Saturday, May 14, 2016

150th Motor Rifle Division And Much Much More Military Power Related-II

So, let us review some of the fundamental ideas which Vitaly Shlykov advocated for Russia's "military reform" which, in the end, resulted in a disaster that required urgent intervention of....drum roll...none other than President Vladimir Putin, that is a man, whose appointment of Anatoly Serdyukov to the Defense Minister position precipitated that disaster in the first place. But first, we need to point out positions where Vitaly Shlykov was correct. 

1. He, certainly, was correct about the necessity to reform Soviet Armed Forces, which were massive and, effectively, existed in overkill mode insofar as the numbers go. Yet, while correctly pointing out in his What Killed Soviet Union. The General Staff And Economy the fact of Soviet military and intelligence failure to correctly estimate (by inflating) NATO's military potential, Shlykov went overkill the other way--he "informed" Gorbachov that Soviet General Staff overestimated NATO's mobilization potential 50 to 100 times

2.  Well....that's about it. 

Yes, those were the times of Perestroika (correctly dubbed Catastroika by Alexander Zinovyev) and ascendance of highly idealistic, if not altogether naive and uncritical to the point of folly, views of the combined West and Vitaly Shlykov's ideas on war and military reflected it fully. In fact, they influenced them in the most harmful way possible. Here I need to make a confession. It was then, late 1980s when I also, together with very many of my peers, exercised the idea of possible re-formatting of the geopolitical order after the collapse of the communist ideology into some sort of a cooperative environment in which reformed USSR would take its proper place and fears and hostilities of the Cold War would be the thing of the past.  But that was me, at that time senior lieutenant of Soviet Armed Forces, who still thought that surely the Colonel of GRU must know more than me about the war. Boy, was I wrong. By 1992, two years after I left the service for health reasons and scarred by the events related to Nagorny Karabakh, there was nothing left of the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact and former Soviet Armed Forces were in the process of disintegration. It was also the time of mindless economic, military and political so called reforms (in reality, annihilation of anything perceived as Soviet) which would bring upon peoples of Russia a suffering and humiliation not seen since the first days of the Great Patriotic War. This would become the time when history would be taken away from Russian people. 

One of the major, if not the most important, premises, on which demolition of what used to be Soviet military was based was the idea that the victory over Wehrmacht in WW II was won by the enormous purely military losses and despite, not thanks, to Soviet highest military-political leadership. A popular "trupami zabrosali" (overwhelmed the enemy by throwing corpses at it) meme became extremely popular among "liberal" post-Soviet "intelligentsia" and all kinds of "fighters with bloody Soviet past". All kinds of revisionist crap, akin to incompetent propaganda BS by turncoat Victor Rezun (aka Suvorov) filled the void of military science. Indeed, the logic went, if USSR collapsed, together with ideology which supposedly held it together, then everything associated with it must be wrong. And it was then that the revision started. Vitaly Shlykov led the charge with his 1988 Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn (International Life) famous article The Armor Is Strong (Bronya Krepka)

"Посеянные в те годы семена «науки побеждать» числом, а не умением нашли благодатную почву в консерватизме советской военной мысли застойного Периода, наследие которого еще предстоит преодолеть. Броня крепка, стереотипы прочны, отходят от них иные с трудом".(c)

The seeds of the "science of winning" by numbers, not by the skill,  sown in those years (he means WWII period) found a fertile soil in conservatism of the Soviet military thought of the zastoi (stagnation), whose heritage we are yet to overcome. The Armor is strong, stereotypes are rigid and some people abandon them with difficulty. 

Shlykov went further in the same article and stated: 

Stalin and his immediate military surrounding always tried to hide from complex and incomprehensible for them variety of qualitative characteristics of the military might of states with different social structures behind the thick wall of numerical superiority over the enemy. (c)

I know, the hindsight is a 20/20 vision, especially considering the time when Shlykov's pieces were written, but it is impossible to ignore such absolutely sweeping generalizations from a man who inserted himself into the discussion on one of Russia's most important, existential, issues and who started to built his conclusions based on cliches which had very little to do with the realities of the Great Patriotic War. There is no denying that Red Army was sustaining abhorring losses at the start of the war. Wehrmacht losses inflicted by the Red Army at the end of the war were no less massive. Yes, the issue of large tank units is valid, the same as, to a certain degree, the issue of Red Army's prewar purges. But today, when most of the archives are opened, it becomes absolutely inconceivable to accuse Stalin, let alone Stavka in "hiding" from "qualitative" characteristics of military might when, in reality, if not for Stalin and his "military surrounding" the victory of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War would have been inconceivable. 

Admitting almost miraculous survival and recovery of what essentially can be termed Stalin's (and Beria's, Vannikov's and many others) economy doesn't make one a Stalinist. In the end, it was this economy which provided not only quantity but the quality of weapons which ensured the final outcome. In the end, Soviet tanks as a force turned out to be simply better than German ones and so were, in the end, Lavochkin or Yakovlev fighters which were at least on par with what Luftwaffe could field and they were produced in quantities which ensured, from the skies of Kursk Battle and massive air campaign over Kuban, Soviet dominance in the air. Not without Allied help with US providing P-39 Cobras which were flown by none other than Pokryshkin and Rechkalov brothers--all, together with Ivan Kozhedub who flew Lavochkin aircraft, top Allied aces by far.  But the question here is why the issue of numbers even came up at all? By what means Vitaly Shlykov was going to fight the greatest and most advanced military force in history, fresh from its....drum roll....lightning victories over French and British Armies and subjugation of Europe? Here we are going to make a small detour to elaborate on some basic operational facts and they will involve a little bit of mathematics (rather, simplest calculus). Welcome to the world of Osipov-Lanchester differential equations.   
dA/dt = -βB

dB/dt = -αA

Well, as it is usually the case, the original 1915 essays by Russian mathematician M.P. Osipov "Estimation Of Victims Of War" went unnoticed in the West, but Lanchester's work in the same field did get noticed. Today Western world knows those equations as Lanchester Model or Laws, while truly educated people call it Osipov-Lanchester equations. Before I get accused of abstract approach to a war or playing "percentage" war ( I had exchange on this issue with incomparable Colonel Lang) I want to make a disclaimer--I am no military nerd who views the world through the prism of dry numbers. Far from it, I am keenly aware of a chaotic and too often very human nature of war in which command ability, heroism, sacrifice and skill are as, if not more, important as technological and operational dimensions of a war. 

To Be Continued...........

P.S. Do not run for cover yet. I will explain how this simple math works. 

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