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Louis Rotundo - The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the 1941 Campaign (1.1) - a must for any eastern front historian - stuff that are still missing from most books

Louis Rotundo - The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the 1941 Campaign (1.1) - a must for any eastern front historian - stuff that are still missing from most books

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The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the 1941 campaign
By Louis Rotundo University of Central Florida
(From Military Affairs, January 1985, pp. 21-29)

S information concerning the Russo-German conflict. Yet, the true size and composition of the Red
Army, and its reserves, during the 1941 campaign remains one of the least discussed issues in those works.1 Even now, 40 years after the end of the war, it is extremely difficult to obtain an accurate Soviet order of battle or a clear picture of the r
The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the 1941 campaign
By Louis Rotundo University of Central Florida
(From Military Affairs, January 1985, pp. 21-29)

S information concerning the Russo-German conflict. Yet, the true size and composition of the Red
Army, and its reserves, during the 1941 campaign remains one of the least discussed issues in those works.1 Even now, 40 years after the end of the war, it is extremely difficult to obtain an accurate Soviet order of battle or a clear picture of the r

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Published by: YuvalWelis on Aug 05, 2010
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03/02/2012

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The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the 1941 campaign
By Louis RotundoUniversity of Central Florida
(From
Military Affairs
, January 1985, pp. 21-29)
INCE
the conclusion of World War II, western historians have provided a substantial body of information concerning the Russo-German conflict. Yet, the true size and composition of the RedArmy, and its reserves, during the 1941 campaign remains one of the least discussed issues inthose works.
1
Even now, 40 years after the end of the war, it is extremely difficult to obtain anaccurate Soviet order of battle or a clear picture of the real balance of power during that Summer-
 
1
Most Western sources are simply too old to incorporate the new Soviet material. Of major works, J. Erickson's
The Road to Stalingrad 
 (London, 1975) is excellent. However, it doesn't have an order of battle and buries reserve totals in footnotes (534, 536). A. Seaton's
TheRusso-German War 1941-1945
(N.Y., 1971) does give totals (61) but without a complete breakdown and misstates reserves. T. Higgins'
 Hitler and Russia
(N.Y., 1966) gives some incorrect data (122-123) and lacks a complete OB or totals. A. Clark's
Barbarossa
(N.Y., 1965)gives some data (38-40) but most is from German Sources as is true of most German language works. Both A. Werth's
Russia at War 
(N.Y.,1964) and H. Salisbury
The 900 Days
(N.Y., 1969) make good use of Soviet material but give little total data, and B. Fugate's
Operation
S
 
 
Autumn campaign. The problem of accurately determining Russian strength in 1941 began soon after the first tentative efforts to research this subject. The ready availability of German source material and published works coupled with the slow release of Soviet official documents fostered a continuingtendency to utilize information only from captured German intelligence documents when discussingthe Red Army. When substantial volumes of Soviet official material began to appear, informationabout actual Red Army strength for 1941 was dispersed throughout dozens of sources, requiringconsiderable research and subject familiarity to piece together. Lacking this information, previoushistorical research has often fallen victim to the vagaries of imprecise phrasing and conjecture. Thus, presenting these numbers provides a necessary foundation for further serious study of the war on theEastern front.By examining the basic numbers regarding men, equipment, organizational totals and the creationof Soviet
 
reserves
,
a clearer understanding of the actual situation in the
 
Summer 
-
Autumn campaign becomes apparent. To present this data, two methods are used: first, a discussion of the Red
 
Army'ssize, deployment and restructuring which allows an opportunity to follow its development in thecampaign; second, a review of the actual commitment of Soviet reserves to highlight their impact atdecisive points in 1941. By these methods, the reader can obtain a snapshot view of differingstatistical indicators of Soviet strength and have the opportunity to see them at various times relativeto German strength.
I
DOLF
Hitler's initial decision to begin preparations for an invasion of the USSR led the Germaneastern intelligence branch,
Fremde Heeres Ost (FHO)
to redouble its efforts to obtaininformation on the Red Army. Based upon this research, the operational planning for CaseBarbarossa took shape during the Winter of 1940. The initial estimates, however, revealed adeparture from past years when the USSR usually appeared as numerically dominant on thecontinent.
FHO
believed that Russia no longer possessed the enormous active military resourcesof previous times. Its estimate of 21 July 1940 stated that Russia maintained only 50-75 gooddivisions and would be defeated by a German force of only 80-100 divisions. Germany couldreadily field this number despite commitments in Western Europe and Norway.
2
 In August, General Erich Marcks, in charge of formulating the initial invasion study, revised his plan to incorporate the latest information. Marcks postulated that Russia would have available 96infantry, and 23 cavalry divisions as well as 28 mechanized brigades in its western districts. Theseforces, he indicated, could be defeated by a German force of 24 panzer, 12 motorized and 110infantry divisions. Further, Marcks stated,
 FHO
believed Russia would not be able to increase itsstrength appreciably by the Spring of 1941, and little evidence existed of a strong mobile reserveforce.
3
 During the period Winter 1940 to Spring 1941,
FHO
continually revised its calculationsregarding Soviet strength. These estimates and their growth may be seen in Table 1.Uniformly, these estimates lagged behind the actual changes in the Red Army. This situationcould probably be anticipated given the secretive nature of Soviet society and the limited
Barbarossa
(Novato, 1984) despite good reserve totals, fails to give an accurate OB (317) or make an adequate presentation of the Dec.reserves (317).
2
 
Walter Görlitz,
Paulus and Stalingrad 
(N.Y., 1960), 128-129. Franz Halder,
The Halder Diaries,
2 vols. (Boulder, 1976), Vol. 1, 517
 
3
 
National Archives Record Group (NARG), Captured German records, T312, Roll 776, Frame 8425693.
A
 
 
intelligence tools available to
FHO.
However, less significant than the time lag remains the crucialerror in numbers.
FHO
consistantly miscalculated the size and strength of the USSR, in varyingdegrees, until the invasion. Actual Soviet strength is discussed later but briefly the problem with
  FHO's
estimates may be summarized as follows: they omit the Russian cavalry reductions, thereported divisional totals are in error by one- third, and they miscalculate the creation of newmechanized corps and tank divisions. After 22 June,
FHO
secured much better informationregarding Soviet frontline strength. However, total estimates, including reserves, reveals only amarginal improvement when compared to the historical record. For example, on 8 August,
FHO
 estimated the Red Army strength at 260 rifle, 50 tank, 20 cavalry, and 60 other divisions.Organized Soviet strength by that date actually totaled over 300 rifle, 70 tank, and about 61 cavalrydivisions. Yet perhaps the worst estimate appeared on 1 December. No Soviet reserves had beenidentified although twelve armies existed. The
FHO
summation stated:
The numerical strength of the majority of Soviet combat units is low; their equipment isunsatisfactory. New units were appearing with less frequency in recent days; individual units are being transferred from quiet to endangered front sectors. On this basis it should be assumed that nosignificant strategic reserve units exist at present. . . . The combat strength of the enemy has beenweakened decisively, as a result of losses in personnel and material which have surpassed allexpectations.
These errors provided ample reason for the terrible miscalculations of the late Summer and Fall
.
4
 
II
 
 N
1 September 1939, the Law of Universal Military Service was adopted by the Supreme Soviet.At that time, the Red Army was still nominally on a peacetime level. Its major formationsconsisted of 96 rifle (infantry) and one motorized rifle divisions organized into 25 rifle corps, and26 cavalry divisions organized in 5 cavalry corps.
55
 Many of these divisions possessed a tank element.In addition, the army possessed independent rifle and tank brigades as well as four tank corps, eachconsisting of one rifle and two tank brigades. To expand these formations the Law lowered the draftage from 21 to 19 and for those who had completed secondary school it specified 18 years. Thischange contributed to the increase in the size of Soviet reserve forces before the beginning of theGreat Patriotic War as seen in Table 2.The period between September 1939 and June 1941 witnessed substantial formation changes toconform to the personnel increases. The additional manpower enabled new rifle units to beestablished. Concurrently, Soviet mechanized corps first disbanded and then rebuilt on a new table of organization. Tank brigades nominally reformed into divisions. However, significant numbers of technical and officer Specialists were required to create the necessary mechanized corps, and toincrease the existing tank cadres to their new strength. These cadres could not be quickly created.Therefore, it became necessary to reorganize Soviet cavalry divisions to obtain these men. Thus, of the 32 Red Army cavalry divisions that existed in 1938, only 13 remained by 1941.
6
These changesallowed the reformation process to occur in two stages. In 1940, nine mechanized corps beganforming. Later, in the period March-June 1941, another 20 mechanized corps organized although war  broke out before most of these could be considered battle-ready. In fact, of the 20 mechanized corps inthe West on 6/22/41, only six had relatively high combat value. Of the others, some could scarcely beconsidered mobile due to their severe shortages of tanks and motorized support elements.
77
 
4
NARG T78, R261, F52-61. Seweryn Bailer, ed.
Stalin and His Generals
(N.Y. 1969), 592 (note 36).
5
 
Istoriya Vtoroi Mirovoi Voiny, Vol. 3 (Moskva, 1973-1982), 418; Vol. 2, 202, hereafter IVMV 
 
6
 
50 Let Vooruzhennykh Sil SSSR (Moskva, 1968), 236, hereafter 50 Let 
 
7
I.E. Krupchenko,
et al., Sovetskie Tanovye Voiska 1941-1945
(Moskva, 1973), 21-22, hereafter,
STV.
Total Soviet tanks on 22 June 1941remains very unclear. Stalin indicated 24,000 organized and 60 tank divisions. Robert Sherwood.
Roosevelt and Hopkins
(NY, 1948), 335. Of existing models, only 1,861 were new heavy/medium types.
IVMV,
Vol. 3, 420-421 indicates 60% of Soviet tanks were in the western
O
 

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