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Rollback: The Red Army's Winter Offensive along the Southwestern Strategic Direction, 1942-43 covers the period from mid-December 1942 to mid-February 1943, one of the most critical periods of the war on the Eastern Front. It was here that following the encirclement of an entire German army at Stalingrad, the Soviets sought to take advantage of the ruptured Axis front in southern Russia to finish off the Germans' Italian and Hungarian allies and liberate the economically vital areas of eastern Ukraine. This study is drawn from a number of wartime and postwar articles, published by the General Staff's directorate for the study of wartime experience. Also featured are documents relating to the operational-strategic conduct of the various operations, which were compiled and published after the fall of the Soviet Union. Several articles deal with the preparation for and conduct of the Southwestern Front's Middle Don operation of December 1942. Originally intended as an ambitious offensive to cut off the German forces in the North Caucasus by driving on to Rostov, the operation was later reoriented to meet the threat of the German effort to relieve Stalingrad. The offensive not only accomplished its objective of turning back the German attack, thus dooming the Stalingrad garrison, but also destroyed the Italian army in the East as well. The Soviet Voronezh Front then struck further up the Don River, and in the Ostrogozhsk-Rossosh' operation destroyed what remained of the Italian forces in the area, as well as the Hungarian army. This enabled the Red Army to capture Khar'kov and push nearly to the Dnepr River by mid-February, before being thrown back by a skillful German counteroffensive. The territorial results of this operation set the stage for the front's subsequent Voronezh-Kastornoe operation, which enabled the Soviets to push as far west as Kursk before exhaustion and growing German resistance brought the offensive to a halt. Further to the south, the Soviets were able to capture Voroshilovgrad and penetrate into the industrial Donets Basin. The book also contains a detailed Soviet examination of the employment of tank and mechanized corps during the campaign. The conclusions reached here had a direct bearing on the restructuring of the Red Army's tank armies in time for the summer campaign of 1943.
The War in Afghanistan (1979-1989) has been called "the Soviet Union's Vietnam War," a conflict that pitted Soviet regulars against a relentless, elusive, and ultimately unbeatable Afghan guerrilla force (the mujahideen). The hit-and-run bloodletting across the war's decade tallied more than 25,000 dead Soviet soldiers plus a great many more casualties and further demoralized a USSR on the verge of disintegration.
In "The Soviet-Afghan War" the Russian general staff takes a close critical look at the Soviet military's disappointing performance in that war in an effort to better understand what happened and why and what lessons should be taken from it. Lester Grau and Michael Gress's expert English translation of the general staff's study offers the very first publication in any language of this important and illuminating work.
Surprisingly, this was a study the general staff never intended to write, initially viewing the war in Afghanistan as a dismal aberration in Russian military history. The history of the 1990s has, of course, completely demolished that belief, as evidenced by the Russian Army's subsequent engagements with guerrilla forces in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, and elsewhere. As a result, Russian officers decided to take a much closer look at the Red Army's experiences in the Afghan War.
Their study presents the Russian view of how the war started, how it progressed, and how it ended; shows how a modern mechanized army organized and conducted a counter-guerrilla war; chronicles the major battles and operations; and provides valuable insights into Soviet tactics, strategy, doctrine, and organization across a wide array of military branches. The editors' incisive preface and commentary help contextualize the Russian view and alert the reader to blind spots in the general staff's thinking about the war.
This one-of-a-kind document provides a powerful case study on how yet another modern mechanized army imprudently relied upon the false promise of technology to defeat a determined guerrilla foe. Along the way, it vividly reveals the increasing disillusionment of Soviet soldiers, how that disillusion seeped back into Soviet society, and how it contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Red Army had fought their war to a military draw but that was not enough to stave off political defeat at home. The Soviet-Afghan War helps clarify how such a surprising demise could have materialized in the backyard of the Cold War's other great superpower.
The Battle of Kursk: The Red Army's Defensive Operations and Counter- Offensive, July-August 1943, offers a peculiarly Soviet view of one of the Second World War's most critical events. While the Germans defeats at Moscow and Stalingrad showed that Hitler could not win the war in the East, the outcome of Kursk demonstrated beyond a doubt that he would lose it. This study was compiled by the Red Army General Staff's military-historical directorate, which was charged with collecting and analyzing the war's experience, and issued as an internal document in 1946-47. The study languished for more than a half-century, before being published in Russia in 2006, although heavily supplemented by commentary and other information not contained in the original. The present work omits these additions, while supplying its own commentary in places deemed necessary. The book is divided into two parts, dealing with the defensive and offensive phases of the battle, respectively. The first begins with a strategic overview of the situation along the Eastern Front by the spring and summer of 1943 and the Soviet decision to stand on the defensive. This is followed by a detailed examination of the Central Front's efforts to counter the expected German attack out of the Orel salient, and the Voronezh Front's attempts to do the same against the German concentrations in the Belgorod-Khar'kov area. The rest of this section is devoted to an exceedingly detailed day-by-day, tactical-operational account of the struggle, particularly along the southern face of the salient, where the Germans came closest to succeeding. The second part will be more of a revelation to the Western reader, who is likely to be more familiar with the defensive phase of the battle. Here the authors once again, in great detail, lay out the Red Army's preparations for and conduct of a massive counteroffensive to clear the Orel salient, which soon degenerated to a grinding struggle, which while ultimately successful, cost the Soviets dearly. Likewise, the authors detail the Voronezh Front's preparations to reduce the Belgorod salient and seize the industrial center of Khar'kov. This offensive, in conjunction with a simultaneous offensive in the Donets industrial region, pushed the German lines to the breaking point and set the stage for the follow-on advance to the Dnepr River and the eventual liberation of Ukraine.
The Bavarian army which fought the War of 1866 was not greatly distinguished for its performance, but a translation of the Bavarian general staff history of the war is a document which should be available in English, since it gives an official analysis of the conflict. The narrative presents a detailed account of the mobilization of the army, and its actions against the Prussians during July 1866. Moreover, the work contains appendices which present an order of battle, the authorized strengths of the formations, and extensive tables of strengths and casualties for all of the actions,. As such these are valuable. The original text is complimented by translator Stuart Sutherland's additional explanatory notes, as well as an extensive guide to further reading added by Duncan Rogers.
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