotorized rifle andnd these afford the requisite maneuverability and the introduction of vigorous and decisive actions into battles and operations. Tank divisions possess great penetrating power which Increases their independence in conducting combat operations. They are more mobile and mancuverable and have very high cross-country ability off roads, better resistance against nuclear weapons, and less cumbersome organization than motorized rifle divisions.

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However, the experience of many exercises shows that the presence of heavy tank regiments in these divisions reduces their operational maneuverability and complicates the supply problem in the course of battle. Therefore, army tank commanders have made what we be live to be correct proposals on replacing these regiments vith medium tank regiments. Heavy tanks would then be placed most purposefully In heavy tank divisions or in separate tana regiments.

Our motorized rifle divisions have fever tanks than tank divisions, but are superior to them in artillery, and particularly fn antitank weapons. uestion arises regarding further perfecting of the organizational forma of both divisions in order touccessful combination of tbe positive qualities in both.

Nor is It possible*'to agree with Comrade Rotailstrov concerning the advisability ofight motorized rifle division. Judging by the type of missions which are assigned it, and also by its technical equipment,ivision would not differ particularly frem the present airborne division.

And now several words about our armies. We do not know vho has raised the question of abolishing our present tank armies, as Comrade Rotmistrov conjectures. At the same time, an analysis of the combat capabilities of modern armies and the experience derived from largo command staff and army exercises showombined-arms armyomposition of two tank and three or four motorized rifle divisions with appropriate missile and special weapons (considering that this army operates in tho direction of the main effortsront) is not inferior in the number of tanksank army composed of four divisions, and in other factors win be significantly stronger.

A tank army has great penetrating power and great mobility and maneuverability, particularly in operations in areasimited number of roads. But under modern conditions the development of an attackigh tempo creates an extremely difficult situation with respect to the deployment end introduction Into an engagementank army. ank army cannot break awayombined arms army, which also has tremendous mobility. Moreover, the enemy, knowing of the presenceank armyront, searches lt out, and having detected it will attempt to destroy or weaken the army principally by strikes of missile-nuclear weapons. This is why we should seriously study the organization and means of combat employment of incdern armies in operations. Owing to these and other circumstances.

we should, study profoundly the organizational forms of modern armies.

It Is incomprehensible why Comrade Rotmlstrov places the necessity for the existence of the tank division, when no one doubts this, in direct dependence on the existence of the tank army. These are two different questions and should not be confusod.

There is no doubt that In the last war tank armies and tank corps basicallyundamental rote in the development of operations at high tempos. Under modern conditions high tempos of development of operations will depend mainly on the skillful utilization of nuclear weapons and mlealle troops. In this respect, not only tank, but also combined-arms armies, must develop high rates of advance. umber of.coses, the latter will have more, not less, tanks then tank armies of four divisions.

In meeting engagements, principally nuclear weapons will play'the major role. The success of operations by tank and motorized rifle large units will depend on the skillful utilization of these weapons. Therefore, there is no need to speak of eome special exception of tank large units and groupings.

Life goes forward, and our armies are being equipped more and more with the latest means of armed conflict, which re quires corresponding organizational development, and we should welcome all generals and officers who work at the solution of this complicated and serious problem.

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